Frustration!

My readers know that I am a Crossword Puzzle addict and solve up to eight puzzles every morning.

Occasionally, one or two solutions beat me and I get very frustrated. Today was one of those days when after solving all very difficult clues except one, I got totally frustrated.

The clue was “Amorous period getting a novelist backing before lent. (10)”

I had got five letters but five others beat me.

After battling with it for over half an hour, I finally messaged my go-to resources, two other addicts, my sister and my brother and while the former’s solution turned out to be wrong the latter’s came up trumps because he lives in London.

The solution turned out to be SEXAGESIMA. Amorous – sex, Period – age, Novelist backing – Amis.

Barath, my brother also consoled me by saying that since I live in India and am a Hindu, I would not know about this word. And that it true indeed.

I am delighted to have learnt another word.

Synchronicity Again.


This story has its beginning a few weeks ago. I had asked my cousin who now lives in Tamil Nadu, the length of a South Indian dhoti to compare it with what we get here in Maharashtra where I live.

Instead of answering, he simply ordered me to accept two dhoties as gifts from him and that he will arrange to procure them and send to me. Naturally, I was delighted and gratefully accepted his gift which duly arrived.

During the same conversation, he asked me if I had an image of our Kuladeivam  (family deity) in my puja alcove. I responded with a no. He did not mention anything further but, I felt that now being the head of my rather dispersed family, I should have the same in my puja alcove and found a studio in Tamil Nadu who was capable of making one to my liking.

I ordered four of them to be sent to me, another cousin now resident of Maharashtra, my sister in Bengaluru and for the cousin who had asked me the question which led me to this activity. On being advised about this, the last on the list regretted that he would not be able to accept the gift as he already had one and had limited space in his retirement home. I therefore got left with one extra to my need.

Yesterday, I was in one of my periodic streamlining exercises and decided to part with a rare PDF spiral bound printed version of a very popular prayer. I offered it to a Vedanta classmate of mine who can read Tamil and she promptly accepted it. While I was getting it ready it occurred to me to ask her if she would like the spare deity too and she was overwhelmed. It turned out that we shared the same family deity and she too did not have the image in her puja alcove.

I sent both the PDF and the image to her earlier this morning and she is simply ecstatic.

I have been left wondering about the sequence of events that led to this development and can only come back to my favourite explanation “synchronicity”.

Social Evolution, Revolutionary Change, Negotiated Settlement: What is Best When?

A very interesting question raised by my fellow 6/1 blogger Conrad.

In my not so humble opinion, the answer has been staring at our faces for decades. None of them work in the long term. All of them have been tried and found wanting. The human being is simply not willing to bring about a world that can live in harmony with all members like other species do.

The nearest society has come to some kind of a Utopia is when it engages in totally spiritual approaches to life. This simply means that we let what is innate in us to operate freely so that superimposed value systems of superior/inferior, good/bad, etc be replaced with what Frans de Waal calls our greater powers of abstraction, and involves “a move toward universal standards combined with an elaborate system of justification, monitoring, and punishment.”

At this point, for most people religion comes in as religion and morality has been inseparably enjoined since long. Oxford English Dictionary defines religion as the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. This is not what will bring about morality in our lives but I strongly believe that spiritualism will certainly do. OED defines spirituality as “Relating to or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things.”

Quite how a spiritual life can be inculcated in us is something that I am not qualified to suggest. I however think that small beginnings made in our schools right from the childhood can and does bring about this as, I have personally seen happening in many of our schools that teach our children good values from the beginning. For those interested, here is one such school and I reiterate that, there are many thousands more in India and hopefully, in the next couple of generations, at least in India, we will see a society that will be harmonious with sound moral values.

This is my take on this week’s Friday 6 On 1 blog post topic. The other five bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Sanjana, PadmumRaju, Shackman and Conrad.  This week’s topic was suggested by Conrad. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

A Common Enemy.

No, I will not talk about the latest common enemy.  For me, the common enemy has been for many decades, the idea of “the other”.  Mind you, I am talking about the idea and not “the other”.

“The other” has been the bane of human beings from time immemorial and there does not seem to be any end to it, not at least in my life time.

Let us take the most common today.  Islamophobia.  A conference of some Heads of Islamic States was recently held to address this issue. This is a global phenomenon and locally in India, I have recently been reading some very explosive material on the alienation that the Muslims in India feel. The first one is this book from a young mother and the other is from two very knowledgeable and erudite Muslims of India.

All the three links given above will give my readers some idea about the problems faced by the Islamic world in general and the Muslims of India. I am particularly concerned about the latter as it can have serious repercussions in the next few years with Right Wing nationalism growing in India, Pakistan imploding and Bangladesh in an economic crisis. If the problems faced by the two countries result in a refugee problem in India, there will be a major upheaval which I would rather that did not take place.

Let us talk about some other kind of “Others”. Here is an instance of old people becoming the other. I would very much like to meet this worthy when and if he ever gets to be as old as the people that he suggests die for the cause.

Need I say anything about the biggest “Other”, gender?

Every community has its share of “The Others”, thanks to inadequate education of the different types of people, religions, languages, colour, appearance etc and prejudices and fear drive bigotry and hate crimes besides discrimination.

The latest in the line of many “The Others” is China, thanks to the Coronavirus. It is extrememly difficult to determine how much of it is fact and how much just fake news but, the damage is being done.

If we delve deep into our prejudices, we will find enough and more “others” to keep us discussing them till kingdom come. I have just listed a few here to give a pointer to the IDEA of “The Other” as being our number one Common Enemy.

This is my take on this week’s Friday 5 On 1 blog post topic. The other four bloggers who write on the same topic every Friday are Sanjana, Padmum and Shackman and Conrad.   Conrad incidentally, is the original founder of the weekly bloggers group formed way back in 2009. This week’s topic was suggested by Conrad. Please do go over to their respective blogs to see what they have to say on the topic. Thank you.

Spirituality And The Media.

This week’s Friday 2 on 1 fascinating topic has been chosen by Shackman. I am really curious to know quite what he will have to say on it and, I am sure, so will you be. So, without much delay, please go over to his blog to find out for yourself.

For me, the most important media is the print one. I prefer that to any other and I am lost without my quota of newspapers, periodicals and books. The largest of these is the newspaper one and India’s largest, The Times Group in two of its publications offers daily small stories and every Sunday, publishes a suplement devoted entirely to Spiritualism.


The next in the Print series will be my monthly dose of publications from five separate institutions, though three of them belong to the same order, The Sri Ramakrishna Mission.

The next in line for me are shows on religious / spiritual themes on our television channels. India has a long history of such serials starting with the famous Ramayana Series by Ramanand Sagar in the eighties. Today too, there are any number of channels offering such fare and I watch one on Sai Baba Of Shirdi every week day for half an hour.

India has any number of Godmen as they are called derisively by the sophisticates, and I occasionally get links through WhatsApp to Youtube broadcasts on spiritual matters by some of them. Here is one by Satguru, a very popular religious leader which should amuse my American readers.

One also gets bombarded by messages on spiritual and religious matters via WhatsApp, email and SMS messages, all using modern social media and I often get quite annoyed at the sheer volume of stuff that I have to delete every day.

I can therefore conclude that this must be the single largest subject for modern media and I am sure that my readers will agree.

Marriage.

The idea for this title for our weekly 2 on 1 Friday post where Shackman and I write on the same subject came to me when I received the following piece of humour from a friend:

Today is ‘World Marriage Day.Let us keep 2 minutes’ silence and read some quotes of fellow – sufferers.

A few interesting
*GLOBAL OPINIONS ABOUT MARRIAGE* :

After marriage, husband and wife become two sides of a coin, they just can’t face each other, but still they stay together.
– Al Gore

By all means marry. If you get a good wife, you’ll be happy. If you get a bad one, you’ll become a philosopher.
– Socrates

Women inspire us to great things, and prevent us from achieving them.
– Mike Tyson

I had some words with my wife, and she had some paragraphs with me.
– Bill Clinton

“There’s a way of transferring funds that is even faster than electronic banking. It’s called marriage.”
– Michael Jordan

A good wife always forgives her husband when she’s wrong.
– Barack Obama

When you are in love,
Wonders happen.
But once you get married,
You wonder, what happened.

I was a married man for forty years and never once had to crack a joke on the institution. My late wife used to say that it was because I was hardly at home due to the travelling nature of my job and so, whenever I was at home, I just enjoyed the comforts and security of home and was not exposed to the other realities that other stay at home husbands did. By the time I retired or chose to retire due to her illness, the nature of the relationship changed and there was no scope for humour.

We got married according to Vedic rites the most important parts of which are the seven circumambulations that the couple take around a sacred fire.

After that ritual, this is the shloka from Vivaha Karmakandaa that every bridegroom is made to recite after taking the seven steps holding the hand of the bride around the fire. I too did.

धैरहम पृथ्वीवित्वं
रथोहं रेथोभूतत्वं
मनोहंसमिवाकतवम
सामहंसमि क्षुत्तृत्वं
सा माँ अनुव्रता भवा.

Dhairaham pruthviveethvam.
Rethoham rethobhuthathvam
Manohamsamivaakathvam
Saamahamsami kshuthruthvam
Saa maa anuvrthaa bhava.

“I am the sky and you are the earth. I am the giver of energy and you are the receiver. I am the mind and you are the word. I am music and you are the song. You and I follow each other.”

How beautiful! We did indeed follow each other for as long as her health lasted. When it failed, we got joined at the hips as it were and that lasted for another eight years till death did part us.

Like all relationships, we had our ups and downs but, mostly it was all ups. There was rare chemistry between us which I think was due to our having been friends for eight years before we decided to get married. I can honestly say that it was a successful marriage.

I despair at the frequency with which modern marriages break down but I understand that the world has changed and different value systems and pressures operate now than those that prevailed in our youth and middle ages.

Please do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say on the subject.