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Thursday, September 26, 2013

DECEPTIONS: THROUGH REFLECTIVE LENS



The word deception normally connotes satanic as well as wicked propositions. But it can be as innocuous as, when we use it to describe the vagaries of weather. For example, here in the U.S. weather beguiles by its antics. While sitting near the window with a laptop, I keep looking out, while trying to dig up some apt phrase out of the grey cells. The shimmering bright sunshine, beckons me so sweetly, that leaving my writing in between, I simply have to rush out to feel the sensuous pleasure of the sun rays on my limbs. But lo! Once out I beat a hasty retreat. Though it is blazing and the light dazzles your eyes, the chilly wind, tries to penetrate your bones.

Weather in the hills also plays tricks with you. It is subtly deceptive. Charmed by the delicate blue canopy overhead and warmed by the golden sunshine, you prepare yourself for a relaxing walk. But the moment you come out all dressed up, the armies of rain soaked clouds come marching menacingly from nowhere and soon there is thunder and scary gurgling. A heavy downpour ensues, leaving wetness around.

However, such deceptions played by nature are welcome. They excite us and make life worth living.

And when your grandchild tricks you to win a game of cards or chess, you purposely look the other way to let him win and the pleasure is all yours, when you see his face lit up with joy and hear the cackle of laughter.
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However, there are also some very sinister deceptions floating around, which destroy lives and relationships, generate enmities and permanent grudges.

Take the case of a young man befriending a girl, who may be a coworker or a neighbor or an acquaintance. They develop intimacy as the boy promises to marry her. But he ditches her and the girl commits suicide, either by hanging herself or by jumping before a running train or by drowning, to escape societal condemnation. A young and promising life snuffed out through breach of trust. What can be a more tragic and brutal deception indeed. But this happens in India all the time

In  the business world, deceptions abound. Two partners start a business in earnest, pledging honest dealings and complete faith in each other. The business flourishes and they expand their venture. After a while one of the partners is beguiled by Satan in the form of greed. All his senses are engulfed by the desire to have all the profits for himself. He uses evil means to siphon off the money fraudulently into his own account. When the friend learns about the scam, he asks for his explanation and is murdered in cold blood with the help of his cronies. Two families finished forever by the twin evils of deception and greed. Such incidences are reported in press on a daily basis. However such debasement of the mind is beyond comprehension.

A form of deceit which is wide spread especially in Punjab (India) is concerning immovable property of a non-resident Indian. In good faith he keeps sending huge sums of money to a sibling to construct a house in his share of the land. The house is duly constructed but with the connivance of corrupt revenue officials, the land as well as the house gets transferred in the name of the one in India. On his visit back home he is told either to shut up or face elimination. Neither the police nor judiciary can  meet out justice to him,  system being so distorted. His dreams shattered and mind in a shock at his brother’s treachery, he returns to his adopted land with a broken heart.  

However, there are instances of God's justice playing out in favor of the victim.
There are numerous examples of dishonesty in everyday life. Some daredevils on roads try to hoodwink the police, through their crazy acts. Motorbike riders and scooterists are supposed to wear safety helmets, but some young and not so young ones,  hang the helmets on an arm in ‘don’t care’ show off and hurriedly wear it when they are close to the place where police usually have check points. The thrill of dodging the police gives them a high, though eventually it may cost them their lives in accidents.

Same is the case with some automobile drivers or owner drivers. They just put the seat belt around their necks without clicking it shut and the moment they’d spot a cop they hastily do the needful. I’m sure the cops know it but they too are not spotless in their dealings with public, so lack the moral courage to intervene.

Cheating in examinations is an evil which is still rampant especially in rural India. Books and notebooks are kept in wash rooms and the offenders take the permission to go to the washroom at the first chance and indulge in consulting the material. Or the cheaters bring tiny paper chits with written material on it and if get caught, simply chew it and swallow it before the invigilator acts tough. This is more to do with the outdated education system which encourages learning by rote.

Sometimes dishonesty or disloyalty unfortunately raises its evil tentacles among friends too.  At a moment of weakness, jealously creeps in and the friend shames himself by bad mouthing the other and that signals the end of a long relationship.

The classic historical example of  betrayal, deception and greed is apparent in the person of Judas Iscariot, one of the 12 apostles closest to Jesus Christ, who identifies him by a clever act before the chief priests in exchange of 30 pieces of silver.

Ceaser's deadbody in the foreground, while senators exult
Another one is Julius Caesar’s betrayal by his close friend Marcus Brutus. As the conspirators stabbed him on the Ides of March(March 15) (44 B.C.) in the market place in a bid to assassinate him, Caesar initially resists his attackers but resigns to his fate when he sees Brutus among them. The last words of fatally injured Caesar “Et tu Brute?” “You too Brutus?” signify the universally accepted turn of phrase, signifying betrayal by an unexpected person (a close friend.)

In the political arena, leaders of the world play sophisticated but crafty games. No disclosure or information can be taken in its face value. There are layers and layers of semantic responses and truth never gets unearthed. Hostility, under hand dealings and ‘Double Speak’ (George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four) rule national politics and international relations.
 
Stephan Covey in his highly inspirational best seller “The 7 habits of most effective people” attributes major ills of mankind to lack of personal integrity and dignity, lack of love and understanding, inability to listen to others, cover ups, unkindness, bad motives, trust deficit and being selfish and practicing one-upmanship.

Deceptions are canker sours on the face of humanity and an iron wall in the path of world peace and prosperity.

Friends: Let's start a conversation.
Image courtesy:Wikipedia the free encyclopedia.

Monday, September 16, 2013

EXPERIENCES IN THE U.S.-3




            
As you grow older, adjustment in a new place that too in a new country takes much longer.Taste buds play spoil sport. They respond to new foods slowly.  If some health issues crop up unexpectedly, one gets alarmed and jittery as medical expenses without proper insurance cover are mind boggling here. Even in the perfectly sanitized atmosphere, infections are rampant. Allergies due to seasonal changes are countless. Medicine cabinets keep overflowing. For working people recovery takes much longer because of lack of complete rest. Actually, sickness is a curse here. It is a lonely battle against bugs.
Down with some infection I ’as out of reckoning for a few days and felt utterly miserable. Being sick and away from home- what can be more disconcerting? Perhaps it was my mind which was more culpable than my body. As a blogger my conscience pricks and questions me to no end, if I miss my regular writing odyssey. Thought process continues internally with loose ends, unable to be inked on the screen. Writing bug gnaws  your insides,  sans any escape route whatsoever. It often chides  for precious days wasted. Therefore I decided some observations need to be jotted down to earn silence from the stern internal cop. So here I am!
 The way I observe life in the U.S., I feel working ladies have a tough time here in whatever field they are employed.  One is required  to be professionally very competent and flexible. Eight hours minimum in the work place and if you add  lunch break then it is eight and a half, plus commuting time. Under the circumstances young children suffer the most. If working hours can’t be adjusted with children’s school time; parents arrange for the child to be dropped at a day care center after school hours from where they’re picked by the parents. In the process parents feel exhausted and children cranky after long hours away from home. Running the household smoothly becomes a dream. Preparing time consuming meals is a rarity here. Hence they don’t cook meals; they fix meals or eat out.
Longing for weekends for a change and for restoring depleted energy levels becomes a necessity. This apart, they got to seize that extra sleep hour as well. Outing on the weekends is like a prescriptive medicine. Initiative needs to be mustered up for taking up pending jobs, but it mostly gives a slip. Things pile up and result in further postponements and rising stress levels. There is little time for playful interaction and human machine moves on likewise till the next weekend.
Lifestyle needs and priorities are entirely different now as compared to our times.  In my superannuated stage now, I can look back objectively. In my professional days, Sunday used to be the busiest day and a sort of preparation for the coming week. In fact staying at home was felt to be heavenly after six days of running around (Saturday used to be a working day then.) We used to ensure, not to leave important jobs pending. And that helped to ease the tensions. But the principles and values which kept our lives on track are irrelevant now. The tilt here is towards  instant gratification syndrome. The world has changed exponentially and every day there are surprises in store. ‘Old order has to change, to give place to the new.’
The U.S. is goldmine of natural resources. There is overwhelming material prosperity here. Infrastructure is enviable. It is blessed with unparalleled natural beauty. People are peace loving and gentle. One feels awestruck by vast lands, beautiful open spaces and lush green forest cover, home to some endearing animals. One is surrounded by awe inspiring scenic beauty: Fabulous mountains and plateaus, heart stopping cloud formations, golden and dazzling sunlight and heart stealing meandering water bodies. Enormous opportunities for adventure, for sports, for music, theater and arts exist here in ample measure. In fact one can shine in any field if one is passionate enough. Pursuit of happiness and excellence is nowhere as achievable as over here. 
Interestingly, fundamentals of life are the same here as elsewhere on earth.

However, where are the sounds of laughter? Residences appear to be just nicely designed, meticulously maintained, buildings. There is silence and stillness even on weekends. Loneliness and aloofness is the new fashion. Sadly, TV, computer and other gadgets have replaced the interrelatedness of the real world.
Social interaction, the elixir for healthy living seems to be on the decline. The craving appears to be to attain self-sufficiency and the discourse about the  goodwill for others has perhaps lost its significance! Objectivity and rationality are the cornerstones of scientific research and economic planning but to keep alive the vibrancy of our lives, simple pleasures matter the most. 

Images: Courtesy Google 

 Friends:Waiting for your comments.

Friday, September 6, 2013

SKY WATCH IN THE US




taken from the backyard of my daughter's house


  These days I’m intrigued by the feeling of other-worldliness, whenever I step out and instinctively give a lingering gaze to the colossal presence around me and above me. The towering, awesome, crystal-clear purity of the magical blue, patterned with multiple designs of milk white or silvery gray clouds laden with water, flexing their powerful muscles or some mysteriously stationery clouds  weave sheer magic of the mysterious faces of the unknown.
 Sometimes you imagine patches of clouds meandering above going on some pilgrimage chanting silent hymns.The stupendous landscape of the canopy of the sky varies by the minute. In short even millions of frames of a painter‘s brush can't capture even a speck of the infinity surrounding us.
 On all sides, the amazing illusion of the horizon overpowers one’s senses. Here the beauty of the natural phenomenon is so irresistible that sky watch itself can be a full time avocation.
Here are a few images which I took during my walk.

taken when the afternoon sun is mild
 

taken today at mid morning

 Friends: how do you like these pictures?