Thursday, April 30, 2009

My vote counts

My vote counts, when I swallow the lethargy and lift my finger
My vote counts, when I ignore the cutie and side with the smarty
My vote counts, when I push the button after selecting my icon
My vote counts, when the counting is over but the fight runs forever

I voted this time too. Guess it’s my third time atleast. I had to fight off a lot of questions before I pressed the button. What good is it going to do?, are the candidates qualified, do I know them?, etc, etc. But in the end I went, knowing that if I didn’t, I would blame myself for the state of this country for the rest of my life.

What is going to change? I really don’t know. What I know is that if anything has to change, it has to be me first. Until I keep paying bribes, until I disrespect public property, until I don’t show the heart and courage to disagree, nothing will change. At the end of the day I have come to realise that it is not just about our leaders, it is about us as well. What do I/we have as a plan for the next five years, because if we don’t have any, neither will our netas.

Kerala saw a frenzied political battle in the state, with even religious communities throwing their weight behind candidates and political parties. I never thought that adhering to a particular faith also meant pushed into the membership of a particular party. The equations are clear. ‘You help me and I will help you.’ Indeed a shame for both the church and the political establishment, both of whom have the mandate to serve people irrespective of their caste, class, colour and sex.

The biblical call is clear. Pray (help) for your enemies. What does it profit you to help your friends? !!!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Let the Tamils go!

Blood, gore and violence disturbing sense in this nonsense
I suspect whether human concern bounces off pride in armour
Thousands lie buried in silent tombs pierced by shrapnel
As the dead fall, the living flee wishing to continue life

Is Prabhakaran and the LTTE worth the lives of innocent women and children?
Will bombs lead disturbed minds into submission?
What is my religion when it kills others?
Where is my faith in the middle of blatant destruction?

Stop the elephant’s pursuit in the jungle
Too many fall unawares in the weight of the mammoth’s rumble
Don’t sow hatred in strict paddy patterns
Fleeing they are, don’t shoot them from behind

Life is still so feeble in the spic and span stable
Stop getting a kick from spilt blood among the weaklings
It’s time to stop, so let’s do just that
And retain whatever humanness remains intact

Monday, April 13, 2009

Easter: ‘Jesus remixed’

Kerala is in the hold of a remix trend. Two movies, ‘Sagar Alias Jacky’ and ‘2 Harihar Nagar’, are sequels to the runaway successes, ‘Irupatham nootand’ (Twentieth Century) and ‘In Harihar Nagar’. The music has been remixed to seal the gap between the decade-separate generations and it is catching on in high spirits.

As the Christians in Kerala celebrated Easter (the resurrection of Jesus), this need to bridge the gulf between the decade-separate generations is being felt. On the one hand traditional churches offered a change in timings of the Easter service to accommodate the ones who found the early morning service a tad bit too difficult logistically speaking. On the other hand the people also are becoming more vocal about the need to make services more relevant for the times.

This is where the concept of ‘Jesus remixed’ comes in. As in any remixed version, there are the pros and cons of taking such a step. The traditionalists argue that Jesus is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow and any change is the distortion of truth. Those who think otherwise are of the opinion that truth itself is not a constant and changes with the times, and it does not mean that Jesus has changed in essence. The priests also point out that the original is the only version and anything else is an attempt at humiliating our forefathers and foremothers, the originators. Further they also argue that what has been handed down has been crafted very carefully and has immense meaning in it. They are opposed by those who say that what should be and should not be is for the people to decide and not by the so called purists.

Can we then say that what is mixed once cannot be mixed again so that the essence is maintained? Or can we say that every generation needs a new mix for a new fix? Or should we call it rediscovering oneself through a remix? As Mohanlal is rediscovering himself in an age well ahead of retirement, we should maybe wait and see as to what will last; the mix or the remix!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Maundy Thursday sea blues

As we sit down at the table of fellowship this Maundy Thursday (Pessaha vyazham) let us also remember that we gain our strength from this fellowship because Jesus chose to be a man who expressed his solidarity with the weak and the poor (both in heart and in life). His disciples included fisherfolk and it speaks volumes of what we should be if we ever fondle any hopes of becoming the disciples of Jesus. It is in this context that we should look out to the sea and the land around us, to the people who matter...God's real disciples who sing from their heart inviting true fellowship...

During hard times and good times
When the sun rises and sets in the distance
Only one thing keeps us going
(And) That’s the sight and smell of our mother the sea

In life and in death, this is what we believe and say

Our frustrations and our dreams
Start and end with our mother the sea
All senses of our humanity
Are captured in the essence of the salt n’ (the) sea

In life and in death, this is what we believe and say

What our mother gives, she takes
Still we honour and respect her in full scale
Knowing we benefit by the natural way
Where humans and nature work together in sway

In life and in death, this is what we believe and say

Don’t strip our mother of her rightful place
By encroachments and waste-fills all over her face
Stop trawling when nature passes through the cycle
And allow all creatures to atleast live in the temporal

In life and in death, this is what we believe and say

Let’s come together for once in good sense
To prevent the waters from swallowing our presence
Let’s respect the sea, it’s creatures and one another
Allowing each one the chance for survival

In life and in death, this is what we believe and say

And thus the story goes. True fellowship does not end in a day or in a particular space. True fellowship is this beautiful relationship; between humans, nature, the world and God. True fellowship is not breaking bread for those we know, but for those we have failed to even take note of.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Palm Sunday: The release into ecstasy

Christians around the world commemorate this day as Palm Sunday, in memory of the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. Holding up palm leaves and throwing flowers in the air, there are many Christian traditions, who try to relive that moment of faith (history) when the people greeted Jesus on the donkey colt, by collectively shouting ‘Hosanna, blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.’ Truly a powerful moment. The son of a carpenter, a band of ruffians as followers, a donkey colt as the official carrier, and the crowd of people celebrating a big event. It would have been one of the most un-choreographed moments of a great event. And yet it was a notable and therefore a successful event.

But I wish to look at it from a totally new perspective. I want to travel hundreds of years to the present. To the churches that are spread all over India, and who have the tradition and practice of holding palm leaves and throwing flowers in the air as a reminiscence of the great entry.

I remember the Palm Sunday services in my church, which belongs to the Orthodox church tradition. Both as a deacon (priest assistant) and as a priest I noticed the interesting release of the flowers by the children assembled in church. There were these designated times when everyone was asked to throw the flowers (preferably upwards). From throwing flowers upwards, they started throwing against each other and then towards the priest. The battle cries and the missile like flowers would bring about a hostile environment in which the priest had to read the prayer.

But putting apart the small inconveniences, we have to look at the children who get into the act of the release of their frustrations in church. Even though there are supposed to be other avenues for this, that it does not work becomes clear. So, Palm Sunday helps the children to enter into passion week, putting out all frustrations and anger. Truly, a release into ecstasy, which is one of the aims of religion. So even though the church has a fixed route, the children select their own routes. The solemn service then also becomes fun and adrenalin releasing. Maybe when Jesus entered Jerusalem, this was what the people felt. A release from their usual afflictions and the rules and regulations of the authorities!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I fooled ya!!! April 1

The clear and comfortable morning sleep of two of my friends was interrupted by the same piece of news. A friend had had an accident and it was quite serious. But before they could even comprehend what this meant, the voice on the other side shouted, “April fool.” There was a feeling of being fooled, disgusted but finally with a sheepish smile they finally said, “you got me.”

So it’s April 1st and by now everyone has broken the news of how they fooled whom and what fun it was. Finally most people have taken it in their stride as they have been told clearly to “relax wo/man, it’s a joke.” The dust has settled and the lights will soon go off, the laughter dying off into some corner of the street. But the “I fooled ya” part of the narrative fails to die out.

Signs are a way of leading us somewhere. But we also give various meanings to the same signs. What if I told you that the “I fooled ya” part of our lives is not a one day competition that we attend but a 365 day competition that goes on and on. The elections are a part of everyone’s discussions and politicians are in the arc lights of fame for the moment. There are those who are excited to vote, those who are confused whom to vote for and those who don’t know whether they should vote at all. But after all the excitement and the hope, politicians from several political parties who then fail on their promises, will through various signs tell us “I fooled ya.” Some of us will get it and some won’t. But there will always be enough people who will be misled by these signs.

The April fool syndrome is not only a political reality. It is the same for everything that is connected to money. Therefore even religion follows the same path. After taking people on board and filling their coffers, they are left mid-sea with the same April fool slogan. This year, the month of April is important for Christians because the resurrection of Christ (Easter) will be celebrated. This is preceded by the remembering of the crucifixion of Christ and the pain and passion he went through. In a way it is the reverse of the “I fooled ya” philosophy. It was rather making a fool of oneself that Jesus Christ did. Even though he could turn around from the threat of death, he stood for what he believed in. This “making a fool of oneself” philosophy is inherent in all religions. But this is where we disappoint. We are busy making a fool of other people that we forget that it doesn’t contribute to our community and country in any way. So this time I am trying to struggle with the meaning of “I fooled ya” and “I fooled (made a fool of) myself”.