Thursday, May 26, 2011

Hero of our times......6

Living in a men’s hostel can be very edgy and itchy at times. The place can be interesting if you have the ability to thrive around crowds and when you have lots of friends to hang out with. I am a little short in both the above mentioned qualities. I love loneliness and silence to read, write and watch movies.

Hostels can be a great place to come across different kind of people from different situations and backgrounds. I love talking to people while at the same time I draw a secret pleasure by analyzing them and picturise their life, situations and fantasies.

I was back to hostel after a very long day at the bank. I decided to seek for solace at the feet of ‘idiot box’ in the common room. There was only this guy in the common room. I had found him as a very striking personality who always ran through the newspapers in the mornings and news channels in the evenings. The young people in the hostels rarely have such a routine. He struck a conversation with me by commenting on the large, old fashioned, thick glasses I wore.

The conversation turned to my hometown, our friends and the jobs. I was impressed by the language he used and the way he spoke. He gave off the impression of giving a speech. He used the best words from literature- both English and Malayalam. He looked very young and at the same time very learned.

Slowly he turned the conversation to religion. I realized I had ended up in a trap. He belonged to a version of Protestant Christian who lived with a terrible superiority complex and other Christians have to be lead shown the ‘right’ path through arguments. The last thing I would want to get into on a tired night was argument.

I made sure that I didn’t argue back. Although he seemed to be so sure of himself, he sounded so illogical. But I was fascinated by the way he spoke and the passion he generated. My tactic of staying silent worked. He did stop his religious discourse and told me his story.

Jobi is just a high school graduate. He was just an average student, but was confident of getting through to college. Sadly he couldn’t make it. He couldn’t stand the ridicule of people around and decided to learn some useful trade and went off to Chennai. He apprenticed himself to a Tamil to study welding. Life turned hell for him. He was made to do all the menial works from cleaning the shop to fetching water. His working hours started from 6 in the morning to ten at night. At nights his quarters doubled up as drinking haven for his boss. Working without protection in front of radiation made his eyes water when he tried to doze off. He sat up at nights dazed on seeing himself rot away.

I sat listening to his story, feeling sorry for myself. How I used to sulk at a job where I do not have to do anything menial and left me a good pay packet at the end of month.

After some three months, he learnt of a christian elocution competition happening back home. The prize money was huge and the competition seemed very stiff. He had to fight it off with theological students who spent best part off their life practicing the art to earn a living. He was very unsure of himself. But then a good politician-friend helped him polish off the rough edges. The other tough part was the huge distance he would have to travel for the right rounds.

The judges were mighty pleased with his raw ideas in the first round. He started climbing up the levels when he managed to get a place to stay which made his preparation easier.

As the fairytale goes, he won the competition and managed to get a job as the manager of book stores run by the management. He told me how he was surrounded by load of books with none to disturb him. He still goes off to preach gospel- but for wages.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Another great Indian Circus- Elections

The great Indian circus that goes with the name ‘Elections’ have come to an end. This time the show was even grander boasting an 80% turn out. Now no one can counter argue the fact that India boasts one of the world’s strongest and greatest democracies (of course after USA).

The greatest trait seen in Indian elections is we punish our leaders squarely if they fail to fulfill their promises or do naughty things. The DMK (Tamilnadu) must have learnt an invaluable lesson by now. They had it all- power, money, glamour. They fulfilled most of their promises too. But they dared to do naughty things. People weren’t amused and gave them a square and fair treatment. They have brought back in all powerful Mummy (Amma). Well if she misbehaves, in another five years we will bring back DMK in. The cycle goes on.

As far as Kerala is concerned, you needn’t be exactly good person to win the elections. Mr.Kunhallikutty has devised a new concoction. A bit of sexual escapades with girls ranging from 14-16 years of age, multi-million businesses in foreign countries, small shares donated as gifts to some of your powerful friends, lots of black money and stirring all these contents with religious/caste fervor- is a sure shot to victory with a huge margin!

I had blogged about a guy who started off his campaign in Facebook. His promises were more VOICE to the youth, eradication of poverty from the society, more DEVELOPMENT. The hot shot was an IIM grad and sacrificed his time and money to campaign as an Independent candidate. Our politically ‘Super Aware’ youths ‘’Super liked’ the page and joined his page in lakhs. Although I had an initial apprehension, I believed they would be a run away success with such terrific response. The last day I logged in the page to see even with so much spirit and bravado seen inside the Facebook, there were only two volunteers who appeared to campaign for him. Thankfully even his lamentations invited so many ‘Likes’. There were also so many brave comments asking him to keep working.

Still everything the youngest lad in India, Rahul @ 38, does goes absolutely right. When he visits a village, travels in a train, eats ‘ordinary’ food the media celebrates it as something extra ordinary. He insisted in reserving half the seats Congress contested for him. The candidates for those seats were selected from a rigorous interview. Well, the people weren’t half as much as amused when even half the candidates couldn’t pull through.

The bitterest people at the losers’ end is going to be DMK. They distributed free TVs and cable connections throughout the state. The same news channels trumpeted corruption charges against them 24x7. Thanks to the ‘free’ anti campaign they turned from absolute heroes to total failures overnight.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

China v/s Home Churches

China today is one of the world’s fastest developing economies, challenging the western financial models. All these years Communist China had to go through many challenges- both internal and external. Today they face a new challenge- fast growing ‘home’ churches. Chinese authorities who had closed its eye towards the outlawed religious groups to allow more freedom of expression, is now trying to clamp them down. The underground movement which has gained strength will be tough to crackdown. The government will be at risk of facing bad blood, international criticism and even inspired protests.

I am a Christian and am fairly good at that. I don’t go around with loud noises but try to practice a little of what I preach (do not take it literally). I am not alien to the communist ideology too. I have read the basics and believe they are for the collective betterment of human race. I don’t try to mix my religion and politics. But if I am asked to choose the better between the two, I am confused.

Looking back into the initial history of Israel, they had a different power structure compared to its neighbors. They were ruled/guided by the judges. These judges were drawn from different tribes of Israel. We see people from leading families to commoner becoming the judges. These effected a classless society. But the people were fascinated by the monarchies around them. The glamour and insecurity prompted them to demand for a king to rule over them. A decision which indirectly affected the world’s largest religion, Christianity, years later.

Jesus’ apostles, barring a few, hailed from very ordinary origins. The early church was a persecuted lot but the church had this amazing ability to thrive in persecution. The word ‘Christian’ itself was coined to poke fun at the followers of Christ. Devoid of power or money early church and its teachings were more people centric.

All these changed when the Roman emperor embraced Christianity. He saw the potential in using a single official religion to unify his vast empire. Thus ‘Christianity’ was adopted as the religion of the Roman empire. The persecuted and underground religion came into public and soon assumed power and position throughout the world. The religious propagation assumed a different dimension and thus crusades happened.

Monarchies around the world realized that when it comes to religion people used heart more than their head. So religion was the easiest key to unlock their heart. Church and church leaders moved from the lower echelons of society and identified with the ruling class. At most places common man failed to identify with the church.

When Karl Marx revealed to the world the new ideology of ‘Communism’, he saw religion as a tool for division. Religion and politics was so deeply intermingled that it was impossible to see one separated from the other. So for communism religion stood along with capitalists and monarchists on the enemy side.

At the same time the communism gained popularity and power around the world, a new form of Christian movement budded in USA. A movement that supposedly sprung from materialism and individualism. It was drastically different from the collective Christianity advocated until then. The centralized power was done away with and in that place one leader for one church came up. He was not well versed in theology, but he knew how to preach to masses. His fervor and faith alone were good enough to attract people to him. In turn the leader had final word in all aspects of life of his followers- marriage, family, political, financial etc. This movement filled a spiritual vacuum in the Christian society at that time.

The home churches grew numerically as well as financially across USA and, later, around the globe. The term ‘home’ churches was derived from the times when Christians had to worship secretly at their homes fearing persecutions. The best part of such a gathering was due to the small size and huge fervor the members developed an inter-personal relationships which grew into strong bonds. Thus compared to a huge cathedral, people could relate to each other more easily.

The absence of a centralized leadership was fertile enough to raise many arguments and doubts on ideological perspectives. This ultimately led to splitting of ‘home churches’. I could give a somewhat vivid description because our place witnessed some of the biggest transformation thanks to the development half a globe away in USA. Development of the charismatic movement lured many people to it, which in turn gave many in Kerala to migrate to USA. Thanks to the American dollars, bigger ‘home’ churches, schools, businesses and homes came up in Kerala in less than quarter of a century.

The prosperity gospel was more in line with the Western ideals of private ownerships, materialism and capitalism. Thus political equations shook in many places over decades.

Who will prevail over the other? It’s difficult to say. But one thing is for sure- Humans are happy not to bother of long term consequences. Bigger and better life never happens for man. He looks for even bigger and better life.

About Me

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Shakespeare,Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and Lincoln never saw a movie,heard a radio or looked at TV. They had loneliness and knew what to do with it. Thay were not afraid of being lonely because they knew that was when the creative mood in them would work.