19 December, 2008

Just one of those DUH moments ....

One evening, the younger nutty sibling was found engrossed in a book titled “100 things you should know about mammals”.

The elder nutty sibling was busy with her Mandarin (Putonghua) homework.

A veil of rather unnatural silence filled the room. And in an effort to break this rather unusual hush and quiet that was hanging in the air, Mommy took it upon herself to try and get the younger nutty sibling to talk. The elder one could not be disturbed because she was busy with her homework. So it had to be the younger one.

Yeah – Mommy is rather scatterbrained that way. First she complains about the noise the siblings generate and when they are quiet, she tries to get them to break their silence. Ever heard of the oxymoron which says parents are the sensible ones in the house !!!! Yeah - Mommy is a living, giant sized epithet of that very oxymoron !!!

So Mommy peeped into the book and found the younger sibling staring at pictures of deer and he was busy reading something out.

“Hey that’s a deer, is it not ?” ventured Mommy

The younger sibling looked up at Mommy with a rather mystified look on his face and said “yes”. The look on his face, however, translated into something that said “Of course it is a deer. What else does it look like – a cow ?”

Mommy should have taken the cue from the monosyllable reply but then again, she can be quite dense when the situation so demands.

“Those deer have such complicated horns” said Mommy.

And she found herself looking at the younger sibling, who, by now, had a slight frown on his face.
“Mummy – can I tell you something ?. Those are not horns. They are antlers. Cows and Buffaloes have horns. And deer have antlers – not horns”.

(*sigh) So much for wanting some idle conversation with the kids !

And then after a pause, the younger sibling chose to add for good measure “And Mummy – when there is one cow it is called a cow. When there are two cows they are called “cows”. But when there is one deer it is called a deer and when there are two also they are just called “Deer” and not “Deers”. OK ?”

Oh ! Mommy had been taught during her school days to “let the sleeping dogs lie”. She’d never really understood the meaning of that idiom fully.

Now she does !!!!!!!!

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11 December, 2008

Of God's Mind and Ours ....

(This is a guest post, actually. Am not publishing the name of the author as the author has chosen to stay anonymous. This piece was penned in fond memory of the lives lost in Mumbai and in many other parts of the world over the past so many years ........... all in the name of God and religion.)

Of God’s Mind and Ours

We believe that God made this Universe and populated our World with His creatures including his masterful creation, humankind. Strangely, we also believe that He then called all those he had made in his own image and said, "I now pronounce you Hindu and Muslim. And Jew and Christian and Buddhist and Jain and Sikh."

Just think - could God have said, "I will divide mankind in small groups, each at the other's throat in My name? And I want you all to keep arguing till doomsday about the best path to follow in order to reach Me?" Could he have also have added, for good measure, "I will reward those who carry out violence in My name and those who look at their fellow humans through narrow lenses of their own making will be especially dear to Me?" Could He then have called some chosen ones and anointed them as his representatives on earth, giving them the right to morally judge others?

Also consider this - did God feel weak one day and appeal to some of us, "I need you to defend Me because, though I am all powerful, without your support I am lost?"

We believe that God is supremely wise. Yet we tend to believe that He said all the above unwise things. Our newspapers are full of items reflecting people’s actions based on strong adherence by them to this belief. As a result of this, many followers of their chosen paths to God have been responsible for more cruelty, injustice and divisiveness in His name than has been caused by any other factor.

This wrong belief has imprisoned us in cages of bigotry and self righteousness. It has divided nations and precipitated wars. It has given birth to terrorism around the world. And this belief is not even founded on common-sense. Just pause and reflect - would an all-powerful God opt for cruelty in his name? Would He want us to be narrow-minded and absorbed in empty rituals? Would He want us to wage war with others who have decided upon different rituals?

Would God, who knows everything and is a part of all, want us to spend a lot of our time repeating His great qualities? God knows these and does not need us to keep reminding Him. Perhaps it is we who are in danger of forgetting because our faith is so shallow that we must do this in order to reinforce it. We would come closer to Him if we spent more time praising other people and being worthy of their praise. We would do our duty by Him, if we were just to watch our conduct and behave as we would wish others to behave. For the vast majority, this would include being considerate, kind, compassionate, honest, truthful, gentle and loving. A relatively small tone can make a huge bell reverberate and our behavior will find resonance in others. As a result of this, we will notice a change for the better in our society and so will God.

Many of us have been told that knowing God’s mind needs scholarship and years of preparation. Those who believe this are missing the point. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s quote “Nothing is true, but that which is simple” is definitely applicable to this quest. Infants are said to know the mind of God more than scholars. No, understanding God’s will does not need scholarship. God is everywhere and never far from us. Hence to reach Him we do not need complicated maps, which only scholars can decipher,. If we dare to look inside in the silence of our minds and in the depth of our hearts and consider what a compassionate and loving God would want from his people, we will find the answer and that answer should be our guiding light regarding our own attitude and conduct. All else we hear from those who quarrel in the name of religion and who think that only their chosen path is the right one, is based on their own narrow point of view, not God's for God is never petty or limiting.

A beautiful flower is called Kamal in India, Lotus in England, Lotos in Greece, Ward el nil or Sawsan in Egypt and Hasu in Japan. The ancient Egyptians called it Sesen. It has been used in worship, strewn on Pharaohs and even used to make tea. Should we fight about whose name for Lotus is the ‘right’ one? Should we argue about how we should treat the Lotus? Would it make an iota of difference to the flower? With God, too, we need to adopt a similar attitude. He has given us brains to think and a heart to feel. We would be failing Him if we did not use our facilities of discrimination, even for such basic matters.

One last point. Some of us are ever ready to jump to the defense of ‘our’ God. We should view the conduct of such people in light of this – God is the omnipotent Creator. Without His support we will not survive, but without our ‘support’ He will do fine. He was there before us and will be there long after we are gone from this planet and He does not need us to ‘defend’ him against other humans. It is hubris to think that some humans can harm God and other humans can save God.

If we keep the above in mind, we will not fight in God’s name. We will not think that we are the only repositories of The Truth and that everyone else is a misguided fool who it is our God-given duty to correct. We will not listen to those who divide us in His name. All of us would leave a better world, if this happens.

May God be with you.

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05 December, 2008

Aunty Neha !!

It was just another afternoon. Mommy was busy in the kitchen getting some snacks ready for the nutty siblings who had just gotten back home from school.

It was then that the phone started ringing.

Assuming that Appu would answer the call, Mommy busied herself with the task of working on the snacks. The phone stopped ringing midway and Mommy, who was still in the kitchen, assumed that all was indeed well ....... that Appu had picked up the phone.

A few moments later the sound of Abhay launching off into a spate of giggles caught Mommy's attention and Mommy deemed it fit to peep out of the kitchen to take stock of the situation. The sight that met her eyes was really something. Abhay, his ear glued to the phone, was nodding his head this way and that quite merrily and had a huge smile plastered on his face.

Mommy once again assumed that it was someone he knew. Abhay's next question put that doubt to rest too. This was his side of the conversation .....

Abhay : Who are you ? (a huge smile on his face)

Caller replies

A : Oh ! You are Aunty Neha ? Where do you live, Aunty Neha ?

(Mommy was beginning to look totally puzzled because we knew no Aunty Neha. So then, who in God's name was this ?). Mr.E, in the meanwhile, was chatting up "Aunty Neha" as though he had known her his whole life.

A : Aunty, do you have long hair ?

Caller replies

A : Oh ! (a huge beam on his face) My mom and my sister also have long hair. Long hair is very pretty.

Caller replies

A : No No No No No. I don't have long hair. I'm a boy. Boys don't have long hair. Girls have long hair ........ sometimes (shaking head vigorously to drive home his point)

Caller replies

A : How many children do you have ?

(Mommy, by this time, is seriously gasping for air. Appu, eyes as wide as saucers, seems to be in a state of shock at the question. Mr.E however, continues merrily ..)

Caller replies

A : Oh ! My mom and dad also have two children. Me and my sister.

A : Aunty Neha, where do you live ?

Caller replies

A : Oh ! That's where I live. That's where my home is also (a hundred watt grin now plastered on his face)

A : Which block do you live in ?

A : Which floor ?

A : Which Apartment ?

A : Do you know that tomorrow is going to be very very cold. The temperature is going to go very low.

Caller replies

A : OK. Bye Bye.

And after a couple of minutes, the phone rang once again. This time around, Mommy got to the phone first and a few minutes of conversation later Mommy was seen rather helplessly rolling on the floor, convulsed with laughter.

Appu was seen rolling her eyes heavenward !!

First her brother talks to some unknown person on the phone - a aunty, to be specific - as though he has known her all her life. Then Mommy starts laughing uncontrollably, giving credence to the fact that a streak of absolute insanity still runs strong in her - and is running rather amok inside her head right at that very moment.

The so called "Aunty Neha" was none other than Dad. Since Abhay speaks to him for just a minute or so over the phone and then says "bye daddy" and runs off, Daddy Dear decided to try this little experiment. Apparently aunties are definitely given more of time over the telephone.

Once Mommy was able to speak coherently in the midst of all that laughter that was threatening to erupt again, the whole situation was explained to Appu. And then all hell broke loose. Appu could not contain her laughter which set Mommy laughing all over again. That set Abhay off and he too started to laugh. Best part was - he did not know why we were laughing or why he was laughing.

And Daddy has hit upon the perfect formula to hold long conversations with Abhay on the phone. :D

Mommy is just glad that the streak of insanity does not belong to her alone. :D

The whole family shares it !!!!!!!

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