Sunday, 21 August 2016

The Spittoonji

The man standing in front of me is chewing something, lost in his own world. You can tell that he is enjoying the taste of whatever he is chewing at. His facial expressions show eternal bliss as he silently goes on his own trip, you feel that it must be something very intoxicating. And suddenly he arches his back with the grace of a ballet dancer, throws back his head, his eyes closed, his face most grotesque, as the bright red liquid mixed with his own saliva, is expelled from his mouth and making the most perfect curve, it is splattered on the nearest wall with fine droplets forming a beautiful design on the wall. And if the wall has been white washed, the design looks exquisite. That, my friends, is the fine art known as spitting , in lay man terms.
Now this fine art is in danger of extinction, what with the government banning it from public places in India. It comes at a time when, it was on the verge of getting maximum votes as a new Olympic game so that the Indian sub-continent can be given a fair chance at winning some serious metal. After all, all the sports in the Olympic games are originated in the European continent, though the country, Greece, where they originated eons back, is no longer among the top medal winning countries.
I had a Indian player of this sport is standing very confidently, paunch and all, but otherwise with a slight body frame, among the Chinese, the Europeans, the Africans at the spitting range of the next Olympics. Among the competitors', is a competitor from the other sub-continental country too, who the Indian knows as his closest competitor and who alone challenges him in this new sport. Paan wallah bhaiyas' sits in front of each competitor, a paan in their hand, in the pose of offering the paan to each competitor, at the sounding of the 'start' siren. The faces of the Indian, the other sub-continental guy and the very competitive Chinese player, are dribbling with red saliva, which has formed a permanent red scar from near the corner of the mouth going down towards the chin. You can tell from this sign, how many hours of practice, these competitors' have undergone. And as the siren goes off, the competitors' accept the paans from the eager bhaiyaas,  they then  arch their backs, throw back their heads, their faces grimacing from the efforts, as the finely chewed red liquid escapes their mouths and shoots off towards the target, a freshly white washed wall with the bulls eye painted. Suddenly the stadium watching this newly introduced sport, erupts with joy, as the Indian is the winner, with his entire spittoon hitting the bulls eye, closely followed by the other sub-continental guy, who has won the maiden medal for his country and the Chinese has come a close third. In fact, the Chinese is so near that he is sure to be a big threat to the Indian and the others from the sub-continent, in years to come. Less said about the Europeans , Americans and  Africans, the better, since they had to forfeit their deposits, since their spittoons' either fall on themselves, and more seriously, on the judges of the competition. The competitor from Great Britain is a commendable fourth, since he is quite well versed in sub-continental matters, due to obvious reasons.
But dream remains a dream due to the cruel hand of fate which snatches away the last hope in the form of a ban on this great cultural heritage of the sub-continent.
Yatindra Tawde

Friday, 12 August 2016

The craze for Harry P.

The craze for Harry P.
I think I am writing this a little late in the day since the craze for Harry Potter is now a few decades old. My childhood was enriched by comics of Phantom, Mandrake, Superman, Richie Rich, Little Lotta, Dot and many Amar Chitra Kathas. And for reading, there was the good old Enid Blyton and her five friends. And who can forget the adventures of Tintin, and Asterisk and the friendly Gauls. But everything pales in comparison to the craze of Harry Potter and his adventures and friends.
I was introduced to the world of Harry Potter by my daughter, Gauri. The first book came into our house when she was in 4th standard, maybe. And then a custom got established in our house; buying the latest Harry Potter novel as soon as it hits the book house. We always encouraged the reading habits of our daughter, since it was much better than whiling away the time in front of the TV set or the computer screen. Each new book release was awaited by her with bated breath. And when finally the book entered the house, she entered a world of magicians, magic spells, Hogwarts, Quidditch (hope I have captured the correct spelling) and the different adventures which our Harry Potter got into, along with his numerous friends. Dumbledore and his antics brought great fun to her world. I am sure, same was the case in many of your homes. And once the film franchise started, suddenly the imaginary world was revealed in great colour to the bachcha log and their parents, who let their inner child escape, to enjoy the spectacle on screen. Till today, anytime Harry Potter and his assorted adventures are running on any channel, the remote is firmly in the control of our daughter.
I think what J.K. Rowling achieved by unleashing the magical world cannot be described in a few sentences since she created a world, which was innocent but at the same time, enjoyable and mysterious but never overly frightening. A world to which, the maximum children were attracted all over the globe and enjoyed by the grownups as well. She managed to create a parallel universe where the children can go without fear and soothe their study burdened stressed minds.
Yatindra Tawde

Saturday, 6 August 2016

A Human

A Human
Humans started out like any other mammal. Their days started with thoughts on how to survive the day. Like a carnivorous animal, a human had the option to hunt for his food. Or he had the option to pick fruits from the trees and have his fill, like the herbivores. And he also had to protect himself from the bigger carnivores. But he was different from the others. He was a thinker and he could communicate his thoughts better than the other animals. He deduced quite early that individually he was weak, his hands and feet alone could not fight nor could he give chase to his prey. So he started working in teams and making arms which could be thrown at the prey. The arms started from the very basic ones like stones to sharpened ones like spears. The first great revolution happened when he could start and control the fire. Meat cooked over the fire not only tasted better but it was better digested too. And then one day he thought of growing his own food by planting the edible fruit and vegetable bearing trees and crops. This was bad news for the other animals since now humans started clearing the forests for growing trees, which could feed mostly himself. Once he started agriculture, his need for migration to other places in search for food, also stopped to a certain extent. Since water was his other need, he started settling near water bodies like rivers. Now he had the two basic necessities like food and water near at hand so he started building more permanent structures for sheltering himself from the elements. If previously he was killing animals only for food, now he started killing them for covering himself and his dwellings. His weapons became more advanced since he did not like to venture very far from his dwellings. Bows and arrows started replacing basic weapons like spears'. As more and more dwellings increased and number of humans in any one place increased, it became necessary to have basic laws in place. Once laws were put in place, someone was needed to enforce those laws. Policing was needed but the police started becoming too powerful and started taking undue advantage of their position. Hence a need arose to have a authorative person, who could police the police. Thus arose the position of the chief who presided over and gave orders and settled disputes. The chief had power but this was envied by other ambitious persons in the closed settlement. Ambition, greed for power and easy availability of weapons was a powder keg for conflagration. People started killing people for achieving positions of power. A comparatively sedentary lifestyle resulted in increase in the population for whom the existing resources were in a shortage. And such settlements were all across the earth's face. Communication between the settlements increased and chiefs started coveting the perceived riches of other settlements. This resulted in raids being conducted on other settlements. Raids took the form of battles and battles took the form of wars. Winners of such wars were drunk with power and they wanted to keep on winning. Their egos exhorted them to keep attacking other settlements and bring new territories under their control. For this they needed better weapons than their neighbouring settlements which led to further developments in weapon technology. Bows and arrows were developed into cross bows, and many other weapons were developed which enhanced the reach of destruction causing and killing abilities. To further enhance his speed of reaching the other settlements, humans made use of the fastest animals, the horses. Thus was born the cavalry. It was a mean war fighting unit, and the armies having more such units and the best units were more often than not, winning the battles. Asia had a unique animal, the elephant, which was the tank of the olden times. It was used to charge at, and scatter the enemy army. But after a while, both opposing armies started having these weapons of war and were equally matched,  and something was needed to tilt the balance of power. Some thing which could be used from afar to cause maximum damage. Thus developed the gunpowder and cannons. Varieties of firearms were developed, major development of the same took place in the European countries. They also developed a water based armada and were hence successful in reaching all corners of the world riding on the oceans. When they reached the other parts of the world, they found different cultures which were very unlike their own and having many chieftains' who managed their own kingdoms and who were very rich. Goaded by the riches on offer, the Europeans,  on the pretext of helping them, followed the policy of Divide and Rule to perfection. And due to their better discipline and superior firepower, they ruled over vast swathes of land, thousands of kilometres away from their own homeland.
During war time, man was happy killing man whereas in peace time, the animals were threatened. Man was on a adrenaline rush, to satisfy which in peace time, he hunted animals just for fun. While the carnivorous animals hunted to fulfil their basic need for food, here was a man who hunted without any other reason, but for his selfish enjoyment. This resulted in many species disappearing from the face of the earth and this was the result of the firearms which were under the control of man. Thus maximum damage to the animal world happened in the centuries 1800's and 1900's. At the same time , many indigenous cultures disappeared too, again due to the trigger happy man, whether in the Americas or in Australia or New Zealand or in Africa.
While all this was happening, the industrial revolution too took place. While this resulted in great progress, the general laidback lifestyle deteriorated into a mad rush to fit into the rat race. The air as well as water pollution exceeded all limits and over the years global warming threatened 1/3rd of the world's population.
There were great advances made in the atomic field giving many benefits to mankind, but then man spoilt it all by developing the atomic bomb which had great destructive capabilities and then man was foolish enough to use it. Today man has got the capability to destroy the earth more than 100 times over.
Today wherever you go, you are surrounded by the concrete jungle and man has gone too far from nature. That is why when you get even a acre full of natural surroundings, you feel rejuvenated since you feel your return to where you, or your ancestors started from, in the first place.
Man has now played around with nature for too long and since he feels he is the ultimate creation of God, he goes and does what he feels like. He has been a creator, a preserver but finally he is going to be the destroyer of this life giving planet.
So live life in the present without worrying for tomorrow for you never know, when the time is up!
Yatindra Tawde

Mumbai - 2025

Mumbai - 2025 I am wandering through the lanes of my place of birth, Dadar, getting nostalgic about the days gone by. Hindu colony and my ...