Sunday, March 18, 2012

चाँद की बुढ़िया

गर्मीं की छुट्टियों में दादी,
 ढ़ेर सारी कहानियाँ सुनाती थीं।
छत पर, खुले आसमान के नीचे, तारे गिनाती थीं,
और चाँद पर सूत कातती बुढ़िया को दिखाकर,
उसके किस्से सुनाती थीं।  

कल रात सपने में आईं दादी,
पूछा मैंने, दादी तू तो कहा करती थी,
 कि चाँद पर एक बुढ़िया रहती है।

कुछ दिनों पहले, 
चीनियों ने रॉकेट पर एक दूरबीन लगाया,
और उसको चाँद तक उड़ाया, 
यह साबित कर दिया कि कोई बुढ़िया नहीं रहती चाँद पर,
सिर्फ गहरे खड्डे हैं वहाँ, और बिना पानी के समंदर। 
दादी मुस्कराई और कहा मुझसे,
बेटा, चाँद की बुढ़िया तो वहीं की वहीं है।

जब हम आँखों पर चश्मे की जगह दूरबीन लगा लेते हैं,
तब पास की चीज़ें दूर नज़र आती हैं ।
और दूर की चीज़ें?
पता नहीं, कहाँ चली जातीं हैं।  

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

The Churn

"Dad, are you taking a nap?"

"No sweetie, I am just trying to meditate while lying down."

"Can I ask you a question?"


"What is a churn?"

"I think you are asking me about the arrangement that makes butter. It's an earthen pot with a lid that has a stick fitted to it. The stick has a rope coiled around it. If you put cream in the pot and churn it by pulling on the rope, the butter in the cream floats up. And then, you put it on a toast, and eat it."

"Wow! That sounds like the story about the gods and the demons that I read in Amar Chitra Katha.  Only, that they churned the ocean waters, and they used a giant snake for the rope and a mountain for the stick."

"Yes, that's the one."

"And dad, do you know that after they churned the ocean, nectar and deadly poison came out. Lord Shiva drank the poison to save the universe, and the gods and the demons fought over the nectar, which would make them immortal."

"Yeah. But you have to remember that with cream, what comes out, is not so good for you. When you grow up, you will find that having too much butter can clog your arteries and  make you very sick. Buttermilk, or the stuff that is left over, is actually much better for you. It can make you healthy."

"Does that mean that what was left over when the gods and the demons were done churning, could also be much better?"

"You mean the sea water? Well, I don't know about that. You know, you can't even drink it because it has too many salts in it."

"Dad, is it possible to remove the salts from the sea water?"

"Yes. But it is a complicated process. You need large machines for desalination, which is what removing salt from sea water is called."

"What type of machines?"

"Well, there are many types. The idea is to heat up the water and convert it to steam. Some people believe that if you pass the steam through a giant machine called a centrifuge, you can remove all the salt from it. And then, if you cool it down, you get pure drinking water."

"Dad, what is a centrifuge?"

"Uh, let's see.  A centrifuge is a machine that can spin something around very rapidly and separate the things that are in it. Like water and salt."

"You mean this machine is something like a churn?"

"Yes sweetie, something like a churn."

Friday, March 9, 2012

Is Vijay Mallya Bapu's reincarnation?

Often, I get comments to my posts, that are extremely thought provoking. And today, I got a rather thought provoking comment on my previous post from a certain Mr. "Squirrel" about Mahatma Gandhi's reincarnation.

I had asked for suggestions on who would be the right candidate for Bapu's reincarnation, with the basic assumption that whoever was destined to be the Mahatma's reincarnation, would have a life, that would be a party. Well, more or less.

Mr. Squirrel tends to think that it could be Mr. Vijay Mallya. If you are one of those readers of the Peanut Express, who is not very familiar with Indian celebrities, you would perhaps ask the same question that I had asked many years ago, when someone had told me about Vijay Mallya.

 "Who the hell is Vijay Mallya?"

Mr. Mallya is the owner of one of the most popular brands of beer in India, known as Kingfisher. In fact, many years ago, when I found out that the word horse-piss was used  for really bad beer, I wanted to use it in a conversation. And then, the chance came, when a friend had taken me to a microbrewery, and had me taste some really bad beer.

"So, what do you think?" He had asked rather expectantly, after I had my first gulp.

"Well, I can't really say for sure, but I would say that it kinda-sorta tastes like horse-piss." I had said.

My friend, looking quite annoyed, had said, "How can you say that? Have you ever tasted horse-piss?"

"Yes, I have. It is bottled in India and sold under the name Kingfisher. I can get you a bottle any day you want one. Would you like me to?"

 Mr. Mallya owns Kingfisher. And, he also owns an airline with the same name. I am told that the airline has recently reached similar levels of excellence that the beer had, a long time ago.

Mr. Squirrel's question had me intrigued. So, I called my priest, who is on my speed dial, and asked him what he thought about Vijay Mallya being Bapu's reincarnation. Of course, you probably have guessed by now, the first question that he asked me.

"Who the hell is Vijay Mallya?"

After a brief round of explanations, and the connection to Bapu, he paused for a few minutes. And then, like a true pundit-jee, he said, "Forget about Bapu-jee, if the Dakshina is large enough, I can prove to you that Mr. Vijay Mallya is the reincarnation of a bottle of beer. Any brand you choose."

All right. I rest my case.

One last thing. Bapu died in Delhi. Mr. Mallya was born in Calcutta. I drew a line on the map of India, connecting the two cities, to trace the path Bapu's soul would have possibly traveled before it  was reincarnated. And surprise, surprise, I found that it must have traveled over the town that one of my favorite Urdu poets was originally from -- Sultanpur in U.P.

Majrooh Sultanpuri, in one of his famous creations from 1953, had written:

humare baad ab mehfil me afsane bayan honge
baharen humko dhundhengi, na jane hum kahan honge
 When I am gone, stories will be told in gatherings about me.
The spring will look for me, but no one will know where to find me.

I am sure that if Bapu was still alive in 1953, and he heard this masterpiece by Majrooh, this is exactly what he would have said about where his soul would be. Reincarnation or not.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Saving Bapu's Soul

In one of my jobs in the land of the free, my office was next to that of a gentleman, who seemed like a really nice and caring person. We worked on different projects, and didn't interact much. One day, while I was holding a stack of books with one hand, and trying to put the key in the door-lock of my office with the other, he offered to help. And then, we started talking, although I soon realized that we had very different backgrounds. Bob and I, were very different people. While I was a borderline atheist at that point in my life, he was a conservative evangelical Christian, and a strong believer in fire and brimstone.

One evening, while I was beginning to head home, we met each other in the corridor and exchanged pleasantries. All of a sudden, he asked, "Hey, I am going to the church tomorrow. Do you mind if I pray for you?"

"I would be delighted if you do!" I said. And then, to reciprocate, just like you feel like handing over someone a piece of candy when they give you gum, I said, "And do you mind if I pray for you, in one of my spiritual moments?"

Suddenly, he looked very tense. "Depends on who you are praying to. Would your prayers be directed to Christ? You know, only if someone prays to Christ for you, can your soul be saved." Although I have read the holy bible many times and I am a big fan of Jesus, I somehow found his attitude very condescending.

And so, I decided to reciprocate, "Well, usually I pray to Lucifer. And in case, you are trying to save my soul by praying for me, tough luck there. A long time ago, I sold my soul to the devil for a bottle of Jack Daniel's, and a pack of Marlboro."  Bob never talked to me again.

Recently, I read an interesting story about Mahatma Gandhi. It seems that in the last few months, the Mormon church covertly baptized Bapu's soul, and then, removed the public records on it. I have heard that it is fairly routine business for the Mormon church to take famous historical personalities, and baptize their souls. The intentions are obviously very noble -- the soul has to be saved.

Of course, I am not going to talk about the uproar from Hindu religious groups and the other cults that had previously attempted to baptize Bapu's soul. That, would be a long discussion.

However, I did try to run through a few facts, my thinking being somewhat prejudiced, from years of training as an engineer -- who follows logic, and from years of reading all types of religious books -- out of plain old curiosity.

Bapu was a devout Hindu, in fact, he died with Ram's name on his lips. And, he died an unnatural death, which, according to to the Hindu religious texts, would require his soul to be reborn, despite the fact that he was a Mahatma. For true freedom from the cycle of birth and death (moksha), one needs to die a natural death, when their time comes, and all Karma needs to be properly finished. I also believe that the remaining Karma for Bapu, was very little, perhaps, like a drop in the bucket. And so, if he was reborn, he would be required to do only one or two good things in his new life.

And then, he could party. As much as he liked. And, he would still be guaranteed the moksha that was well earned.

Oh yes, one more thing. According to the Hindu texts, a proper reincarnation takes place within a year of a person's death. Since Bapu was assassinated in January 1948, I was looking at a list of famous people, who were born in the year 1948.  And, I was specially looking for people, whose life has been, more or less, a party.

And surprise surprise, I found that the pretender to the Royal throne of the empire, on which once the sun  never set, Charles, the prince of Wales, was born in 1948. So, there is a strong possibility that the Mormon church will now be after the soul of the prince and by extension -- the Mahatma.

While the British secret service, MI6, takes note of my analysis, and sends agent 007 after the Mormon church, there is also that other possibility of course. That I am writing this up after my second drink this evening, and, that once I finish this up, I will have my third. But, you have to agree with me, that my analysis, is right on, although, I may not have identified the real reincarnation of Bapu.

I am sure you could help. Just find someone, male or female, who was born in 1948. And then, save his or her soul -- from the Mormon church.