Thursday, April 26, 2018

Heart Has More Value Than Pocket

Once a little boy said to his father, who was a philanthropist: “You say that we are on this earth to do good to others.” “Yes, my son, we are to do good to others,” said the father. “Then what are the others to do?” Questioned the boy. “My child! it is enough for us to know what we are to do on this earth, forget what others are here  to do.”
In the present society and age, people often do the mistake of asking themselves – Why should we do good to others if they have not done the same to us? The present world is mostly ridden by the question – Mujhe kya Lena or mujhe kya milega?
Today we certainly need to think of those great people who did great service to humanity without questioning. Did Mahatama Gandhi and Neleson Mandela ask before fighting for the cause of downtrodden – what black people have given to us? What will we get for dedicating our lives for the downtrodden? Did Nobel Prize winners, Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, while working for the welfare of children, ask such questions?
Living in the materialistic age of gold rush, people tend to become king Midas. In the craving for the Midas touch, you no more remain a human being. What are you if not a human being?  Voltaire has quipped is so well: “Don’t think money does everything or you are going to end up doing everything for money.” What lies in your pocket doesn’t make you a valuable human being, it is what lies in your heart for others that makes you a man of great value because what is in your pocket is only for you and your family but what is in your heart is for others.
As we are human beings, the best species residing on this earth, we need to make this world a better place. One best way to do that is to have love, sympathy and compassion for fellow beings.  The man with the compassionate heart is driven by the feeling of empathy – your pain in my heart. Virtues like kindness, compassion, love, sympathy and empathy are the essential ingredients of humanity.  
It is appalling that Mujhe kya lena (I am not concerned) runs like a life slogan in our modern self-centered and money driven society. This modus vivendi has ruined us a lot and still ruining us. We often stand mute spectators to the exploitation and oppression of the weaker and downtrodden. We take a nonchalant stand gracefully saying – oh! I am being impartial. This is, in fact, a wrong argument for the wrong reason. We close our eyes and shut our mouth to the crime and dare not stand against the perpetrator even as witness in the court of law. We are scared lest we should run into any kind of legal or personal trouble. We open our mouth only when the criminals get freed and that too to blame the law only. If at all we tend to oppose, it’s only when we ourselves feel harmed by the act. In fact, we need to have a spirit and courage to raise your voice for the poor and oppressed fellows.
You can bring a great comfort to the person by holding out your umbrella to him while he is dripping in the rain. The Hindi movie, Adhikaar, has a beautiful lyric – Jeena to hai usikaa jisne ye raz jaana, hai kaam aadmi ka auron ke kaam aana. The lyric gives a great message of love and compassion. 
Build bridges for the people who will follow you. Remember the words of Warren Buffett, one of the wealthiest persons in the world: “Someone is sitting in the shade today because someone planted a tree a long time ago.” Think not only of yourself and your generation, think of the generations yet to come. Let’s not forget that we belong to each other.

It’s Different from different points

Once one of my friends, Munshi Sharma and I were having arguments on certain issue. I was firm on my view and he was firm on his. Being wise and intelligent, Munshi suddenly said: “Let’s agree to disagree.” The voluble situation turned into a quiet one. Since then I am reminded of these words whenever I enter into some hot discussion. Of course, we cannot always agree at everything nor do we need to agree because everything has many dimensions and can be viewed from different angles varying from zero to 360 degree. You rotate the thing or you vary the angle, your point of view is bound to change.
When the TaJ Mahal was built, it was acclaimed as one the wonders of the world, but Aldous Huxley disparaged it as marbles covering a multitude of sins, Rabindranath Tagore extolled it as a solitary drop of tear on the cheek of time, yet Sahir Ludhyanvi lamented in one of his poems that by erecting the Taj Mahal, the emperor made a mockery of the poor lovers. So there is one Taj Mahal, but different and opposing points of view.
There are many perspectives to a thing. Can a round ball become a wide ball? A big NO to this can put you in a spot of bother because even a perfectly shaped round ball becomes wide ball at times while it is in play in cricket. If a shepherd saves sheep from the wolf, sheep call him saviour of their lives and liberty, but wolf calls him a destroyer of his life and liberty. Of course, sheep and wolf are standing at extreme opposite angles. After spending a day with his child at Fun World, a father may lament: “A day wasted!” But the child may exclaim: “The most wonderful day of my life!”
We often form a view about a person and then stick to our judgement as I had once formed about a student. I had developed a block in my mind that he was not sincere and was not respectful to the teachers. However, after two years on Teachers’ Day, I got a greeting from him: “You are my ideal teacher. You always inspired and motivated me.” A feeling of guilt pricked me for nurturing wrong notion about him. To pen-portray a person, we have to look at different dimensions of his personality. Ghazal composer, Nida Fazali, has poured much truth into his lines - Har ek aadmi mein hote hain das-bees aadmi, Jisko bhi dekhna. kai baar dekhna
In Middlemarch, George Eliot says: “It is a narrow mind which cannot look at a subject from various points of view.” We oftentimes forget that when there is day in the Northern Hemisphere, there is night in the Southern Hemisphere; the Winter Solstice in the Northern Hemisphere is the Summer Solstice in southern; the Spring Equinox in Northern Hemisphere is the Autumnal Equinox in Southern Hemisphere. It depends on which part of the world you are residing in.

Just Hold Your Tongue!

One morning sitting in the lobby of Tenzin Hospital at Shimla, I was waiting for my turn for the eye check-up. Others were also sitting there with the same purpose. Suddenly my attention was drawn towards three middle aged persons who were discussing Indian politics. Starting normally, now their conversation had turned into a high sounding tirade against the parties they supported or liked. The people around also got exasperated. Disturbed by this, the doctor came out of his cabin and staring at the three with a disapproving look, he pointed his finger towards the white piece of paper glue-stuck to the wall. The paper had the words typed on it big and bold: “FOR BETTER LIFE SPEAK ONLY WHEN YOUR WORDS ARE BETTER THAN SILENCE.” All the three had to cut a sorry figure and they snapped their lips tight only to open after a long time when they left the hospital corridor. This is how at times people exasperate others because they don’t know the principle of three W’s and one H – what to say, when to say, where to say and how to say.
In our impulse to hold the centre stage, we throw out useless words and it becomes a rambling talk. Greek philosopher Epicetus rightly said: “Nature has given us one tongue, but two ears, so we may hear twice as much as we speak.” Instead of being more eager to say, better to be a good listener. Talking more than required makes us less communicable. By listening keenly, we understand better and talk better.
Not only is mouth sandwiched by two ears, it has also an overlooking head. Open your mouth at an appropriate time and as required by the situation. The tongue must twist and turn only after seeing, hearing, touching, smelling and tasting. In other words think first and speak later to speak better. Here I think it pertinent to refer to an interesting and enlightening incident related to the life of our great former president Dr A P J Abul Kalam:
One evening Kalam’s mother placed a plate of subzi and a burnt roti as dinner in front of his father. The father just ate the roti and said: “Honey, I love burnt roti.” Later that night, Kalam asked his father if he really liked the burnt roti. He took Kalam in his arms and said: “A burnt roti never hurts anyone, but harsh words do!”
Undoubtedly harsh words pierce the heart like an arrow. Wounds caused by bullets or arrows can be soothed down by medication, but the wounds caused by words are difficult to be healed.
Rudyard Kipling has quipped: “I am, by calling, a dealer in words, and words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. Not only do words infect, egotise, narcotise, and paralyse, but they enter into and colour the minutest cells of the brain. Well intended thoughts, if expressed in harsh words, can offend the hearer. What you take as frankness can become vulgarity for others. Most of the conflicts arise not due to the difference in opinion, but due to wrong tone and choice of language. Well measured words mean that you can make friends with various types of people – be it work place or peer group or social gathering.
There goes a catchy line in Urdu. Whoever said it, said it so well. Here it goes  – Khuda ko napasand hai sakhtiyan zubaan kee, is liea haddi naheen hai zubaan kee – the tongue doesn’t have bone because God dislikes the harshness of language. Tongue remains moistened because it has been made to say soft, sweet and juicy words.
The words or the language you choose to speak to people tells much about the stuff you are made from. It may raise or reduce your stature in the eyes of the people. Your tone and tenor decide whether people are going to like your company. Therefore just wait, hold your tongue!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Social Media: Your Voice

In his book We Think : The Power of Mass Creativity, Charles W Leadbeater said : “You are what you share.” Of course when even an ordinary man gets a free way to share or say what he thinks on a particular issue or on the issue of his own choice, it gives a feeling of revelation that he has a voice. And when people standing at the margin think that they have a say, its true democracy and real freedom of speech – that’s what the social media is doing today. Of late, it is fast catching up with the people as an unprecedented opportunity to express their agreements and disagreements, pleasures and displeasure, selection and rejections, satisfaction and disgruntle and above all everything what they wish to express and that too at their own terms and conditions.

Be it the enticing language skill of Ravish Kumar on NDTV or the dominating, scathing and reprimanding arguments of Arnab Goswami on Republic TV or Rohit Sardana’s show of Taal Thok Ke  on Zee TV or Anish Devgan in Aar Paar  on News India or Anjana Om Kashyap in Halla Bol  on Aaj Tak, all these channels seem to be pulling the debate towards the predetermined conclusion. Every evening in TV studio, stage is set for some debate with some political spokespersons and a few known analysts and experts sitting as panellists. They start shouting at each other and in the pandemonium, it becomes difficult to ascertain as to who is saying what and to whom. In between, the anchor, who is supposed to control the proceedings, himself loses control and also starts shouting. These channels and anchors seem more or less biased with some particular agenda or pre-concluded conclusions. They say – nation wants to know or desh janana chahta hai as if they had completely calculated the pulse rate or had read the faces of more than 125 crore people.
In this gambit of debate, where are the common audience and where is their voice? A common viewer also has his own view, his own issue, his own problem. He also wants to say or shout and wants to be heard?
But worry not now! We have the social media – Facebook, Whatsapp, Twitter, linked In etc. wherein you can have your say, where your voice is heard by those whom you want to tell. where you can drop in anytime as per your convenience and can pour down what is in your mind and heart. Reducing the hegemony of a few newschannels and anchors, Social media have given tremendous power into the hands of the people. You can tap the like, comment or share tab. If you don’t like something, you have the option of unfriending and blocking. This all is so easy and free of any hiccups. Do you want to say something on what I say, do come to my timeline!

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Vulgarism Eating into Common Language

James Rozoff said in one of his books – ‘Vulgarity is like a fine wine: it should only be uncorked on a special occasion, and then only shared with the right group of people.’ But today vulgarity in language is catching up very fast at every occasion.
While on a regular evening stroll with my friend some days back, I happened to pass by a small open space where some children were playing and frolicking. Walking along, my eyes caught two little kids – a boy about 6 and a girl about 8 having a verbal duel. They were brother and sister to each other as I later came to know. Suddenly, the boy gave a push to his sister uttering these nasty words - “Sali ma…lo…” The little girl somehow avoided the bad fall and ran away crying out for her mom. Shocked to hear those nasty words from the little kid who was just six, I stood there motionless for some moments. After a few seconds, I scolded the child- ‘Not good manner. How can you say those nasty words?” Scared, the boy ran away but not before he had announced –‘uncle, mere papa bhi mummi ko aisaa hi bolte hain jab donon ladte hain.”
            This is how, of late, the elements of vulgarity, profanity and sexism have been creeping into the language of our common chat or conversation and from there has been percolating down to the budding citizens ie children. With not an iota of doubt, the boy had picked up the language from his elders. He even didn’t know the meaning of the words he had used. The language one talks in gives an ample impression of one’s personality. But You may easily come across two gentlemanly dressed up people who greet each other by saying- aur bhai ma .ch…  kyaa haal hai tere or they may respond saying- theek hun bhai pein….ch. Another testimony to vulgarism and sexism in common language can be seen scribbled down on the walls of public toilets. There are many who are creative and crafty enough to form salacious couplets. Some even find opportunity to sneak into the ladies’ toilets and leave the impressions of their craftsmanship there too. You may also come across this linguistic profanity in schools also where the children use expletives without being conscious of its meanings. Even teachers at times find themselves helpless to do away with these expletives as it has become their parlance. Not to quote a single example, salacious dialogues and songs of Hindi movies are now tradition and act as crowd pullers.
            When kids get this kind of language being spoken, scripted and dialogued, obviously they also adopt it, rather imbibe it. Though kids are small, but they have long ears. They are very attentive to the words being exchanged by their elders in different situations. They speak what they listen. Thus the vulgar or aggressive language spreads like bad cold. Not to know any language is not that bad as to know and follow the bad language. It is the expressive of crude and distorted menatality.