Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Myth Or Reality


A lot of us have read about some myth or the other in our lives no matter what our background. If you are from Scandinavia, you would have heard of Thor and Odin and if you are from Africa you would have heard of Ra or Isis and if you are from South America, Quetzlquatl would ring a bell in your ears.

When I was a kid, I used to be told stories of Krishna and Lord Siva (of Indian Origin). Each civilisation has had its own stories about the Gods and their way of life. I have read about a few of these gods and find that there are very fine points where all these civilisations tend to coincide.

These are:
1) They have Gods based on the five elements - Earth , Water, Fire, Sky and Air.
2) They have Gods for Attributes - Wisdom, Courage, Love etc.
3) They all have Gods which define a certain characteristics called - Good and for certain characteristics called - Bad, such as the Angel and the Devil.

The Angels will fall under the - To be emulated category
The Devils will fall under the - Not to be emulated category

Today if someone were to tell me some of these myths I would probably think that they are just a figment of someones imagination. Whether they really happened or did not happen remains a question to be answered.

Sometimes, when we come across some of these mythical characters, one wonders if they were for real. I have given it a lot of thought and I still "Dont know" if they are for real or not. There are many reasons for me to believe they are not real, while I have reasons to believe they are as well, i.e there really was a time when these mythical creatures were there on the face of the planet.

A friend of mine once asked, if Yudhishtra (from the Epic Mahabharata) were such a lousy ass that he would forsake his entire kingdom, brothers and everything he had in a game of dice, then how can he be called "Dharma Raja" and how can the war he conducted for reclaiming his land be called "Dharma Yudh", and how would a sane person want to make him his king.

A very valid question. Even I would ask the same. When he asked this to his grandpa and grandma , they said, "It is in a different divine plane, you will not understand it".
This answer is quite incomprehensible I agree, but the answer is the best you can get to your question.

I will attempt to answer that question here. I am sure my answer will not be fully justifying the question ... but still, it is an attempt.

"When we look at things from our perspective we see them the way we were made to see. Our parents, friends, surroundings, and way of thinking have a lot of bearing on how we see things. We can never digest the fact that someone can marry five men and still be cool about it.
What we cannot digest as well is the fact that Cannibals eat men. If you go to a cannibal and try to explain to him that he is not supposed to eat human flesh he will never understand you (probably he is making a calculation if you will make a good dinner, so get away fast). For you eating another human being is disgusting. For him, it is a tasty way of life :) (pun intended)

This is what our grandmothers and grandparents mean by "Different plane" of understanding.

We are some 5000 or even more years away from when these so called epics happened. In the last 100 years we have seen so much changes, right from the way womens liberalisation has come into picture to our clothing etc. (would you wear a "Dhothi" to your work? , while a few decades ago, not wearing a dhothi was considered horrible)

If a few years can bring about such a change in one's life, imagine what 5000 odd years can do to you."

Hence, before we get judgemental about these epics, we need to first grasp what the setting of the story is. Any story , be it Ayn Rand or Salman Rushdie, is set on a particular "Premise". The story runs under the assumption that the premise is true or atleast that the premise is the one which is "In Vogue" when the story was written.

It might as well be false or become out of fashion a few years down the lane and may seem even funny. Imagine, if we see Aamir Khan Wearing Bell Bottom pants and coming and dancing on the screen and the heroine Preity Zinta, fully clad in a salwar kameez dancing about 300 metres away from the hero so that they dont touch.

It just wont work here!!! Time changes things, and observing a story/myth/epic from a
different frameset or mindset will always be funny.

A true appreciation of any art can only be done when we go to that Premise and look at the story from there on.

A very good example to cite here is "The Lord of the Rings" . A true masterpiece, many of you might agree. But it too is based on the premise that there is a place called middle earth. The creatures that dwell it are governed by certain rules. And we have to take it from that angle.
Perhaps to understand the Mahabharata or Ramayana or for that matter any great epic , we need to clearly understand the premise under which they were written. Believe me, a lot of effort has to be made, before we can even understand the premise in which it was written, which brings me to the topic of understanding the Varnashrama system. We need to have a lot of understanding of the way people led their lives during the above period.

I do agree, it all seems very humorous, but trust me, it will not be so humorous, if you were a 5000 year old man :). It is humorous because u are just from a different planet altogether, given this span of time.

But, leaving apart all that, these stories contain a lot of value education which our children can learn when they are young. It moulds them to understand how to live a better life , what to do , and what not to do. Hence, though we find it funny, a childs mind can easily learn a lot from these myths.

I for one am a true fan of these myths.

In fact, one simple proof of one of these myths (The Ramayana) would be this : In the time the story is set, the journey of Rama to Lanka during the 14 years, is depicted in Temples throughout the vast expanse of India, which is about 3000 KMs from Ayodhya to Lanka. And in those days, with only horses and poor transport equipment, it is tough for all the people from the north of India, to the southernmost tip of India to imagine the Same character of Rama, and tell the same story, and agree with the details of his journey (as can be seen from the inscriptions on all these temples - For a better read, please read the Hindu Dharma by Chandrashekara Saraswati Swamigal, where he illustrates how various temples agree to great minute details about the journey of Rama though they are separated by such vast distances)
This is simply not possible unless something really happened during that period.

Moreover, we used to hear that Dasaratha lived 60000 years. The year which they mention is not the year that we have. They did not follow the Gregorian Calendar. So it is rather funny on our part to ASSUME things which are not said. We need tomake an effort find out how much an year was according to their calendar. It would probably work out to some 120 man years in our calendar. And then we would think that he probably could have lived that long...who knows?

Anwyay, myth or reality is determined by the faith of the person who reads a work. But an intelligent person will take that which is good for him and leave the silt behind.

Quoting Hitler : "To study history means to search for and discover the forces that are the causes of those results which appear before our eyes as historical events. The art of reading and studying consists in remembering the essentials and forgetting what is not essential.

----- Hitler in Mein Kampf"

A Good afternoon lunch

This is what everyone in Software industry yearns for but rarely gets. The usual office menu looks something like:

0) Yesterdays Chapathis or day before yesterdays pooris, or Parathas from 1876 AD
1) A special rice - Either some lukewarm basmati rice,pulav, or some puliyodharai rice, or some coloured rice which God knows what it is
2) Some papads/vadams which are either over burnt or under cooked
3) 2 Dry curries and 2 Wet curries (that is what they call them)
4) Sambhar cum rasam - This is the latest invention , wherein if u dont dip ur tablespoon too deep then u get rasam, and if u mix well it becomes sambhar
5) Yesterdays curd
6) The one thing that cannot go wrong - Salad
7) Some sugar (??? why do they keep this)
8) Pickle
9) A sweet - which tastes sweet (nothing more to add here)
10) Friday special - Vanilla Ice cream (since they give ice cream, they cancel item number 9)

And for offering this kinda crap they charge anywhere between 20-40 rupees depending upon different companies.

How I wish I make these people eat their own shit that they make for us :(.

Anyways, why I wanted to write this was today was different. Got a chance to have a great lunch in one of my friends house. His mom had come from Trichy. Had bangalore kathrikai koottu, paruppu usli, arachu utta sambhar, proper appalam, gumm rasam and curd rice and to top it all Gulab Jamuns in the end. Phew!!!

Guess what happens when u get such a good lunch after eating those dried up chappathis for a few weeks? You become sleepy :(


Friday, February 11, 2005

My friends - Part II

Me: Dei varia polaam? (Dude, are you coming?)
He: machi oru 5 mins da vandhudaren (give me 5 minutes)
Me (after 5 minutes) : Dei vaa daaa (Comeon man)
He : fiiiiivvveee minutes dho vandhutten, idha mattum mudichidaren (Just 5 more minutes, I will finish this and come)
Me (after half an hour) : Dei puhlleeaazzee vaa daaa (Dude, puhlleeaazzeee come)
He : ok ok , last , innum 5 minutes dhaan


after about 1 hour, we both are on our way.

That is Madhusudhanan for you.

Actual Name : Madhusudhanan Gopal

We prefer to call him : Gmad, Kodhu

Physical Description : Tall, fair, slim, bespectacled, athtletic, adding more acreage to his hairline(Which he tries to cover up wherever possible)

Good at : Cricket, WWF, Movie Details such as director,actor,actress,music director, music directors sister's brother's cousin's would be, Scoring centums, Keeping Secrets (very good at this one), Ability to keep himself under control in the most difficult of situations, patience, being stubborn

Bad at : I better not say anything here :)

Religious : A very devout Iyengar. Thinks there is God and truly believes in Him.

My friendship with him : Dates back to school days at DAV Gopalapuram. Back then he was a short guy who used to score good marks and stay on top as far as marks are concerned. I met him more often in college mainly bacause we were all from the same school. But our friendship thickened during the second year when he was my sideie (the guy who stays in the room next to yours).

We used to discuss about all the people around us, and many things. Became great friends, and there is rarely anything to this date that I have hidden from him. He too shares a lot of his feelings with me, which he rarely reveals to others. Perhaps, this is one reason why I understand him much better than many do. A great guy to have as your friend

The friendship suffered a trauma in second year when a misunderstanding broke out between us, regarding a project which myself and mumu (ya the guy I just mentioned about), were to do. He wanted to be part of that project, and somehow it did not work out (perhaps my mistake) , but it all ended in a good note when we discussed it out in the open. Ever since there has been no hiding things between us.

In my fourth year I was very much saddened to know that he will be doing his practice school in a different semester (which means 1 year of college without him by my side). He was the one guy in my wing who was not in the Art And Decoration department, and his not being with me for one year was to be a huge loss for me. I have missed him ever since. He is in Chennai right now, working for Caritor. If I get a chance to be with him again I would consider that to be one lucky dream fulfilled.

Perhaps he is the one guy with whom I have shared the most in my life. Could be because he is like a bottomless vessel, things go in and never come out. You need to talk to a person like gmad, to sink ur sorrows. I started missing him so much towards the end of my third year with the thought of having to be withouth him for one more year that I moved into his room :) and spent the rest of the college days in the third year as his roommate.

Have been missing you since then madhu. Glad to be your friend and great to have known you. Thank you once again God for showering one more Great friend on me

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

My friends - Part I

Friends are Gods greatest gifts to a man. (A woman as well). I am very thankful to God for having given me a great set of friends, and I would like to express my thoughts about each one of them whenever I get time. I will start this off with the guy who is my roommate and has been one of my closest friends for the past five years. I plan to write about every one of my friends as and when time permits. These blogs are in no particular order (so if I have not yet written about you (in case u are my friend and are reading this), it does not mean that I don't like you :)... it just means that I am writing something so good about you that it is taking time to frame the words. I am unable to express in words my feelings :) )

Here goes my list:

Actual Name : Sankaranarayanan Veeralekshmi Kumaresan (quite a long one)

We prefer to call him : Murukku, Mumu

Physical Description : Medium height, dark, not handsome :) and a smile that will put one
on your face as well. A slowly receeding hairline adds to his smartness. Probably
indicates his ever increasing knowledge.

Good at : Table tennis, Frisball, Fielding, Analytical skills, making an airplane if given
the right instruments, being very patient with all his friends as well as people who
normally irritate the likes of me :) , being adjustive, modest , winning challenges,
pushing himself to the limit to win something when he badly wants to, accepting flaws and
dishing out flaws in others as well, cooking (only when it comes to chapathis and
sambhar), keeping the room clean. In short, the best catch for a female looking for a
partner to take care of everything for her.

Bad at : Nothing much to add here. Maybe being too good is his flaw. Loses a lot of
arguments with me though :) , but what to do, I am so good at that.

Religious : "Ya there is a God. But whats the big deal even if he's not there. Things that will happen will happen. Do your duty and don't bother about Him"

My friendship with him : People call him my wife (which he refuses very strongly). It dates back to my second year at college when he was next to my
backie. We both did a project together (a Card Game) that brought us very close to each
other. It was then that I learned that people like him can who is so caring
for those next to him and one who never gives up on his friends. Was very touched by the
mannerisms of him and his fellow friends, whose details I will be soon giving one by one.
To be frank, all my life, I had never learned to live like them until I met them. I had
met many people who were naturally selfish or were too innocent that they did not know
they were being fooled. But for the first time I met him and his gang of friends who knew
the world around them and yet were so adjustive. One example of their friendly and
unselfish mannerisms is this : When they learn something new , they teach it to their
friends, be it a subject matter which will come in the next days exam, or be it anything
from daily life which could be done in an easier fashion. Another good example of their
inherent good nature is, they NEVER eat without all of them getting together. All of them
wait until they all arrive from their respective classes and then go to lunch/dinner together. I
learned many more such things from him.

After that project, we were together in all the courses and projects that we did. He was a
member of the Art and Decoration department and went on to become the leader of that
department as well for a festival called Apogee (I think it was in the year 2002). I used
to tease him that he spends very less time with his wingies, and that he spent more time
with Art'n'dee dept. Normally a person would not give this sort of teasing a second
thought ,but he was so understanding that he did decide to spend more time in the wing as
well as with his department members. This is another one of his good quality. He has time
for everyone. He knows so many people and yet, gives them all his time in equal
proportions and never ignores anyone. To him all are equal.

He is the one who taught me how to play table tennis, though I guess I have become the
disciple who beats his teacher :) (dont tell to him that I told this). Used to spend a lot
of time playing carrom board with him (my forte, and he used to do pretty decently as well), and table tennis. A very good athlete, can outlast almost all my friends (except a couple), in a test of Stamina. I used to beat him in Arm Wrestling, but off late I dont know what he has been eating, that he manages to beat me in it. Gotto get back to working out.

He is a tee-totaller, and does not smoke as well. Not sure if he's a virgin...but mostly is one, because I dont see how he could have managed to get a girl that too before I managed to get one. A kishore kumar fan who knows nothing about melody, please donot ask him to sing (atleast when I am around).

He is one of the few persons in this world of whom I have been jealous of for certain aspects. I rarely, very rarely accept that there are persons from whom I can learn something, and he is one such guy. A person who I respect to the greatest extent possible. All I can say is I am sure his parents should be very proud of a boy like him. It is one of Gods greatest gifts to me to have given a friend like him. Proud to be your friend mumu, if you're reading this.

--- will be adding a lot here slowly...