Saturday, February 8, 2014

Sita An Illustrated Retelling of the RamayanaSita An Illustrated Retelling of the Ramayana by Devdutt Pattanaik

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is an excellent primer to the Ramayana. Many Ramayanas have been amalgamated. I think Devdutt being partial to Odisha has put in a lot of the Odiya versions. The sequences seem slightly jumbled but overall the story and the plot is well maintained. Ramayana as many may know is the story of Rama, the king of Ayodhya. This is more of a Sitayana, the story focused on his chaste, pure wife.

Pattanaik does offer more detail about women’s worlds than most versions of the Ramayan: the child Sita entering the kitchen, or Sita and her sisters as newly-arrived brides in Ayodhya spending “all day and all night listening to tales of the sons told by their adoring mothers”. He tries to bring relationships between women to the fore: Anasuya welcoming Sita into womanhood with a garland, a garment and a pot of cream—symbols of shringara (adornment), or Mandodari barring Ravana’s way, taunting him to wait for Sita to come to him willingly. “Only Sita understood what Mandodari had done; she had protected her own station in the palace while ensuring another woman’s freedom”.

The focus is also on Sita and Ram's relationship, which is said to be the pure and unblemished. Even with the sexual overtones in describing certain passages, the stress is always on the purity and independence of the protagonists. ‘You feel your Ram has abandoned his Sita, don’t you?’ she asked gently. ‘But he has not. He cannot. He is God; he abandons no one. And I am Goddess; I cannot be abandoned by anyone.’

Overall an engrossing read for the new comers of Indian mythology and also as a study reference for experienced mythologists. I recommend this to all.

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Friday, January 3, 2014

Facebook 2013- MY Analysis

Are you mad? Are you freaky? Why do you want to do such an analysis? These were some questions that some of my friends asked me when I mentioned the subject to them. “You are always glued to it anyway on your mobile device”! I never intended to write an analysis of my facebook (FB) activity ever. On hindsight, I thought it would be a good thing to analyse how I am looked at socially, both from my friends’ side and to myself. I actually scoured the internet for such tools that could help me to do this social soul searching and found one called Wolfram. I am not a regular on FB, but I think I am fairly active than most of my colleagues, who I would not like to name and will not mention in such a controversial write up, due to obvious reasons, because they are either too busy with their own lives and/ or find FB activity too frivolous to post and only follow. To tell you frankly, FB is a very good platform to “expose” yourself to the world. Looking at the ‘Johari’ window analysis I did some time ago, I was actually surprised to see how much less my friends (in the context of FB, all are my friends) know about me and how much less I know of them. So there, FB has to be the common platform to interact and socialize. For the people who do not know what facebook is: Facebook is an online social networking service. Its name comes from a colloquialism for the directory given to American university students.

Some words about FB as per dictionary definition (is there one?!!): Facebook ˈfeɪsbʊk is a verb! Never knew this word could be an action word!
Verb: Facebook; 3rd person present: Facebooks; past tense: Facebooked; past participle: Facebooked; gerund or present participle: Facebooking Usage: Spend time using the social networking website Facebook. "If the boss knew how much time you spent shopping online or Facebooking, do you think he or she would be happy?"…Contact (someone) via Facebook. "Jean Facebooked me later"…Post (information or a piece of data) on Facebook. "I just Facebooked the link to this video"

Well, if FB is a verb then I better keep it that way! Lights, Camera, ACTION!

I posted about 157 links, 109 photos and 66 pure status messages. This is definitely an improvement over last year when I posted only 67 links, 181 photos and 45 statuses! What is the improvement here? I have begun to read and understand the internet and more importantly ‘share’ (if not force people to read what I read, LOL!). I have become less visual in my communication that is evident from a decline in my photos. It does not matter if those were mine or quietly flicked from someone else’s timeline! But, one thing I did conscientiously was that I gave credit wherever it was due. Why flick without telling? Flick first and then tell… I became less complaining and more objective in my status posts. This is good for the friends reading them because I learnt that complaining on status messages on FB does more harm than good. It shows your black side to them. Can you believe this! Some friends wanted to see my black side so befriended me just for watching the fun and no feedback ever. Well, this year and the next are bad for them...

Something about my FB friends intrigued me. I had more male (77%) friends than female (23%). Why? Am not irresistible to the opposite sex? On probing further, I realized that most of my friends are married (83%). This means I cannot expect my married and that married female friends (88% of the female category) to hit on me just like that. They are MY friends after all, self-respecting, honest and faithful to their partners. This is only what data says and what I interpret. It is not what it may actually be!

A curious mix of oldies and young friends is really a healthy sign for me. The oldest member is, GK, all of 83 years young; and the youngest is Bozo Amembal (my cousin’s dog!), all of 15 years. Yes, don’t expect to have any friends younger than that. ‘Sachin’ is the most common first name. I have twelve Sachin friends. By the way, Sachin means “True”. Friends are meant to be true, aren’t they? What other name than ‘Rao’ would top the list of my Indian friends. I know nine Amembals and nine Bhatkals, but only seven Mavinkurves (my wife’s nee surname).

A new cluster of friends has been generated in 2013 as against 2012. Apart from my friends in Mumbai, some business contacts, some from my degree college, a fourth category emerged, ‘School and Colony Friends’. Those who I had lost touch with and those who I see many times in the elevator and say “hello” but nothing more. What has life and relationships come to? Is this the kind of interaction that future holds? Just thinking of this, I am scared now. Maybe things will become better or develop for worse; nothing is known, all is uncertain. It always was and I hope it always will be mysterious. What else is life, if all is known?

My most active days when I posted were Sundays around 7 pm when I would be fresh from my afternoon siesta and I would do some reading on the internet. You may see that I have free time only on Sundays, courtesies to my work place, that believes a 44 hours week is the only road to salvaging the economic conditions of the firm, even if the reasons for the downturn were sluggish macroeconomic factors and the general lethargic attitude of the market and the company drivers. So there go my Saturdays out of the schedule for ‘my’ time.

In spite of all this, all my posts in 2013 were liked 3388 times, that is a lovely average of 9.82 per activity/ post! And commented 1347 times, a measly average of 3.69 per post, :-(. This is the problem with most of my friends, who are Indians or Indian origin, both located here in India and out of it. We just do not want to give feedback! More said than done, I did not comment or like that many posts of my friends either. Sow and so shall you reap! I realized that the world gives you back only as much as you give. I wish my friends commented more; I do not expect this though, because they are MY friends. Saw a few births, marriages and deaths, this year. I realized that this is a part of life as much it is a part of FB. I realized that my network still has many insiders and outsiders, who I need to connect actively on both levels, professional and personal. Some top social connectors, neighbours, and gateways to the big large world outside still exist and remind me that I have to grow a lot socially. Again, is that what I want, as it is against my personality or what I think I am?

The words I used more were more like a filmy dialogue One Day Mumbai Today See Now... Would have liked if there were more ‘thank you’, ‘sorry’ and ‘please’!

The most commented and liked piece was that of what I posted on my father’s death anniversary. That one really made my own FB history. I guess people are drawn more closely to emotional posts than anything else. Flowery posts with more personal feelings attract more bees! I loved their comments and the likes and I knew that someone somewhere is with me!

One of my profile pictures, surprisingly, was liked a lot. This came to me unexpectedly. I did not think so many friends admired my charisma. Some of them personally congratulated me and also subtly added that it was the evening light and not me that was charming, LOL! Decided to leave that profile pic on for a few months more, just in case more likes come in.

Another photo of mine made it in the annals of my FB history. This was a pic of a tiger that I did metal foil work on. It was for the first time I tried my hand at something different and it developed well. I needed a pat on my back for that and my friends did exactly that. Thank you very much my dears!

I must take this time to say thank you to all my friends. The ones like SS, who likes and comments on every post/ activity without fail and SK who likes many of my posts although does not comment on each one of them, a big thank you! Some of my other friends, like VAK, AUP, TR, SI, PM, DVA, SB, CF, GK and GK, AH, PA, AN, SK, KN, and NT, deserve a mention. Don’t ask, “Who are they?” They will recognize themselves or ask me, if not sure.

Last not the least, a big thank you to my family, who thinks I am addicted to FB. My wife thinks that I love FB more than her, which is totally a fallacy. I love my MO-BILE more! By the way, the acronym is MO is Moga, ‘Beloved’ and BILE is ‘Wife’ in Konkani, my mother tongue.

Happy New Year 2014, the year of the HORSE to all my FB friends! Be galloping and prosperous!