Friday, September 30, 2005

Being Indian 1

There cannot be any method to bring back the worldview that I held when I was a kid. I always knew I was from one particular community, but I could never be able to differentiate myself from anyone else in the country. The issue was mu. Not applicable.

Every land I stepped on, every person I met was my own. And there was a lot to experience thanks to being part of an Army family, posted from place to place. North-East, South, West and East. I could not ever fathom anything but the highest of respect for teachers, elders, officers and hard-working farmers. To the extent that I used to think that newspapers reporting crime were actually fiction. 'How could adults be bad?,' I would wonder.

And then the edifices fell one by one. And here are the symbolic events that did it.

First, it all began when I was sent to a hostel. I was probably one of the better students and hence used to always have a load of class-mates seeking my support when we approached exams. It was my first exam period in hostel, and I of course was studying with a friend - from Himachal. But suddenly a group of Jat Sikhs came to me and asked me to join them in the studies. 'Why?', " I asked. "Because you are a jat sikh and we stick together."
And thereon I began to find out who we were - Baniyas, Jats, South Indians, North Indians, North-Easterners, fishermen, Babus, Papas, schedule castes...

Two years down in hostel and I soon find why a few students never joined us in the class rooms during exams. They had special rooms to take their tests. And why not? Their parents were also our teachers!!

And then one day my best friend in hostel, from Mizoram, refused to let me join him home for a holiday. Because, he said, reluctantly, "we are different and you will not be comfortable. There are no outsiders in my village."

And then one day my close relatives (local guardians) on seeing a friend I used to play football with mentioned. "Who are your friends? This one is got such a fat nose!" they giggled.

And then when I moved on to engineering college, I started be-friending a group of class mates from South. For six months, I was overly curious with there unique religious and social customs. I probed, I joked, I demanded to get a closer idea - to the extent of ridiculing them and making it all look a joke. Its then when I realised what I was becoming. I was expressing my anger at life for showing me that it was full of social conflicts and for destroying the image of my sweet world. I was panicking. I was becoming what must be called- a barbarian. The destroyer of anything different. The plunderer of beauty. The one who had so little within, that stealing the world was the only mission.

And that is the day I decided that I will not wait for the world to be good, before deciding that I am good. I will try to be benevolent, by choice. Not reacting to the world outside me, but instead nurturing what should be me. And so is how I began my journey forward. A long one and not always so simple.

Saturday, September 24, 2005


I took some pics from Dharamsala covering the tibetian town of McLeod Gunj, Dharamsala and the Buddha temple. You can see them here :

choose set: Dharamsala.

Monday, September 12, 2005

McLeod Gunj, The home for Dalai Lama & Tibetians in India

I always knew that McLeod Gunj was a place close to my native home, but never realised it. However this time I had an opportunity to drive over to this important place, where Dalai Lama has his home in India. This place is in Himachal Pradesh, near Dharamsala.

Its a rather small place, beautiful hills around, but the town itself is rather congested. It was a bit dissapointing for me to note that the place was not developed better considering its global importance. Maybe its the local administration or lack of funding?

Neverthless, when you enter the temple area, do some roadside shopping, and eat Tibetian Momos its a nice feeling.

Also, the local population around Dharamsala were pretty much like those from the plains. Frankly, on a personal note, I always expect hilly regions to maintain their own small sub-culture - always different when compared to the land people. But in Dharamsala, in HP, I did not notice much of that. Maybe, I did not see enough. Its different for me in the hills of north-east, Kerala. There you see some real interesting lifestyle & cultural practises. But of course, the nature and the beautiful hills and green in Dharamsala do provide a breath of fresh air into ones lives. And of course, the tibetian settlement makes the place special.

There is another home of Tibetian people in South, near Mysore City. Closer to where I live (Bangalore) ... But I have to still check it out.

Saturday, September 10, 2005

The friendliest God

Ganesha is the friendliest God of them all. Just look at him and at least I feel so. In India, especially in the West (Maharashtra) its a big festival. When I use to be in Pune, we would spend all-night-long visiting the various pandals where people would have set up Ganesha's statue under various thems - some very current. Ganesh tackling terrorism, Ganesha & Cricket, etc. etc. And I think there was also the Best Pandal award too. Eventually, the Ganesh statue is carried in a procession and immersed into water.

Its really fun when the entire city (or much of it) comes together for a common festival. Well, I am not a Hindu really but for me its as much joy to participate in this festival and offer my respect to Ganesha as anyone else. And this is where I feel bad, because most Urban cities are busy caring only for their own little families. They rarely come onto the roads. In cities, the laws are regressive too. Earlier in Bangalore, we would be happy out in the main roads celeberating New Years on the road. But of course, with time, drunk guys started creating problems - or we started noticing it?. But instead of sprucing up law and order and controlling it, the police/lawmakers conveniently began demanding shops/bars etc close early and today its as early as 1100pm. Everytime, the police or civic authorities see a problem, they either ban, close or limit things. They just never seem to have the energy to find a solution!

So much for progress. Bangalore was more fun 10 years ago than today, even though everyone is so excited that its the fastest growing city in Asia.Still, I love Bangalore and its my city.

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

My first Blog and its my birthday!

I wrote my first blog on my birthday at but am migrating to blogger or using one as a mirror of the other. It seems easier with blogger. I hope so.It was a noisy day, the day I wrote my blog. Not because it was my birthday but because it was also lord Ganesha's festival. Sept 7th. My little birthday party would happen later that weekend.

My little B'day would be postponed because I would just return from Kolkata. Kolkata, a place I like. Why? Because it has a character, a root, despite being a congested city with a load of problems . In Kolkata, the person making tea owns the city as much as the person driving past in his limousine. Very unlike New Delhi, where I feel only the rich and the loudest run the country. Despite it being more 'cleaner' and 'well-run'.Of course the city I love most is my Bangalore. Not because of what is happening here today. But the reasons why I am here for 15 years now. Well, that would be another blog for another day.

Kolkata, I love, for another reason. It is (by land?) closer to Thailand... the country I like so much. My dream is to one day trek through the North-East into Burma and across Thailand. With some chosen friends and hopefully making some alongthe way. If I can do this trip one day, and when, remains unanswered. So, now, I keep the dream.

I remember the day I wrote the first blog, was also a stressful day - about work & family (that means - parents). I was busy on how to plan a visit home. I have finished that trip now though and returned with some pics from home & nearby places, especially Dharamsala.So, great. I have some agenda to get forward with! And I hope to include some cool pics with my new digital camera. Probably one reason why I thought of blogging! Yes, my perceptions and worldviews about this world, its people, myself and the universe - that would be thoughts I like to pen down.