The Myth of King Agrasen

Genealogically, King Agrasen is believed to be the origin of the Agarwals. Though there are many versions of how the Agarwals came into being, all of them agree about King Agrasen being the root. So here’s the most popular version :

King Agrasen was a Kshatriya, or a warrior. Having indulged in a lot of warfare and shedding a lot of innocent blood, he was conducting a yagna for the welfare of his subjects. During the yagna, Goddess Lakshmi appeared from the fire. She proposed the following to King Agrasen :

1.  King Agrasen should convert from a Kshatriya (warrior) to a Vaishya (trader).

2.  King Agrasen should give up all forms of violence.

3.  All the descendants of King Agrasen should refrain from consuming food which is a result of violence (basically, non-veg stuff) and intoxicants.

In return, she promised the following :

1.  Prosperity for all the descendants

2.  Acceptance of the position of “Kul Devi” for the descendants of King Agrasen

3.  The formation of the 18 gotras of the descendants.

And so, that is how, the 18 gotras of the Agarwals were formed. That is how, Agarwals, at large, tend to be sharp businessmen and are one of the richest communities.  And that is why, generally, Agarwals tend to remain vegetarian and teetotalers.  And finally, this is why, Goddess Lakshmi is so deeply revered amongst the Agarwals.

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True Programmer???

A quick checklist:-

  1. You wear jeans, t-shirt and sneakers or floaters with socks to work, everyday.
  2. Socializing == chatting on some messenger, or FB
  3. You look at a beautiful scenic view and think “great resolution, God!”
  4. You start counting from 0
  5. When you are sleepy and forced to converse with someone, you start talking system commands.
  6. You make your decisions using “if <do this> else <do this instead>”
  7. You_use_underscore_instead_of_spaces
  8. youDontUseSpacesAtAll
  9. 256, 512, 1024 are round numbers
  10. When you read a book, you want to Ctrl-F or Ctrl-D
  11. When you type, you end your sentences with semi-colons;
  12. You google for everything .. absolutely everything
  13. You’re confused with punctuation marks when reading English text
  14. You make lists for everything, and those lists are numbered or bulleted with indented sublists
  15. You don’t read manuals for any gadget, or basically, anything. If you can’t work it out, you google up the solution
  16. You want to press Ctrl Z when you make a mistake in real life.
  17. You use == instead of =
  18. The laptop is an extension of your body
  19. You need to check your mails even when you get up in the middle of the night to go to the loo.
  20. You sleep late, and most probably wake up late.
  21. You’re nodding your head as you read this list.

Programmers reading this, feel free to add to the list ….

(Man == Woman) ? True : False;

Equality between the genders has been a long debated topic, an issue which arouses strong sentiments and opinions. People are quickly labelled “chauvinists” or “feminists” and there is hardly anyone who is “sitting on the fence” for this one topic.

So, well, something triggered off this thought. Now I am not going to say what did, but it did, and made me really think where I stand in this debate and what could be logical solution to this. And while I was thinking of all of this, I remembered this wonderful article I read in French about equality of the genders. That article summarizes perfectly, my opinion. So I am not going to translate it, but I’ll put in my stand+the article’s stand in here …

Equality for women means, the right to live. It means, the right to education. It means, the right to choose when to marry and who to marry and if at all, to marry. It means, the right to choose if and when to start a family. It means, the right to choose to work. It means, the right to financial independence – that is, to be able to spend money they have without having to account for each and every penny spent. It means, the right to say “no”. It means, the right to live alone in a big city and not have to worry about “what the society thinks”. It means, the right to be safe and secure against eve-teasing, molestation and rape. It means, the right to hang out with guy friends and not be labelled “a loose character”. It means, the right to travel alone without inviting stares and “half-whispered” comments. It means, the right to be in a foul mood and the right to give a mouthful to the guy who dared to brush past, or push, or pinch. Equality is a lot about having the rights. It is not about the choice you make, its about having the right to make the choices.

Men and women are programmed differently. They cannot be compared to one another. Right since the Stone Age, the man was in-charge of hunting animals and bringing home food while the woman was in charge of ensuring that the children and aged were taken care off, the cave maintained. With the discovery of fire, it was the woman who ensured that the food her man hunted was well cooked and tender. The man was endowed by nature, to be strong and able to earn the daily meal, and the woman, to be kind, gentle and homely. The man was never made to be at home, sweep, mop, cook, raise and look after the kids, tend to the elders. Just that way, the woman was never meant to be the bread-winner of the family.

The fact that a man can choose to be a house-husband (rare, but I have heard of a few such men) and that a woman can choose to be career oriented is equality. But the key word in the last sentence is “choose”. When you force either to do something, its not equality and its not freedom. Its bullying, plain and simple.

Darjeeling : 21-28th August 2010

Written at the Delhi Airport while waiting for Spicejet’s delayed flight to take me to Ahmedabad.

What started with a phone call from my brother – “Have you booked your tickets?” is soon going to end, probably by the time I finish writing this post.

The journey from Ahmedabad to Darjeeling was long and tiring. Started from home at 4 am, Delhi at 9am, Guwahati at 2:00pm and finally Bagdogra at 3:15pm.  But I wasn’t home yet. Met a whole ton of relatives in Siliguri before proceeding for Darjeeling at 6:30pm. I was dog tired by now, and all I wanted to do was SLEEP. But, that was not to be, as the roads were in a miserable condition.

Finally home at 9:30pm, there was no electricity. I later came to learn that there is at least 2 hours power cut each day, at any moment. The time I reached home was that moment! So, over a few tube lights running on an Invertor, I re-connected with my family for the first time in nearly 12 years. What I saw, was amazing; people had aged, kids had grown-up. A brief catching up session with dinner, with some unpacking saw the end of the day.

The next morning, I was up, all buoyed up to see Mt. Kanchenjunga. But, the clouds played spoil sport.  Infact, for the next 7 mornings, I was to curse the clouds as soon as I woke up; but what I saw as a consolidation prize, is huge masses of clouds moving around the mountains, encapsulating one town after the other. Nothing to compare with the sight of mist coming through each leaf on the trees, racing to meet you on the face before covering you with thin, damp and cold fingers.

But Sunday morning saw the call for a strike – indefinite strike in all the towns on the hills. People ran helter-skelter to stock up for the coming days. I obviously had a lot of catching up to do on the scene of the local politics, so I tried to get everyone to tell me about what was really happening. Miserable stories I heard, to be retold sometime else.

Monday was a quiet day with everyone at home. Yes, it was quiet. Spent some time with the kids, went out for walks as that was the only thing civilians were allowed to do. Rains played spoil sport. Tuesday was Rakshabandhan – a typical day with Rakhi tying and lots of goodies to eat. Again rains played spoil sport as we reached everywhere all drenched. Monday and Tuesday mornings saw me up and ready really early and walking all the way to Mahakal mandir. It’s at some height and the way to it requires walking on steep slopes. It almost seemed as if God wanted us to toil a bit before condescending to meet us! All said and done, it was worth getting up that early, bathing in the cold and walking all those steep slopes.

Fortunately, Wednesday onwards, the strike was called off. Now I got to see some of the real Darjeeling. So, we started with getting stuff from the family shop, going to the HMI and zoo. A relatively quiet afternoon at home, and soon a cousin came up to take me shopping. There is such a variety in Darjeeling, that I just sort of retreated in my shell and could not decide what to buy and what not to buy!! The shopping spree ended with a cup of wonderful wonderful coffee at Keventers. Nobody makes it like them, never did and I doubt, if ever will.

Thursday was for botanical gardens where I had a small fall thanks to all the moss and lichen growing on every exposed surface. The botanical garden in Darjeeling is really peaceful and serene. The mist all around made it even better. The only grouse I have against it is that it was not very well maintained. The orchid house was just a collection of host plants in pots and nothing more.  Only a handful of host plants had orchids growing. The walkways were slippery and the gardens quite dirty. The fallen leaves could have been picked up and the pond cleaned a bit. And oh, maybe they could publicize the garden a bit – hardly anybody knows that such a beautiful garden exists in Darjeeling.

Friday morning was spent with my sisters-in-law. We walked around to another garden – popularly called “Shrubbery”. We had coffee at Keventers and then walked to the garden – this one too was quite in a mess – apparently they had just opened after a week of strike and rains. The walk to the Shrubbery was great with awesome views.  Lunch at cousins’ followed by some rounds of Housie. Dinner time saw me struggling – with spaghetti and macaroni to serve 10 and then, post dinner, saw me struggling with all my belonging – it was a mammoth task to stuff it all in 2 suitcases.

Saturday morning, drive down to Siliguri was great. Lush green mountain sides, gurgling small “stream-falls” and mist all around. And then the waits at airports….

The Frustrated Cycle

The universal law of energy – “Energy is neither destroyed, nor created; it is merely transformed from one form to another”.

This could actually apply to a whole lot of things (with a few minor tweaks, if necessary), for example – Frustration. “Frustration is neither destroyed, nor created. It is merely transferred from one person to another”. Consider the classic example of a stereotyped boss in a white shirt, some miserable tie, a pot belly, balding head and a naggy wife. Boss screams at Junior, coz his wife served him burnt toasts for breakfast in the morning, coz the maid didnt turn up for work, coz the maid was beaten by her hubby at night, coz the hubby had been yelled at by Junior’s wife, coz she had had a tiff with Junior, coz Junior had been yelled at by Boss as his shirt had an imaginary stain. You see, frustration levels at each stage remain the same. The expression is, at the most basic level, the same. Its only that the receiver becomes the sender when we move from one link to another.

But the interesting thing to this law is that, like most laws of physics, it has an exception. Normally, at any stage of frustration, one chooses to redirect it, without any effort, to another sink (erm, sorry, victim). But in the exception, one can put in some efforts and transform that frustration into something constructive. The amount of effort required is directly proportional to amount of frustration and inversely proportional to the amount of self restraint we are able to exercise on ourselves. So basically, the hen-pecked Boss could have invited Junior to a table tennis match. And both junior and hen-pecked boss would have worked out their frustrations in trying to beat each other in the match, and burnt a few calories in the process. And then the cycle would end there.

We don’t know how much of frustration is coming our way when we wake up in the morning. The best way to handle it is to chalk out an appropriate chunk of the day doing something we love doing, irrespective of the amount of frustration we are to receive. Its a win-win situation; if you are frustrated, you work it out and if you are not, you have a good time.

[ PS – Its really worked for me in the last two weeks …. ]

Don’t Take Life Very Seriously

Recently, Chetan Bhagat (this dude needs no introduction – he’s always in the news, irrespective of the good or bad, he’s there), gave a very touching speech. Here’s a small extract from it …

Don’t just have career or academic goals. Set goals to give you a balanced, successful life.

I use the word balanced before successful, Balanced means ensuring your health, relationships, mental peace are all in good order.

There is no point of getting a promotion on the day of your break-up.
There is no fun in driving a car if your back hurts.
Shopping is not enjoyable if your mind is full of tensions.
“Life is one of those races in nursery school where you have to run with a marble in a spoon kept in your mouth.
If the marble falls, there is no point coming first.. Same is with life where health and relationships are the marble.

Your striving is only worth it if there is harmony in your life. Else, you may achieve the success, but this spark, this feeling of being excited and alive, will start to die.

One thing about nurturing the spark – don’t take life seriously.
Life is not meant to be taken seriously, as we are really temporary here.
We are like a prepaid card with limited validity. If we are lucky, we may last another 50 years. And 50 years is just 2,500 weekends. Do we really need to get so worked up?

It’s ok, bunk a few classes, scoring low in couple of papers, goof up a few interviews, take leave from work, fall in love, little fights with your spouse. We are people, not programmed devices.

“Don’t be serious, be sincere.”

God gave me nothing i wanted, But he gives me everything I need.

Be Happy . ENJOY THIS BLESSING CALLED LIFE…

…..

How many of us actually follow what he said? How many of us are willing to compromise on the career front to be able to enjoy a better family life? And finally, how many of us agree, that though this sounds good in principle, it is very difficult to follow such a path and prioritize “balanced” over “successful”? ???

I personally liked the part where he compares life to a prepaid validity card. Life is really that short.. Infact most electronic gadgets we own today, are designed and manufactured to last longer than us!! And the calculation that we have just another 2500 odd weekends left, really scared me. Gosh! Thats too little… I already have a list of “to do”s and “must do”s and “want to do”s which would take up a lot more than the 2500 odd weekends …

Well, so after reading extract of the speech, I resolve to take life a little easy… Maybe spend some more time with my family and friends … Maybe call people a little more often (friends reading this must already be nodding their heads and saying  “another resolution.. lets see when she gets around to actually calling”)… Maybe spend some more time curled up in bed, reading a book (now I see my mom nodding her head and saying “I’d rather you did x, y, z work for me”) …  Maybe spend a few more moments of fun and frolic with my colleagues (and now I can see my colleagues saying “she’s anyway always laughing .. and now some more !” and my boss saying “I’d rather you work a bit more ….”)…

Well jokes apart, I will definitely enjoy life a lot more from now onwards .. This little extract also reminded me of a one-liner witty comment “Dont take life so seriously, you don’t come out of it alive, anyway”…. And yes, I have started living upto my resolutions by actually posting on the blog after a good 6 weeks (during which, I did take life a bit too seriously!!)…

As I Walk Through Life, I’ve Learnt …

The following is a small poetry of sorts, I encountered on the net.

As I Walk Through Life ….
I’ve learnt-
that you can do something in an instant that will give you heartache for life.

I’ve learnt-
that you should always leave loved ones with loving words. It may be the last time you see them.

I’ve learnt-
that you can keep going long after you think you can’t.

I’ve learnt-
that we are responsible for what we do, no matter how we feel.

I’ve learnt-
that either you control your attitude or it controls you.

I’ve learnt-
that money is a lousy way of keeping score.

I’ve learnt-
that my best friend and I can do anything or nothing and have the best time.

I’ve learnt-
that sometimes when I’m angry I have the right to be so, but that doesn’t give me the right to be cruel.

I’ve learnt-
that just because someone doesn’t love you the way you want them to doesn’t mean they don’t love you with all they have.

I’ve learnt-
that no matter how good a friend is, they’re going to hurt you every once in a while and you must forgive them for that.

I’ve learnt-
that it isn’t always enough to be forgiven by others, Sometimes you have to learn to forgive yourself.

I’ve learnt-
that just because two people argue, it doesn’t mean they don’t love each other.

I’ve learnt-
that two people can look at the exact same thing and see something totally different.

I quite agree with the “I’ve learnt” except for the very first one. There can be some very moments when we do something really very stupid and stand to regret it for the rest of our lives. But, there is also something like going back and apologizing for the action. There can be no explanation, but there can always be a heartfelt “sorry”. The heartache does stay forever, but there was at least an honest attempt to set it right. Things could take a turn for the better, you never know!

A special mention to the person from whom I have copied this. (I will thank in person when I meet you).

The most important women in my life

Its Women’s Day and hence, its time to appreciate all the beautiful women in my life, who are primarily responsible for who I am today. There are many such ladies, but I’d like to thank the 3 most important women in my life…

First, my mom. Yea, this is no surprise…. She’s the one who got me in this world and she’s the one who’s played a major role in sculpting my character. She’s the one who is primarily responsible for the principles I follow and for the person that I am. We look quite alike, and when people say we look like xerox copies, I love to reply back saying “Yea, I know I’ll look gorgeous even when I am in the wrong side of 40”. Words can really not describe what she means to me and and the more I try to put it in words, the more I’ll end up making a mess of it all ….

The second, my maternal Grandmom. She’s one strong lady and made sure all her grand-daughters became just as strong. Her philosophy for any woman “be able to earn and fend for yourself, but, don’t ever neglect your family” is very deeply ingrained in me. It is responsible for making me so conscious of my career, and yet, it has kept me so very detached from it. It has ensured that I know more than one skill to earn a livelihood, and yet, it never let me deviate from following my dreams. And most importantly, she made me realize that I have an identity which is not associated with my family name, but which is associated with the person that I am. Nani, I know I haven’t been able to spend a lot of time with you of late, but that in no way means that I don’t love you any less.

Finally, the person I consider my spiritual guru. I was pushed (literally blackmailed) to meet her by her son (who is a good friend of mine) at a time when I was going through what people of my age call “quarter life crisis”. I never regretted that “push”. She’s helped me grow spiritually;  taught me the “never-say-die attitude”; taught me to give it my best shot, even if I knew I was fighting a losing battle and finally to be detached from failure and to look at it very objectively and then to move on. She’s someone I consider my second mother (sorry future-mom-in-law, you’ll be the third mother in my life) and someone who introduces me to her family and friends as “We got to know Aditi through our son, but now, she’s our daughter since we dont have any”. Everytime she says that, I send a small prayer of thanks to God for sending her in my life. Everyone has one mother who shapes him/her, I have two 😀 (I cant help gloating … Excuse me)

Apart from these 3 women, a lot of others have made me what I am. They are my aunts, my cousin sisters, my nieces, my close friends, friends, acquaintances, family friends ….. Each one of them is unique in their own, each one of them has taught me something and each one of them is very special to me. Here’s wishing all of them “Happy Women’s Day”…

Yes, there is some hope :-)

Indians, as a community, are known for their thirst for a son. Irrespective of the religion, every couple is pushed to keep making babies, till they do not succeed in making a boy baby. If a couple already has a son, they are pushed to “try” for another one. Its this greed for an heir, someone to carry on the family name and genes (well, genes can be carried on by the girls as well) that we have so many cases of sex determination and subsequent abortion of a female foetus. If the girl child is born, then there is an evil called infanticide. If the girl survives this, then she faces discrimination – her brother is given more opportunities than she is; in most families, the girls dont get to go to school, are expected to help their mothers in the kitchen and house work, etc .. (no wonder girls are actually considered more of a survivor than boys !)

Anyway, I dont intent this post to be another of those “save-the-girl-child” posts. Something happened today, which just warmed the cockles of my heart and set right a not-so-good week. So, I was at this place, talking to the cafeteria in-charges – two ladies, sisters, who have known me for the past 10 years or so. They follow Islam, are really very sweet and homely (the elder sister is very motherly). They come from a large lower-middle class family of 6 sisters and 3 brothers. Both chose not to marry, but love talking about their brothers, bhabhis and their nieces and nephew. Today, they were telling me about how they pushed each of their brother-bhabhi and child family to go “hang out” on Valentine’s day (I was trying to make them tell me, how they spent the day and who got them gifts :-)). So then the talk steered towards the nieces, and then they told me that their brothers do not want more children. I was a bit surprised, and played along a bit by asking them, wont the elders of the family want boys? The answer I got was “its better to have one girl child, educate her well, so that she has a better life than us. Fortunately, the two nieces are pretty and sharp. We hope they study well, become financially independent and marry well. Trying till we dont have boy children, will just increase the head count, thinly spread the resources we can afford on each child.”

I was really very happy… honestly. People from that strata of the society have learnt and understood not to discriminate between the girl and boy child, and that a girl is just as capable as a boy.  I just hope this is a global phenomenon and this was not just an isolated case. If people do start accepting this fact, believing in birth control and equality of sexes, India can infact, soon, tick off one “to-do” from its long long list of social/societal objectives.