Friday, October 23, 2009

EAST AND WEST - WILL THE TWAIN EVER MEET??

East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet - Rudyard Kipling. From his poem......“The Ballad of East and West"

Having lived most of my life (about 49 years) in India, and part of it (about 7 years) in North America, I am always fascinated about the way things are done in this part of the world. They are done differently for sure, and I always try to find the reason "Why". The answer always eludes me but I keep trying. Here is one such attempt.

I take off from Bangalore at 02:10 am on 25th September and land in Toronto at 13:30 hours on 25th September itself, after a nearly 24 hour flight. How? Time zone, earth's rotation etc. Pretty logical and rational. However, what has always caught my fancy is that when the sun rises in India, it is setting here. When it is day in India, it is night here and the other way around. Why? Rationally the same answers again but why was it thus designed by the Designer?

My faith tells me that this world was designed by God, in play, to enjoy the sight of many, from one. It also tells me that this external world is all 'maaya' - illusion, brought to life by our five senses and ego, besides other factors. Everything exists within us, and the external world is just a trigger for us to reach inside, and evolve, I am told. Is this true? If that be so, then what could be the reason for this difference in the times of day in this same world - is this a trigger for us to understand that these two worlds are designed in the opposite moulds for us to experience both, and then grow or evolve within, learning from both.

Two things that always fascinate me about the East and the West, at the macro level, are human relations and man-made systems. Taking human relations first...

I believe, in India, society is supreme and the individual has to conform - this translates to the fact that the human relations and interactions are non-negotiable - there is a 'maryada' about each relationship, which cannot be crossed in the normal course. A parent's word is final, in most cases, and the offsprings generally donot go against it, in a majority of the cases. Manifestations of this are seen in every sphere - be it marriage, choice of career, or in the choice of friends, school, college, etc. It is believed that the parent knows what is best for the individual and society, and a parent always acts in the best interest of the offspring and the society.

In the West, the individual is supreme and the society evolves around the individual. Even at a very young age, the individual is allowed to exercise their choice - starting with the TV channel to watch; of course, within certain man-made rules. The first time I witnessed this was when I went to my brother's house in New Jersey in 1989. They were four members and there were four types of breakfast cereals. Each one took his own type and we had four different types on the same table. I was also required to make my choice - "any is good enough", was not considered good enough. I was dumbfounded - coming from India - breakfast at home, was what was cooked, or served, and one ate that - what was the choice. Yes, one day breakfast could be of my choice and next day it could be my brother's/ sister's choice and so on.

As the individual keeps growing this sphere of exercise of individual choice keeps expanding and human relations become totally negotiable between parent and child and between each human and the others around. It is fascinating to watch these interactions. Some of them would be considered absolutely blasphemous in the Eastern part of the world. I thus find most humans here are ready to discuss and negotiate, whereas in India, most humans argue, as we have not learnt the art of negotiation from early on.

What is right or wrong? Do you believe one is better than the other - the system followed in the East or in the West?

Coming to man-made systems....

In India, these are always negotiable - be it jumping the redlight at a busy intersection or not forming a queue, when it is most desirable or bribing someone to circumvent the system or not wanting to wait one's turn.

In the West, these systems are absolutely non-negotiable. You stop at the STOP sign, even at midnight, even though you are the only car on the roads; you form queues wherever there are more than one person waiting for the same service, etc. This has a large number of advantages for common people. Are there any disadvantages? Maybe. What do you think?

There are many more such facts that I have witnessed. I wonder - is this by design? We all have similar mental faculties, of course layered by cultures and way of doing things. Dr. Brian Weiss's book, based on his scientific practice, "Only love is real" tells me that I could have lived in the East in one birth and maybe born in the West in the next birth. Is this God's way of ensuring my continued evolution to perfection? Can the East and West ever become one? EVER? or would that negate God's design?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

CROWD PARTICIPATION....REALLY EXCITING!!!!

I had seen this video of the enactment of the song "Doe a deer.." on a platform in Belgium at this blog. I had enjoyed the video for its originality. It gave me great pleasure to watch.

I was narrating this to my son-in-law, who happens to be in the visual media field and he told me about another one performed in the streets of downtown Chicago. Watching this was a very exhilarating experience. Here's what happened....



I do hope some one can get something of this kind performed in one of our cities in India. Ordinary people's participation, alongwith paid performers, gives it a totally different feel.It can really lift people's spirits.