Thursday, 21 November 2013

Sixty-nine and Ninety-six

It is said that marriages are made in heaven. In Odisha, it is believed that match-making is wholly in the domain of Lord Prajapati who decides who will be whose life-partner. That is why in marriage-invitation cards, the words ‘Om Shree Prajapatayeh Namah’ are printed on the top. Some marry the persons they have loved and some discover love in the persons they have married. In Hindu faith, it is believed that marriages are for 7 lives, that is, the same couple become life-partners in their 7 births, i.e., they marry each other in 7 lives. However, a couple does keep wondering as to which one of these 7 lives, is the present one. Some couples wish that this is their first life together so that they have this blissful union for this and six more lives; some couples hope that this is the seventh and last birth of their married life so that the ordeal is going to end soon!

Marriage is also called ‘wedlock’, that is to say;  the partners are ‘locked’ for whole life – or till they remain married. In a perfect marriage, the husband and the wife complement each other; their respective qualities are different but match with each other perfectly. Whatever one partner lacks in, is made up by the other.

In matrimony, the two partners are like 6 and 9. To ensure harmony, they should stay – and lie – like 69, complementing and supplementing each other, looking into the eyes of each other.

 This way, the two partners make a perfect circle, without any rough edge.

If they get into serious differences, they fall apart and become ‘96’, a position in which the partners lie and look, now also in opposite directions, but away from each other.

The situation becomes more complicated if a third person enters the marital zone. The position becomes 699 or 669 and the area becomes over-crowded. The extra person intrudes into the middle and the scenario  becomes 9-69 or 69-6! 

Marital fusion is like the Hindu concept of Ardhanareeshwar, the fusion of Shiva and Shivaa, of Prakruti and Purusha (male and female) to become one single entity. Ardhanareeshwar is half female and half male making one whole. Naree represents Goddess Durga (Shivaa) and Ishwar is Lord Shiva.
However, if the desirable marital position is ‘69’, why is the husband always the butt of jokes? Why is there an expression like ‘hen-pecked husband’? Why is there no ‘cock-pecked wife’? However, no lady will openly admit that her husband is a hen-pecked one! And no dominating husband is made fun of!

Males are advised not to succumb to marriage just because it seems to be the easiest solution to lust, loneliness and laundry.


In common parlance, the man of the house is supposed to be the ‘boss’ of the family, but the real boss seems to the lady. One must have come across this pun: A man had hung a plaque in his house saying, ‘I am the boss of the house and I have my wife’s permission to say so.’

Marital fights have their own role in a couple’s life. Without occasional tiffs, a marriage becomes a routine and a little boring. Making up after a cute little fight, makes life much sweeter. Maana Bhanjan in Hindu literature is a lovable concept. When the lady sulks after a tiff, the husband loves to do manabhanjan - to persuade his lady-love to give up sulking and to join in the marital bliss. I remember the line from Hindi cinema 'Ek hasinaa jab ruth jati hai, woh aur bhi hasinaa ban jati hai. (When a beautiful lady sulks, she becomes more beautiful!)

It is believed that the female partners love a good fight. There is the case where a husband was away and the lady felt distraught having no one to fight with. She went over to her neighbour asked the other lady, ”Sister, my husband is out of town; can i have a little fight with yours?”

And there is the case of another lady, whose husband was a master practitioner of yoga. He used to do some intricate ‘asan’s in which he almost warped his hands and legs in an unbelievable way. Once, when he was in such an asan, she went near him with her wooden rolling-pin and lovingly told him, “ Agar haddi todna hai, toh mujhe kah dia karo.” (Expanded meaning: If you want to break your bones, tell me. I can do it easily! Why are you taking so much trouble for this?)

A couple had a perfect marital life. The husband's friend asked him, "What is the secret of your success?" The husband replied, "There is a perfect understanding between us. We have distributed the areas where each of us takes decisions and the other does not interfere in it. My wife takes final decisions on internal matters like how to beautify our house, which school/college the children should go, how the money we earn is to be spent etc." The friend asked,"And what are areas allotted  to you?" The man replied, "External matters like what is to be done for global warming, whether India should vote against Sri Lanka in U.N.O. etc" 


In an assembly, the speaker in the course of his talk asked the men present in the audience, “Those of you who fear your wives, please come to the left side of the hall. Those who do not fear your wives, please come to the right side.”  A crowd came to the left side and there was a single man on the right side. The speaker looked at the lone man on the right side and said, “You must be a brave man. What is the secret of your success?” The man hesitated, scratched his head over his left ear, looked away from his wife and timidly said, “My wife asked me to come to this side.”

2. Teacher: Discovery is finding a thing which was already there but not known. Invention is creating a new thing. Give me examples.

Student: When my father was planning for marriage, he discovered Mama, Then they invented me.

3. There is a app for people who can't get home: it criticises your lifestyle and everything that you do; it bursts into tears when you talk back to it.



Sunday, 10 November 2013

A House of Cards

By definition, ‘ a house of cards’ is a structure made by skillfully placing playing cards like a pyramid, the number of cards placed going down as the structure goes up, finally two cards at the top leaning on and supporting each other. Anything with a weak base, and as such prone to breaking down or collapsing is likened to a house of cards.

My house has become a house of cards in a different sense. At first came the Ration Card. Although it is called a ‘card’, it is actually a thin booklet. I do not know how and why it was given the name ‘card’, but it was virtually a passport to procure essential items like sugar at a subsidized rate. These items were ‘rationed’ out in fixed quantities, so that everybody would get these items which were in short supply.

After some time, a Ration Card became an ‘identity-document’, a proof that a person was indeed the person who he/she claimed to be.

At each transfer, i had to surrender the Ration Card at the old place, get a certificate and get a new Ration Card at the new place. I do not remember at which point i lost track of my Ration Card.

The next card to enter my house was the Driving License, Earlier, it was in the form of a tiny booklet. When I applied for renewal of my Driving License 2002, this booklet was replaced by a smart-looking card containing the details including my crudely-taken photograph.

Then came the ‘PAN Card’ issued by Income Tax Department, containing a number assigned to the concerned person for the purpose of correctly accounting the Income Tax payable/paid by that person. It contained a photo of the person and a facsimile of his/her signature. This became a more reliable identity-document as it contained a person’s photograph and his/her specimen signature.

Then T N Seshan ‘happened’ in India. When he became the Chief Election Commissioner of India, he emphatically declared ‘No Voter Card, No Election’. After the initial teething troubles, this became the norm and Voter Card, now essential for being able to cast one’s vote in an election, has become an identity-document.

Around this time, i felt that when as a banker, i was promoting my Bank’s Credit Card, it would not be proper if i myself do not possess such a card. So i got a Credit Card. I have read somewhere that a Credit Card is what you use to buy things which you do not need, to impress people you do not know. However, over time, i have experienced that this is not a correct statement, although it may be true on occasions.

(When Diners’ Card came it was an act of creativity. It was a way out of the desire for ‘Eat and don’t pay’ – that is, pay at your leisure.)

My Bank’s ATM Card-cum-Debit Card then entered my house. Although ‘ATM’ stands for ‘Automated Teller Machine’, the Bank has been publicizing it as ‘Any Time Money’. This card made banking transactions available 24 hours on all the seven days of the week.

Earlier, my Bank had given me an Identity Card indicating my status as an employee. When i retired, this card was replaced by another card as an ex-Executive of the Bank.

Soon after settling down to a blissful and contented retired life, i joined the Plant Lovers' Association, Bhubaneswar, as a Life Member. The Association promptly issued to me an i-card!

After that, i joined Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage (INTACH) and received their i-card.
Soon after that, i purchased a new car. The earlier car had an ‘RC Book’ containing the Registration No. of the vehicle and other particulars. I do not know why it was called a Book, though it was only a Certificate of Registration made out on a single sheet of paper. For the new car, a similar ‘RC Book’ was issued, but the Certificate was accompanied by a smart card in which the particulars of the vehicle have been embedded. The ‘RC Book’ states that it is not valid without the smart card!

At this time, Odisha Police opened a ‘Senior Citizens’ Security Cell’ at each police station for providing better security to persons, including couples, over the age of 60 years living all alone. We promptly got ourselves registered and i was provided with another Identity Card. 

Then, two shopping malls from which we purchase our requirements, issued two cards, one ‘Pay-Back Card’ and the other a ‘Bonus Card’. Then one of these shopping malls formed what it calls Profit Club; by becoming its member, one can shop for a fixed amount each month for 12 months by paying 10 times this fixed amount. I joined this Club and was provided with a smart card for the purpose.

Before that, Unique Identity Authority of India (UIDAI) was established and issued what can be called ‘the mother of all cards’, the Adhar Card. This smart card captures one’s finger-prints, iris - the ring of muscles in front of lenses of the eyes surrounding the pupil - a unique feature of one's eyes and all other personal details. This Card is meant to make most cards redundant and will open almost all the doors one needs to enter! The wife and i got our Adhar Cards.

So, how many cards do i have? I do not have the patience and the stamina to count them.

All these cards have one common purpose- to prove to the world that a person is the one who claims to be so! These days, one has to produce a documentary evidence of one’s identity whenever one steps out of one’s house. It is no longer  sufficient to say who you are; someone else has to certify that you are the one you claim to be!

Isn't an irony of life that one needs proof for everything including one's life, existence, one's birth and one's death! (As a pensioner, i am required to submit a certificate of existence - called Life Certificate in common parlance - every year to continue receiving my pension!)

If everyone were speaking the truth and only the truth, there would be no need for any i-card!!!


Talking of the need for a certificate by another person to prove one’s identity, i am reminded of an anecdote. A calamity struck a place killing a large number of people. A doctor was drafted to examine each and affix a stamp ‘Dead’ on the bodies of those who had died. A vehicle with attendants followed him to carry away bodies marked ‘Dead’. When they tried to take away one marked ‘Dead’, he cried out,” Why are you taking me away? I am alive!” One of the attendants replied, ”Brother, do you know better than the doctor?”  


Friday, 1 November 2013

Phailin - Air, Breeze and Wind

The havoc wrought in Odisha recently by the cyclone Phailin (My post dated 22.10.2013) brought to mind the concept of wind. What is wind? Who has seen the wind? Nobody has and nobody can. Wind is blowing air. Air is all pervasive; air is omnipresent. When it becomes wind, it becomes omnipotent in a negative way; it can destroy anything and everything.

There is air, without which no living being can survive. Just as the space around a fish is full of water, the space around us is filled with air. When air blows gently, it becomes  breeze, cool, soothing and making us feel good. When air blows at high speed, it becomes wind and acquires a power of destruction. Air, breeze and wind appear to be like the Trinity, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswar. The first creates the living world, the second nurtures it and the third destroys it! In the divine order, Brahma, Vishnu and Maheswar are one and the same, just as air, breeze and wind are one and the same thing, only in different forms!

These days, we are familiar with the term ‘weapons of mass destruction’; however,  no weapon is as devastating as an angry storm. One may call them cyclones, hurricanes or typhoons; they differ only in their capacity to destroy. To identify each cyclone, meteorologists have started tagging each one of these with fancy names, often gentle feminine names. However, giving gentle names to them does not in any way reduce their destructive nature. Just as Shakespeare had said that a rose will smell as sweet in any name, a cyclone will cause havoc in any name.   

Like air, we need water. Drinking water in a tumbler is like air; water in a spring is like breeze and water in a flood is like wind!

There is a saying in Odia, ‘Jala bihune srusti nasha; jala bahule shrusti nasha (The creation cannot survive in the absence of water; it cannot survive in excess of water.) Flood is defined as ‘water in wrong time and in wrong place’. One area may be suffering from a drought; at exactly the same time, an adjacent area may be marooned by floods!   
Before becoming too philosophical, i must come down to earth. In my childhood, I had read the poem ‘Who Has Seen the Wind? by Christina Rossetti’ Here it is:

Who has seen the wind?
Neither I nor you;
But when the leaves hang trembling,
The wind is passing thro'.

Who has seen the wind?
Neither you nor I;
But when the trees bow down their heads,
The wind is passing by.