Saturday, 25 May 2013

Teatime Tales .........

       (As promised I come back with the first tale) ........

*     Try telling your wife that the best cup of tea you ever had in your
       life was prepared not by her but by somebody else. Most likely,
       thereafter, you would end up brewing your own daily tea. But there
       are moments in everyone’s life when one has a cup of tea, outside
       home, whose taste lingers on forever. I’m the fortunate one to have
       had such tea, not once but on three occasions and at three different
       places, separated by hundreds of miles. Their taste is still so fresh
       in my mind, in my heart. And I wish to share this with you.

First Tea

Phura, a village in south Mizoram, India wore a deserted look at that
pre-noon hour. Lazy grunts from pigs and shouts from children in the
football field gave some semblance of civilisation and brought a faint
smile on my face. Tired of walking for the last two hours in the humid 
weather, I couldn’t manage a better emotion and like my friends needed
hot tea badly. As we entered the village, I saw a man emerge out of the
       I called for him. He looked at us. To our delight, he started walking
in our direction and upon reaching us; he shook hands warmly with us all
and then started talking in English. During our brief conversation I learnt 
that he was a policeman stationed in the local police station. It came as a
huge relief for us, because none of us knew the local Mara dialect. 
       As we walked further, my subordinates moved to another area for
privacy as they never felt comfortable with me, though I had no qualms
of them having tea with me. The privacy was necessitated because of  
difference in our socio-economic backgrounds. So, I with my interpreter
moved inside the nearest teashop, which, in fact, was an annexe of the
bamboo house. Finding the shop empty, he called for the owner. I 
looked in the backyard and found a teenage girl, in blue skirt and red
top, tending her kitchen garden. 
       She put down the trowel and stood up. Perhaps she had heard a 
male voice call for him. Inside, she washed her hands thoroughly and
wiped them off the hankie and picked up the kettle from the stand.
The small open kitchen was neatly laid out. “The most men and
women are out on the jhums. Only old folks and children are here,”
she informed me as if she was expecting me to ask that. 
       “What bring you to this far-off place,” she asked. The interpreter 
translated it promptly. 
       “We are here to do the census,” was my laboured reply. 
       She nodded and returned to the hearth. In the meanwhile we both 
men discussed about the life of folks in that remote part of the county. 
       “Your tea, Kapu,” her sweet voice cut our conversation short. 
       I picked up the mug and instantly began to sip tea. As the first sip
trickled down the stomach, my whole body became fully awake.
Perhaps some local herb had made that tea taste so unique.
Subsequent sips were elixir. When I had had my last sip, I felt that I
had woken up from a deep slumber. 
       We finished tea. She picked up white china mugs and went back 
to the kitchen. Raising my right butt a few inches off the chair I searched
for my purse and fished out a ten-rupee note, and called her to pay. 
       Giving me a stare of mock annoyance, she spoke, “Not from you. 
You're a guest today.” 
       The policeman put his hand on mine.
       I insisted, “You would lose a lot of business if you treat me a guest, 
because I'll come here every morning for tea.” 
       “Hey, you're guest only for the first cup. From tomorrow onwards 
I'll charge,” she said, smiling. 
       I was speechless. It would be futile to force her to accept the 
money; I thought and replaced the wallet into the pocket. A moment later
I was up on my feet ready to leave when I heard her inquire, “Haven't 
you forgotten something?”
      “What?” I asked in surprise.
      “To say thanks,” she said, with a mischievous grin.
      “Oh, I'm so sorry. Thank you so much for the refreshing tea. And 
God bless you.”
      It was one tea, the taste of which would remain embedded in my
heart forever. And how could I forget that lovely girl and her innocent
smile, which light up my heart even today when I think of her and tea.

                                    *           *         *

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Ernesto 'Che' Guevara........ our only Hero !!!

*     We all were born rebels !!

*     Remember, mother running after us with milk, which we, as
       children, refused to drink. She pleaded, cajoled, and we
       relented when she threatened us with that famous ghost story
       and how the witch would take us away with her, if we refused.
       And in fear, we closed our eyes, made faces and gulped
       down that tasteless white thing!!!

*     As we grew up, went to school, we first came to know about 
       this man, born on June 14, 1928 in Rosario, Argentina. As a 
       young medical student, he travelled throughout South America
       and was moved by the poverty, hunger, and disease he
       witnessed. He saw that as capitalist exploitation of Latin
       America by the U.S. and he worked with local people to
       overthrow puppet regimes in Central American. 

*     But Che's success story was in Cuba. While living in Mexico
       City, he met Raúl and Fidel Castro, joined their Movement,
       and sailed to Cuba, with aim of overthrowing U.S. backed
       Cuban dictator Batista. He rose to prominence among the
       insurgents, was promoted to second-in-command, and
       played a major role in two-year guerrilla campaign that
       deposed Batista regime.

*     He left Cuba in 1965 to foment revolution abroad, first 
       unsuccessfully in Congo-Kinshasa and later in Bolivia,
       where he was captured by CIA-assisted Bolivian forces
       and summarily executed. 

*     Che was a revolutionary, physician, author, guerrilla leader, 
       diplomat, and military theorist, prolific writer and diarist, and 
       composed a manual on guerrilla warfare, along with a best
       selling memoir about his youthful continental motorcycle

*     No world leader; Gandhi, Mao, Lincoln, etc.. has fired up       
       imagination of the youth across the world as Che did. He
       remains a revered figure in the multitude of biographies,
       memoirs, essays, documentaries, songs, and films. 

*     Che remains every young man's  melancholy buddy and
       every young woman's secret passion. However the 
       historians might judge him, he would continue to adore 
       walls and warm cockles of millions' hearts. He is rebels
       only hero. 

*     Our  hero, indeed...... 

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Tea - the elixir of life....

*      Tea is the second most consumed beverage on Earth after water.
        Its cooling, slightly bitter, and astringent flavour makes people
        enjoy it.

*      No drink comes in so many variations; black, green, white, oolong,
       herbal, rooibos, mate, and several blends.

*      It's taken in the cup, mug, tumbler, plastic or paper cups, earthen
       cups, bowls, etc..

*      The rich folks' tea is brewed; the poor's is boiled. The rich like it
        green, black and iced. The poor like it hot and milky.

*      Over high tea the rich in Davos discuss how to eradicate poverty
       in the world; while the poor at makeshift tea stalls lament their
       unending woes. What an irony? the rich get richer and the poor get

*      For billions of people tea is the elixir of life. In India and elsewhere,
       I'm sure, it's taken on every conceivable occasion. People drink it
       when they are happy, sad, or simply bored.

*      To me, like so many others, tea is associated with so many
        interesting tales, two of which are worth narrating.

*      Watch out this space for the tales (I need time to pen them down) ...

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

When will our Rulers behave ?

^    A few days ago Israeli PM faced flak from the Israeli people and
     media for spending vulgar sums of money on his ice cream and on
     bed in a private plane, while the ordinary citizens cut their household
     budget to meet both ends meet.

^   Public outcry and media pressure forced him to review his decisions.

^   Remember, he is the head of a democratic country where the
    common folks are sermonized about need for austerity measures and
    asked to pay more taxes. How can he squander people's hard money
    on his extravagance?

^   Sadly he is not the only culprit. Look around Asia, Africa, Latin
    America and Europe, and you find dozens of Prime Ministers and
    Presidents spending public money on themselves as though they
    were some medieval monarchs.

^   There is need for the people and the media to be more vigilant and
     question their leaders so that they don't dare to squander money like

Monday, 13 May 2013

Pakistan..........on the road to democracy !

^      You may be enjoying the comforts of your living room in Moscow,
       Jakarta, Buenos Aires, Djibouti or in any part of the world and were
       not concerned about the elections in Pakistan. Then please wake
       up and follow events in this fragile country.

^     The world watches every action of Iran and crazy North Korea but
      forgets Pakistan, who, being the nursery of terrorism, poses the
      greatest threat to world peace. It's the biggest trainer and exporter
      of terrorists.

^     In the recent elections, the people of Pakistan have braved bullets
      and come out in large numbers to vote for democracy. We hope the
      new govt shows the same courage and dismantles the terror

^    We all should pray and hope that Pakistan succeeds because in its
     success lay our security.....

Friday, 10 May 2013

The Legend of the Virtuous Crane

*    The second most important tale of the Mahabharta, after the Gita 
      is the Legend of the Virtuous Crane:-

*    At the end of incognito exile of 12 years, the Pandava princes came
      across a Brahmin who complained that a deer had taken his Arani,  
      the pair of wooden blocks to generate fire, on its antlers and therefore
      he was not able to light fire for performing the Vedic rituals. The
      Pandava princes set out to retrieve the Arani.

  *   While chasing the mysterious deer, Yudhisthir, the eldest
      exhausted and thirsty. Sahadeva, the youngest, ventured to fetch
      water and found a beautiful lake, devoid of any living creature except 
      a crane. When Sahadeva attempted to take water from the lake, the 
      crane spoke, "O Sahadeva! The water of this lake will turn into poison 
      if you take it without answering my questions. Sahadeva, in arrogance  
      paid no heed and hurriedly took water. After drinking the water which 
      appeared crystal clear,  Sahadeva died instantly of poisoning. The next
      Pandava,  Nakula followed Sahadeva, found the same lake, saw dead
      Sahadeva, and was also warned by the crane. But he too ridiculed the
      crane and died after drinking the water. In the same manner, both
      Arjuna, and Bheema, met the same fate.

 *  When none of the brothers returned with water, a worried
     went in their search. Following the same path, he came across the lake
     and found all his brothers lying dead. Before looking for the killer, he
     decided to drink water from the lake. But when the crane warned him,
     he harked back and listened intently and realised that the crane holds
     the answer to the turn of events. A virtuous Yudhisthir represented,
     he proceeded to answer the questions put forth by the crane.

*   Before putting questions to Yudhisthir, the crane revealed itself as a
     Yaksha. The Yaksha asked 18 questions with philosophical and
     meta-physical ramifications. Some important parts of the dialogue
     are as follows:-

Q.   What is heavier than earth, higher than heavens, faster than wind 
       and more than straws?

A.   One's mother is heavier than the earth; one's father is higher than 
       the heavens. The mind is faster than wind and our worries are more 
       than straws.

Q.   Who is the friend of a traveller? Who is the friend of one who is
       ill and one who is dying?

A.   The friend of a traveller is his companion. The physician is the
       friend of one who is sick and a dying man's friend is charity.

Q.   What is that which, when renounced, makes one lovable? What
       is that which when renounced makes one happy and wealthy?

A.   Pride, if renounced makes one lovable; by renouncing desire one 
       becomes wealthy; and to renounce avarice is to obtain happiness.

Q.   What enemy is invincible? What constitutes an incurable disease?
       What sort of man is noble and what ignoble?

A.   Anger is the invincible enemy. Covetousness constitutes a disease
       that is incurable. He is noble who desires the well-being of all
       creatures, and ignoble who is without mercy.

Q.   Who is truly happy? What is the greatest wonder? 

A.   He who has no debts is truly happy. Day after day countless people
      die. Yet the wish to live forever is the greatest wonder ? 

*    Satisfied, the Yaksha brought the four Pandavas back to life........ 

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Mystical Lakes........Rih Lake - the Second Tale

*     Enjoy the second tale about the Rih Lake...........

*     As the legend has it, there was a girl named Rihi who had a cruel 
      stepmother. One day, her father took Rihi’s younger sister into
      forest and killed her. Rihi  eventually found her dead sister and
      started crying. A good spirit, Lasi found Rihi crying and revealed
      to her the healing powers of a magical tree with whose leaf Rihi
      revived her sister back to life.

*     In order to quench the thirst of her younger sister, Rihi turned
      herself into a small pool of water. Later, Rihi was  compelled to 
      change herself into a white mithun, and wandered around in  
      search of a permanent place where she could be safe. She finally
      surveyed Sanzawl village for her permanent settlement not far  
      from which flowed the river Run. But the demon spirit of the river
      threatened to suck her dry if she settled there permanently. 
*    It is believed that Rihi finally settled in the present location in the
      form of a lake.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Is Democracy failing us ?

^     In 50's and 60's after the fall of colonialism, the nations in Latin
      America, Africa and Asia celebrated. The dawn of democracy
      had brought a new ray of hope for the millions who had suffered
      unspeakable miseries at the hands of their colonial rulers.

^     Alas! their joy was short lived, as country after country fell victim
      to the dictators, who butchered their own people and plundered
      the country's resources, and stashed their ill-gotten wealth into tax
      havens abroad.

^    But fortunately they also had to make way for the real democracy?
      Six decades down the line, one often asks this question, "Is
      democracy failing us ?"

^    Because almost all the govts in Asia, Africa and Latin America
     are mired in monumental corruption. The poor in those countries
     are dying of hunger while the rulers are plundering the country's

^   The much hyped the Arab Spring hasn't brought any colors in the
     lives of those common people who fought to remove the dictators.

^   So, Is democracy really functioning?, or, people need to reinvent
     a better form of government. Until then they have to suffer the
     dictatorship of the elected..............
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