History – An Unintended Consequence Of Migration.

As I wrote in my last Friday post, I am deeply into reading about history and here is something fascinating that I found which I am sure will be of interest to my readers too.

In the late 13th Century BC, a military elite called The Mitanni migrated from the East (India) into Northern Iraq and there are many war stories about them in that region’s history. A treaty that they entered into with the Hittites was solemnized in the name of Vedic Gods Indra, Varuna, Mitra and Nasatya. The Mitanni also took with them technology of Indian origin – Iron. Noteworthy is the fact that this was five centuries after mass production of iron took place in South India.

Interestingly, the Mitanni God Mitra would remain a popular deity in the Middle East and, centuries later, would witness a major revival in the Roman empire (where he would be known as the solar god Mithras). The cult of Mithras would become very widespread in the late Roman period, and would produce serious competition with Christianity. The pagan Romans used to celebrate a big festival called Saturnalia that went on for a week from December 17. At the end of the festival on 25th December, the Mithras cult would celebrate the feast of Sol Invictus or Unconquered Sun. Many scholars believe that when the Christians came to power they simply took over the popular pagan festival. (After all, the exactly date of birth of Jesus Christ is not known.)

Mind you,not every one agreed with this choice and the Orthodox Church still celebrated Christmas on 7th January. The Puritans would later disapprove of the unseemly heathen celebrations that clung to the festival and would try to ban Christmas in North America and Britain in the 17th and 18th Centuries. 25th December survived nevertheless as official Christmas day and a festival celebrated by Christians and non Christians alike. Thus one of the unintended consequences of early iron age migration seems to be that the world has come to celebrate the birthday of an ancient god from Haryana in India!

PS. Even today, the phrase Indo Aryan is used in many communications, like the Wikipedia article on Mitanni though the Aryan invasion / migration of India has been thoroughly disproved by archeological and genetic findings. This is a topic by itself for another post in the future.

PPS: My source – The Ocean Of Churn by Sanjeev Sanyal.

Andhadhun A Movie.

I went to a movie after three months! Not because I had better things to do but, nothing new came up that interested me. Andhadhun however has received rave reviews and a very dear friend who saw it wrote specially to me to go and see it. So, I was escorted by R and M in style yesterday and had a grand evening out. Even the traffic God was kind and we reached the venue fifteen minutes ahead of time and had to wait for the auditorium to be cleaned after the previous screening before we could go in. And the good fortune continued on the way back too and even the traffic lights were in our favour.

It is rare indeed to see a Bollywood movie in the Black Comedy genre and this one is among the blackest. There are occasions when it becomes difficult to believe that it is a comedy after all but, over all the blackness is very present and exciting. Every moment of the 2 hours and 20 minutes of the running time was well spent. Says something about the excellent editing and direction.

That the movie was made in Pune and many scenes are from places that I am familiar with, was icing on the cake..

Very much worth seeing and I give it a five star rating. Please do not miss it if you can possibly get to see it on the big screen.

Life On The Simple Side.

This week’s Friday 2 on 1 blog post title has been suggested by Shackman who claims that he was inspired by our own old geezelle Tammy. She actually is a minimalist and far from a simpleton but, that is word play that I hope she will forgive me for.

Simple Living as per Wikipedia was practiced by Mahatma Gandhi. His contemporary freedom fighter Sarojni Naidu had this to say about that to him. “Do you know how much it costs every day to keep you in poverty?”

I flatter myself that mine is a life on the simple side. That is my perception. Ekoshapu who had visited me for the first time said this about my simplicity. “I, along with my friend, met Ramana Sir on Sunday at his home (mansion would be the right word, considering the super-affluent locality and spacious rooms/garden).” If I were to visit some of my friends who live in more upmarket areas in bigger homes, perhaps I would also say the same thing. The point is that ‘simplicity’ is a matter of perception.

For me, being simple is keeping my wants to the barest minimum and finding simple solutions to life’s problems. For instance, while I can and on occasions do use a car with a driver hired on an hourly basis, I would rather use a cab or an auto-rickshaw to go wherever I need to go as, parking and its attendant problems is always a major constraint. On the other hand, Ekoshapu, being much younger and more agile, uses our very reliable public transport bus system to commute within our city. He finds that simpler. Perhaps had I been his age with my present lifestyle, I would have too. In other words, simplicty can be thrust on us too and often is!

I wonder if in our lifetime we will see a major shift from consumerism to simplicity/minimalism as a natural reaction to the former reaching its limits.  A process called Enandriomia.  I certainly see many middle class and affluent families opting for the latter and wonder if a snowballing effect will occur.  On the other hand, for developing nations like India, aspirational impacts on the poor climbing the economic ladder perhaps, balances such reversals.  The next few decades will be interesting to watch.

Not being part of the consumer society is more than enough to have a life of the simple side. I am not tempted to buy unnecessary things with the exception of books. Hopefully, one of these days, even that weakness will drop off like a ripe pumpkin that simply snaps off from the vein.

Do go over to Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say about the topic.

 

Curiosity.


The idea for this week’s topic for the Weekly Friday 2 on 1 blog post came to me following a visit to some friends last week to see the new home that they had moved into recently. While we were discussing many things there, being challenged by two very young but sharp minds, their father, no pushover either, observed that though I am not physically very active, mentally I am very curious and keep abreast of many things which he found unusual.

In that particular environment of the whole family taking part in wide ranging discussions, I could not come up with the a repartee that I wanted to but, later, after I came home and had accessed my bank of quotations, I found exactly what I was looking for.

Thomas Freidman in his book The World Is Flat came up with this equation :

I sent the Wikipedia link to my friend and added that I had plenty of CQ and PQ but hardly any IQ.  He responded with :

Bloger Cheerful Monk is another great advocate of curiosity. I wonder what her response to this post will be!

I hope that my fellow blogger Shackman has come up with something as weird as this post in his blog. Please do go over and check.

My Top 10 Guilty Pleasures.

While I have accepted the topic as it was suggested by my fellow Friday blogger Shackman, I must straight away state that none of the pleasures that I enjoy can be called guilty, at least, not by me. I thoroughly enjoy each one and never suffer any guilty pangs post event. And, at my age, there are very few pleasures left to relish as while the spirit may be very willing, the flesh is weak and does not cooperate.

At the twilight of my years, what gives me the greatest pleasure is, don’t hold your breath, are, food and sound sleep.  Mind you, at this stage, it should not be quantity but quality.  The pleasure I obtain is not only desiring quality, but often in the quantity as well.  The following list will give you some indication.  It is rare that I will stop with one helping when it comes to eating my favourite food or be satisfied with an interrupted sleep.

The top most on my list will be Ice Cream of all kinds but, within which the top most choice will go to Kulfi. For a while, I had patronised a brand called Kwality Walls here till I found out that it was made out of vegetable oils  and is called Frozen Dessert. Unfortunately, this is the only item within that specification that my grocer delivers and so I have to go to an Ice Cream Parlour just down the road to indulge whenever the mood takes me.

So, number 1. will be Kulfi and number 2. will be all other ice creams except the so called Frozen Desserts.

That brings me to item number 3.

Sweets of the Indian variety.  Topmost on the list is Kalakand. There are different types from different parts of the country and, I love all of them.

Number 4 will be cakes and pastries of all types, easily the most desired being Black Forest.

Now comes the non sweet snacks.

In the order of choice, they will be:

Samosa, Kachori and Khandvi.

Number 8 will be cuisine. Top favourite being my native Tamil cuisine followed by Punjabi.

Number 9 pleasure will be what I get from solving crossword puzzles. If I don’t get my daily dose, I am miserable.

Last item on the list will be sleep and particularly my afternoon siesta. On the rare occasion that I don’t get it due to being away from home on some chore or the other, I feel out of sorts till the next day.

I have a feeling that the other Friday 2 on 1 blogger Shackman is likely to come up with music on top followed by other items, very likely including some food too. Do go over and have a look at his blog.

Rains.

There are two main rainy seasons in India called The Monsoons One is the current season in most parts of Western and Northern India called the South West Monsoon and the other later in the year operative in most of the Eastern parts of India, called the North Eastern Monsoon. Though both impact the other areas as well it is to lesser intensity than during their main season.

I live in the Western part of India and right now am enjoying the rains. The Indian month of Shravan or Savan is poetically inspiring from ancient times and the most often used symbolism is the Peacock dancing announcing the onset of rains. Most Indians believe that the dance is the harbinger of the monsoons but, science, the spoil sport, states that it is simply a coincidence that the mating season for them falls during the monsoon time.  It is simply the mating ritual of the peacock to attract some peahens!

Ever since I can remember, the monsoon season has been my favourite every year. I am very fortunate that I live in Pune where it is at its best. I love to sit in our verandah and watch the rain fall in our little garden and also enjoy seeing people enjoying getting wet. My son Ranjan is one such and one never knows when he will get it in his head to come down in pouring rain into the garden to get wet and just commune with nature. I used to do that but, now I cannot risk slipping and falling down so I avoid it. One of the very few things that I miss not being able to do.

Another thing that I used to enjoy as a child accompanied by my siblings was making paper boats to float on puddles and runoff streams. I taught the same to my son when he was little and used to enjoy watching him chase the boat as it floated off. Another pastime that I cannot indulge in any more.

I do however enjoy one more thing associated with our monsoons. Eating hot corn cobs roasted on charcoal fire with masala added on to it. Unlike the old days when I used to go to the hand cart that sells this in our neigbourhood, I have to get it delivered at home. That is the only difference but, the taste brings back many memories, it does.

And finally and before I forget, I have a date with Ursula to dance with her in the rains on the streets of London before I pop off.  She will not let me forget it and I have to make some effort to keep that date.

Today’s topic for the weekly 2 on 1 blog posts was suggested by me. Please do go over to the other participant Shackman’s blog to see what he has to say about the same topic.