Monday, August 25, 2014

Watching Papon Live

On the 21st evening, Namz called me excitedly and informed that Papon (Anagaraag Mahanta), the nationwide popular singer from Assam is going to perform at the opening ceremony of the North-East Film Festival the next day. And that we should go and attend the show. The timing was convenient and it would be a Friday evening. Obviously I agreed.

It was the first North-East Film Festival  (Aug 22-24, 2014) and an initiative of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting. The venue was Siri Fort Auditorium, New Delhi. Apart from the invitees, entry was free. Namz and I arrived before the scheduled time. And Namz was super excited. The auditorium was occupied mainly by people from the northeast India residing in Delhi. Most of them looked like students. It was a decent gathering and everybody was seated properly at their places.  I am sure most of them, like us, were waiting for the formal inauguration to be over so that Papon can perform. All of us were sitting patiently through the formal speeches of the Minister of Information and Broadcasting, and the Chief Minister of Meghalaya among others. After that, there was the felicitation of various persons from northeast India related to film-making, followed by the traditional lamp-lighting. And then finally the performance of Papon and his band 'East India Company' was announced. Then the hooting and whistling from the audience began.

This was the first time I have seen Papon perform live and I was mesmerized. He is truly an amazing performer. The way he connects with the audience is truly remarkable. That's again what good artists are made of I guess. He was cracking subtle jokes and engaged the audience. Papon started with a number from his first album which is very very popular among the Assamese youngsters and then moved on to his popular numbers across the nation. The fans started screaming and hooting and I realized majority of the audience were Assamese people. The atmosphere felt very familiar. The serene and disciplined audience prior to the performance now started to clap and move in their seats. Even Papon remarked that given the auditorium it was an wonderful crowd. The entire place had come alive.
After almost an hour of performing, Papon tried to wrap up saying that he was only the bait, and that the audience should stay back and watch the movies that were to be screened. But his fans were in no mood to leave him. They started shouting that he must end with a bihu song (Assamese folk song). And he obliged. Bihu songs  are dance centric songs and as soon as they are played, Assamese people start moving their bodies to the music involuntarily. And same was the case inside the auditorium that evening. The auditorium transformed into a dance-floor with the bihu music. When Papon asked the dancers in the audience to come near the stage, it seemed as if some dance festival was going on. When it was over, fans started cheering and shouting. A few girls shouted, "I love you!" The band members were felicitated and while leaving the stage, Papon threw his bouquet of flowers to the audience and a young girl caught it. She went crazy.

It was an amazing evening. Namz and I left after the performance as we had to get back home. And I made a silent vow that we would watch Papon and his band play live whenever and wherever possible.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Check on me

Most of us miss our mothers when we fall sick, don't we. In my case, I miss all of my family members of my maternal home. I have been feverish since last night. I slept throughout the day today. Here I have to take care of myself, unless my husband is at home.

I currently stay with my husband, his siblings and cousins. All of them are boys except one. All of them younger than my husband and I, but are grown-ups. My parents-in-law stay abroad. So it is less of a home and more of a hostel, where Az and I are joint-wardens.

When I fall sick or feel unwell, I usually stay in bed. I mostly sleep through it as it reduces my discomfort. And the one thing I crave in my marital home is some care. My husband is away at work the whole day, and the others at home hardly notice that I am missing in action.

Back home, when anyone is sick, that one person is the centre of attention. From time to time, he/she would be asked how he/she is feeling, asked if they need anything, water/juice/food would be provided in bed timely without being asked. In short, you are thoroughly pampered. Even Deta, who is not good at taking care of even himself, would come and check on us from time to time.

Given that background, I find it absolutely saddening when none of the house members check on me while I am sick. I stay in my room the entire time, only making trips to the kitchen to get water and food. I even cook for everyone most of the times. It surprises me that it doesn't even crosses anyone's mind that I might be needing medicine or at least some water. Isn't being taken care of during illness the greatest plus of not staying alone? When somebody else is sick at home, Az and I take care in the smallest of things. I always believed "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you", but the world hardly reciprocates.

I try to analyze why it is so. Is it because they are males that they haven't been programmed to be caring? Is it by living in the company of brothers, the sister too has become like them? Do people are of inherent caring nature or do they learn from people around them? Or is it because I am the official caretaker, I don't need care myself? Or am I overreacting now? These questions plague me whenever I don't feel well here. Now I am waiting for Az to be home so that I get some pampering finally.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

NDE-A glimpse of the Afterlife?

I do not remember when I developed the fear of death. The feeling would come only at night, when I am in bed. The very thought of how would I be feeling when I am about to die would freak me out. My heartbeat would start racing and I would feel a kind of dizzy. This very fear made me develop an interest in Near Death Experience (NDE). I started reading articles and searched books on first hand experience on NDE. Majority of the NDEs involved walking through a tunnel towards a bright light, out of body experiences and meeting relatives and friends who are long dead. Many doctors argue that NDE is actually a hallucination and the experience varies from person to person depending on their religious conditioning in life.While they are others who believe in the higher power that NDEs are very much real.

Off late, my fear has subsided substantially as I have almost stopped thinking about it. Then last month I chanced upon a movie called "Heaven Is For Real", based on a book with the same title written by Todd Burpo. It is about the four year old son of the author, Colton, who had a NDE during a ruptured appendicitis surgery. The little boy had an out of body experience and saw his parents in different places in the hospital. He got a visit to the heaven and heard and saw the angels singing to him. He even met Jesus Christ. I loved the movie. And I intend to read the book too for I am sure it will have far more details.

After watching the above mentioned movie, I started surfing the internet on the topic. I found that the NDEs varied with the person's religious beliefs. Christians described seeing angels and Jesus. Hindus mostly said that they were taken away by messengers instead of their namesake and then sent back. Some of the experiences are shared below:

While surfing, I came across Anita Moorjani's book "Dying To Be Me" which is an account of the author's NDE. I immediately purchased the book. The author was suffering from terminal cancer and after her NDE she recovered miraculously and didn't have a trace of cancer in her body. It is a wonderful book.

Then there is Akiane Kramarik, a child prodigy who started to paint at the age of four. She states she has been taken on visits to heaven regularly throughout the years and she paints about them. Her portrait of Jesus Christ has been identified as Jesus as seen by Colton from "Heaven Is For Real" I mentioned above. You can check out her paintings on her online gallery. Hers is also a remarkable story.

I was surprised that there are thousands of NDEs listed on the internet. I checked the website of "Near Death Experience Reseach Foundation (NDREF)" and read several of the entries. They are simply amazing. The foundation is a wonderful forum to learn and share about NDEs.

There are so many books written on NDE. People who had NDE, their family, researchers, doctors; they all have written about it. I feel like getting my hands on all of it.

One thing I am sure after going through their accounts is that death is not a bad thing at all. It's a release towards something which is eternal, ethereal and definitely better than our worldly lives. People who had a NDE have described a feeling of being at peace. Fear and despair was not really a part of their experience. They felt a sense of overwhelming love and calmness. They also spoke of talking and interacting with other beings but without moving lips. Amazing, isn't it. After their return, they say that they were able to understand the workings of the universe better.

The NDEs differ but they are all connected in some way. The more I learn, the more I get mystified.I believe God shows what He wants to show. He reveals what He wants to reveal. He lets us know as much as He intends us to know. He is definitely letting us understand that there is more than this life, more than we can ever know, more than we think is possible. I believe NDEs are just glimpses of the one true realm of which we all will be a part someday. The visions reveal only a part of the universal mystery, which would be unraveled to us only when our physical body dies. I feel that I am spiritually enriched by the NDE stories Also my initial fear of dying is fading away. I am awed and humbled. I believe the more I shall read, the wiser I shall get. The Creator didn't create us for nothing but with a purpose. We all are a part of God's grand plan. We just need to believe and have faith. As Anita Moorjani in her book "Dying To Be Me" says that we all are a thread in the bigger tapestry and we all contribute to that picture. The better we do, the picture would become more beautiful and vice-versa. So come, let's do good.