Monday, January 29, 2018

187. Do we need a Ministry of Loneliness?

Trust Britain to come up with new ideas. Recently, they  appointed a Minister for Loneliness. The rationale came from a 2017 report of the Jo Cox Commission on Loneliness which revealed that about 9 million people in the country suffered from loneliness sometimes or all the time. It will be interesting to see how this new Ministry handles the issue of loneliness.

The problem  seems to be quite acute in India too. With joint families breaking down, many more people suffer from loneliness today than ever before in the past. Millions of old people are living alone. They find nothing to look forward to and are just waiting to die. A large number of teenagers and youngsters are also feeling lonely, as pressure for success in studies and careers mount on them. Growing incidence of suicide among young people indicates the gravity of the problem.

Unfortunately, there does not seem to be much awareness about the impact of mental condition on one's physical health. While we hear a lot about the need to tackle diseases like diabetes, hypertension, cancer and so on, there is hardly any understanding that unhappiness caused by loneliness can lead to diseases or aggravate them.

What seems to be important is imparting of skills to people to deal with their loneliness. If one knows how to keep oneself busy and how to deal with one's emotions in a reasonable manner, one will not experience much loneliness. It is a good idea to develop some hobbies at an early stage. These may include drawing, painting, music, gardening, reading ... whatever. Also, one must understand the necessity to invest time and effort into building a circle of friends and well-wishers.It is also important to appreciate that with right attitude, one may not feel loneliness even if one is alone, and without such attitude, one may feel very lonely even if surrounded by many people. Basically, it is the way one handles oneself. 

I don't think, we need to emulate the example of Britain and set up a Ministry of Loneliness. Launch of a nation-wide, well-targeted and effective programme of education designed by experts can be a good beginning.

Saturday, December 30, 2017

171. On new year

An old year goes,
A new year comes-
Unbroken remains the chain.

Each year is filled
With same number of months,
But no two years are the same,
Some years pass too quickly,
Some just won't go away.

Each year has to be lived
Until a new one arrives,
And no year will stay,
Because you don't want it away.

Monday, December 25, 2017

77. Roses in December

The beautiful rose garden in the midst of the diplomatic area of New Delhi is not very widely known. Divided into two parts by Shanti Path, the garden near the Rail Museum in Chanakya Puri has come into its own during December. Roses of all hues can be seen here and the air is full of sweet fragrance. Interspersed with patches of green, the rose garden is a nice place to laze around in a wintry Delhi evening.

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Saturday, October 28, 2017

170. Passing Phase

Not long ago,
I was full of leaves,
Then came flowers,
I looked so beautiful,
I was in envy of myself.

Birds flocked to me
To sit on my branches,
Some made nests in me;
Lured by nectar of flowers 
Bees came humming to me.

Now, all is gone -
Leaves, flowers, bees and birds,
No eyes to feast on my beauty now,
No traveller to sit in my shade.

I know, a day will come
When leaves will grow,
Flowers will bloom,
Birds will return,
Bees will hum,
When onlookers will marvel at my beauty,
Travellers will sit in my shade.

I stand alone,
Abandoned and ignored,
But not sad and bitter,
I know, my current misfortune 
Is just a passing phase.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

169. Threat from within

These days, I don't talk much,
I want to protect my tongue
From my teeth which seem ready
To pounce on her and bite her.

My tongue is one,
But my teeth are thirty two,
My tongue is soft,
But my teeth are cruel,
I must keep my tongue reigned in
Lest she may be harmed.

I tell my tongue to be wary
Not of others, but my own.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

186. Durga Pooja this year

Navratras have started and Durga Pooja is round the corner. The weather is gradually turning to the better as if to add its bit to festivities. It is neither too hot nor too cold. 

Navratras have their own unique cuisines. Kuttu ke aate ki roti, makhaane ki kheer and a lot more delicious dishes which are otherwise not to be seen during the rest of the year. Dandiya, Garba, Ramlila,devotional music - all form part of Navratra celebrations. The celebrations will culminate into the much-awaited Durga Pooja.

Newspapers are full of preparations for the big occasion. Idols of Goddess Durga and preparation of pandals are integral parts of Durga Pooja festivities. This is the time when artistic skills of Bengalis are on full display. What I find very interesting is their ability to relate the festival to contemporary social issues. Every year, they come up with new ideas.

In Kolkata, a long street alpona ( traditional Bengali art of colourful designs and paintings done on the floor) was unveiled on Mahalaya day. Over 400 people including 300 students from art colleges created this masterpiece. The one kilometre long alpona had vivid colours and beautiful designs. Since we have such decorative traditions ( e.g. Rangoli) in other parts of the country as well, it will be nice if this experiment can be replicated in other parts of the country. This will be a good link in the Swachh Bharat campaign and will be an added attraction for tourists from abroad.

Another interesting aspect of this year's Durga Pooja is uniqueness of themes of pandals. In Chittaranjan Park, mini-Bengal of Delhi, the theme of the pandal this year is confluence of the culture of Bengal and the north-east. The idols will be draped in attires from the North-East while the pandal itself will be of traditional Bengali pattern. Organizers of the Durga Pooja at Matri Mandir in Safdarjung Enclave have decided to focus on women empowerment in their pandal. They will showcase life-size cutouts of women icons like Everest climber Poorna and Boxer Mary Kom. This gels very well with Durga Pooja which symbolises the power and strength of women.

People seem to be waiting with a lot of eagerness and zeal for Durga Pooja. This year's festival promises to go much beyond the traditional. 

Sunday, August 27, 2017

185. Fondness for jail

This is quite interesting. In Akola, Maharashtra, a restaurant has been opened recently which looks like a jail.Those who serve food here wear the uniform of prisoners. There are jail-like grills in the restaurant.  Pictures of Hindi film villains and their dialogues adorn the walls. As per reports, the restaurant is doing brisk business.

Now that so many big people are going to jail, common people also seem to be tempted. They also want to know what is so soothing about jail that high and mighty are making a bee-line for it. What comfort is there inside which people fail to find outside? Is it so that moments of silence and peace are available only inside jails? Or is it so that the experience of eating good food behind the bars is thrilling. Unfortunately, most common people seem to be unaware of what they need to do to land in jail. They have to make do with jail restaurant.

I am not sure if so many people would visit the jail restaurant if there was no guarantee that they would be allowed to come out after meals. Jail can be a good experience for a short period. Beyond a point, there are temptations of jail-break. Luckily, restaurant-break is not as big a crime as jail-break.

I am quite impressed with Batook Maharaj who discovered the hidden desire among common people to be in jail and eat there. He has proved to be quite innovative. I am not sure, if this bright idea originated in India. I am sure, this is going to be emulated on a big scale. I only hope, the customers don't get carried away to the extent that they refuse to pay for food  they consume inside the jail restaurant. If this happens, the innovative business model may die an early death.