Sep 10, 2014

Why Ganesha doesn’t want to be back

If you scan through the calendar, it looks like we Indians have created festivals to take occasional breaks and holidays. We have some or the other festival coming up every month round the year and each of them has grand celebrations attached to it. The most recent is Ganesh Chaturthi, where beautifully decorated artistic idols of Lord Ganesha are bought from artisans, carried all the way in a decorated vehicle which blasts the latest item numbers at high decibel levels with the devotees dancing hysterically in the procession and then installed either in homes or pandals in the locality for a varying period of 1.5, 5, 7 or 10 days after which the idols are again carried in the decorated vehicles with a lot of music & dance and finally immersed in the waterbodies.

Over the last few years, celebrations have become lavish and pompous. Idols have become larger, music and lights have become more advanced and the funding of pandals has risen, thanks to the politicization of festivals. When we already have so many Ganesha temples to worship, why is there a need to install his idol on each and every corner of the locality? Who gives us the right to decide that Ganesha loves item songs, remixes and Honey Singh numbers? Do we create bigger idols every year because we believe the bigger the idol, the more the blessings?

As a God who has the image of being a boss, this doesn’t just go well with Ganesha’s standards. It’s just not his style.  Isn’t it sad that a God who has such an excellent reputation of removing hurdles begins and ends his journey into the festival with huge traffic jams? Do we keep on blaring loud music at the pandals and blasting crackers in the processions just because he has got the biggest ears? Ironically people abstain from eating non-vegetarian food and consuming liquor during this festival but rarely care about the fishes that die due to pollution in the sea and the drunk dancing during Visarjan processions while the sound system plays Chaar Botal Vodka. We bid goodbye to the God whole-heartedly and wish for his come-back next year forgetting that the idols would still not degrade for the years to come.

Anyone who has visited Lalbaug cha Raja in Mumbai would be well aware about the mad rush of devotees over there during the Ganesh festival. Why would God reside at a place where people have a constant fear of stampedes, manhandling and pickpocketing? No blasphemy here, but how can you focus on praying to the God when your only priority is to get out of the rush as soon as possible?

Finally, if you visit the beaches after the day of Visarjan, you would see a lot of beheaded and mutilated Ganesha idols scattered across the shore. If that is a pleasant sight for you, go ahead and bring in the God next year.

P.S. Modaks are super delicious.

Sep 2, 2014

10 things to learn from your baby

There are two types of people in this world: those who love babies and those who don’t. Love them or hate them, the initial months of parenthood are quite challenging as well as rewarding. If you think babies are just milk guzzling, crying and potty making machines, you are partially correct. But there is a side to them which most of us fail to observe and analyze. Even though they come with no educational qualifications or degrees, babies can impart great life lessons by merely their actions and traits. Let’s get started.

  1. Laugh all the way, screw the world: Ever observed how these tiny munchkins laugh at almost each and every little thing? That’s how life should be. Look for the smallest reasons to laugh without caring if your sanity would be questioned. If you observe carefully, you would be astonished to discover that you get to see a lot of things in your routine worth laughing at. The next time you reply with a LOL, do it actually.
  2. Walk, fall down, get up and walk again: Learn from failures as experts say, but never recognize failures. Till date, I haven’t seen a baby who is too scared to get up and walk again because of a fall. Neither do babies get embarrassed because of a public failure. As we grow up, we start developing our comfort zones and fear zones. Curiosity is a beautiful way to learn. Experimenting boosts creativity. The fear of failure kills execution of ideas. A baby scared of a fall would crawl all her life!
  3. Learning never ends: Babies have a superb grasping power. This is because they have a constant desire to learn and experience. Their curiosity contributes to their amazing learning abilities. They keep on learning and practicing slowly to perfection. Learning is a continuous process and that’s why the best teachers always strive to be the best students.
  4. Sleep like a log: When was the last time you thought of chucking all the worries and turning off your brain instantly? Well, babies actually do it. The message is clear: Unwind and take a break. Rest and recharge your batteries whenever your body demands. Sleep worry-free.
  5. Eat when you need: Just like sleep, food is a bodily need. There are times when you skip meals because you want to catch that bus or to attend that meeting. Compare this with a baby demanding food aggressively whenever she wants. If a baby who burns calories giggling the whole day needs meals on time, why shouldn’t we adults be disciplined about eating?
  6. Mornings should be good: Our daughter wakes up in the morning with a smile, starts off happily and moves around the house giggling unless she needs a diaper change or food. How many mornings have you gotten out of bed and thought that it would be an amazing day? Your mornings make or break your day; so begin them with a huge grin and a clean slate.
  7. Hug, hug and hug (no pun intended):  I don’t want to sound like Munnabhai MBBS, but there is nothing in this world that a genuine hug can’t fix. As adults, we restrain ourselves so much that very few of us know the energy, comfort and assurance that a hug can bring.
  8. Forget grudges and move on: Babies have this wonderful ability to erase all painful memories instantly and move on to other happier things. That is the reason your baby would always smile at the same doctor who regularly vaccinates her via injection. Laugh at the same joke twice but don’t cry over the same pain over and over.
  9. Flexibility rules: If you have a baby at home who’s less than a year, make sure that you capture all the moments when your baby tries to suck her toe or assume postures which would put Baba Ramdev to shame. She would not do it as she grows up because that’s science. The message here isn’t to try sucking your toe but to be open to change. Be flexible and accommodating, not change resistant.
  10. Love unconditionally: This is a quality rarely found in adults. Babies don’t have presumptions or prejudices in mind. We adults are very calculative when it comes to giving away our love. We all have been gifted with an unlimited quota of love; let’s spread it.

Disclaimer: These learnings are completely based on my experiences. Your baby might teach you something else. Or may be not. Keep calm and change the diaper.