Reveries

A mishmash of spirituality, human relationship, adult and children's literature, news analyses and anti-road-rage tirades

Pleasure

I thought of trying my hand at writing a short story today. Took me two hours to devise the plot, write the story and upload it on my blog. I will be grateful if you can spend a few while reading it and giving your valuable feedback in the comments section below.

Mrs X discovered her neighbour after a long time, quite surprised to find her standing beside the entrance. “Long time no see!” gleaned Mrs X with an ear-to-ear smile, “Where have you been all these days?”

“Just get in,” she motioned towards her living room, “Let’s catch up over a cup of tea”.

“That’s okay,” replied Mrs Y with a smirk, “Thank you”.

“I’m in a hurry. Will catch up with you later,” she spoke the words as she dashed unexpectedly towards her residence and vanished.

***

A woman aged forty-twoish barged into her bedroom, heaving deeply all the way. Her face was both red with fear and bright with snobbish pride.

The twelve-year old budding painter, seated on the bed, glanced her mother without raising her head. She immediately recognised her familiar body language during moments of triumph and adventurous escape.

“What’s the trophy this time, mom?” she raised the much-awaited poser.

“Sabotaged her plumerias,” she replied with a genuine chuckle.

Pleasure - A short story on nosy neighbours

Plumerias (Image courtesy: Wikipedia)

“Sabotaged whose plumerias?”

“That rustic simpleton’s,” she responded motioning towards the house next door.

“You mean, Aunt X’s?”

“Who else?” explained Mrs Y, adding, “And she thought I was waiting beside her entrance for her tea!”

“But mom, what do you gain by devastating blooming flowers? Poor little plants and their hard-working owners!”

“Pleasure, my daughter, pleasure!”

***

Next morning, while watering her little front garden, Mrs X was at her wit’s end figuring out how the top part of her young plumeria plant could have separated completely from the stem below. It had been just a few days that the plant started bearing flowers.

“Didn’t I tell you the last time when my dahlias were destroyed? Never ever harm the plants, got it?” she charged her little daughter.

Mrs Y, standing in her high-walled veranda, thought herself to be doubly lucky to be an audience to the high drama going on in the house next door.

“Pleasure, my child, pleasure!” she thought.

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Filed under: Flash Fiction, Relationships, Short Story, , , , , , , ,

On a Race against Road Rage

This article is devoted to Zero Tolerance to Road Rage (ZTTRR). ZTTRR is a non-profit attempt to create awareness on the increasing incidents of road rage in India and elsewhere. ZTTRR considers the Gandhian principles of non-violence as the perfect way to systematically root out this social evil. It firmly believes that rage against road rage will only bring more rampage on the roads! On the other hand, a peaceful approach—imbued with love and understanding—can completely cure this menace.

The beginning
Consider these road rage facts:

  • “Intermittent Explosive Disorder—medical name for road rage—affects around 16 million people in the US.” —Streetdirectory.com
  • “In one survey [in the US], 90 percent reported that during the past year they either were a victim of road rage or had witnessed it.” —Scientific American
  •  “Every year at least 1500 people [in the US] are seriously injured or killed in road rage.” —AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, Washington, D.C.
  • “New Delhi: A young executive from Mumbai lost a finger and suffered stab wounds in the stomach when three persons, including a juvenile, attacked him in a case of road rage.” —India Today
  • “A man’s ear was bitten off in a road rage case after a minor accident took place in Harola area of Noida” —The Times of India
  • “Even typically calm, reasonable people can turn into warriors (road ragers) behind the wheel.” —American Psychological Association
  • “By the end of December 28 this year [2012], 462 lives were snuffed out in road accidents in Hyderabad” —The Hindu
  • “Young people and men were most frequently involved in road rage cases in Canada.” —Canadian Medical Association Journal
  •  “Tourist road rage attack damaged New Zealand’s reputation” —The New Zealand Herald
  • Hawaii: Two men were injured when a driver got out of his car armed with a golf club and smashed the rear and front windows of a 21-year-old man’s car. —Maui Time Magazine, Hawaii
  • “A 26-year-old engineer was stabbed and his car driver assaulted by three unidentified persons on an outer road in Pune.” —Sandprints Blog by Chandrashekhara
  • “A Long Island man has been charged in an alleged road rage-caused accident in September that left a 15-year-old bicyclist dead.” —The Wall Street Journal
  • “A couple is facing weapon-related charges following a road rage incident caught on camera in Newport, North Carolina.” — abc7.com, United States
  • “Drunk Road Raging Thai Points Gun At Tourist Van” —Thai Visa Forum

Road rage is an unwanted bi-product of modernity. It is the most common yet the most neglected nuisance in the urban landscape. It has turned into a serious social issue in cities across the world and has already taken many lives.

All these mind-boggling facts annoyed me no end. I wanted to create a common platform that would try to find out viable solutions to road rage at large and provide awareness to people through social media and personal interactions.

I researched on the Internet to look for an existing platform, where I could add my two pennies’ worth. Unfortunately, except for newspaper reports on road-rage-induced accidents and a few writings here and there, I could not locate any suitable platform to network with like-minded people.

It is this lack of space that prompted me to start my mission unilaterally. On March 24, 2013, I launched the Zero Tolerance to Road Rage (ZTTRR) community by creating a Facebook page by the same name (https://www.facebook.com/ZeroTolerancetoRoadRage). It was a culmination of an idea that occurred to me around a year ago.

I chose online platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WordPress and Google Groups over traditional ones because I believe in the power of the internet. People have been extremely successful in sending their messages across an unimaginably large number of people by making use of the power of social media.

Fundamental philosophy
ZTTRR has many unique features in its fundamental philosophy. I enlist them here:

  1. Road rage is a social evil and is a nuisance in all cities of the world. Therefore, the geographical purview of ZTTRR is not limited to a city or two in India but spread across the length and breadth of the globe.
  2. ZTTRR’s fight is against road rage not against the people who engage in road rage.
  3. ZTTRR aims at fighting against road rage using peaceful means. It adopts the Gandhian principles of non-violence and non-compromise.
  4. ZTTRR aims at creating awareness using the power of social media globally and personal interactions, outreach events and orientations locally.
  5. ZTTRR assumes the following premises:
    1. In a road rage incident there are always two parties involved—the aggressor and the provoker.
    2. Both the aggressor and the provoker are prone to getting harmed.
    3. Both these parties need the following orientations to save themselves from an aggressive situation:
      1. attitudinal orientation
        1. awareness about self
          (being conscious about one’s own action on the road)
        2. awareness about others
          (being conscious about the reasons that lead others to act in particular ways)
      2. technical orientation
        1. awareness about the surrounding
          (being conscious about the roads, the signages and the vehicles)
    4. ZTTRR aims to address both the aggressors and the provokers and to create awareness through orientations about their on-road behaviour and their surroundings.

What’s next?
Our first goal is to spread the word about ZTTRR to the maximum number of people using tools like personal interactions and social media. We are planning to organize outreach events and orientations at busy intersections in New Delhi and Noida. The aim will be to interact with road users and create awareness among them about the seriousness of the road rage issue. This will be followed by partnering with various driving schools to offer comprehensive sensitization and orientations to budding drivers. The plan also includes interacting with school children.

The next step will be to institutionalize these interactions and organize such events regularly in other cities of India as well. Finally, I am hopeful that every city in the world will lend support to this cause and help to summarily wipe out road rage from the roads.

Our biggest challenge
The biggest challenge for ZTTRR is time. Currently it has just a few volunteers! We have but only twenty-four hours at hand. A substantial part of this time goes into earning our livelihood. Supposing one person gets enough volunteers to duplicate their time, then the biggest challenge for us will be to reach out to a large number of people and educate them on the evils of road rage.

The next things in the pipeline are even greater challenges, namely—to institutionalize the road rage sensitization process by providing attitudinal and technical orientations. This involves the preparation, promotion and delivery of training material and requires both a huge pool of skilled manpower and a big financial support.

We want people to join hands with us in our peaceful fight against road rage—people from every walk of life, every corner of the earth. Endorsements from celebrities, the media and people with a special social standing can definitely help ZTTRR in sending its message to a large number of people.

Any kind of support in cash or kind can too help ZTTRR in promoting its mission, and in funding and organizing the outreach events and personal orientations for imparting the attitudinal and technical awareness. We solicit the support from everyone.

How you can help us
ZTTRR has a daunting task in front of it. Every mega-structure starts with the first brick. ZTTRR already has a strong foundation in place. We need your support. If you are thinking that you may not be able to give your time or funds enough to support ZTTRR, you may still advocate its cause by doing some seemingly simple yet powerful things:

  • Like the ZTTRR Facebook page to keep yourself updated on the activities of ZTTRR.
  • Join the ZTTRR Google Group to discuss ways to fight road rage with like-minded people.
  • Follow the ZTTRR blog to keep yourself informed on positive travel, traffic updates, interesting facts, interviews and inspiring stories.
  • Follow  ZTTRR on Twitter to keep yourself informed on positive travel, traffic updates, interesting facts, interviews and inspiring stories.
  • Share the ZTTRR Facebook page, Google Group and blog in the social media and ask your friends to join us.
  • Read this article in full and leave your comment in the Leave a Reply section. This will be very encouraging and educative for us.
  • Share this article with your friends in the social media and let the world know about it.

One for the Twitterati!
Let us take a stand or be a spectator to the increasing road rage violence and deaths! Join hands with us to wipe out road rage peacefully.

Ways to go
Here are some peaceful ways to wipe out road rage, quoted from the ZTTRR Facebook page:

  • providing awareness to road users,
  • campaigning for raising the standards of roads, signages, parking lots and other infrastructures, and
  • equipping drivers with more user-friendly vehicles.

ZTTRR community on Facebook can be accessed by logging on https://www.facebook.com/ZeroTolerancetoRoadRage. Do like us, invite your friends to do so and help us in spreading the word. ZTTRR also invites users to send their ideas and suggestions. You may share with us stories (and images) of road rage which you or your friends have experienced. Post directly to ZTTRR Facebook page or mail me at zttrr@gmail.com.

Ranjit K Sharma, Chief Evangelist, ZTTRR

Filed under: Road Rage, , , , , , , , ,

Traffic Control Measures

The Beijing municipal government has passed a new law that limits the number of new car license plates to be issued in 2011. Here’s the news link: http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article1023254.ece

It is too harsh a measure to curb traffic problems. It is retrograde and highly punitive in nature for those economically backward people who, after years of hard work, have finally arrived at a position to own a car. With it, their dream might remain dream forever. The measure is bound to create a permanent divide between haves and have-nots.

Some forward-looking measures might be:

  • making carpool mandatory for regular one-route travellers
  • encouraging increased use of public transport through special concessions to regular users
  • making cycles available on rent for small-distance travellers
  • improving the transport infra-structure, wherever possible
  • building double-decker, or perhaps, ‘triple-decker’ roads in addition to multi-storeyed parking lots

Filed under: Current News, , , , , , ,

Online Legacy?

The Online Social Leaders (Collage by Ranjit)

The Online Social Leaders (Collage by Ranjit)

Hat’s off to Shail Raghuvanshi for that thought-provoking article on online legacies. With this article you have brought forth an important question among all of us—Netizens of the World!

What will happen to our online identities after our death?

Almost all us have at least an email account. A few lakhs among us might be having a social networking profile on Orkut, Facebook or Twitter. A few thousands might also be richer by a blog or two at Blogspot or WordPress!

So where will these identities end up in after we quit from the mundane world? After we cease to exist both offline and online?

Shouldn’t these online sites have a provision for their users to enable them to choose their successors?

Here also, we know that many of us might never want to bequeath any online wealth to our successors simply because our wealth won’t be palatable enough to our spouses, sons and daughters! After all, how can we reveal our highly objectionable, anonymous online exchanges (interactions between a dishonest father and his illegitimate daughter, dialogue between an unfaithful husband and his second wife or correspondence between an online street Romeo and an unflinching, helpless girl)?

What about a mechanism (a dozen of tick boxes perhaps!) to choose between the clean part and the censurable moiety?

Filed under: Web Metrics, , , , , , , , , , ,

Sex and Murder: Yet another Angle

The Daughter and Her Beau

The Daughter and Her Beau (Photo Courtesy: The Hindu)

“A young school teacher and her male friend have been arrested for allegedly stabbing her mother to death at her Paschim Vihar residence this past week and then trying to pass it off as a murder during a robbery.”

……………….

“The young man brought a bottle of beer with him and the two made themselves cosy in the house. But Sakshi’s mother, who had gone to a religious congregation in the neighbourhood, happened to return earlier than expected. She had the key to one of the entrances and caught the two red-handed. The woman lost her temper on seeing them together and screamed at them.”

These are the lines from a recent news story. Kindly read the story first in order to enjoy the discussions below.

While prima facie the murder seems to be a typical example of Walter Cannon’s fight-or-flight response of human beings towards stress-causing situations, a closure look can reveal deeper implications of the mental make-up that the youth of today possess. The first impression that any keen observer will have at this level is that the daughter displayed a total lack of values.

I am not going into the humdrum of casting aspersions on the very sexual act that was the kingpin behind the brutal murder of a mother at the hands of her own daughter. Let me assume the intercourse as an ordinary act of wrong-doing, one of hundreds of evil deeds that everyone of us does during the span of our lifetime.

Having assumed the act of Sakshi calling her beau and her subsequent engaging in fornication as ordinary, the only extra-ordinary thing that happened on the fateful day was that she was caught red-handed by her elderly mother. And it is easy for us to imagine how she could have reacted to such an unimaginably bizarre act of perversion that her daughter was seen doing—a daughter completely lost in an orgasmic ‘high’ in between ‘breathful’ of penile thrusts from her partner all in front of her mother! It was but natural for her to lose “her temper on seeing them together and [to scream] at them.”

But how natural was her daughter’s reaction to her? Quite unnatural and very disgustedly undesirable. There were hundred other ways of reacting to her mother’s lambasting words than the one that she and her boyfriend Sunny chose to. There could only be one, if any, in a trillion mothers who were dogged enough so as to not forgive her weeping daughter at her feet. And even if she would not be ready to compromise and be bent on handing her over to the police, what loss could the daughter have incurred in even receiving the noose from her mother? At least she would not have been accused of the grave moral crime for which she is imprisoned now.

Filed under: Current News, Philosophy, Relationships, , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Time to Read(?)

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Mortimer Adler in 1988 Photo Credit: Wikipedia

When I was in the tenth standard, the following essay by Mortimer Adler had a lasting impact on my mind. It was a part of our English curriculum in the form of a textbook, Learners’ English. Years later, I am still fascinated by its relevance to the current times, more so when the good, old habit of children’s reading books is in its way to the coffin, what with the advent of e-books, intensive study-packages, et al! I am thankful to him (whom I wished I could meet one day; but alas, he left for his heavenly abode in 2001, much before I could afford to visit the U.S.!) and M/s Sawpon Dowerah (who also served as my teacher for sometime) and T. C. Baruah for having included this piece in their anthology.

Please click on the following link to download a PDf document and read: What is a Great Book?

Filed under: Children's Literature, General Awareness, Philosophy, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Compromise, Thy Name is Life. Do You Agree with It?

 

Below is an essay which I wrote sometime back for a special occasion. Let me share this small yet interesting essay with you:

Strong and self-confident people, like you and they, may not agree to the aforesaid line. So did Napoleon Bonaparte, Hitler and many others. But, all, at one time or the other, have agreed to the diktat—”Compromise, thy name is life”. And I agree with it.

Life, at every point; from the lazy mornings, when you curse your office for having been the reason for your such a miserable life, to the cozy sweet-doing-nothings of mid-night, when you curse your wife for being such a bad partner; is full of compromises. You don’t like the kaamwali (maid-servant) for being such a frequent absentee, but you compromise and accept her as happily as you are accepted by your wife! Else, she would have left you by now. You, don’t like the government’s ban on AXN’s World’s Sexiest Commercials, but you compromise with a smile, lest your wife, or for that matter, your little son should call you an old, immoral psychopath! You don’t like the long never-ending queue of vehicles, burping and blowing at the busy crossing on your way to office, but you compromise by mouthing a few chosen adjectives at the system, or at the hefty, bald man, who overtakes his vehicle just in front of yours and makes his way! You compromise, because you just can’t reach out to the system and shout at it for its follies, you just can’t get the better of the hefty, bald man and rough him up.


So to say, there is a zillion of examples to prove the fact that, we all are the preys to Compromise and at some point or the other we keep on compromising. But, nevertheless, we must keep on fighting with all our might, not to cut a sorry figure in front of compromises. Because compromises keep on teaching us the lessons of patience and perseverance.

Filed under: Philosophy, , , , , , , , , ,

How far is Ayurveda relevant to modern lifestyle?

Not all people in India repose faith on Ayurvedic system of medicines. A section of advocates of Allopathy (or the modern system of medicine) consider Ayurveda and some of its sisters like Unani medicines and Homoeopathy as a pseudo-science and a system best followed by quacks and the illiterates.

True, Allopathy is the single uniformly followed system of medicine across the world due to its accuracy and speed. But an exceedingly great number of people are now looking for alternative form of medicines like Ayurveda and the like for their obvious “only-effects-no-side-effects” advantage. And for over 5,000 years now, Ayurveda too has evolved and become more organised.

At least in India, love it or hate it, knowingly or unknowingly, generations have been subscribing to Ayurvedic products or procedures some way or the other. To put it simply, Ayurveda can not be detached from the Indian household.

Even doctors have been prescribing such Ayurvedic preparations asLiv.52 for healing liver damage (cirrhosis,) Neeri for preventing and curing kidney stones, Janma Ghunti for helping digestion in babies orBoro Plus for curing cracked lips and nipples. We have heard our grandfathers pushing us to eat Neem leaves for eliminating worms in our stomachs. All these testify the role Ayurveda has in our lifestyle.

While allopathic treatment requires you to visit a registered medical practitioner even for common ailments like fever, cold, headache, etc.,Ayurveda, on the other hand, teaches you to be your own doctor. Any thing that is easily available in or around your home such as herbs, vegetables, fruits, spices, grains or oils, can be used as a home remedy, unlike in the case of Allopathy. Simple home remedies can be very effective in relieving symptoms, and preventing further development of a disorder. More importantly, these home remedies may also support treatments prescribed by a physician.

Since, Ayurveda is so ingrained in our daily life; it is foolish to ignore the benefits of Ayurveda. We can, of course, choose a two pronged approach: for common ailments we can follow Ayurveda and save ourselves from a thousand of side effects; and for diseases which demand elaborate procedures like invasive techniques or surgery we can accept the boon from modern medicines.

Filed under: Ayurveda, , , , , , ,

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