Thursday, September 8, 2016

BRAHMIN

They were learned
high born & pure.
The path they tread is holy
so was the decree.
Howbeit their abode
barren & devoid.

As a sacred soul mourned
the depraved mocked.
He embraced
they disgraced.
He loved, cared, cherished
they jabbed, jeered & spurned.

He labored, fostered, nourished
but its grains they shunned.
He nursed the enfeebled
where your blossoms pricked.
It was more his
than what you claim yours.

A finger was raised at thee
but three to thyself.
Behold its fair heart
against your murky white rind.
For it is he, the benignant sage
to be revered by all.

(c) Anita Desai September 2016





Thursday, April 14, 2016

पानी

(C) Anita Desai Word Weaver.com


तू है गिरी मंडल  गामिनी , तू निर्मल जल धारा 
तू है क्षीर शुभ्रा , तू हर वल्लभा 
कोई करे प्रणाम तुझे , कोई महा  आरती 
कोई भर ले कलश , कोई ले भर अंजुली !

तू नीर श्रेष्ठ, तू ही सबका जीवन दान 
तू मानव का अंतिम पेय , तू ही अंतिम धाम 
धरती की कोख तेरा वास, जल स्त्रोत तेरा तीर्थ स्थान 
धरा की गोद से  हो जो उद्गम, हो पावन भूमि और चट्टान !

तू है बिंदु-सरस , तू करुणामयी 
तू है भाग्यवती, तू मिटा दे हर त्राहि 
धीरे से लुप्त होती सरिता , नर के अभिमान का परिणाम 
डर के मनुष्य अब जिए, कर बहु-क्षीरा का अपमान !

तू है अमृत, और जीवन का आधार 
तू है फिर भी मैली , के तेरे प्रवाह में बहते मानव के पाप 
क्या है यह तेरा कोप, कहीं है सूखा और कहीं बाढ़ 
क्या अब है अधिकार मुझे , करूँ क्षमा की याचना !

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Friday, February 19, 2016

Celebrating "International Mother Language Day" - 21st February 2016

अंतर्राष्ट्रीय मातृभाषा दिवस , २१ फेब्रुअरी २०१६ 

मातृभाषा (c)

सभ्यता का सम्पूर्ण स्त्रोत 
ममता और स्नेह का चंदन 
एवं लोरियों का मधुर वंदन 
मातृभाषा से मानव का परिचय प्रथम 

बालपन की पावन अठखेलियां
युवा हँसी के लचकते फव्वारे
और फूलों से झड़ते मीठे बोल
मातृभाषा में लिपटीं यादों की सुनहरी नदियां 

परिजनों  के मिलन का सेतु
भाई बहनों के प्रेम की रोली
और मित्र संबंधों का लंगर
मातृभाषा है जैसे आरती मंगल

तेरी भाषा मेरी भाषा 
सीखते सिखाते बीते दिन और वर्ष
पृथ्वी पर हम रहें जिस किसी भी ओर 
मातृभाषा की जड़ें बांधे रहें इक डोर

संस्कृती की पहली पहचान
त्यौहारों के गीतों की शान
संगीत और कला का मान
मातृभाषा है तुझे प्रणाम
===

श्रीमती अनीता देसाई, हैदराबाद, भारत  
१९.०२.२०१६ 










Friday, June 19, 2015

Barsaaton ka Bawaal.

Monsoon mayhem in Mumbai. 

लो फिर मचाया बवाल बरसातों  ने
देखो वो बह गया मुन्ना नाले में 
और वहां ढह गया एक झोंपड़ा 
मगर वे  देखते होंगे 
उन गगन चुम्बी मीनारों से 
बारिशों के सुनहरे नज़ारे  
(c) Anita Desai June 2015

Monday, June 15, 2015

India - A compassionate neighbor. An indifferent parent.


Indian government's rescue operations in strife torn Yemen and Nepal earthquake have been lauded globally.

Prime Minister Modi's historic world tours and aid/credit worth billions of dollars to all neighboring countries visited leave me wide eyed and somewhat in pain.

For centuries India has been active in humanitarian operations beyond its curvaceous borders. Despite the violent & hostile advances of all our neighboring countries from Pakistan to Sri Lanka, India has been the first to offer a supporting arm in their tragedies.

Due to its inherent generous nature, India has rightfully earned the title of a 'compassionate neighbor'. However, the same cannot be said for its role as a guardian to its own citizens. Unfortunately, here our governments can best be described as an 'indifferent parent' blind to the needs of its offspring.

Nearly 70 years after India's independence, the common man's struggle to receive even the most basic amenities continues. I am no expert on any governance or development issues but have the common sense to understand the requirements of a nation's public that should have been in place by now.

When mankind first set up a civilized society organized to run an efficient system of  governance, the purpose was that all will receive equal food security, education, jobs, healthcare, protection, justice and more. During the intervening centuries the core ethos of this system have been diluted beyond measure, particularly in the Indian sub-continent. Governance has become the means to acquire wealth & power. Political leaders, Bureaucrats and rich businessmen work hand-in-glove for personal gains, delays in development & growth notwithstanding.

It is time for the authorities to wake up and do the job for which they are appointed. Just off the top of my head, a few critical areas that need immediate attention are:

India needs immediate, effective and long term solutions for serious problems like droughts and floods that wreak havoc across the country each year. Water tables below the earth are drying up faster than we can imagine. It is reported that India will be water scarce by 2050. So what are we doing about it? Trucks delivering water drawn from lakes is not a permanent solution.

Young soldiers are dying, not just at the borders but also within our territory, killed by our own people, i.e. the maoists or bodo's or ulfa's and naxalites. And, what do they die for. Nothing. Whether it is Dantewada, Manipur or even Kashmir, why is it so difficult for the governments to find a definitive conclusion to the root cause of the fire. A safe and peaceful nation is our fundamental right. History is proof that if there is political will, viable solutions are not difficult to achieve.

Quality & affordable healthcare is another essential right of any citizen, but how many can afford it. Why are there no checks on pharmaceutical companies and hospitals overcharging patients. A stent that costs not more than $10 to manufacture is sold to a patient for Rs.25000 or more. Why?

Medicines for American pharmaceutical companies are manufactured in India. Where are the residual chemicals disposed off? On Indian soil of course, drained into the earth that in turn contaminates the water tables and soil. Why are we allowing this gross neglect that endangers the lives of future generations.

Lack of infrastructure, climate change, environmental degradation, corruption, law & order, malnutrition, and so many more critical issues that have to be addressed within India's borders before we step out to help those ungrateful neighbors who would not think twice before bombing us.

While the Congress governance has failed us miserably for decades and dragged the nation to the doorsteps of its graveyard, Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party proved to be just a flash in the pan. With the advent of a rejuvenated BJP government, the public thought its woes would be eradicated with the swish of a magic wand.  Unfortunately it wasn't to be so.

Our doctors, engineers, financial experts, scientists, social workers, even our soldiers have been much in demand across the world, however, the country of their origin is deprived of their skills and expert guidance for its own welfare. The government too looks the other way and does not realise that the waters of our sacred rivers are nourishing the foreign lands.

Today, India's billionaires find enviable spot among the headcount of world's richest people, each having a net worth in figures beyond my ability to count. Mittal Ambani Tata Birla Godrej Dalmia Kalyanram Daggubati Reddy(s) Gandhi Nehru Scindia Pilot Pawar Khan(s) Bachchan Kapoor Dhoni Kohli and many thousands more have earned enough wealth to last several lifetimes and generations.

Small scale charities and donation cheques bring temporary relief but not long term sustainable solutions.

Now that their coffers are full and bodies well nourished time has come that they work in tandem with the governing bodies for good and effective governance. Each year with the onset of monsoon, Mumbai and many other cities come to a halt due to floods. Why do the city's elite watch this mayhem quietly from their towering palaces?

Those who can think of minting millions simply by sitting in his plush office should also devote quality time and manpower for providing sustainable solutions to the city that blessed them with world renowned riches. In fact, it should be mandatory for these billionaires to contribute physically and financially for the development of society.

Wake up Government of India! Look around you. The malnourished parched and hungry citizens of India are crying out for help too. The time to think is long gone. This is the time to engage all the available think tanks and financial resources for serious planning, implementation of welfare schemes and ensuring its sustainability.

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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Dawn !


On the threshold of ten
in the dawn of a new era
the satin kiss of sun rays
is a promise of life enriched

As childhood bids adieu
and peppy youth blooms
let the child reclaim your soul
for it is the god's abode

In those moments alone 
when none pamper or pinch your cheeks
do not lose hope as a time will come
when they'll shake your hand strong

When teardrops surge
ashamed you should not be
as tears water your soul
to cleanse all pain

As a sprightly lad matures
dreams and ambitions
shining eyes behold
those you fulfill but for yourself

Treasures of the world must wait
those of the heart you've to seek
so to meet your eyes
with respect for all and one cherished by all

Expectations galore it'll be
to tread their way
that's when brave you should be
to carve your own and walk alone

Life is tough with challenges many
and spring meadows aplenty
revel in its wonders
and bounce from setbacks any

On the cobbled path
as you prance walk or tremble
they'll hold your hand
and boost you ample

So welcome this dawn
in an embrace warm
with esteem held high
and pride alright

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Thursday, May 28, 2015

बचपन !

On Praneel's 10th Birthday, 31st May 2015.


खेलते कूदते चहकते वोह गया, बचपन
मगर, बचपने का ना छोड़ना साथ
के बचपनों में बसते  हैं, इंसान

(c) Anita desai 2015

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

GOSSIP - the devil's radio!

Pic.source www.bigcheesebadges.com
In the recent times, 'crimes against women' is the most debated topic on media and internet. Women the world over are now more aware of their rights and choices than ever before. They are empowered and boldly stepping out of the closet. Of all the atrocities she lives through, rape is one horrific incident that leaves indelible scars on a woman's soul, one that she rarely recovers from.

Today, let us flip the coin to discover an unexplored side in which women are the brutal offenders who leave their victim stripped off all privacy and dignity. That crime is - GOSSIP.

Gossip is against humanity, akin to rape or terrorism. This is an evil that brings out our animal instincts and destroys the soul of fellow beings. It nourishes neither the gossiper nor its subject. 

Both Men and Women are guilty of this crime. However, it is the feminine gender that unabashedly indulges in this hideous activity. If the Right-to-Information act could be used for this purpose, they would leap at the opportunity.

George Harrison of The Beatles fame rightly said, "Gossip is the Devil's Radio." And, women of all class and stature tune in to this channel drooling-at-the-mouth to seek an unexplained orgasmic pleasure.

At work or home, women brandish the devil's horns and pitchfork in a quest to keep tabs on one and all. Clothes, Make-up, Relationships, Academics, Grades, Career, Food, Cooking, Health, House, Car, Family, Failures, Success, There is no dearth of topics that women gossip about, and, enjoy every bit of it.

If a student at school does well, it is because he/she apple-polished the teacher. If someone is promoted at work (primarily a woman), its because she stepped up the oomph chart. If someone does well financially, he might have made money under-the-table. 

Why do women want to GOSSIP around other people's misery? What sadistic pleasure do they derive from someone's misfortune?

The questions baffle me. 

There are times when I want to gouge out those twinkling eyes that scream, "I know what happened at your house last night" and slap those obnoxious smiles off their faces that seem to taunt "I know your little secret".

I regret the harsh words used above but not apologetic. Since my childhood I have hated gossip in all its forms but there is no escaping this horrible social disease. 

When chatting in a group we tend to share some aspects of our lives and that's fine, only as long as people don't keep tabs thereafter and do not repeat in other groups. What goes on in their lives is their business, not mine. I have my own mountains to conquer and they are more than enough.

Of course, If any of them was in some kind of an emergency, I would be the first one to reach out. And I have, on several occasions. One of my neighbors' husband was travelling and she fell sick. Alone at home and no one to fetch her medicines, I voluntarily ran her errands. A child was hit by a two-wheeler playing in the block, I rushed him to the doctor for first-aid as his parents weren't home. I offered tea to the family of bereaved neighbors. And more.

Why can't women just accept things on face value and be kind; if they know some personal details about someone's life, why is it difficult to leave it alone and not blow the horn for all? Why do they just HAVE to be judgmental about everything and everyone?

I guess the answer would be, "it would take the fun out of life". Believe me, I have heard that answer more than once in my lifetime. Because of this belief, I have been the social outcast of several groups.

I am aware I cannot control what people talk about or their social actions. Also, I cannot keep turning people away because of their habits. But, sometimes it is frustrating when you know all they do is gossip.

I have been reminded several times over, that there are all kinds of people in this world and we have to learn to deal with them or to get above those petty issues or tactfully cope with such situations.  Blah Blah Blah!

Don't we always do that. Get above the issues I mean. But hey, I am human and have those moments when I want to shut all those depressing people out of my life. Since man is a social animal, I do not know how long I can be away. One thing I know, I am unable to adapt to this kind of a social set-up that can best be described as drudgery. 

Just in a mood to be catty, I did a little experiment last Sunday. I took a planned late evening walk with my husband when I knew the lawns would be alive with kids enjoying summer vacations with their families. It wasn't just a casual walk, we walked holding hands lovingly, like a couple out on a romantic date under a starry moon-lit sky, laughing and chatting. As I looked around, several pairs of adult-eyes were on us; jaws dropped and rendered speechless.

I am now just waiting for the word to come around a full circle from where it began. Me.



Thursday, April 9, 2015

Mango Manic Delight..

pic.courtesy: Wikipedia.org
Mango mania hits India as summer blazes its long scorching trail. The local road-side vendors and super-markets are stocked with the first harvest of raw green mangoes. Living in Hyderabad, I am fortunate that I get a glimpse of the magnificent mangoes on trees here and there in private residential courtyards. The Mangifera Indica trees are resplendent with luscious green gems dotting their lush foliage. It is like our very own Indian summer-christmas tree decorated with festive ornaments.
While the aromatic fleshy pinkish yellow sweet mango is the king of fruits in India, the crisp & sour raw green mango holds its own forte among kitchen recipes, with a name to reckon -Kairi in Hindi and Mammidkai in Telugu. A darling of expecting mothers, a favorite in Indian kitchens and the frothy cloud of childhood memories.
It is said that motherhood completes a woman. I believe it is women who can pickle a mango that are an all-rounder and bow to them. This is also one time of the year that I feel completely left out of conversations as my personal use of mangoes is limited to the ripe juicy fruit that will hit the markets later in the month or maybe a couple of random uses of the raw mango. It amazes me how women discuss the varieties & uses of this delectable fruit like a pro. Whether at home or work, raw mango as a topic occupies a place of pride like the annual budget presented by the central government.

The wednesday fruit & vegetable market was abuzz with women bargaining with the vendors for raw green mangoes. Their discussions in simple Telugu about the humble Mammidkai sounded mouth-wateringly spicy and tangy. Pachchadi, Panakam, Mammidkai Pappu, Avakkaya were some commonly heard names of Andhra delicacies that sent me scampering to pick out the most luscious looking pieces.
The keen eyed women noticed me, an outsider among the stalwarts. I wanted to clarify that I understood every word & expression. I didn't bother. The mangoes had all my attention. A couple of elderly aunties took it for granted that I needed help in picking the right pieces. They did not hesitate to remove the one's chosen by me from my basket and replace them with better choices. You can’t mess with raw mangoes, I guess. I didn't complain since I got the right price for them too. With their help, of course. I overheard a deviation in discussion from mangoes to me for a few minutes. I imagine that for them it was a “her mother didn’t teach her anything” moment.
Walking home proud with my purchase, I mentally scouted for websites that might have easy raw mango recipes. Some neighbors noticed the mangoes in my basket; more talk of pickles, chutney and what not. I never knew I had good acting skills for they never guessed my limited knowledge on the subject.
My husband and daughter were mighty amused to see the raw green mangoes in my basket. They made no efforts to hide their curious expressions that clearly defined "what are you gonna do with it, you don't know how to make Avakkaya - the fiery red andhra mango pickle nor have you ever made a Mammidkai Pachchadi - raw mango chutney?"   I gave them my hurt expression, trying hard to look confident and declared my intentions of churning out a gourmet dish from the precious green mounds; now they laughed out aloud and I stuck my tongue out.
pic.courtesy www.lifepositive.com
Thinking of some good recipe I washed them well under running water and wiped them dry with a kitchen napkin. Looking at it for a few seconds, I just picked up a knife and chopped one shiny mango into thin slices, sprinkled some black salt and red chilly powder. As I put one slice into my mouth, the sour salt n spicy tangs burst through my taste buds. The family couldn't help but greedily join a sheepish-looking-me in the Mango Manic Delight. Much laughter and banter ensued around the Kairi.
My daughter's favorite is the Andhra Mango Pickle and the Aam Panna or Panakam, an Indian drink known for its sweet sour & salty cooling properties in summer. I settle for Aam Panna (Yes, because I am a pro at it). 
The summer is long so I have enough time to dish out other tempting delicacies. For now, it is indulgence in the simple & pure magic of cut mango pieces with salt and chilies.
xxxx



Thursday, April 2, 2015

Twenty first century politics is not a game of heirarchy, nor is it a conquest!

The recently concluded elections in New Delhi reminded me of an anecdote that took place on a domestic flight a few years back. Returning from a vacation, my hopping flight was on a forty minutes stop-over. A casual chat with the pilot revealed that he was an investment banker who switched professions to do what he loved since childhood. To fly. Interesting. One chose to be a commercial airline Pilot rather than stay a white-collared sophisticated banker with a multiple figure salary and a safer, plush life. Not many of us can say or do that.
Parents decide the academics and career options of their offspring. Sometimes, people simply follow their parents’ career path in medicine engineering or other supposedly lesser professions.  More often than not, it is the lure of money and power that forces one to follow a certain profession rather than what the heart wants. Perhaps a case of mind ruling over the heart. 
This professional conundrum is not restricted to the middle/working class people, even the educated experienced elite in-the-limelight have fallen prey to various pressures to follow a career not of their choice.
Politics is one such field that has suddenly become the chosen profession for one & all. It has a magnetic attraction of glossy & glamorous image of power, fame, money, Z class security, red-beacon cars and what not. Bureaucrats, Government executives, MNC professionals, Bankers, Armed Forces personnel. Suddenly, all are viewing Politics as a viable career option either mid-way through their present careers or after retirement.
To be a politician one does not require any expensive or status oriented academic degree. Any person who is a natural orator combined with skills to command and lead effectively can be a politician. However, it is crucial to identify one’s niche. Each human being has a certain skill set. Some are natural multi-taskers but not all can boast of being one. Alas, greed is like the tempting devil, and hunger for power and more power only sucks us into a whirlpool, drowning us deeper and further.
pic.courtesy rediff.com
Kiran Bedi is India’s first woman IPS officer with many feathers of administrative acumen adorning her large cap. While I am personally saddened by her loss in the elections, I am surprised she could not anticipate that her niche lay in efficient administration and not as a crafty political leader. Not one to wield a cunning clout to gather profits for selfish purposes, throughout her glorious highly-decorated career as a police-woman, she went about her work with honesty and dexterity.
Two months into power and the AAM Admi Party is embroiled in a bitter internal struggle. It only reflects that Arvind Kejriwal was a successful bureaucrat with the Indian Revenue Services and that his leadership skills are doubtful. Free water & Wi-fi or cheap electricity; is that all the Chief Minister of India’s capital city will guarantee its citizens? 
pic.courtesy wikipedia.com
Mahatma Gandhi led India’s freedom movement but it was Nehru who dominated nearly two decades of post-independent India. Gandhi was a revolutionary and led mass movements, but I doubt if he had the makings of an astute politician, whereas Nehru’s good looks and charm won over the gullible Indians with his eloquent speeches.
Rajiv Gandhi was a successful pilot with the Indian Airlines. A modern Italian wife and two good looking children completed his happy family picture. The untimely death of his brother and mother forced his entry into politics, on a sympathy wave and to retain his hold on the Congress, and power. However, his faulty political decisions cut short the Congress’s rule and eventually led to his brutal assassination.
Sanjay Gandhi was known as a spoilt brat who also lacking in political diplomacy and met a tragic end. His soft spoken much younger wife, Menaka, was left to carry on his legacy but failed miserably. Not because she wasn’t qualified but because her acuity was as an environmentalist and an animal rights activist. She too lacked the presence, thought, speech and body language required of a political leader. My thoughts on her were confirmed as I watched her take oath as a cabinet minister in the Modi government in 2014, hesitating and shy on the podium.

Sonia Gandhi has been trying valiantly for over ten years, to project and plant her son Rahul Gandhi as the prospective Indian king. All in vain. It amazes me that the veteran congressmen have shamelessly bowed down to her demands and project him as their capable leader. Even her daughter Priyanka is unable to hold her ground. Unfortunately, the Prince and Princess have not inherited the legendary political vision. My guess is, sooner or later, Sonia will herself jump into the fray to revive the party to its former glory, her foreign origins notwithstanding.
Manmohan Singh’s policies and strategies as finance minister led India to successful economic heights. But, his tenure as Prime Minister of India for two consecutive terms was mired in bitter corruption scams as his team of ministers ran amok. It can said that he is a skilled policy maker but seriously lacks leadership skills and should have had the foresight to identify his strengths.
Uddhav Thackeray, the leader of Shiv Sena in Maharashtra is a photography enthusiast and does not have manipulative skills required of a politician to ruthlessly retain its seat at the center. His photo books on nature trails of scenic Maharashtra are among the best sellers. Pursuing his creative field would have taken him far. Alas.
Renowned Indian film actor, Amitabh Bachchan, was initiated into politics by his good friend Rajiv Gandhi to cash in on his cinematic popularity among the masses. Bachchan failed miserably in his maiden political innings, swore off politics and humbly accepted that he is not cut out for the role of a politician. A wise decision. His huge presence in the world of cinema and television overshadows all old and contemporary legends. Clearly, his niche is on celluloid and he should stay there.
Several other film and television actors over the years too have migrated towards politics trying to gain a foothold of power. Very few have been successful in climbing high on the ladder of success.
At some stage they all were either forced, coerced or gave in to temptations to join the political work force they were ill equipped for, and therefore, failed. Though, this temporary political setback does not take away their accomplishments in their respective non-political fields, the point in case here is that all past and present aspirants to the top post have failed in their political ambitions simply because in their greed for power and to fulfil the aspirations of their political families, the candidates and their kin have overlooked their skill set which eventually led to their nadir.
A true politician can succeed with simple common sense and a good connect with people. However, one with any lack of it thereof will not be able to go far. The twenty first century politics is not a game of hierarchy not is it a conquest. The need of the hour is that a politician working in modern India should have a vision for the growth of its nation, sustainable development, elimination of poverty, restoration of critical natural resources like water.

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