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Ramblings of my Sunday self - Part II
My Sunday ramblings this week cover many political as well as social topics. They go from Sangma and Pranab to Sarabjit and gold prices. But it is better, my Sunday self rests for a few seconds on Ramgiri Hills where Kalidas composed his Meghdoot.

THESE DAYS, there are only two topics engaging all our attention. One is if Sangma will get more of Mamata’s attention than Pranab and the second one is as if Pinki is a man or a woman. To my neighbour more important question is the price of gold, which has crossed the highest mark of 3000 per gram. Life has become golden for many. People are investing only in gold. All are becoming Midas of the golden touch. What will the world do if all money is converted into gold because its price is only stable thing in the world?

Kalidas’ Meghdoot contains the story of the Yaksha who used to live in Alakapuri, which is the Indian counterpart of Yeatsean Byzantium, the city of gold. The moment I feel that Yaksha was confined in the four walls of the golden city, I feel that we all modern men are Yakshas living in the golden city.

We all have grown in a materialistic world with all materialistic desires of eating and drinking. But in the modern hedonistic theory there is no place for merriment. We are all gloomy tribes. Having so much, we feel that we have got nothing. Hedonism, from the Greek word for pleasure is closely related to the philosophies of nihilism and narcissism.

A student of Socrates, Aristippus founded this ethical philosophy on the basis of pleasure. Aristippus believed that people should "act to maximize pleasure now and not worry about the future”, but nowadays people buy gold for maximizing worries and minimizing pleasure. Suppose you invest all in gold. Then the worries are all let loose. You won't get any locker in a good nationalized bank. Even if you get one, there are problems of income tax. Any moment your locker can be sealed.

Alakapuri creates still less problem for me. It is a golden city and no question of keeping gold in a locker arises. But the greater problem is if Kalidas was at the Ramgiri near Ramtek and not at some other place bearing an identical name when he composed Meghdoot? During my NCC training as an army officer at Kamptee, I have trekked the hill called Ramtek and seen Ramgiri. But there is still grave doubt if that place was exactly one where Yaksha sent the cloud as the messenger for his message to the beloved. This query can be answered with the help of the folklore of the area.

Many a time, folk songs or folk tales give authentic clues to history, enabling us to reconstruct the past. In the Nagpur-Ramtek region, the songs of a nomadic tribe called Kaikadi help us solve some ticklish questions regarding Kalidas’s presence in the area. In one of the songs, the tribals sing of a man called Kali: "It is Rama’s Ramtek where Kali talked to the clouds in such an overwhelming tone that even the hills started shedding tears." The reference here is to the rain. Further the song goes thus: “On Rama’s Ramtek, Kali made ink of his tears, used eyes as the bottle for ink and wrote the tale of his agony for which the hills stand a witness."

Ramtek is a place of pilgrimage and tourist attraction; its orchards produce high-quality betel leaf; it is known for its sprawling lakes and scenic grandeur; and, above all, it is venerated as the birthplace of a great literary work, for it was here that Kalidas wrote his masterpiece Meghdoot. On the first day of Ashad, the monsoon month, lovers of literature gather at the Kalidas memorial, built recently on Ramgiri mound, to pay their homage to the great poet.

On Sundays my imaginative self roams everywhere from Ramtek to Rawalpindi. The Pakistan President’s office late midnight claimed confusion over clemency to death-row prisoner, Sarabjit Singh and said it is not Sarabjit but Surjeet Singh who is going to be released. He is son of Sucha Singh. He death sentence was commuted in 1989 by the then President Ghulam Ishaq Khan on the advice of then Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto.

But already around 9pm the external affairs minister S.M. Krishna had thanked Zardari for the steps purportedly taken for Sarabjit’s release. But the news was misleading and I rather in a mood of anger cursed the Zardari government for misleading the world. The love story of Meghdoot and the story of revenge that Zardari tells us now about Sarabjit are two different stories altogether. But they happen. The Lashkar-e-Toiba terrorist Syed Zabiuddin Ansari alias Abu Jundal is also arrested with the help of Saudi Arabia. The hunt is on for Jundal allies. There exists no love between Pakistan and India yet. A wide gulf of frosty differences is prevalent with Pakistan’s new Prime Minister perceiving the problem of terror in the same old fashion. There is no love anywhere. The Yakshas are gone for ever and there is no sign of monsoon cloud in Northern India in spite of a very whimsical drops of rain this or that evening. We are all denizens of Alakapuri with price of gold increasing with every hike in the petrol and diesel prices. The clemency flip flop is over. Zardari has given hint of frost after the arrest of Jundal. No mercy, no love anywhere. Terror, revenge, blood for blood, everywhere as if modern life has become a Jacobean revenge tragedy with melodrama of killing and rampages everywhere. Who listens to the message of Gandhi with which Attenborough’s Gandhi ends: “Tooth for tooth and eye for eye will only make the world toothless and blind.”

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