Heavenly foods of India

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Source : Google photo of the Golden temple in Amritsar, India

Synopsis : I usually write about social issues so I thought what could be more social than food in India where people really go out to enjoy food in other’s company which is a great social event. India is known for its great food but only very few who have visited have learned its rich diversity in food and its very rich culinary history where various recipes from various parts of the world have been blended to create something unique to each region.

You will find  dazzling varieties of food with the local twist in each part of the great country called India , some vegetarian and others non vegetarian that will surprise you and your taste buds in a way that will make you feel that you are literally in heaven. That is why I named this blog The heavenly foods of India that will show you foods from Imphal to Chennai and Bengaluru in the south. The videos are self explanatory so do not need my comments.

I have tasted foods in many countries but none compare to the taste and quality of Indian food some of which are displayed in the following videos. It is not for nothing that India is called the country of spices but what is amazing is how they use the spices to bring out so unique taste in food that only Indians know how.

But I start the blog with not food but the visit to Amritsar Golden  temple and the Sikh religion that makes Amritsar the holiest city of their very unique religion. In the later part of the video the reporter will also show you a very unique feature of Sikh religion that welcomes anyone irrespective of their religion, caste, color, race or ethnicity to their temple and feeds everyone who so wishes all day , every day of the year. They never stop. You will see them feeding Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Jews and the Sikhs all together because they welcome all. This is a very unique feature of their faith. Other faiths have a lot to learn from them about their tolerance of other faiths.

Most people outside India do not know much about the Sikh religion and how it originated hundreds of years ago there , what are its main features and why the Sikhs wear turban and do not shave their facial hair. Some Sikhs living in the United States have been mistakenly identified as Muslims and have been attacked by the ignorant people who have never heard about their great religion.

Here in the Philippines the Sikhs are misunderstood and stereo typed as Indians . They are Indians but they are unlike any other people in India where all the religions of the world thrive and co exist peacefully although there have been some communal tensions due to some quarrels because of some misunderstanding or fanatical zeal that I will write about here.

In summary, some Sikh militant activists rallied to separate from India and form their own country, Khalistan and took refuge in the Golden Temple of Amritsar, from where they tried to mobilize all Sikhs to their cause through an armed revolt. The Indian army encircled the temple and, after a long battle, killed all the militants but the temple was also damaged by the fighting. This undermined the feeling of some Sikhs in the armed forces who tried to reach Amritsar to provide military assistance to the rebels, but were arrested. The Sikhs who were the bodyguards of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi murdered her in New Delhi because she had ordered the attack on their temple in Amritsar. Later, the temple was repaired thoroughly.

Birth of Sikhism in India: (source: Wikipedia)

Sikhism is the fifth largest religion in the world, with about 20 to 30 million Sikhs. There are about 500,000 Sikhs each in the United States and Great Britain. Here are 5 things to know about faith. The sacred book of Sikhs, “Guru Granth Sahib,” teaches that there is one God, that men and women are fundamentally good and equal before God, that everyone has direct access to God. and that the way to get closer to God is to serve our fellow men. Sikh religion was founded in 1469 by Guru Nanak in the Punjab region of India. Guru Nanak and his nine successors shaped the fundamental beliefs of religion in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Sikhism has evolved in times of religious persecution. Two of the Sikh gurus – Guru Arjan (1563-1605) and Guru Tegh Bahadur (1621-1675) – were tortured and executed by the Mughal rulers after refusing to convert to Islam. The persecution of the Sikhs triggered the founding of the Khalsa as an order to protect freedom of conscience and religion, endowed with the qualities of a “Sant-Sipāhī” – a holy soldier. The Khalsa was founded by the last Sikh guru, Guru Gobind Singh.

All Sikhs must believe in five K (Kirpan, Kachcha, Kesh, Kara and Kanghi), which means that they must always wear a dagger or a small knife (Kirpan), an undergarment called kachcha, should not cut hair or shave (Kesh), wear a steel or silver bracelet (Kara) and hold a comb in the hair (Kanghi). They are forbidden to drink alcohol, cut their hair, have sex with Muslims, commit adultery, eat halal meat and have priests.

The Muslims who invaded India several centuries ago brought with them the ideology that Hindus must accept Islam, either by coercion or by force, so they massacred the population en masse while they refused to do it. A particular group of Hindus who were so persecuted and threatened with death fought back and swore never to give up their faith, so they became armed and protected themselves.

They lived a harsh life so they grew their hair and beard and learned martial art to protect themselves and their women laying the foundation of a new faith called Sikhhism and built a magnificent temple in Amritsar that they covered entirely with gold. This temple keeps the original and sacred scripture called Guru Granth sahib that is read everyday throughout the year. This recitation has not stopped since the temple was built centuries ago.

It is the sacred duty of all Sikhs to visit the temple at least once in their lifetime no matter where in the world they live. Photography is not allowed inside the temple so you can’t see the splendor and breathtaking view from inside but a visit to the grounds in itself is awe inspiring as the video will show you.

The Sikhs carry Hindu names as a testament to the fact that they were Hindus but with a twist. They spell their names slightly differently from Hindus to differentiate themselves from the rest so Jitendra becomes Jatinder, Surendra becomes Surinder etc. Sikhs are wonderful people. They are fierce fighters in the defense forces of India. They are very hard working and honest and they are very intelligent and have attained very high posts in the government. One became the President of India and another became the most decorated chief of the Indian Air Force.  They have also spread out through out the world and can be found in many countries where they have settled down.

So I hope you will learn something about the great Sikh people by watching this video.

1.  The Golden temple in Amritsar, Punjab, India

2. Food in Chennai , South India

3. Food in Bengaluru in Karnataka, South India

4. Food in Imphal in North Eastern State Manipur, India.

Note: Imphal is the capital of Manipur State in northeastern India. Netaji Bose and his army fought the British and deployed the Indian flag for the first time after victory there though he did not succeed to liberate all of India. The inhabitants of this region seem different from the rest of the Indians because of their ethnic origin in the mountain tribes of Myanmarand southern China. Their food is also different from other spicy dishes in the country, but it is delicious.

 

Note :  My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese  languages at the following links as well as my biography:

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Roots

Source : Google photo of Gothic style cathedral in my home town

Synopsis : The connection we feel to our birth place is universal but this connection depends on the link we maintained with the people we knew there. When this link is broken due to reasons beyond our control, the connection weakens and in some cases disappears. Still a feeling for our roots persists even after a long time.

We all belong somewhere and have our roots in our ville natale that we can never forget. It is in our home town we grew up, played with our childhood friends, went to school with them and later started to diverge when we went to college. The college, its classmates, its teachers and the librarian, its ambiance, its diverse students who came from all parts of the country, its celebrations, its charm and finally the day we graduated and left it forever are reminders of how we grew up to prepare ourselves for the wider world that was still unknown to us including its promises and its challenges.

Thus little by little we develop our roots in our home town that we come to love and a feeling that we belong here in a way no one belongs who is just a visitor. We come to know its delights, its charms, its numerous historical places and the food. We come to know all the streets and its markets, its hidden places that sell what others do not. We knew exactly where to go when we needed something no matter how trivial or special.

We come to love our home town because it is where we spent our best years growing up and getting ready with education that would someday open up the wider world to us that we could only imagine or read in the books. Most people I knew stayed and got jobs after their education, married, raised their families and got old. Some died and others count their days after retirement. Some moved away and settled somewhere else just like I did but the roots to our home town cannot be ignored. It is still there whether we live there or not.

There were some trees near our place that bloomed during the onset of the rainy season and spread an intoxicating scent that I still cannot forget. The hot and dry soil spread its scent when the first rains came and that too I can’t forget.

The beautiful dolphins playing in the river, the gorgeous peacocks spreading their wings and dancing when the sky got dark with clouds, the cackling sound of hyenas at night, the howl of wolves all bring back the nostalgia I still feel. I mourn when I see no more dolphins that were killed by the poachers. The hyenas and wolves have retreated back to forested areas because the city has grown and pushed them out but the peacocks still remain.

So little by little the hometown undergoes changes that must come as the government pushes development. The roads are widened, new bridges and highways link it to other cities. New airport where gleaming jets land and take you to all parts of the country, new colleges and universities where the next generation of students in smart uniforms get their education, new streets lights, new markets bulging with alluring things to buy, new communication system that connects you to the whole world instantly are too many things that have happened to my once sleepy home town that have changed it forever.

Gone are the days when we could walk in the near empty streets in the evening and feel the cool summer breeze. Now no one can safely cross the streets due to heavy traffic. No one can breathe the pure air because the air is polluted and no one can enjoy the quiet evenings because of the noise of vehicles. There were hardly any cars or scooters on the road when we were young but now people find it hard to find a parking place.

The change is inevitable as the whole country is on a fast track to develop its infrastructure at breakneck speed. The new technology, the new way of on line government services, the new high speed trains, the new outlook of the whole country as it wakes up like a giant who was asleep for a long time has not left my home town untouched.

It has changed the people who live there. It has changed the way people have become disconnected to each other claiming that they have no time or other such trivial excuses so they have become more isolated.

It has impacted the next generation in a way no one had foreseen. Now the kids do not play together in parks like we used to but just watch nonstop cartoons on their flat screen TV or play video games on their PlayStations. They will never know the joy we felt playing in the park and making all sorts of mischief. We even caught very nasty hornets and tied a string in its belly to make it fly like a kite. How we caught them will remain a secret with us.

Now almost everyone has a cell phone so they spend more time looking at the tiny screen for new messages or hoping for one. Yet they have no time to say hello to their neighbors the way we used to. They do not now know the joy of playing carrom or Ludo with friends because they have no time. We had ivory or ebony strikers and had a soap stone that we scratched to get silky powder to play carrom with.

So I found this video that shows my home town the way it is now. Its growth and facility is impressive so anyone who returns after a long time will find it much changed. The people grow old, they die and the next generation moves away selling their houses so they cut their roots effectively. When you cut your roots this way, your feeling for your home town also dies because you do not find anyone you knew and grew up with. Everyone becomes a stranger to you.

The college I went to has changed so drastically that I cannot recognize it now. There are new buildings, new big trees, new everything. My professors have died or retired and left. My classmates scattered to all parts in India and some went abroad after graduation leaving no trace. The alumni association is weak but they still want you to contribute money to them so that they can continue their association activities.

Now you should watch this video of my home town to see and know how beautiful it still is. May be it was a good thing to shut down the city due to covid virus for a while that has cut down the emissions and purified the air but the pollution will definitely come back when the restrictions are lifted.

Source : U Tube video. It should have read Abode of God but the maker of the video was poor in English .

This video shows my home town and birth place in all its glory using the drone view. It shows the Kamala Nehru hospital where I was born and where our daughter was also born. It shows the bridge that I used to cross every day to go to college. It is a beautiful city, a green city with trees, parks, museum, planetarium and many historical places like the tomb of Moghul prince Khusro. It produced 4 prime ministers to rule the country for many years. The university was called the Oxford of the East with the words quot rami tot arbores on the main gate. Now there are many more universities where the students learn about the modern day technologies and new subjects.

But it is changing. It is no longer called Allahabad, a name given by the Emperor Akbar in 15th century who built the fort and laid the foundation of the city he called The city of Gods. Now it has been renamed as Prayagraj which was its ancient name. In India ancient means several thousands of years.

It now has a modern jet airport, new bridge on the river Yamuna, new highways, overpasses and a new metro under construction. Massive modern housings are coming up in the outskirts. 

But as a friend told me many years ago in Washington.. you can always leave but never go back .. so that has happened  with me as well. Still I can reminisce and wander in my mind the streets and parks of Allahabad that I knew so well.

I miss the winter, summer and fall there and the fruits each season brought. I miss the festivals and circus shows. I miss fishing in the river and the park where I played with my playmates when we were children. Many are dead now.

But my home town is still there, growing and showing off modern amenities, high speed trains, internet, fiber optic phone lines, FM stations, jets landing and taking you away to all parts of India. Only the people have changed.

Allahabad is really a very historic city where people fought the British tooth and nail to get freedom and paid for it with their lives. Their bodies were hung from the trees by the British and our heroes died in the gun battles in many parts of the city. The main park bigger than the central park of New York is renamed after the hero Chandra Shekhar Ajad who died there fighting the British.

But the world believed the lies of Gandhi and in his so called nonviolent movement that won our independence. It was a propaganda of the Congress party of massive proportion beating even Joseph Goebbels of the Nazi party. Gandhi was a pedophile and caused the partition of India that caused the death of a million people but the propagandist call him Mahatma. My home town fought in 1857 uprising against the British and has remained a political wellspring of dissent in India. It was Subhas Chandra Bose and his Indian National Army that chased the British out.

The streets look empty now due to Covid restrictions but slowly life is returning to normal. It is a beautiful city and with the most tree lined streets. From the air it looks like a garden with a massive park in the middle.

Aerial View of Sangam | District Prayagraj, Government of Uttar Pradesh |  India

Source : Google photo of Sangam where two rivers meet in Prayagraj

The two rivers Ganga and Yamuna meet in Allahabad but the blue water of Yamuna and the white water of Ganga do not mix but make an irregular line where they meet called Sangam where Hindus take a dip to get nirvana.

There used to be plenty of dolphins always playing in the river near the fort but they have all been killed by the poachers. I had seen the dolphins when I was a kid. But you can still see the peacocks in the parks.

My mother’s house has been sold so I do not go back to Allahabad anymore. There is no one there whom I knew. The city has changed dramatically because progress has come but it has also changed people in a negative way.

A friend in Europe wrote :

Thanks for forwarding this video and your notes. it is a beautiful place.  You had the good fortune of being born in a good time, place and circumstances to properly start a good life! 

I was surprised how few people and little traffic were shown in the video of the city. My only experience of India was when I went to a wedding of a girl, who was the daughter of Taiwanese Canadian friends of Chinese ancestry in Chennai, a very crowded city teeming with people. She married a Chennai born man in a Hindu ceremony carried out in the southern Brahmin tradition.

I also feel I was born under a lucky star starting in humble circumstances in a small provincial city, Halifax, which, non the less, was the capital city and the largest and wealthiest city of its sparsely populated region with an important Atlantic port which made it a vital link in times of conflict and war. I was born at the Grace Maternity Hospital

I did not realize your daughter was born in your home town and hospital in India as well.  I am thinking of birth and passage at this moment as my son was born at this hour 38 years ago at the Grace Maternity Hospital in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

It was a really colorful and exotic event for the twelve of us who came from North America and Europe to help them celebrate, dressing in local costumes to participate.   Our out of country group then did a ten day tour with the sister of the bride to the west and south through the Southern Ghat mountains and the Kerala coast to the southern tip of India,  giving a hint of the incredible cultural diversity, history and prehistory of your subcontinent homeland.

Another friend wrote :

Prayagraj is a beautiful city with many features I did not expect such as the planetarium, Christian institutions, colleges. I have never been to India, but the impression of your city is different than the impression I have of India.” 

Allahabad now known as Prayagraj is where the world’s largest congregation of pilgrims occurs every 12th year when millions of Hindus gather to celebrate the Maha Kumbha Mela . They come from all parts of India and the world to participate in the dip at the Sangam meaning at the confluence of the two mighty rivers Ganga and Yamuna. They believe that a dip there on a holy day frees their soul and they will get Nirvana. They set up a tent city complete with street lights, toilet facilities, police stations, CCTV cameras everywhere for security, food stores, movie screening places, lost and found office etc. There are field hospitals, information centers, communication centers and other such facilities so that the pilgrims do not face any difficulty.

They set up numerous stores to sell anything one can desire and put up 15 or 20 pontoon bridges on the Ganga river for people to cross. It is a massive undertaking to set up a tent city for so many people but they do it in a well organized way every 12th year. They even set up train stations so that the pilgrims can reach the site no matter where they come from. They set up landing strips where small planes can land and take you for a joy ride for a fee.

Then like magic, the whole tent city disappears when the fair is over after 2 months. I always admired the management of the fair grounds that does such a splendid job of setting it all up and then dismantling it later.

I will always remember my home town the way it used to be but that city is disappearing under massive development although some parts like the old city still remain. I will always remember the pranks we played on each other, the mischief we made together like the time a kid sucked the milk out of a goat in our lane while we tried to keep the goat still with tender grass. His owner cursed the kids when the goat returned with no milk . Such were the joys of childhood that one cannot forget. It is hard to sever the roots even after such a long time.

Note : My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography. My blogs can be shared by anyone anytime in any social media.

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Shelter for the homeless

Source : Google photo of beautiful houses made with compressed earth bricks in India.

Synopsis : There are people who are homeless who sleep on the sidewalks of major cities in the world. They shiver in the cold and get wet whenever it rains so they do not have any protection from the elements. People in cars pass by but just ignore them because it is not their problem. So whose problem is it? Can’t the rich countries shelter their homeless population. The blog looks at the answers to this issue in a meaningful way.

I have written earlier about the affordable housing for the poor where a small house is put together in a few days using prefabricated walls and roof but requires cement concrete, iron bars and plastering for finishing.

But now in Ghana one man has started to build houses with bricks made of waste plastic although it takes more than a few days to build a single bed room house that the video below will show you.

Source : U tube video

He claims that he can build a small house in 70 days for about 10000 USD and another 5000 USD for paint and furnishings that makes it over 15000 USD that many poor people and the homeless people cannot afford. But the idea of making interlocking bricks with waste plastic is interesting considering how many millions of tons of plastic are thrown away to pollute the environment globally. Some of it ends up in the oceans posing grave threats to the wildlife. There is an area of plastic that floats in the Pacific Ocean that is larger than the size of Texas so you can imagine how many millions of tons of waste plastic is there that no one seems to bother about ( Read my blog on Curse of plastic pollution here. )

If I had money, I would rent or lease a factory ship equipped with all the equipment, hydraulic press etc. to make such bricks and tiles and go to the Pacific Ocean to pick up the trash and turn it into beautiful tiles or bricks. I would have inexhaustible source of plastic waste to pick up and clean up the ocean as well to save the marine life. When my ship is full, I will dock in some country to sell the things we made and go back making more just like what they do with the factory ships that catch and process tuna. Imagine if someone just thought about it seriously, he could make a lot of money and help build millions of homes for the poor in the process.

The idea of interlocking plastic bricks that fit on each other like Lego is a wonderful idea because it does not require any special skill to build a wall with it and it does not require cement and sand mortar. Just watch the video of it and see how they build houses in Ghana this way.  

So I was thinking that if so much waste plastic is available in every country that ends up in their landfills, in their waterways and just everywhere, it is just a matter of collecting it to bring it to a processing center that any government in any country can set up a low cost. It will be a onetime investment that will pay for itself in the short run but will start a revolution in the construction business to build mass housing for the poor and the homeless and solve the problem of plastic waste filling up the landfills.

It can also be done by the private sector where a rich businessman can easily set up a factory to build bricks out of plastic to build cheap but very sturdy houses in record times to solve the problem of housing for the very poor and homeless people everywhere.

I have already written how a Polish gentleman recycles waste plastic in his country to make beautiful and very strong roof tiles that he manufactures in different colors and gains good profit by exporting the tiles to other countries. There are many factories where waste plastic is turned into shiny plastic buckets, household things like molded chairs, tables etc so the waste plastic can be recycled this way but it uses only a fraction of the millions of tons of plastic waste that is available that goes to the dumps.

This gentleman in Ghana shows how he collects waste plastic of any kind, melts it down to make a thick paste, mixes sand in it , adds color and then using hydraulic press to mold beautiful and strong plastic bricks that he then uses to build houses. These plastic blocks have interlocking features so it does not require cement mortar to build a wall.

When I see the homeless people in the streets of so called rich countries and in other not so rich countries, I feel sad that countries that claims to be rich and spend trillions of dollars in foreign wars that they could not win cannot solve the housing problem of their poor citizens. Homelessness is a worldwide problem.

India has very large slums in Mumbai and in many other cities where the poor people live and build their own shelters with whatever material they can scrounge but they do not have sanitation, water and parks where their children can play. If the government or the private sector people could build homes for them using plastic waste in a preplanned manner with roads, sanitation and drainage pipes underground at a low cost then the slum problem can be resolved in a beautiful manner. People from other countries will come to see the beautiful homes where the poor people can live with dignity and comfort. ( Read my blog called Affordable homes here)

Whenever the city planning for the mass housing is talked about, the question of cost comes up quickly because the site has to acquired and paid for and the infrastructure needed for such housing has to be developed at a great cost. Then there is the cost of the houses itself.

But what if a very large area like the one occupied by the Dharavi slum in Mumbai is developed this way while temporary tent shelters could be made for the residents somewhere while the site is developed?

I know that China has worked very hard to build affordable homes and apartments for millions of its citizens all over the country so almost everyone has a modern home to live in. This type of development costs billions of dollars that the poorer countries cannot afford.

India has started building mass housing for its poor throughout the country but using the traditional methods of bricks, cement and mortar that need a lot of iron bars and finishing like in China so it is costly. So the solution to use waste plastic to make interlocking bricks to build houses seems like a very good idea.

Another innovative product called K Bricks are being manufactured from building demolition waste that is turned into high quality bricks using no cement so it is quite environment friendly and uses recycled building waste to make bricks under pressure. Watch the video below .

Source : U tube video

Another method is to make compressed earth bricks that are then used without cement mortar to build sturdy and long lasting beautiful homes.

Source : U tube video of compressed earth block to build low cost house.

In Ethiopia they build sturdy adobe houses at very low cost that you can see in the video here. My house in Mali was built this way except that the rooms were round in Malian style.

Source : U tube video of low cost adobe house in Ethiopia

I had a house built for me in a Malian village I had designed myself by the villagers. It was a beautiful house with 5 round rooms interconnected with each other that the villagers built with mud bricks dried in the sun. The 3 feet high foundation was built with laterite .Rooms were 4 meters in diameter so they were very spacious with windows for cross ventilation and with golden colored thatch roof .The floor was made of compact earth coated with cow dung once a week to give it a good dust free surface.

We screened all the windows and doors to keep out all insects like malaria causing mosquitoes so we were very proud of our house that many people came to see. They coated the outside walls with shea butter they made from the nut they gathered in the forest. It gave a waterproof and shiny surface and it protected the mud walls from the rain. I think I spent about 3000 USD for the entire house but that was in 1990. The lot was free. See the photos in the following link and read the blog here. ( Read the blog How to be truly self reliant anywhere here )

There are so many new and imaginative ways some people are building low costs houses with waste plastic, with compressed mud or with just mud bricks like they do in the African villages where no one is homeless.

But we see the tragedy of poor people sleeping on the sidewalks in major cities and looking for food in the dumpsters while fancy cars pass by never looking at them. If this happens in the so called rich countries then just imagine how the poor people live elsewhere. They are not protected from the elements so they get sick and die. They have nowhere to go for their morning call and have no access to fresh water to wash themselves so how do they survive? Why there is so much money for war but no money to provide low cost houses for these unfortunate people?

If China can reduce the poverty level drastically and provide decent modern houses for all its citizen then surely other countries with more resources can do it but it takes a national will and strong commitment to help the poor people so that they never have to sleep on the sidewalk getting wet and shivering in the cold. They too have every right to live in a decent home with dignity and the safety it can provide but who listens to them?

Source : Google photo of homeless people sleeping on the sidewalk

Note : My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography. My blogs can be shared by anyone anytime in any social media.

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Do children owe their parents?

Source : Google photo of piggy bank saving

Synopsis : It takes a determined effort to save for your old age but most people do not pay enough attention to it resulting in their old age dependency on their children. The blog emphasizes the need for saving during your employment years that will allow you to live with dignity and pride until you close your eyes someday.

I have known horror stories of old people who were mistreated by their own sons or daughters so they sought sanctuary in old age homes somewhere. Often such people are found waiting at the railway stations in India to get away from their miserable life but have little money to pay for food and the tickets. They depend on the mercy of others who have a compassionate heart and see that the old people are famished and on the verge of collapse so they buy them some food and a train ticket to where they want to go. They are the lucky ones because most people just ignore them.

This subject disturbs me a great deal because I know that there are millions of old and very old people who depend on their sons or daughters for their survival. In the Asian culture people are expected to look after their ageing parents and care for them especially when they are sick or when they become physically challenged.

Just imagine an old man who is feeble and moves around only in a wheel chair but perhaps he was a great teacher, engineer or a scientist in his prime whom everyone respected for his knowledge and ability. He may have a wall full of certificates, medals and photos taken with important people but now no one looks at them or appreciates what he was when he was young.

Imagine an old lady who may have been a great ballet dancer or an actress who became famous for her beauty and dancing skills but now she is old and wrinkled living in great pain due to some illness.

Such is the ravage the passing time causes on people in their old age. There are stories of great movie actors and actresses who were famous but now live in poverty and squalor because they lost all their money, fame and beauty so people forget them. They are often neglected by their own kids who take no care of them and may even push them onto the streets.

I know a case where an old couple left their home in the middle of the night to escape and seek help because their daughter in law was mistreating them and not feeding them. She wanted their property so made their life miserable so that they would leave. There are numerous stories like this that come to light where the sons and daughters fight over the property or the money the parents may have so they try to push out their parents.

There was a great lady who raised her sons and daughter with all the care and love a mother could give. She celebrated their birth days, took 8mm film of them as they were growing up, cooked good meals for them etc. She was a model mother but after the death of her husband, she lived alone as her kids had grown up and left the nest to pursue their own life somewhere else. They hardly kept in touch with her.

She lived in her own house alone and was often lonely because no one came to see her or ask her how she was doing. She was not doing well because she was often sick so one day she decided to move into a hospital to be near a nurse and a doctor all the time.

She had money so she did not depend on her kids to pay for anything but she was still alone so she started reading every page of the Encyclopedia to gain knowledge. Her two sons never visited her or asked her how she was doing but the wayward daughter who had become a hippy came one day to convince her mother to sell her house so that she could get a share.

The old lady said that she had donated her house and everything in it to charity that made her daughter livid with anger because she needed money. Her mother said that she had taken good care of her and her brothers but now she does not owe them anything more. It was her right to do what she pleased with her house and property.

This story made me think that the old lady was right who kept her dignity while paying for all her expenses but she was a rare case. Not all old people are so lucky because they fail to prepare themselves for the old age.

In some rich countries of Europe, the government pays for the medical bills for the aged and sends social workers to keep an eye on them if they are living alone in their homes. The social workers buy groceries for them, clean the house and even take them to a hospital if needed. They get monetary help as well. But this is not the case in poorer countries meaning most of the countries where the poor people become dependent on their kids.

Now if the kids are well raised and love their parents, they do help when their parents need them but the daughters probably get married and move to a different part of the country so they take care of their own children and husband and pay less attention to their parents.

The sons may also move away and find a job somewhere far away leaving the parents at home alone. If the son gets married and brings in a woman from another family then the trouble starts because she may not have any affection for the old people who are not her parents. The story I told before in this blog reflects what some cruel women do to their in laws. ( Read my blog What have I become here )

In some countries the parents say to their grown up kids that it is their turn to help their parents who have raised them, fed them and took care of all their needs so now they must pay back. They demand a new car from them, a house or trips to other countries so the poor kids have to do it. I think such parents are highly immoral to even suggest that their kids should pay back for all they have done for them.

It is the duty of all parents to raise their kids properly , give them education and prepare them for jobs later but the kids do not owe them anything except love although it is not guaranteed that the kids will love their parents. The parents who think that their kids owe them for raising them forget that it is their duty to raise them without expectations. If the kids get a good education, a good job somewhere and are living happily, it should be enough and the only expectation from them. ( Read the blog Parents have a duty here)

I think that people who live independently of their children in their old age are the happiest people because I believe that every human being has a right to live his or her remaining days with dignity intact but this is easier said than done depending on how well the old people have prepared themselves financially for their retirement. If you retire at the age of 65 as most people do then you may live another 30 years before you die.

So unless you are well prepared for all your expenses for 30 years or so, you may have no choice but to depend on someone else to take care of you. So how do you prepare yourself for your old age, pay for all your expenses and die with your dignity intact?

Your wife is your dependent because it is your duty to take care of her as long as she lives. If you die first and she lives on for another 20 or 30 years then it is your duty to make sure that she has enough money to live on.

In India the old ladies are given the pension of their late husbands by the government if the husband was a government employee so that is a very big help to them. The government also pays for the schooling expenses of the sons and later gives them employment if their father dies in the service of the country like in the armed forces. Not everybody gets a government job and pension later on.

But many countries can’t afford it so the sons take up the responsibility to look after their parents. The problem as I see it comes from the fact that most people do not or cannot prepare themselves for their old age so they become helpless at a time when they need most help.

The need for savings:

I cannot overemphasize the crucial role savings play in anyone’s life. When we were kids, we had a piggy bank where we saved the coins we got for cutting the grass or doing errands. Slowly but steadily the piggy bank got filled up until it became full and heavy with coins. We then broke the piggy bank and started counting the money we had saved over a long period of time and were excited when we realized how much we had saved.

The idea of forming a habit to save starts early when your parents buy you a clay pig and encourage you to put your odd coins in it. Sometimes they too added to it when they had some loose coins.

Later when you start working and have a regular salary, you keep up this habit you had formed during your childhood to save so now you start saving seriously. Anyone can safely save about 25 to 30 % of what one earns and still pay for all the living expenses if living a modest life.

You can double this saving if your wife is also employed but the key is the word modest lifestyle. If you are extravagant and want an expensive car and such then it will put a serious dent in your finances. If you go on vacation and spend a lot of money every now and then, it will leave you with little to save. So a modest lifestyle is necessary to fill up your piggy bank that will come in handy when you are old. Now imagine how much you can save if you do it for 40 years!

A modest lifestyle does not mean that you are deprived of good food and shelter. It means that you have to curb your tendency to spend on non-essential things but concentrate on quality food, good shelter and clothes.

The point is that anyone can save and accumulate money for his old age. It has to start when you start working. You not only save for you and your wife’s old age but also for your children who someday will need a lot of money to get through college. Some kids get into trouble when they borrow money as student loan because they have to pay it back when they start earning so it is better if the parents can save for their education.

Everybody has a right to live with some financial security and the dignity it provides when most needed in the old age. But wishing it does nothing to achieve it. You need to have the determination to save to achieve your goal. There is no better friend than money in your old age.

You have a duty to provide for your wife and take care of her in sickness and health as you have vowed to do when you married her so she depends on you. Walk with her hand in hand toward the sunset of your life with your head held up high keeping your dignity intact because you have kept your promise.

Source : Google photo of a romantic elderly couple enjoying nature while sitting together on a bench in a tranquil day of summer in the park and enjoying the sunset years together.

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Culture of deceit

Source : Google photo

Synopsis : Some people think that being deceitful works to their advantage but it doesn’t. It always comes back to bite them because sooner or later they get caught. The culture of deceit drags people down the well they can’t escape from.

There was an Indian who watched a milk delivery man in a rural England village who brought in bottles of pure milk and left it at the doorsteps of houses while collecting the empty bottles. He asked the milkman how could he make a profit by selling pure milk this way when diluting the milk with water could earn him a handsome profit.

The old milkman was shocked at such immoral suggestion and asked the Indian if he had children at home and how would he feel if his children were cheated this way. The Indian had no answer and hung his head in shame. The old milkman said we do not do such despicable things here in this country.

Now I see that people everywhere are adopting a culture of deceit without a second thought and feel that some money should be made no matter what the method so we find the peas that look green are in fact dyed in green and possibly toxic color, the gills of fish are dyed red to make it look fresh, chicken pumped up with water to cheat at the weight, the milk diluted and crème removed before selling it as fresh pure milk. The list of fraud and cheating is very long and the traders are finding new ways every day to cheat people. Once I was given good looking cashews to taste in a shop in Delhi so I bought some. They extract the oil that they sell at a high price and still sell the tasteless cashews to make double profit and fool people.

The vegetable vendor cheats you with his sleight of hand and gives you less weight, the gas station attendant gives you less gasoline than what you pay for, the cloth merchant gives you less cloth than what you pay for etc. These are some of the examples of how people cheat you every day when you go out to buy anything which shows how morally bankrupt people have become these days everywhere.

Today I will write about other ways people have started to cheat and show how far they have descended into the immoral abyss that will boggle your mind. It is probably expected of traders to cheat because it seems to be in their DNA. Their greed for money that they want to earn no matter what is the method that puts them in the category of the Shylocks of this world .Woe to you if you ever borrow money from them because they will take a pound of your flesh with no Portia to defend you.

But what do you say to people who seem to be well educated and who resort to plagiarism in the most blatant way possible? You will find them in the media where the reporter or the anchor gives no credit to the source and claims it as his original effort to gather data. Occasionally they get caught of plagiarism and are forced to admit on air and apologize so they get a bit red faced but shake it off as nothing of consequence.

I was told by a college professor how some of his students just copy and paste some articles for their term paper from google and try to pass it on as something they have written. They get caught when the professor notices the same paragraph appearing in other’s term papers as well.

If you go to Washington D.C. and visit the government offices, you will notice a number of sneaky looking people with a briefcase in their hand lurking around. They are called the experts or the so called experts who are desperate for some consultancy to pay for their bills so will present themselves to various offices to try their luck. When they get lucky, the government hires these so called consultants and pays them handsomely to prepare a project proposal let us say in Afghanistan and pays them to visit the country to gather data and interview people there.

Soon they present their project proposal that looks impressive at the first glance but all they present is what they have copied from google and some cursory data they have gleaned in Kabul. So all these experts start their report by saying that Afghanistan is a dirt poor land locked country where people live on less than a dollar a day if they can earn that much.

They all carry laptops and can be seen typing away furiously at any airport waiting lounge or somewhere but they earn a handsome fee for their plagiaristic effort they pocket without the slightest amount of shame. I have seen the same thing at the UN that also hires these so called experts to write voluminous reports on various projects or proposed projects in Africa and other regions.

Now I can’t blame google for this spate of copy and paste behavior because google is just a search engine that everyone uses so google is not responsible for their behavior. What is so shameful in this degradation of ethics and amoral behavior is the fact that it has permeated all the way from the experts down to the teenage high schoolers who see nothing wrong.

I also notice something else called lip synching that artists, singers and TV presenters frequently use to fool people. The Chinese used a small girl to sing the opening song for the Beijing Olympics so the poor child was asked to lip sync the song that they had prerecorded to fool everybody. When it leaked out, they said that they wanted a perfect grand opening. The Bollywood movie actors and actresses who do not know how to sing anything only lip sync songs a background singer has sung. I liked the movie A star is born where Streisand and Kristofferson sang their songs. That is called honesty.

But the artists who lip sync are dishonest so people feel cheated. They pay for very expensive tickets to see and hear a well-known artist who presents her song as if she was singing but she was lip synching because she had a slight sore throat that day. An honest person admits to her fans that she is lip synching but they are not honest and say – what is the harm if no one finds out? The only problem is that people do find out and feel cheated. It is the worse feeling anyone can have.

I notice something else these days. It is when the TV program presenters like in Japan has talent or The Philippines has talent copy everything from the original show down to the shape of the judge’s chairs to the clothes the presenters wear. They do not stop there. They imitate the way the original show presenter talks, gestures , her body language and her hair color so you will see Asian women who dye their hair yellow and wear blue or green contact lenses presenting the caricature of the show but feel no shame.

It makes me wonder what happened to originality. Why such shameful imitation is quite common these days? Is talent so hard to find? There are wonderful artists and personalities who can bring any show on TV alive but why they are not given the opportunity to do so? Why totally worthless people irritate you with their antics on TV every day not to mention the pitiable transvestites with false breasts and miniskirts. They do not fool anybody but people say that it is all entertainment. I call it nepotism that is widely prevalent in the entertainment industry.

There was a TV show long ago which thankfully has been discontinued when a fellow was asked many questions by a panel of judges so he struggled to answer them, sweated and fidgeted but came out with an answer that the judges applauded. The show became popular enough to have its own franchise so it made money until someone leaked that whole show was based on fraud. The fellow fidgeting and sweating was a part of the fraud because he was given the answers through his tiny ear phone that was carefully hidden. When confronted, the producer shrugged it off by saying that it was all entertainment so a bit of fraud to get the ratings was justified. They are after the ratings and do not care how they get the higher ratings. The higher ratings bring in millions of dollars’ worth of advertising so fraud is quite acceptable.

A noted musician who wrote music and sang it in the Indian Bollywood movies said one day that he was retiring sadly because now the producers had computerized music recorded for auditing so they did not need a gifted singer to sing the entire song. They can now copy and patch an audio or video anyway they want because they want to cut down the cost but the audience does not see the difference. They too have become a part of the copy and paste culture using modern technology but lost the originality for which the earlier artists were known and appreciated.

I am sure a time will come soon when actors and actresses will be recorded on film singing or dancing or acting all virtually or through a 3 D virtual reality based program. Such movies will be made at a lower cost using very efficient computer programs. Some studios are already using the technology to make movies like Lion King or that stupid squirrel that is always chasing his acorn. They generate images using computers that look so real that will impress anyone.

They can show the destruction of the White House or the Hoover dam by using computers so we don’t know what we see is real or not. The robots or the animated characters are so human like now that they may soon put the highly paid actors and actresses out of business.

It is OK to use the technology to make movies and avoid costly and risky filming of stunts but in the process they are losing something that was quite important in our days called integrity, honesty and sheer acting talent of the actors. In the name of expediency and profit they have opted to cut corners that the viewers are quick to figure out these days. You can fool some people some of the time but not all the people all the time. Believe me when I say that no one likes to be fooled.

So I come back to the subject of deceit. Why people have become deceitful in trade, in the entertainment industry, in education and even in their daily social interactions? Why people say to you what they do not mean at all? When they say How are you- they are not interested in knowing how are you so why ask? They say that it is a manner of speaking so no one should take it seriously. But I do. I dislike fake people with their fake smile and fake handshake. I dislike people who try to fool me with their behavior. I dislike deceitful people who cannot be trusted. That is why I dislike baby kissing politicians who are corrupt and steal money once they get elected. They say Trust me but they are the last person anyone should trust.

An honest man of integrity does not say Trust me because he does not need to. He may be poor but his honesty and integrity spreads like a perfume while a dishonest and deceitful person gives out a bad odor of stench. I don’t care if the French say that there is good odor and bad odor because there is no good odor. Odor is what the bad people give out who cheat, lie and are deceitful. No one trusts them.

I think that this culture of deceit has developed in people who are after quick monetary gains so they are eager to take the most expedient way even if it is wrong. I thoroughly condemn it and hope that you will teach your children how to remain honest even if it means poverty. Do not sell your soul to gain riches that you will lose someday so what will remain of you? Think of that. 

Note : My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography. My blogs can be shared by anyone anytime in any social media.

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The concept of heaven and hell

Source : Google photo of heaven and hell

Synopsis: People always talk about heaven and hell but most pay only lip service to the words when mentioned by the religionists. I think one should try to understand what it really means and how one can make a heaven or hell for himself right here in this world.

Long before the advent of organized religions, the primitive people had the notion of Divinity and all that it meant in their daily life. They had a vague idea of the Divinity that had its origin in the wonders of the nature and the awe the primitive man felt when the nature showed its immense power through lightning, thunder, flood or earthquakes.

He did not understand why the nature was so powerful but he understood its benevolence as well as its destructive powers so he started to attribute it all to a higher power he started to call the Divinity. Literally this was the start of the concept of religion that took hold on the humanity in ways no one had ever foreseen.

Later as the religions got organized, they developed different ways to celebrate the Divinity but would never come to a consensus on what was the fundamental religion of the humanity. They vouched for their brand and fought those who did not go along with their brand. This has caused great loss of human lives since antiquity that continues even today as I write this blog. So the humanity split up between various ideologies and their followers who dug in their heels when it came to define what religion was and why it was important.

Then people started to think of the rewards and the penalty aspect in all religions and came up with the idea of heaven and hell. If you were a good religionist, you went to heaven after your death and if you were not then you went to a terrible place called hell where you were tormented for ever for not being a good practitioner of your brand of religion.

This concept of heaven and hell spread to all organized religions and became the foundation on which they built their belief system because a belief system was necessary to propagate the brand they adhered to. It also served as a lure or enticement to join particular brands because it offered all sorts of rewards in this life or the afterlife to those who joined but offered hell for those who did not. The Inquisition in the middle ages took it further and created hell in this world for those whom they persecuted, tortured and burned alive.

In Islam they came up with the concept of 72 houris or celestial nymphs who would attend to all your needs in heaven if you were a good Moslem and died serving your faith that often meant killing the infidels and getting killed in the process as well. They promoted terrorism in the name of their belief but called themselves martyrs who went to heaven and were attended to by no less than 72 celestial virgins who took care of all their needs. This idea of getting served by 72 beautiful nymphs in the heaven was so attractive that it made numerous young people commit to violence and become martyr whom others call them with pejorative names like terrorists.

The primitive people  at first did not have a written language because they felt no need for it but they too felt a need to express what they felt not only verbally but in other ways as well. So they painted on the walls of deep caves what they saw thousands of years ago. For paint they only had what they could extract from plants or the soil but they left behind their legacy in dazzling colors and art that would put to shame any modern artist. You can still see such paintings on cave walls in France and in many other countries that will mesmerize you with their originality and beauty.

Later our ancestors took to carving rocks to leave behind their message but by this time they had developed a written language some in the form of hieroglyphs and others in Cuneiforms or the Chinese script in which they recorded their history, wars, famine, epidemics, harvests or how to build pyramids. Hammurabi left his edicts in stone. By this time their religion and belief system was well developed creating their first organized religion like in Egypt or Mesopotamia where they wrote on papyrus or on stone their concept of their religion and various rituals they practiced. Their painted murals in underground crypts in the Valley of the Kings and Queens in Luxor will dazzle you with their beauty and grandeur that have not faded in thousands of years.

Their religion was in the process of evolution meaning that it changed when a new Pharaoh or king came to power but they described what was heaven where their souls went and what happened to bad people whom their God of death punished in what was the equivalent of hell. It terrified people so much that they tried to live a life of virtues to avoid such punishment. But the evil people were not impressed by the punishment aspect of their religion so the idea of hell had minimum impact on them just like it is now.

But a religion could not be established unless it had developed a written set of rules to live by and a prophet who showed people what to do and what not to do by giving example the way Jesus, Buddha or Ram did. Moses chiseled his ten commandments on stone tablets in Mt. Sinai while others like Mohamed who was illiterate had a scribe to write down what he said. So all religions have their own Bible or Koran or Ramayana. The Sikhs have their Granthasahib and the Buddhists have the words of Buddha written in numerous wood blocks like in Tibet. The Hindus claim to have the world’s oldest written religious texts written thousands of years ago that are now available in the form of Vedas , Upanishads etc. that have been translated into many languages and spread all over the world.

The Aztecs, Incas and the Mayas developed their own religions that dictated to them the rules by which to live while the Native Americans and the Native Australians developed their own religions and the set of rules to live by but they all had in common the idea of heaven or hell that perhaps varied from one set of people to another like it does even today but they failed to develop a book like the Bible or the Koran.

A lot of African tribes worshipped different Gods and still do but they too failed to write it all down as a book of rules because their languages and history were only oral that the bards passed on to them generation after generation through story telling or songs . This is still the practice among many African tribes so the foreign missionaries and mullahs worked hard on them to make them Christians or Moslems. People in Africa, South America and other continents are impressed by the efficacy of the organized religions that now present their religious books into their native languages for the first time.

Similarly a single old monk from India who went to spread Hinduism in America and later in many countries wrote in English many religious books that he himself translated from Sanskrit or other texts. This was the start of the Krishna Consciousness movement worldwide that we are now quite familiar with. The followers number in millions who have collected large amount of money to build huge Krishna temples in many countries.

The Hindus in general do not dwell on the concept of heaven or hell as much as others do but believe in Karma. If you live a virtuous life and do many good karmas like helping others, feeding others, treating their illness for free or building orphanages etc. you get rewarded in your next life or you may even get the coveted freedom from the cycle of life and death so your soul become free. But those who are evil and do bad things to others are punished by a higher authority in this life or the next so the idea of heaven or hell or purgatory etc. is less emphasized.

But the Christians are obsessed with the idea of sin so they have ritualized in their sermons the idea of sin and who goes to the purgatory or who doesn’t. They say that we are all sinners in some way so we should ask for forgiveness. You see this in the mafia movies where a man goes to confess to his priest that he has sinned and has done many bad things so he seeks forgiveness. The Priest then says- you are forgiven. Just pray and say Hail Mary a thousand times so that it can wipe off from the slate every bad thing you have done. The Mafioso kneels, asks for forgiveness and says Hail Mary but goes out to commit more crimes. The religion does not change him but he uses it to clean his slate once it is full every now and then.

I live in a country where most people are Catholic Christians who go to their churches to confess their sins now and then but in reality some of them are the meanest, vilest, unworthiest people who are toxic in their behavior. I used to think that a religion should have a good impact on people so that they live a life of virtues but I now see that it does not change some of them. It is no wonder that the young people in many countries are disillusioned about the organized religions so they protest and say that the moral corruption in the churches or Moslem religious schools called madrasas give very bad examples to people. In India some Hindus use religion to get rich and spread immorality and corruption. ( Read Fake gurus here )

The fundamentalism in any religion gives it a bad name. Most people tend to shy away from it but there are fringe groups that promote and actively recruit people like them who in the name of their brand of religion spread hate and violence worldwide.

So where is Heaven? Where is it located? Is it real or just a made up idea to make people feel good? Basically it is based on a belief that God will give you a place there if you follow his commandments but he will punish you if you are a bad person. I do not know if this argument sounds very persuasive to the bad people because there are so many bad people everywhere who are not at all bothered by what they do.

If you believe that you have the power to create your own heaven right here or your own hell then perhaps the notion of heaven or hell as preached through the pulpits may not hold much water. I think we all can do it if we are honest to ourselves and have a conscience that guides us to do what is right and never do what is wrong. Some of the nicest people I have ever met are atheists who live a very moral life and are always ready to help those in need while some of the nastiest people I have also met are the Bible thumpers who are mean and who never help anyone. (Read Why do we make our own demons? )

If a religion keeps you straight and on the path of virtue then I say- go for it. But if it makes you racist, intolerant of others, mean and a dishonest person then all I can say to them is – try to become a better person and create your own heaven here. Just don’t be tempted by the 72 houris to do “good” deeds.

Emperor Jahangir (a Mughal king in the 17th century) had rightly said, if there is a heaven on earth, it’s here, it’s here, it’s here. It is apparent when you visit the garden he created that it was not a gross exaggeration. You do not have to be a king to create your own heaven. Between heaven and hell, I will always choose heaven whether here or in the outer world. No one really wants to live in hell.

Note : My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography. My blogs can be shared by anyone anytime in any social media.

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Is marriage necessary?

Source : Google photo of marriage in the Western culture

Synopsis : The idea of traditional marriage with all its rituals and fanfare has come under some pressure in many societies where the young people have started to question the validity and the sanctity it proposes .They say that it is not necessary to get married so they choose the live in relationships that frees them from legal entanglements if and when they decide to split. The blog looks at the reasons why most people still believe in the sanctity of marriage because they believe in the institution of marriage.

I have attended numerous marriages in many countries and have observed their rituals attentively to note that they vary widely from country to country, from one religion to the next and from one region to the next within a country. These rituals are designed to cater to the specific cultural as well as the religious requirements so they vary widely although one thing is common to them all.  It is the contract the groom and the bride enter into that is supposed to be everlasting and binding legally as well as socially.

Once I was invited to an Algerian wedding in a rural part of the country where I was working as an agronomist so I was curious to know how the rituals were performed. It was my first time so I eagerly went to attend the ceremony dressed as a fellahin ( peasant ) in my camel hair jellaba and sat down among a group of invitees .

Soon they started to talk to me in Arabic that I do not speak or understand so they realized that I was not a fellahin after all and was a foreigner so they were surprised to say the least and started to gossip among them about this strange fellow sitting there dressed as them.

Then their excitement was diverted when a car stopped and a woman clad in a white dress from head to toe was brought and gingerly lowered into the waiting car as if she was sick. I was naturally shocked because it was supposed to be a joyous occasion so I asked someone who was the sick woman.  They said that no one was sick. It was the bride who was brought  by her relatives this way because no one was supposed to see her face. It was my time to be embarrassed because I really did not know their culture and their rituals so I departed quickly lest something else like this cropped up. I was also spared from their oily food that my stomach did not like at all.

The Algerians who are mostly Moslems have their own traditions and rituals that are different from the Berbers who mostly live in the Djurjura Mountains and who have their own distinct traditions and rituals. I was amazed by the modern ways of the Berber girls in the Kabylie Mountains of Tizi Ouzou who were dressed in miniskirts and invited me to dance with them. I have written a great deal about the Algerians and the country so please read the Chapter five in my biography at the link below : https://storyofalifetimeofanil.wordpress.com/2017/12/07/chapter-five-remember-djamila-algeria-1971-1973/

I am a Bengali so I know a great deal about the Bengali culture and their rituals during the marriage that I have always observed very keenly. People are a product of their culture that emphasizes traditions that carry on rituals from generation to generation to make it embedded. You can’t separate people from their traditions, rituals and culture because it becomes a part of them they value and cherish. ( Read my blog here called Arranged marriage here .

When it comes to marriage in the Bengali Hindu society, they try to show off their culture and rituals in the most visible way possible that may not be understood well by a foreigner.

But the blog is about marriage and its relevance in the modern society that I would like to focus on so I will leave the rituals aside for the time being.

Marriage is or supposed to be a social contract that gives the union between a man and a woman the social approval for procreation. People who procreate without marriage and the social approval are ridiculed and scorned in most traditional societies. Their illegitimate children are ill accepted by their society so the children face scorn and ridicule in their schools even if it is not their fault that they are illegitimate.

So people in all countries have favored marriage for the purpose of procreation as the legitimate way to bring social harmony and stability. A legally married couple then enjoys all the benefits of the social approval so everybody is happy. The fact that not all the married couples end up living happily ever after is another matter that people are not really concerned about needs to be analyzed further.

So it is one thing to be married with all the glitter and fanfare but quite another thing what happens later when the married couple finds it hard to live with each other for one reason or the other. (Please read my blog called the Bliss and curse of marriage here.)

I know of a couple that lived miserably and separated when the woman ran away with someone and the fellow took to the bottle that took his life. I attended their marriage in a small town but had no idea what would happen to them or why but such is life. I knew another couple who came to experience disaster in their relationship when the pushy and greedy woman made the fellow to start drinking heavily that eventually killed him.

I know of a third couple who had three sons, the youngest being my play pal since my childhood. The gentleman was a very good doctor and deeply religious man who provided well for his family but his wife was unhappy for some reason so one day ran away with a fellow and abandoned her family. The result was so sad that I do not want to write about it here.

The Christians like to repeat the words like staying together in sickness or health ,in riches or poverty etc. until the death does the parting from each other because the marriage is supposed to last until death. This finality of marriage is emphasized in all cultures but many marriages fall apart leading to divorce in many societies where the finality of marriage is not taken seriously. It hurts the children the most when they need the parents during their most vulnerable period and it hurts the couple financially, emotionally and even spiritually.

Then there are cases where a divorce is not only welcome, it is desirable. The infidelity in marriage is a major cause but there may be other reasons as well like financial struggles, drug addiction or alcohol abuse. Couples may come to a point when they can’t tolerate each other due to their emotional detachment, domestic violence , mental and severe emotional stress that is caused by the depressing conditions under which they live. It may be due to the fault of the wife or the husband or both so the result is always the same. (Please read my blog on Drugs and domestic violence here.

In the Catholic Christian societies, divorce is not allowed and a legal separation from each other is a very long and tedious process so most couple who have problems may choose to live separately even though married and take up concubines or lovers thus hurting the children even more.

Some women do not mind being a concubine of someone who provides well and supports financially so infidelity in marriage becomes common in such societies demeaning the sacred nature of the traditional marriage. I know many such cases in our neighborhood. Now the trend in many countries seems to be the unmarried couple living together who produce children.  The man may leave the woman after getting her knocked up for one reason or the other because it is easier to leave someone who is not legally married to someone. Such women are euphemistically called single mothers who then have the sole responsibility of raising their progeny. They take up menial jobs to provide for their children because they get pregnant before they finish their schooling so they are forced to take up whatever job they can find just to survive.

In the poorer section of any society where promiscuity and infidelity is common in many countries, women don’t wait to get married so they become sexually active at puberty and may produce large number of kids from different people who bear no responsibility of raising them. To them, marriage is desirable but not attainable because of the cost involved that they can’t afford. The groom may be jobless and without any schooling or skills so the burden of raising the kids falls on the shoulder of the woman who looks for any job she can find. Washing clothes for others, working as a maid or as a waitress somewhere to support themselves is perhaps the only choice they have or they may take to the streets which has its own risks. There are millions of prostitutes who are forced into it due to their financial needs to support their illegitimate children in many countries. Many young women get trafficked by evil men who sell them to the brothels.

In India the Hindus who are tradition bound insist on the dowry system demanded by the potential grooms or their families that puts a great and onerous burden on the family of the girls who want to get married. So many young women remain spinsters because of this dowry problem and because the tradition does not encourage women to have boyfriends. The tradition dictates that the women remain virgin no matter what.

The number of unmarried women in the teaching profession is unusually high because they can’t seem to find a match for them. Perhaps men do not like educated and independent women in their patriarchal society. The issue of eligibility of the man and woman who want to get married is a serious one that depends on the age difference, education, employment status, religion , caste and even political affiliation. Where the eligibility of the man and woman is not an issue, the relationships tend to fall apart quickly. Love is blind does not hold much water in such cases.

This is slowly changing in cities but not so much in rural areas that are still very tradition bound. But the traditionalists do not easily accept the Western culture of boyfriend girlfriend relationship in India leading to some tragic consequences. A young girl was gang raped and murdered in a Delhi bus just because she was out late in the evening with her boyfriend. Her boyfriend was beaten senseless.

The Arya Samaj (society) that arranges mass marriage of hundreds of couples without any cost is a boon to all unmarried men and women but millions of women still remain unmarried. In other countries where there are more men than women, the men can’t find mates easily while in countries where there are more women than men, they face a similar problem.

So now a new trend has developed in Japan where you can rent a boyfriend or a girlfriend for a while without any risk of legal entanglement or responsibilities. You will be amazed how a simple condom has liberated millions of women everywhere. It has also led to promiscuity in both sexes.

These trends develop due to a necessity to solve the issue of biological demands. These demands are true for both sexes everywhere that is why the traditionalists favor their ways of meeting these demands through legal and society approved marriages. Those who can’t get married because they can’t afford dowry or can’t find a suitable match is not their concern.

So I see now a trend worldwide of couple who choose to live together if they can’t get married. They say that in France ,Germany and other European countries a very high number of couple just live together and produce children because marriage is no longer a relevant issue for them. You will see many people who do not attend Church services because religion does not play an important role in their lives any more. So moving away from their Church and religion makes it easier for them to accept a live in relationship.

It was the role of the Church, the temple or synagogues to keep people religion bound and respect the tradition of marriage but that role is diminishing in many countries. Thus the stigma attached to single mother or illegitimate children does not carry the same weight as before because young people simply say that they don’t care what others think of them.

This brings us back to the question Is marriage necessary? To answer it, one has to look at the context in which it is asked. If you ask the traditionalists in any country, they will vouch for the sanctity of marriage and say that it is necessary to follow the moral dictates their religion and society demands. Without it, the people start to behave like animals that has a detrimental effect on the society as a whole.

The concept of marriage is a very old one. It teaches that the sanctity of marriage is dependent on both the husband and wife who must share their responsibility equally in a conjugal manner for the benefit of keeping them together and raise their children in a responsible manner.

The young people who say that marriage is not necessary show a callous attitude toward the children they produce who may face severe social disapproval. If they decide to split from their relationship, they end up hurting their children more than they hurt each other because they take their responsibilities casually. This is very selfish to say the least.

In the final analysis I would like to conclude that there are very good and valid reasons why people should value the sanctity of marriage and take their marital responsibilities seriously so that a healthy and moral society is maintained.  But the traditional societies also need to reform some of their strict dictates and move towards a more liberal way to get young people married while keeping the essentials of their traditions.

The dowry system should be abolished and the men and women should be free to choose their partners they want to live with the rest of their life. No one should be deprived of the joy of marriage that can bring a fundamental change in their life in a very positive way. A happy marriage brings up good children while an unhappy one may end in divorce and a live in relationship may bring up unloved and uncared for children who get into all sorts of trouble later. (Read my blog called the Institution of marriage here. )

So ask yourself what do you want ?. The choice is yours.

Note : My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography. My blogs can be shared by anyone anytime in any social media.

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Surrogacy or adoption?

Source : Google photo of Romanian orphans waiting for adoption

Synopsis: The issue of surrogacy comes to light because of the advances in the medical technology that makes it possible. Yet it remains a taboo subject in many societies where women prefer to make their own kids whether or not they are financially fit to do so. This results in the population explosion in the poorer class in any country where their biological need overrides the financial and social worries. This blog looks at the option of adoption of orphans as a way to help millions of such children.

Yesterday I was watching a Hindi movie where an American couple who had no children and could not have one went to India to find a strong and healthy woman who could bear their child through surrogacy.

They found a beautiful young woman who was a dancer in a local night club but had dreams of going to Bollywood to become a movie star someday. She needed a lot of money so was finally convinced that she will become a surrogate mother for a large sum of money the American couple offered. She did not understand what surrogacy meant so a fertility clinic doctor explained to her that she did not have to sleep with the American in order to get pregnant.

This is where the modern technology came in that helped the young woman get pregnant but she was unmarried so it created quite a scandal in the community where she lived not to mention her own parents and relatives so she stayed with her Moslem friend somewhere during the pregnancy who hid her in her safe house. In the due course of time she gave birth to a healthy male child who was very fair and had blue eyes. But the doctor in the fertility clinic had warned the would be American parents that the child may be born with some birth defect so they decided not to accept the child and went home. But the doctor was wrong because the child was born healthy.

The child was loved by his mother and all the people who showered their love on him with food, gifts and numerous other things. The child knew no other family. They all loved his quick wit, his handsomeness and his admirable personality he was developing.

Later the American couple came back to claim their son when they knew that he was born normal and was healthy but now came a twist in the story when the young woman refused to hand over her son to the Americans because she was his mother and suffered all the pains of childbirth. She was very attached to her son and would not part with him which happens frequently in such cases of surrogacy. Her relatives supported her and were willing to fight it out in the court but their lawyer suggested that the court would favor the American couple in this case because it was a contract they had agreed upon.

To make the long story short, the final outcome was that the young mother agreed to hand over the child to his American parents because she saw a better future for him in America than in India. All of her relatives were against her because they loved the kid and wanted her to keep him.

So one day the American couple came to a meeting but surprised the young woman by saying that she deserves the boy more than them and they also have found a beautiful orphan girl they adopted so they are happy. This was a happy ending for everybody but in real life such happy endings are not guaranteed.

This movie made me think about surrogacy and adoption and their merits and disadvantages. In the case of surrogacy, there may be complications as was shown in the movie because the complications are more common than one can imagine. However, in adoption cases everyone wins.

In the case of this young woman, she was the real biological mother of the child because she received just the sperm that was artificially injected into her but she did the rest herself.

But in other cases where a sperm fertilizes an egg in vitro in a lab and is later introduced into a woman to make her pregnant ,she becomes a true surrogate but may also develop an attachment to the new born and may refuse to hand over the baby. If there is no problem then everybody is happy but if there are problems then it may be a point of contention and may end up in a court and for long litigation.

So I was thinking that the American couple came to a wise decision by giving up their claim on the boy child and adopting a child from an orphanage so it was a happy ending for everybody especially the boy and his mother.

Once I had advised a couple in India to adopt a child because their daughter died of a birth defect so they were very unhappy. I told them that an adopted child will know them as the real parents and will bring them the joy and happiness that was missing from their life. Later they found a baby girl in a hospital where her mother had abandoned her and fled because perhaps she was illegitimate that could have caused her mother some social problems, India being a very traditional society. Now that child is a healthy girl of ten and is doing very well in her school.

But adoption is rare in India because women tend to produce their own children and do not accept an adopted child. It is more of a social issue than anything else. Adopted children and step children are not very well accepted by the step mother or father because of this social prejudice while in other countries it is not an issue. I have friends who have adopted several children and have given them all their love and support but India lags far behind when it comes to adoption let alone the issue of surrogacy that is a very new concept to most women.

There is also a gender bias in India where women prefer male children so there are horrific statistics on female infanticide because of this gender bias. Many women secretly abort their female children because they consider them as liabilities so the hospitals are not allowed to disclose the gender of the baby before birth to prevent female infanticide.

Our own daughter who was born in an Indian hospital was not given a birth certificate with her name on it that was fortunately corrected later. Women showed their disappointment just because she was a girl and the Trans genders who show up at the gate demanding money and gifts if a male child is born did not come. We were happy that we had a beautiful child and relieved when the Trans genders did not come to demand money.

The point is that whether you have a child of your own or through surrogacy or adoption, a child always brings joy to the parents and grandparents irrespective of the gender. It is a grave mistake some parents make to favor their sons over daughters because such daughters grow up feeling less loved that may develop in them a sense of insecurity and of low self-esteem. But a child who is loved and cared for by his or her parents equally becomes a successful person and surprises her parents in much unexpected ways. (Please read my blog on Akiane Kramarik here)

The feudal societies in India perpetuate the myth of the superiority of male over the female so the bias against female children is built into their mentality. It is a serious social issue that needs to change but such changes are very slow to come in the patriarchal societies in India. I have seen a slow change in the attitude of women now who tend to have fewer children than their previous generation due to the economic issues but more women need to overcome their bias and support female children whether their own or adopted. Surrogacy is still very far from their mind.

The gender bias exists everywhere resulting in lower and slower promotion of female causes in the workplace, in education and in many other situations although that is slowly changing. The rural population in many countries that is less educated and poorer than their counterparts in cities is more prone to the gender bias against women because of their firm belief that women are good only for home and hearth. Their religious beliefs also play a significant role in their gender bias that favor boys over girls.

Now with free education for all, more and more girls are going to school everywhere that gives them the opportunity to break free of the home and hearth scenarios. So I believe that only the education and special skills training for all can open up doors for all for new opportunities for them that were not available previously.

Source : Google photo of a Syrian war orphan who needs a home.

You may not believe it but there are over 153 million children worldwide who are anxiously waiting to be adopted legally. Most are orphans who have lost their parents to war or natural calamities while others may be illegitimate children abandoned by their biological parents due to social stigma and restrictions.  The governments of many countries run orphanages that are poorly funded, poorly run and where children may suffer abuses and even molestations ( read my blog on Abuse of children here ) that do not meet the demand for child care adequately.

I therefore applaud all the parents who adopt children and raise them as their own with all the love and care they can muster. Most women can produce children but to raise them properly and give them all the opportunities to reach their full potential is another matter that needs very serious consideration.

Just remember that there are millions of orphans who need your love and protection so bring them home and raise them as your own. You will never regret it because such children will enrich your lives beyond your greatest expectations. The American couple made the right decision after all showing their benevolent and altruistic nature. ( Also read my blog Adoption is an act of altruism here )

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Akiane Kramarik

Source : Google photo of Akiane Kramarik

We have heard of child prodigies in many countries who can do extraordinary things like singing, playing musical instruments, do complicated mathematics or painting. They are the gifted children who show their extraordinary talent at an age when most children play with their toys and babble incoherent words or may draw some crude sketches with their crayons that their parents show around with great pride.

Rarely such children amount to anything more than ordinary no matter what their parents think of them. They are not born with the gift that the prodigies have that sets them apart from others. Some children given the opportunity to learn to sing, play instruments or paint or do other things through tutoring, special schools in their late teen age period may show some promise but they are not called the prodigies.

But the prodigies are rare. They manifest their talents at an early age that takes the world by surprise like the child called Akiane Kramarik in this blog that I was compelled to write as if she was demanding to be noticed. She did no such thing but a gifted child like her could never remain anonymous and unnoticed no matter where and under what circumstances she was born. At first such children are like rare uncut diamonds that people do not recognize but their brilliance bursts into the cognizance as if the unseen hand of a diamond polisher brings it out in all its radiance and glory.

Their parents play the initial crucial role as mentor to the child who give her all the help she needs and encourage the prodigy to grow into his or her full potential. If they are poor then they try the best they can to provide such help like in the case of Akiane by making great sacrifices to do so.

Akiane was born poor in a family of other siblings in Illinois where her parents struggled to feed them, clothe them and provide the basic necessities for them because they were jobless most of the time and could barely keep their heads above water. The constant persecution by neighbors who called them atheist did not help them either but they struggled on and kept helping their gifted child Akiane  no matter what difficulties they endured.

Akiane and her siblings wore shabby clothes, had no toys to play with so they made their own, slept huddled together to ward  off cold weather and suffered all the deprivations the poor people suffer anywhere in the world but the harsh cold weather of Illinois made it worse. They did not complain and formed strong bonds with their struggling parents and siblings and got some lessons through home schooling.

At first people who saw the paintings of Akiane displayed in some local art galleries did not believe that it was done by a child because no one believed that a child could produce such art in such dazzling colors and in such a professional way that the professional artists take years to learn in expensive art schools.

But Akiane was an extraordinary child who knew by her instinct what colors to choose and how to mix them and apply to them to bring out most amazing results on canvas or paper. She would often paint for 20 hours without eating, sleeping or resting to the chagrin of her parents but they left her alone to do what she loved best. She said that she often had visions of her subject or saw them in the clouds or in the nature that she started to put on canvas. No one had ever taught her about color, the composition and the skill of sketching. She was born with this miraculous gift.

Once she had a vision that she must paint a portrait of Jesus but did not know what he could have looked like so she wished with all her heart to give her a model. The very next day a tall and bearded handsome fellow knocked on her door and said that he was a carpenter who was looking for work.

The child by instinct knew that her prayers were answered so she painted her first oil painting of the carpenter as Jesus and presented it to an agent to place it in an art gallery. The agent realizing the value and the sheer beauty of the painting promptly disappeared with it greatly shocking the child but she kept on painting and at the young age of 12 became the sole bread earner for her family. By this time the copies of her paintings were sold for thousands of dollar in various art galleries that brought her to the attention of Oprah Winfrey who literally introduced her to the world in her show. Later other TV channels invited her as well so her name and fame spread worldwide.

These are three videos on her that you should watch.

Source : U tube video on Akiane and her impossible painting
Source : U tube video of Akiane on Oprah Winfrey show
Source : U tube video on Akiane as she is now

Her parents became her full time managers and saved most of her original paintings although a few of the originals were sold for hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Here is just one painting done by her that won her great acclaim but I have included her most famous artwork in the power point that you will enjoy watching below.

Source : Google photo of the painting by Akiane Kramarik

Source : Google photo of Akiane painting Jesus

Here is the power point link I made to highlight her most precious art work.

https://1drv.ms/p/s!AmoX9W4gHulznEqZPJlanHyfDEZZ?e=PkyGUn

Note : My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography. My blogs can be shared by anyone anytime in any social media.

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Abuse of native children

Source : Google photo of an abused Native Australian child

Synopsis : It is sad that the so called religious people who demand respect are the ones who abuse the children and women in need. There is a worldwide condemnation of the clergy , priests and nuns who have mistreated and continue to mistreat the poor, the young and the vulnerable in the name of helping them. This story should shock you if you are a decent person and have compassion for the abused people anywhere.

The native population of many countries has suffered in the hands of the white people for centuries because of racism and discrimination based on racism. There was a time when the entire country of the United States was occupied by numerous tribes of Native Americans who are still wrongly called Indians. They had lived for thousands of years and developed a strong and very rich culture of their own that was unique and beautiful.

Most of the tribes lived as nomads depending on hunting and gathering wild fruits and grains so they constantly moved from place to place to find game and other things for their sustenance. They were not settled farmers although there were some tribes that stayed put and grew crops to feed themselves.

Then came the scourge of white people who forcibly took over the land and killed off or chased away the Native Americans thus denying them hunting so they started dying off not only from hunger but also due to the diseases introduced by the white immigrants like small pox and sexual diseases to which the Natives had no immunity.

Later the natives were given barren places to live on called Indian reservations where they still live and try to survive selling the handicraft and jewelries they make for the tourists but alcoholism and drug abuse remains a problem.  The domestic violence and suicide rate remains a major concern because once proud Native Americans who feel neglected and marginalized seek a way out of their poverty and hopeless life.

Source : U Tube video on the abuse of Native American children in America

The worst affected were the children who have suffered in the hands of whites who were taken away from their loved ones to dismal schools and convents where they were mistreated , sexually violated and beaten into submission to make them “ civilized “ They were forced to learn English and wear clothes alien to them. They were punished for speaking in their own language and practice their culture so these unhappy children grew up under pitiful conditions and many tried to escape but were caught and brought back to their prisons.

Source : U tube video on the stolen generation of Native Australian children

In Australia the Native Australian children were so maltreated and traumatized to be separated from their parents and their communities that it scarred them for life.

When you forcibly separate the children from the communities where they were born into strange places called reformatories, they lose all touch with their homes and their language and culture and with it all the knowledge they could have acquired from their parents and others to survive.

They were taken away by the whites who wanted these children to be “civilized” by teaching them to wear western clothes and speaking only English. Imagine the pain the parents suffered from this treatment because they never understood what was wrong with their culture, their language and their food or clothes. They had lived this way for thousands of years until the white colonialists arrived to set up their penal colonies for the convicts they brought in from England.

With the convicts came the missionaries who saw it as their duty to bring some religion to the convicts and civilize the Native Australians using harsh methods by making them good Christians in the process.

The true horror of these reform schools run by the missionaries trickled out slowly over the years to expose the brutality these children suffered in the hands of their keepers. They were sexually violated, beaten and even starved to force them into submission so these innocent children suffered.

The worst story recently came out of Canada where hundreds of remains of children of Native Americans were found. They were the victims of serious abuse over a long period of time but it has only come to light now that has shocked the world. How many more such horror stories are waiting to be told is anyone’s guess.

Canada mourns 215 children after remains found at indigenous school

Source : Google photo of Canada’s national flag flies at half-mast after the remains of 215 children were discovered in a mass grave at the former Kamloops Indian Residential School site (Reuters photo)

Canada flew its flags at half-mast Sunday in mourning for 215 children whose remains were discovered on the grounds of a former boarding school set up more than a century ago to assimilate indigenous peoples.

Source : U tube video of Native American children abused in Canada

“To honor the 215 children whose lives were taken at the former Kamloops residential school and all Indigenous children who never made it home, the survivors, and their families, I have asked that the Peace Tower flag (in Ottawa) and flags on all federal buildings be flown at half-mast,” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said on Twitter. Several municipalities, including the economic metropolis Toronto, announced they would also lower their flags.

The discovery of the children’s remains, some as young as three, sparked strong emotions throughout Canada, particularly in the indigenous communities.

A specialist used ground-penetrating radar to confirm the remains of the students who attended the school near Kamloops, British Columbia, the Tk’emlups te Secwepemc tribe said in a statement late Thursday.

The Kamloops Indian Residential School was the largest of 139 boarding schools set up in the late 19th century, with up to 500 students registered and attending at any one time.

It was operated by the Catholic church on behalf of the Canadian government from 1890 to 1969. Some 150,000 Indian, Inuit and Metis youngsters in total were forcibly enrolled in these schools, where students were physically and sexually abused by headmasters and teachers who stripped them of their culture and language.

Today those experiences are blamed for a high incidence of poverty, alcoholism and domestic violence, as well as high suicide rates, in their communities.

Ottawa formally apologized in 2008 for what the commission later termed a “cultural genocide” as part of a Can$1.9 billion (US$1.6 billion) settlement with former students.

“I’ve said before that the residential schools was a genocide of our people. Here’s just another glowing example of that genocide in practice: undocumented deaths of children,” the national chief of the Assembly of First Nations, Perry Bellegarde, said Sunday on the news channel CTV.

Bellegarde noted there was still much work to be done to identify the remains, find their families and examine the sites of other residential schools.

He said the federal government “does have a responsibility to make sure that these resources are in place to get the answers.”
Ceremonies to honor the young victims took place or were to take place throughout the country. About 100 people gathered Sunday in the Mohawk community of Kahnawake, near Montreal. Participants placed children’s shoes and toys on the steps of the Saint Francis Xavier church as a tribute to the victims.  ( Wikipedia )

Source : U Tube video on mass murder of children in Tuam , Ireland

You have perhaps also heard of the hundreds of children who died and were secretly buried in a place called Tuam run by the Catholic nuns in Ireland. The nuns ran a place where unwed mothers were given shelter but their illegitimate children were treated as garbage so they died of malnutrition, hunger and disease. It is not known if the nuns killed them but surely they helped them die young because of their conviction that they were the product of sin.

Mass grave of babies and children found at Tuam care home in Ireland.

Excavations at site of home for unmarried mothers and their children, where it is alleged up to 800 children died, uncover human remains.

Source : Wikipedia-  Human remains have been discovered in underground chambers at the site in Tuam, Galway. Ireland

A mass grave containing the remains of babies and children has been discovered at a former Catholic care home in Ireland where it has been alleged up to 800 died, government-appointed investigators said on Friday.

Excavations at the site of the former Bon Secours Mother and Baby Home in Tuam, County Galway, have uncovered an underground structure divided into 20 chambers containing “significant quantities of human remains”, the judge-led mother and baby homes commission said.

The commission said analysis of selected remains revealed ages of the deceased ranged from 35 weeks to three years old. It found that the dead had been mostly buried in the 1950s, when the facility was one of more than a dozen in Ireland offering shelter to orphans, unmarried mothers and their children. The Tuam home closed in 1961.

The home, run by the Bon Secours Sisters, a Catholic religious order of nuns, received unmarried pregnant women to give birth. The women were separated from their children, who remained elsewhere in the home, raised by nuns, until they could be adopted.

The shrine erected in memory of the up to 800 children allegedly buried at the site of the former home. Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

The discovery confirms decades of suspicions that the vast majority of children who died at the home were interred on the site in unmarked graves, a common practice at such Catholic-run facilities amid high child mortality rates in early 20th-century Ireland.

The Irish government in 2014 formed the commission following the work of a local Tuam historian, Catherine Corless, who found death certificates for nearly 800 children who were residents at the facility but burial records for only two.

Source : U Tube video on the abuse of children in Tuam, Ireland that church ignored because the illegitimate children were treated as garbage.

“Everything pointed to this area being a mass grave,” Corless previously told the Guardian. She recalled how boys playing in the field had reported seeing a pile of bones in a hidden underground chamber there in the mid-1970s.

The government’s commissioner for children, Katherine Zappone, said the findings were “sad and disturbing” and promised that the children’s families would be consulted on providing proper burials and other memorials.

“We will honour their memory and make sure that we take the right actions now to treat their remains appropriately,” Zappone said.

Source : Photo of Catherine Corless. Patrick Bolger Photogrraphy

Under the Freedom of Information Act, Corless requested Galway county council’s records on the home from 1925 to 1961. She was refused.

But she was given documents from the 1970s, including an official map of the present-day estate the council built on the site. “They obviously didn’t see the importance,” said Corless. “There is an area across the map marked ‘burial ground’,” she says. “First, the houses were built, around that area. Finally a playground was built on part of the burial ground itself.”

It is a fact that the Catholic Church in many countries ran the schools, reformatories and places of incarceration for the unfortunate women and children who suffered there without any recourse to justice. The nuns who ran these places had no compassion for them so they treated them brutally in the name of paving their way to purgatory but what was the sin committed by the innocent children?

There are numerous stories of abuse done to the underage and children by the Catholic priests in many countries that has only lately been recognized by the Vatican that has now promulgated laws to stop such abuses but they still do not talk about punishing the guilty and restitution to those abused. Many such abusers are still a part of the church pretending that nothing has happened. The Protestant churches are not blameless either.

The sad part is that the Vatican until now has not allowed its clergy to be brought to any civil court to face trial so protects the guilty. But aren’t the governments in many countries guilty of not doing enough to protect the children and all those who have suffered? Saying sorry is never enough. The guilty people must be punished for the crimes they have committed and the victims if still alive must be compensated and given a fair chance of living in peace somewhere. ( Read my blog called Challenges facing Vatican here)

But I would like to know how a victim who has been thus abused and traumatized can live in peace anywhere ! Can such scars be healed by money and an apology? Can the souls of all those children who died of abuse and neglect be appeased? Can anyone have faith and respect for those who have abused their power this way? I would definitely like to know.

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Faith as business

Source : Google photo of faith and business

Synopsis : The business of faith has never been so lucrative as it is now. The blog looks at how some people accumulate vast riches by making people believe that they have an obligation to donate.

We all believe in something or someone. It is called faith. It may be of religious in nature or non-religious but it surely plays a role in everyone’s life that has a strong influence on how he or she lives.

Faith is the bread and butter of all organized religions and they do not tire of reminding the faithful how important it is to have faith in the religions they follow and how it can transform their daily lives.

You will notice that the Christians particularly are obsessed with this insistence on repeating the mantra every day that you must have faith, you must declare your obedience to their dogma and must profess your faith in their doctrine in a very visible manner.

You must kneel down and accept the Holy bread at the end of their ritual and must show obedience as Christians. This sort of insistence is common to all religions because they do not like anyone to question their doctrine. They see it as a threat to their religion if people start questioning the validity of their Holy book and all that it entails.

What in essence they are asking you to do is to have blind faith that should not be questioned and analyzed. Their entire system of promulgating their religion is based on this premise that one must not question what they tell you and accept it as the truth and only truth so help me  … etc.

It worked well for a very long time and still does to a great extent so all religions flourish and get new followers every day to swell their ranks. In the process the purveyors of their religions accumulate vast wealth and properties and continue to do so. They collect money at the end of their service in churches, mosques, temples etc. and they constantly ask for more but they never mention where the money goes and for what purpose it is spent.

There is a temple in Andhra Pradesh, India in the hills that is called Tirupati temple. We have been there. It is a vast complex of temple and other buildings visited by millions of Hindus who donate money to the temple that collects millions of Rupees of it. There we saw a huge canvas bag on a tripod with a big open mouth where the pilgrims keep on pouring money like rain so the huge sac gets filled up and is upended to a special room where scores of people count all the money and make bundles to deposit in their bank. This process never stops so you can imagine how rich the Tirupati temple really is although no one really knows because there is a secrecy that surrounds them.

Then there are numerous other massive temples all over India where the devotees go to pray and some of them donate money as well. But we were warned by our guide not to give our name and address to them because the priests will inevitably ask for it and once they get it, they will hound you with their nonstop demand for money.

One of the richest temples in the entire world is in Kerala that has billions of dollars’ worth of gold, silver, precious gems and coins accumulated over many centuries. It is kept in six secret vaults but the sad part is the fact that this vast accumulated wealth is not really put to any good use to help the poor or the orphans.

It is called the Padmanavaswamy temple in Trivandrum that is called the richest temple of all. They have found over 22 billion dollars’ worth of treasure in five vaults that were opened and catalogued but the last vault has never been opened because people believe that there is a curse on it so whoever opens or even tries to open it will die. The door of this vault has snakes on it that protect the wealth inside.

Source : Google photo of the 6th vault of Padmanavaswamy temple in Kerala that contains untold treasure but believed to be cursed.

It is same story of Vatican that keeps accumulating vast amount of wealth that is shrouded in secrecy so no one really knows how much they have and how much of it they spend on relief to poor and destitute.

So the business of faith is a very lucrative business after all and it is all tax free to boot. It is also a favorite scam of some Indians who pretend to be sadhus or spiritual people who garbed in their saffron clothes and long lice infested matted hairs sit under a tree with a donation box that has a padlock but a slit on top to collect money from the gullible.

These ubiquitous donation boxes with padlock and a slit are a hallmark of these people who collect a lot of money but for what purpose? No one really knows. They say that you must have blind faith and support them to show them that you have unshakable faith.

Source : Google photo of Sripuram golden temple in Vellore that is entirely covered in gold worth millions of dollars.

You will not believe your eyes if you visit the great temple of Sripuram in Vellore in South India where the entire temple complex is covered in gold so it is a great tourist attraction. Naturally there are security cameras to keep an eye on the visitors who may have some bad ideas  but what is impressive is the fact that this much gold was accumulated just from the devotees over the centuries  just to show you how generous they can be to donate so much gold due to their faith.

Source : Google photo of the Golden temple in Amritsar covered in gold

Similarly the most important Sikh temple in Amritsar is called The Golden temple for a reason because the entire temple is covered in gold plates that will blind you with the sun reflecting on it. It is the holiest shrine of the Sikhs where their holy book Granthasahib is kept. The temple feeds thousands of people daily where anyone of any faith or no faith can get a free meal any day throughout the year. This way the temple uses its considerable wealth that makes the Sikhs unique.

So we come back to the eternal question.  What is faith and why some people have so much of it that they give everything they have to these temples or churches or support them so generously?

The faith they demand from their followers is not something people have instantly but it is cultivated and nurtured over their life time and constantly re invigorated through constant sermons and exultations from the pulpits to make you feel guilty if you do not donate because they say that it is your religious duty to do so. The cash cow can give a lot of milk if fed well so they try hard to feed you with words so that you start feeling generous. A lot of people at a certain age start feeling anxious about their place in the netherworld so they start reserving a good place there for themselves which is done through cash donations.

Another way a faith is developed is through a constant pressure from the parents and siblings under the guidance of a parish priest so that a child starts believing them and learns to cross himself automatically.

He is asked to join the catechism classes where the stories of the Bible are repeated so that the kid knows all the stories and starts believing them. Later as an adult he is well trained to fall in step with others and will not be a rebel and question the padres although there are some who come to different conclusions and stay away from the mainstream. So the faith is definitely taught, cultured and watered over a long period until it takes roots and grows into a lifelong belief.

In Islam it is very important for the mullahs to imprint the dictates of Koran on very small children who are often beaten to submission until they rebel no more and become fanatics to cause havoc somewhere as adults. They are taught to hate the infidels in their childhood that becomes their firm belief in their adulthood.

So faith can be used as a tool by the manipulators for their own purpose whatever they may be so we see a proliferation worldwide of faith to serve the purpose of the manipulators of faith. The purpose may be to accumulate enormous wealth that is tax free or to cause bloodshed in the name of their brand of religion. We see this in every continent where the terrorists use religion and their faith in it as the basis for their terror attack on innocent people.

I heard this story somewhere that is worth telling here. The Mormons who felt that they must move west to establish themselves in the United States started their long journey. On the road they met with people who were famished and very thirsty who begged for food and water from them but this help came at a price. The Mormons insisted that they must become Mormons first before they would be given even a drop of water and a morsel of food. These poor people who were desperate and helpless agreed so this way the Mormons grew in numbers.

The same technique was used by the so called saint Mother Theresa in India who converted dying and poor Indians into Christianity and only then she gave them some help like food and water just like the Mormons in the United States. Every Mormon must donate to their church a portion of their annual income, keep a store of food to last a long time and send their children for a mandatory assignment to preach their religion to non-believers.

Almost all the organized religions use faith to accumulate wealth to serve their ulterior motives whatever they may be but others who are not religious in nature do the same.

There are numerous NGOs like Red Cross, Red Crescent and hundreds of others who appeal to people to donate to them because they claim to help the needy with the money. No doubt there are organizations like World Food Program of the UN that feed and shelter millions of poor people who need their help. The UN does a commendable work in many countries to help the poor, the refugees, to save the children from trafficking and numerous other such work but their work is limited by the funds they can raise. They always need more money to do their job and help more people.

But other NGOs like Red Cross are not transparent and do not disclose how their funds are used and where and exactly how many people benefit from their help. To be fair, there are many charitable organizations that help feed the poor, run orphanages and old age homes to look after them. They raise money by appealing to you and me so that we can support their humanitarian work. They are the first to appear with food and blankets when people suffer from famine, flood or earthquakes. They run charitable health clinics to take care of sick and other needy people.

The flying doctors operate free of charge on people needing specialized eye care while other doctors risk their own lives working with Ebola patients. Many such brave doctors and nurses have died with covid infections and still others continued to serve. They are the heroes. All the humanitarian work they do worldwide is not based on their religious faith but their belief in helping others when they need it.

But the blog is about the religious faith and its abuse by some preachers, padres and mullahs who accumulate wealth in the name of religion and try to make the faithful guilty if they do not donate.

We all need to believe in something so we join religious groups, non-religious groups, groups that cater to the needs of particular people, groups that preach violence and racism like the KKK in the United States, etc. The caveat they all have in common is that there is a cost of joining any group. They ask for membership fee, donations for special projects and make many other demands. They are really no different from various political groups who do the same thing.

But to accumulate vast riches in the name of faith and locking it up in underground vaults over centuries like in the temple vault shown in the photo above is greed because this wealth just sits there and does nothing for the devotees and the poor people anywhere.

The business of making money through faith is reprehensible to say the least but who feeds their greed if not you and I?

Note : My blogs are also available in French, Spanish, German and Japanese languages at the following links as well as my biography. My blogs can be shared by anyone anytime in any social media.

les blogs en français.

Mis blogs en espagnol

Blogs von Anil in Deutsch

My blogs in Japanese

My blogs at Wix site

tumblr posts    

Blogger.com

Medium.com

Anil’s biography in English.

Biographie d’Anil en français

La biografía de anil en español.

Anil’s Biografie auf Deutsch

Anil’s biography in Japanese

Биография Анила по-русскиu

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