…and he was! Barack Obama has made history by becoming the first African American president of the United States of America. This was a closely watched election around the world (the US election generally is!), but what was different this time was the spontaneous erruption of joy the world over and a feeling of having achieved something! A change is truly coming.
But why, for someone sitting in India, should this be such a magical moment? Maybe it’s the interconnectedness of human beings, maybe it’s joy at seeing the rise of a historically opressed race…maybe, it gives a glimmer of hope that something similar could happen here, some day.
While we all followed the US presidential campaign and watched the US elections, the fact of the matter is that for most youngsters in India, elections in our country hold absolutely no charm. I was discussing this with some friends over lunch yesterday, and we came to a few conclusions.
The US system is, in some ways, really simple. There are just two majour parties and two major canditates to vote for. Election manifestos are available and accessable to the general public, and most of what they talk about during the rallies seems relevant to the nation as a whole, unlike here, where vote bank politics rules the roost. The candidates, typically, are people you would want to see as leaders, who you could put your faith in — Obama this time, Al Gore during the last presidential election — whereas here, we really couldn’t care less. We have old foggies like Mr. Advani as PM hopeful — and he’s in his 90s! People in the US actually queue up and cast their vote! We take election day as a holiday, the perfect time to sleep-in late! But then, look at our choices!
We have no faith in the system, things aren’t going to change. Even if there are a few politicians willing to bring about a change (Rahul Gandhi seems to be doing quite a bit these days), most of the old guard and the old parties are not going to let them function. We have a huge number of political parties here, none of whom we have any faith in! There’s the Congress, which was famous for the Mandal Commission, and now is known for its sectarian politics. The BJP is blatantly pro-Hindutva — they still field and respect Naredra Modi after the Gujrat carnage! The Left is against technology and progress. The BSP is Mayawati. I’m not entirely sure why people are against her, though. She’s the Obama of India, a Dalit who is a PM hopeful. Yes, she has got corruption cases against her, but then, which politician doesn’t? And she has done a lot for the Dalits. She is someone I don’t know too much about, but there seems to be no support for her either.
Unless there are some changes to our political system and to our politicians sometime soon, I don’t think we’re going to see the youth or the young professionals turning out to vote. I know I wouldnt! I simply couldn’t care less!
During the recent (ok, beginning of the month!) long dussera weekend, we drove down to Lansdowne, a small hill station in Uttaranchal. I was initially really excited about making the trip, but then a lot of people psyched me out, saying there’s nothing to do there!
We spent 3 nights/4 days at Lansdowne (of which we had 2 full days to roam around), and I’m already planning my next trip to the place, it’s that pretty. As for having nothing to do there…well, if your idea of holiday fun is walking along Mussorie’s crowded mall road, this place isn’t for you. However, if you love nature, you’ll fall in love with tiny Lansdowne.Continue reading→
The Secret has become a “new age” phenomenon, and as all things that get extremely popular, has also drawn a lot of criticism, chief being that the book is all a sham and that things don’t work the way Rhonda Byrne claims they do.
I received the following forward from a friend, asking me my views on what was said in an article titled Beware what you wish for (pasted below).
Have you heard about “The Secret?” It’s a new DVD which has become a phenomenon of what is called “viral marketing,” i.e., being passed along from friend-to-friend. It’s been on the news, it’s been on Oprah, it’s become a thing of the tinsel-town elite. What is the “The Secret?” It’s a technique which the “spiritual personalities” on the video guarantee will bring you wealth, friends, happiness, power and practically anything you desire. Obviously, it’s caught on. Especially with the unwary. Particularly with those who want something they haven’t earned.
The Secret is actually old wine in a new bottle. You have known it previously as the “Power of Positive Thinking,” “Think and grow Rich,” Nichiren shoshu chants, the song “Wishing will make it so” and even Haitian Voodoo practices. In simple language it tells you that you can have anything you want if you think about it constantly while visualizing what it is you want in your thoughts. Well, sorry, Dale Carnegie and Napoleon Hill got there first–-not to mention the black priesthood from Alantean times.
Does The Secret work? Yes, it does. And that’s just the problem. It’s why we have this delicious little saying, “Be careful what you ask for, you might get it.” Remember that. It’s true. Think on it.
There is a reason that Jesus said, “Your needs are known” and that great spiritual leaders have all said that we should be desire-less. There is a reason that people say, “The Universe will provide.” You should be aware that the “spiritual personalities” and the “New Age Churches” touting this so-called “secret” know nothing of real spiritual laws and are all out for the buck.
When you wish, desire, chant for, focus your thought on and visualize that which you think you desire, you make a karmic demand on the Spiritual Ether. Your demand disturbs the Ether just like a boat plowing through the sea and if you get what you desire (the question is always “when”) it will definitely have a price. It will exact something from you that you cherish or else you will soon lose it and much more. This is that part of The Law they don’t tell you about because they don’t know or understand it.
There is a story of the woman who wished for a white Cadillac in her garage. Her husband lost his job and they had to move and the people who moved in had a white Cadillac. Another story is that of the New York society matron who wished for a mink coat. She got it and her husband was immediately transferred to Egypt. Need I say more?
Oh yeah, they say this is white magic and you can use it to wish for peace and for healing and all that. Doesn’t matter. There is a principle involved here. It’s called the “Rebound Blow.” Just as a rifle kicks back when it’s fired and a balloon goes forward when air escapes from the other end, the rebound blow comes into play when you send out a forced desire for something.
The way this aspect of The Law is best explained is in that phrase from the Teachings of the Temple by Master Hilarion. He says, “Each step of good opens up a like return force of evil.” This is the rebound blow. Send out positive and you can expect negative in return. When you disturb the ether with the force of your desire that magnetism of that energy will circle around and hit you from behind with its reverse force. This means that if you have made a step upwards toward the good, the rebound blow will try to knock you back down again. And it will if you have not prepared for it.
CAVEAT: YOU CANNOT HAVE AND KEEP ANYTHING YOU HAVE NOT EARNED!
Say you want to stop smoking. The energy put into quitting will circle around and hit you at a later date with a reverse force that will make you want a cigarette badly. If you’ve ever smoked and tried to quit, you know this is the truth! That force will be equal to the force you set in motion. If you give in, you’ve lost. If you can summon a greater force and not give in, then each time that force circles around, its energy will be less and less, decreasing until it’s gone and you are free of the bondage.
If you focus on something that disturbs the Ether, you will surely get the rebound blow. That’s Karma. There is a way to wish for something and protect yourself at the same time, however. Go ahead, wish for anything you want, but at the end of the wish, just add, “Only if it is my Karma to have this.” Now you’re off the hook. But then, why go through the process in the first place!
Know that the more visualization and psychic force you put into a selfish desire, the greater will be the rebound blow. Here’s the kicker. If you receive that which you so greatly desire, something of equal value will be taken from you. Your stocks may decrease in value; you may develop a sickness; you may lose your job. Whatever force you put into your desire, Karma will seek recompense. That is The Law. The whole object is to develop a pure heart and use it to perform unselfish acts. Then Karma will bring you what you need. But you have to TRUST that!
Do yourself a favor. Desire wisdom. It’s the only thing you can take with you when you leave. Remember the Law of Karma: you cannot keep anything you haven’t earned.
Here’s what I think:
This is an interesting article, but a lot of the reasoning is flawed.
The Secret basically explains the Law of Manifestation, which I had read about extensively, long before this book became such a big phenomenon. First, the reason for the book becoming a phenomenon (in my view) is that it breaks the law down and makes it easy to understand (it also over-simplifies the “law”), and gives people a step-by-step on how to use the law. The author got the basis for this book from The Science of Getting Rich, which was written in the 1800s, I think. So, this is a very old, universal law.
Why I say The Secret over-simplifies the law is because I really don’t think you can think yourself into being thin, for example, something that has been mentioned in the book! But if you think about it, your thoughts do have an impact on your environment and surroundings. When you look at a situation negatively, it can overwhelm you; but if you detach yourself a bit and look at it from the perspective of learning something from it, the situation isn’t as overwhelming anymore. Which is part of the reason why we can look back at certain events and laugh over them in hindsight.
Having said that, here’s what I think about the basic premise of this article: “Be careful what you ask for, you might get it.”
Well, what would be so bad about getting “it”? It could just be that when you get “it”, you realize fully that there is a trade-off involved. BUT, the trade-off does not come from the “answer to your wish,” it comes from the choice that you made when you “wished” for that something. For example, if you wish for a Hummer and you get it, you then fully realize the cost of maintaining and running it! But, it was your choice, and you have to deal with the consequences of your choice.
As for sending out a “demand from the Spiritual Ether” that will apparently have “an equal and opposite effect,” don’t you think that’s a bit too doomsdayish? I mean please! The woman who wished for a mink coat, only to get it and then have her husband get transferred to Egypt reeks of chain mails — forward this and something good will happen in 10 days, don’t forward it and you’ll have misfortune for 7 years!
And when great spiritual leaders say we should be desire-less, it has more to do with the philosophy of a religious/spiritual path — based on the fact that we cannot take our material goods with us, and that we should dissolve our ego and be more open to the experiences around us — than to an actual “evil” universe, because that is what the underlying argument is! If everything I visualize or desire is going to have an equal and opposite effect, then maybe I shouldn’t use vision boards (which work, by the way), or have goals and focus on them! And have you actually contemplated the full meaning of “Send out positive and you can expect negative in return”? So are you saying that if I send out negative, I can expect positive in return? Sorry, but I really don’t think it works like that!
You might also like:
The Secret to You – a visualization tool designed to harness the power of The Secret to fill your life with happiness, prosperity, health and love.
In an endeavour to make office fun (yeah, right!) our firm decided to launch hobby clubs, and the one and only club launched thus far is the photography club. I’m a total shutterbug, but a complete amateur, so I decided to sign up! And of course, given my crazy work schedule, I didn’t attend a single meeting. It took an email by the group head to “force” me to make it for the meeting, and boy! Was I glad I went!! There are a bunch of really talented people in that grup, which honsetly had me wondering what I was doing there! I mean, I may click away with abandon, but that doesn’t necessarily make me even half-way decent!
Anyhoo! Take the plunge I did, and clicked away during the weekend, on the theme that had been decided for the week — table top or still life photpgraphy (which my husband insists on calling industrial photography!). Here are my very humble attempts, and may I add that this is the first time I have ever done this, ever? OK, just so we set the record straight!
Delhi was struck by 5 serial bomb blasts this Saturday — all of them targeting busy, popular markets and hangouts. While these were supposed to be “low-intensity bombs,” lives were lost, and a few people I know had lucky escapes. Very luckily, everyone I know is safe.
While this is a shameful act of terrorism, and while it brought together strangers from every walk of life to help, it also brought the wierdos out onto the street. While most people were expressing their shock and outrage at the bombings, a mother-daughter duo from Safdurjung Enclave drove especially all the way to GK to see the bomb blast! They had the gall, on national television, to laughingly say that they were “very well aware that there have been 5 blasts in Delhi,” go on to list the places where the blasts happened, and say, “my daughter wanted to see the blast, so we drove down to have a look.” What gall! Is this a tourist spot, or a display, that people are specially driving in to have a look-see? Shocking!
Another thing that has me thinking is this phrase: “Sprit of Delhi.” Replace it with any Indian state that has suffered a terrorist attack in the recent past — things are back to normal the very next day. Is this really the spirit of the city, or are we becoming indifferent to the death and terrorism we see around us everyday? I don’t mean to sound callous, but it is a fact — Indians are exposed to a number of terrorist attacks, religious riots, non-issues being made into issues and what have you, that we seem to have developed an immunity to such events — as long as we are not directly affected by them. We disguise this indifference by calling it our spirit.
But terrorism is a shocking event. While the goal of a terrorist is to strike fear in the heart of citizens, we cannot just get up, brush ourselves off, and go on like nothing has happened. There needs to be accountability in the system. Culprits — the real culprits, not innocents rounded up on the basis of their relegion — need to be put behind bars. The nation should send a strong message to terrorists — that we will not take this lying down. We will hunt you down and bring justice to our citizens.
The police, though, do nothing. The UP police is being partially blamed for the terrorist strike. They apparently had intelligence about the planned strike, and a tip-off on where the terroists were hiding, but were lax in pursuing it. Let’s see how the Delhi police react — they apparently have an eye-witness. How this will play out will be relvealed over the next few days.
Ever since I decided to take on a couple of new projects, in addition to the work I alredy do. I’ve had a busy couple of really weeks at work. So much so I’ve had no time for hubby dearest, let alone friends.
So it wasn’t surprising when Mridu, a dear friend and an ex-colleague, sent me an email saying don’t just work hard and ignore the rest of your life, take some time time out to just drop a couple of lines and let the people that love you know that you still exist.
I wrote back to her immediately, and decided that I just had to finish up work on time, even if it ment putting a few not so significant things off for the next day, and going to meet her. So, with Swapnil, another common friend, in tow, I landed up to meet her on Thursday — and it was such a blast! I was at her place for about 3 hrs, but it still didn’t feel like we’d managed to catch up! So, we plan to meet again one of these weekends, put our husbands together in one room, and spend some girl time together. That plan will hopefully materialize soon.
Then, on Friday, Swapnil and I made an impromptu plan to go malling @ Central – a mall devoted almost exclusively to clothes, bags, sandals and groceries. What fun that was! We wandered around the mall, checking out clothes, commenting on bags, trying on shoes, and finally ending up with two pairs of pants for her and a pair of cool sandals for me. I had some discount coupons for the grocery sectio of the mall, so we went and stocked up on some home essentials and exotic foodstuffs, before heading over to the foodcourt for a bite of dinner.
The last two days of the week (which also happened to straddle the last day of the previous month and the first day of this one) have been a high-note of an otherwise dreary month of July.
That special pleasure she had felt in watching him eat the food she had prepared—she thought, lying still, her eyes closed, her mind moving, like time, through some realm of veiled slowness—it had been the pleasure of knowing that she had provided him with a sensual enjoyment, that one form of his body’s satisfaction had come from her.
. . . There is reason, she thought, why a woman would wish to cook for a man . . . oh, not as a duty, not as a chronic career, only as a rare and special rite in symbol of . . . but what have they made of it, the preachers of woman’s duty? . . . The castrated performance of a sickening drudgery was held to be a woman’s proper virtue—while that which gave it meaning and sanction was held as a shameful sin . . .
The above paragraph from Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged holds powerful meaning and a strange resonance for me. I have always viewed cooking as something I do when I feel like doing it—something special and sacred for the one I love. It has always been a pleasure to cook—on special occasions, when I’m feeling particularly in tune with my significant other, as a gesture of my love. And that is just what I would have preferred to keep it. But thanks to something that someone said to him when he was depressed, we ended up having a huge fight about a year back, and now, it has become drudgery for me. So much so, after treating the whole thing as a challenge, I have now reached the stage when I prefer staying out of the house until late, so I can go home and say I’m too tired to even bear the thought of cooking. The very thought of having to cook as a “have-to-do-thing” fills me with dread….makes me want to bolt. Food has never been a big issue for me. I’m happy eating almost anything. I can get by just fine on soup and toast, as I can on a full Indian meal. But Abid is the opposite. And striking a balance between our different needs is becoming increasingly challenging.
Seems like it’s the season for pets this January! We got ourselves some pretty fish this weekend, and my best friend adopted a dog!
I’ve been doing a lot of research on the Internet to figure out how to take care of them, since I’ve killed fish twice before. Aquariumfish.net had some of the best information on looking after fishbowls, though some of the things don’t quite apply here, or are unavailable here. Till now, though, they’re doing just fine! Fingers crossed!
I had heard a lot about Jaisalmer and how beautiful it is, but nothing can quite prepare you for the city. The fort in Jaisalmer is the only living fort in the world, and we stayed at a hotel inside the fort itself, which is the best thing to do.
The whole place looks magical, like a scene out of Arabian Nights. It looks like someone has put up a historical set, and opened it up for the public, and that the next time you come, it might disappear! There are lots and lots and lots of shops inside the fort – the city, after all, is a tourist city. Its entire economy depends on tourism. Once you’ve been there, it works such magic on you that you would want to visit it again and again.
Architecture in temple – dancers on the roof
I think I spent most of my time walking while looking up, because almost all the houses have beautifully carved jharokas and balconies. I kept poking the husband in the ribs and pointing out almost every second house! The guide was also amused, said this is so normal for them that they don’t even see it! Apparently, the government has passed an order that all houses built in Jaisalmer have to have a sandstone front and have to have some carving on the doors and window, since the carving and the sandstone is all that attracts tourists to the city.
There are a lot of Jain temples, built in between and 12th and 15th century, inside the fort, and again, all I can say is that the carving is awesome! The biggest temple has got 11 dancers carved on the roof, with musicians below them, and one figure of Indira. The Jains believe that once the temple is closed, the dancers descend from the roof and dance for the Gods. How quaint! The statue looks like it is made of marble, but is actually made of desert sand! Every year it is polished with diamond dust, milk, sandalwood, and turmeric, which gives it the look of marble!
Patwon ki Haveli
The entire temple is built on the basis of interlocking columns, since there was no water for limestone joining at that time, and cement was not invented yet. One of the other temples had different form of Ganeshji carved on the roof. Seeing it just takes your breath away! Especially when you think of when they were built and what kind of ability and skill it would have taken then, to make something that is so timeless in its beauty, without the technology that we have access to today.
The museum in the fort had some interesting things on display – line the entire family tree of the rulers, right down to the present king. There was also the king’s bedroom, and one of the king’s nightgown on display. It’s so huge that both the husband and me could fit into it, and still have some space left over!
One of the most elaborate and magnificent of all the havelis (bungalows) in Jaisalmer is Patwon ki Haveli, which was built between 1800 and 1860 by five Jain brothers who made their fortunes by trading jewelry and fine brocades. The entire façade of the haveli is made of sandstone, which has through-and-through, intricate carving. I went crazy photographing close-ups of different sections of the haveli! And the most amazing thing is that there is a similar house, which was made in 1993! It belongs to someone who is based in Surat, and would have cost him Rs. 1 crore to build! The sandstone is cheap, but the carving is really expensive, about Rs. 500 per square foot!
Following the trend of converting palaces into hotels and leaving a section open for visitors is Badal Mahal, which is topped by the Tazia Tower. Each story of this five-tiered tower has a beautifully carved balcony. Muslim craftsmen built it in the shape of a Tazia and gifted to the king. Tazias are ornately decorated bamboo, paper, and tinsel replicas of a bier carried in procession during Muharram. Visitors can’t go into the tower, because the king has his residence in that section of the palace.
Surprisingly, this desert city also has a lake! A man-made lake, but a lake nevertheless – the Gadisar lake. At one time it was the town’s main water supply, but is currently a big tourist attraction. Who wouldn’t want to go boating in the desert?
And of course, how can I neglect to mention the desert itself?
Riding Into the Sunset
We went to Sam Sand Dunes for New Year. It is a one hour drive on a lonely road, there are hardly one or two small villages along the way. Sam is not really just sand dunes, though, there are a lot of shrubs too, which I wasn’t expecting. It just didn’t fit into my mental image of what a desert should look like, but it did give me a sense of serenity and timelessness, despite all the crowds that were there for New Year. We plan to return here again, and spend a couple of days in the desert.
New Year celebrations were organized by the hotel, and were held at one of the many desert camps. There was traditional Rajasthani folk music and dances organized at the venue, along with dinner and drinks. While we had originally planned on staying till 12:30 am at least, it was too cold to even think about it. While we were sitting in front of the fire it was fine, but our backs were bearing the brunt of the cold air blowing in, despite all the layers of clothes we were wearing!
The New Year program was an interesting experience, though it wasn’t really what I was expecting. I had a completely different image in my mind, fueled by all the things we had heard from people when we mentioned we were planning to spend New Year at Jaisalmer! It was a little disappointing, but an experience worth remembering nonetheless.