Friday, 18 September 2015

Ganapati Bappa and Benevolent Future

Though Ganesh Chaturthi always held huge importance in Hindu calendar, its widespread popularity can be accredited to Lokmanya Bal Gangadhar Tilak. The valiant freedom fighter turned this domestic festival into a public celebration in 1893 with an intention to bring people together and garner support for freedom movement. However, Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav which was meant to bring people together and alleviate all communal discrimination has turned into a foul display of power and authority in the recent years along with having bizarre effects on the ecosystem. Every corner in every city has a different Ganapati, each one trying to belittle the next one with a bigger idol and over-pretentious decorations. Blocked roads and electricity theft become flavor of the season. Irrelevant obscene songs from the blaring loud speakers make everyone cringe in disgust and discomfort. Well, it would be unfair to say that purity of the festival is completely lost. There still are communities and groups where Ganesh Utsav means traditional celebrations without hampering the peace and tranquility of the society but yes, they are rare.

The aftermath of the festival is all the more horrifying. The filth lying around the Ganesh pandals makes the streets unbearable. And what happens to the idols is just heart-breaking for me. These are immersed in water bodies but since most of these idols are made of plaster of paris, they do not dissolve. It’s really heart-breaking to see my favorite deity left to rot in filthy waters. It makes me think if that Ganesh idol (and Maa Durga, who undergoes the same treatment during Durga Puja) would actually want to come to stay with us next year.

Well, not everything is as gloomy as I have pictured it here. People have started realizing the harmful impact of such celebrations on the environment and community. More and more awareness is being spread about alternatives to age-old customs which need re-adjustment to the current ecological needs. It’s also heartening to see the younger generation embracing traditions with a progressive and sustainable approach. And I am sure, the God of wisdom, Ganesh, will lead us to a future full of prosperity and benevolence.

Lets not wait for the change. Bring about the change. Just do your bit.

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Thursday, 10 September 2015

Book Review- Johnny Gone Down

 Author: Karan Bajaj
 Publisher: Harper Collins (April 2010)
 Genre: Fiction, Thriller
 Price : INR 91 (paperback) and INR 99 (ebook)                              

When I finished reading The Seeker by Karan Bajaj, I was in awe of the author. So I picked up Johnny Gone Down. I can’t say I didn’t like the book but it was nowhere near The Seeker in terms of storyline and passion. Still worth a review and a few good words.

So you take one Ivy league scholar all set to start his career with the coveted NASA, add some unbelievable twists and turns to the plot, add some thrill to it along with a pinch of drama….and voila! You have Johnny Gone Down. And when you have all this in one dish, it can be anything but boring. I practically finished this book in 6 hours (spread over two days). It was so gripping that I was thinking about it even while driving and working . For me, that is good enough.

          Nikhil Arya or Nick aka Johnny, our hero here, has everything planned for his life. Already graduated from MIT, he has a job offer from NASA. He plans to have a glorious career and an envious life. Except that life has different plans for him. On an impromptu visit to Cambodia with this close friend Sam, life takes a wrong turn and Nick ends up as a captive of Pol Pot but not before he has heroically helped Sam along with a few others escape the dreaded land. From here starts a roller-coaster ride which takes Nick through life-altering events. Nick has been a Buddhist monk, a drug mafia, online gaming Moghul, a doting husband and an excited father to be and a fatal game survivor. You won’t even need any coffee to stay awake while you read this one.

Some plus points for me were the starting of the novel and easy-to-comprehend language. The ending, however, was very abrupt and a let-down for me. But worth a read over a weekend. And I might now pick “keep off the grass” to finish Karan Bajaj Series.

My Rating: 

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