Easy vs Good

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Am I a good person? the thought shook me to the core. My co-anchor nudged me to bring me back to senses. I was hosting a talk show with some college students on the topic -"Nation and Generation today ". My guest, dean of a state university, had asked a question from the participating students in my show - "What is your aim in life?" Such a simple question. I would have answered - a TV anchor, had it been asked from me nine years ago. But not by this simple looking girl who gave the most different response - "I want to always answer yes to the question Am I a good person?" Everybody applauded.

When I announced to my parents that I will be applying to one of the topmost college in the country for journalism, becoming a good person was nowhere in my mind. Who think like that? We all set our aims in life - getting educated, than winning a decent job, earning lots of money, settle with a nice partner, being socially important, earning more money etc. Everybody was like this in my college too, including me, except her. I don't even remember her name. Just that she had very low IQ and a very weird smile all the time. Even when she failed the exams, even when the hostel warden would scold her for her messiness, even when she knew her roommates and everyone else made fun of her, even when they teased her openly and shunned her from parties. In spite of all this and her strange lifestyle, she was always polite with everyone. Warden told us to be friends with her as her family was going through some tough times. She too tried making friends but failed miserably and after sometime she stopped trying. In my heart, I felt bad for her. And so, if she talked to me for something I would try to be nice to her. Until that night - we were having a fun time and discussing our love interests, when she passed by. My friends stopped her and started asking her about her love interest. She was appalled. She looked like a mouse surrounded by cats ready to devour her. For some time she resisted as my friends humiliated her as usual but then she got angry and started hurling abuses to everyone. It was first time she reacted like that and everyone was shell shocked. In the end she came to me and said she likes only me in the whole batch as I have always been nice to her. They gave me mocking looks and started teasing me along her. My survival instinct triggered as I did not wanted to be castigated as an outcast like her. That day my desires shadowed my goodness as joining my friends was easier than standing alone with her. I wanted her to hate me just like she hated everyone. I started being rude to her when she tried to talk to me. I was the loudest when my friends made fun of her. Very soon people forgot what she told me that night. And she was convinced nobody is worth talking.

I moved abroad for my higher studies and sometime later learned about her suicide. I remember thinking of her as a weak, stupid person that time who took an extreme decision instead of facing life and its issues and not being a strong person like me, who knows how to move ahead in life, be with people who matter and leave those who don’t. Today I have everything I had once desired- a good job, a happy family, friends who matter, hefty bank balance, luxuries, everything. But I am still missing something. "Am I a good person?" the words echoed in my head out of nowhere. 
Before I could answer, I recalled my next desire to have a News Channel of my own.

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The Victim and the Perpetrator

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He came to me with eyes seething in anger and hatred. He wanted to hurt me with some modern weapon in his hand. The night was dark as the skin of a cobra, hissing through the sounds of winds. 

My baby was sleeping peacefully in my arms. He gave a look to us and something changed in his eyes. I could see it was compassion. Yes, it could not have been anything different. His hand lowered for a second and then came a voice, “They didn’t show pity on our women and kids”. His love suddenly vanished and the anger came surging back. In a flash I heard the blast and two holes pierced in our bodies. My baby died quietly in my arms but I died with my eyes on him. There was no anger or hatred in his gaze, but pain lot of pain. Pain that connected me to him in my final breath and I forgave him.

I wish our deaths soothed his pain but I knew it only got increased. He’ll understand that but it will be too late. Until he meets me again in some other world!

To be kind to everyone..

"Bhikkhus, it is not easy to find a being who has not formerly been your mother...your father...your sister...your son...your daughter..."

If the above words of Buddha are true, then how can we be unkind to anyone? I came across this story while searching for some answers. Buddhism, though I am no Buddhist, is full of subtle powerful teachings that can be imbibed without following any rituals. I am in the stage of life where burdened by responsibilities, I might ignore my elders, parents, and in-laws, their advices, might find their habits irksome and might hurt them. This story teaches me filial piety. I understand now that we may have differences with people including our elders but that doesn't mean that we should stop being polite, kind, caring or dutiful towards them. And also that we can never repay the debt of kindness of our parents, all of them :)

Here is the abridged version of the story:

At one time, Buddha led a great assembly of bhikshus and boddhistavas on a walk toward the south. Suddenly they came upon a pile of bones beside the road. Buddha turned to face them, and bowed respectfully.
Ananda asked him in reverence, “What is the reason that the Great Teacher of the Triple Realm now bows to a pile of dried bones?
The Buddha told Ananda, "Although all of you are my foremost disciples, you still have not achieved far-reaching understanding. This pile of bones could have belonged to my ancestors from former lives. They could have been my parents in many past lives. That is the reason I now bow to them." The Buddha continued speaking to Ananda, "These bones we are looking at can be divided into two groups. One group is composed of the bones of men, which are heavy and white in color. The other group is composed of the bones of women, which are light and black in color."
Ananda said to the Buddha, "Once man and women die, all that is left are their bones. Please teach us how you are able to distinguish them."
The Buddha answered, "When men are in the world, they enter temples, listen to explanations of religious texts, make obeisance to the Triple Gem, and recite the Buddha's names, then when they die, their bones will be heavy and white in color. Most women in the world are saturated with emotion. They give birth to and raise children, feeling that this is their duty. Each child relies on its mother's milk for life and nourishment, and that milk is a transformation of the mother's blood. Each child can drink up to one thousand two hundred gallons of its mother's milk. Because of this drain on the mother's body whereby the child takes milk for its nourishment, the mother becomes worn and haggard and so her bones turn black in color and are light in weight."

And then the Buddha went on speaking about the kindness parents bestow over their growing children and how in return many children, on reaching adulthood, become ungrateful, defiant or hateful towards their parents and how such children suffer with horrible punishments in their afterlife.

At that time, upon hearing the Buddha speak about the depth of one's parent’s kindness, everyone in the Great Assembly threw themselves on the ground and began beating their breasts. Some fell unconscious to the ground, while others stamped their feet in grief. It was a long time before they could control themselves. With loud voices they lamented, "Such suffering! How painful! How painful! We are all offenders. We are criminals who have never awakened, like those who travel in a dark night. We have just now understood our offenses and our very insides are torn to bits. Please tell us how we can repay the deep kindness of our parents!"
The Tathagata used profoundly deep and pure sounds to speak to the assembly. "All of you should know this - If there were a person who carries his father on his left shoulder and his mother on his right shoulder until his bones were ground to powder by their weight as they bore through to the marrow, and if that person were to circumambulate Mount Sumeru for a hundred thousand kalpas until the blood that flowed out covered his ankles, that person would still not have repaid the deep kindness of his parents."

They reflected deeply, and said to the Buddha, "World Honored One, how can we repay the deep kindness of our parents?"
The Buddha replied, "Disciples of the Buddha, if you wish to repay your parents' kindness, repent of transgressions and offenses on their behalf. For the sake of your parents, make offerings to the Triple Gem. For the sake of your parents, hold the precept of pure eating. For the sake of your parents, practice giving and cultivate blessings. If you are able to do these things, you are being a filial child or else you are a person destined for the hells."

At that time, the Great Assembly, the gods, humans, asuras, and the others, hearing what the Buddha has said, were completely delighted. They believed the Buddha's teaching, received it, and offered up their conduct in accord with it.

All these teachings of the Buddha are recorded in a sutra called THE SUTRA ABOUT THE DEEP KINDNESS OF PARENTS AND THE DIFFICULTY OF REPAYING IT

Note: This is the abridged version of the story from here.

Private India - Book Review

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Private India, latest in the Private series by James Patterson, co-authored with Ashwin Sanghi, is a story set in amchi Mumbai. Those familiar with the Private series might find it at home, those not - this probably is not one of the best introduction to the concept. The fundamental requirement of any story is a plot. And when a story grows to be a novel, it requires some sub plots. And then the craft of the writer comes into picture to tether the sub plots together with the underlying plot, taking the reader through ups and downs, twists and turns and a satisfying climax. Though the coming together of names like James Patterson and Ashwin Sanghi would set the expectation of a crisp thriller baked to perfection of style and genre. Sadly, this one falls short. It is apparent that Ashwin wanted to try out something different from his usual mythological thriller genre. This one is a fairly straightforward serial killer story, with a small twist about terrorism, which does not work.


(*Spoiler Alert)
Protagonist is Santosh Wagh, head of Private India headquarted at Mumbai. With a team comprised of an attractive lady investigator, a forensic expert & a tech wizard - Santosh sets out to solve serial killings happening all over the city which are apparently very connected and yet not at the same time. Throw in a politician with a murky past, a god man, terrorist involvement and sprinkle a dash of erotica - there you have the standard mish mash of thriller plots.

What works?

Few things. Story is a no brainer, easy to read and follow, in spite of a new character being thrown every now and then. It appears that there is deliberate attempt to keep the language simple and
fluid. That is why in spite of running over 450 pages, it is a relatively quick read. The sub plot of terrorism, though a bit predictable in the end is an interesting twist.

What does not work?

 The use of F* word seems forced at places. Many a times, writers have attempted too hard to divert reader’s attention, ironically, making the twist extremely obvious in the process.
The attempt to throw in an extra fact which if correlated can actually make story unpredictable - actually falls short each time, making the reader actually rightly guess what will happen next.
 Erotica is mainstream these days and the love making scene in the story looks a forced attempt to keep the story racy - a trait of a lot of mainstream contemporary writing. There does not seem to be any need for it from the perspective of the plot progression. But then what’s the need of a song sequence in a thriller, nonetheless it is there in our movies!
The protagonist character is absolutely clich├ęd. A former hero with a glorified past who suffered a personal loss losing his charisma in the process and landing up as a liquor wielding, bad tempered person. He cares about his team, but is not a man of many words. And even gets lucky, when nothing else works!

I was expecting a page turner, a tale which keeps my attention from the opening scene, keeps me guessing, closing all possibilities each time - thus frustrating me a bit who could have dunnit? This
is a far simpler story. If you are on a long train ride, this could be used to kill time. Sadly that is exactly what it does.


Plot - 2/5
Language - 2/5
Pace - 3.5/5
Hype - 4/5
Overall - 2.5/5

This review is a part of the biggest Book Review Program for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books! 

Karma and Fate

Corporate world or any world as I see closely can be very harsh with ego clashes among people to win the rat race. Hope these lines written by Piyush and me will show some way through the maze.

When someone tries to boggle you down
smile and giggle and take him as a clown.
When someone races and push you hard
let him go ahead, while you take a stand guard.

When someone tries to cross your path
and make credits even for your part.
Do not fret and bear any grudge
for destiny give its own clever nudge.

Wish everyone with blessings and love
Forgive the devil, embrace the dove.
Pity those who do things wrong 
as they dig their own grave all along.

And who are we to judge error or right
whose robe has no stain and all white?
For there is nothing which goes unseen
Howsoever sublime may be the sheen

Fruits of actions has strange ways
Failures can be rejoicing days
Successes it can make hollow
It is our heart, that we must follow

The circle of life leaves no one satiate
Law of karma decides everyone's fate.
Love as "life is long in grudge and sorrow
But very small in each tomorrow..
O, so very small in each tomorrow..."

                                                         - RuhiPiyush