Ravi Shankar: Sitar, Shanti and Soul

Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar and Baba Alauddin Khan
Ravi Shankar, Ali Akbar and Baba Alauddin Khan

Sitar virtuoso, Indian music legend Ravi Shankar is no more. Pandit, Guru Ravi Shankar passed away in his California home on Tuesday. He was 92.

Many Indians, particularly the pre-kitsch, non-Bollywood-type Indians, and surprisingly a large number of Westerners know about Ravi Shankar and some of his remarkable achievements. They know of Shankar’s close association with Beatles’ George Harrison in the “psychedelic” sixties when Harrison took sitar lessons from Shankar, and promoted both the instrument and Indian classical music to the West. Some of know of Shankar’s memorable music direction to Satyajit Ray’s watershed movie Pather Panchali. Many others know that Ravi Shankar had a daughter out of a short-lived marriage, and the daughter is now a world-famous pop singer Norah Jones. Some others perhaps also know that Shankar had another marriage later which gave birth to Anoushka, who is now a well-known sitar player herself and has often played with her genius father at concerts all over the world. In fact, a simple Google or YouTube search would instantly find you thousands of stories and video clips on the legendary father and his two famous musician daughters.

It is common perception that George Harrison brought Ravi Shankar to the West. That may be true and Harrison did a rare act of recognition and appreciation for the Eastern culture; he also brought out the suffering of Bangladesh to the West during its 1971 Liberation War. But untrue is the nuance that Ravi Shankar became Ravi Shankar — the world-renowned musician — because of George Harrison. A genius like Shankar did not need any particular push to become a genius.

RaviIn fact, I have said it elsewhere that “Had he been born a Westerner, he might have been a household name like Beethoven or Mozart.” What I meant is that had he been an American or European, and not a Bengali-Indian musician from a West-undermined Bengal and India, his genius would be much more readily acclaimed at educated American and European living rooms. He would not have to find fame at select, elite liberal homes and even more select, elite university music departments — especially through identification with George Harrison or the so-called psychedelic sixties. Americans today have only remembered the marijuana smokescreen of the sixties and sadly forgotten all about its revolutionary search of peace and soul.

About that often-misplaced association, Shankar said “he was happy to have contributed to bringing the music of India to the West… The music he played, he said, was sacred.”

In fact, the music he played all his life was about soul and shanti. It was about humanity. It was about an ancient, thousand years of Indian civilization that taught the world how art and music can transcend the boundaries of man-made silos. Shankar and his co-disciples such as Ali Akbar Khan and their percussion accompanist Alla Rakha, as well as the more recent tabla prodigy Zakir Hussain all showed how the school of music they grew up in could take both the player and the listener from the world of mortality to immortality. To a Western aficionado, it might sound rather abstract, but in India, music is a way of worshiping Saraswati the goddess of learning. Music is a well-accepted spiritual yoga. One does not have to belong to a certain religious school or denomination to attain supreme religiosity.

Of course, some might say it’s not really that different in the West. They might say, other non-Harrison virtuosos Ravi Shankar Ravi and Rayplayed with: violinist Yehudi Menuhin, saxophonist John Coltrane, composer Phillip Glass or conductor Andre Previn — all touched God through their music. But as someone who grew up in the tradition of Indian classical school, I would not be able to tell exactly what these legendary personalities thought about soul-searching through their music; I can only assume that all of them found their God when they performed. I know I can look at Menuhin pulling his bow on the violin, his eyes closed, and I know that he transcended from our lowly, mundane, fractious world to a blissful, divine height. We can definitely say that about Ray Charles too: his side-to-side sways while singing gave it all away. I know he had found his God.

Very few people perhaps know about the source of that spirituality Ravi Shankar brought from India to the West. It was his mentor Baba Alauddin Khan, a Bengali Muslim who identified a young Ravi’s talent when the Baba (or father) toured with the ballet troupe of Ravi’s illustrious dancer brother Uday Shankar, and took the teenager sitarist boy in for an in-house disciple. Alauddin Khan taught young Ravi how to play the sitar and tabla, sing, and understand the ocean-deep treasures of the Hindustani ragas — the many musical moods and structures. Just the same way the Baba showed him the countless improvisations and varieties, flexibilities and nuances and departures from the raga — properties that are primarily different from a rigorously structured Western classical — the Homer of modern-era Indian classical music, who lived through the age of 110, also trained Ravi on the lessons of a sacred, yet completely secular lifestyle — a lifestyle of humility, spirituality and peace. Muslim Alauddin Khan named his daughter Annapurna, a Hindu goddess, who some say was an even more talented sitar player than Ravi, and she became Ravi’s first wife.

When I talk about Ravi Shankar’s music transcending the boundaries of race and religion, I talk about humanity. I talk about peace. I talk about a progressive, futuristic way of life. That is life’s way our Eastern mentors taught us through centuries. Whether it’s the ancient saints or medieval-era Sri Chaitanya, or whether it’s the more recent Godly personalities like Rabindranath Tagore or Ramakrishna Paramhansa, this value is what streams through our blood streams.

Baba Alauddin inculcated that forward-looking lifestyle on all his students: his children. Ravi Shankar carried that mission forward when he played his sitar and built bridges between the East and the West.

Through his music, Ravi Shankar touched his God: humanity.

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

###

Anoushka

Obama vs. Romney: Seriously, What the Heck is Going On?

One face or two faces? That is the question.

Over the last few weeks, I asked some hard questions I thought we should all ask Romney, Ryan and the Republicans. I did the same with Obama and the Democrats.

Because the so-called mainstream media is not asking them, I thought the onus is on us.

Even though it’s an American election where U.S. citizens vote to elect their president this November, actually it’s an election that has serious impact for the entire world. In a way, it’s a global election. Therefore, politically enlightened people from all over the world need to understand the various aspects of the election as clearly as possible. For the entire world, the stake is too high.

I was happy to see the level of reaction to my posts. A surprisingly high number of readers of this blog — now from near and far corners of the world — read the questions I asked to the Democratic and Republican candidates. Some wrote their comments directly on the blog, and some others sent me their feedback personally. Some of these friends had a strong disagreement with my position on Obama; they were also unhappy to see how a super-excited 2008 me turned into a less than enthusiastic 2012 me. These friends challenged my political acumen when I asked some critical questions to the Obama campaign. When I said I was not feeling excited at all for Obama, they warned me not to pop their excitement balloon. They said my wet blanket to douse their party bonfire might hurt Obama’s chances.

I felt delighted — by the thought that my little, no-name blog had so much power!

Of course, this is almost an academic discussion. Neither Romney nor Obama is going to read my blog, let alone answer my questions. But this is all I can do. I have said it many times before: other than my writing that I use to make my readers, friends and sympathizers think, I have no power. I have no money, no pedigree, no political connection and no real hope for publishing my thoughts for a wide mainstream audience. Therefore, this is really the extent of my political activism. This is the best use of my experience, analysis and energy.

Ronald Reagan pushed french fries and ketchup for vegetable for school lunch programs. Did McDonald’s serve?

I try to make people think. I try to challenge their minds. This is my only non-violent weapon.

Now, for the sake of time, let’s select only a few issues that are critically important both for an U.S. and global audiences. Food, clothes and shelter: these three have always, historically, been the most primary for the ordinary people across the world. In today’s globally-connected society, some other issues have become critical: I could perhaps select war and violence, energy, environment, education and health for the list. Then, we could perhaps include the subject of labor, immigration and society. I’m sure you quickly see a few other issues that you would want to include in your first list. I am sure I myself would later reflect on it and include a few more that I might have missed this time around.

But at least for the time being, not to make this post unnecessarily long, let’s put together our first list of issues and compare the two big parties and their two big candidates on these issues. It might help us to understand the nature of the electioneering process as it is heating up here in the U.S., and determine objectively what exactly is going on. Often, these critical issues do not surface our way — the ordinary, powerless people’s way — in the 24/7 conversation on big media done by their big experts. I call it Journalism of Exclusion.

Therefore, again, the onus is on us to do it. We must do it. Questioning is democracy. Analyzing is too.

So far, we have identified the following issues to be critical to compare the positions of Obama and Romney and their two big parties.

(1) Food

(2) Clothes

(3) Shelter

(4) War and violence

(5) Energy

(6) Environment

(7) Education

(8) Health

(9) Labor

(10) Immigration

(11) Society

Of course, the all-encompassing, all-pervasive, overarching factor would be economics and money. Given its overlapping nature, I decided not to itemize economics as a separate point. The discussion of money would feature quite prominently when we take up these points — one point at a time. Foreign policy would be another such aspect: it’s going to be interwoven in the discussion of all the other points — one way or the other. And obviously, jobs, wages and unemployment would be another — if not the most important — all-pervasive subject. It brings us to the question of poverty, exploitation and injustice.

Millions of Americans seriously believe even in 2012 that global warming is a hoax and even if it’s true, God who created this earth in seven days will take care of all the problems. Can we include this topic in the presidential debate?

But in this intricately-connected world society of the new millennium, where political boundaries have become almost meaningless, especially when we consider how economics and money (and work) can move from one part of the globe to the opposite part — with a speed of light, and considering how the people in power are using the global connectedness to their advantage, I believe that perhaps we could add one more item on our list. And that item would be:

(12) Globalization.

There! I believe we have come up with a good list, at least for the time being. Now let’s see if we can briefly discuss and compare the positions of the two candidates and their parties on these issues. I’ll try to do it as simply as possible, without making it sound too academic. I’ll try to do it with a language most of us — including myself — would understand. You tell me, please, if this language works for you.

If we think carefully, there is practically no way we can discuss one of the above twelve topics exclusively: they are all overlapping. What role does food and water play in today’s politics? Food prices, food quality, water sources, water quality — and the politics of U.S. government and its two big parties — one that media hardly talks about? Coca Cola’s capturing of natural water displacing millions of poor people from their land (and putting a famous movie celebrity as their PR)? U.S. seed company Monsanto’s forced replacement of Indian farmers’ traditional seed banks with their one-crop, genetically engineered seeds forcing those farmers to go bankrupt and commit suicides in hundreds of thousands every year? McDonald’s food colonization with substandard, unhygienic food that caused obesity and serious harmful effects in the U.S. and throughout the world?

What about the foreign policy around the clothes we wear — where and how are they made? How many of us know how Wal-Mart manufactures its imported textiles from China and Bangladesh, Disney manufactures its fancy DisneyWorld costumes from Haiti or Dominican Republic, driving poor laborers like slaves and depriving child workers of their childhood and education? What about those cool i-Phones manufactured at China’s Foxconn where a large number of desperate, young Chinese workers have killed themselves — because of the horrendously oppressive work conditions and toxic environment?

Where is the discussion either at the huge, confetti-covered RNC or DNC? Is there going to be any discussion at the presidential debates? Will New York Times, NPR, PBS or CNN talk about them between now and November?

Anybody want to talk to Obama or Romney about Orwell and Newspeak?

Now, let’s see. war and violence are two subjects where the two parties’ positions are different, they say. Okay, it is true that Romney, Ryan and Rush Limbaugh’s Republican Party openly talk about a new, imminent war on Iran (or Syria, or Yemen…it doesn’t matter); on the other hand, Obama and Hillary Clinton talk about how they have finished the Iraq war and how they’re going to withdraw from Afghanistan in two years. And then of course comes Joe Biden and gives a war-drumbeat speech at DNC…as if John McCain or Joe Lieberman (remember him?) was speaking. And there is rousing chants all around at the convention…USA…USA…USA…

But let’s see: was there any reason for U.S. to be in Iraq in the first place after six or seven years of destroying an ancient civilization, killing hundreds of thousands of people, and looting their oil, gold and other treasures? It’s almost like the British colony withdrawing from India after total plundering, brutalizing and partitioning a once-prosperous civilization, putting their handpicked, subservient, “Gandhian” feudals in power. The aggressors were going to leave sooner or later anyways: there was no more reason either for the British to stay in India or for the U.S. to stay in Iraq. Where is that perspective?

Can we talk about it in a straightforward way? Oh yes, can we also include the politics Israel has always played and has been playing in this incredible mess? Isn’t Iran or Syria or Egypt or Libya or Saudi cards used in the same game?

And then come Obama’s hit list and the drones and the relentless bombing…the war is over?

And then comes Julian Assange and Wikileaks and Bradley Manning…didn’t they say whistle blowing was actually patriotic?

Would New York Times, NPR, PBS or CNN talk about them? Would anyone throw these questions — this straightforward way — in the presidential debate?

We’ll now talk about globalization, immigration, labor and the economy — and their interconnectedness. We need to know how these two parties and their candidates are different on these issues.

I hope you come back to participate in that discussion. I need you in that discussion.

(To be continued…)

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Who will talk about the globally-imposed cultural conformity? Mr. Obama? Mr. Romney? Mr. Limbaugh?

How Many Ways Have You Been Cheated In Your Life?

But they said life would be good in America!

Related post: please visit Ever Lived on Two Sides of the Globe…Exactly at the Same Time? (Click on this line)

_________________________________

“Oh God,” some of you — my friends, sympathizers and global readers — might grunt. “This guy is again writing a depressing note.” Some of you might say, “Doesn’t he get it? Nobody wants to read his depressing notes anymore!”

Honestly, I can’t blame you if you felt that way. Because, feeling cheated all my life is definitely not a happy feeling. It does make me depressed. It would make you depressed too if you thought about it, and asked yourself the question, and challenged yourself to come up with the most honest, no-inhibition, straightforward answer. (Perhaps that’s why many of you do not want to talk about it.)

But I say: have courage and try it, my friends, sympathizers and global readers. Answer my question in the most mano-to-mano, womano-to-womano way (and in all other possible variations). Then come back to me and tell me if you still think I am the only person feeling cheated all my life and feeling depressed because of feeling cheated.

I would most sincerely — “cross my heart and so help me God” way — use all your honest feedback once you told me about the results of your soul searching.

But let me first tell you in a few minutes what the results of my soul searching have been.

Now, as soon as the word “cheated” gets in the mix of any conversation, the automatic knee-jerk reaction is “Cheated? So, are you talking about infidelity? Like, the husband cheating on the wife, wife cheating on the husband ( and all other possible variations)?” And then the automatic response would be, “Ah well, that’s too personal. I’m not gonna tell you about my personal life — for you to put out there for the rest of the world to see.” The response would be, “No Sir, I’m not gonna. It’s my personal life and it’s my privacy.” And who doesn’t know that America is too big on privacy? India, my other country, is also coming up fast and getting bigger on privacy. India’s elite and aspiring-elite upper middle class are getting bigger day by day on privacy — on an American mental Viagra.

No, I’m not talking about this cheating.

But, please, rest easy. My question “How many ways have you been cheated in your life?” has nothing to do with your marital relationship or love life. So, don’t worry. I am never going to pry upon your private life. You can pump in more Viagra to get your privacy even bigger. I won’t bother you.

My question is about your non-private life: life’s other aspects that not only you, but all your immediate family members, friends, relatives, neighbors, co-workers, students, teachers, well-wishers, cursors, haters, bashers, blasters and such people can see. You might think they are not able to note and judge these elements of your life, but believe me, they can. They do. They are. So, don’t fool yourself believing that nobody knows. It’s obvious. It’s apparent. It’s transparent. It’s vivid. It’s not private at all. It’s already out there for the entire world to see.

Embarrassed? Confused? Don’t be. Take my example. It’s going to be much easier for you to understand the question.

So, the first cheat is that the leaders of my two countries — USA and India — kept telling me that if I worked hard and lived my life honestly and had a lofty goal to be somewhere, I would be somewhere. Just because I was born poor would not make me die poor: the leaders said I would be somebody. To support their claim, they gave me some evidence where a very poor man through hard work and honest living with a lofty goal actually became rich and famous. No, I’m not talking about the lottery winners. I’m talking about their examples where in America, Roger Sherman, who helped to write the American Constitution, was a cobbler; in India, a very poor low-caste woman recently became the principal of a college, and so on. Then, you have Barack Obama, et al…

Problem is, it doesn’t happen that way. People who show you those examples never tell you that they are exceptions and statistically insignificant. What is statistically insignificant? Simply put, if in a population of any random sampling, more than 95 percent of the people have one kind of trend and less than 5 percent have another kind of trend, then the trend that only happens in less than 5 percent of the population is statistically insignificant. That means, that trend is an exception: an aberration. You can’t say that trend is something that is legit or valid for the general population.

In this aspect of life, which I’d call social mobility or upward social movement, those people whom the leaders of my two countries tout as valid examples of upward social movement are too few and far between. Their numbers are so small that statistically they are absolutely insignificant. But neither the leaders nor their mouthpiece media would tell you the real story. The real story is that in this social and economic system — one that America practiced especially since Ronald Reagan and is now devoutly picked up by India and its neoliberal, IMF-sold leaders — if you are born poor, it’s very likely that you’d die poor. Or, if you’re born unknown with no pedigree or uppity country-club-type connections, you’d die more or less the same way.

That is reality. I am a living example of that reality. And I worked very hard in my life, lived honestly, and that too, with a lofty goal. I’ll tell you — kind of hesitantly — what some of those things are I’ve done in my one hard-working, honest and lofty-goal life. I must. Otherwise, you would not believe me at all.

But before that, let me show you a graph on upward social mobility — country by country. It’s important to put it here because I know some of my readers from various parts of the world are quite erudite and are not going to accept my argument unless supported by serious research. So, here we go.

India does not even feature in this graph. It’s pathetic there.

The graph from the now-world-renowned book The Spirit Level shows that among all the developed and prosperous, capitalist countries, USA has the worst upward social mobility especially when graphed against income inequality (i.e., rich-poor divide) of those countries. In other words, USA has the highest income inequality (which means, the rich-poor divide is the widest) and it’s upward social mobility for the poor and middle class is practically non-existent. In India, it’s even worse: the one or two percent rich are extreme, filthy rich, while at the same time, the poor are miserably, haplessly poor. Recent IMF policies imposed by India’s ruling class are making the economic and social misery even more desperate. I wrote about it before (you can look it up here).

But our leaders and media and their advertisements always create this impression that even if you’re born poor, in this system, you can definitely be somewhere in one life.

Problem is, they’re lying. In this system — one that I’ve lived half of my life in each of these two countries working very hard, with a honest lifestyle and lofty goal — I will never be able to be somewhere. In short, the so-called American Dream propagandized in America and now in India is a myth.

In his new book The Price of Inequality, Nobel Laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz has also said the same thing. He said, the American dream is an illusion. He said, if you’re born poor in American, the “overwhelming possibility” is that you’ll stay poor. If you want to read more on it, visit this link. It has a video of the Stiglitz interview too.

http://finance.yahoo.com/blogs/daily-ticker/american-dream-myth-joseph-stiglitz-price-inequality-124338674.html

Okay. Now, some other friends, sympathizers and global readers might now get restless and ask me not to get too bogged down with hard research and statistics. They might say, well, what is YOUR personal experience to support that you’ve been cheated all your life? What is the real-life hard evidence?

So, here we go. Off of books and papers and research data. On with personal life — of this no-name, no-pedigree, born-poor, die-poor’s experience.

I was the first biology professor in a Sundarbans Delta college. I began the department there. They loved me.

When I quit my more or less lucrative, totally stable and highly respectable job of a biology professor in India (I wrote about that place also in this blog — click here if  you’re interested to know), and later forced my wife to do the same — only to come to America, the U.S. university that responded positively to my application to be an M.Sc. student in biology, never told me about the short-term and long-term consequences to immigrate into America. They never told me about the social and economic shocks my wife and I were going to be in. Two highly respectable, young biology professors surrounded by friends, family, familiar society and a large number of admiring students and colleagues, suddenly became extremely impoverished, culture-shocked foreign students the American society (especially outside of the university campus) was unwilling to accept as one of their own. They never told us that we’d have to live with their initially-offered $380 per month to survive (in a few months, graciously, they raised my graduate student assistantship to $420 of which I would pay 10 percent as income tax — percent-wise not much different from what Romney and Ryan paid last year). Two immediate consequences (other than feeling like Neil Armstrong when he first landed on the moon — perhaps even more alienated and blue than he was): (1) we could not return to India in nine years — we had no money to pay for the airfare and other expenses; and (2) because of the shocking, sudden departure of my wife from her parents who were never ready to see their only child leave forever, her parents lost their health quickly and did not live long — and my wife the only child so close to her parents could not go to see them one last time before their death.

Okay, enough sentimental stuff. Some of you — my friends, sympathizers and esteemed global readers might say (and I’m sure authorities of that university that took me in as a foreign student would say the same, even more emphatically): well, nobody forced you to come to USA; you came on your own. Why didn’t you do your own research and find out about the consequences? Plus, aren’t you happy that you did migrate? Aren’t you grateful that because of that decision, in spite of the initial culture shocks and economic hardship for yourself and your family, you did well, got two masters degrees (one in journalism from the coveted, Ivy League Columbia University) and one Ph.D. from reputed American institutions, became so proficient in English that you now effortlessly teach your American students (and write reasonably well in two languages), brought up your children in a developed education system, and earned a lot of respect from your friends, relatives and colleagues — both in India and here in America?

I can’t deny the above. But the feeling that I was a victim of brain drain, lack of comprehensive information and shortchanging my talents, experiences and energy for slave labor (and they wouldn’t let my wife — a foreign student’s spouse — work at all), sacrificing a number of very important years of my life — is simply overwhelming. Sure, both my wife and I came a long way and perhaps improved a little bit on the economic front too (never to be rich — always stayed in the middle of the money graph). But the price we had to pay  was unbelievably enormous. And to see my wife’s parents die so soon because of the departure (other than the many emotional distresses, extreme alienation and being forced to be away from our familiar world in India) was brutal.

And then, there were SO many deaths of people we knew so well and loved so much! Almost felt some of those deaths we could perhaps prevent if we didn’t leave India!

(to be continued…)

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

###

Couldn’t do anything for them either! That’s another lifelong pain deep inside.

Dr. Seuss, Dr. Seuss, Have You Any Wool?

Never had money. But ever had balloons.

Dr. Seuss, Dr. Seuss, have you any wool?
Yes Sir, yes Sir, three bags full.
One for my jelly, and one for my jam
And one for the Subway Sam who won’t eat no ham.

Do you know what I’m trying to say here? You don’t? Good. Because if you do, you would be as crazy as I am. This is my crazy day. I feel like writing crazy verse. Crazy song. Crazy verse turned into crazy song.

Crazy, crazy, crazy song.

Join me. Together, we can celebrate this crazy day.

In fact, Dr. Seuss inspired me this evening. I owe this entire post to him. And friends who love him and quote him. Dr. Seuss made my day. I’m sure, it made theirs too.

Where did that jam and jelly thing come from? A friend posted on Facebook:

Tan I Am — I ain’t no yam.
If you like Jelly, you’ll LOVE my Jam!
Tan is IN! It’s HIP to be
This Tan if you’ve got a Big Belt Buckle like ME!

Immediately, it inspired me to react with something (well-wishers insist that I do not react) — as if in an electrical chain bulb. The Facebook’er was talking about color and asking us what color were we feeling today? One person said, tan. I felt like I was, like, olive — you know, North Indians sorta wear an olive tinge on their skin? Never heard of it? Good…now you did.

Isn’t that cool?

So, I wrote back (with Dr. Seuss the crazy inspiration in mind):

Olive me — I chuckle
O’ leave me — I buckle
Crazy rhyme or reason
Red ‘n Blue — or treason
Sweet ‘n sour dough
E-motion high or low.

Not bad…eh? Tell me about it! Even my friend who started the what-color-do-you-feel-like today was impressed. And she was so impressed, she pulled out another piece of crazy verse from her third floor attic. Now, that’s super cool!

She wrote:

Olive me. – Why not take Olive me.
Can’t you see, – I’m just Drab without you
Take brown pants, – I want to lose them
Khaki too, – I’ll never use them.
Your good-bye – leaving with Swarthy sighs

How can I – get bronzed now without you?
You took the part- that once was my heart.
So why not – why not take Olive me!
_________________________________________
One fish. two fisher. three fishest. so?
Very, very nice. That verse is nice and crazy. The rhyme is nice and crazy. The rhythm, the beat — that you can easily turn into a crazy song with some serious heat — is nice and crazy. Dr. Seuss is having a field day.
So many rhymes, so many hard-hitting words. So many songs could’ve been with those words. So many rhythms, so many beats. So many starlit nights would make so much treats. One, two, three…and go…two, three, and four. One, two, three, four…you go…two-three-four-five-six. Get it? Now try again.
______________
1, 2, 3
go
2, 3 and 4
then
1, 2, 3, 4
go
2, 3, 4, 5, 6
then
5, 6, 7, 8, 9
ya know
simply super fine!
_________________________
What color are you baby?
What color you in?
Olive, tan or green?
Red or blue — or treason
(Sure ya got a grin — right?
Sure ya got a grin.)
Life is but a dream
They said
But life’s like ice cream
You hold it on and lick it up
When fullest, sexy brim.
_________________________
“The King’s aunt plays cricket, with a squash from the thicket.” Bengali poet of fun Sukumar Ray, father of Satyajit Ray, was perhaps our Dr. Seuss (if not Lewis Carroll).

E-motion high or low. Couldn’t make’em think. They refused to think. Friends punched a blow.

Face, book or slow
You could make it fun
You could wait or run
You could dabble ‘n draw
You could rabble ‘n raw
Idea sin or crazy
Super-clean or hazy
Idio-syn-n-crasie
Pick it up and run
Like juicy Seuss had done.
_______________________
“Look at me!
Look at me!
Look at me NOW!
It is fun to have fun
But you have
to know how.”
_______________________
WOW. You just made my day, old man. Thank you.
Or, really, it’s Floccinaucinihilipilification. In fact, it’s more like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Try it.
___________________________________________________________
Sincerely, Funnily Writing,
Partha
Brookyn, New York
###
Everybody doin’ the same doin’ the same fun. But at least they are trickin’ … at least they got no gun.

Hate Me Twice, But Obnoxious Akin Is A Non-Issue.

Don’t fall for their new illusions.

I am posting some select segments of a Facebook conversation I had today with some friends. I am also editing the discussion minimally — only for a better read — without ever changing any contents or points of view.

Here’s the Todd Akin controversy with his outrageous comments on rape. Basically, he said during his senate election campaign in Missouri that “legitimate” rapes cannot make the victim women pregnant; thus, according to him, abortion is not necessary (and the question is moot) for the victims of rape and incest. He is a far-right, conservative, anti-abortion (“pro-life”) Republican. Don’t ask me why so many American politicians are so dumb, let alone illiterate, arrogant, ignorant, offensive and uncaring.

You can read some news on the above here. Click on this line.

________

Now, I posted as my status update: “Obnoxious [edited from “stupid”] Todd Akin and his primitive, outrageous  rape comments actually helped Obama for now. Thanks, “liberal” media. But, hate me for saying this: it is a non-issue, and for most voters with no jobs or money, it don’t matter.”

Immediately I got some serious disagreement — some from longtime friends.

PH wrote: “Wow, you’re going to have to elaborate on how its a non-issue when someone running for public office on a major party ticket in the US in 2012 makes offensive and ignorant comments about rape, and uses it as a basis for curtailing women’s reproductive rights. All this in the context of everything else going on with regard to the issue of reproductive rights (cuts to Planned Parenthood for example, which, for many low-income women and girls is the only source of information and access to reproductive health). How is it a non-issue Partha? Or maybe I misunderstand you.”

Quite legitimate concern about my concern. And she is someone for whom I have always had a lot of respect, for her pioneering work with immigrants and minorities. I could not take her criticism lightly.

I replied: “PH: Clarification: it’s a non-issue not because it’s not critically important for the society and especially [for] women, and of course it has long-term consequences. It’s a non-issue for this election which is (should be) primarily about the economy and how corporate America has stolen both the economy and democracy from us — with help from Republicans and Democrats alike. Liberal media will do more of such diversion in the coming months, and at the end of the day, both parties would love to fight it out (as in a bullfight with a red piece of cloth and sword dangling) on those other issues such as guns, God, gays, and such (with no denigration of these values whatsoever). Media love this diversion, because it also sucks people into these two parties, with practically no room to talk about a third alternative.”

Another Facebook friend HB whom I recently came to know and immediately understood her major talent, wrote:

“It is very much an issue because who we elect (at any level of the government) impacts funding and public policy and the way the social contract in this country is drafted. We must be attuned to every elected official’s attitude towards women and minorities as combined we are the MAJORITY! Our issues are the country’s issues and our well-being is the country’s well-being. Now, being familliar with your politics Partha, I know you agree with this basic sentiment. So please explain why this is a non-issue to you? Is it because it is a smoke signal to not talk about the war and the economy in this election season? If so, I agree. However, it is important to address Akin’s comments because he has a say so in our country’s politics as an elected official.”

Absolutely. I have no disagreement with her either. I just wanted to clarify my controversial position a little more. I responded:
“[HB]: But if there is no money at all because the Federal Reserve, banks and Wall Street stole all the money with help from the two big parties, where is any funding going to come from? I knew it would be a sensitive topic to discuss, and I have no regrets that I brought it up so bluntly. Point I’m making here is, what’s the root cause of all the liberal-conservative debate (if there was one)? Answer is: it’s the economy. That is the discussion the two parties, media and Wall Street do not like us to discuss. Hence, the frenzy.”

In this major meleé, who’s mighty merry? (Note: I did not draw this cartoon and do not endorse the full connotation, if any.)

Then, in my usual, narcissistic way, I went on [for which you must hate me: in fact, I hate myself a lot for this inability to restrain myself and my ego, as if it is the end of the world and that I must win over any argument — and I call Akin stupid?]:

“Emotions will not get us far. A level-headed discussion on economics and the current political system’s exploitation of the economy will. If there is one, we’ll see how bankrupt this two-party system is, and how it has stolen the democracy from us the ordinary people. If there’s one, we’ll see the absolute need to create a third choice. Corporate America and its political establishments do not want us to get into that discussion. Hence, the frenzy.”

I wrote:
“Who we elect matters, of course. But then what? Are they going to change the economic structure, or are they going to make cosmetic changes to perpetuate the status quo? Don’t go any further: just look at Clinton and Obama. We had SO much expectation from them! Has anything changed at all? Has democracy returned to We the People? We need systemic change, and not cosmetic change. Economics is at the heart of it all.”
That is the introductory conversation I thought I could extract from Facebook because of it’s urgency and relevance, and post here on my blog — for the many other readers who don’t keep track of my Facebook activities [believe me: you are better off not doing it].
I hope you think about it and let me know your thoughts. Criticize me as much as you like. But think before you do.
Sincerely Writing,

Partha
Brooklyn, New York
###

Post Script.
— I also wrote this one last comment to sum it up: “Finally, I did not include a cursory note such as “I didn’t mean to hurt anybody’s feelings…” etc. because I thought that would be superfluous, especially for people who have known me for years.”
Zero in on this conversation. Period!

President Obama: Gun Kills. Gun Kills Everywhere. Wake Up!

Connecticut Mother grieves. Gun and violence took away her child.
Connecticut Mother grieves. Gun and violence took away her child.

December 14, 2012. — Another scary, sad and traumatic day with a new gun rampage in Newtown, Connecticut, USA. At least 18 children were killed by gunman in an elementary school. I wrote on my Facebook page: This is not a civilized country. And God does not save the innocent.
____________

August 6, 2012. — Another scary, sad and traumatic day with a new gun rampage in Wisconsin, USA. This time, a number of innocent Sikhs fell victims to this hate. I pray for the victims’ families and express outrage.
________________________________________

“The NRA is an organization that is adamant about no controls on weapons, in spite of the fact that we have federal laws that say you cannot sell guns to minors, to people with psychiatric problems or drug problems, or convicted felons. And yet they pressure Congress and the White House, and they’ve been doing it for decades, to not fund enforcement of those laws.”

— Mayor Michael Bloomberg, New York. Quoted from The Hill, July 23, 2012.

_______________________________________________

I hope you forgive me for being so undiplomatic today. But first, I want to say a prayer for the victims and their families and loved ones in Colorado.

Also, I remember Trayvon Martin. A few weeks ago, I wrote: “Trayvon Martin Would Still Be Alive If Zimmerman Had No Gun. Simple.” I hope you read it too.

Now, after today’s gun horror in Aurora, where a mass killer killed and hurt a large number of innocent people, President Obama said that the tragedy serves as a reminder that “life is very fragile.”

“Our time here is limited and it is precious.  And what matters at the end of the day is not the small things, it’s not the trivial things, which so often consume us and our daily lives.  Ultimately, it’s how we choose to treat one another and how we love one another,” he said.

I am very happy to know that President Obama still did not lose his poise and eloquence even after this gruesome mass killing that shook the entire world. Really, he should not because he is the president of USA; a president must keep his poise and emotional balance even under extreme circumstances.

I congratulate him for his calm.

However, I am not a U.S. president and I have no power to change the way things happen here in America or anywhere else in the world. I cannot change the way Obama sends drones to drop bombs in Afghanistan and Pakistan — bombings that have killed hundreds of innocent men, women and children. I have no power to change Hillary Clinton’s foreign policy in Iran, Egypt or Syria and new war drumbeats in the Middle East — just the same way I could not do anything to change the policies of Bush and Cheney that started this millennium’s first genocide in Iraq and Afghanistan. I could not do anything to stop New York Times and other powerful media from publishing bogus reports on Saddam Hussain’s so-called Weapons of Mass Destruction — reports that helped validate the genocide and eventual rat-trapping and killing of the tyrant despot. Similar fate happened to Osama Bin Laden, and I had to no power to know what exactly happened to him during that military raid in Abbottabad.

Of course, I am not comparing terrorists in other countries with mass killers here in America. I have no power to make such a comparison either. These are apples and oranges that could not be compared.

I am a powerless man with no money, no media, no military and no mass support. I am a powerless man who can only imagine what went on with those fear-stricken people in that Colorado movie theater today. I can imagine their scared-to-death, white faces before their death. I can only imagine what those poor victims thought just before the mass killer who armed himself with guns and explosives and ammunition mowed them down — one after the other.

I can imagine placing myself in that crowd of horrified, screaming victims of gun violence. I can imagine placing my family and my children there too. I can imagine the hit and the hurt and splattering blood when a bunch of ultra-modern, powerful, lethal bullets pierced through my heart and blanketed my world with one final darkness. In the final moments, I can imagine I was praying to God that my wife and children be left safe. I was only wanting that they be left alone.

In those final moments before my deaths, I imagine I was praying to God that this be the last gun barbarism, ever.

President Obama, contrary to some of his predecessors, always says something that somehow resonates and stays back with you. In fact, he said this today (and so, yes, a very powerful man that he is, his thoughts were not much different from those of me, a very powerless man):

Upon learning the Colorado gun violence news, the president said he thought of his own two daughters.

“My daughters go to the movies. What if Malia and Sasha had been at the theater, as so many of our kids do every day? Michelle and I will be fortunate enough to hug our girls a little tighter tonight, and I’m sure you will do the same with your children,” he said. “But for those parents who may not be so lucky, we have to embrace them and let them know we will be there for them as a nation.”

[Mr. President, I would include some little facts here — facts of lives of very powerful people and their families — like the presence of secret service and combing operations and VIP security and bomb-sniffing dogs and all other such paraphernalia, but I won’t. Because I want to give you the benefit of the doubt. I want to believe you’re being honest about your wife and daughters.]

Congratulations again, President Obama. That’s exactly the type of words that won the hearts of millions of poor and powerless people like me four years ago, around this time. I am not sure what’s going to happen this November; however, if somebody asked me to vote for your calm, poise and eloquence today, you got my vote, Mr. President, one more time.

But I would positively vote for you if you thought about not just Sasha, Malia and Michelle and my children here in America, but the millions of children who’re losing their parents and siblings and uncles and aunts and nephews and nieces every single day — because of bullets shooting out of mighty guns and tanks and bombs dropping out of the wide-open holes of those drones.

I would definitely vote for you today if you stopped that violence once and for all. Those children are hurting too. They’re hurting and bleeding and crying and writhing in pain. I can  imagine that as well.

With your very sharp mind, critical thinking and eloquence — totally unlike your predecessors — couldn’t you imagine that, Mr. President?

Don’t get me wrong. I am not ever going to take away the grim, dark reality in Colorado today. I am praying for the victims and their families and loved ones. I am shaking in fear. I am not being able to sleep tonight: just the same way I could not sleep when Columbine, Northern Illinois, Virginia Tech happened. I could not sleep when Trayvon Martin was killed this February. I am bleeding deep inside. I am imagining over and over, again and again, myself and my family and children in the middle of that barrage of bullets in that movie theater today.

But President Obama, you have not done anything to stop this gun barbarism here in America, either! In fact, you refused to do anything about it.

With your indifference, gun lobbies and gun markets and NRA’s have flourished even more in these four years. All of these powerful people and organizations are now likely working for your defeat this November. So, wake up!

With your indifference and support from your own administration and political allies for gun lobbies, gun violence has spiraled out of control. So, wake up, would you?

Gun has no place in a civilized society. In no other place in the world — First World or Third World — free guns have taken so many innocent lives.

No other country in the world — First World or Third World — media and movies and video games have glorified violence, killing and guns and bombs. Don’t you get it: this violent mindset is a direct result of that glorification! Would you please wake up?

President Obama, think about your powerful children and family, and think about our powerless children and families. And think about those millions of hapless children and families all over the world.

Stop this violence now! Stop this barbarism!

That’s all I wanted to pass on tonight. I hope you take it seriously.

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

###

Death Is A Very Special Experience

-1-

Have you seen death closely? I have. In fact, I’ve seen death up close too many times.

I have written about death on this blog. I’ve written about my mother’s death in India, when I lived there. I’ve written about my dear uncle Buddha’s death, a few years later, when I was still there. Then, I wrote about my childhood friend Subrato’s death in Calcutta; at that time, after already being in the U.S. for fifteen years, I switched my career from science to humanities, and was studying journalism at Columbia University here in New York.

I wrote about other deaths too — both on this blog and elsewhere. Death is not a new experience for me.

I’ve written about Lord Yama, the God of Death. I’ve talked about him: how he visited us like an unwanted guest — like a distant village uncle who would show his face every now and then, inviting himself to a family that does not want to see him at all. Then, he’d invite himself over and over again, knowing his vulnerable, fearful host family that didn’t know how to say no in his face. He would come, he would stay, and then he would leave whenever he liked.

When you see death so many times, and when you see so many untimely deaths, you stop thinking of death as a rare or special experience; you don’t care about the spirituality aspect of it. Seeing Lord Yama frequently is neither pleasant nor religious. In fact, you pray to your other gods to remove this horrific curse. It’s too traumatic. In fact, after seeing a number of untimely deaths, even the pain doesn’t affect you too much. At that point, you don’t hurt anymore. You desensitize.

Then, there are deaths that still come as a rare and special experience. It brings your soft feelings back. It brings your human senses back. The experience is sad, but wonderful. It touches your soul.

In an immigrant’s life — and I’ve written about how we new immigrants live on two, opposite sides of the world exactly at the same time — many precious experiences bypass and elude you. Leaving your familiar, home country behind, you don’t get to see your nephews or nieces growing up. You don’t get to see them going to middle school and high school, and then to college. You don’t get to see them getting married.

You don’t experience any of the little joys and sorrows of the people that you left behind. You don’t participate in the social and cultural events that were once so near and dear to you. You don’t go to those temples or join in those exciting political rallies anymore. You don’t get to chat with your school buddies anymore; you miss their reunions every single year. You don’t get to eat the Hilsa fish at family gatherings in the monsoon months or play chess, carrom or badminton at fun picnics in early January. You don’t get to see the cricket or football games you once craved to see.

You don’t get to sing with them the songs you so much loved to sing.

And you don’t get to be present at the death bed of someone who loved you so much.

-2-

My wife lost both her parents when we were here in America. She could not be with them when they wanted to see her one last time. She was making the last-minute preparation to fly to Calcutta to see her father; just the night before her departure, news came that he’d passed away. She left the next day, only to be held up by British Airways in London for three days for some strange reasons; they did not or could not make any alternate arrangement for her to reach Calcutta right away. She did not get a chance to see him or perform his last rites at the funeral. It left a permanent scar on her.

The same thing happened when her mother died four years later: she could not arrive on time to see her alive. She passed away quite suddenly. But at least at this time, we made arrangements with those relatives to preserve her body; my wife was able to touch her mother one last time and was able to be a part of the rites at the funeral by the Holy Ganges.

It’s painful and traumatic, but nothing unique for new immigrants like us. At least, unlike many other immigrants who could never return to their home countries because of problems with money or documents, we could fly back and spend a little, precious time with the family. I have seen too many times an immigrant from Bangladesh, Punjab or Pakistan weeping inconsolably with their friends trying to calm them down: they just got news that a parent or a brother or sister died and they could not afford to go back at all. The feeling of helplessness tore them apart.

I know that’s been our fate all along since we decided to migrate out of India. I know I’m going to go through exactly the same experience my wife went through, when time comes to say goodbye to my father. He is now eighty-eight years old, and is not doing well at all. Last week, I got news from my sister that he fell on the floor, hurt his feet badly, and also had a deep cut on his forehead.

I know his time is coming to an end. I know when it’s all over, it’s very likely I won’t be able to be on his side.

Gutubaba loved children.

-3-

When our rabbit died this Sunday at 10 P.M., we were all by his side. This little creature — we called him Gutke or the little brat (rough translation from Bengali) was with us since the tragedies of September Eleventh; he was a rescued bunny. We called him by many other names, such as Gutubaba, Gersh, etc. etc. My sister during her visit from India called him Gutu Kumar. I even gave him a proper name in case we ever decided to send him to a rabbit reform school: the name was Lal Mohan (borrowing the immortal character from Satyajit Ray’s detective stories), even though the little brat never managed to go to school. Ah well, if one decides to remain a lifelong illiterate, what can you do?

The Irish-American lady here in Brooklyn who gave him to us said he was then about a year old back then; therefore, going by her, Gutubaba was about twelve years old when he died; calculating that into human age, he was a very, very old man — of 120.

Now, because most people don’t keep a rabbit for a pet, even here in New York City where almost every other American man and woman have a dog or cat (I once had a bird in Calcutta), they don’t realize how beautiful, happy and loving these rabbits can be. I don’t know about the emotions and intelligence of the typical snow-white rabbits with ruby-red eyes that we used to see back in Calcutta (the ones that never lived long), our Gutubaba was exceptional. Before him, we had another, kind-of pedigree bunny named Chicory, but she only lived for eight years; we loved her too, but never quite formed the bonding we developed with this little street rascal.

When he was young, we had to put up a makeshift wooden door at the bottom of our staircase; still, at every possible and impossible opportunity, he would sneak in and hop up the stairs to go up to the second or even the third floor of our house, and would not ever want to come down. We always had to lure him out of the places he’d hide — mostly from under the bed — by using his favorite cereal, crackers, raisins or grapes. He would always be outside of his cage except for the few times he went back for food or water; and believe it or not, he was almost potty-trained. Well, sort of.

Gutubaba loved children. All our friends — American, Bengali, Indian and all whoever came to our place with their kids — would be amazed to see how friendly he was; in his younger years, he would jump over from the floor onto the couch and sit there for hours, with children and adults alike. He would watch TV with us (sometimes facing away from the TV if it’s a movie that we saw many times before), and listen to Tagore songs with much respect and attention.

The End Came Fast.

Then he got old and slowed down — quite rapidly. He could not move around; we removed the makeshift wooden door from the bottom of the stairwell because he could never go back up. He got arthritis on both front legs, and then he got cataract on his eyes. He gradually stopped eating. Still, he would respond whenever there was smell of freshly made tea because he knew there would be cracker pieces for him, or occasionally, a piece of raisin. The children in our home were extremely attached to him and his love; this brat would lick his favorite children and not stop.

On Sunday, July 15, Gutke breathed his last. We were all present by his side. He started taking very fast breaths, and then he slowed down. He went back to his favorite cage and stayed there one last time. We carefully took him out and lay him on our living room carpet. We rubbed our fingers slowly and softly on his head and his salt-and-pepper fur, and called out his name over and over again. He took a few last sips of water — as if water from the Holy Ganges.

He opened his mouth and took in a few last gasps of air. Then, he stopped breathing.

Gutubaba left us — in peace.

My wife wept inconsolably. She said she had not seen death so up close in her life.

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

Andy Griffith: A Sheriff Without A Gun

The Happy Family

-One-

I normally do not get emotional about a movie icon.

But this Fourth of July, I can’t keep emotions totally out of my system. Because I’m writing about an icon who I thought was somebody I could remember for the rest of my life. This is someone who makes me happy every time I think about him and watch his shows. He gives me reasons to believe in sanity, moderation, common-sense life and human compassion. He gives me reasons to love and keep faith in love.

I am writing about Andy Griffith. I’m trying make a connection between him, Middle America and yes, the Fourth of July.

Of course, it’s not just about Andy Griffith as a person; rather, it’s about a way of life he iconized through mass media. This is a value system he established even deeper in American soil. That is critically important to remember today because today’s America and American media do not talk about the way of life Andy Griffith, his shows and his friends, colleagues and co-actors talked about. This America and this media today have made a 180 degree turn from the philosophies that his prime time shows in the sixties popularized: philosophies that took deep roots in Mid-America and its moderate, loving and caring, smiling, ordinary, working men, women and children.

They were the philosophies of non-violence, social togetherness, inclusion, equality, modern outlooks and a greed-free lifestyle. Those were the American values that made America an exemplary nation throughout the world. Those were the values that brought millions of immigrants like me to this country — with high hopes and optimism.

Andy Griffith, a small-town Southern sheriff named Andy Taylor, never carried a gun. But he carried those eternal American values we terribly miss now.

Those are the American values we want to remember on this Fourth of July.

-Two-

Of course, he is not the only one who preached and practiced and popularized sanity, society and peace on media and entertainment. Around the same time — in the sixties — icons such as Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Paul Robeson or the Beatles were more or less doing the same in the Western world. It was a tumultuous time. The glorious civil rights movement on one hand and a few years later, the valiant mass resistance against the Vietnam war shook America to the core. Countless artists, poets, singers, filmmakers, actors and actresses joined in on the peace movement globally and the civil rights movement within America. Brutally violent rulers across the world and brutally repressive rulers across the U.S. were struggling to put down the civil disobedience tempest. American young generation was waking up to fresh air of new realities. They were embracing the concepts of peace, justice and equality. The Berlin Wall of color, race and religion was crumbling.

Fishing for Family, Fun and Friendship

Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Paul Robeson or the Beatles’ styles were, however, different from Andy Griffith’s. The simple sheriff in the Southern small-town of Mayberry did not join in on a civil rights protest march or gave a speech about the futility of war. He wasn’t even remotely interested about politics, although he had to run for elections every few years to keep his paid position as the sheriff. He also took sides on local mayoral candidates, and once opposed his own Aunt Bee who stood for mayor, causing serious domestic strife. But he was largely a non-political man: his job was to run the small town of Mayberry as smoothly as possible, with help from his laughably inefficient deputy and a group of awkward country simpletons (or even a town alcoholic he was rehabilitating).

Doing this, however, a widower with a small boy Opie, he wouldn’t have no lack of time to engage in several affairs (one affair at a time) with local belles, go fishing regularly with the son, organize and sing in the church choir, or occasionally visit for dinner Mount Pilot, the nearest big town seven miles away. Sheriff Andy Taylor refuses to leave his birthplace Mayberry even when an old-time, high-school sweetheart attempts to lure him away to Chicago. No he wouldn’t leave: he loves his relaxed lifestyle and rural lads and lasses.

-Three-

That is his real America. Here, a group of Italian farmer immigrants with no English-speaking skills gets a hostile bunch of “mainstream” Americans — to the point of being driven away. An innocent man for absolutely no valid reason is suddenly ostracized by the entire town because the people with their superstition think he is jinx. The old barber Floyd spreads rumors about anything and it catches on like wildfire. Local ruffians engaged in illegal trading threat the weakling deputy. Sinister outsiders stash drug money in the barber shop. A bank is going to get robbed by armed robbers faking a film shooting. A dangerously violent criminal jailbreaks and hides in Mayberry, stealing the deputy’s gun.

The “Innocent” Barber!

And in all instances, it falls on the shoulders of Sheriff Taylor to interfere, mitigate and resolve the issue. And he does it with the use of his head — a head of a genius strategist and game maker — with absolutely no intention to use his gun. I take it back: he never had a gun (not even at his North Carolina home). He always thought problems could be handled nonviolently if he’d acted with determination and had the support and confidence of the society. And he did enjoy the support and confidence of the society.

In fact, he had had a society and they all cared for one another.

Sadly, that sane and moderate America is taken away from us. Extreme inequality, war, violence, hate, bigotry and economic exploitation have pervaded this land once again.

-Four-

Sheriff Andy Taylor would never spare opportunities to sit down with his motherless child for his homework, sort out the small boy’s small but significant problems growing up, go fishing with him whistling away, talk to his school teacher Helen Crump who would later be his girlfriend, and attend church meetings and evening dinners religiously with Aunt Bee and son Opie, with frequent presence of childhood friend Deputy Bernie Fife who as a concerned family friend would also attempt to educate the boy, however inadequately. Andy would not miss an opportunity to play his guitar sitting out on the front porch, with Bee, Opie, Ms. Crump, Fife and sometimes Fife’s girlfriend Thelma Lou joining in. The country music would be slow and soothing, with soft and subtle strumming of the nylon guitar. The full moon would look down upon these simple, honest creatures; its soft and subtle silvery light would flood the Mid-American little town Mayberry — as if it had brought the divine blessings from the Almighty who is sending down his message of togetherness, love, compassion and peace.

Opie, Ron Howard, is now a big-time filmmaker; he is, I guess, my generation. A celebrity in his own right now, does he remember those soft, love-laced days from the sixties? I do. I wish I had an opportunity to go fishing with Sheriff Taylor. Only once…that’s all.

I wanted to play a small part in Andy Griffith’s message of love, social togetherness and nonviolence. I wanted to be a small part in the Grand-Ole American message of hope, togetherness and nonviolence.

Mr. Sheriff, I’m going to miss you. I’m going to miss the Middle American values you lived and died for.

This Fourth of July, I swear to God, Middle America is going to miss you too.

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

###

Pa, Can We Go Fishin’ Tomorrow Again?

Late Breaking News!! IMF Just “Bought” A New India President!!

The Three New Stooges!

Allegedly, an unprincipled, corrupt political system with an unprincipled, corrupt media just elected an IMF-nominated and Corporate-America-backed career-partisan politician as the new president of India — a man who as the longtime finance minister has brought the country’s economy to the brink of doom. 

I hope you read this little blog and the accompanying blog on IMF and Wall Street’s global politics and terrorism, and share them with your friends, family and colleagues. Thank you for your time for reading and sharing.

__________________________

Background:

The Indian president has always been a nameplate: a rubber stamp for the prime minister. But there’s a strong possibility that Pranab Mukherjee’s (the person in the middle — see photo with Sonia Gandhi) incumbency will change this because (1) he is the current finance minister of India and ALSO the current IMF director of India (very few know this); (2) in all likelihood, through putting him as the next India president, IMF will perpetuate its economic status quo that began during Rajiv Gandhi and his then-finance minister Manmohan Singh (India’s current prime minister: the bearded man on the left); (3) media do not mention, let alone discuss in-depth, the role of IMF and its Structural Adjustment Program (SAP) that turned a once-egalitarian (egalitarian compared to what it is now) economy upside down — both in India and elsewhere such as Argentina, Greece, Italy and Spain; (4) Sonia Gandhi, India’s de facto queen mother, is completely unchallenged by India’s so-called democratic political hegemony and media establishment when in actuality, she’s been a part of the country’s catastrophic and historic corruption, inflation and violence; and (5) Sonia Gandhi is obviously transferring power from now-prime minister Manmohan Singh so that she can put her son Rahul Gandhi, a political neophyte just like his father Rajiv Gandhi, as the next prime minister in 2014 (or 2019), and that her handpicked president Mukherjee can expedite that process. Of course, this is all assumption based on the current scenario. It might change as the political landscape of India is changing fast.

Foreground:

Fascists and bigots are now supporting a new, scary, global economic fascism!

India’s far right Shiv Sena, a Hindu outfit originally created in the 80’s allegedly to violently break down a legendary textile workers’ strike in Bombay, just threw their support behind Sonia Gandhi’s handpicked presidential candidate. Shiv Sena supremo Bal Thackeray said: “Islamic terrorism is growing and Hindu terrorism is the only way to counter it. We need suicide bomb squads to protect India and Hindus.”

Indian media that often brandishes secularism, does not say a word. The liberal pundits and political parties do not cry foul either.

International Monetary Fascism — also known as IMF — is playing their scary, scandalous game to take India over. It’s the beginning of a long, dark era of recolonization.

History Repeats Itself!

Lord Clive’s East India Company, with sabotage from a bunch of their paid spies and operatives, took India over in 1757. Then they ruled, looted and destroyed the country for the next two centuries before they broke the country in three pieces, created famines, killed millions, and made millions more permanently destitute. Now, two hundred and fifty years later, their new reincarnate IMF,  World Bank, the global corporate puppeteers and their notorious intelligence agencies, with help from their Indian operatives, are going to take over the country of 1.2 billion people — eighty percent of them haplessly poor — for the next number of centuries.

The Barbaric, British Partition of India, 1947.

Sounds too much of an exaggeration? Okay, quiz me on it. I’d love to take up on your challenge.

IMF is almost there to put its own man Pranab Mukherjee — the current finance minister of India and ALSO the country’s official IMF director (never disclosed by media)– as the next president of India. The “democratic” process is almost complete. Billions of dollars have changed hands underground to bring necessary votes to the table. Those few still bargaining for a better deal will be dealt with — in cash or kind. Media will be euphoric, vindicating Indian democracy.

You can quote me: you shall see eulogies in New York Times soon. I’ll come back and tell you when it happens.

New IMF “Renaissance” in Italy. They Got Spain Too!

The new colonists have just recently put their own men on top of two other major democracies Spain and Italy. India — the largest democracy in the world today — is their latest kill.

And the entire takeover is happening in broad daylight — in a nonviolent, bloodless, even invisible coup!

It might sound like I’m staging a major drama and scaring off people on unfounded allegations. First of all, I am a small, powerless Indian-American man sitting in New York — 10,000 miles away from New Delhi.  Secondly, I have no political or monetary stake here: I do not belong to any of the political or non-political parties that are busy playing the game. Plus, I can’t do much damage to anybody — let alone the mighty IMF or Sonia Gandhi family — by writing a small, no-name blog.

Don’t worry: I cannot upstage anybody’s game.

But I still want to write and talk about it because I am convinced this is exactly what is happening, and I just cannot be silent about it. I may be poor and powerless, but they could not YET take away my education, analysis and conscience, and my decades of grassroots political experience, both in India and America.

I believe what is happening in India right now is absolutely horrendous and this silent, bloodless coup can bring India to at least another century of miserable slavery. I know this takeover will kill countless poor people and families in the subcontinent.

I told you before that IMF’s New Terror in India is Going to Kill My Family. I’m telling you again: it’s going to be a genocide where hundreds of thousands of innocent and poor people will lose their lives and dignity. Women will lose their honor. Children will die of new starvation. Workers — men, women and children — will be thrown into even more brutal subjugation and violence.

A horrendous inflation and price rise for oil and essential commodities — we see it happening right now — will devastate millions of poor and middle-class Indian people.

I said it before, and I’m saying it again. You decide.

I’m inviting you to read the other recent posts I wrote here on my blog — on this subject. Please let me know what you think. Please let me know if there’s anything we can do to stop the International Monetary Fascists before they reoccupy India with their invisible and media-overlooked weapons of mass destruction (you can call it WMD or SAP): (1) permanent economic policy change by opening the floodgate to multinational, corporate investment, (2) drastic devaluation of Indian currency, (3) total privatization and deregulation of India’s economy, (4) destruction of India’s social welfare system, (5) obliteration of the nationalized banks and financial systems, (6) repression of labor union and workers’ rights, and (7) drastic cuts in taxes for the rich.

This is IMF’s new “Shock and Awe.”

I am NOT crying wolf. I am warning you about the violent, grotesque wolf that is about to start mass killing. I told you this before and I’m telling you this again, now.

The New IMF Terrorism in India Can Kill My Family. Read it here. Click on this link. Let me know what you think. Let others know about it too. Please.

Let’s do something about it. Can we do anything about it?

If you decide not to, let me tell you: YOU ARE NEXT!

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

###

Horrible, Old Wine in a Horrible, New Bottle!

T = mc2 . Einstein. That’s My Life.

(You can call it Part 2. I urge that you read both Part 1 and Part 2 together.)

The Time of Life Clock. Simple Description.

Recap from Part 1 of this post.

I came up with a plan and figured that T = mc2 perhaps could be one simplistic way to summarize my life – life of an ordinary, no-name, no-pedigree, mediocre, half-poor, half-educated, brown person who spent the first quarter of his life in India and the second quarter in America. I thought I could use my basic arithmetic and algebra skills (practically no math learned past high school) and come to a final tally of my life’s income and expenses, and profits and losses.

So, I thought, this could be the simple formula to summarize my life:

T = mc2

Where T is total time of life, m is total involved money (used, gained or lost), and c2 (or c x c) is the product of two major costs I had to incur over all these years — both in India and America.

Therefore, to put it in words, it is:

Time of life = Money involved x Cost1 x Cost2 .

[That’s Equation One]

Now, the question is, how do you break down the equation and show it part by part?

Here’s an attempt to do it.

First, let’s talk about the costs. In today’s market-maniac world, that’s perhaps essential: to know the costs to live.

Okay. Let’s see.

Cost1 or C1 is a product of all these factors, and I’m putting them together as they should be.

C1 = Earning Education x Earning Experience x Building a new life in an old land and in a new land x Winning Relationship x Building Family x Making Friends x Winning Praises and Rewards x Accomplishments x Achievements x Finding Coworkers x Keeping Supporters x Sustaining Sympathizers x Creativity x Activism x Critical thinking x Organizing x Making people think differently

[That’s Equation Two]

In short, C1 is the total product of all the good things that you earn, gain, develop, nurture and refine — because you want to do it.

In short, C1 is the total product of positive things I built in life — things that made me nice, happy and smile.

My Dr. Jekyll

Cost2 or C2 on the other hand is the total product of almost the opposite things you find in C1. Here they are.

C2 = Spending experience* x Spending education* x Loss of lives that directly impacted me x Loss of hopes x Sacrifices I was forced to make because of leaving behind my family, friends and society x Loss of friends x Lost and betrayed relationships x Insults x Injuries x Loss of stability x Stress x Anxiety x Fear x Physical and Emotional Abuse x cheating by establishments

[That’s Equation Three]


In short, C2 is the total product of negative things impacted my life — things that made me ugly, crabby and sad. The Mr. Hyde in me — that I often talk about.

(But look at the elements with an asterisk *  — i.e., spending experience and education — these are not necessarily negative. We might say these are “necessary evils.” You must spend some to gain some.)

I hate him. But he is so real!

Now, for the math buffs out there, you might immediately find a fallacy in Equation Two and Three. The fallacy is, things that I built (or won) and things that I lost (or destroyed) are really inversely proportional to each other. In other words, spending experience (from C2) is really inversely proportional to earning experience (from C1 ).

Like, spending experience = 1/earning experience.

Another example would be, losing friends or family members is inversely proportional to making friends and building family. A third example would be rewards and praises: are they just the opposite of insults and abuses?

Like, rewards and praises = 1/insults and abuses.

So, in other words, people might say, it’s total fallacy, because C1 essentially crosses C2 out, and therefore, we end up with a cliché or conundrum, which is T = m. Time of life = Money in life.

You might say, what new did you teach us? We always knew that “Time IS Money!”

You made a good point. But unfortunately, you are wrong.

[You, at this point perhaps a little irked]: Show me I am wrong. I’ve been very patient so far.

Yes, that you have, indeed. Thank you.

Well, wait a minute then. Let me explain.

See, you need to find the end result of those multiplication products. I’ll give you an example. In my life…in anybody’s life…spending education cannot be exactly inversely proportional to earning education; do we use all the education we gain, ever? Of course, we might say, we never really “spend” education — that is one treasure in life that we can never run out of how much ever we use it. But that’s too much philosophy. My philosophy here in these formulas is much simpler: this is a philosophy you can touch, taste and smell. It’s real. There is nothing abstract about it.

Similarly, you see, earned rewards, praises, promotions and compliments are not exactly the same amount you lose by being insulted, injured, or physically and mentally abused. Again, you need to see the end result of the product: do you have more insults and abuses than rewards and compliments? Or, do you have more on the plus side of the equation? You find out. You are the ultimate judge.

I won’t take too much of your time. You’ve been very patient.

Therefore, at the end of the day, it all boils down to this.

T or total time of my life = Total Money involved in my life X Total product of Cost1 elements X Total product of Cost2 elements.

I think it is a very fair, balanced, realistic and simple formula to summarize my life. I really do.

I would ask you to test this formula in your life’s situation. See if it works for you too. If it does, then it’s a universal formula – irrespective of man’s economic or social class, caste, race, nationality, religion, lifestyle choice or color.

I have every reason to believe my formula would prove to be universal.

I’ll let you decide on the other, possible mathematical and scientific aspects of the formula.

Remember, T sits on the left hand side of the equation. Time of life is the most important determinant here. All the other aspects of life – including the so-called all-important money in today’s world – sit on the right hand side (the variable side).

T is the absolute truth here. Whatever way you come up with your own measurement of T for your own life, it’s going to be an absolute truth – for you.

Everything else is there to help calculate our total time of life.

That’s the ultimate message here. From me.

I hope I came across nice, simple and clear with that message.

Thanks for brainstorming with me. It’s been fun.

Thank you, Sir Albert. You’ve been quite an inspiration. You brought out a mini-Einstein in me. That’s incredible, given where I was and where I am now!

Wow! So gratified!

___________________

Post Script. — I also doubled checked on the qualitative applicability of the equation by trying its various possible forms. Like, if Time = Money X Costs, then Costs = Time/Money. Also, Money = Time/Costs. Think about it: all the various possible forms actually work quite well.

___________________

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

People have had other concepts of time-money relationship. I think my formula is unique and much easier to understand.