Saturday, October 19, 2019

A past memory coming to surface again

It was a terrible day. I had met with an accident. I was driving the car and the family was with me. Not sure what had happened in those unlucky few seconds, I had lost control of the car and the whole car got dragged off the road, hit a 5 feet high stone pillar, turned over and flipped. Damage to the car was severe but the we the occupants came out with minor injuries. Though I recovered from the shock quickly my family was not. It was difficult for them to digest what had happened in a matter of few seconds. My son, who was three years old at that time, was in a complete shock and was crying non-stop. While I was thinking what to do next and how to come out of the mess, I saw few people rushing to help us. They helped us remove the luggage and some even asking if we needed a drop somewhere. Then to my surprise, I saw few 'Jogamma' (third gender eunuchs) coming forward to help us. They took my crying son to a nearby house they were living in, offered water, helped him come out of the shock. They gave my family a place to sit and think and keep our luggage for the time being. They assured everything will be alright and reminded that it is only car out of shape and we the family are safe. I arranged a cab for my family to go back to Bangalore. I stayed back at the place and made arrangements to tow the car. After that I visited a Police station to lodge a complaint and the procedures took till evening and then headed back to Bangalore.

It was an unusual day, a tiring one. I had not met with any accident until that day. And that experience had drained energy out of me to do anything. Late evening when I reached home, I logged on to my computer and there was an email which caught my notice. It was from Milaap (a social service lending platform) showing I had a repayment for the interest free loan I had given through them a couple of months ago to a Devadasi, a Jogamma. My loan was supposed to help her gain independence by buying buffalo's for livelihood. I could not understand if the events of 'Jogamma' helping me recover from the shock of accident in the morning and the repayment with thanks I had received the same day had a relation. Coincidence or not, I was already tired for the day and slept off.

The accident took more than an year for me to come out from it. I refused to drive for almost an year after that incident. As the emotions settled in, when we are going the same way, I asked my driver to stop there for a while, got down and went around the place of accident. Also visited the house where Jogamma  had offered a place to sit and relax. But the inmates were all different now and I could not recognize any of them. I found a small temple outside the house, offered prayers there and left the place. Afterwards that place did not haunt or scare me anymore.

It appeared like that accident was due to spell of an evil spirit to me sometimes as I was facing one or the other unusual, awkward experiences while driving that car. This is while there were no strong evidences to believe so and I did not believe in super natural things anyway. An astrologer we had consulted had suggested to abandon the car and said the accident was supposed to end our lives but it is God's grace and the place it happened had things in our favor. I did not want to analyze it further, sold the car and took the event as a moment of bad luck and moved on with life. Five years rolled.

When I read the book 'Nine Lives' through the last week, it's two chapters, one on the lives of Devadasi's and their God and another chapter on those who live on the cremation ground and use the skulls of those who died prematurely to please those spirits to take advantage in their sadhana, all my past memories came to surface again. For a moment, it appeared like whatever I went through on the day of my accident was not coincidence but it was cause and effect. Again, I do not want to believe  in the super natural things but this time I could put my past experience into writing with ease. What had remained in the deep recesses of my memory is out of me now and should not bother me in the future.

Now I am looking forward for new experiences and what the life has to offer.

Book Review: Nine Lives by William Dalrymple

As the book title denotes it is an account of lives of nine different beings whose lives are dedicated to spirituality and the religion they believe in. They are not fictional characters but the real one's living across across length and breadth of India.

The first biography is that of a Jain nun (The Nun's tale). It captures how an young girl, gets attracted to Jain religion practices and goes on to become a Jain Muni. She finds a companion with another Nun who has a similar background of her's. Together they spend couple of decades following the rituals and tradition of Jainism wandering around all the places in India. When her companion Nun leaves the world embracing 'Sallekhana' (a procedure through which one leaves the body by fasting in a gradual manner and giving up all the food items one by one and finally water too). After this Nun feels lonely and finds home at a Jain Ashram in Shravana Belagola, a south Indian town. While she narrates her life events, this author learns that she too has embraced 'Sallekhana'.

The second one (The Dancer of Kannur) is about dancers at 'Theyyan', a festival event in Kerala. These dancers belonging to Dalit community become gods by dressing up and dancing during Theyyan season for three months in a year. People from all religions respect these Gods in human form, offer prayers during the event. Some of these dances and performances are aimed at showing how Dalits are ill-treated by upper caste religions and these dancers see this event as an opportunity to seek reforms and social equality. After the season, these dancers take up jobs as well-diggers, work as labors and take up other menial jobs. This tradition has been going on for centuries but will the next generations continue this tradition needs to be seen.

Third one (The Daugher of Yellamma) has Rani Bai as protagonist. She is a Devadasi who lives with fellow Devadasi's near Belgaum in Karnataka. At the young age of 6, she was dedicated to Yellamma goddess. And her life's way forward was cast in stone. After puberty, she has to accept the oldest profession on this world but in the name of goddess. All of her clients are not going to be nice to her. But she has a community to support her. And the greatest danger is in the form of getting the diseases. Rani Bai has seen her fellow Devadasi's losing their lives to these diseases. She later loses two of her daughters to the same. While she has an aspiration to retire from this profession by buying agriculture land and buffalo's, this author learns that she has been tested HIV positive. Overall, this  chapter does more than telling a tale of a Devadasi. It offers research into how the poverty puts so many into this vicious cycle and how the lives of those involved in this is short lived. It also involves the tale of goddess of Yellamma and how Devadasi's find solace in her and draw energy from her life.

There are six more tales on the similar lines about sufi saints, singers of Rajasthan, a Tibetan Monk who fled to India and wanted to liberate his country taking gun into his hands and the Tantriks in West Bengal who live in the cremation ground.

Reading this book was an eye-opener for me as this unraveled lives of people whom we don't find in the regular neighborhood but of those who live intensely with the sole aim of realizing the God they believe in through their chosen paths.

Saturday, September 21, 2019

New age traffic solutions. Creative and cheaper !

Living in Bangalore, I can't stop complaining about traffic. It has been part and parcel of those who live here. A decade ago, when the commute times were getting longer, we had tried few things like starting early to avoid the peak hour or working in shifts. Or taking alternate routes, longer in distance but shorter by time. But all of them offered relief only for shorter duration's as the traffic soon caught up and spoiled all of our alternate arrangements. Finally and completely fed-up, I had to change my job to reduce my commute hours to acceptable limits.

While giving up few hours of my life on roads everyday, I was always looking whether any solid solutions would appear on the horizon. And Metro appeared. Traveling at an elevation (or underground) beating the air pollution, not worried about the traffic signals or pots on the road, traveling at a reliable speed with an assurance of reaching in time felt like God's answer from heaven to all of our humble requests. Though it is getting crowded these days, it is yet tolerable than hitting the road ourselves.

Other than Metro, I saw that car pooling was catching up. And soon came Ola and Uber. Though it did not cut down the commute time, efforts and pain of driving were passed on to some one else (at some cost, of course). While some one drives for you, you can get lost in the virtual world created on your smartphone. Or listen to your favorite music. Or continue reading that book you had half-read. Won't it be good to have fewer vehicles on road which can take you anywhere? Who needs car of their own? While all of the media is discussing auto sector slowdown, I was wondering where was the place on the roads for those newer cars if they were sold in the usual numbers to the anticipation of their makers?

Though Metro made the commute tolerable for those who live on its routes, there was the last mile problem. I mean, reaching Metro station from your home and getting to office from the drop-off station. Again newer solutions like two-wheeler renting like Bounce and battery operated bicycle like Yulu appeared. I hope they will survive and become sustainable businesses. Another one which I liked (it also motivated me to write this post) was Loca. It is a cab service for shorter distances to pick and drop from Metro stations. From my office on Domlur Inner ring road to Indiranagar Metro station drop-off, I was charged only Rs.20. And the wait time to ride the cab is only 2-3 mins. You would know how convinced I am with this service. On my second trip, Innova vehicle picked me and other 5 co-passengers who all have booked and waiting in line to ride. This effectively reduces the number of vehicles on the vicinity of Metro. I wish and hope this too will become a sustainable business too!

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Happiness is ability to eat right and sleep well

I used to think happiness is something we experience when we achieve something significant. That understanding was slowly changing in me in the recent past. Now I think happiness is being able to eat right and sleep well. That’s all. After my experiences in the last two months, this understanding has become even more concrete.

It was third week of last month (May'2019). Schedules were hectic in the office as we had some executives were visiting us. It was a tiring week and I was waiting for the weekend to begin. At last, came the Friday evening. That day, I reached home with an intention to unwind. But destiny had something else for me. My wife was on phone when I was stepping into home and she told there is a medical emergency for her father and we need to reach the hospital at the earliest. I was not in that mood. Whole of my body did not want to go anywhere, but this was an exception and need of the hour. Though I had no energy left to drive the car, I did take it out and set on the journey to hospital. We had almost reached the hospital, my phone ringed and it was a shocking news. My mother had died. Though devastated, I had my hands on the steering wheel, managed to drive the car to hospital we needed to go, parked it in the hospital premises, gave away the keys to my brother-in-law asking him to take care of the situation. Then left to bus station to reach my native.

The days which were waiting for me had nothing pleasant. Pain of separation and the situation I got into ensured I could not eat or sleep well. Luckily, I did not fall sick. But dampening of life energy and the confrontation with death (which is certain and unpredictable too), killed me partially. I survived but did not come out strong.

After coming back from native to Bangalore, hospital visits continued as my father-in-law had got admitted to hospital for a surgery. After a week, he got discharged. But he was not feeling easy at home. Within 2 days, he had to go back to hospital and so my visits to hospital continued as well. Ability to eat right and sleep well were compromised again.

Everything will pass. My father-in-law got discharged again. That whole weekend, I did nothing else than sleeping. And then Monday came, I got back to work. I thought normalcy of life got restored. That evening, I wanted to reach home early to have a relaxed evening. While I was on the way, my wife called me to report that our son is sick and asked me to reach a hospital nearby directly. I told myself, hell with happiness, get used to new norms. But my son’s sickness was not a sickness and there was nothing to worry. I felt God is kind. After reaching home, though I wanted to go to bed early, I thought of finishing few email communications and opened the office laptop. There were couple of emails needing my urgent action. By the time I was done with them, it was already past mid-night. My idea of sleeping well got compromised again.

Now, having food on time and sleeping peacefully for eight hours a day appears to be the best luxury I would get. I wish and hope that I am not asking for too much from the God.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

"ಕವಲು ದಾರಿ" ಮತ್ತು "ಬೆಲ್ ಬಾಟಮ್": ಮನ ತಣಿಸುವ ಪತ್ತೇದಾರಿ ಚಿತ್ರಗಳು

ಕಳೆದ ಎರಡು ತಿಂಗಳ ಅವಧಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ನೋಡಿದ ಕೆಲವು ಚಿತ್ರಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ಈ ಎರಡು ಚಿತ್ರಗಳು ನನ್ನ ಮನ ಸೆಳೆದವು. ಇವೆರಡು ಪತ್ತೇದಾರಿ ಚಿತ್ರಗಳು ಮತ್ತು ಸಾಕಷ್ಟು ಹೊಸ ಮುಖಗಳನ್ನು ಚಿತ್ರರಂಗಕ್ಕೆ ಪರಿಚಯಿಸಿದ, ಹಾಗೆ ಉತ್ತಮ ನಿರೂಪಣೆ ಮೂಲಕ ಪ್ರೇಕ್ಷಕರಕನ್ನು ಹಿಡಿದಿಡುವ ಚಿತ್ರಗಳು.

"ಕವಲು ದಾರಿ"ಯ ಮುಖ್ಯ ಕಥೆ ಎಷ್ಟೋ ವರ್ಷಗಳ ಹಿಂದೆ ನಡೆದ ಕೊಲೆಯೊಂದರ ಜಾಡು ಹಿಡಿದು, ಕೊಲೆಗಾರನನ್ನು ಪತ್ತೆ ಹಚ್ಚುವುದು. ಸಹಜತೆಗೆ ಸಾಕಷ್ಟು ಹತ್ತಿರ ಎನ್ನಿಸುವ ಅಭಿನಯದಲ್ಲಿ ಮಾಗಿದ ನಟ ಅನಂತ್ ನಾಗ್ ಚಿತ್ರವನ್ನು ಸುಲಭದಲ್ಲಿ ಮುಂದೆ ಸಾಗಿಸುತ್ತಾರೆ. ನಾಯಕ ನಟನಾಗಿ ರಿಷಿ ಕೂಡ ಒಳ್ಳೆಯ ಅಭಿನಯ ನೀಡಿದ್ದಾರೆ. ಇದರ ಖಳ ನಾಯಕನ ಒಂದು ಸಂಭಾಷಣೆ "ಸರಿ-ತಪ್ಪು ಅನ್ನೋ ಚೌಕಟ್ಟಿನಿಂದ ಆಚೆ ಬಂದ ಮೇಲೆ, ಅದರಲ್ಲಿರುವ ಮನುಷ್ಯರನ್ನು ಆಡಿಸುವುದು ಎಷ್ಟು ಸುಲಭ" ಎನ್ನುವ ಮಾತು ನನಗೆ ಮನಶಾಸ್ತ್ರದ ಅರಿವೆಲ್ಲ ಒಂದೇ ಮಾತಿನಲ್ಲಿ ಕೇಳಿಸಿ ಕೊಂಡ ಹಾಗಾಯಿತು.

 "ಬೆಲ್ ಬಾಟಮ್" ನಾನು ಸಂಪೂರ್ಣ ಆನಂದಿಸಿದ ಚಿತ್ರ. ಇದು ನಡೆಯುವುದು ಕೆಲವು ದಶಕಗಳ ಹಿಂದೆ  "ಬೆಲ್ ಬಾಟಮ್" ಗಳು ಚಾಲ್ತಿ ಇದ್ದ ಕಾಲದಲ್ಲಿ. ಇದು ಪೊಲೀಸ್ ಸ್ಟೇಷನ್ ನಲ್ಲಿ ನಡೆಯುವ ಒಂದು ಕಳ್ಳತನದ ಜಾಡು ಹಿಡಿದು ಸಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಅದು ಹೇಗಾಯಿತು, ಮಾಡಿದ್ದು ಯಾರು ಮತ್ತು ಅವರ ನಿಜ ಉದ್ದೇಶ ಏನಿತ್ತು ಎನ್ನುವುದರ ಸನ್ನಿವೇಶಗಳನ್ನು ಅನಾವರಣಗೊಳಿಸುತ್ತ ಚಿತ್ರ ಸಾಗುತ್ತದೆ. ಇದರಲ್ಲಿ ಎಲ್ಲ ಪಾತ್ರಗಳ ಅಭಿನಯ, ಪೂರಕ ಸಂಭಾಷಣೆ, ಹಳೆ ಕಾಲದ ವೇಷ-ಭೂಷಣಗಳು, ಚಿತ್ರದ ನಿರೂಪಣೆ ಎಲ್ಲವೂ ಮನ ಮುಟ್ಟುವಂತಿವೆ. ಬಹಳ ದಿನದ ನಂತರ ಒಂದು ಒಳ್ಳೆಯ ಚಿತ್ರ ನೋಡಿದ ಅನುಭವ ಈ ಚಿತ್ರ ಕೊಟ್ಟಿತು.

ಕನ್ನಡದಲ್ಲಿ ಒಳ್ಳೆಯ ಚಿತ್ರಗಳೇ ಅಪರೂಪ ಎನ್ನುವ ಈ ಕಾಲದಲ್ಲಿ, ಈ ಎರಡು ಚಿತ್ರಗಳು ಆ ಮಾತು ಸುಳ್ಳು ಎನ್ನುವ ಖುಷಿ ಕೊಡುತ್ತವೆ.