Sunday, July 16, 2017

My pilgrimage to Badrinath Ji and Kedarnath Ji

Jai Bhole Baba !

It was at the time of Shivratri this year that I made a resolution to visit Badrinath and Kedarnath as while performing puja this feeling rose in my heart.

Badrinath and Kedarnath are not so easy places to visit as I knew before but realized more so when my tour was complete.

The last railhead for journey to Badrinath and Kedarnath is Haridwar which itself is a great city for pilgrims as Kumbh Mela is held here every 12 years and ardh kumbh every 6 years.

Most of us have the misconception that if it is hills it would be cold and pleasant. This notion was dispelled in our minds forever after this pilgrimage tour.

We reached Haridwar by Janata Express which starts from Varanasi and terminates at Dehradun.

We had a lot of luggage and now the challenge was for us to find a tour operator as I seldom trust package tours maybe also because the element of surprise is killed by a package tour.

On the road opposite the railway station we found a lot of small tour operators. Finally we found one a bit reliable - Gaylord Tours. As there were two of us and a small child we hired a Mahindra Logan as it looked new and spacious for the whole tour of Badrinath and kedarnath. We made our first little mistake here we should have hired and AC car (the car did have an AC but we had not paid for it).

We put most of our luggage in the big boot of the car and settled ourselves in the cosy seat. It was so hot but we expected that as we would climb up the mountains it would get cooler so we were not worried.

We stopped for about two hours at Rishikesh to meet a holy man to take his blessings and tips for the journey. His Aashram was so nice and cosy and full of spiritual energy that we felt recharged for the big journey.

After this we again embarked on our tour. Here we would like to mention that in Uttarakhand there are mainly hilly roads which are narrow. Parking is at a premium and the moment you park your vehicle at an authorised place the police will immediately fine you. Perhaps it is for the best.

We were not hungry but the driver was and so we stopped in Kaudiyala at a restaurant opposite river rafting club office. It had tolerable food but the moment I left Rishikesh and throughout the entire journey of Badrinath kedarnath I practically lost my appetite and survived only on cold drinks.

After our lunch at Kaudiyala we again started and this time it was a cruel journey that never seemed to end. The sun resolved to burn us down and we tried to survive its merciless heat. I asked the driver to turn on the AC and charge us for it but he quoted an impossible rate perhaps because he himself did not want to turn the AC as it takes away a bit of power from the car engine. We passed Srinagar, Pauri etc. all with the merciless sun shining upon us. There was no respite from the heat. We drove on and on and on to reach closer to Kedarnath. It started to get dark and I was alarmed because the hill roads are dangerous and the smallest mistake could make one pay very dearly. 

As we reached Guptakashi it for the first time started to get just a bit cool. I liked the place a lot and so I told the driver to pull up at a hotel at Guptakashi. He wanted to go on further but I strictly told him to pull over. 

We checked in at Hotel Himalayan inn at Guptakashi. I liked the view from the Hotel Balcony but then I saw another hotel from there with a still better view so I asked the guy showing us around about that hotel. He said that the other hotel also belonged to them. So we moved to that hotel. It was an awesome hotel very spacious and rather cheap such a place in Lucknow would have cost a fortune. There was a guy from Nepal there who was the manager as well as the waiter and porter too. 

We put off our sweat stained clothes took a bath and settled in the bed to sip some tea. Like in most of the places that we visited in Uttaranchal they rarely know how to make tea, I am talking about hotels and restaurants that is why I always carry tea bags with me to make the tea darker and more concentrated. So we did that here too and it worked. We were too tired to go out and have food so we ordered some to be served in our room. The food was so awful that we practically slept hungry but we were so tired that we slept like logs. Just before sleeping however I tried to photograph the mountain bang opposite our balcony that housed Ookhimath a place where Lord Kedarnath rests during winters as the original temple is covered with snow. It was an awesome experience to have such a gigantic mountain right in front of us.

The next day we started at 6:00 am in the morning for Kedarnath. We passed Sonprayag by the way where our driver originally intended to halt. It looked a very crowded place due to the huge influx of pilgrims and tourists. The driver said that parking was difficult so he would park the car 6 km down at Sonprayag. It irritated me considerably and I felt that if he really made an effort he could park there only but I did not want to argue so we just got off the taxi.

At Gaurikund the starting point for the 14 Km trek up Kedarnath temple it was rather cool but we later realized that it was to be for some half and hour only. We hired two guys there to carry the child and a bag with some clothes and medicines. My companion insisted that we take a palki instead of horses so I went to the Palki stand run by the government. There a guy weighed us on electronic weighing machine and gave us slips with our weights written on them. with these slips we went to the payment counter. I was stunned by the palki rates! They charged nearly 4000 rupees per palki per person.

A palki is really a wooden contraption with two poles at either ends in which a person can sit most painfully with legs resting at a narrow place in front. Four people carry the palki on their shoulders. These are generally from Nepal. the head palki bearer complained all the time that I was too heavy and that my bag was too heavy and absolutely made me furious with his rantings all along the way. We made a very very steep climb up the hill. We stopped at almost the half way point at Rambara. After this I could take the palki ride no more and hired two ponies for us and completed the trek on these. A friendly and elderly Nepali lady running a small eatery at Rambara kindly agreed to keep our heavy bag in her custody till we returned. I watched with extreme envy the Prabhatam Aviation helicopters hovering above us almost every 15 minutes.

I repeated 'Om Namah Shivai' in my mind several times. I was concerned about the safety of the infant but somehow we reached a small plain just near the Kedarnath temple and my irritation , insecurity and fear lessened considerably though from here the temple was not visible still. We left our ponies and palkies at their respective stands and walked uphill through the bazaar near the temple. Here we bought some dry prasad for in remote pilgrimage places like these one should only offer dry prasad so that he can carry the prasad back home as dry prasad like crystallized sugar, laiya, anardana and dry fruits last a long time. The temple just appeared as we reached the end of the bazaar. I felt a bit choked with emotion. The temple closes at 3 pm so we were in a hurry. It was already about 2 pm. We got into a long line and waited for our turn. 

As our turn came it was already 3 pm . I got panicky. the person at the temple gate wanted to close it but by God's grace the person at the end of the line perhaps said aloud to him that he should allow us to have darshan since we had an infant with us and so by Baba Bholenath's grace we were allowed in. The temple reopens at 4 pm but had we missed this chance we would not have been able to reach our hotel the same day and would have had to stay at Kedarnath itself without any change of clothes or bedding.

In the temple there was a great jostling and pulling and even the person behind us who was very friendly while we were in the line pushed us and got in front. i was still not sure whether we would have darshan or not but we met a Panda Ji who invited us and though averse to getting a Panda I do not know why we agreed to take him. We reached the garbha griha not quite sure whether I will be able to touch the shivalingam. The Shivalingam is huge almost the size of a table. The Pandaji was so gentle he allowed us to perform the puja undisturbed. he forcibly made me prostrate and that way I touched half my body to the jyotirlinga. After this I started weeping with ecstasy and wept for nearly ten minutes non stop all the time afraid to alarm my companions. I made the infant also lie on the shivalinga and requested baba Kedarnath to took care of it throughout its life for I was too weak to do so.

After coming out of the temple and weeping uncontrollably I asked the Pandaji about Dakshina but he was thoroughly alarmed seeing me weeping and felt that a great sorrow disturbed me realizing little that the tears were of an infant who has been teased by his companion and who feels greatly comforted and reassured in the lap of his parents. 

Pandaji said that we should give dakshina according to our financial standing. I gave him dakshina liberally and clutched his feet tightly saying that if it were not for him we might never have had the darshan of Lord Kedarnath. he was thoroughly embarrased by my clutching his feet but I could not help it. I wept uncontrollably and in fact wailed in ecstasy. I could not control myself though I tried very very hard. Such is the love of Lord kedarnath who controls every breath that we take. Lord Shiva has been very kind to me.

After having had the darshan I felt enormously changed. My fatigue vanished. I also drunk the water that trickles down from the shivalinga and after drinking that (which may make some vomit since the taste is not good at all) I felt like Napoleon and felt as if I had drunk Amrit.

I was very much ready now to take the ride back in the same palki that I despised and even felt love and concern for the palki bearers and thanked them in my mind for allowing me darshan of Lord Kedarnath.

We reached gaurikund again while it was getting dark. At Gaurikund we had a bit of chowmein in a tea shop when the shop owner warned us that if we stayed too long the gate at Sonprayag might close.

We ran out at the parking and found a mini bus who agreed to drop us at Sonprayag. Now I was feeling irritated with the driver of our taxi.

At Sonprayag however we easily found him in the parking lot and made our way back to Guptkashi in pitch darkness.

We were too tired to change clothes or eat food at Guptkashi hotel and immediately went to sleep.

In the morning we started again for Badrinath. I knew of a much smaller route through Ukhimath or OOkhimath but the driver would not take it so we just did not argue and proceeded to Badrinath via Augustmuni, Rudraprayag, karnaprayag, nandprayag, chamoli, Joshimath.

The route to Badrinath is much more picturesque than Kedarnath and the dimensions of the mountains are much bigger. It was also much cooler on the way which was a big comfort. There were huge caravans of vehicles and the road was frequently choked up. At Rudraprayag a gate closes periodically to regulate traffic of vehicles going on differnt routes and one has to wait sometimes an hour. We waited for about 2 hours . 

I fell asleep after crossing Joshimath. When I woke up it was raining and we were at Hanuman Chatti. It was dark and I could not at all make out which road was leading where. We had planned to stay overnight at Badrinath as there was no way out but all hotels the driver knew were occupied then a guy requested us to see his hotel, it was in a dark lane but since I had an infant with me and it had grown really cold I just took the infant and made my body fall on the bed in that hotel along with the infant which also felt relived. We put on some warm clothing and luckily a tolerably good restaurant named Sardeshwari was just outside the dark lane. We had a bit of lunch there and the infant had milk. It stared to grow colder and colder. In the night the infant vomitted several times and it alarmed me but by morning it was alright.

We were so tired that we slept till 8:30 am and only then got alarmed that the line for darshan must have become huge. We took some extra warm clothing and went to the temple hardly a furlong away. In the morning I also noticed that we probably had the best hotel in Badrinath since the restaurant was so near and a wide road passed just beside the hotel on which our car was parked. the hotel was named Bhumika Niketan. A caretaker there triples up as the manager, porter and waiter. I was very happy with him (as i rarely am with hotel staff) and tipped him. our driver slept in the car all night and I felt very sorry for him but was relieved to see that he had much warm clothing and a huge quilt.

When we reached the temple we saw a huge line for darshan, did I say huge no it was not huge it was HUGE HUGE HUGE. My estimate is that it was at least one and a half kilometre. the strongest of hearts are sure to lose courage on seeing that line but of course there was no question of our going back so we got in the line. 

beside the line there was a steady stream of vendors of allkinds. Some vendors carried malas or rudraksha or crystal , some carried dried prasad, some cold drinks and some souvenirs to take back. After the better part of three hours we got in at last. We were before Baba Badrinath for such a short time that I remember only his huge gold crown but then I was quite satisfied to have shown my weak self to Baba Badrinath in person so that he may bless me, a very weak man.

We also offered our prayers at the temple of Laxmiji outside. The holy saint at Rishikesh later told us that it is only in Badrinath that Lord vishnu is not in a relaxed pose but rather he is doing tapasya so if one asks him anything or expresses a wish he would be in no position to grant that but he added of course that is only for academic purpose but actually the Lord is always benevolent to his Bhaktas.

After doing darshan and crossing the holy Alaknanda river through a foot bridge we reached a restaurant just opposite the temple and had a bit of lunch.

We immediately started on our way back by the car and drove on and on till we reached karnaprayag. here I tried some hotels but they were expensive . Finally we found a very ordinary looking hotel name Hotel Ganga Darshan which had huge cosy and comfortable rooms. The most awesome part of this was that the hotel was right on the spot of Sangam or meeting point of river Alaknanda and river Pindar or Pindari.

After settling ourselves we had dinner in the restaurant of an expensive hotel nearby. I stayed awake till midnight watching one river hurtling into another just about 25 metres from my hotel balcony. If I had the right kind of money I would have bought the hotel there and then.

In the morning we started again for Rishikesh. Our driver had become very sour obviously not due to our fault but probably due to fatigue. We stopped at a place on the way which I do not remember, for tea.

We then got a phone call again from the holy man in Rishikesh sincerely and lovingly inviting us to stay with him in his ashram before making our journey further.

When we reached Rishikesh I got a porter to pick up my luggage as we had to cross Ganges through Ramjhula and only two wheelers are allowed entry on this.

The holy man was waiting impatiently for us. We touched his feet and he blessed us. I tipped the porter a bit since he gave us no problem whatever. the holy man gave the porter sherbet to drink and invited him to sit in a seat on which even well to do people would be scared to sit uninvited.

The holy man was a very meticulous planner and he had arranged for us a very cosy bed and on the bedside he had arranged a better table than a five star hotel can manage to do . Inter alia the table had mineral water coffee , liquid soap, biscuits , electric kettle, powdered milk, prasad, fruits , knife, plate and well the list is endless. 

The infant felt too the love and was quite at ease. The holy man had lunch ready too and it was really tasty lunch and for the first time in five days I ate heartily and shamelessly. The holy man left us to ourselves never imposing himself. Only thing he said was that we must bathe in Ganga Ji before leaving Rishikesh so in the morning we went to a very quite and secluded ghat opposite the kuti of Swami Hansananda and bathed in Ganges.

It was a befitting end to our yatra!

Jai Baba Kedarnath ! Jai Baba Badrinath!

Monday, July 10, 2017

That Hindus ate cow / beef seems like a lie concocted by the British

That Hindus ate cow seems like a lie concocted by the British


A very difficult topic indeed to write on but even before I start off please consider the following points which will come in handy later
>Max Mueller never came to India, never learnt Sanskrit at the feet of a great Hindu priest like we still do in India and latest research shows he never translated Rig Veda just paid some ghost ‘writer’ to do the job.
>Sanskrit had no script for thousands of years and Devnagri script as we know and understand it came into being only around 170 years back.
            Ever since the so called ‘gau rakshaks’ started doing their heinous acts I have been thinking, like I used to do about twenty five years back in college – is the cow really sacred to Hindus? Was the cow always sacred? Did Hindu priests really slaughter cows ritually and eat its meat?  I am sure you all must have read this for the first time in college. This is very important – college. This is the root of everything I am going to say subsequently. It is important to remember that – ‘Hindus ate cow’ is only in books; neither your grandparents nor the pujaris nor any great holy man in your area really subscribes to that view.
            I have spent many weeks researching the basis of ‘eating of cows’ by Hindus mainly on the internet; you may condemn me for only using the internet but believe me in these few weeks I have learnt more about the aforementioned topic than I can hope to learn in years of ‘offline’ learning. You yourself can google and experience the journey I have experienced but now back to our topic – who really said ‘Hindus ate cow’ or ‘cow was served to guests’ and the answer is - scholars from the west; scholars sometimes on payroll of East India Company itself! And what is more around 1857 yes 1857! So the plea of mainly north Indians who triggered the so called Mutiny of 1857 that the British were trying to convert them to Christianity is not altogether wrong. That there really was such a movement afoot; how large it was and whether it was overt or covert is a matter of a separate research.
            Most of our history comes to us from the so called ‘Marxist’ historians though to be frank I have never fully understood what that means except that until very recently they used to live in a fort that would take no breach. The Marxist historian if one is to believe the pages and pages on the internet, almost idolized people like Max Mueller who was for all practical purposes an English man and in all probability receiving favours monetary and otherwise from the great East India Company. He became most active around the time of mid nineteenth century a few years before the so called Mutiny. Such a man is entrusted with giving us the authoritative translation of Rig Veda. Imagine the glee with which an Englishman would have jumped to discover that certain words in the holiest of the holy verses of people he is about to enslave could be twisted to mean that which would be most abhorrent to those people and to make those people thus hate their past. What exactly was the twisting can easily be googled.
            So fundamentally it is the foreigner who is telling the Hindu that his ancestors were beef eaters much like the foreigner himself. I am laughing as I write this one. If I were to become an expert on Bible and its teachings living right here in India and receiving my lessons from some Dixit Ji not even Christian priests and never in fact visiting places where Christian scholars live what would you say about me. Yet that is what most mid nineteenth century scholars did including the grand daddy of Indology Shri Max Mueller. We live in an age where we do not really understand the hold that Europeans had on Indian minds so it is a lot easier for us to blame early Indian scholars and teachers for being enthralled by European scholars but that said it is time to rethink and relearn.
            Vedas were never easy to understand they never were created for a wider understanding and perhaps that is why they have been passed onto us virtually unchanged from their first creation, by very conservative estimates almost four thousand years back. Howsoever you may criticize the orthodox Brahmins but it is they who have preserved this priceless legacy of Hindus. Sanskrit is not a language that reveals itself readily and in absence of very deep understanding of Panini’s grammar it is very unlikely that a foreigner who never came to India and never met an orthodox Brahmin acharya would get an authoritative grasp on Vedas. Even now it is not easy to learn Sanskrit from a great Brahmin teacher one has to prostrate himself before a guru many times and serve him for a long time before he is convinced that the person in question is the right candidate and deserving to be imparted priceless knowledge.
            Sanskrit the language of Vedas never had a script it was only sound; but very intricate set of sounds and in retrospect perhaps a script has made it poorer rather than enriched it – because it defeated the primary purpose – imparting of knowledge only to the deserving: since post script-ising the language all and sundry can read the holy verses and could even corrupt it. That is what probably happened in Europe. Just a thought! I may add that many newbie Indologists made millions both in Germany and England by getting their books sold; the very first books on Indology.
            If ritually killing the cow was so common in Hinduism why does it not figure at all in Ramayana and Mahabharata? If it was so common to serve guests beef why ritual killing is not there on temple walls and sculptures? So far as I remember not a single temple wall or painting anywhere figures killing of cows.
            Vedas in fact prescribe strict punishment for killing of cows ranging from exile to more severe punishments. That said there are many offshoots of Hinduism and virtually unknown sects like I am sure in all religions; which practice things abhorrent to mainstream Hinduism but these cannot be used to analyse the widespread beliefs. A recently highlighted but by no means new ‘sect’ in Hinduism is aghori that reportedly practises cannibalism but they do their activities under cover and by no means have sanction of Hindus or Hinduism.
            Lastly in absence of any concrete proof even a court of law examines the antecedents of the person on trial to see if there is anything in the person’s life that points at his tendency towards crime and is lenient if the same is missing; similarly does anything in a modern day Hindu’s life and religion point at his cow eating past?
           
           

           Copyright Anurag Kumar - do not reproduce without permission 

Friday, July 7, 2017

Is cow really sacred to the Hindus?

Is cow really sacred to the Hindus?


A very difficult topic indeed to write on but even before I start off please consider the following points which will come in handy later
>Max Mueller never came to India, never learnt Sanskrit at the feet of a great Hindu priest like we still do in India and latest research shows he never translated Rig Veda just paid some ghost ‘writer’ to do the job.
>Sanskrit had no script for thousands of years and Devnagri script as we know and understand it came into being only around 170 years back.
            Ever since the so called ‘gau rakshaks’ started doing their heinous acts I have been thinking, like I used to do about twenty five years back in college – is the cow really sacred to Hindus? Was the cow always sacred? Did Hindu priests really slaughter cows ritually and eat its meat?  I am sure you all must have read this for the first time in college. This is very important – college. This is the root of everything I am going to say subsequently. It is important to remember that – ‘Hindus ate cow’ is only in books; neither your grandparents nor the pujaris nor any great holy man in your area really subscribes to that view.
            I have spent many weeks researching the basis of ‘eating of cows’ by Hindus mainly on the internet; you may condemn me for only using the internet but believe me in these few weeks I have learnt more about the aforementioned topic than I can hope to learn in years of ‘offline’ learning. You yourself can google and experience the journey I have experienced but now back to our topic – who really said ‘Hindus ate cow’ or ‘cow was served to guests’ and the answer is - scholars from the west; scholars sometimes on payroll of East India Company itself! And what is more around 1857 yes 1857! So the plea of mainly north Indians who triggered the so called Mutiny of 1857 that the British were trying to convert them to Christianity is not altogether wrong. That there really was such a movement afoot; how large it was and whether it was overt or covert is a matter of a separate research.
            Most of our history comes to us from the so called ‘Marxist’ historians though to be frank I have never fully understood what that means except that until very recently they used to live in a fort that would take no breach. The Marxist historian if one is to believe the pages and pages on the internet, almost idolized people like Max Mueller who was for all practical purposes an English man and in all probability receiving favours monetary and otherwise from the great East India Company. He became most active around the time of mid nineteenth century a few years before the so called Mutiny. Such a man is entrusted with giving us the authoritative translation of Rig Veda. Imagine the glee with which an Englishman would have jumped to discover that certain words in the holiest of the holy verses of people he is about to enslave could be twisted to mean that which would be most abhorrent to those people and to make those people thus hate their past. What exactly was the twisting can easily be googled.
            So fundamentally it is the foreigner who is telling the Hindu that his ancestors were beef eaters much like the foreigner himself. I am laughing as I write this one. If I were to become an expert on Bible and its teachings living right here in India and receiving my lessons from some Dixit Ji not even Christian priests and never in fact visiting places where Christian scholars live what would you say about me. Yet that is what most mid nineteenth century scholars did including the grand daddy of Indology Shri Max Mueller. We live in an age where we do not really understand the hold that Europeans had on Indian minds so it is a lot easier for us to blame early Indian scholars and teachers for being enthralled by European scholars but that said it is time to rethink and relearn.
            Vedas were never easy to understand they never were created for a wider understanding and perhaps that is why they have been passed onto us virtually unchanged from their first creation, by very conservative estimates almost four thousand years back. Howsoever you may criticize the orthodox Brahmins but it is they who have preserved this priceless legacy of Hindus. Sanskrit is not a language that reveals itself readily and in absence of very deep understanding of Panini’s grammar it is very unlikely that a foreigner who never came to India and never met an orthodox Brahmin acharya would get an authoritative grasp on Vedas. Even now it is not easy to learn Sanskrit from a great Brahmin teacher one has to prostrate himself before a guru many times and serve him for a long time before he is convinced that the person in question is the right candidate and deserving to be imparted priceless knowledge.
            Sanskrit the language of Vedas never had a script it was only sound; but very intricate set of sounds and in retrospect perhaps a script has made it poorer rather than enriched it – because it defeated the primary purpose – imparting of knowledge only to the deserving: since post script-ising the language all and sundry can read the holy verses and could even corrupt it. That is what probably happened in Europe. Just a thought! I may add that many newbie Indologists made millions both in Germany and England by getting their books sold; the very first books on Indology.
            If ritually killing the cow was so common in Hinduism why does it not figure at all in Ramayana and Mahabharata? If it was so common to serve guests beef why ritual killing is not there on temple walls and sculptures? So far as I remember not a single temple wall or painting anywhere figures killing of cows.
            Vedas in fact prescribe strict punishment for killing of cows ranging from exile to more severe punishments. That said there are many offshoots of Hinduism and virtually unknown sects like I am sure in all religions; which practice things abhorrent to mainstream Hinduism but these cannot be used to analyse the widespread beliefs. A recently highlighted but by no means new ‘sect’ in Hinduism is aghori that reportedly practises cannibalism but they do their activities under cover and by no means have sanction of Hindus or Hinduism.
            Lastly in absence of any concrete proof even a court of law examines the antecedents of the person on trial to see if there is anything in the person’s life that points at his tendency towards crime and is lenient if the same is missing; similarly does anything in a modern day Hindu’s life and religion point at his cow eating past?
           
           

           Copyright Anurag Kumar - do not reproduce without permission 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Sherlock Holmes did not like villagers!

 “........It is my belief, Watson, founded upon my experience, that the lowest and vilest alleys in London do not present a more dreadful record of sin than does the smiling and beautiful countryside.”
-Sherlock Holmes
                I read that one long time back perhaps when I was only in school. Had it not been for the internet I would never have been able to quote it accurately and in full. Till school I idolized village life like all educated Indians do; it was only when I started studying in the university that I had my first brush with people from villages; even these were not pure villagers because as can be imagined only few of them could have managed to qualify an entrance exam for a masters degree in English literature even with more than nearly sixty five percent reservation. In the university I first had the experience of ‘pits’. Even in higher education and that too humanities stream I could see these ‘villagers’ treating their fellow lady students as sex objects. Their really uncouth nature and primal instincts came to the fore during festivals like holi.  Though most female students stopped coming to the university around holi time some of them did come for reasons I never understood and these were actually chased and groped by their fellow ‘villager’ students; needless to say the local students never ever joined these goons. It was this that first made me hate the semi ‘villager’ crowd the worst was yet to come.
                My first real brush with a real village came when I was sent to meet a tailor working in a village about fifty kilometres from Lucknow. Since I had been given my first motorcycle I was always looking for just such errands. I sped down to the village in no time but once off the main highway it was a struggle getting to the tailor’s place as there are no real roads in villages. I reached the place and my ordeal started. Villages by and large stink generally of cow dung but this one had all types of odours; and then the insects – there were swarms of them including mosquitos and they bit me everywhere. To top it all I ran out of petrol and the tailor was gracious enough to get me a litre of it. It was good enough only to get me out of the person’s area but once his ‘house’ was out of sight my motorcycle just would not move and was releasing clouds of smoke. I realized that the petrol was adulterated. It is nothing unusual; most villages in my part of the world have almost everything contaminated. Villagers do not hesitate to spray and mix all kinds of toxic material with food stuffs to make them look good. I somehow found a real petrol pump and the guy there made me drain every single drop of petrol before filling the tank and said I barely missed destroying my engine.
                My second experience of hard core villagers was when I was travelling to Lucknow from Allahabad. I was unlucky enough to be travelling on the same day as a Bharti Kisaan Union rally. Once the train began to move all the villagers took their positions. They occupied every seat, then the aisle and then the space near the toilets. When the ticket checking clerk tried to enter the coach they kicked him back on the platform threatening him with dire consequences. So I was there standing on my feet right outside the toilet for the whole time with no opportunity to sit throughout the journey though I had a reserved seat. There was a family in a much worse position. They were returning after visiting Sangam as they had had a baby many years after marriage. The mother was overweight and could hardly stand with the infant in her lap and pleaded with the villagers to allow her to have at least one seat but they absolutely would not listen. These goons committed many bailable offences along the way and it was a great comfort to finally alight at Lucknow. A stench of sweat is trade mark of villagers and it can make you throw up in no time but traditionally Indian literature celebrates ‘pasina’  or sweat of a villager.
                Most villages have full fledged goons or semi goons as their representatives in assemblies and most pradhans are not the sort of guys you would allow in your homes. Villagers have little knowledge of law which they take into their hands all the time. Just flip through case files in any police station in a village and you will find most heinous crimes being committed for the smallest of disputes. That is what Sherlock Holmes was referring to. It is the community or mob or tribe that is important for villagers and they would support even a murderer if “he belongs to our village”. It is rather a miracle that wonderful cities like Lucknow have come up amidst a maze of criminal-infested  villages in UP but sadly the weeds are overrunning the garden again. Whether you like it or not; whether politically correct or not migration from rural areas is spoiling everything that was beautiful and civilized and valuable in cities like Lucknow and I am sure many others.
                Villagers in India in my opinion are like black holes- their income is tax free; they do not pay VAT/CST; they get seeds and fertilizers at highly subsidised rates; admin ignores their petty crimes and they do not have any deadlines to beat still they are always beating their breasts about their plight whereas their counterparts in cities with much smaller incomes have to fend for themselves without any help. Is this fair? To top it all one would laugh if an urban lower middle income person were to come out on the roads to demand scrapping of his vehicle loan but villagers do it all the time for their loans as if it is their birthright to take huge loans and then turn wilful defaulters.
                Villagers have little regard for freedom or even dignity of women; just flip through any newspaper and you will see majority of news is about violence against women in villages also most violence against women in cities is committed by people with a rural background.
                So the big question for research is who actually romanticised life in villages in India? I have no answer to that and am sure neither do most of the well networked ‘intellectuals’; all I can say is that it is one of the most sinister myths preserved and passed down in India. 

Beware of farmers and their representatives they are everywhere!



copyright Anurag Kumar - please do not reproduce without permission

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

How to deal with hurt?

How to deal with ‘hurt’?
Now that is not easy! Yes dealing with ‘hurt’ is not easy. You can deal with hurt by decimating the person who has hurt you but very few of us are in that position and then there could be disastrous consequences not only due to law and order machinery but psychologically too.  Some of us are tough and you may feel that ‘hurt’ does not hurt them but that is not true. However here my discussion is primarily regarding sensitive people who get hurt easily and for whom it is a gigantic task to get over ‘hurt’s. I may add here that I am one of them and would also like to add that I am no expert at getting over ‘hurt’s without feeling hurt. Then why am I writing this? It is because I have lately been hurt very had but at the same time have discovered some marvellous ways to get over ‘hurt’. How did I do that? Did I meet someone who gave me a magic wand? Yes that is partially true but mainly it is blessing of God that he gave me ‘nirmal mati’ as my Guru Ji used to say. For those not native speakers of Hindi ‘nirmal mati’ could translate as unblemished intelligence. Unblemished because it is not affected by our biases and experiences of the past. That is what we have to work on but it is not at all easy. Ironically the more intelligent one is the more difficult it is to have ‘nirmal mati’. Well that is a slight digression from the topic but remember ‘nirmal mati’ can solve a lot of your problems.
Coming back to handing ‘hurt’ Well! Handling hurt requires a lot of unlearning basically. Most of what we learn as we grow up is popular learning, it is not the ideal learning but since that is the type of learning we will find everywhere we have come to believe it to be the ‘ideal’ learning. Most of us are destined to die believing that to be the ‘only’ learning unless you are lucky enough to meet great saints. The only true knowledge is enshrined in our religious books; that is the knowledge unlikely to change due to fashion or tradition and that knowledge comes free only problem is that in coming to us that knowledge has been greatly corrupted due to wrong interpretation. Interpreting ancient knowledge is the job of great saints, unfortunately  they are very hard to come by.  So you have to unlearn that ‘hurt’ really hurts you; it does but it shouldn’t.  I am sure you must have heard of that story about Buddha where someone comes and spits on Buddha in public. Obviously Buddha did nothing about it and did not react the way we would do. Christ never called out to people from the cross and tell them to go take vengeance for his death neither did he call up to the heavens and say ‘bring down your fury upon this land and decimate this king and his kingdom’. I am sure very few of us were hurt by ‘hurts’ such big; most of us have to deal with minor ‘hurt’s.
Talking about myself, I was a man ready to kill for the smallest ‘hurt’ as a young man but now I look back and analyse how I blundered, blundered because ‘nirmal mati’ did not come to me.  As I grew up I realized that God had visited the most fearsome vengeance upon those who ‘hurt’ me and my loved ones. I shudder to tell you the details. They were punished in the most awful way and for a couple of them I felt really sorry and moved to tears at the plight of their family. Did God watch me carefully and went out with vengeance to those who had ‘hurt’ me? I do not think so. It was their ways which brought them to the sorry end they had. I remember very well as a kid about the ‘hurt’ my grandfather had to go through. He was the most  respected gentlemen of the locality. When he used to go out strolling almost everyone bowed to him. He had a very big ego which I guess anyone in his place would have. One day a man slapped him in public. My grandfather was deeply hurt and planned all kinds of vengeance against the man but he was not up to the task and nothing happened. It greatly upset my father too who though a very calm man was enraged by the insult to his old father. A few years later the man in his thirties committed suicide. It was not just what he did to my grandfather his ways were bad and he was destined to come the bad end. I can narrate even more ghastly stories but that is not necessary what we have to learn is that those who ‘hurt’ are destined to be punished. It is automatic. It is like four plus four is eight. So we have to stop hurting people ourselves first and then realize that God is there, he is running the show and he has been running it from time immemorial. The most beautiful lines from the Bible which always reassure me are “Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.”
You have to have some faith in a power beyond you that makes things easier, even a cynic  like Dale Carnegie has said that citing the example of his parents whose faith in God kept them going even after their crops were destroyed year after year.
It is not an easy thing to do to cope with hate so I have evolved a method for it. I do not always do it that way but it is pretty much the same flowchart. When I am really hurt by someone against whom I have no power say for example my fathers’ customers I just seal my lips and leave the venue as quickly as possible then I start doing mantra jaap, I may add that for mantras to be effective you need lots and lots of practice though if you are really faithful it could work quickly for you too. After doing ‘mantra jaap’ I start getting normal and ‘nirmal mati’ floods me with its comforting ideas. I start to realize that the man is on the road to cardiac disease perhaps coupled with diabetes and later neurosis if he loses his temper so quickly which is true and any doctor would vouch for that though I have met a couple of villains who do not fit in with this. This realization makes me understand how lucky I have been to fully understand the implications of losing one’s temper, not that I do not lose my temper, I still do but the episodes are decreasing in frequency dramatically.
Finally I pray to my ‘isht dev’ to deal with the person as he deems fit. I have stopped asking him for vengeance because past history shows that his vengeance is terrible. I do not ask him for vengeance anymore because I fear I could be sinning myself that way. That does the trick most of the times but when the ‘hurt’ is really bad it could take almost a couple of days. Previously it used to take months I may add.
Another very important thing is we have a lot of time on our hands to get ‘hurt’ that is the prime culprit. If we have identified ourselves as being too sensitive we have to get really busy. This is not my conclusion but that of a very highly paid and decorated psychologist. He went on to add that being very busy was the panacea to most psychiatric problems and a sure means to prevent them. He was treating my aunt who used to imagine herself having a disease and used to actually have that disease soon. She was a horrific case of neuroses. The psychologist was too expensive for poor people like us so I used to listen carefully to whatever knowledge he would give us gratis.
At the workplace getting ‘hurt’ is going to increase in geometric  proportions because pressure of work will increase as India too is ensnared by corporate culture. Corporations do not want employees to unite and they go out of their way to encourage animosity among the employees so most of the young people have to steel themselves psychologically. My brother could not do that as an employee of one of the world’s most famous corporates and he had to quit. I do not blame him and to be fair he learnt a lot at his workplace and travelled abroad free. He does not regret leaving the job he had an alternative career ready but most of us cannot do that.
Another very easy way to steel yourself psychologically if you are a Hindu is to learn chanting from an expert. You can even search for it online. Once you learn to chant properly you will not need to read any books on steeling yourself against ‘hurt’. The compassion will flow from inside you. You will feel compassion for the one who has ‘hurt’ you and it will not feel like hurt at all because your ‘nirmal mati’ will shower upon you the knowledge that will comfort you. Why the person ‘hurt’ you? Did you unconsciously ‘hurt’ the person first? Your animosity will evaporate in thin air and every creature you meet will appear to you to be the son/daughter of God and thus someone you must be compassionate about. That is sometimes difficult but once the right frequency is found the resonance will cure you.
This is not an article by an expert but by someone who has suffered ‘hurts’ from a family of very sensitive people. I have stumbled upon some solutions that is all. Please feel free to comment or criticize. Finally a word of caution – do not become a punching bag for all people who want to ‘hurt’ you. You must if possible let the person who hurt you know that you will not take insults but it must be devoid of violence, that is the main thing to remember it must be a conscious protest not compulsive. Avoid toxic people, not if you can but you must go out of your way to avoid toxic people at any cost.

Cheers!

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Lucknow of my childhood!

Lucknow of my childhood was a city in transition. It was marching towards  being the focal centre of the India’s most populous state from the Nawabi past. Back then it was a truly tier four city; but the city that the Nawabs created, true to their own personalities, it never wanted ‘to be at the ‘forefront’. The Nawabs were laid back kind of people they had their own parameters of greatness.

As a child I did not realize the importance of the Nawabs but as I left youth behind I realized that they had solved one great problem that still threatens to disrupt peace in India ; they brought about communal harmony. Except for a few isolated instances Lucknow has been the very picture of communal harmony in the last two centuries. So the influence of the Nawabs was heavy in Lucknow of my childhood but it was definitely on the wane. The advent of electronic media in late seventies and finally the corporatisation of media sometime in the early nineties killed Nawabi Lucknow. I suppose in another half a decade that old Nawabi Lucknow would have died completely never to be heard of again.

My earliest memories of Lucknow go back to mid seventies when our maid, whose family lived in our huge house, used to take me out to see a bear dance or a monkey dance by ‘madaris’ who used to visit our area at regular intervals. It was the era of etiquette though the fag end. I distinctly remember two brothers both ‘nau’ technically barbers but rather the messengers attached to privileged families. These can be compared to the proverbial ‘butlers’ that we see in movies and have read about in books. Those brothers were in their 80’s and 90’s. They seemed to have travelled down from the fabled Lucknow of nineteenth century. The elder brother was very tall and stately and wore the very best ‘angarkha’ having priceless ‘chikan’ embroidery. No money can buy that garment now, I know because I have tried. His advice was taken on most matters involving elaborate rituals like marriages or deaths. He used to boast that that he had himself organised the marriage of my great grandfather. I did not see much of him because he died immediately after my grandfather. His brother however lived on to, some people say – a hundred. I may add here that these people never ever appeared in public without a cap. So I saw much of this brother due to his being the sole ‘nau’ after his brother’s death. He announced his arrival by saying loudly ‘ Hum aate hain’ so that the ladies could prepare themselves for the arrival of a ‘stranger’. He waited and came up only after invitation though as you can imagine he was a very very old man.

When I was really young there was no television. Our only entertainment was going out to a park or occasionally to a circus or very seldom to cinema. Cinema was not considered fit for children so it was in rarest of the rare cases that we were allowed to watch movies. Television entered our house with my aunt. She brought it as dowry. My grandfather, my biological grandfather that is because my father was adopted by my father’s uncle, fell in love with the idiot box. It was financially a very bad period for us but since we were landowners we were not supposed to do any work and my grandfather used to watch the television the whole day. Being poor was no impediment anymore to our getting entertained. I used to join him in watching television too and we got along very well.

As I grew older I discovered ‘Ganjing’. Now that is a word with unknown origin but every Lucknowite back then knew what it meant. It really means taking a stroll in Hazratganj the most posh area of Lucknow during my childhood. Genuine Lucknowites to the best of my knowledge do not do Ganjing anymore because ‘poshness’ has moved to the malls in Lucknow. In our times though it was different when Hazratganj was the place with all the action in it. The place was dominated by aristocrats and the rich people of Lucknow who either watched a movie in the cute little Mayfair theatre or had coffee with celestial sandwiches in Kwality restaurant in the same building. My childhood was dominated by poverty since our lands were shrinking due to distress sales and our tenants were refusing to raise rents; ironically my desires were many and expensive ones. Sometimes I did manage to watch movies in that fabled cute little theatre – Mayfair. These were the best movies of their times or should I say all times. In this theatre inter alia I watched Guns of Navarone, The Good The Bad and The Ugly, McKenna’s Gold, Ten Commandments and many others.

This was not all the building had to offer, it also housed the British Council Library, where like many other Lucknowites of those times I learnt most of what I know. I read virtually the whole of classical English literature. We were so enamoured by everything British back then; it was only in the university that I began to realize that most of the ‘culture’ of the British was copied from the French and sometimes the Italians.

One casualty of ‘the tyranny of masses’ has been the cuisine of Lucknow. Do not be fooled by people who advertise their trash as ‘cuisine of Awadh’. Let me say it emphatically the cuisine of Lucknow is dead! Or at any rate it has disappeared from Lucknow. It may be living in a posh hotel in Mumbai or overseas but the real Awadhi cuisine is dead! I have seen it dying with a lot of pain. Being vegetarians we have had little exposure to the non-veg delicacies but being in constant touch with connoisseurs of non-veg Awadhi cuisine I think we can safely say that the golden era is gone. This happened because of two reasons first Awadhi cuisine is very very complicated and time consuming and the second – it is very very expensive. One cannot mass produce good cooked food that too is a bit of problem for food vendors. People today want food quickly and do not want to pay much for it too. In my childhood, Hazratganj again was more or less the place to be in for good vegetarian food.
I mentioned Kwality restaurant before and that was specially famous for English breakfast items and ice cream. I simply loved their tea and sandwiches specially the egg sandwich. Due to our limited means I can count on my fingers the number of times we visited the fabled restaurant. Further eastwards were other fabled restaurants of Lucknow – the original Royal Cafe and opposite it Ranjana restaurant.  There were one or two bakeries but I do not remember their exact locations now all I can remember is that we could not afford their stuff! There was another pure vegetarian restaurant in the heart of the city in perhaps the most congested area called Aminabad this was the restaurant of our dreams it was called – Gyan Vaishnav restaurant. This may sound rather dramatic and too sweeping a comment but I can say with certainty that no restaurant in India could have matched their ‘rajma’ or ‘baigan bharta’ both these dishes were celestial. The restaurant changed many hands and deteriorated in quality and has finally closed down. The secret of course lies in the complexity of the cuisine. It was too long and time consuming a process cooking the vegetables very slowly over coal and maintaining the right temperature. The trick was also in the spices. The spices of those times are just not available these days simply because they were too expensive and no one buys them anymore.

Back then marriages were very elaborate and the cuisine in marriages of privileged families had to be impeccable and no expense or pain was spared to make the parties the very best. My most distinct memory from those times is the taste of the ‘sherbets’ though. The ‘khus’ sherbet of those times has simply disappeared from the market. No amount of money can bring back that taste. I am told it was mixed by hand back then and not brought in ready made in glass bottles like we have today. The other ‘sherbet’ was the ‘gulab’ or rose ‘sherbet’ which I did not like much but it was a hundred times better than what we have today.

It was not all a rosy picture though in my childhood in Lucknow. There were very few opportunities to progress financially. Those who had money seemed to be getting richer but we who had lost a fortune had no hopes; it was much later that our financial condition improved due to father’s entrepreneurship. But thankfully people respected us and admired our family. Many of them fooled my grandfather and extracted from him whatever little he had left. I believe cheating and cheating one’s own relatives was something very common back then. It has decreased a bit these days but it could be due to minimal interaction between relatives and more opportunities to earn money honestly. We have more money sometimes more than we need but we have fewer friends and little time. Lucknow of today has more opportunities but soon it will cease to be the Lucknow that we all have read about in books and seen in old movies and which I have experienced firsthand. For all its flaws and shortcomings and erosion of culture Lucknow is still a hundred times better than any other place I have visited. My brother went so far as to say ‘Lucknow is better than Paris – simply because it is so expensive out there in Paris!’



Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Uttar Pradesh: decoding the enigma



I must confess at the beginning that the heading is a bit misleading but I liked it so much that I decided to keep it that way. Perhaps no one will ever be credited with fully decoding the enigma that Uttar Pradesh is so I must not have high hopes of being the exception. I have often thought why UP is treated the way it is treated and what exactly makes it so unique and in some cases scary. Why UP and UPites are ‘lawless’ broadly speaking and why they are looked upon with fear in large parts of India.
As a young man I was extremely offended when people talked in unflattering terms about the state as I belong to a family which has been a resident of the state for nearly two centuries. In the last five years when my sudden urge to visit Hindu pilgrim sites took me to remote areas of India as well as the metro cities; I have understood that notoriety of UP and UPites is well earned.
We have to understand that the real pathos of the situation lies in the fact that UP is the land of Rama and Krishna the greatest heroes if not Gods of Hindus. Lord Rama it must be added was ‘Maryada Pushottam’ meaning a person who zealously clung to honour and led an honourable and exemplary life. It would appear logical then that the inhabitants of the state would be more ‘religious’ and gentle then the other states of India but this is clearly not the case. This in itself is very mystifying! Apart from this UP has been the birthplace of some of the greatest saints of modern times like Swami Brahmananda Saraswati who trained some of the most famous saints like Swami Shantananda and Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. So clearly religious richness of a state, almost the cradle of Hindu civilization was not lost. The state also gave birth to a lot of Sufi saints and great masters from other religions. What then went wrong or what then was always wrong?
I am yet to meet an intellectual who can fully decode the enigma that is UP. Yes that is one of the biggest enigmas yet unsolved. What is wrong with the land of Gods? Well I guess therein lies the answer – Gods; a part of answer though. Gandhi Ji was a great thinker there can be no doubt about it. Great people sometimes make mistakes but they were great because their thinking was original. They sound ridiculous because their ideas were not in sync with contemporary beliefs or even modern beliefs. I am sure many ideas of Gandhi Ji were too repulsive to people back then. I have a feeling that his stay in foreign countries opened up his mind. He had access to some of the greatest literature of his time and this is what enabled him to look at Hinduism with a near objective viewpoint. He got it right or nearly right when he said that Hindu epics are full of violence, when I first read it some three decades back I thought it was only his obsession with non-violence that made him say it. Like I said in the beginning he got it nearly right. The great Hindu epics though seemingly full of violence are no different from Bible in this regard. I am quoting the example of Bible because I have read major parts of it and many parts of Bible appeal to me very strongly, but if Bible is read by a layman without the help of an expert it could be a big disaster similarly with Ramayana and Mahabharata. My Guru of journalism used to say if Bible is read, specially the Old Testament, without the help of an expert or a good book of commentary one could find parts of it indecent. I may add that he himself was a devout Christian.
Another aspect that one has to remember is that in Hinduism popular belief is that if God is happy with a person He will give him whatever he desires whether the person deserves the things or not. It is my belief that large parts of UP where these epics were actually played out have in their ignorance extracted events and sayings of the epics without expert guidance and in isolation of other events. For e.g. killing of his own relatives by Arjuna, well and it makes me laugh, Arjuna was most averse to doing what he did and then he was guided by the very Lord - Krishna himself. Ordinary people are not supposed to do what Arjuna did; they have no need to do it. But killing is dramatic it is fascinating to most people; it is populist so this particular aspect is extracted and the very intricate sermon by Krishna is discarded.
Every Tom, Dick or Harry in UP wants to play the violent king and people of UP so obsessed by the wrong things in the epics, love to be afraid and rally behind such dons/gangsters. We must be having thousands if not millions of these small time dons in UP. They give assurance that once you come under their benevolent shadow they will give you everything whether you deserve it or not and they will create all the loopholes you need for bypassing all the inconvenient laws. This type of thinking is absolutely at odds with modern institutions and laws. But in UP religion is supreme.
The region tolerated the British for a hundred years, suffering and saying nothing but the moment the British interfered with religion we had the so called ‘Mutiny’ of 1857! The British managed to escape being annihilated by the very skin of their teeth in this one! They were good and quick learners, they never again interfered with the religion of the ‘natives’ in a crude kind of way. They perfected the fine art of divide and rule and our politicians took on from where the British left off.
So belief in fate and too much religion and total lack of respect for laws and modern institutions is what UP is all about. Another thing that may or may not have happened is that the British had a very tough time in UP and of course Bihar, remember Mangal Pandey was from far eastern UP that is one of the most backward areas of UP. Could it be that the British deliberately allowed the recalcitrant areas in the two states to remain backward, without modern education and helpless in the hands of local war lords? Though giving eight prime ministers to the country except for Atal Bihari Vajpayee no one seems to have done anything revolutionary for the state. Did it suit the politicians in general to keep the largest state in India in poverty and poor education so that they could manipulate the voting patterns? This is what I found on the internet, I do not agree with it completely. My belief is that there is a bit of truth in it but the soil of UP was fertile for such mischievous ideas. People in UP never believed that the government is beholden to the populace in a democracy, that the government simply has to perform. They probably believed that according to the epics, it was their fate to suffer in poverty. They had their epics to run to for solace.
One may argue that it is not only the Hindus that live in UP a very large Muslim population lives in the state too. Yes that is there but my belief is that on the core issue Muslims are not much different from Hindus and unconsciously they have learnt the habits of Hindus. Both communities rose up as one when their religion was touched in 1857. A UPite is a UPite first and a Hindu or Muslim later. The belief that all rules will be kept aside in granting riches if one is in good books of God is not an alien concept in any religion so far as I know; only in UP it appears the belief is specially popular.
This does not of course mean that there are no non-violent and progressive people in UP but yes they are not mainstream. What makes matters worse is that mainstream media never shows a mirror to the majority it only shows what the majority wants to see. This was not always so but this has been the greatest tragedy, a global tragedy in the last two decades. It makes it worse for progressive ideas to be spread far and wide.
The worsening of reputation of UP in the last two decades in UP is clearly due to rise of regional parties and fanning of communal and casteist emotions. Even the most suave, educated and polished person in UP has some casteism in him, and yes I have met quite a few. Casteism permeates everything be it academic institutions, business or politics. This has been very unfortunate for UP. The institution of caste has to be shattered with a sledge hammer but with the rise of regional parties bent upon splitting society on casteist lines, we are getting away from an ideal casteless society. This again is in keeping with epics very few of which discourage a casteist society. Once caste comes into play backers of a candidate from a particular caste are ready to condone the most horrible crimes the man in question might commit leave aside the very question of asking him to perform. This is very convenient for professional politicians most of whom are there only for money.
In epics and most religious books characters are in black or white there are no shades of grey, which happens only in Hollywood; Bollywood is yet to get there fully. So likewise in UP you will find either a blood thirsty fiend or a perfect monk like holy person. This reminds me of an incident in Allahabad where the head of an ancient temple gave me his own footwear, the only pair he had and went about barefoot for days as mine had been stolen from outside the temple. I have also had the opportunity as a journalist to meet at least two people who later went on to become dreaded dons. Even policemen were dead scared of them. They were pure evil and in typical UPite don style they promised to do absolutely anything for me I just had to ask them and they would not refuse any request.
This is an ongoing research and as I meet new and more intelligent people both physically and on the internet perhaps I will be able to unravel fully the enigma that is UP.
Please feel free to comment!