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Mumbai Story 2 – Dabbawalas: Lifeline of Mumbaikars Daily Lunch

Mumbai Story 2 – Dabbawalas: Lifeline of Mumbaikars Daily Lunch

About 125 years ago, a Parsi banker wanted to have home-cooked food in his office and hired someone to collect it from his home and bring it to him at work. He was the first ever Dabbawala or tiffin carrier. Many people liked the idea […]

Singapore’s public housing has led to creation of jobs, safer living conditions for residents

Singapore’s public housing has led to creation of jobs, safer living conditions for residents

From an economically and socially under-developed country to one of the world’s best nations, Singapore has come a long way. Lacking in natural minerals and resources, it drew its strength from being a “stable and progressive economy” to drive more foreign direct investments and private […]

Catch-22 Book Review

Catch-22 Book Review

Catch-22 is a tragicomic novel specifying the efforts of a man named Yossarian, a captain in the US Army Air Force, to avoid flying any more combat missions. The novel takes place on Pianosa, a small Italian island, during the Second World War.

At first he tries to get medically grounded on the basis of insanity, but Doc Daneeka, the group’s medic, argues that Yossarian cannot be insane if he wants to avoid death by getting out of having to fly. This is termed a Catch-22. Yossarian spends the remainder of the novel trying to combat the Catch-22 and convince the military brass that he should be sent home. Every time a soldier meets his target of flying the number of missions, colonel would increase the target and it becomes a never-ending scenario for each soldier.

Highlight of the novel is its dark comedy. Many characters in Catch-22 undergo moral crises, wherein they must decide between self-interest (a concern for their own safety and wellbeing) or altruism (a concern for the wellbeing of others).

But it is Yossarian’s personal development, his progression from self-interest to altruism that defines the moral arc of Catch-22. In the beginning, Yossarian is content to forge the chaplain’s signature, resist his bombing runs, and otherwise either plan tricks to avoid responsibility or “go with the flow” in his time with the Army. But as his friends—including Clevinger, Orr, Nately, and Dunbar—either die or disappear, Yossarian’s attitude changes. He loses Luciana and Nurse Duckett; he learns that Aarfy has committed rape and murder; he sees scenes of total destruction in Rome, and of great human suffering. He realizes, like Dunbar, that he can no longer bomb innocent civilians for no reason, just to please his superiors.

Yossarian’s personal development reaches a climax in his full recollection of Snowden’s death. The destruction he had seen in Rome – disturbing scenes like including animal abuse, child abuse, rape, and murder, he decides that he doesn’t want anything to do with all these terrible people.  Snowden’s death and Rome make him present to frailty of human beings.

It begins with humor but as the story moves we come across bureaucracy of the Army heads, fears, weaknesses, morality, immoralities, confusion of soldiers.

Characters are really very interesting and they will live in your memories forever – Major Major, Orr, Doc Daneeka and other characters are Milo Minderbinder, Chaplain Tappman, Chief White Halfoat, Flume, Aarfy, Nately, Colonel Cathcart, Colonel Korn, General Dreedle and Peckem, General Dreedle’s son-in-law, Dunar, Soldier in white, Snowden, Major Danby, Clevinger, Havermeyer, Hungry Joe, McWatt, Nately, Scheisskopf (his craze for parades), Wintergreen, Major ______ de Coverley, Captain Black, Kid Sampson, Piltchard and Wren, Nurses Duckett and Cramer, Corporal Whitcomb, Dobbs (his part is small but very funny), Major Sanderson.

Novel is so brilliant that I can write separate articles for each characters / sub-plots/ humor / morality / human grounds / emotions, etc. But I will not write so much.

MY TAKE: The theme of the novel is to not live by anyone’s laws but your own.

Spoiler ahead: (don’t read next part if you don’t want any spoilers)

At the end of the novel, Yossarian has had a change of heart. He now sees that he can’t be concerned merely with savings himself from war if the means of doing so saves only him. He sees that he has a duty to the other soldiers who are also being killed by the war, and he implicitly condemns all the selfish actions of those in the war—whether Milo’s profiteering or Cathcart’s careerism. He comes to his most important realization. Orr understood it all the whole time: the only way to escape the catch-22 of the military is to run away to neutral territory, to a place where the military can no longer control one’s decisions—can no longer continue trying to kill him by forcing him to fly missions. Yossarian at first hesitated to run, because he felt it would make him a coward, but now he realizes it would be cowardice simply to accept the new orders he is given by Cathcart and Korn, to fly more missions without objection, or to accept their deal and go home.

The novel has many instances of extended metaphors, such as Doc Daneeka. Doc Daneeka is in charge of medical officers, and is reported to be dead, because he was signed up to be flying in a plane that crashed. He actually wasn’t, and was alive, but the Army stopped paying him and no one listened to him because he was “dead”. The whole situation is a metaphor on how the Army wrote the laws back then, and even something as obvious as a man being alive or dead was complicated through the official reports.

Another metaphor is the Soldier in White. The Soldier in White is a soldier who was graphically wounded, and put in a full body cast. He never moved or talked, and eventually dies. Another man in the same condition arrives, and he is regarded as the same person. No one cares. This was criticism to the Army for treating people like commodities and goods instead of people. Nobody cared whether the man lived or died because he was of no use anymore to them.

Mumbai Story 1 – Rani and Wahida

Mumbai Story 1 – Rani and Wahida

The story of Rani and Wahida Textile workers in slums Rani’s family lived in one of the peripheral slums of the Basti called Prem Nagar Slums, one of the most deprived precincts and also the most crowded. The average monthly income of a family there […]

Public Housing

Public Housing

The terms “affordable housing” and “public housing” are frequently used interchangeably, causing a lot of confusion in the process. They are actually two very different. Affordable housing refers to housing units that are affordable by that section of society whose income is below the median […]

The Slums of Mumbai

The Slums of Mumbai

Everywhere on the ground lay sleeping natives– hundreds and hundreds. They lay stretched at full length and tightly wrapped in blankets, heads and all. Their attitude and rigidity counterfeited death.

– Mark Twain, on a nocturnal drive through Bombay in 1896.

The Early History of Slums

Late in the 17th century, Gerald Aungier tried to attract traders and artisans to Bombay. As a result, the population grew six-fold in the fourteen years between 1661 and 1675. Some of the more prosperous traders built houses inside the British fort. The rest lived in crowded “native-towns” around the walls. These were probably the first slums to grow in Bombay.

The problem of overcrowding certainly remained through the 18th century. A count made in 1794 found 1000 houses inside the fort walls and 6500 immediately outside.

All over the world, the 19th century saw the growth of slums give the lie to the idea of progress brought on by large-scale industrialisation and the understanding and control of diseases. Bombay was no exception. The cotton boom, followed by the rapid growth of mills and shipping drew a large population from the rest of the country into a city ill-equipped to deal with them. In the middle of the 19th century slums grew around the mills and other places of employment.

The Birth of Slums

Historically, slums have grown in Bombay as a response to a growth of population far beyond the capacity of existing housing. Migrants are normally drawn to the city by the huge disparity between urban and rural income levels. Usually the residents of these densely populated enclaves live close to their place of work. The residential area itself does not provide employment.

Bombay knows another reason for the formation of slums. As the city grew, it took over land that was traditionally used for other purposes. The Koli fishermen were displaced during the development of the harbour and port. Those driven out of the fishing villages improvised living space that was often far shabbier than before. This process continues even now, at the end of the 20th century.

On the other hand, some villages were encysted by the city growing around them. Dharavi, originally a village with a small tanning industry, has become a slum in this fashion. Many of the older slums in Byculla and Khar were initially separate villages, with their own traditional industries.


Partition – Majority of Punjab was allotted to Pakistan

Partition – Majority of Punjab was allotted to Pakistan

I came across an old map of Punjab and immediately thought of writing this article. How many people know that who drew this border? The answer is Cyril Radcliffe. The information provided to Cyril Radcliffe who drew the borders and divided India and Pakistan once said […]

Mass murderers in History

Mass murderers in History

The 20th century witnessed death and slaughter on an unprecedented scale. It was the century of the Holocaust and two World Wars; of communist, Nazi, fascist and military dictators who between them killed more than 100 million people. The casualties of conflicts involving the U.S., […]



The beginning of spring and of autumn are two very important junctions of climatic and solar influence. During this period Earth is relatively much near to Sun facing its maximum gravitational pull. It is believed that during this phase, the divine energy intervenes with extra power to pass earth this course with much ease and smoothness. As per Hindu mythology, this divine energy is- Goddess Durga. The Navratri in this context is also celebrated as thanksgiving festival to Goddess Durga for saving, protecting and nurturing life on Mother Earth.

During these days people usually avoid taking meat, fish, eggs, alcohol, onions, garlic, grains, lentils, legumes (beans) because special divine energies of empowerment are not able to reach the individual. In addition, these food items act as a barrier in radiating energy in any form. Further, these tend to accumulate and process free-floating negative karmic energies from other living beings and the environment.

The nine rupa’s of Durga -Shailputri, Brahmcharini, Chandraghanta, Kushmanda, Skandmata, Katyaini, Kaalratri, Mahagauri, and Siddhatri represents different traits of human beings such as Smiriti, Shraddha, Lajja, Hunger, Thirst, Forgiveness, Luster, Beauty, Sight, Truth etc. These also control various systems and organs of human body. So everything related to human mind, psychology and body are controlled and maintained by these nine forms of divine energy. During nine days of Navratri By worshiping a particular form of Durga one is blessed with different physical, mental and psychological strength.

Significance of Nine Days of Navratri

1st Day of Navratri – The first night of Navratri is devoted to the worshiping of Goddess Shailputri. She has the manifestation of Green Light with her. This light helps to reduce anger in Human beings. This energy manifests in Anahata or Heart chakra. The organs related to this chakra are the heart, back, shoulder, arms, hand, Lungs and Chest area. The gland associated with this chakra is Thymus gland. This chakra relates to Love, an ability of an individual to give and take unconditionally. It enhances listening capability of individuals. Thus meditating on this chakra help in removing emotional blocs, treating traumas and healing of diseases related to concerned organs, glands, and system efficiency. This is the starting point of their spiritual discipline.

2nd Day of Navratri – The second night of Navratri is associated with Goddess Bhramcharni, who is the storehouse of knowledge and wisdom. She has the manifestation of Blue Light with her that personifies love and loyalty and empowers actualization of goals. The organs related to this chakra are throat, lung, and neck. The gland associated with this chakra is thyroid gland. The upper digestive tract is also associated with this chakra. This energy resides in Visudha or Throat chakra. It blesses the worshipper with awareness about the spirit of truth and purpose, ability to communicate about one’s needs and requirements. It also helps in healing of diseases related to concerned organs, glands, and system effectively.

Visiting Maa Vaishno Devi’s temple on Ashtami during Navratri is considered highly auspicious.

3rd Day of Navratri – The third night of Navratri is associated with Goddess Chandraghanta who is a giver of bliss, peace, serenity, and growth in activities, the purpose of life. She has the manifestation of red light with the pink hue in her. Residing in Mooladhar or root chakra this energy provides the worshiper with powers of self-awareness, stability, and security. The organs related to this chakra are Kidney, bladder, pelvis, vertebral column, hips, and legs. The gland associated with this chakra is an Adrenal gland. The system associated with this chakra is an excretory system. It provides strength and courage to native. With this, It also helps in healing of diseases related to concerned organs, glands, and system effectively.

4th Day of Navratri – The fourth night of Navratri is associated with Goddess Kushmanda who is destroyer sorrows of the mind and ego by harmonizing the macro-universe with the inner micro-universe of the individual. She has the manifestation of Orange Light with a golden hue that personifies creativity and respect for others creative works, destroying false ego in an individual. The organs related to this chakra are the uterus, large bowel, lower abdomen, ovaries, testes, sexual organs. The reproductive system is also associated with this chakra. This energy resides in swadhisthan or Sacral chakra. It endows the worshipper with the virtue of Self-respect. It also helps in healing of diseases related to concerned organs, glands and system effectively

5th Day of Navratri – The fifth night of Navratri is associated with Goddess Skandmata who transform energies provided by other goddesses in form of wealth and strength for native. She has the manifestation of indigo light with the silver hue. The organs related to this chakra are eyes, lower head, nose, and ears. Pituitary Gland is also associated with this chakra. Residing In Agya or Brow chakra this energy provides the worshiper with the virtue of self-responsibility- responsibility to oneself to follow the soul path and trusting one’s own intuition. It also helps in healing of diseases related to concerned organs, glands and system effectively

6th Day of Navratri – The Sixth night of Navratri is associated with Goddess Kaatyayani who gives boons and fulfills wishes of the native. She has the manifestation of Yellow Light with her that personifies self-worth, intellect, self-confidence and moral principles. The organs related to this chakra are liver, spleen, stomach and l intestine gallbladder and middle back. The gland associated with this chakra is Pancreas. This energy resides in Manipur or Solar plexus chakra. It endows the worshipper with the virtue of how one feels about himself and how others perceive him. It also helps in healing of diseases related to concerned organs, glands and system effectively

7th Day of Navratri – The Seventh night of Navratri is associated with Goddess Kaalratri who destroys fear and ignorance of the worshiper and blesses the individual with fortitude and fearlessness. She has the manifestation of violet light with purple-blackish hue. The organs related to this chakra are Top of the head, brain and Nervous System. The gland associated with this chakra is pineal Gland. Residing in Crown chakra this energy provides the worshiper with higher consciousness or spiritual awareness. It helps in the spiritual upheaval of individual Atma with Parmatma. It also helps in healing of diseases related to concerned organs, glands and system effectively

8th Day of Navratri – The eighth night of Navratri is associated with Goddess Mahagauri who destroys all sins of devotees and worshiper gets purified in all respects. She channels the thought waves of the devotees towards the path of the virtue and destroys Asat. Cumulative energy manifested in the whole body and being reflected signifies balance and creativity in the highest form.

9th Day of Navratri –The ninth night of Navratri is associated with Goddess Siddhidatri who provides the worshiper with all sidhis, beings fulfillment and satisfaction in individual lives. This energy is radiant in form of golden light over crown chakra instilling service to God and libration of a soul from the vicious circle of life and death.

Kanya or Kumari Pujan During Navratri’s

During navratris, Kumari or Virgin girl is worshipped for nine consecutive days. A Kumari is a symbol of un-manifested energy and by worshipping her, this energy gets activated as a result of which radiant frequencies in the universe get attracted and worshipers get benefited by it. The Hindu scripture- Rudryamla Tantra, has categorized girl into different age groups for worshiping the goddess. The result of boons begetted differs for each Kumari Pujan.

A one-year-old girl is called “Sandhya”, two years old is called “Saraswati”, three years old is called “Tridhamurthy”, four years old girl is called “Kalika”, five is “Subhga”. At six, she is “Uma” at seven, she is called “Malini” and “Kubja” in her eighth year. She is “Kaalsandharbha” in nine, “Aparajita” in ten and “Rudrani” in eleven years of age. A girl in the twelfth year is “Bharavi” and “Mahalaxmi” in thirteenth. In her fourteen, fifteen and sixteenth year, she is known as “Peethnayika”, “Chetraja” and “Ambika” respectively.

The significance of three claps during Garba or Kanya Pujan:

It is believed that divine energy is awakened by the musical rhythm of three claps through the frequencies of desire, action, and knowledge, representing the Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesh. It also signifies awakening of fire element

With the first clap, Lord Brahma energy of desire gets awaken. This energy signifies wishes in mind of an individual

With the second clap Lord Vishnu energy related to action get awaken. This energy signifies actions performed by individual for fulfillment of desires.

With the Third clap, Lord Shiva energy related to begetting results get awaken. This energy signifies boons given by God to Individual.

On each day, I shall post one article about each of the 9 manifestations of Goddess Durga. 🙂 Look out for the space to know more.

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