Monday, August 6, 2007

Nutshell Identity

I came across this jingle (well...more like a song) recently while watching a television channel. Inspite of being a Marathi, I hardly have an inclination to watch Marathi channels; so the other day, it was almost like a rare rendezvous with a Marathi channel on television.

No sooner did I tune in to that channel, than the 'Title Song' of the channel started. The channel was 'Mee Marathi' and to my knowledge, has recently begun its telecasts. Now it so happened that many of my friends had happened to mention it to me that this jingle (call it whatever you want) was a very popular one. So just out of curiosity I spared the remote control of another channel switch, and decided to have a look at the entire jingle.

Though I don't remember the exact sequence or the flow of the jingle, I remember that after I watched the entire jingle, I quitely smiled. The jingle depicts the glorious history and culture of Maharashtra, no doubt; but at the same time it doesn't depict anything else!! I mean its okay that you start the jingle with Maratha warriors brandishing swords and the Saffron flag, a part of the history every Marathi soul is proud of. Then the jingle continues into the cultural aspects of Maharashtra, the culture which we have proudly inherited. Even that is appreciated. Then the jingle again revolves around the Maratha warriors; occasionally with bursts of a musical slogan: "Mee Marathi"...meaning, "I am a Marathi (son of the Marathi soil)". The slogan has a effect of reiterating the Marathi identity. Another thing that struck me in this jingle is the body language and the bravado depicted. I feels its uncalled for.

For the time being I assume that I am a third person, hardly knowing Maharashtra and Marathi people. I will surely feel that the identity of a typical Maharashtrian revolves around his pride for the Maratha kingdom and the culture. Thats it! What other impression do I get of Maharashtra from this? Sadly, nothing more! Now if you are a Maharashtrian reading this blog, maybe you would get an impression of me being churlish, but please don't forget I am just referring to that jingle only.

Right from my school days, I have been watching these song videos on TV depicting National Unity and Integration. Surely, culture and history have a major role to play, but they are not all encompassing. These videos used to show the progress India has made in multifarious domains; sports, literature, science, medicine, space, academics, theatre, music, etc., and featured eminent personalities in these fields, and as a whole gave a fair view as to what India's identity is to any foreigner. Had it been the dominant parameters of history and culture, those videos would have only featured the historical rulers and kings of India and the rich and varied diverse cultures. Analogous to this national progress, it goes without saying that every region or state also has its own footprint on sands of progress and rediscovered identity. And that very depiction is amiss in the jingle that I have described. Maharashtra has produced such eminent personalities in almost every field that it makes any Marathi beam with pride. People like Dhondo Keshav Karve, Jyotiba Phule, Dr. Jayant Narlikar, V. Shantaram, Lata Mangeshkar, Sachin Tendulkar and numerous others carry on their shoulders the modern identity of Maharashtra.

The bottomline of my displeasure with this jingle is that it depicts a serious miniaturization of the Marathi identity. In todays' time, we have come out of that nutshell and made our mark in almost every field. So does it convey the identity it is meant to convey- "Mee Marathi"?

Does Friendship need a day?

The first Sunday of August! The scraps start filling my scrapbook on Orkut & SMSes wake me up early. The occassion? Well, the much celebrated 'Friendship Day'. It is one of the most popular days in school & college circuits. The day when guys & gals tag their friends' wrists with colourful satin ribbons embossed specially for the occassion. When I was in school, even I used to celebrate this day with much fanfare. But then after one fine Friendship Day in Junior College, I happened to take a critical look on this yearly celebration, and happily that was the last Friendship Day for me.

As I write this blog, SMSes pour in. And I smile sarcastically. I wonder whether we need a day for celebrating one of the thickest bonds of human relationship - FRIENDSHIP!! Have we so much lost our essence of friendship that we need to dedicate a special day for remembering that special bond? My mind fails again and again to grasp the 'reason' behind this hyped celebration. And I am happy to be a part of the small minority which thinks the same.

Thinking about friendship, the first thing that reminds me of this word is the friendship between Krishna & Sudama or for that matter Krishna & Draupadi. Those friendships give us the proud feeling of being a part of a culture where friendship was not just a mere nomenclature of a relation. That friendship existed - and I highlight - was 'celebrated' every single day, every single hour, and every single moment. That friendship did not need a reason to be reminded or kept alive, or a memorial day. And I, for one, believe in that friendship.

Coming back to the college campus, many of the times, Friendship Day is celebrated by many who don't actually know why they are celebrating, but are gripped by peer pressure (they won't admit openly). They don't give it a second thought and are least bothered to reason out. Another ritual which is omnipresent is to decorate the wrists & hands of each other with ribbons & worse - sketch pens! (they make awesome totem poles .. ha ha). Our graffiti kings & queens sometimes don't even spare the clothes. And when its all over, the person covered the most with festoons of ribbons & pen-marks feels highly elated, counting the number of friends who have made a human canvas out of him. More closely you resemble a joker; more is your popularity quotient - that’s the unstated funda! So the marks & ribbons quantify friendships - strange!

Another aspect behind encouraging Friendship Day by the media & the business world is nothing but a commercially viable event! Friendship is looked upon as a commodity which can set your cash registers jingling; and we don't feel sad about the commercialization of friendship at all! The satin ribbons & friendship bands become abound at every corner shop, while the shopkeepers sell them at twice or thrice the cost as compared to any other day when no one gives a damn about them. Well ... its another of those 'Friendship' gifts for the Chinese production houses! Also, I don't need to elaborate on the statistics of single day profits for telecom players who happily provide SMS services to cater the 'wishes' of its consumers (pun intended!). Its a profitable day for them. So why won't they promote the festivities?

By now many of you who are disagreeing with me on this issue must be thinking that I am writing this blog, filled with jingoistic culturalism. But believe me, my lines of thought are different from the fundamentalists who don't even know why they vandalize a gift shop on Valentines' Day (read between the lines!) Maybe we both are antagonists of such events, but its the thought behind the antagonism that differs and counts. Moreover, I wouldn't & won't ever link this to being something against our rich, magnanimous, fertile Indian culture nor being anything which seems typically anti-West (a very handy tool if you can't think of anything else). Most people relating such events to their popular outcry of 'anti-West' don't even know what is to be opposed in being so-called 'Anti-West'. No! I won't ever resort to such arguments.

My argument is simple & straightforward, which should arise in any questioning & thinking mind. Celebrating is not the objection, but the justification of motive behind celebration is in question. Every action has a motive & if that motive is inconsistent & irrational with respect to the action, the whole essence of action is at loss & becomes a subject of mockery for the rational mind.

So next time you pick up that dazzling friendship band or pick up your cell phone to send friendship day messages, its my friendly advice to you to let your mind give it a little thought.

Friday, August 3, 2007

A Trek to Kanheri Caves

I had gone for a half-day trek to Kanheri caves (Borivali - Mumbai) with some friends of mine on 22nd July. It wasn't a rainy day, but the weather was pleasant with an inviting zephyr. The road to Kanheri caves passes through the forest of the National Park and took us about 2 hours getting to the Caves. The scenic beauty on the way to the caves was very appealing and my friend - an ardent photographer - clicked many such moments in Nature's Garden. The trek became all the more memorable due to these lovely pictures which embellish my desktop background today!

I would like to share those picturesque images of the bountious Nature with you all ! You will find the pictures at:

Have a look !