Sunday, May 17, 2009

Don't be a Monkey

Religion! Why did man need religion? Ok... I know most of the people will pounce on me if I ask this question and will have tons of reasons to prove that religion is an important part of human existence. But is it really? More importantly what part of the religion is?

Every religion has varied symbols and rituals; but almost of them have one thing is common and that is the Human Values.

But then, why does one have to prove that Hinduism is the way of life, or Mohammad is the true teacher or Jesus is the only truth? If religion helps you in your life, good for you. But don't go to help others at the cost of discriminating someone else s religion. Learn human values first. Learn to accept people with their religion and traditions and beliefs. If someone does not perform Lord Krishna pooja that does not make him less devoted. If someone does not read Quran that does not make him less lovable. If someone does not bow to a Cross, that does not make him less human.

It often leaves me wondering how different religions were born and followed for hundreds and thousands of years. I am amazed by the way people have carried their beliefs down from generations to generations and still do. I respect all religions and have no personal prejudice that any one is lower or superior than the other. But why don't all humans accept each others religions and live in harmony?

This small story comes to mind.
Start with a cage containing five monkeys. Inside the cage, hang a banana on a string and place a set of stairs under it. Before long, a monkey will go to the stairs and start to climb towards the banana. As soon as he touches the stairs, spray all of the other monkeys with cold water.

After a while, another monkey makes an attempt with the same result, all the other monkeys are sprayed with cold water. Pretty soon, when another monkey tries to climb the stairs, the other monkeys will try to prevent it.

Now, put away the cold water. Remove one monkey from the cage and replace it with a new one. The new monkey sees the banana and wants to climb the stairs. To his surprise and horror, all of the other monkeys attack him. After another attempt and attack, he knows that if he tries to climb the stairs, he will be assaulted.

Next, remove another of the original five monkeys and replace it with a new one. The newcomer goes to the stairs and is attacked. The previous newcomer takes part in the punishment with enthusiasm! Likewise, replace a third original monkey with a new one, then a fourth, then the fifth. Every time the newest monkey takes to the stairs, he is attacked. Most of the monkeys that are beating him have no idea why they were not permitted to climb the stairs or why they are participating in the beating of the newest monkey.

After replacing all the original monkeys, none of the remaining monkeys have ever been sprayed with cold water. Nevertheless, no monkey ever again approaches the stairs to try for the banana. Why not?
Because as far as they know that's the way it's always been done around here.

Please don't be like these monkeys and follow blindly. Make correct judgments and respect and love all humans like your own.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Interesting Conversation

I was in the Sauna today, eyes closed feeling my sweat dripped down my nose. Suddenly I got distracted by two lovely ladies talking and I started enjoying their conversation.

Hey... after long time I saw you in the gym! How have you been after your knee operation?' says the younger one.
'Oh, the knee? I have that next in line. I just got my hip replaced'. Says the other. Well, I could not stop from opening my eyes.

In India I heard stories of grandmothers hurting their hips in very very old age like 75+ and after that they are bed ridden. But here I see one such grandmother... hip replaced? And she is in the gym? in a swimming costume? in the sauna?

One of the ladies was in her fifties may be and the other older, well you should guess her age. Wait till I tell the story.

Younger Lady - 'But I thought you told me about your knee?'
Older Lady - 'Yes I did. But my doctor said I need to fix my hip first' and she raises her hands making a funny face with an expression of - what can I say?
I noticed a mark near her hip, a deep long scar from her operation I knew.

Older Lady - '6 months back I had booked my flight to Germany and was to travel in couple of days. That evening I tried standing up and just could not stand. My daughter came down and took me to emergency. I was there for 1 week. The doctor was very good.'
She points to me seeing how curiously I was listening to her.

Older Lady -
'Are you an Indian? My doctor was an Indian too. She even helped me get my money back from Lufthansa. How could I travel in two days? She helped produce proofs that it was impossible for me to travel to Germany. Normally the airlines keep part of the money but they gave me everything. Everything! Tickets are very expensive you know, 800-850. Got whole amount. Right now I told the doctor, I need a break.'

Younger Lady - 'Break? From what?'

Older Lady - 'From hospitals, operations, therapies! Recently my son looked at flight tickets and they were approx 400. Half the price!' and she smiles with amazement. 'You know, whatever bad happens, has a good side to it too'

And she slowly put both her feet on the bench. From her movement it seemed that she was not very flexible. They talked about her knee for sometime. From their conversations, I could figure out that they were gym buddies; you know how you meet same people every time you go to gym and they become your friends? Wonder how I don't have any yet?

Younger Lady - 'Why don't you use a cane?'
Older Lady - 'My sister died two years back and she had two canes. My niece said that I use one and other she would keep.'

Younger Lady - 'Why didn't you take it? Are you looking to have boyfriends?' And both started laughing out load.
Older Lady - 'No! I don't need boyfriends.' She turned to me; she knew she had a new audience now and said, 'I don't have time for them.' And we all laughed.

Younger Lady - 'You will make your knee worse if you don't use it'.

Older Lady - 'You got it right on that one. The cane is in Germany. I will get it when I go next.'
Younger Lady - 'You can buy here itself.'
Older Lady - 'Then I need to buy two. One for outside and one at home. How can I use the same at home? Who will wash them every time?'

Younger Lady - 'You get those twist and turn types where you simply turn in such a way that you can use same one for home without washing.'
Older Lady - 'You got it right on that one.'

This whole conversation may sound just like any other but I was pretty amazed by the old lady who just had an operation few months back and was back to the gym. Her going to the gym itself was little shocking to me. A cultural shock more than anything. At one instance she told her age as 78. Are you kidding me?

Can I even imagine one of my 78 year old relative in her place? As you turn 60-65, people put their hands up and retire. Not just from professional work, but from everything else too. Their knees hurt, their back hurt, they can't climb stairs no longer, they can't cook no longer unless absolutely essential. They don't like to socialize; they believe their so called time for fun is up! And it is not just the old; the young feel the same too. We need maids to do the chores, we hate walking to a store, we just want to sit in front of the TV, eat, talk and relax after work. As I sat there admiring her courage and the way she took care of herself, I hoped secretly that if I live till 78, I be as active as her.

Older Lady - 'You know I traveled to Germany every year. Even two times a year sometimes. All by myself and soon I am going to plan my next visit.'
Younger Lady - 'You should ask your children to accompany you this time tough. You know, it is not the same.'
Older Lady - 'You got it right on this one. My son said, "Mother, I will take you to Germany, you cannot go alone". '

Soon, I saw her lie down on the bench enjoying the Sauna bath. I was afraid she may fall down and may hurt her hip again. May be this is our basic Indian mentality? We are cautious about everything. Sometimes over cautious.

I left for a swim and what do I see? In some time, I see the same old lady doing some aerobic exercises in the pool lane next to mine. She even started swimming for short distances; even did a couple of backstrokes.

She got it right this time! Hats off to the youngster in the old one.