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    The Gospel of Grandpa: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4 | part 5 | part 6 | Ganesha, the God | Amazing Encounter

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    1. May All Beings Live in Harmony
    2. May All Beings Live in Harmony (2)
    3. Under the Sacred Peepal Tree
    4. Tsunami Reflections
    5. Destiny and the Dog
    6. Patriotism and Sportsmanship
    7. What Is & What Is Not
    8. Colours of Life
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    10. Man & Woman
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    12. Honey! We shrunk the Gods!
    13. Kosmic Kolams
    14, Perfection Spells Myth
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    16. Pondering Imponderables
    17. The Happisad Theory
    18. To Be, or to Become
    19. Dogs and Gods
    20. Prediction
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    Tirpuday Runs Away
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    The Gospel of Grandpa [part four]
    Tsunami Reflections

    Grandpa and the children are stunned, as the sad news of the Tsunami comes to the family. Grandpa analyses the nature of death by disaster, using statistics and referring to patterns outlined in the ancient books on astrology. He explains that, viewed in an astrological light, for everything there is a compensating effect.

    It was December. The trees were de-leafing. The Sun scurried through the day in a hurry, late at rising and early at setting, a shadow of its might self in summer. Naturally, this behavioral disposition of the principal energy provider was reflected upon everything in the northern hemisphere.

    To add to this subdued ambiance was that ominous foggy morning that brought news from the south that a tsunami had struck along the entire coast. Hundreds had perished. Entire villages were washed away. Munni and Chotu could vaguely fathom the intensity of this disaster. They had read about tsunamis in Japanese stories but that had kindled in them a sense of adventure. Facing it closer home and in reality was different, very different indeed.

    Everything on the front page of the newspaper that day brought sad tidings. In the nearby city there had been a wall collapse killing five members of a family of workmen who had built their temporary ramshackle dwelling along the side of the wall. Ten members of a marriage party traveling by bus to the wedding venue had died when the bus swerved and fell into a ditch to avoid a buffalo that leisurely crossing the road. These news items occupied insignificant portions and at the bottom of the front page. The headline screamed 'Tsunami strikes' and there was a color picture below it showing a grieving man beside the bodies of his family members. Details of the relief efforts set in motion by the government and voluntary organizations were also given.

    The gardener who tended to grandma's vegetable patch in the backyard happened to be related to the family of workmen who had perished in the wall collapse. The news had reached him the day before while he was at work and he had been glum since then. Grandpa mentioned to him about the news item as he came to work that morning. He also added that there had been great loss of life along the coast due to tidal waves and that a massive relief operation was underway. The remark of the gardener at this, took both grandpa and the children by surprise and also set them pondering. He said “It pays to perish in a high profile disaster, the bigger the better. Those who die in nondescript calamities like a wall collapse or a road accident are paid a pittance or nothing at all, even though the tragedy is of equal magnitude for every victim”. The statement seemed repulsive, mindless and bereft of any feeling. Yet there seemed to be logic in it. At least partly it seemed to be true.

    Grandpa's countenance wore a veil of several hues. There was sadness, there was bewilderment, there was anger and there was frustration too. A hundred questions sought answers in the children's minds too. And as they would usually do to unload their minds and seek succour for their restless inquisitiveness, they turned to Grandpa.

    Tsunami

    Official reports put the tsunami death toll in the country at about 10,000 [now over 16,000 - ed.]. Grandpa brought out his files where he maintained demographic statistics. The children watched in fascination at all the numbers that glimmered at them. It said that the current annual death rate for the country was 8.4 per 1000. With the current population level of 1.05 billion, this worked out to 8,820,000 deaths each year. It meant that 24,164 persons died each day in the country on an average. At the world level with an estimated population of 6.3 billion and an annual death rate of about 10.8 per 1000, the corresponding figures were 68,040,000 deaths each year and 186,410 deaths each day. Looked at from this perspective, the deaths due to the tsunami were only about 50% of the total for the day's average and on global level the estimated 60,000 deaths across nations due to the tsunami were only 30% of the day's average [estimated death toll now exceeds 260,000, somewhat less than one and a half times the worldwide daily average deaths from all causes - ed.].

    These figures were indeed a revelation, particularly in the context of the tragedy. It seemed perplexing that even though double the number of people died every day, the mind grieved only for those who hit the headlines. The words of the gardener hit with a greater force than a tsunami — It paid to perish in a high profile disaster. Also, was it really grief that poured out of the heart for the victims or was it fear — in the garb of grief?

    Tsunami

    Did we then have a choice of embracing a high profile death to glory (and riches for our kin)? Obviously not. Perhaps a more cautious thing to say would be — generally not, thought Grandpa. He brought out a book from the shelf and showed the children the celestial patterns described there which if present in natal charts presumably indicated death under particular circumstances. There were patterns specified for death by fire, death by water, death due to poisoning, by fall from a great height, by a weapon, and so on. There were patterns for individual death, collective death — as in a tsunami. There were patterns that apparently denoted the mode of disposal of the body after death. A subject matter that usually causes revulsion appeared not to be so when viewed from this point of view.

    But asked the children, where was the proof that these patterns worked. Was there documented proof that they did so, and without exception? Grandpa said no. At least he was not in possession of such confirmation. He had tried them out on some charts and had found them to work on some and not to work on others. He was certain too that many others would have done a similar exercise with similar results. But he considered the outcome that they did not work on some charts to be an indication of his own fallibility rather than being an aspersion on the subject. That they worked on some charts made him suspect that the rules may work if more relevant astrological factors were taken into consideration.

    Another interesting fact that Grandpa explained to the children was that every concept in astrology pointed to a state of compensatory effects. Saturn for instance, indicated both lethargy and stability. It reflected the reality that life is full of compensations. The seed of destruction always grows inside the fruit of creation. Perhaps, it pays to perish in a high profile disaster. But there will be a price to pay for this bonanza as well.

    Here ends the third chapter of this story. Read the next chapter of the Gospel of Grandpa

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    The Gospel of Grandpa: part 1 | part 2 | part 3 | part 4 | part 5 | part 6 | Ganesha, the God | Amazing Encounter

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