Sunday, 8 March 2020

Wo-man-ia ...!

It is International Woman's Day time of the year yet again, for the world. Here, in our own nation, any kind of an International Day celebration comes with mixed feelings, dilemma, acceptance, non-acceptance wrt to our desi-version of celebrations of the same being rooted in our Sanatana traditions and culture...

Anyway, can debate on that for someother day. Today, especially, a particular thought, running in my mind needs a writing for a thinking aloud and this may or may not be in particular relevance to the Woman's day fundu, but nevertheless the Day being an apt stimulus to mull over the following ...

Well, we often hear - so often, that it is almost a cliched statement now - that a woman is significant in all her roles as an infant, child, daughter, sister, mother, aunt, wife, sister-in-law, grandmother etc but then, so does a man, who can be as significant in all of his respective roles. So what is this about celebrating womanhood or manhood, I often wonder. And then it strikes me that most often this particular gender-oriented celebrations or such likes, often come as a comparative highlights and not necessarily a stand alone feature. Since, otherwise this aspect, both woman and man are just as much significant since both are humans and humans ARE significant ...!

So, this highlighting of a gender feature wrt to the other, is a case enough to be mulled over, not so much as a grave social behavior study as much as it is about factual observations and practical experiences ...

Without much beating around the bush, this question may be asked as to "What exactly it is to a male psyche to coexist with a woman who is single, unmarried, 'un-mingled'or 'un-maled' ever etc ?"
Does  a presence of such a woman, goes out as some kind of a subtle challenge to the general element of  masculinity to find a woman holding and sustaining her ownself in a male-dominated society without the aid of a male element to resource and to blossom her untouched feminity ...?  Well, this may be so, if any woman holds her singleness as a particular challenge to the male counterpart, in resisting to be seduced, but if the singleness is more a consequential stance affected by domestics or/and then propelling circumstances or/and the deep impact of the renouncing-kind of spiritual values intently exposed right from a formative period of one's upbringing, then, that kind of singleness is more about a value-system of a character imbibed and internalized rather than the aggressive assertion of modern feminism that thrives on challenging and slamming 'male-ism' of seduction or/and patriarchy...

It requires utmost gentleness and consideration, for either of the gender to understand that both the genders may be vulnerable by default or by dormant, if and when the circumstances drive either of them to become gender-conscious of oneself in the presence of the opposite gender... If either misses or the background of the other gender being a person with certain set of internalized values, upbringing etc, then this may result in serious and lasting psychological setbacks for either.

In the present times, there are aspects in our society that has beautifully blended and balanced the modern and the progressive kind of lifestyle approaches of the West with that of eternal spiritual values or Sanaatana values of the Bharath, but then there are also dimensions to our society that has resulted in utter mismatch between the West and Sanaatana,which has probably got expressed in the form of un-grounded and un-checked personal and collective liberalism, freedom of expression, free-will etc and somehow the two factions of our society are unable to live thier own without being affected by the other and hence probably the two contradicting value systems of our society, try to over power or over-rule the other for self-validation ...

We come to know by reading Ramayana and Mahabharata that - to the elite class of the society, there is less constraint on free will and hence whatever they do or undertake to do, the society often tends to ignore slamming them for any defaults due to the power and influence they wield in the society and could get away with any defaulting where as a conservative middle-classer is extremely sensitive about her/his repute and credibility in the society since he/she is far removed from the power-mongering games of wielding influence, clout or self-power. If this was not the case, a certain washer-man would have never refused to accept his defaulted wife, quoting against Rama's acceptance of his wife or the sons of the blind king in Mahabharata would have never openly admitted of not following dharma in principle though well-versed in not breaking the rules of it, where as an oppressed villager of Ekachakranagar goes out of his way pleading his guest not to intervene in the matter of sending his family member as a food to the demon, lest it would make him a defaulter in the eyes of the fellow villagers...

Coming back to the topic, a woman or a man, in any of thier other roles of life, mentioned earlier, are a noble and glorious roles by itself, which has been already emphasized and upheld earlier, but this being the case, it is matter to ponder in deep agony as to why the aspect of integrated feminity, which may be coming across as being neither frivolous or liberal or compromising, is often made to feel less as a woman, a kind of attempt that somewhat attempts to stigmatize such a kind of feminity that is unrelenting to male-ism, by calling such an attitude to be more of a womanhood that is limited to motherhood or sisterhood, to somewhat prove that such a kind of role is more of a less empowered feminity as compared to the feminity which is considered to be empowered due to its readiness in aligning with male-ism...

Well, we have the ideal male-female divine symbolism in the Divine couple of Shiva and Parvati, which we ardently worship. The complementary male-female element of Shiva-Parvati is often depicted in the duet ananda-tandava dance which is often depicted in our Sanatana arts and performing arts, but then, what is to be remembered well is they represent the male-female element s the ideal husband-wife couple. It is in our Sanatana scripture, words like para-purusha, para-sthree has a definite meaning and dharmic relevance, even in the present times ...

All the above mulling is but a mulling over and not necessarily accusatory or inflammatory or defiance or agony, even ... The above is more of a calm but firm and realistic contemplation of what and hows of feminity and male-ism ...

Jai Maa ... _/\_

Wednesday, 11 June 2014

Cow - The Kamadhenu !

First of all, let us admit humans are the only specie that drink the milk of another mammal.

Second of all, humans are the only specie that depend on milk through out our life time. All other mammals consume milk only during infancy.

Third of all, Nature has endowed lactating capacity to most mammals to be able to nourish the infants of that particular specie they belong to. Same applies to cows as well, not to be forgotten the fact that we have somehow got used to the idea that  the yield of cow-milk is exclusively for the humans. The fact that her milk is a great nourisher of the human body has made humans depend on her milk for health-sustenance.

Fourth of all, this dependency is natural and fair as long as human doesn't consciously alter the course of Nature's law and there by benefit himself within this boundary.

(It is interesting to cite the episode from epics as to why the divine bountiful cow Nandini was under the exclusive adoption and care of Sage Vasishta and how King Kashyapa nursed an ambition to posses and sieze her to derive maximum utilization.  Instead the events there after necessitated him to become a sage like Vasishta to be able to deserve a cow like Nandini.

And so, to increasingly breed and produce cows, as a human-undertaking, for the sake of more produce of milk, does alter the Nature's balance, which comes with its own positive and ill effects. Positive effects are  we are sustained with unhindered milk-supply for a prolonged duration of our life time. But our dependency is not limited only to this, since we also indulgently dependent on the dairy-based cooking products and savories such as cheese, butter, paneer, ghee, dairy sweets, milk shakes, icecreams etc, for which we are habituated to receiving an unhindered supply of it. Absolutely nothing wrong in indulging in these as long as these are begotten within the bounds of natural breeding and existence. But when it is breeded by human under-taking, to create more, then the problem of sustaining the life of those cows, specially brought into the world for the sake of milk production, faces the brunt once they have out-lived their utility, which becomes a burden on her 'proprietors'  and so we really don't know what happens of them, there of ...

Sixth of all, not to forget that along with the cows, we also thrive on buffalos, goats and sheeps (we even fleece them to beget the woolen warmth during the winter), Ox etc. Cows tops the list since it is the most docile and the most unresistingly, a cooperative-giver. Besides her body itself, whatever her body gives out is also beneficial to the human world, which is why she is revered to be bountiful and sacred. Yes, Nature indeed intended her to be bountifully beneficial. But perhaps it is the humans who can't or won't differentiate between the aspects of graciously being the free benefactors but also relentlessly and ambitiously pursue to make these benefits profitable too ala King Kashyapa. No wonder the gradual extinction of such a breed of cows can also be subjectively connected with the fact why Nandini became sad under the subservience of King Kashyapa and hence her escape from the King there of.

Besides, the exclusiveness of the Cow's utility alone need not make us less gratitude or less prioritize our care and compassion for the rest of the domestic animals, whom we utilize too, for our benefits.

Seventh of all - The last but not the least, I personally have tried (and still trying) to comprehend why our Dharma has bench-marked cow to be a sacred animal. And this is my realization so far.

It is but natural for a human to gravitate towards that which is most beneficial, bountiful and utilitarian to his existence. But our Dharma's underlying principle is to be equanimously compassionate to all beings.Live and let live. This being the case, perhaps this must've been the way our ancient seers devised out this whole thing by identifying Cow to be the chosen one, towards sensitizing the human heart and the mind towards a selfless and a docile giver, for the simple fact that humans reaped maximum and profound benefits from her. Thus the human qualities of gratitude, love and reverance towards her was naturally invoked. Perhaps cow was made the epi-centre, a trigger point for invoking and intensifying such a kind of human sensitivity, gratitude and compassion, and then to gradually extend this fountain of care and compassion to the rest of the beings too. 

Perhaps this is why our seers always categorized certain elements as being sacred and not just the Cow. They perhaps chose a certain element as a representation of the category of element it originated from. Perhaps sanctifying and according it a scared status aas intended to be the focus point for the humans. Perhaps Tulsi represented the plants, Lotus represented the flower, Gold represented the metal and so on, towards which we rever and worship with gratitude, by according a holiness to it. Unfortunately, the practice became more stereo-typed by it becoming a custom of being more element-specific and less about expanding the profound result of that profound focus, to all beings and elements.

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

Monkey Mania !

Having a history of harrowing encounters with the monkeys, thought this might as well be narrated thus.

Mania 1: It all started as a High Schooler, during one of the boring and drowsy post-lunch class sessions. Like the rest of the other classmates, me too was struggling my best to keep myself awake, or at least try and sleep with eyes opened, that is when this huge, ferocious looking red-faced monkey showed up from nowhere. One of the side walls of the classroom, which on the outside was an open external wall, was made of concrete only upto the sill level, after which the wall basically comprised of equal- sized, painted metal sheets welded together to form a wall upto the ceiling level. A few metal sheets were converted as ventilation windows, half-opened, but in most classes like the one in question, remained permanently opened or completely removed due to an obvious damage. Hence there was this huge rectangular opening just below the ceiling of the side wall. There was a huge tree outside too, whose branches swayed against this external wall-surface and that is how this Mrs. Redface along with her Redface Jr, showed up suddenly, perched near ventilated opening, giving out a King Kong-like wild cry!

Suddenly the whole lethargic class not only came alive, but needless to say, panicked. Perhaps, instinctual reflexes are at its best when one is consciously alert, but when shaken out of a drowsy lull, the reflexes are mostly numbed, and so I found myself paralyzed, simply transfixed at the horrific sight of the huge monkey, until my benchmates began to literally walk over me!  A few alert ones immediately scrammed out of the class, infact, the teacher was the first to do so.  Well, in the class opposite to ours, the tall geography teacher was explaining a map using a cane as a pointer. On taking stock of the situation, the geo-teacher tried shooing away the Monkey with the cane. Anyway, the mother monkey and her child took their own time in finally leaving us alone. When all the commotion died down and as we re-entered the class, it was in a state of sorts!!! … Shoes, bags, books, lunch boxes strewn and scattered around everywhere. As we picked our things and gathered ourselves, we even got admonished by the teacher -yes, the same who was the first to scram - for reacting so chaotically!!

Mania 2: This one was much horrifying than the above, and happened during the mid-nineties on one of those days when I was on my way hurrying up to participate in a bhajan concert.  The previous evening, I had seen a chained monkey at large, probably missing from her owner’s possession. Obviously the monkey looked trained to do those typical road-shows. As I was walking, I briefly took notice of the same monkey briskly crossing in front of me.  Just after a few seconds of walking ahead, out of the blue I suddenly felt something heavy on my left shoulder and then I felt a pair of non-human hands messing with my braided plait. It took a few shocking seconds to realize that it was this Chaino who had climbed up on my shoulder and was apparently seated, quite comfortable at “home”.

I’d probably scream if accosted by a lizard or a cockroach, but with monkey? That can’t be so. My instant reflexes made me stand as still as possible and stifle even the slightest whimper, forget about letting out a shriek! I must’ve thought that if I stand absolutely still, the damn ape would think that I am a lifeless statue and thus would leave me alone, but the monkey was no fool. It remained seated there on my shoulder busy searching my head, for nits and lice. I surely lost my sense of duration then, but I can now say that atleast for about 1-2 minutes the monkey and I stood there, right in the middle of the street, like a blooming circus! Finally Chaino jumped off to the ground and landed on my feet, putting me in a dilemma whether to pull away my feet and take to my heels or wait for the monkey to make an easier way for me. But Chaino sat there blinking innocently at me, as if expecting me to direct the next action. Even as I was contemplating, the Chaino came up on my shoulder again!!! I was at my wit’s end and broke into helpless tears. I even noticed that a crowd was gathering around me. This time, I walked around crying and begging for help, carrying that monkey on my shoulder. Even in that crisis, I noticed that each of those to whom I approached for help, quickly took a few steps back, lest the monkey might jump on to their shoulder. One gentleman even tried to comfort me by saying ಅಯ್ಯೋ ! ಕಪಿ ಚೇಷ್ಟೇ ಅಂದ್ರೆ ಹೀಗೆನಮ್ಮಾ  ... ಏನು ಮಾಡಕ್ಕೆ ಆಗಲ್ಲಮ್ಮಾ!” ( "Oh! this is how a monkey plays its pranks ...nothing can be done"). I profusely started sobbing now….

It was my life and it was me encountering a life-threatening situation, and so finally the survival instinct took over me. There was this regular grocery shop nearby. I walked up to the shop – yes, with that Chaino who was now totally accustomed to enjoying the “shoulder-ride”- and requested one of the vendors to throw a handful of groundnuts on the ground. I really can’t remember if they did that or if it was because of the scattered groundnuts, but suddenly Chaino disappeared like a lightening as swiftly as it had come up on my shoulder.

Nearby, there was a house construction that was underway, which had this make-shift house of the security man, into which I barged in without hesitation and firmly latched the door from within. Unwarranted authority arises from acute fear. I announced my decision to the host of that house that I’d stay indoors for a while before I leave, giving them an account of what happened to me.  One of the ladies of the house rushed to my side and anxiously started talking to me in a somewhat unfamiliar telugu dialect, of which I was in no mood to comprehend.  But when she painfully pointed at her utterly disheveled hair, I exactly knew what she was trying to tell me. Thank god, I didn’t have lice and nits as my pets!!!

Interestingly, there were various kinds of reactions from my near and dear ones as and when I shared this incident with them. For instance, my mother analyzed – half humorously - that the monkey was attracted to me because of the sari color. Incidentally, I had worn a china-silk sari that had a bright and a shimmering background of khaki color!!!

When I shared it with my bhajan-mates who were very devout and religious people, they interpreted it as a sign of it being the Maruti’s blessings on me. One of them even contemplated –half seriously - saying “You must’ve been Seetha in your previous birth, did you recently do any hanuman puja or something?” I hadn’t, but later as I thought, around that time before this incident, there was a kannada poem that was published by one of the RK Math monks which went like “ ರಾಮನ ಬಂಟ ವೀರ ಹನುಮಂತ, ರಾಮ ಕಾರ್ಯಕೆ ನಿಂತ ಯೋಗಿ ಬಲವಂತ …” This poem came with a beautiful picture of Shri Rama and Anjaneya embracing eachother, similar to the popular statue  installed in the Ram temple at Hanumantha Nagar, Bangalore. I had grown very fond of the poem with the picture and in those days I was in the spree of trying to memorize that poem”. Much later, when I was yet to heal from the phobia of this incident, believing this incident to be a Maruti’s blessing indeed,  did help me alleviate myself from the lingering victim-consciousness.

The reactions from the BPO genre too was a learning experience though I was unprepared for, being a beginner. Impromptu talking was part of the training curriculum towards up-skilling communication. On one such exercise, we were assigned to share a whacky incident from the past. Naturally, I chose to share this incident and hence whole-heartedly spoke about it. Presumably, it looked like that as a reaction, mischievous and twisted questions were hurled at me, such as “How exactly did the monkey climb? Did it climb from the front or back? Do you share a certain chemistry with the monkeys? Was the monkey a male or a female?” etc. This made me very uncomfortable as it wasn’t clear if they were really asking straight and sincere questions though the questions were totally unconnected  to the objective of the assignment, besides roaring with laughter at their own questioning. It was much later, I began to comprehend the underneath nature of such kind of jokes and the tone of questioning.

Anyway, this is not all! The mania continues …

Vidyaranyapura is a town 6-7 kms away from my place which is notorious for being infested with monkeys. On and off, I visit the place to meet my close friend and also to assist her with the tuition, whenever possible. There have been a couple of times, when I was forcibly stranded at the bus stop, since a family of monkeys often indulge in acrobats, practicing trapeze on the branches of the tree right above the very lane I walk to get to my friend’s place.  No plant pots survive on the terrace of Vidyaranyapura residents and no coconuts remain on the tree to become fully grown, ready-to-use coconuts!!

On one such visit to Vidyaranyapura, just as I was opening the gates of my friend’s house, a monkey dropped a big coconut that missed my head by inches!  The coconut tree is often referred to as Kalpavruksha, a divine bountiful tree, a total-giver. It is often said that the noble tree inherently never allows any of the coconuts, even accidently, to ever fall on a human head ………….. even if it is dropped by a monkey!!!

I pass by a Maruti temple whenever I have to get to the local bus stop. Hence I never miss offering a prompt prayer requesting Maruti to advise his folks to be nicer to me!

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

I am only a human - A Common Cliche!

It is a cliche! Iam only a human. 

At times, flawless. Flawed, most times.

Problem is the timing.

When hopelessly flawed, stares at me,

The  flawless external.

And does not, upon a flicker of a fragile flawless moment,

Converge the flawed external?

Knock! Knock! Knock!

Somebody's untamed pet scratches my door.

So, mine answers the door.

Though chained, kept locked inside a deep dungeon.

They break loose every time, these untamed pets!

The soiled desk, the poop floors, the clawed curtains!

Though untamed, the pet is mine after all. 

Got to put up with the chaos. 

But could I, with your's? Should you, with mine?

When we walk our paths, we got to walk them too,

We can walk them too, 

Chained to our own hands.

And so ...

Despite the unfolding moments of flawed mutuality.

Prevail too, those beholding moments of flawless mutuality.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

ನಗಲಾರದ ನಗು!

(ಗಮನಿಸಿ : ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಉಲ್ಲೇಖಿಸಿರುವ ಪಾತ್ರಗಳು, ಕತೆಯಲ್ಲಿನ ಸನ್ನಿವೇಶಗಳು ಕೇವಲ ಕಾಲ್ಪನಿಕ.  ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಬರೆದ ವಿಷಯವು ಯಾವುದೇ ವ್ಯಕ್ತಿಗೆ ಅಥವಾ ಘಟನೆಗೆ ಹೋಲಿಕೆಯಾದಲ್ಲಿ ಅದು ಕೇವಲ ಕಾಕತಾಳಿಯ !) 

ಎರಡು ವರ್ಷದ ಹಿಂದೆ, ನನಗೆ ಪರಿಚಯದವರಾದ ಹಿರಿಯ ದಂಪತಿಯರು ತಮ್ಮ ಐವತ್ತನೆಯ ವಿವಾಹ ವಾರ್ಷಿಕೋತ್ಸವಕ್ಕೆ ಆಹ್ವಾನಿಸಿದರು. ಒಲ್ಲೆ ಒಲ್ಲೆ ಎಂದು ಹೇಳುತ್ತಲೇ ಆ ವಿವಾಹ ವಾರ್ಶೋಕೋತ್ಸವದ  ಕಾರ್ಯಕ್ರಮಕ್ಕೆ ಹೋದೆ. ಒಳ್ಳೆ 5 ಸ್ಟಾರ್ ಕಲ್ಯಾಣ ಮಂಟಪದಲ್ಲಿ ಈ ಕಾರ್ಯವನ್ನು ಆಯೋಜಿಸಲಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಅತ್ಯಂತ ಅಚ್ಚುಕಟ್ಟಾಗಿ, ಸಾಲಾಗಿ ಜೋಡಿಸಿದ್ದ ನವಿರಾದ ಕುಶನ್ ಚೇರ್ಗಳು!  ಅದರ ಕಾಲುಗಳು ಕಾಣದಹಾಗೆ ಶುಭ್ರ ಬಿಳಿಯ ಬಟ್ಟೆಯನ್ನು ಕುಶಲಾತ್ಮಕವಾಗಿ ಜೋಡಿಸಲಾಗಿತ್ತು. ಖಾಲಿಯಾಗಿದ್ದ ಚೇರೊಂದರಲ್ಲಿ ಕುಳಿತೆ.   ಎಲ್ಲೆಲ್ಲೂ ಘಮ್ಮನೆಯ ಪರಿಮಳ, ACಯ ತಿಳಿ ತಂಪು. ಕುಳಿತ ತತ್ಕ್ಷಣ, ತಂಪು ಪಾನಿಯದ ಒಂದು ಪ್ಲ್ಯಾಸ್ಟಿಕ್ ಲೋಟವೊಂದು ನನ್ನ ಕೈ ಸೇರಿತು. ಅಲ್ಲಿ ನೆರೆದಿದ್ದವರೆಲ್ಲಾ ಅಪರಿಚಿತರೇ. ಕುಳಿತು ಏನು ಮಾಡಬೇಕೆಂದು ತೋಚದೆ, ನಿಧಾನವಾಗಿ ಆ ತಂಪು ಪಾನಿಯವನ್ನು ಹೀರುತ್ತಾ, ಅಲ್ಲಿ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಕತ್ತಲುಗಾಡಿಸುತ್ತಾ ಅಲ್ಲಲ್ಲೇ ನಡೆಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದ ಆಗುಹೋಗುಗಳನ್ನು ಗಮನಿಸತೊಡಗಿದೆ.

"ವಧು-ವರ" ರಿಗಾಗಿ ಅಲಂಕೃತಗೊಂಡ ವೇದಿಕೆಯ ಮೇಲೆ, ಸಿಂಹಾಸನದ ಮಾದರಿಯ ಆ  ದ್ವಿ-ಚೇರ್ ಗಳು ಇನ್ನೂ ಖಾಲಿಯಾಗಿಯೇ ಇದ್ದವು. "ವಧು-ವರ"ರಿಬ್ಬರು ಆಸೀನರಾಗಲು ಇನ್ನೂ ಮುಹೂರ್ತ ಕೂಡಿಬಂದಿರಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಅಲ್ಲಿಯೇ ಯಾವುದೋ ಚಟುವಟಿಕೆಯಲ್ಲಿ ಮಗ್ನರಾಗಿದ್ದ ಯುವ ಗುಂಪೊಂದು Western Classical ಸಂಗೀತದ ಒಂದು C D ಯನ್ನು ಜೋಡಿಸುವುದರಲ್ಲಿದ್ದರು. ಮತ್ತೊಂದು ಕಡೆ, 'ವಧು-ವರ'ರು ನಡೆದು ಬರುವ ಹಾದಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಕೆಂಪು ಕಾರ್ಪೆಟ್ಟನ್ನು ಹಾಸಿ ಅದರ ಮೇಲೆ ಗುಲಾಬಿ ದಳಗಳನ್ನೆಲ್ಲಾ ಚೆಲ್ಲಾಡಿ ಅಲಂಕೃತಗೊಳಿಸುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. 'ವಧು-ವರ' ರು, ಆ ಕೆಂಪು ಕಾರ್ಪೆಟ್ಟಿನ ಮೇಲೆ ನಡೆದುಕೊಂಡು ಬರುವಾಗ, ನಾವುಗಳೆಲ್ಲ ಅವರಮೇಲೆ ಪುಷ್ಪ ವೃಷ್ಟಿಯನ್ನು ಮಾಡಲೆಂದು, ಎಲ್ಲರ ಕೈಯ್ಯಲ್ಲೂ ಯಥೇಚ್ಚವಾಗಿ ಗುಲಾಬಿದಳಗಳನ್ನು ಕೊಡಲಾಯಿತು.

ಸರಿ, ಆ ಸುಮುಹೂರ್ತವು ಬಂದೇ ಬಿಟ್ಟಿತು. ನನಗದೇಕೋ "ಶುಭಮಂಗಳಾ  ಸುಮೊಹೂರ್ತವೇ" ಈ ಹಾಡಲ್ಲಿ, ತಮ್ಮ ಮದುವೆಗೆಂದು ಚಿತ್ರದಲ್ಲಿನ ನಾಯಕ ನಾಯಿಕಿಯು ಕುದುರೆಯ ರಥದಲ್ಲಿ ಕುಳಿತು ಬರುವ ದೃಶ್ಯ ನೆನಪಾಯಿತು. ಆದರೆ ಇಲ್ಲಿ ಹಾಗೇನು ನಡೆಯಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಬದಲಿಗೆ, ಅವರಿಬ್ಬರ ಆಗಮನದಲ್ಲಿ ಭಿನ್ನವಾದ ಸ್ವಾರಸ್ಯವಿತ್ತು. ಈ ವಿವಾಹ ವಾರ್ಶಿಕೋತ್ಸವವನ್ನು ಇಷ್ಟೆಲ್ಲಾ ದುಬಾರಿಯಾಗಿ ಆಯೋಜಿಸಲಾಗಿದ್ದ ಕಾರಣ, ಆ ದಂಪತಿಗಳಿಬ್ಬರೂ ಸಹ ಅ ಮಟ್ಟದ ವೈಭವದಲ್ಲೇ ತಯಾರಾಗಿ ಬರುವರೆಂದು ಎಣಿಸಿದ್ದೆ. ಆಶರ್ಯವೆಂದರೆ, ಅವರಿಬ್ಬರೂ ಸಹ ನನ್ನ ಊಹೆಗೆ ವಿರುದ್ಧವಾದ ರೀತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಸರಳವಾಗಿಯೇ ತಯಾರಾಗಿದ್ದರು!

ಅವರಿಬ್ಬರು ಒಳಗೆ ಪ್ರವೇಶಿಸುತ್ತಿದಂತೆ, ನಾವೆಲ್ಲರೂ ಎದ್ದು ಕುತೂಹಲದಿಂದ, ಉತ್ಸಾಹದಿಂದ ಇಣುಕಿ ಇಣುಕಿ ನೋಡ ತೊಡಗಿದೆವು. ತತ್ಕ್ಷಣ  ಆ western classical ಮಾದರಿಯ ಹಿನ್ನಲೆ ಸಂಗೀತವು  ಕೇಳಿಬಂತು. ಅದನ್ನು ಕೇಳಿ, ನನಗೆ ಮಿಲಿಟರಿಯ ಮಾದರಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಸೆಟೆದು ನಿಂತು ಬಿರುಸಾಗಿ ಒಂದು ಸಲ್ಯೂಟ್ ಹೊಡೆಯುವ ಪ್ರಚೋದನೆಯಾಯಿತು! ಏಕೆಂದರೆ, ನನ್ನ ಕಿವಿಗೆ ಆ ಸಂಗೀತವು ಹೆಚ್ಚು ಕಡಿಮೆ ಯಾವುದೋ ಯುರೋಪಿಯನ್ ದೇಶದ ರಾಷ್ಟ್ರ ಗೀತೆಯಂತಿತ್ತು! ನನಗೆ ಅರ್ಥವಾಗಿದ್ದೇನೆಂದರೆ , ದಂಪತಿಯರಿಬ್ಬರು ನಿಧಾನವಾದ ನಡಿಗೆಗೂ('Walking down the aisle') ಮತ್ತು ಆ ಹಿನ್ನಲೆಯ ಸಂಗೀತಕ್ಕೂ ತಾಳೆಯಾಗಬೇಕೆಂದು ಮಾಡಿದ್ದ ಪ್ಲ್ಯಾನ್ ಅದು. ಅದೇ, ನಮ್ಮ ಹಾಲಿವುಡ್ ಸಿನೆಮಾಗಳಲ್ಲಿ ವಧುವನ್ನು ಮದುವೆಯ altarಗೆ  ಕರೆದು ಕೊಂಡು ಬರುವಾಗ ಮೊಳಗುವ ಹಿನ್ನಲೆಯ orchestration ತರಹ ! ಆದರೆ, ಈ ಹಿನ್ನಲೆಯ ಸಂಗೀತದ ವಿಷಯವು ದಂಪತಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಗೊತ್ತಿತ್ತೋ ಇಲ್ಲವೋ, ಅವರಂತೂ ಮುಲಾಜಿಲ್ಲದೆ ಅವರದೇ ಸಹಜವಾದ ರೀತಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ದಾಪುಗಾಲು  ಹಾಕಿಯೇ ಒಳಗೆ ಪ್ರವೇಶ ಮಾಡಿದರು. ಯಾರೋ ಅವರ ಕಿವಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಪಿಸುಗುಟ್ಟಿದರೋ ಎನೋ, ತತ್ಕ್ಷಣ ತಮ್ಮ ನಡಿಗೆಯ ವೇಗವನ್ನು ನಿಧಾನಿಸಿದರು. ಮತ್ತೇನೋ ಪಿಸುಗುಟ್ಟಲಾಯಿತು. ಇವರೇನು ಹೇಳಿದರೋ, ಪಾಪ 'ವಧು'ವಿಗೇನು ಕೇಳಿಸಿತೋ ಏನೋ, ಆ ಹಿರಿಯ ಮುತ್ತೈದೆಯು, ಆ ಹಿನ್ನಲೆಯ ಸಂಗೀತಕ್ಕೆ ಚಪ್ಪಾಳೆ ತಾಳವನ್ನುಹಾಕುತ್ತ ಹೆಜ್ಜೆ ಹಾಕತೊಡಗಿದರು. ಅವರ ತಾಳವೂ ಆ  ಹಿನ್ನಲೆ ಸಂಗೀತಕ್ಕೆ ತಾಳೆಯಾಗಲೇ ಇಲ್ಲ!

ವರ್ಷಕ್ಕೆ ನಾಲ್ಕೈದು ಬಾರಿಯಾದರೂ ತಿರುಪತಿಯ ದರ್ಶನವನ್ನು ಮಾಡಿ ಬರುವ ಈ ದಂಪತಿಗಳಿಗೆ, ವೆಂಕಟೇಶನ ದರ್ಶನಕ್ಕೆಂದು ಮೈಲಿ ಉದ್ದದ ಭಕ್ತರ ಸಾಲು "ಗೋವಿಂದ ! ಗೋವಿಂದ!" ಎಂದು ಭಕ್ತಿಯಿಂದ ಉದ್ಗರಿಸುತ್ತ, ಚಪ್ಪಾಳೆ ಹಾಕುತ್ತ ಮುನ್ನುಗ್ಗುವ ದೃಶ್ಯವನ್ನು ನೋಡಿ ಮತ್ತು ಅದಕ್ಕೆ ಒಗ್ಗಿ ಹೋಗಿರುವ ಕಾರಣದಿಂದಾಗಿಯೋ ಎನೋ, ಪಾಪ ಆ ಹಿರಿಯ 'ವಧು'ವು ಅದೇ ಶೈಲಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ನಡೆಯುತ್ತ, ಭಕ್ತಿಯಿಂದ ಚಪ್ಪಾಳೆಯ ತಾಳವನ್ನು ಹಾಕುತ್ತ ಮುನ್ನಡೆದು ಬಂದಂತಿತ್ತು! ದಂಪತಿಯರ ಬಂಧು ಬಳಗದವರು, ಅವರನ್ನು ಮೆಲ್ಲಗೆ ಮೆಟ್ಟಿಲನ್ನು ಹತ್ತಿಸಿ ವೇದಿಕೆಯ ಮೇಲೆ ಕರೆದೊಯ್ದರು.

ಇನ್ನು ದೀಪವನ್ನುಬೆಳಗುವ ಸಮಾರಂಭ ! ರಾಯರಿಗಂತೂ, ಒಳಗೆ ಪ್ರವೇಶ ಮಾಡಿದಾಗಿನಿಂದ ಒಂದೇ ಸಮನೆ ಫೋನ್ ಕರೆಗಳು. ಅವರ ಖಾಸಗಿ ಬಿಸಿನೆಸ್ ಗೆ  ಸಂಬಂಧ ಪಟ್ಟ ಯಾವುದೋ ಕಿರಿ ಕಿರಿಯ ವಿಷಯವನ್ನು ಚರ್ಚೆ ಮಾಡುತ್ತಲೇ ಬಂದರು. ದೀಪದ ಕಂಭವನ್ನು ಎಷ್ಟು ಚೆನ್ನಾಗಿ ಅಲಂಕರಿಸಿ, ಸಜ್ಜು ಗೊಳಿಸಿದ ಅವರ ಮಕ್ಕಳು, ತಮ್ಮ ತಂದೆಯನ್ನು ಅವರ ಫೋನ್ ಚರ್ಚೆಯಿಂದ ಬೇರ್ಪಡಿಸಿ, ಅವರ ಹಸ್ತದಿಂದ ದೀಪವನ್ನು ಬೆಳಗಿಸುವ ಹೊತ್ತಿಗೆ ಸಾಕು ಸಾಕಾಗಿತ್ತೋ ಎನೋ. ಪಾಪ ಅವರ ಹೆಂಡತಿಯಂತೂ ಒಂದೇ ಸಮನೆ ತೆಲುಗಿನಲ್ಲಿ "ಯೆವಂಡಿ ... ಯೆವಂಡಿ" ಅಂತ ಕರೆದಿದ್ದೇ ಕರೆದಿದ್ದು!

ಸರಿ, ಅಲ್ಲೇ ಹತ್ತಿರದಲ್ಲಿದ್ದ ಸಿಂಹಾಸನದ ದ್ವಿ-ಚೇರ್ ಗಳತ್ತ ಕರೆದು ಕೊಂಡು ಹೋಗಲು ಅಷ್ಟೇನೂ ಕಷ್ಟವಾಗಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಇನ್ನು ಪರಸ್ಪರ ಹಾರಗಳನ್ನು ಹಾಕುವ ಸಮಾರಂಭ. ಮತ್ತದಕ್ಕೆಂಥದ್ದೋ ಹಿನ್ನಲೆ ಸಂಗೀತವಂತೆ! ಆ ಸಂಗೀತವು ರೆಡಿಯಾಗುವವರೆಗೂ, 'ವಧು-ವರ'ರು ಒಬ್ಬರಿಗೊಬ್ಬರು ಎದುರಾಗಿ ನಿಂತು, ಹಾರವನ್ನು ಕೈಯಲ್ಲಿ ಹಿಡಿದು ಸಜ್ಜಾಗಿದ್ದರು. ಅವರ ಹಿಂದೆ, ಅವರ moral supporters ಸಾಲಾಗಿ ಒಬ್ಬರ ಬೆನ್ನ ಹಿಂದೆ ಮತ್ತೊಬ್ಬರು ನಿಂತಿದ್ದರು. ವಧುವಿನ ಹಿಂದೆಯೇ ನಿಂತಿದ್ದಿ ಒಬ್ಬಾಕೆಯು, ಯಾವುದೋ ಕೆಲಸವನ್ನು ನೆನಪಿಸಿಕೊಂಡು ಅಲ್ಲಿಯೇ ಪಕ್ಕದಲ್ಲಿದ್ದ ಕೋಣೆಯತ್ತ ಹೋಗುವ ಭರದಲ್ಲಿದ್ದಳು. ಆದರೆ ತತ್ಕ್ಷಣ 'ವಧು'ವು ಆಕೆಯನ್ನು ತಡೆದು ನಿಲ್ಲಿಸಿ "ನಿಂಚ್ಕೊವೇ ..ಇಪ್ಪುಡು ಎಕಡ್ಕೆ ಪೋತಾವು? ಆ ಅಬ್ಬಾಯಿ ಫೋಟೋ ಲೇಸ್ತಾರು ಇಪ್ಡು ... ಊರ್ಕಿ ನಿಂಚ್ಕೊ ಇಕಡ್ಕೆ!" ಎಂದು ಒಂದು ಅವಾಜ್ ಹಾಕಿದ್ದರಿಂದ ಆ ಅಮ್ಮಾಯಿ ಅಲ್ಲಿಯೇ ನಿಲ್ಲ ಬೇಕಾಯಿತು! ಅಂತೂ ಇಂತೂ ಹಾರ ಹಾಕುವ ಸಮಾರಂಭವೂ ಮುಗಿಯಿತು, ಆದರೆ ರಾಯರ ಕಿರಿ ಕಿರಿಯ ಫೋನ್ ಕರೆಗಳು ಮಾತ್ರ ಅದರ ಪಾಡಿಗೆ ಅದು ಮುಂದುವರೆಯುತ್ತಿತ್ತು.

ಇದಾದ ನಂತರ ಕೇಕ್-ಕಟ್ಟಿಂಗ್ ಸಮಾರಂಭ ! ಅದಕ್ಕೊಂದಷ್ಟು ಗದ್ದಲ, ಜನ ಸಂದಣಿ ! ಅವರ ಮಧ್ಯೆ ವಧುವಿನ ನೆಚ್ಚಿನ ಫೋಟೋಗ್ರ್ಯಾಫರ್ ಆ ಗದ್ದಲಲ್ಲೇ ಕೊಸರಾಡುತ್ತಾ ಫೋಟೋಗಳನ್ನು ಸೆರೆಹಿಡಿಯುತ್ತಿದ್ದನು. ಸರಿ, ದೊಡ್ಡ ಗಾತ್ರದ ಆನಿವರ್ಸರಿ ಕೇಕನ್ನು ದಂಪತಿಯ ಮುಂದೆ ತಂದು ಇಡಲಾಯಿತು. ಯಾರೋ ರಾಯರ ಕೈಯಿಂದ ಅವರ ಫೋನನ್ನು ಕಸಿದುಕೊಂಡು ಕೇಕ್ ಕಟ್ ಮಾಡುವ ಸಲುವಾಗಿ ಒಂದು ಚೂರಿಯನ್ನು ಅವರ ಹಸ್ತದಲ್ಲಿ ಇರಿಸಿದರು. ಇನ್ನೇನು ರಾಯರು ಕೇಕ್ ಕಟ್ ಮಾಡ್ಬೇಕು, ಆಗ ಯಾರೋ ಒಬ್ಬರು ಕೇಕ್ ಮುಂದೆ ನಿಂತಿರುವ ದಂಪತಿಯರ ಫೋಟೋವೊಂದನ್ನುತೆಗೆದು, ನಂತರ ಕೇಕ್ ಕಟ್ ಮಾಡಲು ಆಜ್ಞಾಪಿಸಿದರು. ಅವರು ಕೇಕ್ ಕಟ್ ಮಾಡುವಾಗಲೇ ಫೋಟೋ ತೆಗೆದರಾಯಿತು ಎಂದು ಮತ್ತಾರೋ ಗೋಗರೆದರು. ಆ ಗೊಂದಲದಲ್ಲಿ ರಾಯರಿಗೆ ಏನು ಮಾಡಬೇಕೆಂದು ತೋಚದೆ ತಮ್ಮ ಐವತ್ತು ವರ್ಷಗಳ ವೈಫನ್ನು ತಮ್ಮ ಪಕ್ಕದಲ್ಲಿ ನಿಲ್ಲಿಸಿಕೊಂಡು ಕೈಯಲ್ಲಿದ್ದ ನೈಫನ್ನು, ಶಿವಾಜಿ ಮಹಾರಾಜರು ಹೇಗೆ ಕ್ಷತ್ರಿಯ ವರ್ಚಸ್ಸಿಗೆ  ತಕ್ಕಹಾಗೆ ಕತ್ತಿಯನ್ನು ಹಿಡಿಯುವ  ಶೈಲಿಯಲ್ಲಿ, ರಾಯರು ಸಹ ಆ ಕೇಕ್ ಕಟ್ ಮಾಡುವ ನೈಫನ್ನುಹಿಡಿದುಕೊಂಡು ಒಂದು ಪೋಜ್ ಕೊಟ್ಟೇಬಿಟ್ಟರು! ಆ ಫೋಟೊಗ್ರ್ಯಾಫರ್
ಸಹ ಅವರ ಪೋಜನ್ನು ತನ್ನ ಕ್ಯಾಮೆರಾದಲ್ಲಿ ಸೆರೆ ಹಿಡಿದೇ ಬಿಟ್ಟ ! ನಂತರ ಆಲೋಚನೆ ಮಾಡಿದೆ, ಆ ಫೋಟೋವನ್ನು ನೋಡುವಾಗ ಆ ದಂಪತಿಗಳಿಗೆ ಹೇಗಾಗಿರ ಬೇಡ!   

ಇವೆಲ್ಲವೂ ನನ್ನೊಬಳ ಗಮನಕ್ಕೆ ಮಾತ್ರ ಬರುತ್ತಿದೆಯೇ ಅಥವಾ ಬೇರೆಯವರು ಸಹ ಇದನ್ನು ಗಮನಿಸಿ ನನ್ನ ಹಾಗೆ ಏನು ಗೊತ್ತಿಲ್ಲದವರ ಹಾಗೆ ಸುಮ್ಮನಿರುವರೇ ? ಒಳಗೊಳಗೆ ಅದೆಷ್ಟು ಕೆಟ್ಟ ದಟ್ಟ ನಗುವಿನ ಅಲೆಯು ಏಳುತ್ತಿತ್ತು, ಆದರೆ ಎದುರಿಗೆ ಹಲ್ಲು ಕಚ್ಚಿಕೊಂಡು ಗಂಭೀರ ವದನೆಯಾಗಿ ಸಂಯಮ ತಂದುಕೊಳ್ಳಬೇಕಾಯಿತು! ಇದನ್ನು ನೆನೆದು ಬಹಳ ಸಂಕಟವೂ ಆಯಿತು !  ವಿನೋದದ ನಗೆಯ ಬುಗ್ಗೆಯನ್ನು ಮನಸಾರೆ ನಕ್ಕು ಬಿಡುವ ಬದಲು ಅದನ್ನು ದಮಿಸಿ ತಡೆಯಬೇಕಾಯಿತಲ್ಲ, ಎಂದು ! ಕನಿಷ್ಠ ನನ್ನ ಜೊತೆಗೆ, ಗುರುತಿನವರು ಯಾರಾದರು ಇದ್ದಿದ್ದರೆ ಖಂಡಿತ ಅವರ ಸಾಥಿಯನ್ನು ಪಡೆದು ಸಮಾಧಾನವಾಗುವಷ್ಟು ನಕ್ಕುಬಿಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆ !

ಕೊನೆಗೂ ಊಟದ ಸಮಯವೂ ಬಂದೆ ಬಿಟ್ಟಿತು. ಊಟದ ಎಲೆಗಳನ್ನು ಹಾಕಿ ತಯಾರಾಗಿಸುವ ತನಕ, ದಂಪತಿಯರ ಸಂಬಂಧಿಕರಾದ ಒಬ್ಬಾಕೆಯು ಅವರ ಮೇಲೆ ಒಂದು ಕವನವನ್ನು ಬರೆದು, ರಾಗ ಸಂಯೋಜನೆಯನ್ನೂ ಮಾಡಿ ತನ್ನ ಸಹ ಗಾಯಕಿಯರ ಸಮೂಹದೊಂದಿಗೆ ಹಾಡಲು ಶುರುಮಾಡಿದರು. ಅವರು ಹಾಡಲು ಶುರು ಮಾಡಿದ್ದೇ ತಡ ನನ್ನ ಎದೆಯು ಧಸಕ್ ಎಂದಿತು ! ಓ ದೇವರೇ ! ಇದೂ ಸಾಧ್ಯವೇ? ಜಗತ್ತಿನಲ್ಲಿ ನಮ್ಮ ಹಾಗೆ ಕಾಣುವ ಕನಿಷ್ಠ ಏಳು ಮಂದಿಯಾದರೂ ಇರುತ್ತಾರೆಂಬ ಪ್ರತೀತಿಯಿದೆ. ಆದರೆ ಧ್ವನಿಗಳ ಹೋಲಿಕೆ ಇಷ್ಟು ಅಪ್ಪಟವಾಗಿರುವುದು ಇದೇ ಮೊದಲೆನೆಯ ಅನುಭವ ! ನನ್ನ ಕಿವಿಯನ್ನು ನಂಬಲಾರದೆ ಹೋದೆ !  ಆಕೆಯ ಧ್ವನಿಯು ಮತ್ತು ಆಕೆಯ ಗಾಯನದ ಶೈಲಿಯು ಥೇಟ್ ನುಸ್ರತ್ ಫತೇಹ್ ಅಲಿ ಖಾನರ ಹಾಗೆಯೇ ಇತ್ತು ! ಸಾಕ್ಷಾತ್ ಖಾನರ ಆತ್ಮವೇ ಆಕೆಯ ಧ್ವನಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಅವಿರ್ಭವಿಸಿ ಹಾಡಿದಂತಿತ್ತು!

ನನ್ನೊಳಗೆಯೇ ನಗುವನ್ನು ಹಿಡಿದಿಟ್ಟುಕೊಂಡ ಕಾರಣದಿಂದಾಗಿಯೋ ಎನೋ ಹೊಟ್ಟೆಯು ಸಿಕ್ಕಾಪಟ್ಟೆ ಚುರುಗುಟ್ಟುತ್ತಿತ್ತು. ಅವರು ಹೇಳಿದ್ದೇ ತಡ, ಮೊದಲ ಪಂಕ್ತಿಯ ಸೀಟು ಕೈ ತಪ್ಪಿ ಹೋಗುವ ಮುನ್ನವೇ ಒಂದು ಖಾಲಿ ಜಾಗವನ್ನು ಹಿಡಿದು ಊಟಕ್ಕೆ ಕುಳಿತು ಬಿಟ್ಟೆ. ಹಬ್ಬದೂಟದ ಸ್ವಾದ ಹೇಳಬೇಕೇ ? ಆಹಾ ! ಆಕಡೆಯಿಂದ ಭಟ್ಟರು ಮುಷ್ಠಿ ಮುಷ್ಠಿ ಆಲೂಗಡ್ಡೆಯ ಚಿಪ್ಸನ್ನು ಬಡಿಸಿಕೊಂಡು ಬರುತ್ತಿದ್ದರು. ಅವರು ಬಡಿಸುವ ಗಾತ್ರವನ್ನು ನೋಡಿ ಹೆದರಿದೆ. ನನ್ನ ಎಲೆಗೆ ಬಡಿಸುವ ಮುನ್ನವೇ ನಾನು "ದಯವಿಟ್ಟು ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ಹಾಕಿ, ಅಷ್ಟೊಂದು ಬೇಡಾ" ಎಂದು ಕೇಳಿ ಕೊಂಡೆ. ಬಿಸಿಬೇಳೆಯ ಭಾತಿಗೆ ಆಲೂಗಡ್ಡೆಯ ಚಿಪ್ಸ್ ಇರಲೇ ಬೇಕಲ್ಲವೇ? ಆದರೆ ಭಟ್ಟರು ನನ್ನ  ಕೋರಿಕೆಯನ್ನು ತೀರಾ ಗಂಭೀರವಾಗಿ ಪರಿಗಣಿಸಿದರೋ ಅಥವಾ ಬೇಕೆಂದೇ ಹಾಗೆ ಮಾಡಿದರೋ ಏನೋ,
ಸ್ವಲ್ಪ ದೊಡ್ಡದಾದ ಒಂದೇ ಒಂದು  ಚಿಪ್ಸ್ ಅನ್ನು ಬುಟ್ಟಿಯಿಂದ ಆಯ್ದು, ತಮ್ಮ ಮುಷ್ಟಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಪುಡಿ ಪುಡಿ ಮಾಡಿ, ಅಷ್ಟನ್ನು ಮಾತ್ರ ಬಡಿಸಿ ಮುಂದಿನ ಎಲೆಗೆ ಬಡಿಸಲು ಹೋಗೇ ಬಿಟ್ಟರು ! 

ನನ್ನ ಪಕ್ಕದಲ್ಲಿ ಕುಳಿತ ಒಬ್ಬ ಯುವತಿಯು ಅವಳ ಪಕ್ಕದಲ್ಲಿ ಕುಳಿತ ಅವಳ ತಂದೆಗೆ, ಆ ಭಟ್ಟರ ಕಡೆಗೆ ಕೈ ತೋರಿಸುತ್ತ "ಅಪ್ಪ ಅವರ ಶರ್ಟ್ ನೋಡು ಎಷ್ಟು ತಮಾಷೆಯಾಗಿದೆ" ಎಂದು ಹೇಳಿದಳು. ನಾನೂ ನನ್ನ ದೃಷ್ಟಿಯನ್ನುಶರ್ಟಿನ ಕಡಗೆ ಹರಿಸಿದೆ. ನನಗಂತೂ ಯಾವುದೇ ತಮಾಷೆಯ ವಿಷಯವು ಕಾಣಿಸಲಿಲ್ಲ. ಭಟ್ಟರು ಧರಿಸಿದ್ದ ಶರ್ಟ್ ಅಪ್ಪಟ ಬಿಳಿಯದಾಗಿತ್ತು. ತೋಳಿನ ಅಂಚು ಮತ್ತು ಬಟನ್ ಹಾಕುವ ಅಂಚಿಗೆ ಮಾತ್ರ ಹಸಿರು ಬಣ್ಣದ ಪಟ್ಟಿ ಎದ್ದು ಕಾಣುತ್ತಿತ್ತು.  ಕೂಡಲೇ ಆ ಯುವತಿಯ ತಂದೆಯು "ಹೂಂ ಹೌದು ...ಪಾಪ ಅವರ ಪಂಚೆಯಲ್ಲೇ ಶರ್ಟನ್ನು ಹೊಲಿಸಿಕೊಂಡಿದ್ದಾರೆ ಅಂತ ಕಾಣತ್ತೆ" ಎಂದರು. ಆಗಷ್ಟೇ ಖಾರದ ಚಿಪ್ಸಿನ  ತುಂಡೊಂದನ್ನು ಬಾಯಿಗೆ ಹಾಕೊಂಡ ನನಗೆ, ಅವರ ಹಾಸ್ಯ ಚಟಾಕಿಯಿಂದಾಗಿ, ಚಿಪ್ಸಿನ ಖಾರವು ನೆತ್ತಿಗೇರಿ ಬಿಡ್ತು ! ಆಗಲೂ ಸಹ ಮನಸಾರೆ ನಗಲಾಗಲಿಲ್ಲ ! ಕೈ ತೊಳೆದು, ತಾಂಬೂಲವನ್ನು ಸ್ವೀಕರಿಸಿ, ಸಿಹಿ ಸಿಹಿಯಾದ ಬೀಡಾ ಒಂದನ್ನು ಜಿಗಿಯುತ್ತ, ಕಲ್ಯಾಣ ಮಂಟಪದಿಂದ ಹೊರಬಿದ್ದ ನನಗೆ ಎನೋ ಒಂದು ಬಗೆಯ ವಿನೋದವಾದ ತೃಪ್ತಿ, ಹಾಸ್ಯವಾಯು ತಗುಲಿದ ಅನುಭವ! 

ಆಟೋ ಒಂದರಲ್ಲಿ ಕುಳಿತು ಬರುವಾಗ, ನಡೆದ ಘಟನಾವಳಿಯನ್ನು ಮೆಲುಕು ಹಾಕುತ್ತ ನನ್ನಷ್ಟಕೆ ನಾನೇ ನಗಾಡುತ್ತಿದ್ದೆ. ನಾ ನಗುವುದನ್ನು ಆಟೋ ಡ್ರೈವರ್, ಕನ್ನಡಿಯಲ್ಲಿ ಗಮನಿಸುತ್ತಿರುವದನ್ನು ಗಮನಿಸಿ ಪುನಃ ಮುಖದ ಮೇಲೆ ಗಾಂಭೀರ್ಯ ತಂದುಕೊಂಡೆ. ಈಗಲೂ ನನ್ನೊಳಗಿನ ಅವ್ಯಕ್ತ ಹಾಸ್ಯವನ್ನು ಮನಸಾರೆ ನಕ್ಕು ವ್ಯಕ್ತ ಪಡಿಸಲಾಗುತ್ತಿಲ್ಲವಲ್ಲ ಎಂದು ನೆನೆದು ಒಳ ಒಳಗೇ ಮತ್ತಷ್ಟು ನಗು ಉಕ್ಕಿಬಂತು !  

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Scenario - I
More than a decade and a half ago, my close kins had once taken me along to meet one of the monks of R K Math, outside Bangalore, at which time the good monk was revamping an existing charity hospital of the Math and was in need of a house-keeping lady. He was very particular and emphatic about what was needed out of that work. As I reproduce it to the best of my memory, he said "The floors of the the wards, the bath rooms and the toilets have to be spotlessly clean all the time. Floor mopping has to be administered atleast four times a day. The staff ought not to be absconding at any given time. Must be active, healthy and energetic" 

One family friend who had accompanied us, immediately volunteered to outsource such a candidate, who was thought of being fit for the job. Eventually, Swamiji posed some basic and formal questions about the candidate, candidate's family etc and once again insistently enquired if the proposed candidate fitted the bill in terms of competency required. To which the friend reassuringly added, a bit exuberantly " Oh yes Swamiji, she is a very decent lady"

Swamiji immediately snapped sharply replying "It is okay even if she is not decent, are you sure she will do the required job to the efficiency level required here for this hospital?"

Stunned by the sharpness in the Swamiji's tone, the friend was barely able to utter a "yes".      

 I later understood that it was not to be misconstrued that decency, in whatever form or definition, was not a matter of priority to consider the person's credibility. On the contrary, the perspective of Swamiji's emphasis was about the clarity, efficiency, dedication and expectation of the job profile. May be, if I am not wrong, Swamiji's notion was that decency as a person's characteristic, need not be a default validation for a particular job profile, as a priority of the hour.

But ofcourse being a naive youngster then, I had indeed gathered a very narrow idea that people who work around the Math with the likes of Swamiji have to be exceptionally decent enough to be standing apart from the general mainstream masses. At that point of time I failed to understand and even shocked as to how Swamiji can allow "indecent" people to work inside the Math premises. This delusion and narrowness was destined to be broken years later, in a harder way. :-) 


Scenario II 

Back in my corporate days, as a part of the mid-managerial protocol, I underwent a so-called 360 degree feedback, which requires evaluation by peers, subordinates and superiors. To my utter heart-break, I had scored low on 'Approachability', since one of the appraiser felt that my demeanor was too traditional and conservative to score a high on corporate professionalism. It was even mentioned that I was never seen wearing a jeans anytime! :-) 

Earlier to this incident, in another event, I was denied selection for a plum project though I had faired excellently, for the reasons that I was too conservative to interact with elite, top-end US clients. Funniest part was, my scoring was done by an American trainer and the over-riding of the scores  was done to de-select me out of induction, by our very own wannabe-american Indian ! :-)

The project being a voice-process, obviously the American evaluator was remotely scoring my test performance since the evaluation was based on  voice and communicative abilities over the telephone, and so perhaps the American being a typical professional couldn't care less even if I were an orthodox hag, where as for my own wannabe-American Indian evaluator, it was a grave issue since she felt that "looking" conservative would obviously somehow "sound" conservative too and hence the deselection. Anyway, whatever happens, happens for the best, though heart-broken at that point of time, since a promotion came my way within a year's time in another project, which otherwise may have not happened due to the tough competition that existed in the plum project. 

Apart from the above, there were various instances of being ignored not acknowledged amidst a high-end bohemian corporate crowd, for not being boisterous enough to be 'one among them' or for abstaining from corporate parties and such likes.

Sometimes, had to endure the ordeal of counseling to quite a few young colleagues fresh out from college, who came from a very homely and a fairly domestic background, and who couldn't nor knew how to take in the sudden cultural shock. Some showed resilience, some were embarrassed of thier conservative background and thus gradually felt that expressing a sense of shame was an effective way to convince the "owners of corporate sophistication" that they are a progressed lot among thier clan, became sycophants, suffocating within, but trying to be "liberal" externally, some lost thier innocence, turning brazen, just to fit into the herd, out of a sheer fear of corporate-alienation etc etc 

Have seen young girls, as beginners, who used to look so homely and innocently beautiful in thier simple salwar kameez, doing a 180 degree turn in a few months time, wearing thin spaghetti sleeveless, plunging necklines, tight jeans, above the waist T-shirts etc etc. Not that wearing apparels of one's choice and liking ought to be considered as "out-caste" against one's conservative background but choosing to wear such apparels out of a sheer  herd-pressure to "fit in" is the sad part.  

In the current times, the highly sophisticated and an exhaustively defined HR policies of the corporates, talk highly about protecting the individual ethnicity of an employee, but it feels like a paradox when it comes to an employee's choice of maintaining his / her individual status-quo wrt to be rooted in regional conservatism. As long as professionalism, competencies and individual ethnicity are mutually unaffected by eachother, why should this even be an issue ?

It is but natural, that my personal experience propels me to stoically take a stand against such kind of hideous liberal forces that attempts to scuttle and corner Conservatism. Conservatism is never a stone-age culture and corporate extrovertism is not necessarily an elevating liberalism

Thursday, 3 January 2013


There is this astrological Q & A program called 'Mahaakaala', which is aired everyday on Kasturi TV Channel. A live phone-in program. Viewers from all over the Karnataka call on the mobile number(flashed during the program) with questions, to seek astrological answers to the queries they pose to the astrologer, fielding the queries from the TV studio. Unfortunately for me, I share almost a similar mobile number except the last digit. The squigglish last digit of the mobile shown on the TV resembles the last digit of my mobile number. Hence there is a tendency for the the viewers to dial my mobile. This has been happening since more than three months now. Initially I was pretty alarmed that all of a sudden people are calling me to get me to predict their future. Felt like it was some prank being played on me. Later, when I gathered information from those talks, my investigation resulted in discovering this program on Kasturi channel. So, every morning between 9.00am to almost 10.30 am, Iam busy attending calls!
Initially I endured the irritation with outrage, for my privacy was encroached and also feeling harassed for receiving the calls that wasn't meant for me. I tried my best explaining to the callers as to how they're calling the wrong number etc etc. I even called the Kasturi channel and requested them for a better clarity in displaying their mobile number  but all of it were no use. Gradually I somehow felt that this issue was not worthy enough to effectively take it forward to fetch a rational solution to it. Hence gave up taking to the TV channel, which they anyway were not able to grasp  my problem. So, I called it a truce for my own sake and gradually turned it into an entertainment channel for myself, for my family members and even to my friend and her family.
First, I let my little nephew respond to the calls, putting the mobile's audio on loud speaker mode so that all of us could listen to the conversation. The result was greatly comical! While my nephew was most eager and happy to do it, all at home almost rolled on the floor laughing due to the audible confusion heard from the other end. After a couple of days, the novelty value wore out for my nephew and he started turning his face the other way. I let the other family members too, handle the calls just to let them gain a first-hand experience of how to respond to wrong number calls and to become a seasoned expert. I can say that my mother enjoyed the most. Being inquisitive by nature, mother never let the cat out of the bag until the right moment was due and until she had all the information she wanted to learn from the caller. First, she was curious to know from which part of Karnataka the caller called from. (later she'd make her own statistics of how many calls came from this many places). And if it was from a place that she hadn't heard of before, she would enquire the caller about a brief details on the geographical location of the city/village/taluk they called from and even goaded the caller to share the specialty about their place/hometown etc. Poor callers, under the belief that the conversation was happening live on Kasturi channel, were very forthcoming about answering mother's queries. And then finally she would advise that they have called on the wrong number.. By the end of the call, she would respond with a mock-anger (ofcourse, only after the Q & A session) as to how badly it is bothering us, mostly to cover up her own undue Q & A session initiated with the caller.

While I was hanging around at my friend's place, I let her family members too indulge in this entertainment. When it was my friend's turn, the caller asked "Kasturi na idu?" ("Is this Kasturi?"). The only Kasturi that my friend is connected with, is her maid Kasturi who has a sister named Lakshmi. So my friend was greatly tickled to give out a frivolous answer "naanu kasturi alla, avaLakka Lakshmi" ("Iam not Kasturi. Iam her elder sister Lakshmi"). The effect of imagining all possible and probable expressions of baffle at the other end, simply set us off into peals of laughter.
So this is how it has come to be ...
I have informed those of my friends who call me often, not to disturb me between 9.00 am to 10.30am in the morning. I have taken it upon myself to do an honorary service to Kasturi channel, by re-routing all the callers to Kasturi, helping the callers in knowing their future predictions. However, the calling frequency appears to be reducing as the days pass by, implying that there are no second-time callers.  Having developed an inadvertent and a vague love and affection for those faceless voice-humans, I think I am going to miss them for a while when Iam finally done with the cycle of first-time callers or when the program itself comes to an end. 
If the scenario was set else where, say in the 'developed' country/ies, this issue would've been fixed in no time due to the  highly skilled action-oriented speedy solutions to public grievances, and if the nuisance persisted, a right to evoke the tenable legal facility of suing the channel for citizen harassment, si well in place.

But it works a bit differently here. 

First, one gets to experience an anger and repulsion, then endure a compulsive harassment, but later it is followed by entertainment, value-addition to general knowledge, comedy and laughter, collective participation, improving sense of humor and even leveraging stock options to those interested in investing in it, learning to trend statistics and data, upgrading communication skills, telephone etiquettes, followed by it becoming a wonderful writing content for the blog, Facebook status etc, but also ofcourse tinged with wee bit guilt, for being a prankster (even though it driven by circumstances)in deriving an entertainment delight at the cost of somebody unknown. Finally, being subjected to do a selfless social service to a TV channel and its viewers, after which perhaps someday, this very event would gradually cease to occur!