Sunday, March 23, 2008

Pursuit of Happiness

India has done it again! It managed to secure the 46th position out of 50 countries surveyed for the "Happiness Index" The first three were Norway Sweden and USA.

Out of sheer curiosity , I interviewed a few people in Oslo, Stockholm and Washington DC. The Norwagians are happy because their Vikings had conquered the world long before the British French or Spanish learnt how to build boats. Their population is stagnant and their natural wealth is enormous, oil, gas, timber, fishing. Their GDP is second in the world after the US. And their only world famous painting, Edvard Munch's SCREAM expressing existential angst, has been stolen. So, they are free from angst now. Lastly,pornography is legal here. So, it is" sone pe suhaga" for them ( why dont we try it in India? )

The Swedes are not only happy but proud too. They gave to the world Dynamite without keeping a single gram with them. While the world is blown to smithereens with Alfred Nobel's invention, Swedes look back with pride. And haven't they given to Hollywood the numero uno actress of all time the one and only Greta Garbo? Not to talk about Anita Ekberg who started the genre of dumb blondes! Swedes dont want to adopt the common european currency the Euro, because they are happy with their kroners.Lastly, pornography is legal in Sweden too. No wonder they are on top of the world.

In USA the land of the almighty dollar, the reasons for happiness are varied. The people there are happy that the American constitution does not provide for a third term for George Bush. They are happy that trade with China is booming and the dollars are all coming back to them in the form of Chinese investment in US Treasury bonds. They are eating their cake and having it too. Dick Cheyney is happpy because he got for his cronies all those reconstruction contracts in Iraq. Rumsfeld is happy he got out of the mess in time. Condoleezza Rice is happy because after Hillary Clinton, she can try for the Presidency. The people in US are happy because all their work is being Bangalored and they have plenty of time on hand for leisure activities.

Back to India. I went to interview the doodhwala bhaiyya in Goregaon, carrying the happiness meter with me. He cycled furiously trying to run away thinking that i was carrying the lactometer to check if his milk was adulterated. On my assuring him that all i wanted to test was for his milk of human happiness,he consented for the interview. " Sab theak chal raha hai saab" he said " Gaon ma bal bachchey khush bibi khush har mahine panch hazar rupaiye bhejraha hoon saheb ji" he continued. My next interview was with the pan wallah. HIs business was roaring. " Boliye saab, sada, meetha banarasi ya pallang tod?" he asked with a wink. " Panch rupaye se panch sau tak ka paan banata hoon saab" Magar jabse bar dancing band hua hai thoda sa down hai business saab" " Phir bhi vaaanda nahin achchee kamai hai baal bachche khush" he concluded. I covered a few call centres and all the youngsters there were extremely happy with their careers and their newfound girl/boyfriends. No complaints. In Delhi, everyone I interviewed was happy, politicians, bureaucrats, traders, builders,students. The rich were happy, so were the poor, who thought that it was their bad karma in previous birth which landed them in this situation and were happily looking forwrd to their next birth. I am now convinced that the blokes from the happiness index measuring joint went straight to the farmers in Vidarbha and Andhra and the angry inhabitants of Nandigram in West Bengal and the only politicians they interviewed were Mamata Banerji, Uma Bharati and George Fernandes, whose happiness depends on the downfall of Buddhadev Bhattacharya, L K Advani and Sonia Gandhi respectively.Our constitution guarantees us the "pursuit" of happiness.

Who is bothered about happiness? Anyway, happiness is a state of the mind; we are as happy as we think we are ! Long live Sukhi Bharat !

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Buddha Chants

A News item says that China has tightened its rules on reincarnation of new living Buddhas, saying that those reincarnated without Goverment approval would be illegal and invalid. Henceforth all reincarnations of living Buddha should get Government approval. This is considered as an important move to institutionalise management on reincarnation.The Notification lays down the principle, conditions, approval procedures and duties and responsibilities. The temples which apply for reincarnation of living Buddhas should be registered and capable of fostering and offering proper means of support to the living Buddha. Can you beat it? The Chinese government have at last gotten round to controlling the sprouting of reincarnation of Buddhas and the deisputes between the lamas and the monasteries about the fake and the real incarnations. A time will come when the Dalai Lamas and Panchen Lamas will be Government sponsored and Government approved. So much for freedom of religion in China. Here in India we have Godmen claiming to be reincarnation of the Shirdi Saibaba, the Kalki Avatar in South India with thousands of followers. a transvestite Police officer who claimed that he was the reincarnation of Radha and recently a child in UP claiming to be the reincarnation of Kalpana Chawla. We believe in reincarnations without let or hindrance, as it is ingrained in our religious ethos. The more the merrier. More "Breaking News" for our over 100 channels who may even sponsor reincarnations to raise their TRPs. The Chinese have done the right thing in clamping restrictions on reincarnation. Who knows, we may have people lining up as reincarnations of Mao, Chou En Lai, the Gang of Four or Deng Zio Ping who may ease out the present rulers of China. Very wise precaution indeed.We, however, would have no qualms about allowing a thousand Nehrus and Gandhis to bloom not to talk of the dasavataras repeating themseleves ad nauseam. We dont have to queue up before government offices and apply for recognition in triplicate to be processed and recognised with a government stamp of approval along with the PAN card so they dont cheat on the taxes. . Mera Bharat Mahaan !

Elephant - Different points of view

In Flushing Meadows, there is a school run by the UN for the children of diplomats from various countries. Children of year 4 were asked to write a few lines about the elephant. Here is a sample of what they wrote:
British child - Elephants - how to domesticate them
German child - A dissertation on the feeding habits of the pachyderm
French child - Love among the elephants
Indian child - Elephant and the ten blind men from Hindostan
Russian child - Elephants - Do they exist?
Polish child - Elephant and the Polish question
Then came the American child who wrote : BIGGER AND BETTER ELEPHANTS

Windows of Perception ( With Apologies to Aldous Huxley)

Having a terrific hangover. Yesternight, I painted the town red. Went to a brown cafe and had a puff or two. Started levitating, the earth beneath my feet, coming up to engulf me, i running away, to escape the chasing damsel. Bide your time, foolish woman, I will when my time comes, be embedded in thee. But not now, I want to soar into the skies like an eagle, away from the cares of life, spreading my wings to catch a current which will carry me far far away, with an occasional flap of my wings, till my hawk eyes espy a chick raking muck in search of a worm,little knowing that she herself is a prey of the hungry predator. This flight of fancy lasted a while till i fumbled and took out the keys to my apartment and hit the bed like a ton of bricks. There I lay, in daelightful reverie seeing multicoloured lights impinging on my cortex, stimulating a babble of words, slowly forming themselves into a poem, which in my sober state always elude me. It is an unending flow, like a stream running down the hill, nudging its way through pebbles and rocks, through thickets and sand till it gets drained in the dreary nothingness of my mind. It is all blank now. The poesy has taken a flight. Mother earth has given up all hope of claiming me. It is feeling of down in the dumps after being up in the skies. I sleep and sleep till late in the morning, when i go to starbucks for my hot cuppa black coffee with lemon. It shakes off the cobwebs, the throbbing pain in the head is gone , a placid contemplative mood replacing it like the shop assistant rplaces yesterdays stale bread with a new loaf at the walmart. Gotta go to office now to pick up the threads of a job half done yesterday. Must tell Aucke never to take me to that brown cafe again.
Giving up pot is easy, I should know becaue i have done it a hundred times !

Psychopath's Mind

Danny Harold Rolling was executed at Starke, Florida on 25h October, 2006 by lethal injection at 6 pm and declared dead at 6.13 pm. He was Florida's most notorious serial killer having gunned down five students at Gainesville in 1990 on the Florida University campus.

He was aged 52 having been in prison for 16 years. As the injection was bing pumped into his veins he kep t chanting " none greater than Thee,oh Lord, none greater than Thee"
He never expressed regrets/sorrow for what he did or ask for forgiveness even from the Lord whose name he uttered with his foul mouth in his last moments. Did he think that this chant would absolve him, expiate for his sins ,if at all he considerd he had sinned? Strange are the minds of psychopaths. They have one larage tumour for a brain and ingots of lead for nerve ganglions. Is there some x-ray machine that can scan and identify such people in our society, or are we doomed to live with these abominations in constant fear of life? In what ways do the fundamentalists, the terrorists differ from Rolling? In God's good world, why did He keep a place for these vermin? Only He can answer. Perhaps he himself does not know the answer.

Feeding Swans

Have u seen swans gliding by in the canal? They make a beautiful sight. I throw crumbs of bread into the water and they come in a fleet fast as arrows shot on the surface of water, their feet invisible but paddling furiously below the surface, to get at the crumbs, they fight among themselves,pecking each other with their beaks, till the the strongest one gets the crumb; and then the others cackle while the winner mocks at them. Survival of the fittest. No , there are more crumbs to follow, i strew dozens of them at various points in the canal so each one gets a chance to bend his neck and grab his grub. Having finished they glide along as if nothing had happened. I stand and gaze at them with awe and admiration. Graceful creatures but all too greedy!