Friday, November 11, 2016 0 comments

Moist eyes staring at Gandhi

He was there with rough hands & yearning eyes, trying to get into the bank. As the sun and sweat spoke through him, the security guard did not find him worthy enough to enter an air conditioned multinational bank which was the hot spot for the day. He had a lone 500 rupee note in his hand, a legally worthless piece of paper some said, tightly held as a prized possession. He seemed edgy, almost lost. He mildly begged the guard to let him in, asking for alternatives simultaneously before narrating his story - A daily wage laborer, he was given the note as payment for today and an advance for the next four days. What seemed like an indecipherable gracious act to begin with, was understood as a practical play by his contractor who did not have a 100 rupee note for his today's wage. He was unaware of the black money surgical strike saga until he was laughably denied change at the groceries. Some educated well dressed men, he said, at the expense of their precious time with cigarettes, guided him through the story and to the closest bank where he would find tenderable change. He needs help, he gasped, "please", nearly reaching his hands lower - "how will I go home, how will we eat tonight?". The guard loosened his stiff stance, placing his hand on the non-existent protagonist's shoulder - "I am sorry brother, we were instructed to allow entry only till 5 PM, and there's a long queue inside… I am afraid I can't let you in"… He looked at that note, horrified, enraged, defeated, his moist eyes staring at the smiling face of Mahatma Gandhi on the note, who quoted 'Nobody can hurt me without my permission' …

If you have a credit card and can manage without change for a couple of days, please don't rush to the bank & ATM … Some people's survival depends on it, don't take away their spot … 

© Abhishek 'Banjara' Pandurangi


Tuesday, November 8, 2016 0 comments

The Curious Guy - 500 & 1000 notes flying out

Saturday, October 22, 2016 0 comments

A letter from an Army Officer's son to the Angry Patriotic Indian about Martyrs, Pakistani Artists & Patriotism


Dear Angry Patriotic Indian,

At the onset, I must extend my admiration and respect to you. Over the years, and more particularly in the last few days (after the unfortunate Uri Attack, the much celebrated Surgical Strikes and the Karan Johar-Fawad Khan-Raj Thackeray controversy), you have strongly and openly stood in the support of our nation's soldier, and have tried to fulfill your patriotic calling by sharing, blogging, posting and debating about how Pakistanis have wronged us, and that we must once and for all say 'enough is enough' and be done with them, their artists, their cricketers, their diplomats and stop indulging them with dialogue. While I am tempted to stand and salute you for your thoughts and shout at the top of my voice "Bharat Mata ki Jai", I won’t, because the virtue of reason and logic within me suggests that your sentiments are misplaced and your suggestions are if not grossly wrong, futile at the least.

Before I try and explain, may I make a suggestion of my own first to test whether you truly stand with our martyrs and believe that it is because of their unaccountable sacrifice that you and I can sleep peacefully at night. Below are a few links through which one can provide support to the martyrs' families.

May I request you to make a donation of at least 1% of your previous month's salary to one of the above, or any other that you find, and then follow it up with your vocal support to their families, not on Facebook, Twitter, blogs and Newshour, but in person - find out any one Martyr family in or around your city - through a letter, a personal visit with a thank you gift, an invitation to your society's/ organization's next function as a chief guest, or the like.

While I'd love to be proven wrong, something tells me that most would give it a pass. But I won't judge you - I understand - because like most Indians, while you believe you are patriotic, you are not. As a dictionary would attest, patriotism is love for your country, its people and willingness to sacrifice for them. Patriotism is paying taxes and being happy about it; Patriotism is following traffic discipline and not overtake from the left; Patriotism is not lighting a Laxmi bomb or a louder one near a hospital or an old age home; Patriotism is not breaking queues; Patriotism is housing societies let out to Non vegetarians, Muslims, Bachelors and unmarried couple in a secular and free country; Patriotism is stepping back and finding more of these things and then doing them. And yet somehow, I find everyone thinks patriotism is this big race event with cheers & flags & songs, ignorant that they are trampling over these intrinsic attributes actually defining patriotism.

"This guy is a loud mouth, self righteous left wing idealist - ", you must opine, "- if I am not patriotic how come I feel such rage when I see Martyrs die and when attacks take place? to the extent that in '99, I was ready to go to the Kargil and fight myself if I was given the chance." You may be right, but I think I have a theory for that too. Now see that is how violence works against a common person - it instills fear and insecurity as it slowly and spirally affects various aspects of your life. And as it grows, it breeds repression, slowly turning into anger and hatred emboldening you to take the gun, if you have to, and destroy the gun bearer, not just simply, but by making them go through the same pain and helplessness. If you have any resonance with that feeling, I want you to understand that the same logic works with the terrorists and Naxals with the only one difference - someone gave them the gun.      

Now let me come to the issue of boycotting Pakistani artists and cricketers. To my mind it is as stupid, laughable and counter-productive as rickshaw drivers going on strike to protest against Ola & Uber cabs - those are the most profitable days for the cabbies in terms of money and app downloads, shifting more and more travelers to stop using rickshaws even for short distances. If you have ever paused to understand the terrorism industry breeding in and around Pakistan, you will realise that they strongly use cultural disengagement and isolation among the recruits, to paint the picture of India as a self serving, tyrannical and Hindu biased regime to instill profound anger and hatred. Now that may be wrong you say, but the notion works nevertheless for very effective brainwash. With cultural disengagement not only this notion is further validated, it takes away the opportunity to detoxify minds in remotest of lanes in Kashmir & POK which may not have access to books and town halls but do watch movies and sports - which may choose a bat or a camera instead of a gun dismissing narrow ideologies after noticing Fawad Khan win a filmfare, or Wasim Akram as the Indian coach, and may want to train in movie making instead of bomb making. What better way to kill the Terrorism Industry then to redirect their employees? For those who assert that boycotting Pakistani actors may pressurize their Government to take strong action against terrorists, I ask the Alice to come out of wonderland and realize the Indian Hierarchy - Government > Military > Intelligence - does not work in Pakistan.   

Let me submit, that by no means I stand and say that Pakistan as a political state is not to be held liable for the tacit support to terrorist outfits, for which there are examples and references aplenty. But that is a political issue and it merits a political solution for which might I endorse surgical strikes as a meaningful and exemplary approach. Although, I am not sure if it was a wise move by the government to broadcast the covert operation and then later keep on justifying its happenings, but maybe they did the right thing as people need to feel assured I guess. Having said that, a conflict with Pakistan does not mean conflict with Pakistanis, as much as Cauvery dispute did not turn Tamilians and Kannads against each other or their artists.  There are many Pakistanis who are infact in genuine fight against terrorism and oppressive regimes, Malala for one, because believe it or not they suffer a lot at the hands of terrorism too. The solution to terrorism shall only be less distant if the fight against terrorism in India and Pakistan is unified to catch the terrorists groundless, which we do not let happen because we create a parallel fight, that amongst us, falling prey to Divide & Rule yet again. I therefore humbly opine that fruit of solution in this issue may look like a solid spherical orange, but unless you peel the outer-cover, separate the slices, remove the white threads and manage the seeds, you can't have the fruit properly, let alone enjoy it. 

I close my note by reaching out to the angry patriotic Indian and suggesting - Don't be angry at anyone, just:
tangibly thank the Indian soldier and their families for the unfathomable hardships & sacrifice;
embrace the Pakistani citizen, for being the you in Pakistan, equally fearing terror and waiting for peace, even if our countries are in a conflict;
respect the Pakistani soldier, for selflessly serving his country as a part of his duty;
empathize with the terrorist who is most likely axed by poverty to take up arms for money, or has gone through some unfair and extreme loss harnessed by brainwash;
understand Media & Politicians for doing what they do because cheap sells; and
be a patriot and find ways to make India & inturn the world better by what little CONSTRUCTIVE YOU CAN DO .

- Abhishek 'Banjara' Pandurangi
I am no political expert. But I did grow up seeing my Dad wear the green uniform day in day out. He did serve in Jammu and Kashmir for years during which time I had been to Uri with him, at the edge of LOC, feeling a butterfly in my stomach wondering if there's a bullet heading our way, as happened on 18 Sep 2016. I've seen my Mom freeze when the phone rang during the Kargil war while my emotions became almost numb scraped by daily news on TV. Today, I do feel fortunate my Dad is with me, for a drink or a talk or a hug whenever I want, while painfully realizing that some military kids no longer do. Brave soldiers want to serve the nation, but their kids want a little more, so that their serving Dad/Mom stick around long enough - peace for the nation - and where there is anger, there can be no peace.