11 September, 2011

Vinayaka's RTI

RTI : ‘The Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI) is an Act of the Parliament of India "to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens." The Act applies to all States and Union Territories of India. Under the provisions of the Act, any citizen may request information from a "public authority" (a body of Government or "instrumentality of State") which is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days.

A quiet night…not quite…but almost there

It had been a long day and everyone was asleep. Well, not everyone… Ramesh Natekar, the patriarch of the house could not sleep. The hands of the clock glowed and stood between 25 & 30 minutes past 1am. The room was dark and only the electric light shaped in the form of an oil lamp glowed. This was my quiet space in the day. The routine had not varied in all of the fifty six years I had been a visitor to the house of the Natekars ; a Maharshtrian Karade Bramhin family. During this tenure as an honorary guest in their house, I had seen them grow in numbers, become older, wrinkled and fatter too. A few faces that I did see early on in the years gone by were missing and replaced by a brood of new ones. The snoring though remained the same. It was a family legacy and even the youngest carried it forward proudly and loudly. This sound bounced upon my large ears quite clearly almost like the moonlight that streaked in through the window panes.

I sensed a movement and a tiny form came closer, one hand rubbing his eyes and the other holding up his slipping pajamas at the side. He looked at me with limpid eyes full of clear intelligence and curiosity that only a child has. It was Abhimanyu the youngest male member of the family all of four years. His eyes had questions and I understood all of them. In the dark I could sense Ramesh Natekar’s eyes also on the kid though he did not move. His eyes moved on from the boy to me and he smiled. The kid’s eyes held questions. His eyes challenged me “Who exactly are you, why do you come to our house and what do you do otherwise?” I sensing Ramesh Natekar’s eyes on me looked at him and he was looking at me with an amused expression that said “Try answering him; now you shall know what we go through the rest of the year.”  None of us had spoken but there was a clear communication channel that had been established. Each one of us understood the other without uttering a sound. It was divine…I laughed at my own choice of expression. I looked at Ramesh Natekar and conveyed that I will answer the kid’s questions for sure but for you I have some some questions to ask. Will you hear me out? He slowly closed his lids once and opened them back thus sealing our agreement.

Little Abhimanyu eagerly looked at me now and I communicated to him “OK”. He took both of his hands behind his ears mimicking an action that said I am all ears and then his eyes fell on my belly and he smiled with such a glee that it reached out to me in waves.

Some answers & a few questions too:

I gazed down at my tummy and realized that it too had grown in size. The colour of my clothing had also changed for the brighter however the cut and fashion was exactly as it was from fifty six years back. I was a size three now in lieu of the size one I had been when I first was welcomed here. My name? Well… I have several but am addressed commonly as Ganesha, Ganpati , Vinayaka, Vignaharata etc. Fondly though everyone calls me Bappa and greet me with their hands folded and say “Morya”.

The fourth day of the Hindu month of Bhadrapada is when I am welcomed to all houses and am a resident for a period that varies between 1.5 days to 11 days. Your Grandfather has been getting me here on behalf of the entire Natekar family and I honor his invitation for a 1.5 day stay.

In this period I have to divide my time and soul amongst the millions of people who are my devotees. Well, if you don’t understand devotees it’s like fans or followers. Just suppose that had I been on the current craze called face book, you may have been on my friends list. But I would have a problem here because they limit the friends list to just 5000 & in the last count ( 32 seconds ago ) I had many ( 1.4 billion, 3 million , 553 thousand and 72 followers) more followers than this or any current platform could possibly handle.

Statistics aside, am blessed with the love, affection, fear and hope of a large section of the human race. Someone wise had said that “with great power comes great responsibility”. It is my job to ensure that this race retains its faith in the creative good and bonds itself for the better. But that’s the larger perspective in my reflection. Your home then becomes my seasonal home like a time share at a holiday resort. I have permanent non-seasonal homes too (temples as you mortals call them). Some of them (Eight are very highly popular and had there been a ranking system like you guys have for the leading hotels of the world; Ashta Vinayaka) have become tourist attractions by themselves. People visit them, some more than others thinking that those are my favorite abodes. There I am a host unlike here when I am the guest. You can’t even imagine how painful that can be; the pain of having to receive so many people & being polite all the time. While the guests only come with more expectation than faith. Some even come to proposition a trade for my blessings. Good Health, Prosperity top the list of asks. There is no rest when I am home so basically the eleven days that I get to go into people’s home to enjoy their hospitality is a lot easier as the nights are peaceful, even if the night reverberates with gentle and not so gentle snores like now.

I am a god of plenty and people have dissected me even into pseudo management principles thereby almost making me into a corporate icon. Stating that large ears means listen more, sharp eyes mean focus, long nose for smelling out things….give me a break. What would you do when you are saddled with an elephant head? Do people even realize my difficulty? It is said that my mom Parvati made me and I didn’t have an elephant head then. I had a fight with my dad. My mother was changing and kept me outside to guard the room. It was then my Dad walked over and wanted to enter. I didn’t allow it and he got angry with me. On his high handedness even I got angry and I told him I was not allowed to let him enter. We fought and “I literally lost my head”, it was then my dad realized what he had done and in a fit of haste asked his assistants to go and fetch the first head of the animal who walked across their path. An elephant walked across and they grafted his head on me. Imagine Abhimanyu I was as small as you and they put an elephants head on my body. The weight of head made the belly come out. Now I eat like an elephant too. But do they give me any variety in food…no. Somebody somewhere decided that I loved Modak’s ( steamed momo’s with sweet grated coconut filling ) and nothing else. Would you like it? Abhimanyu shook his head from left to right quite vehemently.
How would you feel when you see pangats (batches) after pangats of people sit before you and eat a rich variety of food served on a banana leaf and all that you are given are 21 modaks. So what if I am a god is so much sugar good for me?

Then when I feel like asking for something else in the morning a Brahmin comes and with express speed hurls Sanskrit mantras at me. Why doesn’t anyone speak to me in Marathi or English or their mother tongues ? I would actually prefer that. Sanskrit is a dead language now. The host who sits for the puja knows even lesser of the mantras than the priest who is muttering them with one eye on the donation thali and the other on his watch. He is rushing through skipping a line here and there because he has to go to 12 different houses today. Now by the time I am hungry all I am done is drowned under flowers and people come and donate more grass twigs, leaves and flowers, look this also attracts flies. Then there is the aarti or the prayer where all the family gathers to loudly yell it in my ears. For god’s sake…yes I too have senior gods in the pantheon, I can invoke their names too, and why do you yell your prayers so loudly is my query? You have invited me home and I am here, not far away in the heavens. Should you be soft it would be good on my ears. They are anyway so big that they can pick up the sounds from far far away. Mrs. Natekar senior now look at her, she is in so much of a hurry to wrap up this session that she is stifling the others. It’s the same with everything she does, your granny, Abhimanyu. "Get it over with quickly"Natekar should have been her name, hey what is the big hurry? Do it softly, do it slowly let everyone participate. Just because she is loudest and senior most in age, the other members don’t vocally object but quite frankly the rest of the family does want to do things differently now.

And you Ramesh saheb, do you think I should file a RTI for some of the questions that have baffled even me. Ramesh Patankar’s eyes sparkled with curiosity and hence I elaborated. I am not getting into the age old philosophical argument of did god make man or man make god. Now that we are here, the two of us the old argument can be set aside, my queries are

  • You guys wear some zany clothes, why don’t you guys have me in something comfortable for a change. Is there a law against it, a god wanting a change of clothes?
  • If you guys like me so much and have me over why do you dance with abandon when you see me off? Is that truly polite?
  • When did the practice of dancing drunk before my procession commence? and why to truly rambunctious songs. Some Munni somewhere became badnaam, why does it have to be my see off song? 
  • Why do you dunk me and drown me in water, look what you have done to the environment. Is there any reason specific that I have to be dunked, where is it written in the Veda’s, imagine you are invited by your daughter to stay with her for 11 days and at the end of the day she takes you into the nearest pond and drowns you, would you like it? No, that’s not the way you treat guests that you invite home or should you? Is this legal and allowable when it is done to gods?
  • As a god why I am not expected to exhibit morality? Should anybody and anyone who prays before me be the recipient of my blessings? Can't I refuse when corrupt politicians and criminals also invoke me before beginning their nefarious schemes?
  • Finally I need to eat differently and need a more balanced diet (prasad)…only modaks is a strict no no…check whether one of these new age devotees of mine like a Ms. Rujuta Divekar can design a new diet Prasad for me, then by the time i am back the next year I wouldn’t have to be seen as obese & sedentary all the time. 
So totally engrossed in passionately recounting my grouse when a characteristic snore interrupted my monologue…I looked up only to see that old Ramesh Patankar had finally fallen asleep.None of my queries had reached him. Maybe next year I shall file one before coming here, I will have Riddhi & Siddhi ( my consorts) remind me in the month of Shravan itself….let me enjoy the undisturbed solitude for now 


dotcomgirl said...

Great post! For once, a different take on all that hullabaloo over Ganesha.... I enjoy the festival and love him but cannot understand the visarjan part and the dancing for the visarjan either....

Lets hope Vinayaka gets his answers sometime.

Kau Kau goes the Crow said...

Thank you DCG...

Glad u enjoyed it, yeah he may get them if he is persistent & patient enough :-)