Monday, December 27, 2010

Power v/s power! (Might against Right)

On 24th Dec, 2010 afternoon, there was a gush of excess voltage in certain parts of Mira Road by our very own- Reliance Power. This resulted in spoilage of electronic and electrical equipments in many houses in our building. We, have never experienced such a thing in our entire lives. As my Mom was using the mixer to grind masala, the device went 'boom' and caught fire inside the jar! Simultaneously, the television set went 'dhooom'!!! One fan in the house, stopped and started moving backwards. Its motor's gone bad and doesn't provide cool breeze any more!!! While we were lucky to get our TV and mixer repaired and set right and had to do with coarsely ground gravy for the day, some of the people in our building lost their more expensive electronic items. The computer in one household got damaged! We were thankfully not using ours that very moment! Only one side of our building was affected by this generosity of Reliance! We unexpectedly have to incur the cost of buying a new fan and a mixer-grinder.

I wonder -what if my 9 month old nephew would've got hurt and my Mom would've got an electric shock!? In any country valuing human lives, one could have sued the company and claimed their compensation for loss incurred and emotional stress. But in India, we've learnt to bear, crib and forget. The mentality that 'common man is born to suffer' is instilled into us through writers, cartoonists and our very own personal experiences of unfair justice between classes and masses. Recently a man, who hurt himself when a fire-extinguisher fell on him while travelling by an Indian Airlines plane, got only Rs 1500/- as compensation (that too after more than a year), while he had claimed a larger amount! He might have incurred higher expenses to fight the case!

When Indian Airlines got away, Reliance is still bigger fry. Only an Ambani can use excess electric power (that too at BEST rates) in their new home, while the government and NGOs keep urging the common man to 'save energy'. In contradiction, we also have big malls and shopping centres illuminated and consuming extra-electricity all over the country. It seems like the entire responsibility of the nation alongwith high-prices is on the shoulders of the common man. Here, you find the poor and middle-class paying more than their capacity on electricity bills, foodgrains, fuel and taxes, while the higher your income, you enjoy many privileges and fringe benefits. A rich entity (individual or group) enjoys rebates in commission and lower interest rates everywhere and even manages to escape heavy tax burden, thus using less of his/ their earnings! And a common man has to account for every penny he earns and is expected to spend beyond his earning capacity!!!

Coming back to the 'power' story, people living beyond the BEST electricity supply limits in Mumbai are subject to enormous bills. Sometimes, no proper justification of variation in bills across months is provided. And Reliance itself buys electricity from Tata Power and supplies to us at higher rates. Why can't Tata Power supply us electricity directly at cheaper rates? Recently there was a survey carried out by Tata and many people were for it. People will welcome the change. Only competition can keep companies on their heels and urge them to provide the best of services with lesser consumer complaints!

We, the common men and women of the country (who form a large number of consumers), need proper redressal forums to address our complaints and needs!
After posting this article - Next day I came to know Tata Power had distributed forms in certain parts of Mumbai for those who'd wish to purchase electricity directly from them!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Hazrat Imam Hussain - The Saviour of Islam

-Hazrat Khwaja Garib Nawaaz (Rahmatullahi Alaih)

The literal translation of the above Persian text is as below :
King is Hussain
Emperor is Hussain
Religion is Hussain
Saviour of Religion is Hussain.
He preferred to give his head rather than giving his hand in the hands of Yazeed.
By Allah, the foundation of Laa Ila Ha Illallaa (the doctrine of Islam - There is no God except Allah) is Hussain.

Alhamdullilah. It is due to the sacrifice of Hazrat Imaam Hussain (on the 10th day of Muharram) that Islam and the Holy Quran (the word of Allah) exists in the original form till this day.

The sacrifice of the grandson of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) in the battle of Karbala with Yazeed, (who was a tyrant king and wanted to rule the Muslims by being their religious leader), is actually the Victory of Islam against falsehood. In the battle, almost the entire family of Imaam Hussain lost their lives. If the battle would be won by Yazeed, the religious texts of Islam would be corrupted and the Muslims would emulate the wrong practices being followed by the corrupt and immoral Yazeed. The events which followed after the matyrdom of Hazrat Imaam Hussain led to his downfall and later his death. And the Quran and teachings of Islam continued to remain as they were revealed to our beloved Prophet (pbuh) by Allah. Subhallah.

Even today, those Muslims who potray Islam in the inorrect way to innocent young Muslims and earn a bad name for Islam are, in a way, friends of Yazeed.

For those, who do not know, listed below are facts related with Ashura, the 10th Day of Muharram :

Q. Who is Hazrat Imaam Hussain R A?
A. He is the son of Hazrat Ali (son-in-law of Prophet Muhammad S A S)

Q. What is Muharram ?
A. In India, the holiday given for Ashura (10th day of Muharram) is referred to as 'Muharram'. Our fellow Indians get confused how to wish their Muslim friends and colleagues on this day. Some people call up to say 'Muharram mubarak', which is a wishing for a happy occasion. You have to then explain that it is not an event for celebration. Over a period of time, many non-Muslims have come to know that fact as wishes for this day have stopped.
Muharram is actually the first month of the Islamic calender. The holiday is given for the 10th day of Muharram, which is called Ashura.

Monday, November 29, 2010

The history of Hello

I was surprised to receive an SMS stating that 'Hello' is the name of Alexander Graham Bell's girlfriend. His girlfriend was Margaret Hello. And that is how the name came about. It further went on to state that people might have forgotten about the inventor of phone (I haven't tho'.... we Indians are smart, you see!), but not his girlfriend's name... And that is Love!

I wondered why the fact was being highlighted so late in history. If that was a fact, it would be part of history since long. A google search brought similar stories, one stating that though Margaret Hello was his girlfriend, he married his deaf student. True love, indeed!

The authentic / trusted sites had a different story to tell though. The below is the fact i managed to find out :
"Ahoy" was the original telephone greeting !
Alexander Graham Bell suggested 'ahoy' (as used in ships), but this was later replaced by Thomas Edison, who suggested 'hello' instead.

Wonder what is the Margaret Hello angle to the telephone story! Anyone has another story to tell, do let me know!

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Seven Wonders!

Been there- seen it all, huh ?
Hmm... These pictures are only a few of the Seven Wonders. The others have not been put up here. Looks like I had a wonderful time in the last 10 days of my leave, na?! Reminds me of the old Hindi movie - 'Around the World in Eight Dollars'! Here you might say- 'Around the World in few Rupees'!
These Seven Wonders are very much in India. At the new theme park - Vardhman Fantasy @Mira Road! A part of it is still in the making, but it has been opened for public and is a a visual treat. You enter through a colourful castle-like entrance. Pass through innovative ticket counters and snacks corner and more innovative dustbins. You have all the Seven Wonders of the World from the Eiffel Tower to Statue of Liberty to Great Wall of China apart from the visuals I've put up above, at one place!
Apart from these, there is a Food court and joy rides too! This was inaugurated a few weeks back alongwith the inauguration of Umrao Hospital at Mira Road by Union Minister, Mr Ghulam Nabi Azab.

The Streets of Ajmer -Nov 2010

In front of Delhi Gate @ Ajmer
Here are a few snaps taken on the streets of Ajmer (outside the lane of Dargah of Moinuddin Chisty popularly known as Khwaja Gareeb Nawaz).

The weather was cool and rains kept drizzling through our entire stay of 2 days (22nd-23rd), making the climate more chilly. You miss such weather in Mumbai. Nowadays, Mumbai seems to be getting hotter every year. Haven't seen a decent winter in our city in ages! Even if we have cold, it doesn't last for more than a week! And it remains a dream to don stylish winter wear and lovely soft and colourful blankets! Winter keeps you fresh and energetic too!

The masjid coming up in the area
The Ajmer dargah lane is quite congested and rains make it more messy. I've read / heard somewhere that the lane is being taken up for development by A R Rahman and Rasoolkutty. That's a welcome move. Saw a new masjid coming up in the lane too (refer pic above).

One unique business idea observed there was taking advantage of people's requirement of a parking space for their vehicles in the congested lane.
A private parking space
A few places were taken on the sides and instead of setting up a shop there, the place itself was lent as parking. Another small clothes counter on the road had a proper extension inside a traditional Rajasthani house with a inbuild verandah and a side room, which housed a small shop. The living rooms were on the other side. Good use of space and innovative too!

Friday, November 26, 2010

Guzarish - A plea!

Since I was on annual leave from office, I got to see Guzarish on the same Friday that it was released. My dear friend was coming to Mira Road and she had taken leave for some work of hers, we decided to catch up for lunch followed by a movie. A movie, without reading the reviews, isn't what I'd usually prefer cause I see a selected few, that too after reading the reviews. I went to the booking counter at Cinemax, Mira Road- the options were few. Harry Potter, Golmaal 3 and Guzarish. I had no interest for Harry Potter and I'd watched Golmaal 3 with some family members, Guzarish was only option tho' I didn't mind seeing the TP movie Golmaal 3 again just for my friend.

I called up by youngest bro (who's a great fan of Hrithik since his school days) for a review. But he told me that after the Kites debacle, he's not keeping track of Hrithik's movies lest he be disappointed again. So he was keeping his expectations low... My poor brother had grown his hair long last year as Hrithik (in Kites) for promoting the movie, but Kites release kept postponing and Mom's was chasing him for chopping off his mop of hair!!! Finally the film was a disaster and my bro was sullen while we kept teasing him. I love saying funny / critical things about Hrithik just to irritate my brother.

So back to Cinemax Hall last Friday. 3 Guzarish shows. My mind was imagining a drama style saza (a la Bhansali style) which would last for almost 3 to 3 n half hours! I asked the counter fella about the duration of the movie. '2 hours 15 mins', he said. 'Relief' - I said to myself. Even if its a torture, we can manage to sit through it. My friend confirmed on phone that she was okay for seeing 'Guzarish'. And we went for it.

The movie, like all Bhansali movies is like a drama, with a work of art mixed with antiquity/ historic touch to it. Though the movie is set in present times, Bhansali shows us artwork and brings history/ antiqueness to the movie by setting it up in an old Victorian style house, which are found in interiors of old Goa. And if this wasn't enough, he's made Aishwarya Rai wear Victorian gowns just for effect. The people who do not know much about Goan culture might think that Goans still wear such gowns in present times! What is contrasting to this is that 14 years back when the magician, Mr Ethan Mascerenhas (Hrithik) was younger and performed on stage, he and his assistant wore more contemporary clothes!

The Victorian House, the Victorian gowns of Aishwarya and the plush green interiors of Goan villages make the movie a visual treat- almost like a piece of art unfolding in front of your eyes. Hrithik plays his part as an paraplegic well. But his character fails to convince you that he's fed up of life or deserves his plea (Guzarish) for Euthanasia to be accepted. I could not feel the pain of his character nor did it extract one tear from my eye. He doesn't look like someone whose both kidneys have failed and heart is going weaker by the day! But yes, his pain can be felt the dialogues and description of his state by his friend Devyani Dutta (Shernaz Patel) and his mother (Nafisa Ali), who have played their parts convincingly. As for Aishwarya, she dressed way too loud (bright red lipstick and all) for her part as a nurse, but projects her character well (though sometimes you fail to understand her background!)

When the people are told that Ethan D'Souza is going for a trip outside his house first time in 12/14 years, you wonder how ....
a) He'd managed to give those encouraging lectures to students after becoming an invalid, as shown in the movie. He couldn't have given them from his house!
b) If he's not moved out of his room since so long, why hasn't he become pale in the face or frail ? In fact, he looks quite fresh except for his limp body! (In fact, even if a common person has viral fever for 3-4 days, he/she looks weak and pale).
c) When he enjoys his first outing in several years, one wonders why he's not taken outside the house more often, if that is possible! Maybe he might find a reason to live!

Apart from above bloopers, the whole movie is sensitively and sweetly made. And those who like sensitive parallel cinema will appreciate the movie.

Aditya Roy Kapoor adds charm and freshness and humour to the entire movie.

The end is quite abrupt. You will again wonder if Ethan can laugh through life for 14 years, why can't he bear to live a few more days or months?!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Parental teachings in today's times

Parents nowadays teach their children to be mean unlike earlier times when kids were taught to be more compassionate towards others. Maybe they feel that's the way to survive these days!
While going for a trip outside Mumbai a few days back, a family of 2-3 people were standing with lots of baggage on a narrow bridge at Borivali station, thinking what to do instead of taking action (moving to one side or down the stairs). When people behind started wondering aloud why the bridge was blocked and asked them to move aside, the Mom of the boy started telling him - 'Just think about yourself. Ignore what the people are saying'.

With people teaching each other such things, aren't we moving towards a meaner world ?

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Why is the Kashmiri angry?

Why is there so much unrest in Kashmir? Why did the people stand up as one against the Government recently?
All over the years, the Kashmiris have suffered in cross borders politics, internal politics, external interests, terrorism.

Cross border conflicts and terrorism have led to wars and also turmoils at the border. In the politics, the people of the region have lost their lives. Their education, work and normal life has suffered. Even in a city like Srinagar, there hasn't been much growth. It looks like a place which has stopped in time. It is devoid of modern structures and other infrastructure. The schools are at the mercy of trouble makers. These trouble makers could be internal, driven by political interests or gullible jobless youth lured by terrorists in the name of religion. But can't these youth see that if these cross-border terrorists were islamic, they wouldn't kill innocent people and also Muslims from their own country?

Many Kashmiri students have lost precious study years in unnecessary conflicts and curfews. Even syllabus across schools was not found to be consistent when I compared books of two kids from the same class studying in different English medium schools. While one studied in a local English school, one went to a convent school. But convent English schools have the same syllabus as non-convent schools across India unless they follow a different board. Only a few extra-curricular activities and non-curriculum subjects differ generally in our parts of our country. Urdu is main the compulsory language in Kashmir. And Kashmiri/ Urdu is compulsury in school. It will be surprising to know that the current generation speaks less of Kashmiri and more Urdu. With exposure to television, the Urdu is more inclined towards Hindi now. Two Kashmiri youth with same education background cannot be compared, as they follow different syllabi. This can cause problems while going for higher education. The J&K University campus is huge and beautiful and a hope for the future of the young Kashmiri. The people are fed up with constant troubles and want their children to be educated and settle down well in life.

The trouble makers keep instigating youth with negative propaganda of Muslims being ill-treated by non-Muslims in India. One such instigating video was a reason for David Hadley too for attacking Mumbai 2 years back! Indians are shown as enemies of Kashmiris. The present day Kashmiri, who is exposed to media is aware that India also houses many Muslims, who are just like them. Hence, they do not want to be part of any dirty, instigating politics.

The businessmen of Kashmir sell their artifacts and cloth in Indian cities, especially Mumbai and Bangalore and make money. They want to be part of Indian cities and widen their business horizons. In the Srinagar-Bangalore flight, you will find a lot of Kashmiris as Bangalore is a preferred location for Kashmiris due to the the cool climate of the city (which they are used to!). You will come across Kashmiris having stalls in Colaba (Mumbai) too. These people are fed up of the constant troubles in the valley which will affect their business. Many of them have never been to Pakistan or have any interest in the place. These people, who want their business to prosper, do not want trouble in the valley. They want peace. And they are happy to belong to India.

There is a small section of people, who favour Pakistan, for reasons known to them. Maybe they are instigated by certain political leaders, projecting Pakistan as their Islamic brother. But these ill-informed section of Kashmiris, are not fully exposed to Pakistani culture or politics. Nor do they know how Muslims co-exist without much bias with their non-Muslim brothers in other parts of India! A few biased people are there in all parts of the world, though! And its not that India is filled with Hindu-Muslim issues. Like any other country there are several issues. Recently we heard of honour killings due to people of the same 'gothra' marrying each other! And this is not even remotely between two religions! India is much secular than most nations, inspite of having a varied cultural mix of several religions and castes within them! It was shocking to me when a site on the internet compared the 'Kashmiri struggle' with the struggle of Palestinians in Isreal. This is definately making the age old conflict and struggle of tha Arabs in their own land and the atrocities suffered by them seem small! Do the people who put up such content even know the history of Israel or what's actually brewing there?

Then there is a section of people, who continue to call themselves separate and unique, having nothing to do with India or Pakistan. These are people, who do not like Pakistan but at the same time have suffered in some form or the other due to insensitivity of the Government of the State and also due to atrocities committed by our very own military. Due to the nature of trouble in the area, there is army stationed in many parts of Kashmir. Though I haven't seen it, I've heard two people known to me talk about army atrocities. This is a possibility as there are bound to be black sheeps who take advantage of their power everywhere. I've heard instances of unnecessary searches being conducted on people. But searches are part of a place surrounded by trouble. In fact everyone coming back from Srinagar airport is subject to almost 3 detailed security checks. But this apart, some armymen do act rough with simple local people and have subjected them to some insulting moments, which have stayed in youth memory resulting in hatred for the Army and the Indian Government. This is often used as advantage point by trouble-makers to instigate youth. While the trouble makers have not been harmed much, the victims themselves were subjected to search and curfew and police firing! What Government needed to do was show some sensitivity towards the civilians of the land earlier, which might not have resulted in the situation which has come up now. The same is the situation in North-East. In fact, in North-East people are subject to more checks by Army as they move across places. This is a personal experience on my visit to the place several years ago, when my Dad was posted at Guwahati for a short while. As you move from one place to another, people travelling in private vehicles are subject to gruelling and inspection. We used to get through with RBI ID card though. But the locals are not so lucky! In fact, the North East has so many terror outfits from within tribes and native areas, that the situation is more tense there. You can guard your borders against outsiders, but when an internal person betrays you, you're caught off-guard! This is the difference between the situation in Kashmir and North-East. Sadly, North-East problem does is never taken seriously as it is internal and no outside factors are directly involved! The same is the situation of people living in places which are the target of Naxalites and Maoists.

But all said and done, internal issues and Army and Government sensitivity can be taken care of. Involving Pakistan in the matter makes no sense as currently the economic situation in that country is really bad. Funny it is when an aid from Indian Govt was first rejected due to ego and later accepted on US's interference. Funnier still when a donation from Angelina Jolie is accepted without batting an eyelid ! According to Islamic nation, the earnings of an actor are considered 'haraam', ain't it? So much so for hypocrisy! But there is never a question of religious/ ego issues where calamities are involved. Indians (irrespective of their religion) have helped their neighbour Pakistan whenever it has been in trouble. We are always open in cultural exchanges, the artists from across the border freely work in India and are equally encouraged with artistes of the land, we have initiatives like 'Aman ki Aasha' (an initiative by Times group) for friendship between the countries. Apart from that individuals from India themselves do their bit for our neighbouring country as some Indians have their roots in Pakistan too. I remember a recent case, when a client (company) of ours was in a hurry for an RBI approval to send medicines worth several dollars to an NGO in Pakistan. Not because he/she was a Muslim, wanting to help a fellow Muslim, but because the company director's wife was a Sindhi (a Hindu) and was grieved to see her native land in trouble and wanted to send help asap. That's what India and Indians are all about ! But such good gestures are hardly reciprocated by Pakistan!

Several factors have made the people of Kashmir unhappy and caused unrest. In fact, the sufferings of the people came to the forefront in a tete-a-tete with some locals a year back! Till then I never knew how the locals felt or how grave the situation was! People have never a chance to know the true Kashmir since so many years, as it was considered dangerous visiting the place due to constant conflicts for several years, earlier. Only in the recent years, people have started freely going to the land as tourists. Yes, Amarnath Yatra to J&K has always been sacred for many Hindus. A few months after my visit to Srinagar last year, when a colleague of mine from Delhi had gone for a trip of the Valley, a local trader told him to pray for Kashmir's azadi. My perplexed friend (a non Muslim) told me about the same, but it did not make sense to him!

It's sad when people spread animosity between people of a land for their own personal interests ! What's happened to the people of Kashmir is sad for us all. But it's never too late to make a new good beginning! A beginning which begins with Peace and remains that way forever! Hope the educated and new generation of Kashmiris understand and make way for a better Kashmir. If there is happiness anywhere, it is definately in our hands!!!

The History of Kashmir and Present Day Conflicts

The History of Kashmir

In the wake of recent happenings in the State of J&K, especially the Kashmir region and the political leaders there seeking international status of their issue, let us go through the history of the land. Let us know what is the background of the land, which is sought by many.

Early History
Kashmir was one of the major centre of Sanskrit scholars. According to the Mahabharata,the Kambojas ruled Kashmir during the epic period with a Republican system of government from the capital city of Karna-Rajapuram-gatva-Kambojah-nirjitastava.,shortened to Rajapura, which has been identified with modern Rajauri.Later, the Panchalas are stated to have established their sway. The name Peer Panjal, which is a part of modern Kashmir, is a witness to this fact. Panjal is simply a distorted form of the Sanskritic tribal term Panchala. The Muslims prefixed the word peer to it in memory of Siddha Faqir and the name thereafter is said to have changed into Peer Panjal.The Mauryan emperor Ashoka is often credited with having founded the city of Srinagar.


Kashmir was once a Buddhist seat of learning, perhaps with the Sarvāstivādan school dominating. East and Central Asian Buddhist monks are recorded as having visited the kingdom. In the late 4th century AD, the famous Kuchanese monk Kumārajīva, born to an Indian noble family, studied Dīrghāgama and Madhyāgama in Kashmir under Bandhudatta. He later becoming a prolific translator who helped take Buddhism to China

Muslim Rule : Shah Mir Swati (Reigned 1339-42)

Shams-ud-Din Shah Mir was a ruler of Kashmir and the founder of the Shah Miri dynasty named after him. Jonaraja, in his Rajatarangini mentioned him as Sahamera. He came from Swat, the then (Tribal) territory on the borders of Afghanistan and played a notable role in subsequentive political history of the valley. Shahmir became the ruler of Kashmir and reigned for three years.He was the first ruler of Swati dynasty, which had established in 1339.

The famous sufi saint Bulbul Shah was able to persuade the king of the time Rinchan Shah from Ladakh to adopt the Islamic way of life, and the foundation of Sufiana composite culture was laid when Muslims, Hindus and Buddhists were co-existing. Several Kashmiri rulers, such as Sultan Zain-ul-Abidin, were tolerant of all religions in a manner comparable to Akbar.

By the early 19th century, the Kashmir valley had passed from the control of the Durrani Empire of Afghanistan, and four centuries of Muslim rule under the Mughals and the Afghans, to the conquering Sikh armies. Earlier, in 1780, after the death of Ranjit Deo, the Raja of Jammu, the kingdom of Jammu (to the south of the Kashmir valley) was captured by the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh of Lahore and afterwards, until 1846, became a tributary to the Sikh power.

During the British Era, the Kashmir mountainous and hilly region (Kashmir Valley) was sold to Maharaja Gulab Singh for rupees 75 lakhs (around 1845). Later on, Ladakh was also added to the region.

Mixed Ethnicity
Jammu and Kashmir was always a mixture of various cultures and ethnicities- The Northeastern Kashmiri region was popoulated with majority of Sunni Muslims, Hindus (the Pandits), while the Jammu region had large number of Hindus and Sikhs alongwith Muslims. On the other hand, in Ladakh majority of people practice Buddhism. Hence to say that J&K belongs only to Muslims and should be isolated from rest of India will be a grave error. The present enimosity and confusion in the hearts of the people is created by 'so-called' Islamic leaders, who are mainly just playing a political game. Some of them are also influenced by politics across the border. It has always been a dream of our erstwhile Indian neighbours to spread error and terror in the hearts of the people of the region and take charge of the Jammu and Kashmir region. There is no religious agenda to it, which the gullible and not-to-gullible inhabitants fail to see.

Present Day Issues
The terror in the land is mainly spread by our neighbours, who do not want the people of the Kashmir to forget of the issue and eventually settle down amicably as part of India. The existance of the military in the land is due to the cross border insurgencies that keep happening from the Pakistani front. We have a current-day example in the form of Kargil attack in the J&K region. Even now, when since a few years, as Kashmir was calmly settling down and the youth were getting proper education and moving to other states for jobs and finding their identity in society, a fresh sense of hatred was instilled in the hearts of the people. No sooner had the PM, Mr Manmohan Singh declared that the troops will be slowly moved out of the J&K region due to better situation in the past couple of years, the recent mass movement was fuelled by political interests. When there is trouble / mass movement/ agitation, people lose lives. And it happened here too, which is very sad. Even Mumbai is not alien to this fact. Over a lakh people lost their lives to retain Mumbai in Maharashtra several years ago. But that is part of history now and we have moved on. In fact, we are so busy in lives in a metro like Mumbai that we have no time to reflect or even find time for ourselves! But life in Kashmir moves at a slower pace. The purity of the land and people have remained. So the people of Kashmir have time to think... and in a troubled and tense environment.... with curfews when people are sitting idle at home with work places and schools/ colleges closed... people think a lot and talk more.

No country or land doesn't have internal issues which cannot be resolved. But the people of Kashmir have isolated themselves even from the rest of Muslims of India, and refuse to consider 'our' problems as their own. If we go by numbers, the number of Muslims in India are definately more than or almost the same as the entire population of Pakistan (as we are heavily populated and even a 10-20%, for example, can be a very large figure!!). And in my personal opinion, I do not consider Pakistan a fully Islamic nation. I've seen the people and culture of Kashmir region. They are simple, God fearing people. There is not even a cinema hall in the region. Nor are people subject to a 'open' culture. They have just been victims of circumstances. I respect the people for their simplicity and values. But majority of the Pakistanis are more modern than Indian Muslims and lifestyles of many can cause cultural shocks to even the non-Muslims of India! Their films, songs - they are quite loud and copy Bollywood largely... from sarees to everything Indian. Their songs are quite bold, nothing to suggest it is of a Muslim nation. Even our loud mouth siren Rakhi Sawant is better than the Veena Malik from across the border we see on television, who is seen rubbing herself on every male she lays her eyes on! So why do the Islamic leaders of Kashmir want to thrust such non-islamic values from across the border on their people?

If J&K issue is not a political one and purely for giving a better status / deal for the Muslims of the Valley, who have suffered for long for various reasons, then will special quotas for Kashmiri Muslims in education and jobs and some other areas work out? This, alongwith the planned phasing out of the military from the area? Though the people of the region will appreciate such a move, I do not think the political-islamic leaders, who are now controlling the voice of the region, will agree to it. Their interest is in the politics across the border and they try to confuse the people of the region too. So confused are the people now, that some of them want to be neither part India (as Indians have been projected negatively to them), nor part of Pakistan (who they feel have caused them enough harm, but yet see Muslim brotherhood in them), but want a separate nation with accesss to both lands. Now this, as we all know, is not possible, without a threat to our nation and a threat to the people of Kashmir too. China too has eyes on our J&K, as we know with our previous experiences. But still the Islamic political leaders want to involve Pakistan in our internal issues! There are still many Kashmiris, who are glad to be part of India. All they want is peace and dignity in their land and want to prevent their misuse by political leaders from India and across the border.

Ironically, though Kashmir itself is like heaven on earth with its beauty, the circumstances and political interests and cross border terrorism have made lives of the people of the region : hell-like. God bless the people of Kashmir and save them from political interests. Kashmir is a part of India and it shall remain that way. We all are with the people of the Kashmir and highly condemn their being used for polit
ical interests- within India and across the border!

References: Wikipedia (

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Amazing Yanni

Though I've not heard Yanni before, I discovered his music by chance. And this piece called 'World Dance' reminded me of our own Retro music from Bollywood.

It's rare to hear real orchestras with so many original musical instruments being played nowadays. I remember as a child when we used to have programmes in our colony during Diwali / Ganapati festival. I used to love the orchestras especially. These days we are only subjected to electronic music! Enjoy the music. You can also catch 'Yanni-The Rainmaker' on UTube, which is also melodious plus catchy!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

MasterChef- A wonderful show

I got an opportunity to watch 'Masterchef India' show Saturday night. The format of the show, its quality, the competitive nature with a touch of humanity and professionalism makes the show wonderful. It was fun to watch the contestants learn to make a 'Malabari Paratha' from the Chefs, though none of them had heard of the same. It was equally fun to watch the contestants then attempt to make it themselves by swirling the dough like a 'roomali roti' and then elongating it and tying it up like a mini turban! One also learnt to make a '70 mm dosa'! Though all contestants failed in the first attempt, many were good in the second attempt. Oiling the tawa, removing excess oil by sprinking water, then smearing the tawa with onion attached to a knife to avoid dosa sticking to pan, then sprinking little water again to check temperature of tawa before putting the batter on it! Then spreading the batter in circular motions without lifting the flat bowl which was used to do the same.... We've watched our local dosa-wallas do it all the time, but never understood the techniques. It was fun to watch (maybe we can even give them competition by having our own dosa stalls!). The nervousness of contestants and end-results of food items were fun to watch too!

In the final round we had Akshay enter with his 'Khiladi Sizzler' (his own creation way back in Bangkok!). He made it in 45 mins flat and challenged others to make it too! It had noodles, vegetables, sprouts and momos with a touch of 'masala' and the end result looked appetising and pleasing to the eyes! Askhay's comments, encouragement, advise to contestants alongwith his presentation of the show with humour thrown in, made the show more interesting. When he advised one contestant to smash the ginger in Indian style by using the 'mukka' over a ginger over which a knife was kept horizontally, it had the contestants in splits! All of us smash ginger and garlic under spoons/ knifes on in the primitive crusher while in shows people have to cut them into tiny pieces, which is very unlike us Indians! Trust Akshay to find humour in such a mundane thing! This quality was also seen in his earlier show 'Khatron ke Khiladi' which was fun to watch when he hosted it last year. Though I'd watched Askhay in one preliminary round episode of 'Masterchef India' last week, I found the main show more wonderful and his style very professional. This is definately not just any 'cookery show'. It has 'class' and Akshay!

Next day (today), I had my younger brother call in from Pune urging me to watch the wonderful show (which was being re-telecast). And I could proudly tell him I'd already watched it! :-)

Inside the Bigg Boss house- unmasking the contestants!

It's funny how many people project a different image of themselves in public and what they are actually in real life! But equally funny is that these people manage to win people and the masses with this fake persona. And then there the 'frank' people who speak on the face and dare to call a spade a spade. The people who refuse to bow down, who refuse to say good things just because the situation demands it even if your heart doesn't agree. The people who show their dislikes and likes upfront. Sadly, these people are misunderstood and dropped (but its good in a way, coz the good ones will always understand and find them coz God wants it that way!) But these are the genuine people, whom who'll find to be even better-than-expectations at home. And what better place to see the true worth of people than at their own homes!!!

Take 'Bigg Boss's' house for example. Contrary to expectations and her public image, Sarah Khan has been a total let-down. Tearing your existing boyfriend's (whom she was about to marry) photographs to get close and friendly to Ashmit (maybe for the Bollywood connections!) is surely not on! And moreso, the way she 'throws' herself around the house is not ladylike. Veena Mallik from across the border is like a 'vamp' in the show. Aanchal has been cool and wonderful and very much a lady through the entire series (she's also the prettiest of the lot). Maybe because for her going on outdoor locales and staying with different kinds of people is very natural. While for others, it's more of 'new found freedom' combined with 'confinement' within the 4 walls, both at once! Seema Parihar, the ex-bandit, is very natural with her countryside touch to the series. Shweta Tiwari is difficult to understand, maybe because she's potraying herself like that!

Among the men, Samir Soni potrayed himself coolly earlier, but slowly his 'naqaab' (mask) is wearing off! How long can you have it on ? 24x7 ? Naah, the reality of a person comes out with confinement and 24x7 exposure to cameras! If people are used to abusing, using dirty words and project a different image to all, how long can you hold those bad words back? Hrishant is also used to a lot of bad words and gossip and backbiting. Manoj Tiwari who's image was again of a kind and mature person, sometimes behaves erratically on the show. He's avert to eating with 'all', was found throwing attitude stating that he has servants like Samir.... Many times he's found taking 'sole' decisions and has problems adjusting with others, though at heart he ''might'' be a good person! Khalli, the 'Hulk' has people in the house scared as well as respecting him, so he is enjoying his stay in the house. The chota Hulk, Rahul Bhat seems like a kid still living with his super-hero fantasies. He was very quiet till the moment Khalli arrived. And now he's totally in awe of the Big Hulk! The surprise package was 'Begum Nawazish Ali'. Though he's a cross dresser and no one never really knew what was on his mind or understood him fully, he carried himself well, was very chirpy and full of life in the house! Even outside he proved himself to be 'quick-witted' when Salman Khan threw questions at him! Begum seemed to have logical answers to every question.

This time there are a lot of girls in the house than previous shows. And most of them get along well and are managing the kitchen well too! In fact, the entire lot this time is young and are used to house work and have divided their work well. Moreover, most of the time they agree on things and get along, except the little older ones - Samir and Manoj. And thankfully till now the fact that all beds are in one room hasn't sparked off any controversy! The swimming pool was found to be used by the Small and Big Hulk only!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Controversial Big Boss 4

I was looking forward to Big Boss 4 this time because of Salman Khan. But the new format shown in the introductory episode makes me wonder whether it'll be watchable with family. The common bedroom for men and women, the common toilet, the open 'hamam' (bath) and the all controversial house-mates! An ex-Bandit, a thief who doesn't know to talk, a crying hero , a model who was forced to stay back in India, an advocate who represented a terrorist, a housewife turned sexy siren. And to top it all, a bomb and a cross-dresser from across the 'Islamic' border! There are a few who don't even seem to deserve a mention! Only two people made some sense to me - Manoj Tiwari and Sarah Khan! Hope they live up to my expectations!

With such controversial housemates in more controversial set-up, will the show be worth prime-time telecast? We agitated against bikini round in a Beauty Pageant held in India some years back. We had cases filed against improper dressing of some well-known dancers on their stage shows earlier. We used to object to kisses on screen and our censors gave an 'A' certificate to skin display! But we have more sizzling stuff on the small screen these days and all freely accessible to kids. The female hosts' clothes on TV are vanishing by the day, Rakhi even managed to kiss Salman on the introductory episode of Big Boss 4! And Don't our small screens also deserve a censor ? Shows telecast on US/ UK channels usually have a warning and age specification before any programme. We deserve one too!

There has been agitation from MNS for casting two Pakistanis. What we is needed was something against the format and indecent exposure at prime time! Our values seem to be fast changing!!! And also our priorities!

Sunday, October 03, 2010

Had so much to say !!!

Had so much to say all these days....
But strange are God ways.
Work, life, problems ate into my days.
So many events passed, but I couldn't write
Life has been a really tough fight.
I need prayers to make my life alright.
The Florida episode and Adhodya verdict day,
The commercialisation of Ganpati Visarjan day.
'Dabang's' collection and Bapu's birthday also went without my say!
Today the Common Wealth Games open with a furore
Today is also the first day of Big Boss 4!
Salman Khan is sure to entertain us like no one before!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

This time last year

This time last year, there was lots of tension in the house. My Dad's health was bad and doctor had advised bypass surgery for Dad's 90% blockages. This was just before the advent of Ramzan. Daddy was worried and skeptical. Meanwhile a lot of people were advising us to try alternate methods to surgery. Some said about eating 'ajwa' khajoor, which is said to have miraculous properties in treating blockages. Then there were promoters of a certain brand of medicine, stating they have a cure for heart blockages and regular usage of their pills will clear the blockages by themselves without surgery. We were even shown a video of a woman who had recovered through the medicines. Some even suggested taking Munir Khan's 'miraculous medicine'. While some were forwarding various emails of alternate cures, including one which replaced blood with some some kinda medicinal blood and one stated a vibrating machine which was a cure to all ailments.

All the various suggestions at the last moment, when doctor was asking us to hurry up in taking a decision left us confused. Especially my Dad. He was fully determined to forgo any surgical insertions in his body. I do not know the effectiveness of the alternate sources of medicines, but 90% blockage was a big risk against not-so-sure forms of non-surgery. Such forms may work in the earlier stage and even as precaution, but Dad was even past the 'angioplasty' cure stage. In all the confusion at home, Ramzan began. We decided not to take a chance, though bypass surgery was as scary for us as it was for Dad. When it was decided, Dad said that the surgery should be after Eid. But we planned to go ahead with the surgery in the month of Ramzan itself and avail of the blessings of the month also.

10th Sept, 2009 - The date is clearly etched in our minds. And the previous night was equally trying for us and especially Dad. He was to be taken for surgery early next morning (at dawn)and Dad was talking nervously to us on the phone. We had to return back after visiting hours. And only one person was allowed to stay back with the patient for the night. Mom had chosen to stay with him, while my 2 brothers and brother-in-law chose to wait at a bus stop at BKC through the night. They did their 'sehri' with fruits at the bus stop itself. They even had a policemen questioning them of their intention.

Me and my sister (who was pregnant then) stayed back at home and prayed and decided to join in the latter part of the day. That day was a testing time for all of us. And the 8-9 hours operation was an ordeal. But the hospital gave exact updates of the surgery every 1 hour. The way things were managed at Asian Heart, the scare out of bypass surgery has been removed from many hearts (!) now. The best part of the hospital was there was a 'prayer room' to offer namaaz and also had 'iftari plates' on their cafeteria menu for fasting Muslims. And from a latest report in Times of India, it is understood that people now prefer 'bypass surgery' for a complete cure of heart blockages. Other forms like angioplasty are only patchwork procedures, often resulting in recurrance of the problem.

As Dad was preparing for Eid this year, which was to fall on 10th September (but took place on 11th Sept) in India, he was looking back to what he went through to get a 'new life', as he prefers to call it. He is thankful to this day to our friends and colleagues, who came forward to donate blood from their busy schedules. And without the support of my brother-in-law, who was the only older experienced person, we would have been lost. Of course, this incident has given us siblings a lot of maturity to deal with trying situations in life. We are thankful to Allah to this day for HIS kindness.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Surah Ale Imran – The Family of Imran

This Surah is almost like Surah Al Baqarah - Astonishing and covers vast topics. It is very enlightening and good food for thought to all. It has answers to many questions I’ve been seeking and comparing to historic data I am unearthing simultaneously.
Surah Ale Imran begins thus :
Ayat 1- Alif Laam Meem (the knowledge of this is with Allah alone)
Ayat 2 – There is no diety except Him, the Ever-Living, the Sustainer of existence.

The Surah states in Ayat 33 that Allah chose Adam, Noah and the family of Abraham and the family of Imran over the worlds. Here it highlights that Abraham and Imran’s descendents were chosen over the others.
Abraham’s descendents were Isaac and Ishmael whereas Imran is the father of Mary and Mary is the mother of Jesus.

Ayat 35 and Ayat 36 state mention about wife of Imran, who pledged her unborn baby to the service of Allah and thereafter gave birth to a girl and named her Mary (Maryam).

Ayat 37 – Mentions about the upbringing up Mary and her being placed in under the guardianship of her uncle Zechariya.

I am rushing through the ‘ayats’ (verses) pertaining to the life of Mary, her upbringing and giving birth to Messiah Jesus, because I wish to write a detailed article about her life as depicted through Quran. In fact, Surah Ale Imran mentions a lot about the family of Mary (as is the topic of the Chapter itself) and Mary herself. Apart from this Chapter, Quran has a full Chapter dedicated to Mary called – Surah Maryam. This is the only Chapter in Quran dedicated to a woman. That shows the level of importance Mary is given in Quran.

Ayat 42 to Ayat 47 mention about Allah’s message to Mary telling her about giving birth to the Messiah, Jesus.

Ayat 48 to Ayat 55 describe Jesus.

This further goes on to explain that the birth of Jesus is similar to how Adam was brought to life from clay (mud). In this Allah tells us that He is capable of doing anything. So, those who believe that Jesus was begotten by a Holy Spirit, are not correct. God can bring anyone to life in any way possible. We only know how a normal birth takes place. And this order itself is brought by Almighty God (Allah). So we only think within that box. We haven’t seen miracles (because they no longer happen) nor do we know of anything beyond our means of knowing. Hence, we do not think out of the box. But we do not hesitate to think out of the box when it comes to mythology or some occult culture!

Ayat 47 : She (Mary) said, "My Lord, how will I have a child when no man has touched me?" [The angel] said, "Such is Allah ; He creates what He wills. When He decrees a matter, He only says to it, 'Be,' and it is.

The concept of the birth of Jesus is described through Ayat 59 : “Indeed the example of Jesus to Allah (i.e. regarding creation of him) is like that of Adam. He created him from dust; then He said to him, ‘Be’ and he was.”

So those who call Jesus the son of God are not right. In fact, in Islam it is considered ‘shirk’ (sin of the highest order) to associate partners or persons with Allah.

Again the highlight in some verses is on Allah being the same Lord who revealed the Torah and Gospel and asks the Believers of the Scriptures to reason.

Here again, human nature comes to light. When I refer to the Almighty as Allah, He is construed as the Supreme Power of the Muslims. When He is referred to as God, we assume He is the Christian Almighty. God or Allah or Elahi or known by any other name in any religion, the Almighty is only one and has remained constant since eternity and will remain till infinity. Why do we then confuse our little brains? I see so much trash on net making fun of each other’s religion and God, and it amuses me as to how can anyone make fun of and respect the same God with different names. Any person with good sense should be sensible enough to understand that.

Muslims, through Quran are urged to follow the religion of Abraham as he was a true Muslim. He was asked by Allah to re-built the Holy Kaaba. This was then done by Abraham and his son Ishmael. When Abraham is called a true Muslim, it is said in the context of Islam. Islam itself means ‘submission to the will of Allah’. So the one who believes in one God / Allah and submits to His will and follows His command, he is a Muslim.

Ayat 65 – ‘O People of the Scripture, why do you argue about Abraham while the Torah and the Gospel were not revealed until after him? Then will you not reason?’

Ayat 67 - Abraham was neither a Jew nor a Christian, but he was one inclining toward truth, a Muslim [submitting to Allah ]. And he was not of the polytheists.
Ayat 95 - Say, " Allah has told the truth. So follow the religion of Abraham, inclining toward truth; and he was not of the polytheists."

Ayat 96 - Indeed, the first House [of worship] established for mankind was that at Makkah - blessed and a guidance for the worlds.

Ayat 97 - In it are clear signs [such as] the standing place of Abraham. And whoever enters it shall be safe. And [due] to Allah from the people is a pilgrimage to the House - for whoever is able to find thereto a way. But whoever disbelieves - then indeed, Allah is free from need of the worlds.

Ayat 84 - Say, "We have believed in Allah and in what was revealed to us and what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Descendants, and in what was given to Moses and Jesus and to the prophets from their Lord. We make no distinction between any of them, and we are Muslims [submitting] to Him."
This ayat is similar to Ayat 136 of Al Baqarah. In this Surah, again stress is laid on who is actually a Muslim and what he believes in.

Allah states that from the people of the earlier Scriptures too there are people who follow the commandments of God as they were revealed and pray to Him and do good deeds.

Ayat 113 – They are not [all] the same; among the People of the Scripture is a community standing [in obedience], reciting the verses of Allah during periods of the night and prostrating [in prayer].

Ayat 114 - They believe in Allah and the Last Day, and they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and hasten to good deeds. And those are among the righteous.

There is a verse (Ayat 168) in Chapter Ale Imram which I found to be quite philosophical and interesting.
“Those who said about their brothers while sitting [at home], "If they had obeyed us, they would not have been killed." Say, "Then prevent death from yourselves, if you should be truthful."
Though the verse is in reference to the battle of Uhud, by itself also it has a deeper meaning.

Finally in the ending verses, there are teachings on conduct and patience. Highlighting two important ones.

Ayat 188 - And never think that those who rejoice in what they have perpetrated and like to be praised for what they did not do - never think them [to be] in safety from the punishment, and for them is a painful punishment.

Ayat 200 (last verse of the Chapter) - O you who have believed, persevere and endure and remain stationed and fear Allah that you may be successful.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Happy Independence Day!- What is Azadi ?

On 15th Aug, 2010..... I look back and feel nice to be born in a free country (after independence). The people who were born in pre-independence India, did their utmost best to get us our freedom. They went through trials and tribulations to get us our free nation - India, as it stands today. My great grandfather and grandfather (pad-nana and nana) also did they bit for the nation. They were Sayyeds and followed Islam very closely. In fact my pad-nana covered his face (a cloth falling around his turban) as he went out of the house. He was known as 'red-haired Hyder saab' as he was red-haired and his ascendents is heard to have migrated to India many many years back from Iraq (except Dravidians, India has mostly people moved from other lands in ancient times). He was fair and good-looking too. He did a lot of social work and helped the poor and deprived people around him. The non Muslims in Ambejug-Karwar also respected him a lot. Even the non-Muslim women stood to one side as he walked down the road. He, himself, humbly walked with lowered glances, as is the way of true Islam -humility!

His son, my nana, Sayed Abdul Hamid, himself followed his father closely. He also lived simply and humbly. He was always ready to help others - Hindu or Muslim, when they needed help. My mother's family themselves were not well -off. They just managed the basic necessities and had a few cows / buffaloes to meet other needs. But that was the usual trend in Karwar once. Even, when there was nothing in the house, my grandfather didn't hesitate to give away something or call over someone for lunch/ dinner. Such was their greatness. And my nani was another sweet lady, who obeyed and helped him live his life fruitfully, fulfilling the duties God has made mankind for. She was small in stature, much like a doll. Fair and pink. From the time I saw her, she had a wrinkled body, but looking at her one could say that she was very beautiful once. My grandfather was taller than her, but again fair and handsome, as his wrinkled face stated and from what I hear from my mother. These were people with kindness, who never got angry on others, yet spoke for wrong and at the same time were quick to forgive.

My grandfather, joined the freedom movement during his time and used to be mostly travelling. Of course, there was arrest warrant issued on him by the then British government. To evade British arrest, he moved to Goa. Goa was then under Portugese rule and the British had no say there. In Goa, he built a small home in Vasco, where some of my mamus (maternal uncles) stay to this day. His nature was to keep helping people around him. In Goa, again my grandfather started his social service. People were uneducated in Baina, Vasco and many Muslims were not aware of their own books. 'Nana' started his work of educating people - literary and religious. He founded a small education centre, which is now a big school in Baina. But since he was kind and humble, he didn't keep any stake in it. Nor did he do it for any acknowledgement or fame.
He once also went to prison for the sake of Indian freedom. There he wrote a song, 'Bhagyawaan dharti chi aamhi lekra...' (marathi). My mom remembers the opening lines as he used to hum them often. As Karwar was once part of old Bombay State, Konkani and little Marathi was spoken there. Now the highlight in Karwar is mostly on Kannada, though most people speak Konkani. Sadly, most of his literary works were not preserved by his children. Also, in those days, he was mostly travelling and their living conditions were not great. So, most writings were lost or spoiled over a period of time.

He used to wear a pyjama and kurta and a sherwani coat on top of his kurta. And a white turban completed his attire. A white beard made him look cute. I remember as a child, when he'd come to Mumbai (at our old RBI quarters at Mumbai Central), he used to love peppermints and used to carry a packet hidden on him. Such humble people are difficult to find these days. His life was an example of a good Muslim, who followed the 'sunnah' of Prophet Mohammed, Alhamdulillah. They lived amicably with fellow non-muslims as with people from their own community. People to this day take his name with respect.

When I compare this with the people of Kashmir valley, who feel that they will be better off as a separate nation and in a better state to guard their culture, it hurts me no end. People who ingrain in youth heads that Muslims should live in Islamic states/ countries only, are leaders who themselves do not know the essense of Islam. Prophet Muhammed SAS lived amicably with non Muslims of those times. The real challenge lies in being a true Muslim against all odds. Only in a mixed society, is one compelled to follow one's religion better. Because, your every action is not only yours, but represents your community's. And everyone is watching you. You might not have an open space in every office to offer Muslim prayer (namaaz), nor concession for going home early in Ramzan. But every struggle one makes to emerge a good Muslims inspite of all odds, is what true jihad is all about. Jihad actually means 'Struggle'. But sadly the term is misused and misunderstood in this age.

Why do I say that living as a Muslim in a non-Islamic state/ country is more challenging? When everything around us is conducive to our requirement, we lose the spark and the essence of our own teachings. We start to take them for granted. In fact, when I look at Pakistani girls, I sometimes find them more modern than many non-Muslim girls here in Mumbai or whole of India. Even in Kashmir (in a 2 day stay in Dec), I saw more interactive culture than the one we follow in my own house. Of course, from what I heard about certain cultural practices being followed in Kashmir, I would hardly call it Islamic. When I, as a Muslim, step up and work with fellow non-Muslims, I am asked about my culture, my practices. Also when people hear about something in Islam, they wonder aloud why I am not doing the same. And that requires explanation. And to explain, you need to know. It is almost like you are being monitored to follow your own religion.

If I avoid 'non-Halaal' meat stating I prefer to eat from specific non-veg restaurants, I am given an odd glance. In areas, where they are no places serving halaal meat, I prefer to eat veg food stating that I prefer veg when outside. Only to those who understand and specifically ask, I mention about 'halaal' food. And explain the concept, if required. Recently on my way to Ajmer, an elderly lady (from a Jain couple of Ajmer) travelling with us in the train, asked me whether there were two types of Muslims -one with hijaab and another without. I had to explain to her that all Muslims have to cover themselves from head to toe. Of course, it was embarrassing for me. So, it is kind of a check for me. In Ramzan, even on specific days, when I am not allowed to fast, I prefer not to eat or drink water through the entire day in office, instead of giving personal description of things. Because my every action as a Muslim is accountable! Without a test, how can we pass or fail? So also, 'this' (living in a non-Islamic state) is like a test.

In certain Islamic countries, people have started taking things for granted. Following same old practices passed over through the ages, without referring to the Quran and Hadeeth, whether these are correct or not. Some have even started moving away. Only the attire has remained and the values almost vanished! Whereas most Muslims living in non-Islamic countries like UK, USA, India, Singapore and many more countries, follow their religion better. (There are a few exceptions everywhere!) They read the Islamic scriptures/ books and get initiated into the religion and hence get a better understanding. Or, for those who have already been Muslims, reading scriptures of God become more essential to answer the questions posed by their non-Muslim colleagues and friends from time to time.

Coming back to the question of 'independence' and so-called Azadi that the Kashmiris are seeking. Entire Kashmir is a beautiful land, blessed by God. The culture is rich and the hospitality is indeed great. This lovely land with lovely people has been sought by Pakistan and China alike. Many parts (not shown in Indian map) have been occupied by Pak and China. In all the tension, there has mostly been military in the land. Also, rest of India, was earlier very scared to go to Kashmir, due to the continued unrest there. In this way, it has mostly been isolated from other parts of India. There have been limited movements from Kashmir to other parts of our country. Also, we hardly hear of marriages across J&K state and other states. Such may be very few. This has helped retained the original flavour of the land along with hostility towards the military. All this has further made the people there feel aliented and unwanted by Indian government. This of course, has been combined with cross border terror from Pak to occupy the land. Often the common man in Kashmir has suffered.

Keeping all this in mind, the frustration of the people is understandable. The people there want nothing to do with Pakistan nor India, but want a separate country with access to both India and Pakistan. This sounds like a rosy dream to the Kashmiri youth. But reality is different from rosy dreams. Every country has its share of ups and downs. And so has every state. There are some people in Mumbai too, who want to throw non Marathis away! Some tribes of North -East have been wanting a separate nation for years. (But we can't let everyone have their own way!) In this turmoil, the civilians living in North-East keep suffering and lose lives. They too have been living under military surveillance since years now. But the plight of Assam is never looked into, nor is it highly spoken of by we Indians. Maybe, there are no immediate neighbouring nations around there, which are a considered a threat to India.

So the focus is again on Kashmir. A land of beauty and culture. Paradise on earth and a major tourist attraction for India. Apart from that, we have the Amarnath temple there, which is an important place for the Hindus. Let us think whether a separate country with free access to two countries is possible? Nopes. It is a security threat to our nation. 'Free Access' is always two ways! If a Kashmiri can enter Pakistan and India freely, it also means the other way round. Any Pakistan wanting to create trouble in India, can easily enter into Kashmir and from Kashmir, into India without a passport. Presently, there is a lot of terror activity in Pak. With a separate Kashmir, it will only be a hub for terrorists to hide. And finally, it will attract the fate of a country like Afghanistan, which has attracted lot of bombing only on suspicion and also because it does not have a reputable global presence at a higher plane. Finally, Kashmir will have UN intervention and become a US military base. And once a military base, always one! So, the military rule still remains! So, where is the 'azadi'? This is one aspect of the future of the sought 'freedom'.

What is the other serious repercussion of a separate Kashmir? The trade, finance and companies running in Kashmir at present, are linked to India and run because of the Indian economy. Indian rupee and economy has stood strong even in times of recession. The same cannot be said for Pakistan. Kashmir is presently surviving on handicrafts like embroidery, carpets and other hand made articles. Most people are involved in Trade. There are Kashmiris who go to various cities in India and sell their handicrafts. A few other types of small business exist too. Another important link with rest of India is the widely networked J&K Bank. Many Kashmiris are employed through it. Will the rest of the branches exist if Kashmir is separated? Also other Indian companies having branches/ outlets in Kashmir will have to close down. Such a move will only make Kashmiris unemployed and more dependent on traditional handicrafts. This will worsen economy there and push people to poverty.
Another aspect - Will other nations, who have been waiting to acquire Kashmir since ages, be quiet ? A separate small Kashmir with no economy or good military base or International standing, will only make it an easy target for any country to attack and acquire it. So the so-called 'Azadi' that the Kashmiris want is only a highly exaggarated dream. And Kashmiris should wake up from their slumber! You are one of us and we love you and want you to be a part of India as always!

We should strive for 'freedom' of our souls instead. What is true freedom or azadi as a good human being ? As a human, we should strive to be free from sins, free from bad practices, free from evil and Satan. Only then can a person totally be called free or azad. In Ramzan, when our endeavour should be to fast, do good deeds, give charity and devote our time to prayer and acquiring religious knowledge, thoughts which lead to destruction only weaken our faith and keep us away from the mercies of this blessed month.

As someone truly said -'It is easier to make babies now than make someone a true Indian and even a true Muslim'.

Proud to be part of a nation, which has churned great heroes and given a lot of contribution to maths and science and even computer technology! Jai Hind.