June 24, 2012

Is religion losing its way in India?

Read more as Grandmaster R B Ramesh shares with us his personal experiences about Chess and Life.

Is religion losing its way in India?
By RB Ramesh

About myself: 
I Was a Chess player, now a Chess coach, father of 2 kids, living in Chennai and married to a Chess player Aarthie who was WORLD CHESS CHAMPION in Under 18 girls in 1999.
When I was young (DON’T tell me I am not young anymore!) I mean too young,
like below 12 years old kind of young, Ok it is not too young anymore but in those days it was, I was fairly religious being brought up in a typical Brahmin family visiting temples listening to spiritual songs at home in old model tape recorder praying to God daily under watchful eyes of my father seeing movies where they still showed about good things in life and God Listening to stories told by grandmother about various gods and their adventures (like Ramayan, Mahabharath, Harishchandra, Thiruvilayadal etc). And I had a good time as a kid playing with other children on the streets (YES, streets is what said, those days kids played on the streets without worrying about traffic as it was barely existent!) 
 flew kites,
  • Played road side cricket,
  • Early morning badminton tournaments,
  • Running and catching,
  • Hide and seek  
  • Fish- fighting (we grow a breed of fish known as fighters and have fish fighting matches    with friends! Sick I know, that’s how I was and that’s how I a   
  • Sayingboos to girls from hiding behind the door

And then IT happened  I don’t mean what you are thinking and I don’t mean Information Technology either though both happened too, just that I don’t mean that IT here!). I got introduced to CHESS and life became chasing behind increasing rating-winning State title –National title -International Master-Grand Master title- rat race.

So I slowly lost touch with the 2nd and 3rd paragraph of my life. Probably this is what people mean by life is a closed chapter. For me it was closed 2 paragraphs!

Then I got to travel extensively all over Tamil Nadu then all over India and then all over the world (mainly to Europe and Asia) in quest of my rat race.That (Europe travel) is when I got to see where they don’t do nature’s call on the streets people obeying well defined rules drove like they were sane not cutting queues Getting strange looks for asking a simple “do you have vegetarian food?”

·          got opportunity to stare in wonder at people with milky skin made of  fair and lovely absent  white colour speaking strange languages like they did not know English (what a crime? in India I mean)
·         trains and buses where you can actually get into it and wonder of wonders you can actually find  a seat without a kerchief or towel as mode of reservation And above all used paper for funny reasons rather than posters on the walls learnt the hard way how to be a “professional” sportsman, which in other words means I lost more than won, started eating all movable assets of planet earth like water borne fishes, land borne animals, sky borne birds and the in-betweens and go- betweens that live neither here nor there. Developed acidity due to excess hotel food, vomited before chess games due to tension, missed own- friends and relatives birthdays, festivals like Diwali and Pongal
were spent on trains and in strange places where people did not know such things existed, and thankfully got to cut school like no other kid!

Then I got married, had 2 kids, retired from Chess four years ago, quit my job, became a full time Chess trainer, started “Chess Gurukul”. Now I get to interact with lots of kids from age 6 to 20 years. During all this time I realized I got “logged out” from my religion. One can imagine how the same could happen to anyone in similar situation.

And it got me into thinking, on various areas. I began to compare myself, how I grew up, my way of seeing things, with how things are these days, how kids of this generation see things and try to imagine where things are leading to. It gives me hope, it gives me scare. More scare than hope at times when I am pessimistic about things.

By the way what has all this got to do anything with religion losing its way in India? Good question. I will try to explain in the coming parts…