Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Myth-ology




Before I start here, let me make a heartfelt note of apology to all the poliotical ..err political or social watchmen of religion who might find it very tempting to put me behind bars after reading this. 

Ever since I can remember, the first impression of God was given to me by Doordarshan which used to air Sri Krishna. I was very kindly told by my mother that Krishna was a super intelligent God who reincarnated on earth to bash up all the bad boys off the face of this earth. So I had to be a good boy and drink up all the milk she had brought for me. Then after a few months, I asked my mother about one particularly interested dude who stayed in Himalayas and smoked pot. Although I envy this blessed soul’s life now, then I became confused when she told me that he was also a God. I figured how could there be two Gods? Needless to say, I was shocked beyond description when I later came to know that there were more than some odd 33 Million Gods in the Indian Market Association of God (IMAG) as of today. That must have been more than the total population of Bhutan. Funnily enough, IMAG sounds a bit like IMDB which is the central Database of all the movies made across all over the world. Just like IMDB, this association would be having a record of each and every God where he/she would have been adjudged on different parameters and given a final rating on a scale of 10. Then we could also choose from the top 250 list of Gods whom we were going to choose for worship. It would have been so much better if we had the discretion to choose our own God depending on the rating and worshipper-reviews of that particular one. I like to believe that we would have been so much lesser confused in the choice of God than we are today. 

Over the period of my existence in this religiously charged society, I became aware of the hierarchy that exists in the Divine Management. Starting from the top, there is Lord Vishnu who, according to my very scarce knowledge of Indian mythology, is the founder of all the Indian Gods. This guy stays somewhere in the ocean sprawled on a giant serpent with his wife. And rent-free of course. Why? Well because he is the God. There is not much I can say about him but he appears to be quite a lazy fellow to me who sends someone with all his powers for all those who supposedly screwed up on earth. There have been two incarnations of Lord Vishnu until now, Lord Rama and Lord Krishna who have played an instrumental layer in cleaning up the mess of this earth. These two forms of God have also been very prominent figures in Indian God fraternity. Like the top rated guys in the IMAG database. While Lord Vishnu is enjoying a war battle like a match of WWE with probably pop corns and soda in two of his many hands, Lord Krishna or Rama down on earth are fighting the most hideous villains of our ancient history. Just sounds like someone who is sitting at the top of a society. Moreover, the choice of Lord Vishnu’s resting mattress is quite peculiar too. A colossal snake with five heads that might as well have been Anaconda’s father. I fail to understand such a melodramatic and queer choice of place for someone as important as God. Was it because Lord Vishnu’s accommodation was infested with too many rodents or he used it just to be cool amongst his friends? But I can’t complaint much on the bed or the bedroom of Lord Vishnu because I certainly don’t want to get thrashed up by the mace he keeps by his side in case someone tries to get too smart with him by intruding into his private space.

Next in the hierarchy are the two Lords who are like the CEOs of this world. One is Lord Bramha and the other is Lord Shiva. While the former is an old man sitting in an armchair of lotus, the other is the cool dude draped stylishly in a leopard skin with killing dancing skills and getting high on grass. Bramha is portrayed as an aging man with Dumbledore-ish beard, great sagacity and four heads. The fashion statement of having multi heads amongst Gods is a bit difficult to comprehend. Now although difficult to believe, Lord Bramha is one of the lowest scorers in our Lord rating chart. There is only one temple of Bramha in the entire world and he appears rarely ever in the pictures of many Gods that are there in the market today. May be there are but I haven’t seen much of him on the key rings, pendants, amulets or other lucky talismans that we carry with ourselves. He seems a bit forgotten and kind of a loner who is sitting up there silently with brimming wisdom and eight eyes blinking simultaneously in all the four directions. He is further overshadowed by the popularity of his own daughter Goddess Saraswati who is very frequently summoned by desperately religious students for helping them in achieving good scores in exams. She is probably the Lord sensation of all the school or college going students. Lord Bramha also doesn’t appear to be one who features in the most favorite gods’ list of humans and demons as he is never seen worshipped by either of them.  We also don’t see him associated even with BJP which is a bit disappointing for a Hindu God when no one is wielding any weapons in his name shouting as ‘Jai ho Bramha’

Lord shiva on the other hand and in a rather sharp contrast to Bramha appears to be insanely celebrated by many sections of the society. Ranging from veteran dopers to cannibalistic Aghoris, Lord Shiva enjoys a very huge and jealous fan following. He wears leopard skin with total panache without having to worry about Animal right activists. He can easily chop off the head of his own son and replace it afterwards with that of an elephant on being denied entry in his own house. It looks like either Lord Shiva didn’t pay much attention to the factor of uniformity or he liked elephants way too much. He is also brave enough to keep a snake coiled around his neck, don a crescent atop his head like a hat or something and keep a woman who also happens to be an inexhaustible source of water safely hidden under his long and curly hair locks. I’m sure he never has to worry about shampooing his hair due to shortage of water. What makes him way cooler than his other colleagues is the fact that he is a great toker and an even greater dancer who can score any girl with his state of the art grooves. I’m compelled by the force of my imagination to think about him all red eyed and dancing wildly with long untied hair waving and bouncing all across his face. Call it the effect of his super stud status but he has been able to achieve the exceptional feat of making people of this otherwise prudish society worship his penis or ‘Lingh’. Dude, can you be any more awesome? Unlike Bramha, he has got an entire army of fiercely loyal fans known as Kanvadias shouting ‘Bam bam Bhole’ and bringing the traffic of many cities to a stand-still. No wonder why this guy soars high in the popularity chart of Hindu Gods. Take a bow or Bam Bam Bhole

After the likes of Shiva, come the most useless folks of Hindu mythology. The many devas like Indra and party. They report directly to all the three Gods and have an uncanny knack of getting into trouble all the time. Their only job is to watch sultry and seductive item numbers performed by the luscious and curvaceous maidens of heavens, drink booze and getting bullied by the ‘Asuras’ or demons. Apparently, Gods belonging to this particular strata are rendered so powerless and inferior by their foes in the battle that every time they have to call their seniors and superiors for support. When they are not getting kicked or bullied, they take leisurely strolls on earth as imposters looking for a hot wife of some Rishi Muni only to get caught in the act and cursed by him. Real dumbasses.

Why is the market of Gods and religion thriving and prosperous today? When I come to think of it, I think there is not much difference in the states of Hindu Gods and software industry. While there are so many of them, one is never sufficient to run the system. If that is the idea of real God, may God help us.
  


Sunday, July 7, 2013

And the Mountains echoed-Khaled Hosseini

The plot of ‘And the Mountains echoed’ is set as a circular course which begins with Abdullah and his little sister Pari who is separated from him at the onset of the story and completes with them re uniting again. As the tale unfolds further, many more characters surface up with each having a quite descriptive and often painful account of their respective pasts. Destiny takes an unforgiving turn when the Soviets raid Afghanistan and Pari, who has been adopted by a wealthy family and has no recollection whatsoever of her past is forced to move to Paris with her Maman or step mother. After many intervening years when Pari is old and graying, she receives a letter written by her uncle in which he gives a detailed account of her life which is as diminished and hazy in her memory as is her brother who is now living in San Francisco. She finally decides to meet him only to find him in an ailing and heart wrenching medical condition in which he remembers his little sister but not the old woman who stands before him.

It is authors like Khaled Hosseini who possess the gifted ability to bestow such commanding force to words that the narrative containing them becomes an inescapable vortex. Through his characters, his pen very cruelly rips open the most fundamental layers of human heart and soul and blasts away the imagination of the readers with every letter acting as a shrapnel. The liquid ease with which he manages to make the reader helplessly vulnerable and puncture the deepest and closely guarded emotional realms is as unbelievable as it is brilliant. He never fails to impress the reader with his splendid usage of imagery and precision in words that are nothing less than beautiful. His attention to detail in giving shape to every character, in drawing the core of its psyche, in chalking out its emotional and mental silhouettes is the pure genius of a true craftsman. 
  
However, I wish I could say the storyline was as perfect and tightly knit for which Hosseini is known. No matter how compelling and profound his way of storytelling might be but the insignificance of some of the characters appears as tiny cracks in the otherwise seamless tale of love and longing. Though in isolation, these characters are given an exquisite treatment and yet the central plot doesn’t seem to accommodate them deservingly and these characters are lost, in a rather disappointing manner into the depths of the plot. Often, the story meanders from its purpose to distant shores which are difficult to justify with the context. The sheer delight and pleasure one derives being in the company of such gorgeous words is, to some extent, taken away by the length to which they are described.

Had it not been Hosseini, I would not have been much disappointed with the way the story ends but this is the inevitable burden of expectations that writers of such caliber and repute are doomed to carry. After all the heartbreaks and endurance of grief, I was looking forward to an ending that could comfort me with a sense of contentment and fulfillment. But sadly, the climax of the book is nothing like that. It left me suspended with an unquenched feeling that one gets savoring a really delicious dish from which one essential or key ingredient is missing.

In the end, this new book might or might not be Hosseini’s best work but it is, though not in its entirety, a great book.