Tuesday, October 10, 2017

What's in a name ?

What is in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet  is a popular reference to William Shakespeare play of Romeo and Juliet . Shakespeare would have loved visiting my small village that has the most colorful names, its like as if the naming squad decided to pay homage to the Britishers who ruled us and just left all of us with complexes to have the white, fair skin and the best ode naming them after the gora log. So, one ambitious lady who wanted to out do the rest of the women, named her son Bladder. Bladder is the best cow-help we have, he can coax milk out of the most stubbornness’ of them.
His name as you can see is contradictory or on some levels an indicator to milking.
What must his mother be thinking when she named him this? Does she know what it means? I don’t think so. There is another tall, old, with a flowing beard Gursikh gentleman who works on the farm is in charge of the planting is quite senior in the hierarchy whose name is, Phanni. Yes, you heard it; it’s a funny name.
This person is extremely religious, makes annual trips to the gurudwaras and is a devout Sikh. He’s been a Phanni all his life and now has grandchildren who go to English schools.
The measure of success in Punjab is how well you speak English, to ape all mannerisms, to be a pseudo- intellectual with complete disdain for its rural identity. The culture, the identity and the ethos of what we stand for, has changed as we try to embrace a culture that is not ours.
At first we gave up wearing our clothes, and simultaneously the language we speak. In fact, it is a matter of grave concern if you can’t speak English and have an accent that is pronounced Punjabi and is pendu. Also, heaven forbid, if you wear Punjabi clothes and don’t wear the western attire. I have had ladies express horror and sadness that I lived in a village
And they wondered how I commuted to the city. It also doesn’t help that I wear suits and have hair that goes in a bun. And isn’t colored to suit the rainbow. I don’t have the requisite streaking you see.
They also wondered what I did in the evenings.  There are  William , Nathaniel all who live in the next village , who have the best waiters in town. I wonder, how many Alices ,Preety , who is pretty , by the way have a life that the Alice’s of the west have.
We name our children with a hope that the names influence their destiny but sometimes all the names chosen go astray. Issac of the next village is Issak now. It doesn’t end there, Lot became lutta , and Same became Semaa , the best green fingers doctor. It is how ever another story that he is a reformed drug addict who had a mild problem, is forever in  need of money but can coax life out of a dead plant also. He has magical green fingers.

The old fashioned names which were synonymous of Punjab, have given to names that are modern, short. We all try to blend in, to blend into a nameless, faceless society that has lost its will , identity and has forgotten to be proud. We are in fact a, society that is looking for answers from outside, and love blaming the ill wills to a fast paced virtual life that is so far away from the problems that plague us. Embracing oneself, bing proud of one’s heritage and sticking to the old fashion values that we had would lead us out of the problems of corruption that has seeped into the fabric. Naming a child with a fancy schmancy name isn’t deliverance, deliverance starts by the values, morals and the valor of yesteryear and don’t let it be relegated to monuments only . Till then , we have trivial twitter debates on Taimur’s name  and the recent ugly spat of Hrithik and Kangana!

What's in a name ?

What is in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet  is a popular reference to William Shakespeare play of Romeo and Juliet . Shakespeare would have loved visiting my small village that has the most colorful names, its like as if the naming squad decided to pay homage to the Britishers who ruled us and just left all of us with complexes to have the white, fair skin and the best ode naming them after the gora log. So, one ambitious lady who wanted to out do the rest of the women, named her son Bladder. Bladder is the best cow-help we have, he can coax milk out of the most stubbornness’ of them.
His name as you can see is contradictory or on some levels an indicator to milking.
What must his mother be thinking when she named him this? Does she know what it means? I don’t think so. There is another tall, old, with a flowing beard Gursikh gentleman who works on the farm is in charge of the planting is quite senior in the hierarchy whose name is, Phanni. Yes, you heard it; it’s a funny name.
This person is extremely religious, makes annual trips to the gurudwaras and is a devout Sikh. He’s been a Phanni all his life and now has grandchildren who go to English schools.
The measure of success in Punjab is how well you speak English, to ape all mannerisms, to be a pseudo- intellectual with complete disdain for its rural identity. The culture, the identity and the ethos of what we stand for, has changed as we try to embrace a culture that is not ours.
At first we gave up wearing our clothes, and simultaneously the language we speak. In fact, it is a matter of grave concern if you can’t speak English and have an accent that is pronounced Punjabi and is pendu. Also, heaven forbid, if you wear Punjabi clothes and don’t wear the western attire. I have had ladies express horror and sadness that I lived in a village
And they wondered how I commuted to the city. It also doesn’t help that I wear suits and have hair that goes in a bun. And isn’t colored to suit the rainbow. I don’t have the requisite streaking you see.
They also wondered what I did in the evenings.  There are  William , Nathaniel all who live in the next village , who have the best waiters in town. I wonder, how many Alices ,Preety , who is pretty , by the way have a life that the Alice’s of the west have.
We name our children with a hope that the names influence their destiny but sometimes all the names chosen go astray. Issac of the next village is Issak now. It doesn’t end there, Lot became lutta , and Same became Semaa , the best green fingers doctor. It is how ever another story that he is a reformed drug addict who had a mild problem, is forever in  need of money but can coax life out of a dead plant also. He has magical green fingers.

The old fashioned names which were synonymous of Punjab, have given to names that are modern, short. We all try to blend in, to blend into a nameless, faceless society that has lost its will , identity and has forgotten to be proud. We are in fact a, society that is looking for answers from outside, and love blaming the ill wills to a fast paced virtual life that is so far away from the problems that plague us. Embracing oneself, bing proud of one’s heritage and sticking to the old fashion values that we had would lead us out of the problems of corruption that has seeped into the fabric. Naming a child with a fancy schmancy name isn’t deliverance, deliverance starts by the values, morals and the valor of yesteryear and don’t let it be relegated to monuments only . Till then , we have trivial twitter debates on Taimur’s name  and the recent ugly spat of Hrithik and Kangana!

Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What lies within...

This universe is not outside of you.
Look inside yourself; everything that you want,
You already are.
Rumi


We keep on searching for answers, solutions for every little thing in our lives, ignoring the one and only truth. Every day countless people will go to astrologers, readers of the destiny via tarot cards, palmists, some one who will decipher your line and the latest is where they scan your palm when you have downloaded an app for X amount of money and the daily forecast is given to you. We wear colors for the day, align our days according to the stars and try to influence the destiny that has already been written for us. I am guilty too. I have tried everything and searched to find answers for whatever troubles or what I think ails my fears or me.
I would defiantly say now, nothing works, whatever has to happen will. We are mere puppets whose strings are with a higher force. Some are cynical, will scoff at what I say and some will say it’s a passing phase, but I wonder how long do we continue to say we are young, we’ve lived the odd 40 years on this planet and are approaching the final frontier and the final, inescapable truth.
All what we search is within you, its just a matter of being quiet and letting the outer mindless chatter not affect you or bother you. Easier said than done, nor does it happen overnight, there isn’t a calm pill that you pop in that you get this, nor does one clear the levels in a game and reach the pinnacle. A bird sitting on a branch does not worry about falling she lays trust on her wings to fly. We need to trust, and to believe in the inborn instinct we all have. Listen to it, it speaks the truth and it’s this truth that is His guidance. We fear, fear itself and this imaginary anguish has caused more heart break and failure combined than attempts.

In the end, we would go anywhere and learn, read scriptures, do penance, but until it His will, or razaa as my dear friend from across the border says, nothing can happen. This is an interesting word, razaa means will. Everything is pre ordained, pre ordered and willed by Him. Hence, we might go to the corners of the earth but the light lies within us and only  sparks when He wishes. It can happen and it cannot. We can pretend that we are enlightened but only when we submit to Him does the inner journey start.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Autumn is here ..

Autumn is here; there is a sense of fragility in the air. Leave are changing color, finally to shed and leave the trees bare to herald winter. The weather is changing, we have days that are hot and a sense of unease prevails and the mornings and the evenings become pleasant and it’s the best time to be in Punjab. The slight chill, the gentle wind, the moon gazing down but a slight ominous feel is felt. The wistful, magical weather that is there these days is also mysterious and is a sign of the change of the times.
I feel it, when I see a role reversal, we all are getting old and so are our parents, uncles, and aunts and loved ones. I see the gait getting slower, the steps are measured and one can see the slowing. This makes me vulnerable, and suddenly I see the shift and the balance tilting to us.
When did we reach this? It’s just too sudden, and it’s staring in the face. It was only yesterday; that I was the youngest there was a complete hierarchy with my grandparents, parents and then us. And, Now its changed, we became parents, our parents are the grandparents and our children are us .
The wheels of time, move on not waiting for anyone, anything. We, think we are untouched, even I do. I think this is not going to happen to my parents or me and all whom I love will be there.  It’s just not meant to be. In fact, we are so busy in this crazy virtual haze ridden world where life is reduced to a keyboard and what we emote there is the gospel. Life is measured with moments that can be uploaded, shared valued only of the picture is perfect, and we are in sync wearing the best showing the best. We as a generation are caught up as the Facebook oldies, instagram user but young for snap chat and its antics. I mean the frames are beyond me and frankly posting a picture with those flowers crowning me or becoming a dog or having weird things accentuating me is. Well lets a bit too young for me. Any ways, my boys call me mata ji and I revel in it!
I think we all have a young and an old spirit in us, I seem to have imbibed both of it and right now with the achy feet, bony knees (genetic I am sure), hair that went rogue and has a mind of its own bordering to an eccentric grey and stark white with a penchant for fantasy books, magic, gory gruesome murder and fiction, I suddenly feel I have to grow up.
Autumn is symbolic of change, of letting go and letting the next season come. It is when the leaves fall and it’s the time for rest before the new cycle starts. Isn’t it symbolic in us too? All our lives we keep on building, collecting, hoarding reaching a pinnacle counting our success by the ‘things ‘ it and we owns all measureable in the material things we have.  And, one day we start to de-hoard, we start to give way knowing that the time is coming, and success and happiness is measured by the moments we have, by the people who are our tribe, who have your back, who smile when they hear your name and who make time to talk to you even if they are busy. Busy in fact doesn’t exist for them, when it you on the line. That is success that is true happiness when someone cares about your crazy coffee habits, your chaat, and momos and would buy you books no matter what or where they are.

Invest in them; this is what is going to make us tide the winter. They would help you face the next step. A role reversal is happening and its not the bigger change that we sense worldwide with the climate upheaval, with nature telling us she’s angry or the really fragile political peace that can be unraveled in a Nano-second, it’s when we realize that we are comfortably middle aged and old, ready to don the next role. Autumn is here , but are you ready or are you lulled by the bright sun that stuns and fazes you into a false summer promising eternal youth .

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

English 2 Winglish

I don’t think the real threat to is the blown out of proportion drug addiction theory that the government in power or the opposition tries to fob us as the problem with Punjab. Ok, after you all settle down and catch a breath after shouting at me, the real problem is the mushrooming of these fly by night, shady operators who sell the phoren dream to the youth promising greener, richer pastures abroad promised with money and a permanent residency abroad and then immigration for the family and a deliverance from the poverty in Punjab.
Stop and consider, why is this happening? What has happened that is making everyone pledge their negligible savings, there gold and anything they own to finance these educational schemes. In a state where English isn’t taught in the government schools till the third standard and they have guides to translate, mug the chapters and answer by rote, the youth goes bewildered to a fancy English sounding name course center where a young attractive girl confuses, confounds and sells the dream.
I am a witness to this. The names are all a play on winning the ultimate dream. It starts with scoring high in the band with (not to be confused with music or anything else) to secure admission in a college university and then to apply for a visa and get this and fly away. This is sold as a complete package and the children get sucked in thinking this is the way they will be modern and can secure the elusive admission. The names are bizarre, from English 2 Winglish, Sophia’s English, The Daily Planet, English Planet and the popular ones are all a subtle play on pun, psychological to impress you.
I face this situation on a daily basis where young boys and girls are dropping a year of college to join these institutions, crash courses and change their fortune. It’s not a play of dice that you score a six and go forward in life. Till we don’t live in the present, and start changing the educational system, roping in MNC’s, proving we are the agricultural provider to the country or again harping that we suffered because of militancy isn’t going to get us anywhere.
You know, I wish we would all suck it and stop living in a false Punjabi bravado; we all need to change and change soon. We missed the bus last decade, everything is spiraling downwards and catching the flight to the west isn’t going to change anything. How do I convince them not to study in these concise, capsulated, crash courses that just promise them everything? A change, in identity, a passport to the west, its glamor, the green bills, an escape from a drudgery and despair. They want an escapism from the poverty that drags them down , does not allow them an identity , forever bound by chains of caste and creed that simmers discontent.
I mean , when are we going to be free of these chains, they are in fact getting more marked, differences are so rampant and we fight over the silliest reasons. And, don’t even get me started on what it means to be a woman, a cow has more dignity , respect and is revered.
Teaching , talking and walking English isn’t going to deliver us to manna , nor are the aliens coming to save us , they skipped and went to save to the other galaxy .

I have a motley crew of girls who want to better their skills and I don’t have the heart to say no as anything is better than being killed, maimed , abused , debased , and just aborted for being a female and I know you feel jaded as you read this, but maybe a light may reach the cracks and we would be the change we need . Reading Rumi wont help , till we start applying his readings to .