Diwali blog 1Diwali, the Festival of Lights, is here.

And India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and people from those countries living in other parts of the globe are celebrating it with food, festivities and fun.

And firecrackers. Firecrackers are a huge part of Diwali celebration.

The little-noisy crackers they call patka. And the big, very noisy crackers, like chocolate bombs and bottle bombs and the two-repeat and three-repeat bombs, driving people crazy. Noise pollution at this time takes on an unimaginable level.

And the beautiful, noiseless fireworks, like the flower glitters or phul jhuri, colored torches or rang mashal, floor spinners or charki, and fire fountains or tubri. The blue-green-red-n-yellow, fun match sticks made especially for this occasion. The earthen lamps and candles lightening up each porch, terrace and verandah. The spring-up, black snakes or saap baji. The rockets. You name it. The underground, illegal varieties too.

Phul Jhuri

Phul Jhuri

And then, expert artisans make all kinds of incredible fireworks to lit up the dark, new-moon, autumn skies. Some go way up in the sky, and then make shapes of famous leaders and celebrities. Gandhi, Tagore, Modi, Shah Rukh Khan :-)

But behind all this explosive happiness and gaiety, very few remember the poor workers who make these little and big fireworks and crackers that the affluent and middle-class families and children play with on Diwali. Most of them do not know or care about the fact that a vast majority of these behind-the-scene workers are hapless, poor children who can’t go to school or get enough to eat. Most of those celebrating the Festival of Lights do not remember that for these poor child workers and their families, there is hardly any festivals and any lights.

Diwali blog 2In fact, these children cannot afford to pay for the high prices for those firecrackers. If anything, they pay for them with their own lives. They die a slow but sure death because of the extremely toxic environment they work in, and the often-carcinogenic chemicals they use. And often in India, fireworks factories explode because of unlawful chemicals wrongly used, killing scores of these child laborers. It has now become a commonplace tragedy, happening every year in India, over a few weeks before Diwali.

Nobody really pays any attention. The fun show must go on.

This Diwali, even though I’m all for celebrating it, inviting everyone from every religion and non-religion to be a part of it, I’m also inviting you to remember this untold, dark side of the festival. Think about how you can improve their lives. Think about how we can find an alternative, healthy life for these children and their families so that they don’t have to die working with poisons. Can we send them to schools they deserve? Can we find them money to eat a good lunch and dinner?

It’s easy to say, “Ban Child Labor!” That is the cry the affluent, bleeding-heart liberal cry. But then what? If not an economic way out for them, what other choice do they have?

Diwali is not, and cannot be the Festival of Lights, unless we bring light to illuminate this deep darkness.

Wake up to this reality.

###

Diwali blog 3

Theft 1EVERYTHING I wrote in this blog: about the massive corruption in India, police inaction, mob lynching, violence on women, lawyer and government office dishonesty and all, I wrote from my personal experiences, and not on the basis of newspaper or TV reports or hearsay. It does not mean India is full of dishonest people only. How can I say such a thing? My father and my teachers are still alive. So are some friends and friends back there who could have become millionaires had they chose to be corrupt, given the powerful positions they are (or were) in. Yet, I must tell you what I have gone through in my life. That honesty and transparency are the real strengths of my writing. And I am proud of that.
________________________________________________________________

Don’t be surprised when you read this. Just know that it is all one hundred percent true.

In India, or the ancient Land of Bharat, grand, subtle theft has always been an art (centuries before they wrote Ocean’s Eleven or The Great Train Robbery).

In the famous Sanskrit play The Little Clay Cart (Mrichchhakatika), thief Sharvilaka enters merchant Charudatta’s house at night, and steals the jewels, for he wishes to buy his girl Madanika’s (a beautiful slave) freedom with the stolen jewels. One of the best plays ever written.

In the Bengali novel The Nightly In-Law (Nishikutumba), author Manoj Basu illustrates the art in an exquisite, elaborate way. He had received the prestigious, National Academy Award for the novel. Wish someone did a new movie on it.

The Clay Cart. Exquisite, sensual romance.

The Little Clay Cart. Exquisite, sensual, romance.

But that was then. What is happening in India now is not theft anymore. It is an historic level of “grand larceny” and “high-noon robbery”, in every sphere of life.

Let me give you some recent examples.

If you play “professional” cricket in India, you can make millions by underground gambling. That’s now all too well known.

But you can also make millions by bribing the international cricket board that would banish a certain, dangerous bowler just on the eve of a crucial game, and make the other team and its big-name captain win — a team bookies and corporations had put huge, huge bets on. Allegations. But no investigations.

If you are a government executive or minister, you can scrap an international trade deal on technical or legal grounds, and then after getting an incredible sum of money from the international trader, re-instate the deal quickly, overturning the ban.

Big media knows it, but avoids questions. In fact, some big-media journalists have themselves been implicated in underground deals. And we have every reason to believe that big media is bribed by national and international corporations; heck, some of them are now directly owned by big, global corporations such as Rupert Murdoch.

And then, there is all-pervasive bribery across the board: you need to bribe a government officer to get a completely legal contract validated, because without it, they have the power to sit on your files for the rest of your life.

My high-school English teacher did not get his pension for twenty years after his retirement, and only got it a few months before his death (he was lucky), perhaps because he refused to bribe anybody.

No caption needed.

No caption needed.

You need to pay back your lawyer to evict your unlawful tenant or tenant’s tenant, or they can make your life miserable, by getting kickbacks from your adversary, and working for your defeat in court.

You have one burglary at home (like the one we had during our 2007 visit), and you shall need to buy off the entire police station to even record an FIR, let alone have them do any investigation. We did not buy them off, and we did not get any justice.

Your village cousin is molested? The law enforcement and administration will molest her five times over again, physically or verbally, unless you have the money to move the case forward. Just read some of the recent incidents in West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and such Indian provinces.

And I’m not even talking about some of the more well-known cases of high-noon robbery that got exposed only because the robbers — politicians or executives — got up on the wrong side of the bed that unlucky day (or could not strike a deal on time). Nobody in the seat of power — any power — gets caught in India, or punished. Biggest robbers get court bails quickly, and eventually get a slap on the wrist, before they come back to steal again.

Mob police beating thiefSmall thieves do get caught and punished, and the Indian mob will likely beat them to death in broad daylight. I have seen a few such incidents with my own eyes, and wrote about them in my to-be-published memoir. Medium-level or high-level thieves and robbers, with any political or media connection — small or big? Forget it.

The fabled, subtle art on those Sanskrit or Bengali or Tamil acts of theft has disappeared, to be replaced in India by the largest, in-your-face industry the country has ever seen. The new prime minister has promised to cure and cleanse India of this systemic cancer, but we have heard such rhetoric from Indira Gandhi or Sonia Gandhi before.

Today, India’s supreme court has released one of the biggest, convicted robbers in history on bail. Done very quickly: no questions asked.

In this socioeconomic structure, which has not changed a bit through elections, no real cure is possible.

Just like the U.S. Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Lehman Brothers.

Same stories, different scenarios.

###

Big-name politicians. Convicted of mega corruption. Quickly released on bail.

Big-name politicians. Convicted of mega corruption. Quickly released on bail.

kids-diwali-photosA SINCERE PROPOSAL.

No, not to big politicians or big media. They are too busy, and their priorities are too different.

I am making this humble request to you: my friends, colleagues, supporters and well wishers. I propose that we all celebrate Diwali — the Festival of Lights — here in USA, the Land of Diversity. Celebrate it as a secular, social festival. I invite everyone: Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists, atheists, socialists, greens.

Light up. Lighten up. Have a party. This year, October 23 is the day. Mark your calendar.

Even though Diwali has a deep connection with Hinduism, and it always falls on the day after the auspicious Kali Puja or the worship of Goddess Kali the Demon Slayer, Diwali is now a pan-Indian festival, both in India and all over the world, wherever Indians are. And you can find us everywhere: America, Europe, Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, Zambia or Zanzibar. And people from all religions celebrate it with much fanfare. In fact, in my opinion, perhaps next to Christmas, Thanksgiving, Halloween, Eid, Kwanzaa and Yom Kippur, Diwali is a festival that many Americans are aware of.

Of course, thanks to a blanket exclusion by corporate media, even those who have heard about Diwali and know that it has something to do with India or Indians and Hindus or Hindi do not know what it is really all about. So, every time somebody asks me what is the occasion they saw fireworks over the Hudson next to Brooklyn Bridge, I take the time to explain to them that Diwali — the Festival of Lights — is an autumn festival when people all over India lighten up their houses with small or big lights, and celebrate with fireworks, followed by fabulous food and sumptuous sweets.

I then take the time to explain to them that it is a symbol for the victory of the good over evil, or for the more religious, triumph of good karma over bad karma.

Then everyone understands, and greets me, saying, “Happy Diwali.” And that makes me happy too.

:-)

Diwali fireworksNow, fireworks, followed by sweets are big in India. Here in America the so-called Land of Freedom, they have imposed so many restrictions on our lives that we don’t even know how restricted we are. We can’t blow our mandatory Hindu conch shells outside of the temples and designated schools or community halls where we’re having our celebrations. We can’t lighten up our pious, ceremonial, invocation firewood almost anywhere, let alone outside the designated areas. Fireworks, even the silent, small and beautiful ones, our children can’t play with without having special permission from the city administration. You can’t even buy fireworks in New York City for Diwali, unless you are a big business group, and have resources and connections and permissions to do it over the Hudson next to Brooklyn Bridge.

Truly, believe it or not, even for the less-religious like me, it’s mighty stifling.

But no, I’m not proposing that we be given permission to crack our fireworks anywhere we like. I’m not even proposing that we be given permission to light up our ceremonial, religious fire inside our wooden houses. I know how dangerous it can be. Just like any responsible New Yorker, I would be very reluctant to undermine the safety of me, my family, and my neighbors. We are responsible, enlightened citizens.

All I’m proposing that let us all celebrate Diwali — the Festival of Lights — in its true, secular, inclusive spirit, inviting everyone in America to be a part of it. Let us observe Diwali this year, and every year, to show our real spirit of inclusion and diversity, and make this colorful, social festival a known event in the American household.

Happy-DiwaliAnd if not for the fireworks, approved or not by the government officials, let us rejoice Diwali at least for its food and sweets part.

If Yoga can be a popular, household practice for today’s America and especially its open-minded young generation, why can’t Diwali? Both are spiritual. Both are secular and inclusive. Both celebrate life. Both inspire health and happiness.

And if you are truly worried about your health and happiness due to the plentiful of Indian food and sweets, we shall make them low-calorie for you.

Heck, we could even make them totally fat- and sugar-free.

:-)

Let’s celebrate Diwali this year.

###

Flickr 1Don’t think. Be happy.

[A new song. By Yours Truly. Long Island, New York. Saturday, October 11, 2014. Will perform at your next Halloween Party. Or, Thanksgiving.]
________

Don’t think. Be happy.
Don’t think. Be happy.
Don’t think. Be happy.

Don’t think…think…think.
Be happy…happy…happy.

Think? No! Hell!

Happy? Yeah, baby!

Happy happy happy…happy happy happy…happy happy happyyyyyyy…

[Interlude]

Happy 3They don’t want you think.
So you don’t think.
They don’t want me think.
So I don’t think.

They want you to smile.
Ya smile smile smile.
They want me to laugh.
I laugh laugh laugh.

Think? No! Hell!
Happy? Yeah, baby!

Happy happy happy…happy happy happy…happy happy happyyyyyyy…

[Interlude]

Happy 5Never mind the war.
Never mind the bomb.
Never mind the foxes
that keep ya deaf and dumb.

Never mind the tissue
cuz that’s not an issue
Never mind the milk
More power to the ilk

Never mind the gas
cuz it’s gonna pass
Never talk the prices
the temperature rises.

They want me to laugh.
I laugh laugh laugh.

Think? No! Hell!

Happy? Yeah, baby!

Happy happy happy…happy happy happy…happy happy happyyyyyyy…

[Interlude]

Happy 6The American Dream?
Why, have an ice cream
Darn it so much better
than your editor’s letter

Live it like the others
like your sisters and brothers
Never ask no questions
Never say no challenge
Never see no slum
It’ll make you mighty glum

Live it like a mall
or the cards are gonna fall

You must have no reason
wanna end up in prison?

Hell no no…
Hell no no…

Think? No! Hell!

Happy? Yeah, baby!

Happy happy happy…happy happy happy…happy happy happyyyyyyy…

[Interlude]

Happy 7Think is a crime
I’d rather chime
the patriotic song
with loud bells and gong,
“We’re the best we’re the best
the bestest of the best…”

Ding dong ding dong
Bing Bang Bong…

No questions asked
And the debate is all done
Don’t dare us no challenge
Or, we’ll send in the drone.

They want me laugh.
I laugh laugh laugh.
They want me cry.
I cry cry cry.

Think? No! Hell!
Happy? Yeah, baby!
Happy happy happy…happy happy happy…happy happy happyyyyyyy…

[End]

Village woman in Bengal decorating her simple courtyard with Alpana.

Village woman in Bengal decorating her simple courtyard with Alpana. How exquisite!

Today is Lakshmi Puja in Bengal. And in many other parts in India. An auspicious, full-moon night.

We invoke and worship Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth. But to many, she is actually the goddess who blesses us with fulfillment. And the fulfillment is not necessarily about wealth. It could be about anything you desire in your life: education, art, poetry, love, activism, movement for rights, justice, peace…

You desire something and you aspire something. And you work hard to achieve it. With your passion and hard work, Goddess Lakshmi is going to bless you with the final, divine touch, so that you can achieve it. That’s the idea. Nothing complicated.

At least, not complicated in my book. My religion is simple, sans the complexities.

Goddess Lakshmi and her companion the big white owl.

Goddess Lakshmi and her companion the big white owl.

It’s also called Kojagari Lakshmi Puja. The full moon day of Ashvin (sixth month of Bengali lunar calendar) is called Kojagari Purnima, a day when people stay up all night, observing fasts. The ceremony owes its origin to the Kojagari Purnima Vrat (hymns or slokas), dedicated to Goddess Lakshmi and Lord Indra. I’m sharing a few photos I just stole from Facebook friends. They know who they are. I forgot.

:-)

Women fast more than men do. Women invoke Lakshmi with blowing conch shells and hulu-dhwani (ululation). Unlike the Durga or Kali puja, the worship of Lakshmi is a soft, subtle one. They beat the drum and beat the metal gong with the iron hammer, maybe, but perhaps only once or twice during the actual, peak hours of the puja ceremony, when the priest invites them to do it. Then, they read folk poetry, called Lakshmi Panchali, dedicated to the goddess and her divine deeds.

In Bengal, no religious ceremony is complete without a sumptuous food. But again, unlike Durga or Kali puja, the puja offering is totally vegetarian. Hand-made flour bread called Luchi, potato curry, and sweets dominate the after-puja meals for the devotees, and onlookers.

We used to organize community pujas when we were boys playing around on Calcutta streets way back when. We would go from door to door to collect small donations from neighbors. And then, we would stay up all night to celebrate, defying our parents not to catch a late-night, autumn cold.

Oh, was it fun! Especially the food part! Slurp, slurp, slurp…

:-)

A delicious religion :-)

A delicious religion :-)

Mother Goddess destroys the demon: the demon within us.

Mother Goddess destroys the demon: the demon within us.

Not sure if anybody truly cares to know about such small experience of life, but extrovert and emotional as I am, I decide to share it with you.

This little incident this morning, on this very auspicious day of Vijaya Dashami, when Goddess Durga finally vanquished Asura the demon, it is something that resonates with me. It also makes me realize how I have changed from the inside, over the years.

On my way to work, I was filling the gas tank on my car at our neighborhood Shell station in Brooklyn. This was one of the rare days when I had to drive in to work; I normally take the New York subway and then an MTA bus. So, I’m wearing a new, blue sweater my wifey bought me on the occasion of Durga Puja. And I’m wearing a pair of dark blue pants. And I’m happily pumping gas on my car.

A white gentleman in his suit and tie pulls in, gets out of his car, and without any hesitation, asks me: “Hey, can I use your bathroom?” No, he was not being disrespectful, and his whiteness was purely coincidental. Obviously, he mistook me for a gas station attendant, with my blue, uniform-like attire. I was a little startled, and didn’t know what to say. Just within a few seconds, he realized I was not an attendant, and he said, “Oh, I’m sorry.” And that was the end of the conversation.

Why was it important? Because of the many possible layers of this brief encounter. One, I knew for the fact that this morning, I was not angry or irked or nervous, hearing his question. There was a time in my earlier years in America, when I would be definitely angry or irked or nervous: I’d consider his innocent question to be raising from subtle superiority, disrespect, or even racism. I would think: “How dare he speaks to me this way…doesn’t he know I have a Ph.D. and I teach in a college and I speak three languages and I do this and I do that … doesn’t he know I’m not someone he thinks I am?” I would think: “Just because I have a brown skin and I don’t drive a Lexus and I am not six feet tall…does that give him the right to treat me disrespectfully?”

But I have grown up. And now I realize that even though I cannot change my body color or looks or height or name or religion or economic situation, I can change myself and my philosophy of life from within. I can train myself how to be tolerant, and how not to be thin-skinned and judgmental. Bengali Indian men, and perhaps men in general, have a much thinner skin than women, who are in my opinion, much more patient, tolerant, and pragmatic about life.

Praying for strength. Inner strength.

Praying for strength. Inner strength.

And some more wisdom this morning. Through this one, little incident, I realized that I feel completely at ease with anyone considering me a part of the working-class people here in America, and for that matter, all over the world. In fact, that he thought I was a gas-pumping attendant made me happy and proud. Even gleeful.

Happy Vijaya Dashami. May Goddess Durga bless us all with strength — to conquer our inner demon.

(Now, I demand some Bengali sweets on this special day)

:-) :-)

Durga the Demon Slayer. Question is, Does Anybody Care?

Durga the Demon Slayer. Question is, Does Anybody Care?

Read it one more time. The title. Secular. Liberal. Bengali. Hindu. Goddess. Durga. America.

Does it mean anything to you? I’m especially asking my American and non-Indian friends.

Well, for that matter, I’m also asking my Indian friends. Especially the Hindu fundamentalist type.

It’s not easy to answer. It’s actually complex. But let me make it simple for you.

Yes, there is such a thing called secular and liberal Hindu. I am one. And I know of quite a few more that would fit this phrase. In fact, I know of a few million people — living in India and outside of India — that would feel proud to be called as secular and liberal Hindu.

Now, who are they? Men with three legs and one tail? Women with five ears and six fingers?

No, none of that sort. We are just like anybody else. One, thinking, objective, calm, patient, informed head on our shoulders. We do not believe that religion stands in the way of secularism and liberalism. We do not believe in order to be lifelong followers of Hinduism, or any other religion, you have to be a fanatic or fundamentalist, going to the temple frequently, and offering prayers to God or money to the priest.

We are very happy and content to belong to our religion, without getting too emotional about it, and hating-undermining other ways of life. We feel completely at ease having dinner with a Muslim, Christian, Jewish or Buddhist friend. Better yet, we do not mind going to a three-day outing with a bunch of agnostic-atheist friends.

____

Sri Chaitanya embraces Chand Kazi.

Sri Chaitanya embraces Chand Kazi.

Yet, someone like me who grew up in this secular-liberal-Hindu-ecumenical-socialist way of life, or took major pains to become one through intellectual and emotional struggles, finds it quite disturbing that in a so-called liberal and secular and diverse country like the U.S., nobody knows about Hinduism, and outside of an elite or academic group of people, nobody ever heard about Diwali or Durga or Dusserah or Dol. In fact, in my twenty-five-plus years here in America, I have NEVER seen any news coverage on some of our fascinating religious and social celebrations.

In fact, if anything, I’ve only seen and heard belittling, ridiculing and often disparaging observations about Hinduism on mainstream media. And believe me, even a non-religious man like me gets mighty irked at those observations.

One reason behind it is that U.S. media, and Western establishments in general, have created this mass-manufactured idea that “their” religions and faiths and lifestyles are superior than “ours.” There is no debate, discussion or dialogue about the true diversity of faiths. Most ordinary Americans either do not know, or do not care to know about anything outside of their Eurocentric way of life. Most do not believe anything outside of Judeo-Christianity is civilization.

Most do not know or do not care to know about history of human civilization in the first place.

The other reason behind this ignorance is that elite, academic and affluent Hindus have done practically nothing to let mainstream America know about it. They have lived a happy and content, isolated, alienated life, happy and content with their professional and personal lives, high-paid GE, IBM or Monsanto jobs, high university degrees, palatial suburban residences complete with swimming pools and Mercedes and Lexus and BMW, lush-green backyards and Ivy-League-bound children. They have decided this would be the best-safest and least-disturbance-prone life away from India. And they have decided that getting into anything political or even remotely controversial would be in their way of making more affluence and wealthy.

Yet, these are the people who could have made a big difference in their own, elite world, had they made an effort to educate and inform the American society about their history and heritage and Hinduism.

I went back and read the last paragraph. And I realized that I almost sounded like India’s Hindu fundamentalist prime minister Narendra Modi and his gang of chest-thumping, ignorant, angry men.

Didn’t I say it would be complicated to explain? Now you know what I mean.

The Fiery, Socialist Hindu Monk Who Took America by Storm.

The Fiery, Socialist Hindu Monk Who Took America by Storm.

It’s not easy. On one hand, I do want to keep my sanity and objectivity by keeping my secularism and liberalism and Bengali progressiveness and total egalitarianism. And I got it from Hinduism, Buddhism and Vaishnavism and Brahmoism and yes, socialism too. At the same time, I do not believe talking about my birthright religion in a proud way makes me one of the Modi chest-thumpers. I do not carry hate. I do not believe in hate. I am not one of them.

I am a product of Sri Chaitanya’s school of inclusion and love. I am product of Rabindranath Tagore’s liberalism. I am a product of the Bengali Language Movement and socialist political struggles that shaped my consciousness.

At the same time, I am a product of Swami Vivekananda’s proud-to-be-called-Hindu school of thought, and it does not matter to me if I am rich or penniless. My Hinduism is my proud consciousness, just like my secular-liberal Bengali identity.

Of course, it is not easy to understand. But at least, I tried to explain it to you. As simply as I could.

Now only if the American establishment and media cared to know what I was talking about.

I have doubts they would.

###

Mars and the Middle East.

Mars and the Middle East.

It’s all about Mars and the Mid-East.

A scientist friend whom I respect a lot tried to impress on me that the cosmic expedition “success” of India last week was a great one, and that I’m playing negativity on it. She also reminded me that I had no business to downplay the incredible scientific achievement India just had. Moreover, she assured me that scientists had no business with politics: they were only doing their job. ISRO in India, and NASA in USA.

I respectfully disagree. Scientists and science, detached from political and economic reality, are actually doing a disservice to us the 99%, and helping the 1% big time, knowingly or unknowingly. In my own life as a scientist, I have seen extremely bright and talented scientists with zero political knowledge or wisdom or interest to get involved in anything political. In fact, my Ph.D. advisor started disliking me when he came to know about my political activity. Precisely, the people in power (the 1%) want that: they want to cajole or exploit their hard work and innovative ideas to champion their own cause — making themselves even more powerful, with motives to stay in power and strengthen themselves, and unleash more political, economic or military violence across their world.

Same with USA and its so-called war on terror. Syria and ISIS now. Iraq and Afghanistan and Al-Qaeda before. Chile, Bangladesh. Vietnam even before that. Agent Orange. Monsanto. Remember? It’s a huge, humongous military mission that mighty American science and U.S. scientists have helped their 1% to develop and grow, beyond imagination. Do these scientists not know what weapons of mass destruction they’re manufacturing, and what costs — human and economic — they’re inflicting on us the 99%? Do they not know how many hundreds of thousands of innocent people their 1% are killing, with their invented and developed science? Do they not know how many Vietnamese mothers are still giving birth to crippled babies because Agent Orange crippled them when they were children?

India's Mars.

India’s Mars.

Do scientists and engineers and IT professionals at GE and Monsanto and Northrop Grumman and Raytheon and IBM and Boeing have any social responsibility? Do they vote? Can they vote? Are they detached from the rest of the world and its 99%, with their cozy labs and fancy instruments and crystal chemicals and fat salaries and travel allowances and famed journal articles and five-star conferences? I’ve seen a lot of them and their five-star conferences. I’ve been there.

I would not say much now. But I do want to return to this subject, and ask for your thoughts. I do not believe that the people in power — the 1%– could care less about our thoughts and our alternative priorities, away from theirs. In short, their priorities are driven by political and economic profits via political and economic violence, and ours are driven by peace, justice and equality via democracy, nonviolence and collective actions. The continuous propaganda by big media — in the U.S. and India — are required weapons of the 1%, to distract us, fool us, and make us believe that they’re doing the right thing (for us), and that we should be happy and proud about “our country.” Of course, they define what the country is: we fall for their definition.

When USA dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August of 1945, perhaps the greatest, deliberate mass murder in human history, it was possible because of the Einstein–Szilárd letter that inspired Roosevelt to start developing the bomb. Did Einstein do the right thing? Well, he was afraid Hitler might make it first. So, there was some political consciousness. But what happened because of that encouragement to FDR and Truman had changed the concept of human conscience, once and for all. Bertrand Russell worked to stop the nuclear proliferation. Did he get involved politically? You can bet he did.

USA's Mess.

USA’s Mess.

War proliferation continues. Who knows what is happening inside the iron wall the 1% have built, in USA, UK, India, China or Russia, and what they’re cooking up with help from science and scientists? In China and Russia, they say there is no democracy; so the ordinary people do not know. But in USA, UK or India — three biggest democracy drum beaters — do we know? We always know after the fact, and not before. Do we have a right know how OUR money is being spent, and do we have a right to participate in the policy- and decision-making process? If it is a democracy, then we do.

If people like us — the 99% — after informed education, analysis and careful consideration, decide that sending a spacecraft to Mars should be India’s top priority now vis-a-vis feeding milk to the malnourished or free the country’s air from carcinogenic pollution, or in case of the U.S., relentless bombing and making wars should be the topmost priority vis-a-vis rebuilding the falling-apart schools, hospitals, roads, bridges, libraries and a strong middle class, then that would be the right thing to do.

Problem is, we the 99% are force-fed with their views by their media, and we are allowed to voice our support only. Our role is only the role of cheer leaders. Dissent is repressed in China and USSR and Saudi Arabia, but excluded in USA and India. Nobody knows there was a dissent, and why there was one. Scientists who have dissent, however few and far between, are ostracized and silenced. Bertrand Russell and Noam Chomsky are not household names in the U.S.

Dissent is never heard. Only the euphoria is heard, hence. Or, a massive indifference looms large.

In my opinion, hence, hoaxes and hypocrisies flourish.

Now, if I could only impress it all back on my scientist friend. Would she care to listen?

Long Island, New York

September 26, 4 P.M.

###

Not too long ago. Agent Orange, Vietnam. Monsanto.

Not too long ago. Agent Orange, Vietnam. Monsanto.

Mother Goddess Durga with Her Four Children -- Descending on Earth.

Goddess Durga with her children — descending on earth. An annual visit to her mother.

Blog originally written for Mukti’s Kitchen, best Indian food and cooking class in Brooklyn, New York.

______________

This is the beginning of our Hindu religious and social festivity.

Of course, because nobody talks about it on the media, very few people outside our friends’ circle know about it.

But it is truly a fascinating, colorful time for us. Because all of the religious celebrations and pujas are linked with food and fun. Food fun. And fun food.

:-)

And to me, it’s more about food and fun than religion and rituals. Although, as much as I love the F’s, I don’t mind the R’s either.

:-)

Hindu religious festivals are absolutely, brightly colorful with mouth-watering food. And what’s more, because it’s directly linked with the sacred events, the food is actually even more healthy and pious than the often-extravagant and spicy Indian dishes.

And you can’t complain about good, delicious Indian food with carefully preserved health qualities, can you?

whole-mung-beansSo, here’s some examples. Early in the morning, before sunrise, priests often offer the deities (signifying special forces) with whole, un-sprouted Mung Dal beans. With just a small dash of pure honey, or perhaps cane sugar. Bliss.

Then comes the fruits. In this autumn season, when we begin to invoke Goddess Durga with ten arms and her four children — Ganesha, Kartikeya, Lakshmi and Saraswati — tropical fruits are plentiful. This is sort of the end of monsoon, but mangoes are still available. And mangoes from Bengal and India — you can’t beat that. They are heavenly.

So, mangoes. And then, black berries, sugarcane (if you can find them at this time). Guava. Grape fruit. Lichi (perhaps too late for this summer). Papaya. Bananas (with seeds). Coconuts. And then vegetables. Eggplants. Plantains. Banana flowers. Inflorescence (bunch of banana flowers in that spindle-shaped thing, as they grow on the plant). All kinds of squashes, pumpkins and gourds. Known and unknown and less-known tropical, exotic vegetables. All natural fruits and vegetables only. No GMO fruits or artificially raised vegetables allowed in front of the deities. Priests would not accept them. Puja podium

Rice, lentils with coconut, a mixed-vegetable curry with NO onions or garlic offered to the deities first, and then as prasad (Sanskrit: prasadam) to the attending devotees. Perhaps, some chutney made out of Indian plum (in Bengal, we call it kool), tomatoes, or green papaya. Try it. I am salivating even thinking about it right now.

:-)

Lord Shiva's favorite flower wild Akanda

Lord Shiva’s favorite flower wild Akanda

Evening pujas (worship) begin with offering lots and lots of fresh flowers and garlands made out of the flowers. Marigold, lotus, lilies, jasmine, garden rose, rose, tube rose, you name it. Even the wild Calotropis (Akanda) is used to offer prayers to Lord Shiva, husband of Goddess Durga. Shiva is the destroyer god, smokes opium out of a country clay pipe, lives in the Himalyays, and wears only a tiger-skin wear to cover the bottom. And he wears a garland of wild Akanda flowers. Not a very fashionable guy, really!

And compared to his absolutely magnificent, gorgeous wife and four children, Lord Shiva is not the best dinner dance date. Well, except for the eldest son Ganesha who has the head of an elephant.

Finally, the grand feast at midnight of Maha Navami (the great ninth day of the moon), the penultimate day of the four-day Durga Puja. They celebrate it with loud country drums and gongs and bells, and they chant loud prayers, and priests and married women blow conch shells, and the puja place would be filled with smokes coming out of burning coconut shells thrown with generous amounts of resins and incense. And they would celebrate it with a sacrificed goat. Cooked with NO onions or garlic. Some people jokingly call it a “vegetarian meat” dish. Ha ha!Dhunuchi

Absolutely fascinating and fun.

Come to witness the wonderful Hindu celebration, where art and food and social traditions melt beautifully with religion.

We’ll have Indian food together.

:-)

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Vegetarian Meat :-)

Vegetarian Meat :-)

I was a part of an important history today. I witnessed the People’s Climate March.

At least two hundred thousand men, women and children walked from Columbus Circle at Central Park to Javits Center on 11th Avenue, here in New York City. It was humongous. It was massive. It was incredible!

We sent a strong, strong message to politicians, corporations and the U.N. The message was: it is OUR planet. It is OUR climate. It is our environment. Do not destroy it. We are HERE to reclaim it.

They noticed. They were not happy. They shuddered to see our united strength.

It was a divine experience.

I’m posting a few of my own photos here.

We made history today.

Partha PCM 1

What a Great Moment in Human History! And I was a part of it, walking shoulder to shoulder with 200,000 of us -- the 99 percent.

What a Great Moment in Human History! And I was a part of it, walking shoulder to shoulder with 200,000 of us — the 99 percent.

Partha PCM 3 Partha PCM 4 Partha PCM 5 Partha PCM 6 Partha PCM 7 Partha PCM 8