Guldasta

A bouquet of flowers picked along the way ….

The Constant Ambassador January 19, 2010

Filed under: ego,Ethics and Values,India,Inspiration,Me — gurdas @ :

That is what we are. Constant Ambassadors to what is outside of us. From what is inside of us – our self, genders, faiths, nationalities, and race to name a few. When you talk to the barista, or the waitress, or the bus driver, do not take your words or actions lightly. Because you represent not just a stranger. You represent yourself. Your smile and kind words would be remembered. Your heartfelt “thank you” would make somebody’s day. The Universe is keeping score, even if you are not.

And it always comes back. Yes, you reap what you sow. So keep your seeds top class. And water faithfully.

So I am from India. And I am a Sikh. And I am a man. That is three full time jobs. And I take each responsibility very seriously. And the ambition is sky high. Every person I cross paths with, must remember me as a gentleman, a thinking, loving, compassionate, and respectful human. And when they see any of my kind, may they proclaim welcome with a smile because I left them with one.

Too often we are consumed by petty short sightedness. How easy it is to be rude thinking the other person does not matter because you do not expect to run into them ever again. And then we wonder why someone was rude to us without reason. It is simple. Most of the time strangers are rude because someone like us was rude to them in the past. Imagine this; you meet a Mexican (or Indian or American or Chinese, whatever) woman who was very kind to you. She helped you with directions or offered to jump start your car or let you cross the road first with a smiling wave. What will you feel when you see a similar person again? Can you feel anger or hatred? NO! Your mind will race back to the pleasant experience from the past and you will at least make an effort to be nice.

I occasionally encounter stereotyping. Oh, so you are an Indian, so you must be so and so. Why? Partly because of the ignorance of the other person, the danger of a single story (from this talk by Chimamanda Adichie), and partly because they may have had one or two experiences that confirmed their stereotype image of an Indian. But what if every single Indian they meet breaks that stereotype? How long before they correct their image? Not very I’d say.

Our actions are what we bequeath to our children. I’d say we strive to leave them a world full of loving strangers.

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Aye Maalik Tere Bande Hum December 20, 2009

Filed under: Ethics and Values,Inspiration,life,philosophy,poetry — gurdas @ :

The song ‘Aye Maalik Tere Bande Hum‘ from the 1957 classic Do Aankhen Barah Haath directed by V. Shantaram has a special place in my heart. For me, and for millions of other Indians, it is a prayer. The song pleads for the strength to be virtuous, embraces death as a reality, accepts human fraility, and implores God to take all our sins and weaknesses. Kudos to lyricist Bharat Vyas for penning an eternal classic.

ankhen0001

(photo borrowed from this page, which is a good read on the movie)

Lyrics (transliteration // translation)

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aye maalik tere bande hum  //  Lord, you are our creator
aysein hon hamaare karam  //  So be our deeds
naykee par chalein aur badhee se talein  //  May we walk the path of righteousness and refrain from evil
taaki hastein huye nikale dum  //  So that we may depart fulfilled and smiling
aye maalik tere bande hum  //  Lord, you are our creator

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badaa kamzor hai aadmi  // Frail is the human being
abhi laakhon hain isme kameen  //  With a million shortcomings
par tu joh khadaa hai dayalu badaa  //  But you are forgiving
teri kirpaa se dharti thamee  //  The world exists due to your benevolence
diya toone hamein jab janam  //  Since you have given us birth
tuhee jhelega hum sab ke gum  //  You will also bear our burdens
naykee par chalein aur badhee se talein  //  May we walk the path of righteousness and refrain from evil
taaki hastein huye nikale dum  //  So that we may depart fulfilled and smiling
aye maalik tere bande hum  //  Lord, you are our creator

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ye andhera ghanaa cha raha  //  The world is engulfed in darkness
tera insaan ghabara raha  //  Your man is fearful
ho raha bekhabar kuch na aata nazar  //  He is uninformed and blind
sukh ka sooraj chupaa ja raha  //  The light of peace and happiness is dimnishing
hai teri raushani mein joh dum  //  Such is the strength in your aura
tu amaavas ko kar de poonam  //  That even a moonless night glows bright
naykee par chalein aur badhee se talein  //  May we walk the path of righteousness and refrain from evil
taaki hastein huye nikale dum  //  So that we may depart fulfilled and smiling
aye maalik tere bande hum  //  Lord, you are our creator

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jab zulmon ka ho saamanaa  //  When we are faced with attrocities
tab tuhee hamein thamanaa  //  O Lord, hold us firm
woh burayee karein hum bhalayee bharein  //  We reply with kindness for their evil
nahi badle ki ho kamanaa  //  May there be no desire for revenge
badh uthe pyaar ka har kadam  //  May every step ahead be for love
aur mitein baeyr ka ye bharam  //  May every thought of enemity be banished
naykee par chalein aur badhee se talein  //  May we walk the path of righteousness and refrain from evil
taaki hastein huye nikale dum  //  So that we may depart fulfilled and smiling
aye maalik tere bande hum  //  Lord, you are our creator

 

The Metamorphosis October 8, 2009

Filed under: Ethics and Values,life,love,Me,philosophy — gurdas @ :
The Metamorphosis - From Larvae to Butterfly

The Metamorphosis - From Larva to Butterfly

 

At first you stop being greedy.

Then selfishness goes away.

Following which empathy comes in and sets the stage for love.

And then you give like it never belonged to you.

Finally, you receive.

 

1984 – The Sikh Massacre in Delhi August 29, 2009

Filed under: conversations,Ethics and Values,India,Religion — gurdas @ :

Reproduced below is a recent Facebook dialogue between me and friends about the 1984 Sikh massacre in Delhi, India. The dialogue is presented verbatim with correction of typos.

1984

About 3000 Sikhs were killed in 2 days in Delhi, Nov. 1984

Gurdas – 1984, Delhi, India. 3000 Sikhs massacred in less than 48 hours. That is one Sikh every minute. Not shot in a riot or street wars, but burnt alive in front of their families. Not in some distant corner, but in the capital of the nation. 25 years, and 10 enquiries later not one high profile conviction. We will NOT forget. http://www.sikhchic.com/1984

Deepanjan  – And we are a civilized and tolerant people!

Pawandeep  – Sometimes, it’s not the people. It is the State!

Gurdas  – Deeps: Well said. I gave up the notion of Indians being tolerant a very long time ago. We are amongst the world’s most racist, violent, and intolerant race. Pawan: I am not sure I understand your comment. Are you saying the State is accountable and not the people who participated in this pogrom? But isn’t the State a collection of individuals. I have no anger towards the government (as a body) or the population of Delhi (again as a body). The moment you say State, Government, etc it makes accountability very difficult. My anger is directed and pin pointed at every individual (starting from Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi to Congress man Jagdish Tytler to the Poilceman who watched silently to every person who burnt, raped, and looted). And in that sense, I will say it is not the State, it is individuals. Try these individuals, hold them accountable, and justice will be delivered.

Gagandeep  – Given the way the trials are now going, I will not be surprised if anybody does not get any sentence…Notwithstanding other reasons, this is the most likely outcome also because

1. This is in a way similar to what happened in Gujarat Riots.. hard to pick up individuals except the Chief Minister and his aides directly… as the people who did it is a mob, which does not has any face..

2. Evidence against Tytler is minimal, and CBI has already given a clean chit to it.. then PM is no more..

These are also the reasons I tend to agree with Manmohan s’ take on it… Can’t keep this issue alive always in our hearts.. Move on.. and let the law take its course..And. I think the more one carries hatred and anger in one’s heart about this, the more bad for him individually and the more the possibility of him getting exploited politically..

Gurdas  – Gagan: Totally disagree with you. And here is why:

1. Delhi is different from Gujarat, where the violence was widespread and sometimes in remote areas. With 1984, the massacre is dead center Delhi. The mob has many faces and some are seen in the few pictures available. But not every face needs to be seen. How about the police stations under whose jurisdiction the areas of violence lies? They can be held accountable to begin with. And the CM and everybody else in the line of control. When you hold them responsible, the truth will come out. The policeman will be forced to tell he had orders to not act, and so on.

2. I am a big fan of accountability. And here is why 1984 is important. If justice had been done then, Gujarat might never have happened. We cannot walk away from this injustice and forget it. Not only because of the victims of 1984, but the future victims we will create by giving the message that mobs in India are free to kill.

3. There is incriminating evidence against Tytler. At least enough to not let him go scott free. I strongly recommend reading “When a tree shook Delhi” by Mitta and Phoolka. I quote this particular book because it is written by a journalist and a lawyer, both of whom are considered experts on 1984.

4. About the issue of forgetting it – I agree with forgiving and moving on. But, who do I forgive? Nobody has asked for it yet! Remember, 1984 is like an open wound. If the Sikhs have to forget it, somebody has to heal that wound. And that healing will come from justice. If Jagdish Tytler (just to name a person) stands up and says “I am sorry. I will repent by serving the community for next 10 years” I will go hug him and forgive him. You cannot forget a wound which is still bleeding, right? For those whose families were murdered, 1984 is ongoing….

5. The law is not taking its course. That is the whole point. I refuse to believe that the government is unable to find evidence. In fact the government is shoving evidence under the carpet. There are pictures where faces are clearly visible, there are recorded statements about Tytler, the list is endless … again, I point you towards the book by Mitta and Phoolka (which I am currently reading). I must repeat that my anger is very directed. I have no anger towards Rahul Gandhi for example. And I am also a firm believer that public pressure can do wonders. Even get justice. It took just one shoe thrown at Chidambaram for justice to creep out and show its face. I am against violence as a course of action. My ethics teach me to stand by the weak, to fight injustice. If I stop doing THAT, THEN I will have NO peace. I am not interested in the pseudo peace that comes from shirking away from my responsibility.

Gagandeep  – Gurdas, I agree with you conceptually that the justice should be done.. but what makes you believe that after 25 years there is a possibility of any justice..?? Accountability in the communal violences is much more difficult to come… the sooner you realize this.. at more peace you will be… Else, frustrations of injustice will never end in the SIKHs mind.. and GOD only knows when those bottled frustrations will give rise to another ugly act of violence….

Amit  – Gurdas, I totally agree with you that justice needs to be served. No doubt. But the problem, I think, is there is no unified attempt to demand justice from the govt or judiciary. No concentrated effort. It’s usually once a year news on TV channels on the anniversary of the sad event. Most victims and their families have moved on and are waiting for some kind of outcome of this case. The longer you wait for a trial, the weaker it becomes. Like Gagan said, when a mob is on riot, everyone is equally guilty. To expect that a ruling govt will try their own leaders in court is highly unexpected in India. Justice delayed is justice denied. While I am hopeful that the culprits will be brought to justice some day, it might just be too little too late.

Gurdas  – Amit: Two notable points:

1) There is a unified effort in the form of justice committees formed between lawyers and victims. Just that the government is dragging its feet and trying every possible trick of subterfuge.

2) Delhi had enough army stationed in and around the city to wage a war, let alone stop a MOB. I highlight mob because this was not a mob! A mob in an impromptu congregation of violent individuals. What happened in Delhi was an organized rampage in complicity with city leaders. There is a reason why people like Jagdish Tytler are being protected. I have a suspicion that if he did get charged so many skeletons will come out, that many of Congress’s top brass will be behind bars. Like you said, I do not see that happening.

Amit  – Gurdas, When I said unified effort, I meant by the general public – victims or concerned citizens. And they too will need a strong and influential leader to get it heard anywhere. I would rather  not depend on committees formed by lawyers. But again, who has the time? And for how long? As for Army not responding to the riots, when the riots take place at the behest of the ruling govt. neither army nor police will move a muscle. Whatever happened was evil and unfortunate. I am not sure what’s the best way to put a closure on this case. The political, judicial and police system are too corrupt and colluding to get justice. If you were looking for a high- profile name to be tried and sentenced, it’s unlikely now that Tytler has been acquitted by CBI and congress rules at the center.

What’s your take on getting justice?

Gagandeep  – Talking about the efforts, there are efforts underway like the other day when I was in NJ Gurudwara, California-based Jasbir  (one of the witness against Tytler who heard his orders of SIKH Killings in Delhi) had come there to gather support both morally and financially. He gave statements to Nanavati commission in 2002 but CBI said they couldn’t trace him .. and wanted his statements taken again.. in 2004.. He swore he would go any day if called by CBI.. and claims he was not contacted.. even though he admitted there were open threats to him and his family.. He is already in his 70s… There are few witnesses left.. many have already been killed long back.. Those left will not live forever to testify again and again and again.. and Congress knows this very well and is making process delays as their weapon too..

Gurdas  – Amit: To win the game, we need to play it. Or at least cheer those who are playing it. Writing on facebook, sending an occasional email, or other similar efforts are my way of keeping the memory and consciousness alive. And then we wait for the wheels of time to turn. But forgetting it is not an option. Because there are 3000 corpses lying in the middle of Delhi and their stench fills me with disgust. No, I cannot forget until those bodies are given a fitting burial. But one must write responsibly, and not quote stories and rumours. So, I am doing my due diligence of reading what little is out there about 1984 (on Sikh extremism, the subsequent attack on Golden Temple, and Sikh killings in the aftermath of Gandhi’s assassination).

Gurdas  – Gagan: Good input.

Amit and Gagan: May I use this dialogue as an article on my blog?

Amit  – It’s sickening, but not surprising, to learn that the agency entrusted with the responsibility to investigate the incident is lying about the testifying witnesses. Everything is influenced by politicians. If Mr. Jasbir ‘s testimony in 2002 has been brushed under the carpet, and his whereabouts declared unknown, I bet no matter how many times he gives statement, they would all be buried. CBI investigates the case, CBI comes under PMO, PM appoints CBI chief, PM belongs to congress, the alleged convicts belong to congress, good luck with getting justice. As much as it breaks my heart, even if a Sikh PM, who knows all the facts, did not move a brick in the last 5 years in power, who do you think you can rely on for getting justice? Can you think of even one politician ever tried successfully and sentenced? People can donate money and sign statements of support, but what purpose do they solve other than highlighting the case locally, for some time.

Amit – Sure, Gurdas.

Gagandeep – Sure do Gurdas! who knows… One thread less makes the wire snap!

 

The Bus Driver March 20, 2009

Filed under: Ethics and Values,Inspiration,life — gurdas @ :

Just like every other day today I took Wolfline Southeast Loop to campus. But as we were driving down Morrill Drive, an ordinary event told me how extraordinary the driver was. Here we are cruising smoothly, when suddenly the driver slams the breaks, sending almost everybody lunging forward. The reason – the vehicle ahead of us had swerved sharply without warning to grab a parking spot. So, what is so special here? The very first words uttered by the driver were “Sorry about that”, addressed to the passengers who had been inconvenienced by the sudden change of velocity.

I could not but help wonder about this. I put myself into the shoes of the driver and try imagining what my first words would have been. I would have probably sworn and only then followed up with an apology (which in any case was not due because the driver was not at fault).

To narrowly escape an accident, not be at fault, and have a sorry come out of your lips in the first second, to me, is nothing but extraordinary.

 

Cows and Humans June 11, 2008

Sayajigunj, Vadodara, India. 2008

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In India, there is peaceful coexistence of domestic animals and humans. It is inevitable given the almost animal like living conditions of so many Indians.

We are poor by choice. Poverty has become a state of mind. The little that the government does is frittered away by its own corrupt officials and bureaucracy.

And in the midst of all this, is the tragic apathy of city dwelling middle class and rich to the plight of the underprivileged who are easily labelled as lazy and thieves. It is almost impossible to think of God on a hungry stomach, how then can we expect the exploited to act responsible?

I urge you to play your role (small or big) in removing poverty and illiteracy from our land. How about shouldering the education of two poor kids?

 

Are you a windmill type? May 14, 2008

Filed under: Ethics and Values,nature,photography — gurdas @ :

Wind energy, Ahmednagar, Maharashtra, India. 2007

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The windmill blades go whoosh whoosh whoosh. You must stand below one to experience the size and volume.

I was wondering how amazing windmills are. They simply stand in the path of wind and ‘receive’ what they need. They do not chase the wind, they do not trap the wind and they do not alter the wind.

Are you a windmill person? Or do you leave your ecological footprint wherever you go?