After Ramadan-Eid, Gandhi Jayanti and Navratras
Growing up and going through life hearing the accounts of festivals and parties enjoyed by others. Navratras are going on in India. The children are enjoying this bonanza.
The different phases and rituals of life, the structures of society come to mind.
How conscious is one regarding the “Consumerist society” and the marketing machines which have made these festivities just another opportunity to sell things.
It is easy to get sucked up when one is in the middle of it. But if one steps back and thinks for a while, one can see the bigger picture of different forces at play.
Professional management structures in which they let things pass when it comes to their commitments but are very aggressive when it comes to getting work done was another issue discussed at different levels and people in the past week.
“The issue is simple, and two fold,” I told one middle-level manager who was laughing at one of the doctors as his ticket was being withheld.
“Was the doctor’s work satisfactory?” I asked firmly, taking to grips with the issue which for me was not a laughing matter.
This has happened to many before and can happen to anyone.
“Yes. He was a satisfactory worker. In fact we require two persons like him, to cover the increasing workload.” answered the Mudir.
“How can his dues be withheld. What is the accountability and check on a manager whose staff is not doing their work, and when they are reminded just to perform their duties, they become very ‘angry’. Is this the way to behave with a professional who has served for a year in your organization and is just wanting to go home to his country?”
I asked firmly. The manager’s smile disappeared. It is not a joke. It is a shame.
Reading groups have evolved. On the occasion of Gandhi Jayanti we spent a few hours reading some Essays on the “That Man Gandhi” as Sir Winston Churchill used to call our Bapu. Touching essays on his relations with Ba (his wife Kasturba), the nuances of his relation with his estranged son Harilal, his long association with his secretary Mahadev Desai and his debates with Tagore on internationalism and nationalism, the great relation with Charlie Andrews and what Gandhi means today.
Churchill on Gandhi
It was while addressing the Council of the West Essex Unionists on February 23, 1931, that Churchill remarked of how, to him and most likely to much of his audience, it “was alarming to see Mr. Gandhi, a seditious Middle Temple lawyer, now posing as a fakir of a type well known in the East, striding half-naked up the steps of the Viceregal Palace, while he is still organising and conducting a defiant campaign of civil disobedience, to parley on equal terms with the representative of the King-Emperor.”
Gandhi and Mahadev Desai
When he finally stopped breathing, Gandhi called out in agitation: “Mahadev! Mahadev!” Later, when asked why he did so, the Mahtama answered: “I felt that if Mahadev opened his eyes and looked at me, I would tell him to get up. He had never disobeyed me in his life. I was confident that had he heard those words, he would have defied even death and got up”.
Mahadev had served his Master for most of his life, but the last act of service was to be Gandhi’s. He bathed the body himself, albeit “with shaking hands”. Then he chose to wrap Mahadev in the coarse sheets available in the jail — “as befitting the death of a prisoner”. Then he lit the fire, such that — in Narayan Desai’s words — “he who had been the father all his life now performed the duties of a son”.
A lovely dinner
The dinner at the house of the Defence Attache of Pakistan on the occasion of their National defence day was good. Initially I was a bit hesitant to go, but since I got some company I went.
An Indian on Pakistan’s Defense day? My father was in the Indian Army for 33 years!
A nicely printed card with my name typed on it was another motivation. It is the respect with which you are invited which counts.
“Have you ever been called with such respect by your own embassy” a colleague asked.
No, I muttered quietly. Our ‘officials’ remember you only when they require you.
The Brigadier was nicely turned out in his ceremonial uniform and conducted himself in a very graceful dignified manner.
Met a fellow radiologist. Same old Shop-talk.Nice food. Biryani, Kheer, Kebab, Mutton.
The warmth melted many barriers. You could feel it. These barriers which were created by colonizers, divided a people who have loved the same land, heard the same ghazals, enjoyed the same kebabs. The prayers at Nizamuddin, the afternoons spent chewing grass and sharing peanuts with squirrels at Humayun tomb and Kotla came alive on a lovely Tripoli evening.
Sufi existentialism or divisive conversions? What is the way ahead?
Thinking of the consumer society, rituals and structures of family, institutions, medical and defense, diplomatic moorings and falsities, social niceties, issues of parenting and phases of life. The shining medals-the smiling sensitive man whose life has been structured in a mould. The children dancing the Dandiya and enjoying sweets. Sahil had a successful food stall.How is the course of lives different for persons from different walks of life? A money lender came to show a report.
Our paths crossed and a memory etched on forever. Do you remember the walk in Lodhi gardens,Delhi over a quarter century ago? Wrote to an old school friend remembering our teenage flames.
The Great Consumerist Society blows off many minds, eats up our souls.
Thinking of Thoreau by the Walden Pond. Started reading Gita after a gap.
Read an interesting essay on the differences of Vedanta and Tantra lines of spiritual practice and thought.
“I do not propose to write an ode to dejection, but to brag as lustily as chanticleer in the morning, standing on his roost, if only to wake my neighbors up.” –First lines of Walden Pond..Where I lived, what I lived for.
Went for a long walk by the Mediterranean the next day.