Sunday, February 25, 2007

Communal Identity

A Sindhi gentleman posted a comment on my first entry saying that he found my blog very depressing and that he didn't like the fact that I referred to myself as a cheap Sindhi. I was offended that this man would be so quick to judge me. My first thought was that if this gentleman cannot see the humor in my writing style, he must be an extremely stuck up person! My impulsive, take no nonsense side immediately took over and sent him a stinker of an email telling him that he had no sense of humor (I was a bit more rude actually.) He responded by telling me that sense of humor at the cost of my community was not right.

After this event, I just feel the need to say that my writings were never meant to offend anyone. This event has also led me into an introspective phase on how I see myself in the community and I finally have the answers.

I see myself first as a child of God, then as a self aware intelligent being, then as a citizen of the Earth and finally as an Indian. I wonder why the word "Sindhi" is only a label to me. Is it because of the fact that I went to a Catholic school? Is it because my closest friends are from different communities, some Hindus, some Christians, some Muslims and some Parsis? Is it because most of my colleagues at work are from all over India? Hell most of my own team at work is made up of South Indians, some of whom I have grown to respect a lot.

While growing up I always disliked the fact that my father was a member of a Sindhi banking association and not just a banking association. Then there is also the fact that two of my closest friends - Arif and Nalini, a Muslim and a Sindhi (half Gujarati actually) fell in love and got married against some of their parents wishes. One of my oldest / closest friends Dev, his father is a Sindhi, his mother a Muslim and his wife is a Christian. I feel blessed to have grown up being exposed to people who can see beyond the artificial boundaries of community.

The fact is that the way the world is progressing, we are all becoming one big global community. Yes there will still be wars and communal riots etc., but big business, outsourcing and the Internet are ensuring that the world is one big global village and a person who sees himself as a Sindhi first is in my opinion archaic.

As for the post where I call myself a cheap Sindhi. That comes from some of my friends who have called me that at the rare times when I have acted miserly. I known they meant it in jest and there was no way that that old Sindhi goat (errr I mean gentleman) who posted that comment could know the history behind it and why I used that term.

Lesson to be learned from this event: Not to get affected by someone posting a negative comment on my blog and not waste one hour of my very limited personal time writing about it.

My weight today: Oh damn!

Calorie Intake Today: Uh oh!

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Money vs Memories

When you have children in the family, a camera is a necessity. When my Canon Powershot's ccd died, I was really depressed because all the cameras I liked were over Rs. 20,000 and that was waaaaayyyy over my budget.

Considering the fact that Vyohm and Vyndhia (my niece and nephew) look so different every month and I want to document every milestone, I decided to fight my Sindhi genes and burn a hole in my pocket and go ahead and buy the camera.

Vyohm and Vyndhia are staying with us for the weekend and I had the perfect opportunity to get some good shots. I was lucky enough to capture a video of Vyohm standing on the dressing table in front of the mirror playing with the tube light switch. The video has captured Vyohm, his reflection in the mirror, the light going on and off and his delight at being able to control the light.

The cost of the Sony DSC-H5 was Rs. 29,000. The shot of my nephew Vyohm in front of the mirror ... priceless.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

My Spiritual Birth

The way I view the world and what I am today is a result of the sum total of my experiences and my observations. I figure that the first non introductory post in this blog should be of an event that made a deep impact on me – my first meeting with my Guru.

This was back in 1992 when petrol was cheap and the net was something you could catch fishes with. My Guru Ma Indira Devi (we affectionately called her Ma or mother) was staying with a disciple in Bombay. My mother and sister were already followers of Ma and I found it absolutely ridiculous that my mother and sister were sub-servant to the will of another. While I was no atheist, the only spiritual activity in my life was the ten “Om Namah Shivays” I did, as mechanically as one brushes ones teeth every morning (just to ensure that I don't tick off the powers that be.)

Ma had already stayed in Bombay for a month and she was expected to go back to Pune within a week. My mother and sister had nagged me all month long to come and have a darshan of Ma and I had refused. They then used the oldest trick in the book that most men have no defense against - emotional blackmail - the you don't care for me card. Checkmate! I knew all my excuses were useless against their play but I wasn't ready to concede without negotiating a few terms. I agreed to come and meet Ma if they would agree to the following terms: -

a. They would not introduce me to anyone (I am extremely anti-social btw)
b. They would not force me to bow to Ma
c. I would wear my Guns 'N' Roses t-shirt which had an inverted cross with four skulls on its edges (each representing a band member)

So I packed my ego, my emotional baggage and went to visit Ma. I happened to visit at the time of the evening bhajan session. The bhajans went on for over an hour and all that time I was sitting in the back of the room looking down hoping that no one in my social circle would see me there and that I could get home in time for head bangers ball on MTV.

At the end of the bhajan session, my mother and sister got up to pranam Ma and since I didn't know anyone there, I followed them. Ma looked at me and said “Son, have they forced you to come.” I don't know what happened to me but I felt like bowing and I touched Ma's feet.

When I got home that night, I felt a change in me. I was feeling more energetic and happy and it was not the kind of temporary happiness one feels when one gets a new toy. I thought that maybe there is something to this and to this person and something that I should investigate some more. I wanted to visit Ma again and see what this was all about and yet I was too embarrassed to let my mother and sister know that I wanted to come again.

The next day at the time my mother and sister were leaving to visit Ma, I quietly got ready (no evil t-shirt this time) and sat in the car without saying a word. Ma actually smiled at me and asked me if I had been forced to come that day. After the bhajan session got over, Ma gave prasad to another girl and then made a gesture in my direction. I had no idea what was happening and some people actually had to tell me that Ma was giving me the prasad. I like to think that it was at that time that Ma accepted me, the way I am with all my baggage.

I like to think that Ma's Bombay visit was all about fetching her wayward children to get them back into the fold.

Ma has a Mandir in Pune and they have just launched a website.

Please have a look at the Mandir's offical site

On another note, I have just picked up a Sony Cybershot DSC-H5 camera. Check back in sometime for my thoughts on it after I have had time to play with the beauty.

In cyberspace, everyone can hear you scream

Lately I have been feeling the need to see a psychiatrist ... I seem to be suffering from low self esteem issues. When I was ten, I wanted to be an astronaut. When I was fifteen, I wanted to be a rock star and now that I am in my thirties, I have ended up as a lowly software engineer. You see, my aspirations have gone from the Moon to Madison Square Garden to being locked up for long hours in a dimly lit cubicle at work (henceforth referred to as prison). Since I am also a cheap Sindhi and don't have the heart to pay a psychiatrist, I have decided to pour my heart out on this blog for therapeutic reasons.

No but seriously, this blog is a place where I can collect my thoughts, write reviews and otherwise just rant. I hope you find my blog as witty as Adrian Mole's and as shallow as Bridget Jones diary.