Tuesday, August 29

National... ity vs. ism

The once a month haircut is a must for me. If I missed it, alarm will strike - in the form of cold, headache, fever... it was the last two ones this time.

So I headed to Nakajima san, at his 100+ year old barber shop near my apartment, where the famed yesteryear foreign baseball players in Japan had their haircuts done by his father Nakajima and his grandfather Nakajima. The one good thing in waiting at this barber shop is that I can quickly read through a set of Time magazines. Normally I would sleep during the cut - but this time I decided to continue reading. And I realized that his chair has the accessories that takes care of your reading too.

And there was one interview with Pat Buchanan. The founder of the American cause is worried about the Mexicans coming in and establishing a new culture. He says America is losing out in these areas. The new people stick on to their language, their culture ... nothing American. The childhood Americanism that he knew is missing. The same language, the same thoughts, the same culture, though different races, and the same faith. Well this is the idea of his American Cause movement also.

A little silly. If he could go back a couple of childhoods - his, his fathers, then a couple more grand fathers - I am sure he could look around and see one another Pat Buchanan being butchered. For using the same language against Europeans that entered the country. They also brought a new language, a new faith, a new culture, called themselves Americans. Not stopped there - they termed the original Americans as Indians.

This is simply resonating with similar cries everywhere. RSS has been crying so wide and wild that Indian culture has been losing to foreign culture since 400 years back. They do not want to stop at their childhood when a new secular India was born. Europe is also defining what is Europe and who should be allowed to join EU. And all these people blames Japan for being racist during the war and extending informal preference to Japanese even now.

What does nationality mean. Does it mean a set of rites, customs, culture, celebrations? For Indians, anyway we do not share any much commonality on any of these items across North to South - nor across East to West. We all have this different. And we are getting the nationality also sub-divided in India.

When I say I do not celebrate Onam - some frown. Well, it is not exactly religious festival - it is a national festival of Kerala. So what? What makes a national festival. Am I supposed to celebrate? In Assam you should have a ID card to vote. An Indian national, but not an Assam national yet:) Yesterday Karnataka CM has approved a whopping 60K crore [1 crore = 10 million] rupees investment projects. Pre condition - employment preference to Karnataka nationals. And the local Kannada and Rajkumar fans groups will tell you what cannot make you a Kannadiga! You should share their feelings on Kaveri, on Kannada films, on digging up roads to build stage and might have to bow to the yellow-red "Karnataka National Flag" also!

When I read in newspapers that Govt of India summoned the Dutch ambassador on the NW flight issue and asked for a written explanation - I had a sigh of relief. A meaning for my Nationality. What I want is a guardian who will provide me a social security. Give me freedom up to and until it bothers another person. Give me backing in having my rights. Give me a ground to exercise my responsibilities. It is that feeling of "chodikkaanum parayaanum aalundu" that I want. Not a set of rites, cultures, languages and a stupid patriotism that bases on hatred towards others. I am proud of my nationality. I don't want any nationalism.

Sunday, August 20

Practising Religion

This morning while still on bed, I was thinking about the term "practising religion". What does it mean? If you put a theory into practice, you should see the results. If not, call it a demonstration. Unfortunately, the meaning is different in religions. I was once told by a Christian friend that Sonia Gandhi is a practising Christian. Good. That means she goes to Church for Mass every week. APJ is said to be not a practising Muslim.

A practising Muslim will be one who prays five times a day, goes to Friday prayers etc. Well, he could be practising something else too - like beating his wife, fighting with his neighbors etc. A dual citizenship. Practising religion has become to be exercising a set of rights. Rights to property, rights to divorce, rights to hold demonstrations, rights to use loudspeakers where the are banned etc.

As a Muslim, the example to follow for me is that Prophet Muhammad (peace be on him). And what was his life? Of compassion, of love, of giving, of simplicity, of logic, of taking care of others rights and one's responsibility. The real practice of religion. All other that the masses imitate are the ways he employed and advocated to achieve this state of mind.

Woke up from bed and on my custom Google homepage is a news from Times of India. Another religious practice. People in Mahim, Bombay has found an easy way to get blessed. A shortcut practice of religion. Now, the health authorities will have a tough time. They cannot stop people from doing this - that could run against what is provided in the constitution - right to practice your religion. And the saddest is the pciture of an ignorant mother forcing her baby practise too...

Tuesday, August 15

Happy Independence Day

Let it be a happy independence day for India. Let it be so for Pakistan, Srilanka and Indonasea. Let this wish reach the real people who move the nation.

I was just wondering about what exactly makes an independence day wish. What is independence. Is there a real independence. Anyone really worry to be so so independent at the end of day? Freedom from British rule day it was? Anyway, for the sake of it, let us call it independence.

When India became independent, it became dependent on Russians and French. When Russia failed to support India later on, we competed with Pakistan to be laid down by the US. Now we have US directing India who should be what minister and what shoudl he be doing. On what the energy policy should be.

Whatever we define independence, let us make sure we share the same hope for the life around us too. I would like to take you to what Cherian wrote on the 2005 US 4th of July on India independence thought days. Read it here.

And to the following seven point oath by the Hon President of India Dr. A.P.J. Abdul Kalam on his address to the nation on the eve of independence day

1. I realize, I have to set a goal in my life. To achieve the goal, I will acquire the knowledge, I will work hard, and when the problem occurs, I have to defeat the problem and succeed.

2. As a youth of my nation, I will work and work with courage to achieve success in all my tasks and enjoy the success of others.

3. I shall always keep myself, my home, my surroundings, neighbourhood and environment clean and tidy.

4. I realize righteousness in the heart leads to beauty in the character, beauty in the character brings harmony in the home, harmony in the home leads to order in the nation and order in the nation leads to peace in the world.

5. I will lead an honest life free from all corruption and will set an example for others to adopt a righteous way of life.

6. I will light the lamp of knowledge in the nation and ensure that it remains lit for ever.

7. I realize, whatever work I do if I do the best, I am contributing towards realizing the vision of developed India 2020.

Once again happy independence day wishes to my country men and to all my friends from Pakistan, Srilanka and Indonasea.

Thursday, August 10

God Lovers

There was another story in the Malayalam Reader (Kerala Pathavali Malayalam) during school days. I dont think I understood the story until I heard this once again from a school master talking at a seminar.

Adaminte Makan Abu. So goes the title of the story. Abu, son of Adam.

Abu was a nice person, very kind at heart, very pious, loving and helpful not only to his fellow beings, but anyone around, including birds and animals. One night Abu sees an angel in a dream. The angel was writing something in a book, which appeared to Abu as a register.

What are you writing?
I am writing the names of people who love God
Is my name in that?
Angel browse through the list - not at least on the first page.
Abu was sad. He fell asleep again

He wakes into the dream again, the angel is now writing another register

What are you writing now?

I am writing the names of people who love the creatures of God.
Is my name in that?
Yes, yours is the first in this list

Abu left a bit happy. Still he was sad why the angel did not include him in the list of people who loved God. He really loved God. Why then.. Abu fell asleep again and wakes into the dream third time. The angel is now writing another register, which looked so important.

Now what are you writing?
I am writing the names of people whom God loves.
Is my name in ......
Yes, yours in the first in this list

What we now have in the world is people who love God, protect God, protect the laws of God, protect the thoughts of God - fiercely, violently, brutally. Except for the beautiful creations of God, they protect everything. God needs help. Come and join. God's creatures need help. Ask them to wait.

If you worship a God who manifests through the creations, through the rules of the nature, through the compassion that is implicit in the heart of men, show your love for him by loving the creations, loving the rules of nature, extending compassion that is in built. To me, whoever loves God, but if that love is not manifested in his relations with the fellow beings, he is loving a God who does not own the creations. He could get his name in the first register - not in the last.

It is not righteousness that you turn your faces to the East or the West, but truly righteous is he who believes in God and the Last Day and the angels and the Book and the Prophets, and spends his money out of love for Him, on the kindred and the orphans and the needy and the wayfarer and those who ask for charity, and for ransoming the captives; and observes prayer and pays the Zakat; and those who fulfil their promise when they have made one, and the patient in poverty and afflictions and the steadfast in the time of war; it is these who have proved truthful and it is these who are truly God-Fearing. The Holy Quran [2:178]

Monday, August 7

6 feet only

Do you remember the story we studied in school - of the generous king?

[Well, Irene might be wondering how come one study a story. Well, in our childhood, we used to study these stories. Write exams. Annotations. Essays. You are lucky to read many stories in school...]

Well, this king was so generous and he used to give people anything they ask. His subjects knew they will get whatever they want whenever they want it. So the kingdom was living happily. There comes a new greedy man - not sure if he was a new MBA graduate with clear career goals etc. - who learns about this king. He meets the king and asks for some land.

How much do you need?
Whatever I could measure up in one day.

The man started running and he ran till the dusk as people saw him. The next morning king sent his people to find him. Far away in the land, the man was lying dead. With his strong determination and his aspirations which led him running through the dark, tired of the exertion, he succumbed to death. Kings men comes back with the body. They ask the king to grant some land to bury him.

How much do you need?
6 feet.

This is what we all want at the end of the day. I am exerting too much while others are sleeping. I call it my determination to seek aspirations in life. And I end up gaining what - just what my height dictates. Less than 6 ft.

I always envy the marunnu kada (ayurveda medical shop) owner at my village. He comes to his shop everytime at a fixed time. He closes at a fixed time. Do not ask him about google and 2G and 3G. He does not know. Well, he does not care. Why he should? He knows he will get the 6 feet when he want that. Whats my guarantee about my 6 feet!

Stop running. Walk slowly. I am not going to raze down the mountains nor fill up the seas. I am not going to measure up the whole world. Nor do I need that.

Thursday, August 3

HTML debug

My blog had some serious errors. Anoop told me he is seeing two entries mixed. I tried at home - no issues. Tried in office - no issues. Thought either Anoop was tired when he looked at it or there are some issues with his browser.

But today morning he sends the error report again. And the software engineer in him is awake. He sends a snapshot too as bmp. Yes, I can see that, but not in my machine still. I thought I will send him a snapshot back. No longer an engineer, I pasted the snapshot on my life-n-bread tool - Powerpoint - and was ready to send out. Anoop comes back and tells me the issue is only on IE and not on Firefox. I am using firefox at home and office and hence did not see.

Shame on me. I should have thought about it well. I remember advising my team members on debugging. Believe on anyone who reports an error. Its your responsibility to make sure you replicate [Anne had banned the term bug reproduction - she says software bugs do not reproduce], find fix, demonstrate that it does not manifest any longer. And there was a nice story about the car that didn't start after a vanilla icecream that I circulated.

That made my inner self wakeup. Hey, I need to fix it. I tried to dig up some of the html tags that I had used earlier days, when I built my first Geocities homepage (this one died a long back, but the 1999 entries in this blog come from that page. And many in the Petals I Picked blog too) and when I was passively involved in the earlier version of Alislam homepage etc. I went to the edit page, looked into html code..... deleted some scripts (I dont understand what those script tags had to do on my simple text blog) and now its back in good shape.

To make sure I dont mess up again, this entry done through IE.

Thanks Anoop!

Tuesday, August 1

Trust in God vs. Gods for Hire

Radhachechi was our neighbour during my high school days. When the school exam season starts, Radhchechi and her children alongwith others in the colony goes to temple everyday. Exam specials.

I had a friend while in university who used to put Re1/- coin at the Parathottukaavu Ambalam (a local temple) as we walked up the hill to college on exam days. Some days he puts only 50 paise.
Reason? Well, I have not prepared at all. Even if God wants, not much can be done.
And on another day the reason could be different. I have prepared very well today, so I dont really care much about help of God.

Though I never complained -even now I do not- about Radhachechi or Biju (they have their own view and I respect it), I somehow disliked this practice. When in distress, call for God. And thank him for the job done. God for hire. Thats what I felt. And the collection boxes at temples, churches and mosques appears to say "tips accepted for a job well done" like in some US share-taxis.

I once thought it is more important and tougher for man to pray to God when he is in ease rather than just when he is in distress. I thought there was more stress to the word ease than distress. For me it felt quite natural to pray in distress. No big deal. But why this unnatural requirement of pray when in ease?

There came an eye opener in the form of Thankappan. Thankappan was an office boy where I was working for my second employer and had a very meagre monthly pay. One fine day (while his wife was expecting for a third time, after two miscarriages, and was under complete bed rest) the admin manager tells Thankappan that he is getting terminated. A two weeks notice he had. Can imagine the distress he had, when he requested me to suggest any job that I know of. But what took my attention was what he said smiling "mukalil oral undallo saare" [There is someone above us]. His trust in God. And that trust worked. Thankappan continued there and later got transferred to another unit closer to his hometown too. Thankappan might not have visited temples, not put money in tip boxes of the agents of Gods. But he had what was needed. Trust. iimaan.

I once thought it is more important and tougher for man to pray to God when he is in ease rather than just when he is in distress. I thought there was more stress to the word ease than distress. For me it felt quite natural to pray in distress. No big deal. But why this unnatural requirement of pray when in ease?

Thinking about this, I understand that while praying in distress is a natural phenomenon, while praying at ease could be possible with a little care, keeping trust in God during distress is indeed a tough task. While praying to God, if I start devising methods to come out of distress, which is not in the way God has guided me, which is not the way I understand is correct, I do not trust God. Why do I pay bribes to get things done? Why do I say lies to come out of problems? Why do I steal someone else's rights to get my things established? Because I do not trust God. Well, I do have faith, I do believe God, but I do not trust God. I am only keeping God as a backup option. I am assigning God as one of many options.

I remember once a colleague asked me "Riyaz, I understand you believe in God, right?"

Well, Do I? What is this belief and why? I can believe Bush is the President of US. I can even believe Osama bin Laden is alive and active. How does it affect me? I dont have faith in Bush and hence I do not believe what he says. I have faith in a friend of mine and I can believe him. But when I trust God, I do believe in him, I have faith in Him and moreover, I have the trust that He will help me when I am in need. I do not need to find other shortcuts. I do not need alternatives. No bribes, no lies and no forgeries.