Monday, December 24, 2007

New year, new hope

If you are looking for a person who has been alone in his ideas and away from his ideals for a long time, talk to me. Since many months now, I have been forcibly (part of the force is my own lethargy) sucked into a tiniest buttonhole of misinformation and ignorance resulting in utter lack of clarity and confusion. I was reeling under the constant rush of bad news enveloping me from all sides-- repeated failures of our foreign policy, successive governments' ineptitiude in handling naxals and other separtist groups, negligence towards the largest Indian industry-- our agriculture, and finally desecration of our history, our culture, our religion, and our pride not just elsewhere, but also in our own country and by our own people...

Sounds just like Denethor.. sitting in the high chambers of Minas Tirith and peering intently into the Palantir controlled by the dark lord.

Without my own knowledge I had gradually become something called "alpasantoshi"-- a person who finds satisfaction in "half-achievements" or simply put, I was an "aspiring under-achiever". I was thinking whether we can salvage something at all from the stranglehold of the current divisive politics, political correctness of the intelligentia and western consumerism. Worse, my faith in my culture, tradition, and my own self was looking very jaded--just an oft-repeated rhetoric, nothing too serious. I actually believed that Pakistan must be made more stable because a less stable Pakistan's nuclear arsenal would be out-of-control and that, that would be dangerous for India.

But now, the tide has turned, atleast within my own self and that is more important. With the announcement of the election results in Gujarat, a glimmer of a new hope is born. But this is a victory in just one battle, though a significant one, in a prolonged war. There is lot more work to be done. Modi is, no doubt, a great leader. But I didnt know that till now. So, along with Modi, let me offer my salute to the five and haf crores of Gujaratis who opened my eyes to the reality.

Monday, December 17, 2007

More about the same topic... Dogs!

"A man runs fastest when chased by a dog!" This was the response from an athlete who clocked his best timing in the Bangalore International Marathon on Sunday. Just as the participants approached the 20-km mark on the service road in Kalyan Nagar, it was not the cheering crowds that greeted them, but barking dogs eager to snap at their heels. The first to bear the brunt were athletes from Kenya and Ethiopia, who were in the lead. "It was very scary. Never in my career had I come across such a situation. It took me a while to recover from the shock," said Kenya’s Makau Nzioka, who finished second. "

From: Dogs, traffic halt marathoners , Times Of India, Dec 17th 2007.

Imagine-- people from even a highly poor and war-torn African country like Ethiopia, and even those from Kenya, a nation that hosts part of Serengeti, havent faced such a situation!

Hail the Dogs of Bengalooru!

Sunday, December 16, 2007

The 'Dags' are back!

Sheep Killed (The Hindu, Dec 04, 2007, Bangalore):

A pack of five dogs attacked a herd of sheep and killed them, early on Sunday. The pack of dogs entered a sheep’s pen in Vasanthapura, near Uttarahalli.

The Subramanyapura police said that 15 sheep were bitten and killed by the pack of dogs. Sources said that the dogs had attacked two children in the same area earlier. However, the police were not able to confirm it.

Any ideas on how the police can confirm if it was the same pack of dogs? Also, 15 sheep in a single sitting by just 5 dogs! Thats something to ponder. On the lines of what the great Brick Top said in Snatch, I will be wary of any man who keeps a pack of such 5 dogs!

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Some quotes from hardtalk, BBC

"The developing nations... [need not] develop according to the same old dirty polluting pattern of the west."
-- Al Gore, quoting Dr.Rajender pachauri on Hardtalk, BBC.

"We [The US] have taken care of Iran's two major enemies-- Saddam Hussain and Taleban."
--Valerie Plame, Ex-CIA undercover agent on Hardtalk, BBC.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

Osmania Biscuit XV--All hell breaks loose

It seems people of Saleem Nagar colony love 'affairs' (you know what affairs I am talking about). So not long after Rekha-Jaffer issue subsided, another one surfaced-- though this one involved the notorious Chappal-bazaar Baby who incidentally neither lived in chappal bazaar, nor was she a baby anymore being in her late forties and mother of two grown ups. Her only claim to fame, other than her loud mouth, was that she was the hindi pandit in the famous Joseph-Thambi upper primary school near Lucky stores run by one Mr.Lucky Makhija, a confirmed miser.

So one fine night, Baalamani, the ironing lady we had encountered earlier (the mother of Dasaratha, if you remember), had a strange dream that Chappal-bazaar baby's elder daughter had run away with their driver, one Mallesh from Narsapur. She promptly passed on the news to her elder son Kashyappa (strange that these folk have such wonderful names whereas we end up with rahuls, rohits, and pujas...) who always was thinking he was born to do a job in this world. So came running to Lingam's shop and avered it there standing on his beloved rock that was beside the shop just like Sri Ramanuja had done about a thousand years ago disclosing the ashtaakshari mantram to the masses.

I was there and we laughed and we forgot, not noticing that selfsame chappal-bazaar baby's daughter Vaasanti was standing right there in the next shop-- a girni.. squarely in the hearing range.

Fate it seems is not without a sense of irony.
--Morpheus, The Matrix

Now what happened after that, no one knows... and it is best that no one knows... for reasons unexplainable of course. But exactly seven days later, Lingam's shop was abuzz with news of the strangest kind: Vaasanti, the daughter of Chappal-bazaar baby had run away with driver Mallesh from Narsapur!

Now, there was no clear target available for Chappal-bazaar Baby's anger and frustration except baalamani and she forced herself to believe that the whole thing was stage-managed by Baalamani herself while poor Baalamani had absolutely no clue what was going on. In the ensuing madness, we saw how Chappal-Bazaar baby unleashed her most terrible weapon-- Badi Bi, her servant-maid and the harridan aunt of Jaffer upon Baalamani. Now this Badi Bi had an old grudge on Baalamani on water sharing from our very home during one especially hot summer. She alleges Baalamani secretly stole water from our compound meant for her during a quiet afternoon and then refused to even confess. And there was a huge fight between the two women and Baalamani had won because Badi Bi had to back away-- her husband had a small accident and she had to attend to it. Ever since, she was looking for an opportunity to get back.

Right on the chaurasta, it all began early in the morning. Badi Bi started calling her names and cursing her. Baalamani came out of her lair after a while and the retaliation began wth such fury that Badi Bi had to step back for a moment. But her heart was already aflame with the fire of revenge upon glacing the countenance of her foremost adversary and she upped the ante. She came charging towards Baalamani and crashed into her.

Hector and Achilles,
Bhima and Suyodhana,
Vali and Dundubhi,

All of these duels would seriously fall short of what we saw on that fatefully sad day.
How they punched and slapped each other...
How they bit and pinched each other...
How they pulled each other's hair....

And no one dared to separate them-- the men were already far far away and were too scated to touch the women and the womenfolk-- well... they had their bit of fun (you know, they didnt have sas-bahu serials back then)-- no one, except one woman! Pushpa, the safai woman. It was generally believed that her real name was Pullamma, and she changed it to Pushpa only to appease her guru of dark arts. It was believed that she smelt news in the wind.

So while all this ruckus was going on, she was busy with her safai work, but suddenly she stodd up, lifted herself head up, and smelt the wind. Up she came running and separated the two like Bhima did to Jarasandha, and then others took over and restrained the two. And then Pushpa said aloud:
"The wind is changing. It brings fresh news. Steady all!!"

Such was the power in her voice that the two fighters calmed down.

The suddenly, the younger daughter of Chappal-Bazaar Baby came running out her home and whispered something in her ear.

It was later known that Vaasanti was an ardent devotee of some "gurumaatha" who had recently taken up her dwelling in prasanth Nagar colony (in the neighbourhood of Saleem Nagar). So also was Mallesh. And it seems that this Gurumaatha was organising some puja for three days in the outskirts of the city. knowing that her mother would never allow her out, she secretly went away with her co-devotee-- the driver.

But upon reaching there, she discovered to her horror that this gurumaatha was not organising any Puja after all, and that she was not a decent woman. It seems the gurumaatha also tried to lure Mallesh with his fair share of 'booty', but he didnt fall for it (having lived in Saleem Nagar atleast for a while makes one strong like that!). So he ran away and informed police of this Gurumaatha and the next day, we saw photos in the newspaper of this gurumaatha being chased along the East Marredpalli roads by the police.

All in all, the colony was restored to its calm. Nevertheless, the rivalry between Baalamani and Badi Bi remains still.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

Fleeting Infinity

I am.

Oh look! He is, as well.

And one more...

And there is another one...

Hmm... well, let me look at each one of these...

This one looks like a leader. He is golden, very tall, and shiny. It appears he gets others' things done really well, has a rich stentorian voice, goes about with a royal majesty, floors women and impresses all wherever he goes. Money was never a problem. He will probably get married with a heavy fanfare and have a couple of kids and be a proper family man, with ever rising popularity.
I wish I had his qualities. How very very great He is really is!

And that one... hmm.. looks like a researcher. A rather dark hard lean one with a tough head. They tell me that he listens only to the stupidest one for reasons better left unknown. He has a high strung temper and he is always trying to think, analyse, reason, rationalise. He will probably finish his Masters and then go on earn a PhD in one of the most difficult topics known thereby solving age old mysteries.
I wish I had his qualities. How very very great He is really is!

Ah! the third one... looks a little eely, has a greenish tint, and slithering. They tell me he has a honey coated tongue and that he is a great listener. He is famed to say the right things to the right people at the right time. He always has a lot of friends who think they have impressed him and can kick him anytime they want to, but its generally the other way around. He will probably end up earning a lot of money and friends.
I wish I had his qualities. How very very great He is really is!

And what about me? I am a little bronwish, not too tall, and probably with some adhering qualities... Hmm! Must be artist, or at the worst an art lover. Some say that I have a brilliance often misunderstood because I dont follow social norms. some say I lack the tact to face the world. Some others hate me for knowing what I know, and not knowing what I dont know.

But you know what I actually think? I think I...
Just then, I familiar sound... drowning the voices of all the companions in an equalising vortex...

The toilet is flushed. And the companions, all of them, regardless of their prophetic destinies, are forced to ride the same subterranean current into the same dark oblivion that is ever eager to decimate their existence for ever.

The toilet is flushed. It is clean and spotless without any trace of the introspection conducted with authority by one of the most unwanted entities known. Yet, the toilet is waiting... for the next batch of emotions and egos and ambitions and aspirations that think they can exist infinitely.

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Religion and Science

Recently, Maha remarked how soft were my hands (I was spared the word 'womanly' thankfully). I, nevertheless, managed to wriggle out of this awkward situation by offering an ingenious explanation (Hyderabadis call this sort of self-aggrandisement as 'self-dabba' or simply, 'SD')--
One of the names of Shiva (please be reminded that my name is also a Shiva epithet) is 'SadyojAta'-- one who is just born. Of course you would expect that the hands of a just-born one would be soft. Sadyojaata is also very innocent and naive and we dont expect him to know the ways of the wicked world just as yet.
Even today, Religious scholars hide behind the theory that there are no proofs for theory of evolution and they basically "disagree" with darwin... why? because it says right here, in so and so Purana that from the nabhi-kamalam of Vishnu, Brahma was born and from him were born the Vedas or that Lord God made the world in seven days right in the book of genesis. No amount of evidence offered will convince them. Most importantly, they are threatened that all that they hold dear, will vanish in a moment if they agree with modern science. It doesnt have to be so...
I can offer a simple analogy, and in doing so, I will be offering yet another theory to the mankind already suffering from a "theoretical obesity":

Imagine, you want to make nice indian curry-- what do you do? you switch the stove on, put a pan on it, put vegetables, oil, other spices and condiments in the pan, and close the lid and let it simmer for a while. There is not much else to do now, other than occasional checking and stirring, and voila! you have your curry ready after a while. Notice that all the steps after all the ingredients have been mixed together are purely scientific and explainable, though they were happening with your least intervention.

The same can be applied to God and the evolution-- all the natural processes and the organic evolution is but an ongoing process or procedure happening exactly according to science, but what actually matters is the purpose, "the kAraNa" with which the universe, and subsequently, the solar system and the planets were formed as far as God is concerned. The rest, the science can easily handle. In that sense, The Almighty can be viewed as The Master chef with a view to prepare a cosmic soup of His own taste, and he doesnt have to keep it stirring all the while-- just use the ladle once in a while to stir up things a bit and make it more interesting.

The interesting part is that religion is viewed my most sociologists as a briliant outcome of evolution-- it is a successfully tested strategy designed to counter vagaries of mother nature to ensure his survival. It offers hope, a reason for existence, gives importance to his/her life in an odd way even without him/her doing anything of any significance. It also helps a tribe to be better than the competetion.
What an irony! The outcome of a process denies the very process that produces it, only because it feels threatened by its existence. What sadyojAtas we all make denying the very evolution that produced religion!
And when do we grow up to being YathirAjas (The Lords of all those who renounce the material world) ?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

The Fall of the dynasty of Brahma

The old wisdom born out of the west was forsaken. Kings made tombs more splendid than the houses of the living and counted the old names of their descent dearer than the names of their sons. Childless lords sat in aged halls musing on heraldry or in high, cold towers asking questions of the stars. And so the people of Gondor fell into ruin. The line of Kings failed. The white tree withered. The rule of Gondor was given over to lesser men.

And so we relish those bygone days... only as a fantasy.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Evil King's Castle

So one fine sunny summer day, Maha and I went frolicking straight into the Castle of the Evil King. The present caretakers were gracious enough to let us take pictures of those very forgettable times.

Looks like a place where the Evil King used to throw his newly wed brides from, after spending a night with them. The walls still seem to echo with the wails of those poor women.

This is where the Evil King used to hold court and sentence innocent bystanders to unmentionably horrid punishments for his pleasure during elevenses time.

The majestic garden of the Evil King. Anyone who entered it would have had his wiener chopped off and then it would be served to him, deep fried and garnished as a kabob, Armenian style!

This Evil King had a particular liking for Urdu. So it was that Urdu was made compulsory. And you know, only one non-native urdu speaker passed in the final test-- unfortunately, his name was Balakrishna, so his wiener was cut-off as well and served to him as kabob, Armenian style. The marks list was preserved as a memoir of those good 'ol days and the building rechristened as 'Arts college' of Osmania University.

You can see a totally petrified Maha standing in the corridor. It is widely romoured that the Evil King's 54th wife looked remotely similar to her....

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Mine Of Strength

Far away beyond shore and foam,
In the forgotten backyard of his home,
What does the lad look to find?

He digs and digs, never tiring,
Soiling his clothes and perspiring,
What, indeed, does the lad look to find?

Perhaps wealth hidden by his Sires,
Got from caves lonely, beyond mires,
What, indeed, does the lad look to find?

May be a gentle souvenir rather,
On a high day, given, by his father,
What, indeed, does the lad look to find?

Not, surely, a weapon to tame the wiles,
Of the unseen enemy full of guiles?
What, indeed, does the lad look to find?

A new strength--
Strengthened anew
He emerges now,
From bonds, not a few,
Knowing the fact, verily,
That there is return again,
That there is digging again,
That there is searching again,
That there is soiling again,
To, his strength, gain.

Wednesday, March 14, 2007



The fat cat on the mat
may seem to dream
of nice mice that suffice
for him, or cream;
but he free, maybe,
walks in thought
unbowed, proud, where loud
roared and fought
his kin, lean and slim,
or deep in den
in the East feasted on beasts
and tender men.
The giant lion with iron
claw in paw,
and huge ruthless tooth
in gory jaw;
the pard dark-starred,
fleet upon feet,
that oft soft from aloft
leaps upon his meat
where woods loom in gloom --
far now they be,
fierce and free,
and tamed is he;
but fat cat on the mat
kept as a pet
he does not forget.

-- J. R. R. Tolkien

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Some pics from Kodagu

Do these people know that these are examples of what is called as 'henotheism' in the west? Wall paintings from the Omkareshwara temple in Madikeri, the capital city of Kodagu (the actual name of the anglicised 'Coorg') District.

Look at the busy traffic waiting for green light at a traffic signal in Madikeri.

One cold winter morning in the kitchen of 'Ambika Tiffanies' in Madikeri.
--pic by Karthik

Karthik (black shirt, lots of hair on the face) overseeing the stepney change. Notice his stylish pose of sitting. How far behind is the West in fashion!Incidentally, wikipedia article on stepney says that the word is used only in India in that sense.
--pic by Pavan

Lots of Urea!
--pic by Karthik

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Osmania Biscuit XIV--Battle of Wits


When Lingam performed the maneuver of facing Obul and cleverly running away past him, he did more than a maneuver-- he had won a great battle of wits, which thankfully, neither he knew nor Obul knew. In fact, chroniclers (who seem to be ubiquitous, which should make us think what is in it for them? but then we will not, for now!) think that this technique easily outweighs the last battle of wits (yes! It is a 'battle of wits', literally!) in the famous 'battle of BEML gate'.

What we are missing here is the history behind these battles of wits. Long long ago, there used to be two huge kingdoms-- one was militantly Vaishnavaite, and another was militantly Shaivaite, and they used to battle their guts out for supremacy. It was rumoured that they frequently obained favours from Gods for their militaristic endeavours.

The whole Vaishnavaite kingdom was one very posh, properly planned city called Narayanopolis. It had a beautiful central palace with Golden Spires and sprawling meadows for the King. The people were extremely polite and their taste was exceeded only by their hatred towards their Shaivaite counterparts. The people were highly sentient and hard-working beings and thrived on agriculture and trade. They had a vast, powerful and organised army divided into many regiments. The vaishnavite city also had another Satellite city (literally 'satellite', as you shall see!) named Garudopolis that was susupended in mid-air, and could be used as a huge warship. They also had a powerful air-force named the 'Garudawaffe'.

On the contrary, the Shaivaite kingdom was a large mass of barren waste-land --a paradox with colums of smoke and ash spewing out from one part and snow and grinding ice in another part. It was a rocky and a moutainous region and people mostly lived on hunting and most people, when not hunting were seen meditating on Shiva. Some never stopped meditating and after their death, they added a kind of unseen armour to the Shaiva kingdom that needed many magic weapons to break through. The Shaivas had their own answer to the Garudawaffe-- they had Marutsena.

While Garudawaffe depended on sophistication, efficiency, and precision, Maruts depended only numbers and raw heroics. No wonder, they were much feared. It was partly to thwart any further attacks from Maruts that Vaishnavaites built the Garudopolis. Shaivaites frequently employed women in the army and they had their own regiment called the Bhairavi regiment, and they were notorious for their unrelenting bravery. On the other hand, the Vaishnavaites had a powerful nursing and reconnaisance brigade called the Mohini-Brigade. It was famed to never fail.

Till now, Obul (a name of God Vishnu's Avatara Narasimha) did not know that he was the direct descendant of the lengendary General Oppiliappan-IX (Oppiliappan also means Narasimha. It could be that Oppiliappan is the actual Tamizh form of 'Obulayya'), who single-handedly, with his band of highly motivated fighters, routed an invasion of a huge Shaivaite army consisting of 44th KAla-Bhairava Regiment and the 16th Light-infantry Bhringi Regiment and 24th Rudra Rifles Regiment.

And Lingam, obvioustly as well, did not know that he was a direct descendant of VallinAyagam-III, the prefect of Chidambaram-- who successfully thwarted an attack of 4th, 5th, and 11th VarAha-regiments and even withstood, though at great loss, highly sophisticated and dangerous Sudarshana weapons dropped from Garudopolis. The whole of 6th Marut-Brigade was felled from the skies. The Shaivaites, from then on, never have had a 6th Marut-Brigade in honour of those who found martyrdom on that day. Now, it seems that to save from the onslaught of the Vaishnavaites, some of the Shaivaites in a neutral area got mixed with pastoral and peace minded Yadavs and began calling themselves Yadavs. Same was the case with Vaishnavaites and they mingled themselves with other tribes to find peace.

These wars continued for centuries together, with innumerable battles and skirmishes. As times changed, because of a lot of external factors, the funds for war decreased on Vaishnavaites' side, and not many Shaivaites were intent on ghOra-tapasya, so their shields weakened. So there emerged a new form of tactical warfare called 'Battle of Wits'. The entire warfare consisted of confusing the enemy. The more you end up confusing the enemy, the more crushing is the defeat inflicted upon him. And war-chroniclers, who write down everything, decide who wins. (more often, they are seen taking money from a side and pronounce it victorious!). So, you see, the profession is not without its plus points.

So when Lingam turned around and faced Obul at Janglee ViThoba Temple in Hyderabad, the whole world was watching him, and war-chroniclers were busy scripting each and every minute detail of the incident. By the time Lingam ran away into the galli with a perplexed Obul staring with his gaping mouth, Lingam was already a Shaivaite hero. Chants of 'Hara hara Mahadeva' echoed in the sub-terranean hideouts of the Shaivaite extremist organisations throughout the world. Lingam, without knowing the reason, kept getting many gifts and 'well-done', 'bravo', and 'salute to thou' letters for months. Thankfully, he didnt bother about them one single-bit because they were addressed to a guy named 'VallinAyagam-VII', and he had no idea it was his real name.

And Obul.. poor Obul got busted by the vaishnavaite powers that be. He was hunted by an inexplicable misfortune. He lost money everywhere, his friends deseted him. he was kicked out of his master Erra Satyam's service (in fact, some theorise that the murder of Erra Satyam was an attack to inflict pain on Obul) and was treated as a disgrace. But the powers calmed down eventually and were set to offer Obul a new life and a chance to redeem his honour.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

parivartanAvartanam -- Life, Transformation, and back to Life- III

Back to Life:

Priya was only remotely fascinated by her actual name before-- her parents sometimes used to make fun of her, saying that it would have been better if she had been named 'vakuLa', with a tint of sarcasm. Neither she understood what they meant, not did she understand what was wrong with the name 'vakuLa'. They always said that her grandmother didnt like staying with them even though they tried bringing her over because her way of life was too strict and out-of-date, and that she stayed in a remote village away from them.

It was only later when she met her grandmother incidentally on a trip did she realise what her parents meant. But right in the first meeting, she found her grandmother far more likeable than her parents. She developed a soft corner for her grandmother, who still called her VakuLa, and started visiting her often. Gradually, she began to prefer the name 'VakuLa' over 'Priya'. Though she enjoyed battling with semaphores and forks in work, she found this far more gratifying. In a short while, she had learnt so much that she felt she came a long way. Now, because of the same qualities that made her an excellent team lead in that software testing form, she had become the life of the town because of her commitment and hardwork, and she had become a role model for other young women.

At one point, she understood that more than devotion to the Godhead, it was the commitment to lead a way of life that preserved riches of life that kept her going--an honest attempt at leading a much more organic, natural, intuitive, and richer way of life where she can always learn something about the nature, the people around her, and finally herself.

And so, every weekend, she became VakuLa, and every Monday, she returned to work as Priya. Her grandmother did not coax her into any kind of decision. She knew that her granddaugher had come on her own, and she had to make her own decision-- and the decision had to be made soon.

It is the end of my narration, for I do not know what the future has in store for the central character. Will she become VakuLa in the end or will she stay Priya... I do not want to take it any further, because I do not want to think for the readers of this story. If you have come till here, you have already an opinion about Priya/VakuLa, and about yourself. Her story ends here and yours begins here. What you want to become and where you want to go is your business.

P.S.: Yes, the narration is sloppy, the character development is incomplete, and some characters are too stereotyped and banal. But if you still manage to look through this nebulous fog and find something to ponder over, then I have done my job.

parivartanAvartanam -- Life, Transformation, and back to Life- II


When Priya got home, her grandmother was not at home but she found all the arrangements made. An olive coloured silk saree and blouse set were lying on a stool, and some water, cold as a rule, was present in the bathroom. She quickly cast away all of her 'city' clothes, took bath, and wore her saree, braided her hair and made it into a bun, applied a short vertical tilakam on her forehead, wore some green and a couple of golden bangles, a small nose-gem (not a nose-ring), a set of small golde ear-rings set with pearl, and finally set a small lenth of flower strip into her bun.

The process which had come to seem so natural to her now, was not so a while ago. It began only as a small and gentle curiosity about year and a half ago. By and by, her grandmother sensed the flow of her granddaughter's feelings as the curiosity grew into general interest, then into a fully-grown hobby, and then avid enthusaism and finally maturing into realisation of she had been missing all this time as her mentor-grandmother, feeling happy at the progress made by her protege, taught her all she knew-- to cook, dress up, and behave in the trational manner.

VakuLa herself was perplexed how she could imbibe all of this so easily. She felt something was not right, and she tried to keep away from the town and cut all contact with her grandmother. But the urge to come back was too swift. She gave up finally. At times, she used to wonder if she was enjoying it because she was so good at it, or was it the other way around, but now, it did not matter much. She knew where she belonged. Every weekend, she had been coming to her grandmother's place. She kept lying to her parents, friends, and people at office about her whereabouts at weekends. She hardly used to go to her home. But whenever she went, there was a feeling of frustration and loss. Her parents were not qualified enough to peep behind her formal smiles to sense the inner volcano of feelings.

She also had come to know many of the traditional Indian chants by heart. She began reading books on Indian philosophy and very soon she was able to convince other scholars in town that she was someone to contend with. She even had started participating in some of the temple ceremonies. A small coterie of orthodox Brahmins tried to bar her progress, but being well versed in the shastras by now, she came over them, yet without hurting their self-respect using her tact. She now looked into the mirror to give final touches to her transformation from Priya to VakuLa-- the name her grandmother had chosen for her when she was born, but rejected by her parents who found it too old-fashioned. She came out and saw the framed photograph of Goddess Laxmi by the wall in the outer room. She took a slow deep breath, and she felt she was now richer, having driven out Alakshmi from her life:

Kshut pipásá-amalám jyesthám alakshmím náshayámyaham
Abhūtimasamriddhim cha sarván nirnuda me grihat.

She wrapped her neck and shoulders with the saree and went to the grocers, who knew her only has the grand-daughter of the old widow Narmada, and ordered the necessary vegetables and condiments. Cooking SODasapakvAnnAs for fifty one people is not an easy task for a beginner. She was used, by now, to cooking for the temple, but the scale was much smaller. A tough task but she had taken it upon her willingly.

She returned home where her grandmother was waiting for her. She had gone over to the neighbours' place. As her grandmother went inside to cook, vakuLa went into the small garden to collect some tulasi-daLams for the puja the next day. It was going to be another long but beautiful day.

parivartanAvartanam -- Life, Transformation, and back to Life- I


Priya was into software testing. In her short 4-year old career after her engineering, she had already become a team lead after just over 2-years of service. A charming smile always adorned her face and she had a knack of getting the most difficult job done by the people working under her. She would push, taunt, or pep up her team mates as the situation demanded. She was extremely committed and hard-working and demanded the same level of commitment from others around her. She took on others' load when they could not bear it any longer. In short, she was the perfect leadership-material. However, not all was okay with her.

Priya had a secret life that began about 8 months before. A part of her that was almost negligible had suddenly begun to assert itself and she felt compelled to satisfy it. She fought it initially-- it was not something well bred girls of upper middle class did without bringing the family into disrepute in the high society. Even she herself took sometime to accept it. But she had finally begun to understand that she was different from others and that her priorities had changed. She knew what had to be done... only, she was afraid of taking the step. Her parents, who were proud of her, would find it opprobrius. They were too worried about their status. Her team-mates would think she has lost it and gone mad. She would be in one of those fringe groups, generally laughed at. She suspended her decision to some other time in future and sat in a bus friday afternoon, as she had been doing every weekend of late.

She got down at a small town in the cold evening after about 5 hours of journey and started walking at a brisk pace. Some people saluted her in namaskaara mudra and walked away with bent heads, some others greeted her as their own child, while some were giving her rather anxious looks. She commanded huge respect in the town. She reached a house, went inside, locked the door and promptly removed all of her clothing. There was a feeling of expectation and excitement-- she had not even dreamt doing something like this before.
Jayati tEdhikam kRshna janmanAvrajAH
Srayata indirA kRshna SaSvad atrahi
dayita dRshyatAm kRshna dikshutAvakA-
stvayi dhRtAsavaH kRshna tvAM vichinvatE.

na khalu gopikA kRshNa nandano bhavAn....

Chants of gOpikA gItam, along with highly appetising culinary scents, were emanating from a small house with a label "VakuLa" early in the morning in a mountain town. The female voice was young and ebullient, but it also echoed deep commitment and was full of devotion. The house had a narow fence made of thickets, and it also had a well and a couple of cows in a shed. The priest of the temple stopped in front of the wooden gate for a while to listen to the young voice, wrapt in the beauty of the sonorous chants with his eyes closed, and then walked away to attend to his chores at the temple. VakuLa had become very dear and respectable to the people, both learned and lay, in town in a short while.