The advent of Brahma, the reticent omniscient.

I don’t know a lot about my inherited religion or the associated menagerie of gods. At this point, my grandmothers would frown and nudge me and say “your gods, not ‘the’ gods”. Well, I don’t know them well enough and any degree of possessiveness would be farcical. I know of them and something of their attributes but I have never sought to familiarize myself beyond the initial introduction.  I am the worst kind of Indian born into a Hindu family – an agnostic (at best) and mostly irreverent.  I am all for tolerance – practically because I don’t care. Over the years I have restrained myself not to make snide comments to people who preach to me on my error of ways. Mostly because it’s churlish and unnecessary and I am still unsure of what’s what,  faithwise.

There has been certain conditioning which I cannot wholly shake off. But I don’t find in me any of the go-to faith most people around me access with aplomb. I do know the generic gods and goddesses. I like reading about them as I would any other fantasy/mythological story and “God” knows I loved watching the different epic series on Doordarshan growing up which showcased all the incredible tales in vivid detail, but fervent devotion, nope, nothing yet. I do know that the awesome trio is supposedly the mother-load of Hindu god-ism. Of whom, one is a creator, one is a sustainer of life and one, my personal favourite, just because his modus operandi is dance baby dance, is the destroyer. Of these, Brahma, the creator has always the most elusive since my childhood. I don’t recollect any stories being related on his (I am guessing general God related stylistic rules apply and it should be “His” not “his” but for the sake of my current faithlessness, let’s not pretend, shall we?) awesomeness, other than him ripping away all of your mugged-up schoolwork you painstakingly committed to memory, if you leave open books lying around as it would be an affront to his lady-love/consort & resident goddess of knowledge – Saraswati. He is an entity within a mythical labyrinth laced with multiple overlaying versions and interpretations (like any other Hindu god) and that’s the kind of packaging I cannot be bothered to unravel, but I hear he knows and sees all and lives eons in the single blink of an eye. He is eternal and omnipresent in the true sense and a goody-two-shoes to boot. I don’t know how I feel about someone so flawless. Well, at the rate the world is regressing, it must be quite a drag to watch something you created self-destruct. Kalyug and all that. But then again, it happens in a blink, so it shouldn’t be all that bad.

When I first read about this “blink” concept, I wondered about the philosophical connotations behind this. The fleeting nature of our mean transitory little lives etc. Then I moved on to speculate on which stage of the blink he is at now, (yes, like I said, I am  irreverent), and decided he’s at the part where you start to see your lashes come together forming a hairy frame of the world. We don’t got much time left, y’all.

I see the devotion, deep-rooted and sincere in my family and wonder how an anomaly like me came to be. Nurture clearly did not have the desired effect. Not that religion was ever foisted upon me. Participation was and is and that’s something I cannot evade or would want to – to keep peace and for the fact that I think I am yet to figure it out. I envy people with conviction – pro and against. It could be an inherited non-confrontational streak that holds me back from rejecting the idea of conforming altogether. I am somewhere in-between, floating between my memories of drowsy summer afternoons when my grandma would regale me with astonishing feats of Krishna and a growing realization that faith is so elusive and inconclusive, it has to be a figment of collective imagination, a “figment” so strong it’s transcended generations and bound people together to commit righteous homicide. Everything in moderation, they say. Like it ever works in any aspect of life (read: everything) where subjectivity and bias rule.

As always, I never end up writing about what I set out to. The whole Brahma subject came about from a running joke – on me. But that’s for another time.

God be with you, folks! I burn with the faithless.

The Titli Song Era :D

I used to love the old DD (Doordarshan) public service message ads. The favourite one being the one about conscientiously wearing a helmet while riding a bike. A serious voice would declare: “Marzii hai aapki akhir sarr hai apka…” while a brawny arm smashed two coconuts on a split screen with a huge hammer. One coconut had a helmet on and the other one didn’t. I think all of us as a nation cringed every time that one unprotected coconut got smashed to bits.

The high jumping lice on a pair of gossipy juvenile heads was another grossly fascinating favourite. Always played without fail right before all children programmes on Sunday, it was potent enough to get mothers scurrying to check if they had enough Medicare shampoo in their bathroom closets to battle such an epidemic. The ad of course never mentions that louse breed on clean scalps faster. 😛

Recently I read this lovely book called Those Pricey Thakur Girls. Not a literary epic but it was a flashback into India of the late 80s and early 90s, the one I still identify with. Pre-liberalisation had so many things going wrong for India but sometimes being in a time warp had its own charm (mostly in hindsight). Every time there was a bit about the said Thakur girls’ father reading the newspaper in an attempt at shutting himself off from his boisterous daughters’ romance related drama, I remember my own father reading the newspaper on Sunday mornings in winter end-to-end, on the lawn under a green and white striped garden umbrella signifying his day off from kamjari (estate work). I would wait impatiently to get my hands on the paper to see the page that featured a pen-and-ink drawing by Rathin Mitra, of some glorious colonial structure in Calcutta. Intricate and gloriously detailed, these images would awe me and I couldn’t imagine how a person had manually drawn those clean straight lines.  He even inspired me to make something in his style (a highly impoverished version) of the tea bungalow we lived in at the time, which my brother used in his very elaborate school project on tea (a masterpiece in itself considering the tantrums and numerous garden visits it entailed). I’m sure my mother has that stored somewhere in her many boxes, but I sadly have lost my cutouts of Rathin Mitra’s beautiful art. This would be a good time to kick self in the behind.

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Another illustrator and cartoonist that I adored was Mario Miranda. If you think you haven’t seen something by either of these artists, you’re wrong. Especially if you grew up reading The Telegraph or Times of India. One look at their work and memories will come flooding back. Here are some Mario Miranda favourites:

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He also illustrated this hilarious book on parenting. A must read 😉

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These sepia toned memories seem like a different world. A world without Internet, mobile phones, cable tv, Harry Potter or the microwave :P.  Frightening, isn’t it? But get this. It was also a world without Edward Cullen or better still Bold & Beautiful cause all us Indians could watch was our one and only DD. Which means no inspiration for the ensuing K serial bandwagon either. We would watch Jaspal Bhatti’s antics, Buniyaad, Surabhi and Hum Log on weekdays and Poirot and Jeeves & Wooster every Sunday. Hai hai. Wait. No Kim K feed? I have to rethink this

I leave you with this song to enjoy 🙂

Happa Davalla folks!