Rememberance: Mr. Nagarjuna Ganju – An Exemplary Life!

In profound grief I drank my cup of tea last evening. Rashmi told me that Mr. Nagarjuna Ganju had passed away. It was an instant shock. A sense of bereavement encompassed me and my wife as we sat there in silence, interrupted by her occasional muttering and intermittent sorrowful sobs.

In that moment of numbness, my mind posed a question. Who is Mr. Nagarjuna Ganju? or Who was Mr. Nagarjuna Ganju? I couldn’t retrieve the memory of a face related to that name. Yet, I knew I had known this person for a long time. I had heard his name directly or in an indirect reference somewhere or the other; quite often. How was it possible that I was feeling a sense of loss for a person whom I had apparently never met in person? And while I was trying not to pose an insensitive question to her, my wife relieved me of my dilemma and guilt. All she had to say was “KPJobs”.

Mr. Ganjoo’s was the name that I had always read of in the emails that were exchanged over the Yahoo groups. Kashmiri Interchange, KPJobs, AIKS and what not? Slowly, my head was flooded with all the memories of mails that I had read either from or about Mr. Ganju. I could recall the initiatives and activities towards which he had contributed. And then came the realization. That that chapter had come to an end.

Those regular emails that originated from the Inbox of Mr.Ganju and went out to so many needy young and old Kashmiri Pandit community members on a regular basis, informing them about a job here or an admission there, would no longer be there. A fellow community member, whom we had learned to trust, love and respect (despite our egregious social behavior) was no longer going to be available with his valuable advice and counsel. That an unsung hero, who showed us new ways of salvaging ourselves, had departed. Oh God! What a loss? It takes a lot of good luck to have people like Nag Ji live and share their lives with us. And our luck had run out.

Let me ask this again. Who was Mr. Nagarjuna Ganju? And what my mind tells me is that he was an example of noble life. A binding force for a perpetually multi-polar community. He was the hope that our identity as a society couldn’t disappear, until there were people like him. He was a constant that people like me, who have not experienced Kashmir but have observed the volatility of being Kashmiri Pandit, can hang on to.

It has been such a painful experience learning about that fateful accident that took Mr. Ganju away from his family and from all of us. A wrongful death is very hard to condole in itself and there is no compensation for the loss that we have incurred as a community. I personally feel very much in debt of Mr. Ganju for his kindness and unconditional love. My wife and I could do nothing much except sulk about our helplessness.

Alas! In death, there is nothing one can do except for offering a prayer. And we pray that “May your journey hereafter be that of bliss and harmony.” Our hearts go out to Mrs. Ganju and kids, who will now have to learn to live with the void that you have left behind, dear Nag ji.

In the end, the only thing I hope for is that may Nag Ji’s life inspire us to be like him and follow the path of kindness.

Rashmi and I are going to miss you badly, Nag ji!

Column: Marley and Me – Pet Catharsis

It wasn’t a very bright day yesterday. Especially because my wife and I were not looking eye-to-eye for some difference of opinion on a matter of principle. No! This is not a post about what we were fighting about or how we resolved it. So take it easy.

As the day ended, I decided to burn all the negative energy in the gym and spent an hour on cardio. It felt very refreshing and I could once again admire the beauty of life. Apparently, my wife chose to take the cue from my workout session and went for a long walk herself, only to return with what I can call the best animal experience I have had until today. She had found a stray cat and decided to lead it to our home, as it appeared to be famished. It turned out that she was correct in her evaluation, the cat was able to gobble up 100 ml of milk and a large potato fry followed by some 20 gm of minced lamb and felt all happy and gay afterward.

Now, I don’t call it the best experience just because I had found a fellow gobbler in another specie (for those who don’t know, I can eat a substantial amount of food in one sitting), it was because the cat appeared to be not that much of a stray. The nicely groomed fur, friendly nature and good manners were quite an evidence that the cat had probably lost its way on one of its adventurous prowls. It responded quite well to commands meant to keep it in discipline, at the same time it was happy to be around us and be naughty.

The best part was my wife and I were instantly able to forget the difference of opinion we were observing for last 24 hours and had our attention completely focused on this cute little meddler.

For the first time I realized what a therapeutic effect a pet can bring about. I have never been in favor of having pets, primarily because for most part of my life I have been scared of dogs and secondarily, I don’t like to be committed to taking care of something that can’t survive on its own. However, yesterday I realized the message conveyed in the movie Marley & Me that a life can be enriched by having a pet around. I believe one can achieve catharsis by owning a pet that doesn’t mind to play by the rules set by you. Also, it gets your mind off the stress you observe in your personal and/or professional life and subsequently enables you to focus on brighter things in life.

The cat, however, decided not to stay with us, as it was too impatient to sit back and sleep easy for the night. And since our apartment complex has a “No Pets” policy, we decided to leave the cat outside our apartment so that it was free to chose its way. The good thing is that the cat had finished all the food and water we had left outside for it; the bad thing is it was no longer there when my wife went to check on it this morning.

In a strange way that it happened, I believe the cat was a cosmic intervention in our lives, especially mine (my wife loves pets and has had them since childhood) to let us know what we need to fill our lives with constant love and companionship; a friendly pet.

Even when the two intelligent human beings with the most advanced communication skills and capable brains can’t make the sense out of each other, an intellectually less capable pet can go a long way to bring some sense, in its mute and playful ways.

Column: Lacking Depth of Knowledge!

There are two things I am trying to achieve from this post, first I am trying to drop all pretense and write about myself, my life and things that matter to me, the way they matter to me. Second, I want to be able to spill my guts more often than like once in a millennium.

I was recently, heck today, told that I lack depth in my understanding of certain things. It was being implied that I only have the partial knowledge of “How?” and no clue of “Why?”.

Well, I was pissed as I usually get when I am told that I lack anything, even if it is something as natural as absence of fully functional mammary glands. I mean even though I am the male of my species, and was not designed to have them, you better not tell me that. I am more likely to get offended for your pointing it out than appreciating the fact that you can distinguish between the males and females of my species.

Anyway, as pissed as I was, I also felt a deeper sense of relief for being told that. No matter, how angry I am right now and how much I hate the guts of a roadkill, I know it from inside that whatever it was that was pointed out, was true. In all senses of the word. However, the rationalization that my mind draws to compensate for the feeling of humiliation, inadequacy and incompetence is: “damn the circumstances in which I grew up.” As if I was born to a farmer living off his two acres of land near the Line of Control separating Pakistan Occupied Kashmir from India owned Kashmir.

The relief that I felt for was – I feel it more burdensome to have people believe that I am greater than I am. But then, making it clear that I am not greater than I am, I feel very bad that I am not. You see! That is the paradox. I mean I want to be great. And I want people to think I am great. However, I know I am not great. Though I can imitate greatness by keeping the pretense, I get tired of keeping the pretense eventually. And then people automatically realize that I am not great. So, it is better not to pretend to be great. And then when you are not great and nobody thinks you great, you end up being ordinary. And it is very hard to be ordinary when you want to be great and you are not great.

The biggest fear in my mind is to have to accept a defeat and then never be able to draw enough strength to fight back. That is the reason I keep telling myself that it’s not me, it’s them. How convenient and rejuvenating such a feeling is, when you are assured of the fact that whatever wrong there is in this world, it is with the others.

I am brooding right now with the realization that I lack something but at the same time I am telling them to “Go to hell…, I will continue as it is.” The only thing I lack is advertisements.

Do we need religiously homogeneous Nations around the world? – II

Our country is and has been the largest working democracy in the world for last 60 years. That is quite a feat to achieve. What has made that possible? Very few people can claim to know the answer to that. I am surely not the one of those. However, I can attempt to put forth a theory.

What makes a sour relationship (between father and son, husband and wife, two siblings, or two business partners) last for decades; something that we witness quite often in our country. The answer is quite simple, interdependence. Only those relationships can last for decades in spite of constant bitterness that have some value on both ends that is of mutual benefit for the two participants. A rich father might be a boon for a jobless yet obedient son. A high salaried husband with a pot-belly might consider himself lucky to have a stunningly beautiful wife even if she lacks the home making abilities. Likewise, the Republic of India has been living in one such interdependent relationship, between believers and non-believers, haves and have-nots, industrialists and workers, politicians and citizens and there are millions of more such micro-relationships that form the bigger relationship between the nation and the nationals.

Now that I have drawn such a profound yet incomprehensible analogy, I can leave it open to interpretation of my readers (as an attempt to claim greatness for being abstract) or start explaining each and every word (in condescension), either way there is a relationship that is being exploited by one party more than the other. Without much-a-do I should inform you that this post is not as concrete as its prequel. I am not going to point fingers to this and that and start criticizing and/or praising things that are good or bad with our Nation.

This post is a step in the process of waking-up the monster; the monster that is India. A thinking India. A perceptive India. A wise and vigorous India. The politicians of this nation are like a viruses that renders the entire body of their host nonfunctional yet healthy enough to support their (viruses) growth. They have been living in our nervous system, hampering our ability to come together as a mass of thinking, feeling, reciprocating individuals that share pride in building their nation rather than crying over its slow and steady death.

The party that has ruled our country for the longest time has done nothing but carried forward the same system of divide and rule that British had employed to rule the world. This country has see division based on Region, Religion, Caste, Economic Status, Geography, Natural Resources, Language and Development. All parties that emerged afterward unfortunately learned the same tricks and found out newer ingenious ways of dividing the country. The first division was based on religion; Hindu-Muslim disparity lead to geographic division of this country into three parts, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh.

After that economic and caste based divide was deployed, using reservation as the key for making one section of people stand apart from the rest and therefore causing unrest in the Nation. A country that has just come out of imperialist oppression is bound to have a larger section of society not doing well economically. Especially with our National leaders making people believe that living for themselves was the most selfish and lowly way of life, tricking them into giving up all their belongings as a sign of solidarity, what was left in this country was pure and unadulterated poverty. This was used to divide people in economic sections: High Class, Middle Class and Lower Class. Thus began the economic divide and consternation between the classes. Even today when we read movie reviews, the critics don’t forget to remind you whether the movie is for the classes or the masses. The divide has been so deeply ingrained in our genes, our existence that we keep reinforcing it without conscious knowledge.

Regional breakup started in late 90s, and is fast becoming a political trend for all the parties, newbies or experienced, to gain vote banks. Ironically, our naive nation of 1 billion fails to understand once again, that they are considered nothing but vote banks by the politicians. Uttaranchal, Jharkhand, Chattisgarh are some unforgettable gifts our brilliant politicians have given us in last 60 years. And now Kashmir, Telangana and some of the North-Eastern states are already ptiching in for an independent status. I am sure that we will soon be a country with 1200 states, and we will need special permissions to travel from one state to another, whether it is tourism, education, job or property we are seeking. Be assured that poeple who are dividing us in order to rule are simply inept in ruling. They wil just divide, divide and divide us further until nothing is left to rule.

Coming back to the interdependence that I had talked about in the begining, as the cause for a sour relationship to survive tests of time. Now what exactly was I trying to state and how is all this rambling in between related to that. The answer is simple. Our nation lives on Hope. Pure and unadulterated hope that things will be better tomorrow and that somebody will do something to make things better. Like Gandhi and Nehru once promised, like Indira and Rajiv tried to demonstrate (and failed, uh! that we don’t like to remember, do we?) and like Vajpayee tried to establish but was too old to take it all the way to the finish line. We are a nation with hope but no plan of action. No alternatives of our own. No second choice. No plan B.

We don’t need a religiously homogeneous state to become a developed and progressive Nation. We don’t need an icon who sways us off our feet on false promises. We don’t need somebody to say that things will be alright. What we need is faith in ourselves and desire to be accountable for our Nation’s future. We need to ask questions, sound and intelligent questions, and shouldn’t rest until we find our answers. We need to challenge the unknown territories and explore possibilities for moving ahead. We need to stop believing in humans that want to be our Gods. We need to be our own Gods and grant wishes to ourselves. We should promise each other and ourselves that we will not sit down and rest until we have changed the destiny of this nation with our own hands. We will work hard and work without appreciation or reward if that is what it takes to build a developed nation. We will focus on issues that affect the future of our children. We will establish a safe and secure country, where every crime and criminal is brought to justice. We will be honest in our efforts and stand guard to the pride of our nation. We will not just die for our country, but die hard to make it shine, like it used to once.

My fellows country men, for once stop asking “What the country, or the politicians, or the parents, or the neighbours can do for you?” Ask, “what you can do for all of them?”

Do we want religiously homogeneous Nations around the world?

I just now read my post that I have written as a dialogue with myself, and I am so disturbed to realize that there is an unequivocal communal streak in the tone of my voice in that post. I am sure I was very angry while writing that stuff, but I am surprised that I could have been so angered as to lose the perspective I have maintained for most of my life. Thanks to our politicians and their vile, to have created again a situation in our country that made people of two major religious persuasions to be at each others’ necks with the loggerheads. I had almost fallen prey to this malicious political propaganda. Thank God that I didn’t get carried away!

I am a secular! Yes. I don’t mind living with a mix of people, following different sets of religious persuasions and living by their own standards, practices and customs.

However, what I am extremely against is the disregard towards a Nation’s policies and laws. The lack of respect towards the integrity of a country, in the current age of cut throat professional (economic) competition, by the citizens of that country. I recently visited Malaysia and Singapore, both of which regard themselves as Muslim countries. The infrastructure, civic sense and development in these two countries are amazing, given the fact that they are both at least 10 years younger than India (in terms of attaining political independence.)

Now, how can I say that it is a certain religion that comes in the way of development of a Society or a Nation as a whole. That is certainly not the case! These two countries are not only with the largest Muslim proportions in South East Asia, even the cultural and social system (based on whatever I could observe as a tourist) is not as communal or racial as I would have expected it to be (having lived most of my life in India and having been taught to look at the other religious practices only from the corner of my eye, as if they were ready to convert or kill me if I dared to look at them wholeheartedly or if I looked at them and decided to be indifferent.) With more than 70%, 80% or 90% people belonging to the same religion that the whole world is criticizing for encouraging world wide terrorism, these two Nations have come a long way in terms of growth and development. And I heard the natives say more than once (of course I had provoked such a reaction) “We are not racial!”, as an indication that they didn’t subscribe to the much promoted Jihad that militant groups like LeT and Taliban are endorsing.

Masjid on the way to Mutiara Burau Bay Resort

So, what makes people in these countries focus and work towards the growth and development aspects of their Nation. Why would they not spit all over the road as symbol of freedom in a democratic country? You can often hear the cabbies say, “It’s a free country.” What makes them so proud of it and honor the traffic regulations, lane driving and cleanliness requirements of the city life.

Why can’t we, the Indians, have equally clean roads, and by-lanes that don’t stink of urine and human faeces? Why can’t we follow the lane discipline or honor a pedestrians’ right to cross the road, without the fear of being run over? Why can’t we expect our children to walk through the market unattended and return home safe and sound?

It is not that there is no crime in these two countries, of course there is. I recall hearing the Crime Prevention Beureau commercials, requesting the citizens to be attentive and fight crime by following security guidelines. However, a normal family in such countries spends more time planning a picnic to the tourists spots than worrying about the queue for public facilities at the tourist spots that are either hardly usable or way too outnumbered.

A village house in Langkawi
One might say that it is because the people (the majority being that of Muslims) of these two countries don’t feel any threats to their religion and hence have no insecurities. And only because they are safe and secure, they tend to focus more towards the development of the Nation.

I have major objections to such frog-in-the-well mentality. Indian sub-continent has nations that are mostly homogeneous in terms of religious mix of people. Yet, they haven’t managed to follow the growth path as phenomenally as Malaysia and Singapore have. Tourism is widely popular means of earning a living in these two countries and citizens take all the care in maintaining the cleanliness, infrastructure, public transport and other lifelines of a country rather than mutilating them by over use or misuse.

Why then is it so hard for a Nation that so proudly carries a heritage of more than 5 millenniums?

To be continued…

…or we will cross the border!

That is the threat the Kashmiri Separatist Leaders (as media puts them, I wonder whether this effort of sugar coating the way the ex-terrorists are being addressed is an attempt to be politically correct or they fear that the minorities will stop watching their channel, or worse yet, because they are being threatened for their lives) are carrying now. They are all of a sudden worried about the economic disruption of Kashmir and the financial deprivation the current bandh is allegedly causing to the Fruit growers of Kashmir. So, what they propose to do is walk through Muzaffrabad, into the Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK), crossing the Line of Control (LoC) to sell the fruits. LOL!!!

What is that supposed to mean? The first thing that comes to the minds of these bloody militants is that they will take their commerce to Pakistan. Well they are the “Separatist Leaders” and since they make the peasants of Kashmir believe that they can expect a warm welcome and that their fruits are going to feed the inhabitants of the most sacred land of muslims, they are doing the right thing. However, our government that should have been infuriated by this anti-national sentiments being flaunted by these ex-militants and their senseless herds, have actually taken to an appeasement policy. Union Home Minister, Mr. Shivraj Patil announced vociferously and repititvely, that Govt. of India will buy all the fruit from these growers in order to show how much they are cared for and wanted in our country.

I couldn’t but laugh on hearing this. What are we? A bloody Eunuchs’ Republic of India???

Imagine the growling tummies of Pakis who are yet to know it means to eat a home grown fruit. A produce that is not imported at exhorbitant prices, but bought at the local rates. And luckily for them our thankless citizens of Kashmir the peasants who take the subsidies from Eunuchs’ Republic of India, and dream about Pakistan like a ten year old with starry eyed dreams about a heaven that is on the other side of the fence, are willing to oblige over their own graves.

What are we doing, I wonder, as the citizens of this country, that will sooner than later nothing more than the backyard of a Terrorist Republic of Pakistan?

This is where they dump their waste (in the waters of India), experiment with the IEDs (blasts in different cities in different ways), pump the fake currency bills (that we carry in our pockets believing it was our hard earned money), come for gaining celebrity status (in reality shows, movies and music albums) and rubbish us in the game of cricket. I am sure, if you are Paki reading this post, you must be bloating with pride. Don’t forget to write a thank you note to Uncle Manmohan. By the way, your Mush has done more for you being a dictator than Dr. Manmohan Singh will do in his lifetime for anyone, including himself (with the exception of Mrs. Sonia Gandhi.) Here is the latest from their intimate relationship.

By the way if you are an Indian reading this post, it is time to wake up and grab hold of the reality. This is not what we work our goddamn asses off for, fueling the economy of a country run by senseless egotists and spineless politicians who have no grip on reality be it in their personal lives or public.

We can’t allow anyone to take our Govt. to ransom for such petty issues. What the likes of these Yasin Malliks and Mirwaiz Umar Farooqs are doing. They are not who decide the future of this country or Kashmir. Please wake up now and help others in your vicinity to wake up too. Time is running out…

Read more on Kashmiri Pandits’ and on their plight at:

Kashmiri Pandit Youth – Roots In Kashmir

It was the first time I dared to stand in front of State Head’s office and express my disgust towards the corrupt political system that has grown from strength to strength in last so many decades.

Kashmir, my homeland, an integral part of Indian that could never be, has been burning for us Kashmiri Pandits, for last two decades. All of those who fled were better of in their professional lives but lost all the sense of belonging with the place they originate from.

Corrupt politics and irresponsible citizens are both responsible for the status quo in Kashmir. RIK, an initiative by Kashmir Pandits, especially the youth, has been growing in its effort and influence since its inception in year 2006. I proclaimed allegiance to it almost instantly when I heard of it but joined the efforts a few months later, in December 2006, by holding a silent protest at Indira Park, Hyderabad, the officially designate place for any protests by citizens.

On 20th of June, 2008, we came together to express our solidarity with Wandhama Massacre victims who have not received justice even after ten years. Here are some of the snapshots from the local newspapers that cared to give us some print real-estate.