Red Thread Around Wrist

A NEW FAD OF HINDU IDENTIFICATION:

Red thread around the wrist (right for men and left for women) is the new fad of Hindu ritualistic identification. Called Mauli or Kalva, it is tied by a priest or an elderly person after a ceremonial event. The wearer is supposed to keep the thread until it is worn out.

The literal meaning of Mauli in Sanskrit is ‘crown,’ which means, above all. There are several mythological stories about the origin of Mauli, as well as claims of health benefits.

The red cotton thread is often mixed with small colors of yellow or orange. It is supposed to dispense some magical powers of protection and to ward off misfortune as well as to attract good luck.

Many among those who wear the Mauli have a strong feeling that it should not be removed because of a fear that such an act can bring bad luck.

It is the fear factor which dominates all the religions of the world, and Hinduism is not an exception. The sacred thread symbolizes that fear, besides its ritualistic value.

Promod Puri

MODI VS TRUMP

Three noticeable differences:

1. Whereas Trump has a stiff relationship with the media, Modi is steadily developing a controlling relationship with the media.

2. Trump is open and blunt, expresses his views the moment these come to his mind; Modi often plays the politics of silence.

3. Modi loves bear hugging, for Trump shaking hands is enough.

-Promod Puri

WRITING IS A CONSTRUCTION JOB

By Promod Puri

“Words are the tools of writing.” But not quite so!

Words, in fact, are the bricks and mortars we select and gather to build a structure. Its architecture and construction are based on our thoughts, opinions, and feelings, perceptions and impressions, or sharing of information, knowledge, and experiences.

In our learning faculty, there is a library of words being accumulated from early childhood. We retrieve them from our memory cells to begin the composition of a story, novel, essay, poetry, and all other literary and non-literary works or writing a simple personal diary.

Moreover, comprehensive dictionaries offer thousands of words stacked in alphabetical order.

Just like bricks, words are cast in different sizes, but each is carrying its own identity and impact. It is in this semantic profile that words give an outlook and character to writing.

Words are liberal in their nature. If a word is not the right one or it does not fit into the rigid demand of a writer, it offers a whole stockpile of alternative synonyms choices.

Words are not the writing tools, but when they are put together by the skills of a wordsmith, the whole composition becomes a tool by itself. Primarily, writing is the tool of communication which we need as a complement to speaking. But writing goes beyond spoken words. It stays longer or forever.

Is writing hard work? Not really, so far as there are enough bricks around in different sizes and shapes, along with a sound idea or subject matter, that a structure can be built and redesigned or even renovated.

The technicality of writing lies in its grammar as well as those little but indispensable characters, called punctuation marks, offering control and disciplinary mechanism in this creative development.

However, objectivity, sensitivities, and rationality are the basic guidelines in raising a writing structure which is otherwise stalled when these feelings lack honesty and sincerity.

Under these guidelines, writing offers good companionship. As well as “writing is the only way to talk without being interrupted.”(Jules Renard, novelist, and playwright).

A BOX OF TOFFEES

I was 10-year-old when one day I severely broke my right arm. A local pehlwan, as the practice or custom was in those days, was called to fix the arm. His oil massage and turning and twisting the arm to align the broken bones was an extremely painful maneuver. After a few days, the rugged treatment did not produce any improved result. Perhaps, it was more damaging.

Next, I was in an Amritsar hospital where a known surgeon specializing in fixing broken bones finally put the bones close to and in front of each other. This was followed by lying on my back all the time for a week or so. The operated arm was kept lifted up, tied with a string which after going thru a pulley was tied at the other end with solid brick. The heavyweight was meant to bring the two bones together and slowly become one solid elbow joint. It worked.

I don’t exactly remember how did I pass the time during this period on the hospital bed. But I do remember the early morning hours of each and every day. These were the waiting moments. Waiting for my mother’s arrival to take over the night shift from my father at the bedside.

The sound of her chappal, while walking from the entrance door to the long recovery ward and up to my bed, is a revered and treasured memory which is as blissful now as instinctively felt then. For a child a few minutes or hours of separation from the mother is really a long wait. The reunion is a sheer elation.

One day at the hospital my innocent joy was elevated. To my pleasant surprise, my eldest brother was beside my bed. He came to see me from Delhi. What made him undertake that journey! Just simple and wholesome feelings for the youngest sibling in the family.

He sat beside me. I don’t remember what he talked about, but his visit and giving me company must be an exhilarating moment between us.

A caring and compassionate person with love and feel his presence was a cheery treat for me. He presented me with a box of toffees.

Sweet and unforgettable moments. A gleam of the past is in the present.

-Promod Puri

Home Sweet Home: The bliss of “Chajju Ka Chobara”

by Promod Puri

Back in 1972, when I immigrated to Canada and made my first home in Winnipeg, Manitoba, that I happened to know a very helpful and friendly person by the name of C. R. Bector.

He was a distinguished professor of mathematics at the University of Manitoba. And out of respect, as being elder to me and having an academic professional status, I along with other close acquaintances used to address him as Doctor Sahib or Doctor Bector. He was not a medical doctor but had a Ph.D. degree in his extensive portfolio of degrees.

C.R. Bector, although to most of us in the Indo-Canadian community sounded more like an English name, especially the surname, but Doctor Sahib, who is retired now, hails from Punjab. He was a popular personality in Winnipeg, simply because of his informal, lively and sociable temperament.

However, for me, the enticing thing about him is that his real name is Chajju Ram. It is really an old-fashioned North Indian name as we seldom come across with that namesake.

And the first name Chajju immediately strikes on the famous Indian proverb “jo sukh chajju ke chobare, na balakh na bukhare. Translation: east or west home is the best.

The name Chajju certainly gives a lot of credentials to the importance of the home as it is part of the life’s triangle, rather I would say the most sought-after trinity which is “roti, kapdra aur Makaan”, meaning food, clothing, and shelter.

The fact is anybody with a home, in reality, owns his or her little sovereign kingdom or queen-dom. It is one of those virtues of life which one aspires to have it. Life begins at home and revolves around home to enjoy the bliss of having that pride possession.

Home is not merely a physical dwelling of walls, windows, and doors, floors, and roofs. It is not just a rest spot either. Rather a cozy place of peace and tranquility in the midst of family or friends’ lively togetherness and entertainment. Home is a place of absolute independence within acceptable social norms.

Home sweet home is a simple expression carrying deep feelings of warmth and comfort which one yearns for.

If the home does not give all that is expected then it is a house, and for that reason, homesickness can be endured but not the house arrest.

Home is the place of everlasting nostalgia of living with parents, brothers, sisters and dear ones. The childhood anecdotes of little fights and laughs, the home-cooked food, books and beds, the school homework, and a lot more are part of the fond memories. The physical remembrance of each and every household item is also a sentimental and sweet relaxation.

Moreover, home is where we accumulate our cultural values, connect with our heritage and acquire family’s social, linguistic and religious identities. Home is that place of security and independence where with elated feelings one can unwind, recline and relax.

Seventeenth-century English poet James Thompson has exquisitely expressed his perception of home:
“Home is the resort
Of love, of joy, of peace, and plenty; where
Supporting and supported, polished friends
And dear relations mingle into bliss”.

But that bliss is deprived to millions of homeless people all over the world sheltering under the open sky at the mercy of Mother Nature. It is this sad aspect of humanity which is visibly invisible as life goes by especially in busy metropolises.

Chajju ka chubara” is indeed a bliss of comfort and peace for most of us. And my friend C.R. Bector’s place was an embodiment of these virtues especially during harsh winter months of Winnipeg.

promodpuri.com

There Is Faith In Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau’s Ethnic Sentiments

His father, Pierre Trudeau, was an intellectual statesman. Justin Trudeau falls into that grade. The genes are there.download (4) trudeau seniordownload (4) justin trudeau

He is a “thoughtful and intelligent guy”, commented former Liberal leader Bob Rae. In his policies, we hope for better and more compassionate Canada.

The clear majority gained by the Liberal Party under his leadership in the 2014 election not only demonstrated the rejection of ultra-right-wing politics of discrimination, anti-immigration and fake security concerns, but it restored the confidence in Canadian values of humanism and compassion.

Justin Trudeau’s rise to political leadership has been like that of an ordinary common man. He worked his own way to climb that ladder. He was not handed life in politics on a platter as being the son of legendary former prime minister.

His adult life began as a school teacher, snowboard instructor, bouncer in a night club, and playing the role of a war hero in a World War 1 TV drama. These credentials show the traits of a young man trying to gain some space in society.

He also has a tattoo of Haida nation printed on his arms. He loves ethnic food; his first outing with his date, now his wife Sophie, was to Khyber Pass, an Afghan restaurant in Montreal. He is an ace Bhangra dancer too.

From this simple portfolio, we can see him as a down-to-earth leader with a thoughtful and intelligent approach to run the affairs of the nation.

He has expressed openness to let in all the views and concerns in dealing with environmental issues.

He pursues a humanitarian and independent foreign policy which is not influenced by the big brothers south of the border. This foreign policy puts Canada in its traditional role of no-combat military involvements, but for peaceful missions only.

His domestic liberal policies include: legalizing marijuana, protection of transgender people, reuniting families of immigrants, reinvigorate ethnic cultures and diversities, and bring more diversity in the government. One of the outstanding features of his leadership has been welcoming refugees.

Mr. Trudeau has recognized the true multicultural fabric of Canada. It was also the hallmark of his father’s political life when he declared multiculturalism as the official policy of the Canadian government.

He has shown his enthusiastic participation in ethnic cultural events. More than that he recognizes the contribution of Canada’s ethnic diversity to make this nation a truly multicultural society of equal opportunities.

There is faith in Mr. Trudeau’s ethnic sentiments. And that is the kind of leadership the ethnic communities feel encouraged to see their involvement in Canadian affairs.

-Promod Puri

(Credit: The picture portrait of Pierre Trudeau on the right is by artist Mayanwy Spencer Pavelic. It hangs in the gallery of theHouse of Commons)  

ENVIRONMENTS AND HINDU WORSHIPPING

Besides the devotional practices at dedicated places like temples, home or public shrines, a striking and environmental sensitive and gratifying feature of Hindu worshipping practices and reverence is the deification of natural landmarks like rivers, lakes, and mountains. There is divinity in all elements of nature as well as in plants and animals. The belief is that gods and goddesses manifest in them. And their adoration is part of Hindu ritualistic practices.

Excerpts from Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions.

WHAT CAUSES CLIMATE CHANGE

Carbon Dioxide is the gas which is blamed, and rightly so, for warming the earth atmosphere. In fact, its concentration in our atmosphere is only 0.041 percentage. Whereas, all the human activities contribute just about 32 percent of 0.041% of the total amount of carbon dioxide.
But carbon dioxide has a very strong influence on climate because of its ability to absorb heat emitted from our planet’s surface, keeping it from escaping out to space. And that causes the escalating phenomenon of climate change.
-By Promod Puri

Contemporary Society Loaded With Choices

When trying to find a romantic match, we’re often overwhelmed with options. Reddit/WittyRepost

Thomas Saltsman, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York

Log onto Netflix, and you’ll be presented with a menu of nearly 6,000 titles. Create an OkCupid account, and you’ll have the chance to connect with 5 million other active users. Search for a new toothbrush on Amazon, and you’ll be bombarded with over 20,000 options, ranging from manual to mechanical, from packs of three to packs of 12.

As someone who is comically indecisive – and who studies stress – I often think about the pressure of making decisions when presented with so many options.

What do we experience, in the moment, when we decide from an abundance of choices? Does it cause us to shut down or does it energize us? Does it make us feel more confident or less confident? Could it have a lasting impact on our health and well-being?

We want choice – but not what we choose

Freedom of choice is a pillar of Western culture.

But there’s such a thing as too much choice.

Researchers such as Sheena Iyengar and Barry Schwartz have pioneered this area of study, finding that being overwhelmed with options can create an adverse experience called “choice overload or ”The Paradox of Choice.“

People tend to want as many options as possible. Whether it’s buying a car or a meal, they gravitate toward companies that offer more options versus fewer ones, because they believe a large selection will maximize their chances of finding the best fit.

But when it comes to actually making a decision from all of these options, people can become paralyzed – and avoid making choices altogether.

Even worse, when they finally do come to a decision, they’re more dissatisfied and regretful about whatever choice they make.

Getting to the heart of choice overload

To me, this explains so much of the day-to-day malaise that plagues modern society.

It explains the sheer excitement first-time homebuyers feel when they begin their search, followed by the fear that they won’t select the ideal neighborhood, school district or architectural style.

It explains the curiosity a sociable 20-something feels before checking out the opening of a new bar downtown, followed by the concern it won’t live up to her expectations.

Although we know choice overload eventually leads to regret and disatisfaction, it isn’t as clear what people are feeling when they’re in the middle of making these decisions.

Sometimes it seems like we spend more time deciding than watching. Rachael Myrow/KQED

My colleagues and I wondered: Do people genuinely feel confident about their ability to make a good decision? And, if so, when does this experience turn from good to bad – from brimming with potential to awash with dejection and doubt?

For our studies, we sought to peer into participants’ internal experiences as they made decisions, tracking their cardiovascular responses.

When people care more about a decision, their hearts beat faster and harder. Other measures – like how much blood the heart is pumping and how much the blood vessels are dilating – can indicate levels of confidence.

Participants in our studies reviewed online dating profiles. We asked them to choose one profile from many options or from just a few options. In other conditions of our studies, we simply asked them to rate profiles on a scale of one to 10.

We found that when the participants chose from many options, they felt more invested in the decision: Their hearts beat harder and faster. But their arteries also constricted – a sign that they also felt less confident about their decision.

In other words, when we’re presented with more choices, making the “right” or “correct” decision begins to feel more crucial and, at the same time, more unattainable.

The cardiovascular system responds the same way when we take an important exam feeling hopelessly unprepared, or commute to an interview for a dream job lacking the right qualifications.

Notably, even minor exposures to this kind of cardiac activity are believed to have long-term health consequences if they happen enough; they’re connected to certain types of heart disease and hypertension.

Deciding how to decide

Sensing high stakes over a decision – but not feeling particularly confident about making the right choice – may contribute to the deep-seated fear that we’ll make the wrong one.

I believe this fear could be tempered by putting the decision into perspective. It might help to remember that many of the day-to-day choices you make – what to have for lunch, what flavor best complements that caramel macchiato – aren’t going to matter in the grand scheme of things. Even seemingly more consequential choices, like accepting a new job, can ultimately be changed.

Remember: It’s just cereal. Din Mohd Yaman/Shutterstock.com

When thinking this way, the consequences associated with making the “wrong” choice become less scary.

It could also help to enter these situations with just a few clear guidelines and ideas of what you want – and absolutely don’t want – from the range of options. This can winnow the possible choices, and also make you more confident about your decision-making abilities.

So the next time you spend hours browsing through Netflix unable to land on a title to watch – worried that the OkCupid date you contemplated asking out for days won’t like it – remember that removing the sheer weight of our choices can help us navigate a world overwhelmed by them.

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PAST, PRESENT, AND FUTURE ARE RELATED

By Promod Puri

“The past is history, future is a mystery, but today is a gift……”, stay in the present and enjoy the moments. These are some of the many favored in-vogue quotes.

The favorite quotations or advisories suggest our prospects belong to the moments we live in. We are told to live, feel, and enjoy the era of the present, rather than being prisoner of the past or future.

But the now moments are related to past and present.

Past, present, and future are interlinked, and compliments to each other with indelible events, experiences, karmas, and imaginations. The act of managing the future involves gathering and distilling the right information from the archives of the past within the time span of the present.

The independence of “now” does not exist.

Understanding and embracing the “power of now” are in fact related to past and future moments. Any expression of the “now” moment like, “I am very happy and enjoying myself,” is compared to the past or future moments.

The comparison or contrast with past or future moments gives “now” its valuation.

Our past is an assortment of both joyous, rough, memorable, and learning experiences. Whereas, our future lies in the prospect of imagination.

Imagination is an inspiring concept that is very natural foresight in the life of an individual as well as the society we belong to. Civilizations have been created, nourished, and developed on our ability to contemplate the future.

No doubt, anxieties, worries or concerns often become parts of our contemplation, but so do the dreams. In this package, destiny is created thru our forward-looking karmas of the present which influence our future. Progress comes by prospecting in the future.

Flights to the future with optimistic imaginations are the thrills and promises of the prospective unknown.

Prospecting is natural. It is a functional activity of our cognitive powers. Sighting the future is both a conscious and unconscious activity. We can’t stop it while realizing, dealing, or playing with the moments of the present.

In these moments, our moods also swing like a pendulum, moving back and forth, from past to future while creating new flashes for the present.

Sometimes, journeys to the past contribute to the pleasures of the present. The past is a treasure like an old photo album. It is an asset and a companion. Ask the person lying on a hospital bed for a long time. Or when a fatal blow to the past happens to a person with dementia. Moments of the present do not offer a “gift” here.

Moreover, for society, the past is not merely history, but it is a heritage as well. The identity of a society is based on its culture.

Past, present, and future are interlinked, and compliments to each other with indelible events, experiences, karmas, and imaginations. The act of managing the future involves gathering and distilling the right information from the archives of the past within the period of the present.

Time does not cover the innate past, or cause a pause to our imaginations for the future. It does not flow like a river. It does not fly either. Time rather spreads out. In this spread, past, present and future reside forever.

It is our mind which ferries us around for stopovers at our memories and spurs us to conceive our imaginations, as well as bringing us back to the present. And life’s journey continues while sailing through our past, present, and future.

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(Promod Puri is a journalist and writer. He is the author of “Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions”, a book which explores the rational, secular and progressive nature of Hinduism.)

 

Joys of Fiji Travels

The following travelogue was written back in 2010 when I visited Fiji, a cluster of islands in the South Pacific region. Besides, visiting some of the most famous tourist attractions, the article also briefly mentions about the people of Fiji, especially its vibrant Indian community.  

By Promod Puri

Our years of build-up excitement of Fiji holidays began when we landed at the Nadi (pronounced Nandi) airport at 5.30 in the morning on June 14, 2010.

It was an overnight flight from Los Angeles, but for the time difference, it took an extra calendar day to reach our dream destination.

Nadi, which is on the west coast of Fiji’s biggest island of Viti Levu, is the entry point by air to this South Pacific country.

At the Nadi airport, we were warmly received by the loving relatives of our daughter’s in-laws. Our baggage was dumped in a pickup van, and in another vehicle, our three-week Fiji journey began as we started driving to the capital city of Suva on the east coast of the Island.

The highway from Nadi to Suva, called Queens’ Road, has its own majestic allurement, and it can genuinely claim to be one of the most dazzling drives in the world.

Lush green vegetation on small hills and flatlands intercepted with villages and small settlements; adorn the natural display on the left side of the highway. And on our right was an almost uninterrupted and extended panorama of the exalted and composed the Pacific Ocean, sometimes just a few hundred feet from the winding Queen’s Road.

The west-east Nadi to Suva journey took odd and visually-absorbing three hours when we checked in at the centrally-located Tanoa Inn, just a ten-minute walk from the downtown hub of the city.

After freshening up and with a heavy load of breakfast as we were starving, thanks to the extra-degraded frugal in-flight food service from the “friendliest “ Air Pacific Airlines, that we really re-energized ourselves to venture into Suva, the commercial, a cultural and political center of the South Pacific.

We were in Suva for three days. Despite almost continuous drizzle and rain, quite competitive with Vancouver, that we covered some interesting and highlighted city’s attractions. One of them was the favorite and brisk vegetable and fruit Municipal Market which gave us quite a glimpse of both Natives and Indian Fijians.

Another exciting and recommended place is the Fiji Museum which displays a stirring and adventurous brief history of Native and Indian settlements on the Fiji Islands.

While the migration of Natives to these South Pacific Islands happened centuries ago from Africa or Polynesian group of countries, the Indian settlement is comparatively a recent one which began in the 1800s. The latter was brought to the island of Viti Levu by Britishers as farm laborers under permit regularity called “girmit.”

Their lifestyles and early settlement challenges under the agreement with Britishers of providing temporary immigration and jobs on the vast sugarcane plantations in Fiji give a very fascinating history of Indian migration to this far-away land which was for sure never heard by them.

The “girmit” system, which became quite popular and acceptable, was a sort of an agreement between the British contractors and the poor and destitute Indian laborers. Since the Indians, who were mostly illiterate, could not easily pronounce the word “agreement,” the rhyming word “girmit” was thus coined.

Over almost two hundred years of the history of their establishment in this part of the world and considerably far away from their root country, the Fijian Indians have expertly carved out a distinguished community in itself. The most remarkable aspect of their culture is the evolution and establishment of the Fijian Hindi which is now a distinct and sweet Hindi dialect in itself.

Indians run most of the shops and small businesses in Suva. The city is a typical urban center with few shopping malls and a unique souvenir center to buy exquisitely carved and creatively crafted Fijian handicrafts. However, the most popular and useful item is the bold flowery print “Bula Shirt” which can undoubtedly draw equal attention in a summer outdoor party.

Besides wandering around in Suva, we made two trips to the nearby in-laws’ birthplace and hometown of Nausori. Cordial hospitality from the relatives as part of the Indian traditions over dinner invitations gave us more glimpse of the Fijian Indian way of life.

From Suva, we took a local trans-island comfortable bus to go back towards the west, in the Nadi direction, for our next holiday stopover. The Club Oceanus near the city of Pacific Harbor and nestled amidst a forest and beside a calm river, seemed to be a backpackers’ favorite. It is a superbly and divinely place but turned out to be not much excitement for us as it rained heavily throughout our one- day stay.

The next day like opening a surprise gift-wrap, we saw a cloud-free blue sky as we checked in at the Uprising Resort right on the beach front. And true to its online praises on TripAdvisor and in the Lonely Planet the resort, a well- managed, reasonably priced and sitting on an enticing scenic property, reassured us that Fiji’s waterfront vacations were worth all the planning.

Here at the Uprising, we had our first experience of beachfront living in a “Bure” which is a sort of log house cottage built in traditional Fiji Native style with a thatched roof. It was spacious enough with kitchen, living and bedroom areas including a balcony in the front and back, all under one roof.

The spread-out and the far-reaching Pacific Ocean with gentle non-stop waves going back and forth on the clean, soft, sandy beach were merely some hundred steps away from our “bure.” And that was a real bliss of holidaying in Fiji.

As Uprising molded us with the joy of Fiji voyaging, we put in our next flag on another beach-front resort of Naviti, near the city of Sigatoka, where our daughter’s in-laws, Prem and Savita, joined us to spend one week together to explore and luxuriate more in Fiji’s coastal tourist favorites.

Naviti on the Queen’s Road is really a big resort, and the oceanfront room we got gave us quite a panoramic view of the sea, though the beach is not that big to have a long walk.

Our two-day stay at Naviti was among a large number of winter-escapee vacationers from New Zealand and Australia, who came in groups of large families including children. And at times the resort gave the impression that Disneyland has moved to an ocean-front on the Fiji Islands.

Our journey continued west-bound with next stop at the Sonaisali Beach resort near the city of Nadi.

The resort was just ok with the well-furnished and well-kept room we were in. But the overall stay here was a bit disappointing especially with the unrealistically expensive food and exorbitant extra charges on phone and internet services. The management seemed to be more interested in squeezing money at every step of the way from guests than providing services.

Anyway, a smart move on the part of Prem that he hired a taxi for just 10 Fijian dollars to buy the famous Fiji Gold and Fiji Bitter beer bottles from a nearby market. And we had our favorite Bombay Sapphire that we enjoyed our evenings at the Sonaisali.

In the spirit of having a good time we moved on to our next destination, Lautoka, Fiji’s second biggest city after Suva and just about half an hour drive pass Nadi.

In Lautoka, our stay was close to the downtown area at the Waterfront Tanoa Hotel along the well-maintained sea walkway.

One of the highlights of our stay in Lautoka, beside little shopping and inexpensive but very useful massage treatment, was a dinner visit to one of Prem’s Indian relatives. The freshly-cooked home-made food was indeed a welcome and excellent change, and which gave us the real taste of Indian Fijian cuisine. Another good food experience we had was in Nadi where a brother-in-law of Savita feted us with authentic Fiji treat of “Lovo,” the underground favorite Native Fijian cuisine but with a little Indian touch.

In Lautoka, our dinner host’s daughter and tour helper, Doreen, gave us a quick tour of the city, explaining that the two expensive neighborhoods here are named “Kashmir” and “Shimla.”

Lautoka is a historic town from the Indian point of view as it is here the migrants from India started working in sugarcane farms and sugar mills. But now it is a shopping town as well both for the locals and tourists.

The Lautoka Municipal Market which seems to be a landmark of every Fijian city or town was full of vendors selling locally-grown produce, incredibly cheap. And here one can get dried cava root which when powdered make the traditional and symbolic ceremonial Native drink of cava or nagona.

Another highway picturesque scenic drive from Lautoka to Rakiraki, on the way to our next destination of Nananu-i-Ra Island, was the King Road going from the west to the east on top of the Island.

Besides the ocean view and green mountains on the left and right respectively, the King Road passed thru many sugarcane fields. And we came across several Hindu temples and Indian schools on our way. We halted briefly in the town of Ba, which proudly displays on a big billboard as the “Football Crazy” town, where its landmark is a vast football-shaped structure in the city, perhaps housing a small coffee shop.

We reached Rakraki in about three hours and bypassed the city to reach the marina for our 20-minute boat ride, amidst soothing breeze, to the McDonald Resort on the island of Nananu-i-Ra.

As we had plenty of grocery supplies, including the now addictive Fiji Gold and Fiji Bitter, the self- cooked food by the ladies and washing the dirty dishes by men became a delightful past time activity besides walking around the island and feeding the colorful fish at the resort’s beach.

However, one significant activity was when Prem did some acrobats by impressively showing his revived skill of climbing a tall coconut tree and grabbing a big prized coconut with his two bare hands which we really relished.

Prem and Savita departed from us as they took a bus from Rakiraki in the north to their hometown of Nausori. And we carried on with our journey back toward Nadi to a place called First Landing, where it is said the first people who settled on the Fiji Islands landed here centuries ago and thus reserved their title of being Native Fijians.

We stayed at the Anchorage Resort at First Landing for two days. The narrow-gauge train carrying sugarcane from the fields passes thru the resort which otherwise offers a vast view of the Pacific Ocean as well as the city of Nadi across the bay. Anchorage is another laid-back resort to enjoy activities like light reading while gently swinging in a hammock, walking around or to watch the train pass by with its own rhythm.

The grand final of our Fiji sojourn was on the Bounty and Walu Beach islands, the two among the several isles forming the famous Mamanuca Group of islands in the South Pacific.

Staying at the Bounty and Walu for four and three days respectively was a definite change to experience the taste of island living, which was unlike the big Nananu-I-Ra island or at mainland beachfront hotels in Fiji.

Bounty that was it! The ultimate in relaxed holidays.

In the middle of the ocean, but only 25-minute boat ride from the Nadi Bay, Bounty is a small island with soft sandy beach all around and plants and shrubs in the middle, like a round pizza with all the toppings in the center. The island is so small that one can leisurely walk around it in 20 to 25 minutes.

However, smaller than the Bounty is the Southsea Island, which can be covered in three minutes, but if one takes a brisk little walk, it can be done in just two minutes.

Those seeking real solitude and bountiful of tranquility in the company of crystal clear beach with soothing waves Bounty Island is the place worth coming. And for those looking for adventures in the water sports like scuba diving or snorkeling Bounty offers free equipment and services. We did not indulge in any of these activities. Age factor!

A smooth ride from Bounty to nearby Walu Beach Resort on the Malolo Island, the biggest in the Mamanuca Group, gave us the chance to briefly touchdown the other famous islands like the Beachcomber, Treasure, Castaway (of the film fame ) and Mana. The Walu Beach Resort with its spectacular view of the ocean was our final holiday spot.

And from the Walu Beach, we returned to the real world to Nadi to catch our Vancouver flight.

Well, besides the natural beauty, Fiji is a place to have a good feel of India, but entirely away from India. The shops, the bazaars, the markets, restaurants, and hotels, everywhere you’re roaming about, the Indian presence and influence are all over. Indian programs of news, music, and entertainment are prominently featured on Fiji radio and TV.

The Indian immersion is so much that visitors, especially with the Indian background, feel like if they are touring India, except that Fiji is spotlessly clean.

Fijian people, both Natives and Indians are amiable and cheerful. They love talking, asking questions, want to know “where you’ve come from,” perhaps to relate to their many relatives and friends who have migrated from Fiji to other countries like Canada, the USA, New Zealand and Australia.

Bula is the greeting word to make an acquaintance and start a conversation. With a genuine smile on their faces, they say Bu—–la in an extended and pleasing tone.

Fiji is a relaxed and laidback country, and so are its people. It seems “take-it-easy” is the guideline of Fijian living which was aptly captured by a wall clock we saw in one of the hotel lobbies. It displays in bold print “Fiji Time” as its second, minute and hour hands were missing and all the numbers were jumbled up.

In the relaxed and carefree “Fiji Time” and with Bula smile our rousing Fiji tour was an exciting and enjoyable vacation.

Bula Fiji! We’ll be back.

Thank you Note: Our special thanks to Chandar Prakash and his team of Doreen and Raju of Awesome Holidays in Nadi who arranged all our Fiji resorts stays, some local transportation and boat ride to different islands in Fiji.

British troops massacred Indians in Amritsar – and a century later, there’s been no official apology

Jallianwala Bagh, in Amritsar, India, where hundreds were killed on April 13, 1919, under British colonial rule. AP Photo/Prabhjot Gill

Sumit Ganguly, Indiana University

The Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby recently visited the site of a brutal massacre that happened in 1919 under the British colonial rule in India and offered his personal apologies. He expressed his “deep sense of grief” for a “terrible atrocity.”

Earlier in April, then U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May told the House of Commons that the episode was “a shameful scar on British-Indian history.” However, she had stopped short of apologizing.

The massacre is still remembered in India as a symbol of colonial cruelty. Here’s what happened a hundred years ago.

Killing unarmed protesters

After World War I, the British, who controlled a vast empire in India, agreed to give Indians limited self-government due to India’s substantial contribution to the war effort.

These reforms, named the Montagu-Chelmsford reforms after the secretary of state for India and the viceroy of India, promised to lead to more substantial self-government over time.

However, around the same time the British had passed the draconian Rowlatt Acts, which allowed certain political cases to be tried without trial. And the trial was also to be conducted without juries. The acts were designed to ruthlessly suppress all forms of political dissent.

The Rowlatt Acts were designed to replace the constraints on political activity that had been embodied in colonial rules, known as the Defense of India Rules, which had been in force during World War I.

Not surprisingly, there were widespread public protests, led by the noted Indian nationalist leader, Mahatma Gandhi.

As part of this nationwide agitation, some 10,000 individuals gathered in a park in the northern Indian city of Amritsar on April 13, 1919. Since this protest was in defiance of a curfew which prohibited political gatherings, Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, who was stationed in the nearby city of Jalandhar, decided to take action.

Troops under his command blocked the sole entrance to the park, called Jallianwallah Bagh. Without warning they opened fire. The British officially estimated that 379 people died. The unofficial count was more. Close to 1,200 were injured.

Dyer’s men stopped firing only after they had run out of ammunition. The soldiers did not offer any medical assistance to the wounded, and others could not come to their aid because of the imposition of a curfew on the city.

An apology long overdue

A wall of the Jallianwala Bagh, the site of the 1919 massacre, with bullet marks on it. AP Photo/Prabhjot Gill

Then viceroy of India, Lord Chelmsford, convened an inquiry commission which led to Dyer being relieved of his command. However, upon returning to the United Kingdom, he found support for his actions among a segment of the British population.

In India, there was widespread shock and horror over this wanton use of force. The Nobel Laureate in literature, Rabindranath Tagore, protested by renouncing his knighthood, which he had received from the British Crown in 1915. Writing to the viceroy, Tagore decried “the disproportionate severity of the punishment inflicted upon the unfortunate people.”

As a political scientist who has written on the impact of British colonialism on India, I believe that the legacy of this episode, along with a host of other ugly events, continues to trouble Indo-British relations.

Britain, for the most part, has failed to come to terms with its tragic colonial heritage in South Asia and elsewhere. In the wake of the the archbishop’s apology, I believe, it is time for the British government to follow suit.

An unequivocal apology to the memory of the victims is long overdue.

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A Quick Glance At Hindu Holy Book BHAGAVAD GITA

Bhagavad Gita is a question-answer dialogue between Lord Krishna and Prince Arjun. It is a compilation of Lord Krishna’s philosophical and practical teachings in response to Arjun’s questioning the intricacies, the confusions and the challenges in an individual’s life.

The entire episode is set in a war zone symbolizing that human life is a combat ground as well. Gita is a sacred, practical and eternal guide as to how to tackle evils and to seek a path of spirituality. It covers ethical and moral challenges in the battlefield of life.

Bhagavad means Bhagavan, the Supreme Being, or meaning ‘bhag’, the blessed one. Gita stands for ‘geet’ meaning song. The ‘t’ in Gita is pronounced with tongue straight rather than rolled back.

Divided into 18 chapters with 700 verses Gita encourages us to enter the field of righteousness or truth as a warrior without any second thoughts. Gita calls it ‘Dharam’ or holy duty.

The allegory is when Arjun is in confusion as well as in moral dilemma to be either a contributor to the upcoming bloodshed or get out of it. He questions the worth and the outcome of the fight for dharma.

This is where Lord Krishna, the guide to Arjun in the battlefield, makes his presentation. He introduces the doctrine of karma-yogi, meaning be a warrior in life, and perform the holy duty of fighting against evil.

The field of action is what life is all about. Be a karma yogi is considered to be the most known message of Bhagavad Gita. It involves faithfully and sincerely performing our duties and obligations without attachment to results.

In the following verse Lord Krishna says:

“To action alone hast thou a right and never at all to its fruits; let not the fruits of action be thy motive; neither let there be in thee any attachment to inaction fixed in yoga, do thy work, O Winner of wealth (Arjuna), abandoning attachment, with an even mind in success and failure, for evenness of mind is called yoga”.

Gita offers the ride to a karma yogi on the route of righteousness while facing evils. In other words, life is a struggle in the material world and a journey toward the spiritual destination.

In the spiritual itinerary Gita while advocating the necessity of action with detached expectation of its outcome, emphasizes on intellectual pursuits thru knowledge, discern between right and wrong, mastery of the mind, giving up lust, anger and greed, identifying the divine and demonic traits in human nature and follow a path of devotion to reach His abode. And that is what makes a person a complete karma yogi.

The long discourse by Lord Krishna in response to Arjun’s questioning and curiosity not only covers the simplistic lessons of being an active karma yogi to handle day to day business of life but the dialogue goes beyond to more deeper philosophies. It covers the material and spiritual subjects; creation, preservation, and destruction of the universe; the flight into the celestial worlds of His multi-facet universal form; life after death, and lot more.

(Excerpts from Hinduism Beyond Rituals, Customs, And Traditions)
https://progressivehindudialogue.com/cate…/book-on-hinduism/

EXCITING ELECTION STEAMING UP IN CANADA

As the starting gun waqueens-park-u100ks fired2015-Swearing-In-Large this week for October 21 election campaign, the ruling Liberal Party and the opposition Conservative Party are running almost neck-to-neck with 34 and 35 percent support respectively, according to the latest poll.

Besides, this close-race pairing, another crucial dual emerging fast, is the 11 percent support for each of the New Democratic Party and the Green Party.

And then there is a new political sneaker this time representing the Far-Right burrows of Canada. The guy is the disgruntled former Conservative, Maxime Bernier, who launched the People’s Party last year. Currently, it is getting three percent approval, according to the poll.

The real race, which is traditional in Canadian power politics, has always been between the Liberal and the Conservative parties. And this time is no different. However, the difference in this election fray is the emergence of the Green Party.

The Green is creating a strong wind to shift the direction of Canadian politics. The party will share the stage with the New Democratic Party in the roles of being the kingmaker. After all, both the NDP and the Green ideologically sit together in the same political carousal. They ride on the environmental issues facing Canada and the world. The difference between the two is only of degree.

How the post-election game will play depends upon how much the supporting parties, i.e. the NDP and the Green, can extract from either of the Liberal or the Conservative to meet their poll promises and ideological commitments.

The post-election arena would be as much exciting as during the entire campaign period. In that excitement, all eyes will be on NDP leader Jagmeet Singh and the Green Party leader Elizabeth May as which side of the seesaw they will sit.

Promod Puri

Why Sikhs wear a turban and what it means to practice the faith


People participate in a candlelight vigil near the White House to protest violence against Sikhs in 2012. AP Photo/Susan Walsh

by Simran Jeet Singh, New York University

An elderly Sikh gentleman in Northern California, 64-year-old Parmjit Singh, was recently stabbed to death while taking a walk in the evening. Authorities are still investigating the killer’s motive, but community members have asked the FBI to investigate the killing.

For many among the estimated 500,000 Sikhs in the U.S., it wouldn’t be the first time. According to the Sikh Coalition, the largest Sikh civil rights organization in North America, this is the seventh such attack on an elderly Sikh with a turban in the past eight years.

As a scholar of the tradition and a practicing Sikh myself, I have studied the harsh realities of what it means to be a Sikh in America today. I have also experienced racial slurs from a young age.

I have found there is little understanding of who exactly the Sikhs are and what they believe. So here’s a primer.

Founder of Sikhism

The founder of the Sikh tradition, Guru Nanak, was born in 1469 in the Punjab region of South Asia, which is currently split between Pakistan and the northwestern area of India. A majority of the global Sikh population still resides in Punjab on the Indian side of the border.

From a young age, Guru Nanak was disillusioned by the social inequities and religious hypocrisies he observed around him. He believed that a single divine force created the entire world and resided within it. In his belief, God was not separate from the world and watching from a distance, but fully present in every aspect of creation.

He therefore asserted that all people are equally divine and deserve to be treated as such.

To promote this vision of divine oneness and social equality, Guru Nanak created institutions and religious practices. He established community centers and places of worship, wrote his own scriptural compositions and institutionalized a system of leadership (gurus) that would carry forward his vision.

The Sikh view thus rejects all social distinctions that produce inequities, including gender, race, religion and caste, the predominant structure for social hierarchy in South Asia.

A community kitchen run by the Sikhs to provide free meals irrespective of caste, faith or religion, in the Golden Temple, in Punjab, India. shankar s., CC BY

Serving the world is a natural expression of the Sikh prayer and worship. Sikhs call this prayerful service “seva,” and it is a core part of their practice.

The Sikh identity

In the Sikh tradition, a truly religious person is one who cultivates the spiritual self while also serving the communities around them – or a saint-soldier. The saint-soldier ideal applies to women and men alike.

In this spirit, Sikh women and men maintain five articles of faith, popularly known as the five Ks. These are: kes (long, uncut hair), kara (steel bracelet), kanga (wooden comb), kirpan (small sword) and kachera (soldier-shorts).

Although little historical evidence exists to explain why these particular articles were chosen, the five Ks continue provide the community with a collective identity, binding together individuals on the basis of a shared belief and practice. As I understand, Sikhs cherish these articles of faith as gifts from their gurus.

Turbans are an important part of the Sikh identity. Both women and men may wear turbans. Like the articles of faith, Sikhs regard their turbans as gifts given by their beloved gurus, and their meaning is deeply personal. In South Asian culture, wearing a turban typically indicated one’s social status – kings and rulers once wore turbans. The Sikh gurus adopted the turban, in part, to remind Sikhs that all humans are sovereign, royal and ultimately equal.

Sikhs in America

Today, there are approximately 30 million Sikhs worldwide, making Sikhism the world’s fifth-largest major religion.

‘A Sikh-American Journey’ parade in Pasadena, Calif. AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker

After British colonizers in India seized power of Punjab in 1849, where a majority of the Sikh community was based, Sikhs began migrating to various regions controlled by the British Empire, including Southeast Asia, East Africa and the United Kingdom itself. Based on what was available to them, Sikhs played various roles in these communities, including military service, agricultural work and railway construction.

The first Sikh community entered the United States via the West Coast during the 1890s. They began experiencing discrimination immediately upon their arrival. For instance, the first race riot targeting Sikhs took place in Bellingham, Washington, in 1907. Angry mobs of white men rounded up Sikh laborers, beat them up and forced them to leave town.

The discrimination continued over the years. For instance, when my father moved from Punjab to the United States in the 1970s, racial slurs like “Ayatollah” and “raghead” were hurled at him. It was a time when 52 American diplomats and citizens were taken captive in Iran and tension between the two countries was high. These slurs reflected the racist backlash against those who fitted the stereotypes of Iranians. Our family faced a similar racist backlash when the U.S. engaged in the Gulf War during the early 1990s.

Increase in hate crimes

The racist attacks spiked again after 9/11, particularly because many Americans did not know about the Sikh religion and may have conflated the unique Sikh appearance with popular stereotypes of what terrorists look like. News reports show that in comparison to the past decade, the rates of violence against Sikhs have surged.

Elsewhere too, Sikhs have been victims of hate crimes. An Ontario member of Parliament, Gurrattan Singh, was recently heckled with Islamophobic comments by a man who perceived Singh as a Muslim.

As a practicing Sikh, I can affirm that the Sikh commitment to the tenets of their faith, including love, service and justice, keeps them resilient in the face of hate. For these reason, for many Sikh Americans, like myself it is rewarding to maintain the unique Sikh identity.

This is an updated version of an article first published on Aug. 9, 2018.

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India must stop deforesting its mountains to fight floods

Mountains above Munnar, a hill town in Kerala, India. Santhosh Varghese / shutterstock

Gayathri D Naik, SOAS, University of London

Floods are now an annual nightmare in many parts of southern and western India. Valleys in the states of Maharashtra, Karnataka and Kerala that weren’t considered flood-prone until recently are at risk.

During floods and landslides in August 2019, two villages were completely destroyed killing several people, while a year earlier Kerala saw its worst floods in a century.

These floods appear to be getting more severe. Climate change is causing stronger and more erratic rainfall with recurrent floods in low-lying areas while population growth is putting more people in risky areas. And another problem comes from deforestation in the mountain range where much of the water first fell: the Western Ghats.

More than 500 people died in severe flooding in Kerala in 2018. AJP / shutterstock

The Western Ghats run for 1,600km in parallel with India’s west coast, from Gujarat right down to Tamil Nadu at the tip of the subcontinent. It is – or was – a picturesque landscape of serene valleys, steep gorges and virgin forests. Yet recurring floods and landslides in the mountains, hills and areas downstream (between the Ghats and the sea) show that India must rethink its environmental law to balance the needs of nature and humans.

The Western Ghats follow India’s western coast. Nichalp / wiki, CC BY-SA

The mountains are teeming with life. Though they cover only a small part of India’s total land area, the Ghats are home to more than 30% of the country’s species of plants, fish, reptiles, birds and mammals, including both wild elephants and tigers. Its combination of unique species and habitat loss means Unesco has recognised it as one of eight global “hottest hotspots” of biodiversity.

Climate change is already having an obvious impact, with unprecedented rains in monsoon seasons and severe drought and dry rivers in summer. And as the human population has grown, people have chopped down the forests and replaced them with spice, tea, coffee and rubber plantations. Thousands of illegal stone quarries now also operate in the Ghats, where mountainsides are demolished to generate stones and sand for the construction industry. Deforestation and the use of highly destructive explosives mean these areas are prone to increased seismic tremors and landslides.

Large dams on major rivers offer renewable energy yet also raise another set of environmental problems. In Kerala, many are located in eco-sensitive parts of the Western Ghats, with some dating back to British rule. As demand for energy increases, India plans to build more dams which in turn could lead to massive deforestation and ecosystem destruction. All this makes flooding more severe, as deforestation in the catchment area of a river reduces the land’s ability to retain water.

Tea plantation on deforested land near Munnar, Kerala, in the Western Ghats. Mazur Travel / shutterstock

Whether triggered by damming, deforestation, or exacerbated by climate change, human-induced natural disasters in the region have pointed to a need for stronger environmental protection laws.

How to protect the Western Ghats

India’s 1950 constitution claims that protection of environment is a fundamental duty of every citizen, and though it does not explicitly contain a right to a clean environment, legal authority for environmental lawmaking is derived from the document.

Over the years, the country’s central government has enacted various laws that are applicable to the Western Ghats: the Environment Protection Act 1986, the Forest Conservation Act 1980, the Biodiversity Conservation Act 2002 and so on. However, these laws are not implemented efficiently, which makes me wonder if areas like the Himalayas and the Western Ghats – internationally significant ecosystems and biosphere reserves – need their own special laws.

The endangered Boulenger’s tree frog is found in the Western Ghats – and nowhere else. lensalot / shutterstock

Additionally, India’s water laws are inadequate. Existing legislation primarily focuses on pollution control, meaning the law has little to say about preventing or even managing floods which result from mismanagement of dams or too much riverside development.

The problem is enhanced in case of rivers that flow across state boundaries. Some of the major floods in the past couple years happened after dams at or near full capacity in one district or state were opened, letting water flow downstream into another area. Recently, a draft dam safety bill has been proposed to address these problems.

Similarly, discussions over climate change and environmental lawmaking should involve more grassroot level participation. For most people, poverty and earnings still matter more than climate mitigation or adaptation. Hence people’s perception should be moulded to recognise and realise how deforestation or climate change impacts their daily life.

The Western Ghats are south India’s lifeline, with millions dependent on the range either directly or indirectly. These mountains need protection. However, while new development in the region continues to be human-centric, the entire concept of nature preservation is relegated. To protect the Western Ghats, what we require is an attitude that recognises the significance of these mountains, and that will involve specific laws.

Seeking Cause Or Causes Of 9/11s Worldwide

9/11 is the anniversary date of a major terrorist attack on the American soil September 11,2001.

9/11s have happened before and after. These are still occurring all over the globe. It befell on Vietnam, Iraq, and continues in Afghanistan and Syria.

9/11s erupts every now and then in Asia, Africa, and Europe. Call it the culture of gun violence, 9/11s happen several times a year on the American soil too.

They say terrorists carry 9/11s. True.

Regimes are also major players in developing, creating and executing 9/11s. It is a symptom and cause theory as Obama says in a different context.

The symptoms are the frequent 9/11s of different magnitudes. And the cause is the situations created by both the rogue and the so-called civilized governing powers.

9/11 is more than an anniversary date. It is happening all over the world every day.

It is time to identify the cause of 9/11. We very well know its symptoms.

-by Promod Puri

Swing Like A Pendulum

People with free mindset attitude swing like a pendulum. Passing through the Centre, they move to the religious, social or political ideologies of the Left or Right, atheist or theist, but not committed to any of them.

The world will be a better place if more people join the pendulum instead of being ideologically fanatics that can restrict the perception of ever-chabging issues confronting us individually or by the society we live in.

-Promod Puri

 

Featuring Moon In The Hindi Filmi Songs

While space scientists can continue their exploration of the moon and establish more communication links with the cool-light planet, I along with most of us of the Indian heritage were told in very early childhood that the guy up there in the sky is a close relative from the mother side. He was referred to as Chanda-mama, to be precise Chanda uncle.

In fact, as we were growing up, we were introduced to a very popular children magazine, I believe it is still around, called Chandamama. It was an easy read comic magazine dealing with ancient Indian folklore.

Moon has a very special spot in the Indian social and cultural scene as well as in the Hindu mythology. For the Indian film industry, moon is more than a shiny twilight dish.

For the poets, it is an object of love, witness to the loving relationship, beauty, imagination, a messenger between two lovers, etc., etc. The film Chaudivan Ka Chand immediately comes to my mind. Its theme song ‘Chaudivan Ka Chand ho ya aftab ho’ is still popular even after more than 50 years of film’s release.

And then there are many Hindi film songs where uncle Chand is prominently featured. “Dum bar jo audhar moon phere oh chanda, main tum se pyar kar loongi, Chalo dildar chalo chand ke paar chalo, Na yeh Chand hoga na taare rahenge magar hum hamesha tumhare rahenge, Chand phir nikla magar tum naa aaye, Khoya khoya Chand khula aasman, Chanda re mori patiyan le ja, patiyan le ja, sajan ko pahocha de re, Chand aahein bharega, phool dil tham lenge, Chanda re chanda re kabhi to zameen par aa baithenge baatein karenge.”

These are some of the oldies which come to my mind, but there are many more where the moon is the main character in the imaginative lines of Hindi film lyricists.

Well, one day when man can comfortably visit the moon, we can replay these songs up there to the delight of our Chanda-mama.

-Promod Puri

FEELING BORED?

Boredom is a very commonly expressed feeling even in this age when we have 24-hour entertainment at our convenience. There is a stream of entertainment and information from our smartphones and social media in the company of self. But still, there are occasional experiences of boredom.

Why do we feel bored?

Generally, they say boredom occurs to those who have not developed any interest in any activity or hobby. Especially this is true when in the golden years of our lives. There are plenty of dull moments which defy time and move with their own speed.

An enjoyable activity helps to ward off boredom.

There are two faces of enjoyment. One is entertainment which is infused by the actions coming from the outside, like watching a movie or a game. The other is recreation when we feel the fun of being involved with the action, like playing a game of chess, cards, or any other activity of interest.

Late British philosopher and poet GK Chesterton wrote: “There is no such thing on earth as an uninteresting subject; the only thing that can exist is an uninterested person.”

Promod Puri

THAT SILENCE IS NEWS TOO:

The unrest and protests in the Kashmir Valley over the abrogation of Article 370 have made it insignificant the overwhelming silence and calm in Ladakh, Kargil, Jammu, Kishtwar, Doda, Rajouri, Poonch, Udhampur and other regions of the vast state of Jammu and Kashmir.

The tranquil scene in these regions has a message in it. However, that message is insignificant. What is significant and newsworthy is the hostile and volatile atmosphere in the Kashmir region. But that is not new. The mindset bias is always inspired by what happens in the Valley.

Does not this silence matter in understanding the Kashmir Problem? It seems not.

Intellectuals, academics, journalists, Leftists, and others “progressive” communities in India and all over the world avoid considering this fact. Perhaps, that would unload them from the bandwagon.

A fair perception of the entire state of Jammu and Kashmir problem is the need before delving on the Kashmir problem and its related developments.

-Promod Puri

FREEDOM TO MOVE IN OUR OWN “GLOBAL VILLIAGE “

Centuries ago, people used to migrate from one place to another for reasons which were natural calamities, local violence, or community upheavals. Or just seeking better pastures. But there were no borders. It was freedom of unrestricted movement.

Now, in the present age peoples also want to migrate for the same reasons as well as to escape violent political upheavals, crime, and violence based on ethnicity, conflicts, and prosecutions. But, we have borders. There are security guards, policing and military both at leaving and entry routes. People seeking refuge in other lands face multiple hardships, rules, and regulations. 

It is an escalating global phenomenon. According to the United Nations Refugee Agency, there are over 70.8 million people around the world who have been forced from their homes. Among them are nearly 25.9 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.

“There are also millions of stateless people who have been denied nationality and access to basic rights.”

Freedom of movement in our own “global village” is bygone while we advance towards the moon and other frontiers in outer space.

Here is a related short story I wrote sometime back:

Moving forward a few decades from now, two friends took their first journey to the moon.

Upon landing on their dream destination, they had their first encounter with a local.

“Welcome to the Moon, where are you guys from.”

“I’m from America, and this friend of mine is from Mexico.”

“Oh! Never heard about these places before.”

Then the Mexican guy interrupted: “actually sir, we are from the earth.”

“That makes sense, enjoy the trip.”

 

-Promod Puri

NDP LEADER JAGMEET SINGH’S IMAGE BEYOND POLITICS

By Promod Puriqueens-park-u100k

The man is more than his round turban and drawn beard. He is also the most well-dressed politician among his peers in the Canadian parliament.

Federal New Democratic Party leader Jagmeet Singh is an identity reflecting the spirit and reality of the contemporary Canadian society. In the multi-religious, multi-language, and multi-cultural environment of the nation, he stands out in his physical appearance with conviction.

The dynamics of his visible presentation is not only to represent himself with his Sikh heritage. But he wants to see the same pride among the peoples of Canada in their own cultural medley.

“I’m not like the others,” he tells Quebecers during his recent trip to the province. “Like you, I’m proud of my identity.”

The statement, “like you…”, while recognizing the French-Canadian linguistic and cultural identity, seeks the same importance for the rest of the Canadian identities. His words are portrayed in his being the way he grooms himself with his colorful turban and a long beard.

In his three-piece suit and matching tie, Jagmeet Singh does not look like a politician of the Left or socialist mold. In that dressed up outlook, he is a typical Canadian out to do his political business.

Jagmeet Singh is indeed a man with guts. His appearance and dressing are guided by his self-confidence. He does not want to efface his faith-based symbolism for easy acceptance and political gains.

He entered the federal political arena to lead the socialist agenda of the NDP. Besides that, Jagmeet Singh has an added message, symbolized by his turban, that Canada is a land of multiple identities. And each of these identities seeks acceptance and space in its multicultural landscape.

Inhumanity Sweeping The World

“Inhumanity, it seems, is contagious. In Italy, babies and children have been repeatedly kept at sea for days by a government that fears—hates, even—migrants, no matter their age. In Turkey, authorities are cracking down on the Syrian refugees that Europe didn’t want. Globally, more people have been forcibly displaced from their homes in the past five years than at any previous time in history, and more than half of the world’s 26 million refugees are children. Many are met with systematic dehumanization coupled with apathy in the places where they hoped they would be safe.

This suffering cannot be blamed on politics alone. There’s a silent majority that is allowing it to continue—not protesting, not calling our representatives, not taking to the streets. Hundreds of millions of us who keep going about our days as if children weren’t being treated as less than humans in our own countries. There’s a word for this: complicity.” —Annalisa Merelli and Annaliese Griffin in the Quartz.

We have heard about cruelty against animals, but globally, there is cruelty against fellow human beings as well. It could be government policies in many regimes or the social norms in intolerant and prejudiced societies.

Mob justice by beatings or lynching is now more frequent in recent years embolden by Hindutva infestation ravaging the secular image of India. And despite the laws and provisions in the Indian constitution, the low-caste communities continue to endure sufferings and traditionally accepted segregation. There is inhumanity in the escalating and uncontrolled incidents of rape and violence against women in the country. And when people are disfranchised as is happening in the Assam state of India, that is inhumanity based on bigoted and fanatic apprehensions of minorities by the majority and its government.

Here in Canada, there is inhumanity when the polls suggest a majority of Canadians are against poor and desperate refugees getting entry into the country. There is inhumanity too when Canadians reject the idea of apology for all the serious wrongs previous governments did against aboriginal peoples, Chinese, Japanese, Indian citizens, and migrants.

In the south of the border, inhumanity is a visible scene at the asylum-seekers detention camps. According to the Quartz, there are chilling details of dehumanization of those seeking asylum in the United States. The worst sufferers are the children “crammed in sleeping areas too small for everyone to lie down, without blankets, in cold rooms…” This is “in line with the directives of a government intent on turning cruelty into policy.”

Inhumanity is a serious global situation in which both governments and majority populations are involved against fellow human beings.

-Promod Puri

WHO KNOWS

Human beings are “the most
beautiful, intelligent and favorite
creation of God.”

Perhaps cats, dogs, donkeys, etc.,
and that bird in the sky
think the same.

Who knows!

And for that matter plants
and flowers have
the same pride.

Who knows!

Perhaps, He knows,
maybe not.

-Promod Puri

Two Overly Used Popular Sayings:

1. “Be Positive.”

What is wrong being negative? Rather Keep the balance, and be rational.

2. “Forget the past…..”

     How that is possible? With experiences of the past, and dreams of the future, live the present.