Headache is perhaps the most dangerous weapon of nature against man. No matter how many nuclear weapons you have made, you still have a headache saving them from hackers. No matter how much wealth you have made selling beer in Aidin, you still have a headache of running around in a court of London. In a way, it is a great leveller. It’s almost like nature knew that she would be screwed up by us human, so she put one of her own in our head – an ache.

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“Two weeks after her sudden departure for California, Swami Vivekananda praised Joe’s detachment, as noted in a letter from Betty to Joe, written October 27:

He spoke of “Joe” and said you were the only real soul who had “attained freedom among us all,” including himself. You could drop everything, everybody and go out without a thought of regret & do your work, that you had attained this through thousands of reincarnations, he had seen it in India & here. No luxury counted, no misery (as in India) mattered – [you were] the same poised soul, etc.

“If I were a Devadasi.”

It is time to get transported into one of the most fascinating milieus and yet another brood of the notorious caste system – the Devadasis. We could have easily been talking about the age of romanticism where women dedicated themselves to deities and temples. As resonates through The Ivory Throne : “their lives committed in service of god, dancing and singing and preserving high culture in great Hindu temples of the land.” To add to the romance, imagine a vivid picture of the great shrine of Mahakala in Ujjain, which resounded with the sound of the ankle bells of dancing girls: The Meghadutam by Kalidasa.

There are times when while looking at a painting one is seduced into a different time and era. I often picture my silhouette in Kolkata of the 30s : a swarm of people moving at the speed of light, sometimes even passing through my silhouette yet the silhouette is held by the spirit of the times as if the latter were a painting. Let us float into the age of romanticism and call my perchance finding of ‘The Ivory Throne, Chronicles of the House of Travancore,’ a book by Manu S. Pillai, serendipity.

Memory is a weird thing. It seems to make you forget the most important things of life and ensure that you remember the least significant of things that happened around you. I either completely forget the birthdays of friends I have known for a long time or embarrass myself by wishing them a month in advance. The craziest part is I clearly remember the birthdays of some long-lost acquaintances whose faces I can barely recollect. My mother had the habit of keeping things safely, only she forgets where she had kept them. She usually brings the entire house down every time she starts looking for something that she had kept safely.Did I mention that memories are weird? Well, they always take you on a detour and you almost forget what you wanted to say in the first place. I wasn’t planning to talk about my mother. In fact, I wanted to talk about one of my English teachers from school.

I was skimming through my news feed and for no reason, I was reminded of Carl Sagan. I repeated his words in my head – “We will know which stars to visit. Our descendants will then skim the light years, the children of Thales and Aristarchus, Leonardo and Einstein”. I glanced again at the piece of news I was reading and I was overcome by a sickening pain. The news was all about the NEET fiasco.

China has banned the usage of a few Islamic names in the Xinjiang province. This is a Muslim majority province and such an action is supposed to impact children who would be named Imam, Hajj, Islam, Quran, Saddam, Medina etc. These names are supposedly heavily loaded with religious extremism and must not be considered by families for their children if they are to get hukou (household registration) and other state services.