Warrier's Daily Mail, May 7, 2020

Warrier's Daily Mail, May 7, 2020 : "The Age of Innocence" by Edith Wharton

 Warrier's Daily Mail, May 7, 2020 : "The Age of Innocence" by Edith Wharton -

Good Morning

M G Warrier

A. Select links from the web

1) COVID19 : Impact on NRIs

Jayaram Nayar (Ex-RBI) in his third presentation covers the impact of COVID19 on NRIs. In the previous two presentations, shared with us, Nayar covered the impact on job opportunities (with focus on MBAs) and Banking Sector.

2) The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton 


Yesterday morning, I picked up the oldest-looking book from my daughter's collection. It happened to be a 1998 paperback edition of Edith Wharton's "The Age of Innocence", a 1920 novel which earned the author the Pulitzer prize.
Searched out this link to know more about the book and the author. Even the book contains a lot of details about the life and times of the author.

B. Bonus Read: Articles by Vathsala Jayaraman:

Three stories by Vathsala Jayaraman, Ex-RBI

                     I  Chinese superstitions

Westerners normally criticise Indians as very superstitious  beyond logic and reasoning. Many
rationalists in India condemn superstitious beliefs and customs but they will have their own justification either scientific or psychological for following certain practices and pass the blame on elders. On analysis, no country in the world is free from superstitions.
The Chinese who excel many nations in industries, academics, sports and hard work have many peculiar beliefs.Here are  a few of them;
1. China is known as the red nation.Red colour is always associated with good luck and prosperity.Mythologically  a monster called "NION' used to scare the villagers . Accidentally it was found that the monster was afraid of red colour and all the more scared about loud noises. From that day they started wearing red dress  on the New Year Day and used noise makers to drive off the evil,the custom being followed till date.
2. On the New year day (stroke of midnight) they open every door and window to allow the old year to go.
3.Beginning from the entrance, the floor should be swept towards the back.The dust  not to be thrown out until the 5th day of the New Year.Never sweep towards the front, otherwise fortune will fly away.( even in Tamilnadu some people say garbage and cockroach denote wealth).

During the New Year feast, at least two or three noodles should be kept uncut in the plate,as it is a sign of long life.They will ensure that children do not cut or eat away all the noodles and keep some left overs.

4. Among colours red denotes prosperity.Yellow and white are good. But if a man wears green hat, it denotes that his wife is disloyal to him.
5. Among numbers  'eight' is the luckiest as the chinese word corresponding to eight means 'prosper'.
The word 'four' is unlucky as it sounds like chinese word for 'death'
Number 1 denotes loneliness
Number nine is good as it sounds like ' sufficient'( Here nine is not supposed to be good )
6 Cawing of crows; 3-7 A.m, denotes receiving gifts: 7-11 denotes arrival of rain;11-1  denotes quarrels( In Tamilnadu it denotes arrival of guests.)
7. Wearing moustache is a bad luck
8.Don't point to the moon; otherwise your ears will be chopped off. (  we do it daily while feeding children)
9. They celebrate ghost day, set fire to hay and conduct great feasts remembering their dead forefathers .( as we observe in some other fashion during Mahalaya Paksham)
10. Pregnant ladies should not use glue to avoid complication in delivery.
11. Don't praise a new born;it will invite ghosts and spirits(as we believe in evil eyes or dhrishti)
12. A baby with thick wide ears is lucky.
13. Couples with same surname are not allowed to marry( considered to belong to the same gothra)
14. In houses the number of steps in a stair case should be even numbered.If doors to two rooms face each other, it is a bad luck.(whereas it is scientifically good as it facilitates cross ventilation).north facing house is to be avoided.; master Bed room should not be above the garage. ( this is what is being done in Chennai in many houses)
15. While going to funeral the portraits of deities in the house should be covered with red paper or cloth, The mirrors in the house should be covered with white cloth .Because  on returning from the funeral one is not supposed to see his/her image for a few hours.

Many people  say that they don't believe in such things;yet meticulously follow under the pretext of preserving traditions and customs, or just to respect the elders.These old  beliefs perhaps give them proper identity in the society.

Superstitions in any part of the world cannot be totally brushed aside.There  may be scientific explanation hidden.Whether we like or not ,the fact cannot be denied that superstitions form an inseparable integral  part of a social culture. They give a deep insight into the customs and practices of the ancestors,their attitudes, principles, religious beliefs and throw light on the roadmap leading to the modern scientific world.

II Astrology and predictions

Very often we are advised to live in the PRESENT, enjoy the PRESENT and cross the bridge when you come to it. True.
But atleast 80% ,and even more , of the people approach astrologers of various kinds-Horoscope Readers,palmists,Numerologists,Face Readers or predictors of various kinds to find some solutions for a variety of problems-from child birth,studies,matrimonial alliance, compatibility of horoscopes,matrimonial harmony, sickness, business prospects,property litigations & even about mortality.
On a few occasions,either by the efficiency of the astrologer or by sheer coincidence the predictions come true & people catch hold of the same astrologer & his words are taken to be divine.
When the predictions are good, people become very happy. However when things are not happening as expected, they become greatly disappointed & some go to the extent of abusing the astrologers.
No need to talk ,when some mishaps are predicted.They become utterly depressed & helpless.
No doubt,in astrology all the arithmetic calculations are extremely interesting. Many universities are conducting Diploma Courses in Astrology dealing with Stellar Movements, Casting of horoscopes,scientific concepts of astrology,comparative analysis of Astronomy & Astrology  etc etc.We are amazed to find some of our amaturist predictions come true.Every thing will be O. K. if it concerns about others.But when it is related to the problems of our own kith & kin,we become terribly nervous.
Shri PARAMAACHARYA's narration of an event in DEIVATHIN KURAL comes to my mind.A famous astrologer, Bhaskaracharya who had written so many works on JYOTHISHA SASTRA ,on seeing the horoscope of her young daughter
Lilavathi, predicted that she will attain widowhood soon after her marriage.Even as a great astrologer,  he was very much upset. He wanted to prevent the mishap somehow. He consulted so many books & did so many calculations & at lost found a way out.If the marriage is solemnised during a particular muhurtam , the bride & groom will live long.
So he fixed the appropriate muhurtam & conducted the marriage according to vedic rites.
But unfortunately,the bridegroom met with his end the very next day.
Being a Gnani & Vivekee ,the astrologer analysed the circumstances.
In those days there were no clocks to show the time. They had only sand Clocks consisting of 2 pots one below the other. The upper pot will have some perforations. Sand will be filled in the upper pot & thro the perforated holes it will slowly fall into the lower pot & depending on the volume of sand collected in the lower pot, time will be calculated. It so happened that on the particular ill fated day ,the MOOKKUTHI (Nose RING ) stone worn by the girl fell into the upper pot obstructing one or 2 holes .Naturally sand began to fall at a slower rate, & the auspicious muhurtam passed earlier before the wedding started.
The astrologer realised that destiny is strong. & a small event had prevented him from conducting the marriage at the correct time.
But all people are not matured as the great astrologer.I remember a real incident quoted by a Doctor Psychiatrist in his Diary.
A well employed gentleman & his well educated postgraduate wife had a lovely son.While they were leading a very happy life,one fine morning an elderly relative, an astrologer came home. During the course of conversation the lady gave the horoscope of her 2 year old son to the astrologer. On seeing the horoscope the astrologer said the boy will be very brilliant, but will live upto 8 years only.
The problem started the very day.The mother began to worry even for minor cold & cough affecting the child.The happiness became the thing of the past.When the child completed 7 years, one day he was afflicted with high fever.The treatment by the Family physician didn't help. The boy was admitted to a famous hospital & was undergoing so many investigations & treatment had to be given for a longer duration.Meanwhile the mother very often remembered the astrologer's predictions ,& she became depressed & hysteric.She had to be admitted in a Psychiatry ward.Even after 20 days of medication & shock treatment ,the condition did not improve ,To the contrary it was deteriorating. At last the psychiatrist doctor, decided to convey the SAD TRUTH to her. She was informed that her darling son had reached the lotus feet of God.The mother started weeping uncontrollably.For 2 to 3 hours she cried & cried & at last began to sleep. After waking up she was very clear. She told the doctor that what the astrologer had predicted had come true & nobody could change the destiny.Slowly she came to terms with the reality & began to accept the fact that her son was no more. After a week she was discharged & slowly came to her routine.
After a month she visited the doctor & profusely thanked him for restoring her from the depression & gave him a token Gift.
The young psychiatrist ,in his turn, presented a GIFT to her, the GIFT being  none other than her own  dear son,who had recovered from his illness much  much earlier.
The lady was even prepared to accept the saddest fact when it was announced to have happened, but she was not prepared to face the imaginary mishap.
Had she not consulted the astrologer at all,she would have been happy all the 6 years.While everyone welcomes happy events,no body is prepared to accept the sad situations.
Life is not a bed of roses. Ups & downs do exist.We seem to be more bothered about the difficulties which we may not at all face during our life time.Why to invite SCORPION BITE  by paying an astrologer ,although sometimes unwarranted free predictions also are available in plenty.
It is a separate issue as to whether ASTROLOGY is a real Science?
Do planetary movements  have telling effect on human life?
Do all the predictions come true?
Are the astrologers efficient enough to give forecast?
Even if they forecast some bad things, to what extent do they reveal?
Above all what is the dire necessity to know about the distant past, ignoring the glorious present?
If we are mentally strong,we can take guidelines from the astrologer's predictions & take our own decisions by our common sense or we may not approach the astrologer at all.
But many are overpowered by astrological observations.
Considering all these things, we can come to one conclusion.
There are certain things which cannot be changed at all however much  we try.
There are certain other things which we can change by our hard work & sincere efforts.
But how to know the difference between these two?
We cannot leave everything to DESTINY.
All human beings are endowed with INTELLIGENCE & SENSE OF DESCRIMINATION.We have so many Gurus,books,elders & our own EXPERIENCES.
In stead of running after the astrologers, we may strengthen our mind,face all realities with Self Confidence & with greater FAITH in the ALMIGHTY.

                     III  OMEN,MEN and WOMEN*
Omens have their origin from early man's attempts to to explain nature from human view point and they are supposed to invite fortunes/evils inclusive of death.
Crossing the path with cat,sudden stopping of wall clock, sudden stop of burning of kuthu vilakku, howling of a dog at the doorway,facing a widow or firewood vendor while starting  on a mission, breaking of a mirror,even sneezing once ,using inauspicious words-the list is endless.Every one is particular in avoiding a bad omen rather than adhering to a good one.

All our epics, and puranas contain innumerable 
examples of throbbing or shivering, thunder and lightning,forecasting fortunes or evils..Western legends make no exceptions.

Fifty  years back,at the time we started our trip on a pilgrimage, the mirror held by my daughter fell down and broke to pieces.My legs accidentally struck at the threshold and started bleeding.Notwithstanding warning by elders we started.
In Tiruchendur I lost my diamond nose ring while coming from Tirunelveli to Tiruchendur by bus.
We could not search the bus, as it went off immediately. On the return trip after two long hours,we could sweep the bus and got got back the nose stud sticking with mud from a worn out slipper from the bus.Amidst hundreds of passengers going in and out of the bus, it was strange that the jewel was traced.

Happy and sorrowful events follow one another in life.The outcome of the exam, or interview or bridegroom hunt is not indicative of the positive or negative impact of the omen preceding the event.

Normally men used to remark sarcastically that all wOMEN  have in built OMEN in themselves. Invariably men are bound by wOMEN.

There are so many words in the dictionary which have in built OMEN.

I am reminded of Oscar Wilde's remarks
"There is such thing as omen. Destiny does not send us heralds.She is too wise or too cruel for that.'

                              ****.     ****.     ****
*Published in The Indian Express during late 1990's


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