Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Passing on the baton- Fasting feasting and more

I am sure for each generation there comes a time, when they wonder about what they are passing on to the next generation. More likely to be when they start getting old enough to miss their younger days and not too old to forget those. Its very human to try to hold on things and traits familiar to one’s life. Change is unsettling and unknown. Most of us try to renounce the new ways as inferior and lacking in values ...at least till it is too late . I read somewhere in Readers’ Digest that when rock music came , the previous generation declared it death of the music . Some people still argue that email and e-chatting ruined the romance of an actual face to face tête-à-tête and handwritten letters. In our country for last three generations parents thought that they have lost the battle for morals and culture with the coming of Gramophone, cinema and TV soaps respectively. But each generation survived and flourished- defined their own values, culture and moral fabric in its own ways. I often feel that a lot was lost/missed in between the transition . But you can’t miss what you don’t know…so life goes on. Before I philosophize more on the issue I must tell you the context . I went to my hometown- lucknow last week . Like all people who are away from the towns they grew up in, whenever i go, I try to spot familiar things, sights, smells and sounds. It was rather interesting timing to visit this city .It is the time when one can witness the ganga –jamuni culture at its best. I reached there on Rakshabandhan day and will be returning again on the day of Janmashtami. Of course, the holy month of Ramadan is going on and half the city was fasting and waiting for Eid . These days are special for the city and they have always been so .
Though most Indian cities are now losing their old character – at least the very visible sights of it, Lucknow always celebrated festivals in style. Even when the new stuff is paving way for the old…it was the mix of the two I found in my town this time. Well, we might have new Barista and Café coffee day now….we still have our Royal café. But for some of us the change is unsettling . You can’t blame us. Those of us who left the city years back , now go back there and try to look for familiar sounds, sights and smells to renew our days . Alas, things change…and so do cities. An old shopkeeper in Hazratganj told me that the Mehfils which marked the hours after Iftar are gone . In very characteristic lehza he bitterly told that no one bothers about the usual chit chat unless they are in a TVchat show and getting paid to talk
.Thanks to the politicians iftar parties had long lost their pure social and religious meaning . The weight conscious youngsters no longer enjoy the famous nahari kulchas and other traditional stuff used to break the roza. Even the famous shops of Nazeerabad, Akbari gate and rest of old lucknow have lost the glitter and activities of iftaar . After two three hours of iftaar these shops are closed like regular days . One will still find the stalls of Kashmiri chai or huge makeshift shops selling seviyans but the ramzani raunak of our good old days is definitely lost. Even when the new generation goes for these products, they prefer taking it from the outlets in the malls rather than the old town. People no longer prefer the leisure and the joy of conversation at a shop anymore. A witty repartee or a clever remark from the shop owner …a couplet or two to answer a question from the panwallah , no longer interests the people. The customers look for business like efficiency and that’s all.
The point I am trying to reach is that while I find ( and feel happy to find) malls, multiplexes and known food chains wherever I go , I do feel a pang in my heart for the era that is lost. Its not only about eateries . I wonder who will remember the floral rakhis on rakshabandhan few years from now. These rakhis made from real flowers and customized as per the insistence of the sisters buying them, were visible at every florist shop of lucknow till 3-4 years back. I try telling myself that these things hardly matter. If we looked for those rakhis in our days the new generation has fancy gadgets and chocolates to find on this day .
But the sense of missing a part of my familiar world does not go easily . Everytime we have a family gathering my aunts and sisters end up talking about old family recipes and efforts made to make those perfect pickles, papad and other mouthwatering dishes meant for special occasions. I always loved the festival of janmashtami and the fast which comes with it . Being the foodie I am , the reason was the special dishes made up of dryfruits, coconut and other stuff. The vrat food which was “allowed” in a fast. The tradition is almost lost in my family. Even I do not care to make these delicacies in my home . The food we eat is mostly the same throughout the year . The joy of eating khichuri on a particular day and roasted green gram on other has given place to easier options. Of course, we have adopted many more dishes in our menu but the tradition of making a particular dish for a particular festival/day is not there anymore. May be the next generation will not miss these traditions- we have afterall not passed it on to them . For kids in my colony these “ minor” festivals are just school holidays and they feel happy about it by watching their favorite shows or playing computer games . It is in vain to feel sorry about old things which are going out of fashion. It is somewhat inevitable. Perhaps it is more important to hold on tightly with our values . I just hope that we are missing on just the most visible parts of legacy and not the most important ones. I mean as long as families enjoy happy times together , it hardly makes a difference whether it is in a family gathering eating traditional kheer or enjoying a TV show eating pizza.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Failure is easy to live with ..isn’t it ?

I am very clumsy when it comes to console anyone grieving for a loss, a failure or a disappointment. Last night I did some introspection on it . Actually the Civil services Prelims results are out and a very dear bunch of youngsters who are very close to me and hubby, failed to make it this time. Social niceties expect me to talk to them and say- It’s alright. But then, saying “it’s alright “goes against my nature. I was unable to say these two words to myself when I failed earlier. Even now I firmly believe that any failure, any disappointment is not alright. Well, I am a big sucker of the self motivation books- ‘Think like a winner!’ Success is never ending!’ ‘Tough times never last ‘….and many more. I regularly read and distribute the fable like stories say- The Little prince, The Alchemist etc. But God knows, I am totally unforgiving when it comes to failure. Mine or of people around me. My best friend some time back joked that phoenix must be my favorite bird. If one lesson I have learnt from failure is that it just shows –the best was not good enough. For me every exam, every challenge and every assignment is like a riddle. There is at least one solution available….and in most cases there is one best solution too. All I need to do is to find this one. But failure is never alright ….I do not actually agree with the fatalist philosophy of: May be god has a better plan. I know that whatever I can desire, I can make it happen to me and around me. It’s just a question of mental strength….a question of believing that you deserve better.
But what to do with the socially required consolation? I know I mutter some words half heartedly—but I do not believe in them. I also totally despise self pitying people – people who feel devastated just after a failure or two. Have you not met people who keep dwelling on their failures- sometimes for rest of their lives? Sometimes blaming the circumstances or others for it …or even worse blaming themselves and feeling terribly sorry. People who carefully nurture their fears and phobias and ensure they do not get the most desirable deal out of life in this process. Even the best and most sincere people around me rely on fears and tears while dealing with failures. I wonder why they do not feel ANGRY the way I do when I fail. Guess, it is easy to feel sorry about oneself. But the sad part is this feeling sorry phase does not end till it convinces you that may it was ‘ alright ‘ to fail….may be you never deserved what you aspired for. I respect people who learn to see silver lining in the darkest cloud too but I admire those who fight till they leave all dark clouds behind them.
In my opinion, the only way one can turn failures into successes is by not accepting failures. Dwelling them just to learn where the riddle’s best solution was missed and going ahead once again with much stronger resolve to succeed. Most people fail to do that. Failure is never okay-because it stops you from being where you wanted to be. …at least for some time. That time may be precious…it may never come again. That you might get to live life full of beautiful moments /great experiences meanwhile, is another story . I know many people who because of some failed dream accidently found their true vocation, true partner and true destination. But that is not the point. While internet is full of motivational stuff telling you - how to turn failure into success and while many are making a career out of this –my policy is simple. I can do anything I put my mind to. I can do it; I can do it, IF I put my mind to it.” Saying this to yourself and BELIEVING it does not come naturally to most people. And that perhaps ensures that the winner stands alone at the top!

So even at a risk of sounding cruel and competitive I'd say that failure is very easy to live with , fears become old pals if you allow them to accompany you all the time - its the succcess which is difficult to hold and get habituated to .