When I read the prophecy of the 90-year-old pastor, Harold Camping, that the world would come to an end at 6 pm on Saturday, May 21, I noted it down in my diary. The end would start from New Zealand with a violent earthquake across the world till all living beings were dead. Came Saturday, the doomsday; came the fatal hour, 6 pm. What happened? Nothing.
Camping has been known to have prophesied doomsday once earlier. No one would have paid attention to his utterances. He has his own Family Radio, which reaches out to the world and his foolish utterances are heard by millions across the globe. He also prophesied the second coming of Jesus Christ. So religious Christians respect what he says. I hope they stop doing so. Undeterred, he has prophesied a third doomsday next October. He should be dismissed as a nut case.
We Indians are not in a position to mock Camping. Remember, in the 1960s, our learned astrologers forecast the end of life because eight planets were in conjunction — ashtagraha. I don’t know what that means but I recall life coming to a standstill that day and thousands of havans being performed to appease the gods. What happened? Nothing.
Not so long ago, the rumour got around that stone Ganapatis were drinking milk offered to them by good people. Behind Khan Market, there is a temple. It had idols of many gods except Ganapati. So it quickly put in a Ganapati as well. I saw with my own eyes a long queue of men and women carrying milk bottles. There were policemen to see everyone took his or her turn. For the next few days, the drain on the eastern side of the market stank of rotten milk.
Most such irrational acts happen here because over 90 per cent Indians believe in astrology as a science, which it is not. How can planets, which are millions of miles away from us, possibly affect our behaviour? Astrology is not a science but is 100 per cent bunkum. Nevertheless, many highly-educated people subscribe to it. One was the never-smiling T.N. Seshan, who retired as chief election commissioner. He looked down on all his colleagues as bevkoofs (stupid). He consulted his stars and put himself up as a candidate for the post of president of India. He lost miserably.
Another highly-educated man who believes in horoscopes is Murli Manohar Joshi. As the human resource development minister in the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance government, he proposed to make astrology a subject of study in colleges. Fortunately, very few principals took his proposal seriously. In his political career, he lost an election despite the assurance of victory by his stars.
Another irrational belief is in Vastu. Ask any architect today whether he consults Vastu while designing buildings or houses. The answer would be a loud laugh. In all big cities, we have high-rise buildings facing one another. Besides making sure that the lavatory is at a distance from the kitchen, there is nothing to Vastu’s other requirements. For instance, strictures on the direction of the entrance are irrational and impractical.
Sujan Singh Park, where I live, is rectangular. On the north side is Hotel Ambassador. To the east, south and west are four-storeyed blocks of flats. It was designed by Walter George, one of Lutyens’s team of architects. There is no Vastu about it. It is amongst the most sought-after places for living.
Why don’t we have the courage to throw Vastu in the garbage heap?
A company stipulated that it would recruit only married men. Concerned about this, a local women’s liberation front leader called on the CEO and asked him, “Why is it that you limit your employees to married men? Is it because you consider women weak, dumb, cantankerous tantrum-throwers and bossy?”
“Not at all, Ma’am,” the CEO replied. “It is because our policy is to hire men who are used to obeying orders without questioning, who are accustomed to being shoved around, who know how to keep their mouths shut and put up with anything when I yell at them....”
(Courtesy: Vipin Buckshey, Delhi)
Rush hour — when traffic stands still.
Before television, no one knew what a headache looked like.
Happiness — the result of being too busy to be miserable.
Intuition — what enables a woman to contradict her husband before he says anything.
Cooperation — doing with a smile what you are compelled to do.
(Contributed by Rajnish, Shimla)