The happiness of being cheerfully yourself!



This one is for Raj Thackeray….

For the past two weeks, I have been constantly on the road, gathering stories for our State of the State coverage prior to elections in Maharashtra due on October 13.

I have been to remote villages, walked six kms and back through jowar and tuar fields and hilly terrains to reach witch doctors, got threatened by moneylenders making the lives of farmers in Vidarbha  miserable (I was told I could be arrested if I persisted in probing into their unsavoury deals)  and got stuck in the mud in a paddy field with no prospects of getting out of my muddy clothes and into a fresh change for hours after that. I have survived.

But my most enduring memory from this year’s Maharashtra Yatra will forever be meeting up with a cheerful bevy of women in the Bhadole village of Kolhapur district where I had gone to nose into their ‘bottle down’ agitation – Maharashtra is the only state in the country which has given women in the villages the right to shut down their liquor stores/bars or dens if more than 50 per cent of them so wish it, never mind that that might cause the state exchequer millions in excise duties.

These women knew I was coming and they were all gathered at their local gram panchayat office. They helped me wade through the puddle last night’s rain had made and then pulled a chair for me before deciding to squat on the floor. “I will not talk to you if any of you sit at my feet. Get up and get yourselves a chair each,” I said.

They laughed delightedly and then made a circle of chairs round me, talking nineteen to the dozen, giving my head a real spin as I turned in all directions simultaneously to catch what each one of them was saying. I had never seen a brighter, more cheerful and contented lot of women willing to help their sisters in distress than these women from Bhadole village. The hour or more I spent with them was really great and gave me great insights into how life had really changed for the women in our villages, and not just because of the Bottle Down agitation. Where villages are not remote and within  easy reach of communication facilities, including satellite television and mobile telephony, I discovered they are well aware, educated and happily living out the best of both worlds – they have something like chit fund committees or kitty parties every week but these are not really either chit funds or kitty parties. These women put together their savings from each week’s domestic expenses, even if it be as low as fifty rupees,  and bring them to these gatherings and deposit it into an account started for them by the government which matches every rupee they pay into their accounts with one of its own. But these gatherings also become occasions to ask after each other’s welfare and if they discover that one of them is being troubled by a drunkard of a husband or by any one else in any manner, they get together to straighten out things for the other woman and no man dare interfere once they have set their sights on the goal!

But Bhadole also brought to me a moment of self-discovery . When I had started out as a journalist, despite having been entirely educated in Maharashtra, I stuck out like a sore thumb when I travelled to its villages. But two-and-a-half decades down the line, I know Maharashtra better than I do any other State in India, including the home States of my parents where I believe I will always be seen as an outcaste.

If Raj Thackeray’s sons-of-the-soil theory were to be implemented as policy in any State, I am sure there will be many like me who will suddenly belong to none. But the enlightened Bhadole women have today brought me a good deal of enlightenment of my own.

After two hours of chatting with them, when I decided to leave,  one of the women who headed the Savings Committee of the village, asked if I would write a remark for their Visitors’ Book. “I can’t think that well in Marathi,” I said apologetically.

“Never mind,” she said cheerfully. “Write it in English and then translate that for us into Hindi so that most of the rest of us can understand. English is still beyond us.”

As I gladly agreed, I was surprised to note that they had put my name down in the Visitor’s Book as ‘Sujata Anandane’.

“Hey!” said I. “I am Anandan, not Anandane. By giving this twist to the spelling you have turned me into a Maharashtrian!”

It  brought to mind the father of my Bengali friend who once told me, “If the Shiv Sainiks come for me, I will tell them I am not Bose but Bosay!”

But these women really did put a more cheerful interpretation on the sons of the soil theory. “Well, you are in Maharashtra and even if it was a little broken, you did speak to us in Marathi. We have no reason to presume that you are not a Maharashtrian, then. But English-educated , perhaps. And since we don’t have any Anandans in our state,  we put you down as Anandane.”

I just laughed and accepted their acceptance of me with good grace. I signed their Visitors Book as Sujata Anandane – in English, Hindi and Marathi!

And Bose Uncle now need not be afraid of being a Bose any more!

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  • Anil

    Amazing program this bottle down agitation sounds.. Each and every state should adopt it… Even chit fund sounds great..

    BTW this langauge chauvinisim only idios indulge into anyone who is sane will know better..

    I have my telugu freind we both talk in hidni . I keep pestering him to teach me telugu and every time he will end up saying yaar sare words to hindi wale hi use hote hain..

    [Reply]

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Yes, the programme is amazing. The women vote in a secret ballot, even get a mark like at other elections but on their little fingers. In the fifteen years since this policy has been in force one taluka in Satara district of Maharashtra has become liquor-free. Now Kolhapur is going the same way

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  • Anil

    You drop ‘an’ from your name and you have ‘Sujata Anand’. A you become a Panjabi Kudi. You add ‘h’ and ‘O’ in your name and you have ‘Shujata Onand’ a Bong belle. To apologise for calling it ‘Bombay’ is ransom. That to from Raj who has an anglicised name in “Thackerey”. Sort of related to “William Makepeace Thackerey”. Should change his name to Raju Thakar !

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    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Ha, ha, ha! Completely agree with you abou Raju Thakar. I have vowed never to refer to Bombay as Mumbai until the Thackerays stop calling thmselves anything other than Thakre — and just to let you into something : I have a tape where Bal Thackeray has referred to himself as Thackeray six times rhyming the Thack in his name with `hack’. So how original and Marathi manoos can you get?

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    Bob Mathews Reply:

    Sujata,

    That was interesting!!! But I’m not surprised at their double speak.

    Thank you for sharing this with us.I hope the relevant extract of this tape could be aired as a public service.

    Will the electronic media take up this challenge?

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    ripal mehta Reply:

    here comes bob mathews,

    communal christian , never misses an oppourtunity to defame anybody speaking for hindus.
    What challenge you want media to take up ? u bloody opportunist. its obvious that the media is financed by vatican and arab world . If at all the challenge media needs to take up is against islamic fanatism, for uniform civil code, population explosion, family planning, illeteracy, government failures, muslims still having half doezen kids because there is no law to stop them doing it, christians and so called missionaries illegal acts of religious conversion of poor and illeterate people resulting in communal violence. can media take up those challenges and tame bob mathews and abu azmis… ???!!!??/

    Akhilesh Reply:

    Sujata,
    I hope Raj Thackeray and his politics is conclusively demolished in these elections. It is his kind of politics that needs to be nipped in the bid.

    If his prescriptions ever take any substantiative form in the mainland, then what is stopping, say, the insurgent groups in North East from making even more outrageous demands. Or, say, some enterprising politician in Tamil Nadu demanding a separate homeland again comprising TN and Sri Lankan Tamils?

    The tragedy, however, is that Raj Thackeray is propped up as a clever ploy by Congress. And the mainstream English media is so smitten these days by all things Congress. So inspite of the obvious vituperative theme of Raj raj Thackeray’s campaign, the media will not similarly tear apart Raj as it is it’s wont in case of all things BJP.

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    I have torn Raj apart at every one of his misplaced campaigns. And, yes, like you I hope this election puts paid to his divisive agenda. Denying ration cards to `migrants’, calling for work pemits for so-called `outsiders’ etc are unfeasible programmes and I am taken by somehing Narayan Rane said last week — these are the agendas of people who know they won’t come to power and so are not troubled by having to implement the policies. I hope he is right.

    Akhilesh Reply:

    That is exactly my point mam.

    Raj’s camapign as “misplaced.” That is a very very mild word as compared to what is used against Modi or BJP types. There mass murderers, maut ka sudagars, man-eaters, state terrorists are very common.

    Never seen you or other liberal writers calling BJP’s campaign for blocking Bangladeshi immigirants as misplaced ( although it is higly “placed” and appropriate). It is instead called communal, ani national, etc etc.

    You do get the drift of my arguments, don’t you ?

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    When Bal Thackeray’s government in Maharashtra rounded up `Bangladeshis’ in Bombay in 1996 and packed them off on the Bombay-Howrah Express, Jyoti Basu sent them right back by return mail. For they all turned out to be Bengali and Bihari Muslims who are ethnically similar to Bangladeshis. They had neither ration cards nor passports on them because they believed they were Indians and in their own country and so didn’t need these documents. So they went back to their villages and returned with certificates from their Sarpanches stating that they were born in India and had every right to live in Bombay as anybody else.

    My take is this: there are indeed Bangladeshis in large numbers in Bombay and elsewhere in the country. But they all have Indian passports and Indian ration cards and so have legal grounds to stay in India. My question is: how do they get these documents? Who arms them with these identities?

    Those guys who do are the real traitors. Aren’t they Indians? So Who will weed them out?

    Akhilesh Reply:

    ” there are indeed Bangladeshis in large numbers in Bombay and elsewhere in the country. But they all have Indian passports and Indian ration cards and so have legal grounds to stay in India. ”

    All bangladeshi migrants have passports and ration cards??? This is an astonding staement you are making. Do you know this for a fact? Have you done research on it? Ir was this just a rhetorical point you made to rebutt my arguments?

    Anyways the question you missed answering is this ( and I ask it again) : You agree that there are large number of Bagladeshis in India. India, already a poor country cannot take the burden of a neighbouring country. So we must now allow immigration from there. Right?

    You say BJP’ s approach is communal. For argument’s sake, let’s say I agree with you. Why does the Congress, a secular party, then not take a non-communal approach and send them back. Why is it, that they have never taken even one step to send them back. Surely Congress does not argue that we must allow Bangladeshis in? Surely Congress is secular. Surely if it gets down to doing this, it’s approach will be non-communal. Then why does it not do it?

    Infact I say, please suggest a non-communal way to send non-Indians back to their home country and we will back you.?

    Do you have a suggestion Ms. Anandan ?

    I am sure you will have none. You know why? Because Bangladesh is a Muslim majority country. Any one who comes from there in India will invariably be a Muslim. But when someone says send that person back, secularists jump up and say – no, no, that is communal. This is an amazing argument. That the BJP targets Bangladeshis because they are Muslims.

    How does the BJP help, if all Bagladeshis are Muslims. Is it BJP’s fault that there are no other religion people there who migrate? How can BJP invent non-Muslim Bangladeshis just to appear secular? Or, should it mean, just because they are Muslims, we should not send them back?

    Any answers, Ms. Anandan?

    As about those who give them false identities – don’t you know the answer already, mam ? They do that at the behest of the Communists in Bengal and Congress in Assam? Becuase these illegal immigrants form a permanent vote bank.

    How do you blame the BJP for this. It has never been in power in either Assam or WB. And just for 4 years in Maharashtra. Surely the Congress and other secular worthies need to answer your question.

    have you ever asked them this question, mam?

    Sujata Anandan Reply:

    Bob,

    have written in detail about the tape earlier in one of my columns `anandan ON WEDNESDAY’ in the Bombay edition of Hindustan Times sometime back when the Shiv sena was hell bent on turning `Bombay Scottish’ (from where Aditya, Uddhav’s son passed out) to `Mumbai Scottish’ and Bombay Dyeing to Mumbai Dyeing.

    Will air it at a relevant time, but it will have to be on HT

  • http://www.hindustantimes.com Sujata Anandan

    Akhilesh,

    Do us journalists the favour of knowing more than you as a common man do. Just talk to the cops in Bombay and they will let you know how difficult it is because Indian — yes Indian — touts arm these immigrants with passports and ration cards. Pl do not see a saffron agenda in every fact of life. After all Bal Thackeray tried to weed the Bangladeshis out and couldn’t succeed. I just had to laugh at your reply because you seem to see a ghost behind every door. I hadn’t even been thinking about the BJP when I replied to you — perhaps it is a guilty conscience that makes you make those allegations? For the BJP was in power for six years and did it even try — as Bal Thackeray did — to throw out the Bangaldeshis?

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    Akhilesh Reply:

    Good riposte.

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  • ripal mehta

    did bjp do anything when they were in power for six years??? havent i heard this from many many congressy muslim and christian bigots..?? who is this anandan .. harcore congress chamchi.. side kick.. they expect bjp to do things which they couldnt do for 60 years in 6 years… they couldnt do it so congress is better .. i sometimes wonder the iq level of theses journos.. god save hindus of this country..

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  • http://starttags.com/tags/tuar tuar

    [...] had to get away for a couple of days or so just so I can re-charge and replenish my lost energy. …The happiness of being cheerfully yourself! : Singly PoliticalThis one is for Raj Thackeray…. For the past two weeks, I have been constantly on the … six kms [...]

  • http://www.blurbpoint.com/link-building-services.php Link Building Services

    Happiness is not the thing that one can buy from the market but one has to find the happiness in the small things and from the small happiness it be the major one. Do what you like to love , communicate to other people with love. And the most important thing is to find the inner happiness which is of the soul and this can be find by supporting the truth every time. Thanks for such nice sharing.

    [Reply]

  • Abu Ahmed

    Good – as long as the USA is in our neighborhood, we must keep up this dignified, state-to-state talks. No need to be cowed down by China, as maintaining of peace is in everybody’s interest, not just of India & Indians.

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  • Anonymous

    When I say the new Chief of Air Staff, N. A. K. Browne, is a CIA-RAW man, I mean he literally sits at CIA-supplied terminals to participate in crimes against India. More than a thousand Indian Air Force aircraft have crashed since 1970, the vast majority of the crashes caused by microwaves from U. S. satellites which can hack into and operate any digital equipment. In his first week in office as Chief of Air Staff, Browne caused two Indian Air Force fighter planes to crash with microwaves from satellites, to give a boost to his bid to buy worse than worthless foreign aircraft for several tens of billions of dollars of which he will get a hefty cut along with the Defence Minister and the Italian woman who gets the largest cut. The Sukhoi crash on Dec. 13 ‘11 and the grounding of the Sukhoi fleet has been caused 2 days ahead of the purchase decision as the purchase was made impossible by my opposition to it. See IndianAirForcePilotsMurderDOTblogspotDOTcom . //I said on October 11 ‘11 ( GaddafiCrimeDOTblogspotDOTcom ) that the ’suicide’ of the chief test pilot Baldev Singh was murder, to facilitate the claim of the fraudulent ‘delay’ in inducting the indigenous Light Combat Aircraft, being used to justify the worse than worthless purchase abroad. India builds Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft from raw materials; why do you need to buy fighter aircraft from abroad? [At this, A. K. Antony said on November 23 '11 that the Sukhoi-30 MKI assembly line can only make 16 aircraft per year. Why couldn't you set up another assembly line? As soon as I asked this question, the report in Deccan Herald was changed by RAW to eliminate the reference to assembly line limitation and a reference to a Sukhoi-30MKI crash in April '09 -- its first ever -- was inserted instead, having him say that the Indian Air Force will continue to use the Sukhoi-30MKI despite the crash along with the new aircraft to be bought from abroad and the Light Combat aircraft. The Sukhoi crash on Dec. 13 '11 has been caused 2 days ahead of the purchase decision as the purchase was made impossible by my opposition to it.] N. A. K. Browne, A. K. Antony and the Italian woman should be booked for the murder of Baldev Singh along with the head of RAW. All former heads of RAW should be booked for the murders of hundreds of Indian Air Force pilots. //Integrated Circuit chips made in the United States are required to provide for access to the United States National Security Agency so it can monitor and take control of their operations at will. Components and electronic equipment from the United States should be absolutely “haram”; far from lamenting ‘technology denial’, equipment from the United States should be rejected even if it is offered on a platter and free of charge as I have said. India’s bought-up Defence, Atomic Energy, Space and other officials deliberately close their eyes to this threat. This also applies to U. S.- made civilian aircraft, for example. There are two hundred thousand Indian engineers and scientists working in Research & Development for foreign companies in India but instead of putting its money in Research & Development ( in my letter dated January 5, 2004 to the press — see my blog — I had suggested one million Research & Development workers in India in government-sponsored projects), India’s CIA-RAW government buys foreign equipment in all fields to keep India poor, weak and enslaved. India’s government lends hundreds of billions of dollars to the U. S. government in exchange for worthless U. S. paper but seeks foreign investment and World Bank loans for projects in India, giving ownership and control of India to India’s enemies, despite the unlimited capital available to India by simply printing the money; see ‘How India’s Economy Can Grow 30% Per Year Or More’ in my blog; as is described there, the United States has been applying my proposal about money by stealth and now also openly but Manmohan Singh refuses to do so because this bugger — a CIA appointee — does what serves the United States’, not India’s, interests. //When Atal Behari Vajpayee was prime minister, he had once gone to Bombay and spoken to the stock exchange about applying my proposal about money to India’s economy, after which he had to abort his flight back to Delhi for fear his plane will crash. The murders of several politicians by air crash have been accomplished by microwaves from satellites. A recent example was the murder of the Andhra Pradesh chief minister by air crash. In my blog I have described how Indira Gandhi when prime minister in 1980 went to her kitchen with the then U. S. Vice President and former CIA Director, George Herbert Walker Bush, to arrange for the murder by air crash of her son Sanjay Gandhi who had taken to slapping her in the presence of others under my influence and the then CIA Director, Frank Carlucci, publicly claimed credit for that air crash via a letter that appeared in National Review. //In a press release dated January 10, 2011 I said: Stealth or no-stealth, 5th generation or 4th generation, fighter aircraft are as obsolete for India’s defence as bows and arrows. They can be used against neighbors such as Pakistan and China but the United States is EVERYBODY’S neighbor. It has already invaded and occupied Afghanistan, a part of traditional India and will expand its occupation to the rest of the subcontinent. I am India’s expert in strategic defence, the father of India’s strategic program including the Integrated Guided Missile Development Program and the world’s greatest scientist (my biography is in Marquis’ Who’s Who in the World, 2011 and earlier editions). The U.S. invasion of Afghanistan means the coast-to-coast destruction of the U.S. by India; see my blog titled ‘Nuclear Supremacy for India Over U.S.’, which can be found by a Yahoo search with the title, for what India needs to do. Russia and other white countries are U.S. allies. These are the enemies to destroy. All other enemies will be taken care of automatically. Conventional arms are worthless for destroying the United States. Nuclear arms to destroy the United States with a FIRST STRIKE — this is the key — are cheap and easy to produce with technology India already has. All the money earmarked for fighter aircraft etc., and more, must be pumped into research, development and production of missiles able to deliver India’s nuclear warheads — in the thousands — to the continental United States. India’s missile scientists & engineers should have tested such missiles to their full range decades ago — everything else, including short and intermediate range missiles and missile defence, is secondary and tertiary — but have not done that because of prohibitions by India’s C.I.A.-controlled governments. This must be done on a war footing; the first step is to destroy RAW through which the C.I.A. rules India; see my blog. Producing such weapons in the thousands and very quickly is important. This means that the vast majority of them must be land-based, including road and rail-mobile, missiles rather than submarine-based which take a long time to produce.

    [Reply]

    RajX Reply:

    It looks like the CIA has fried your brain with a Satellite based microwave terminal. Hahahaha..funny guy.

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    AJsingh Reply:

    All governments are run by CIA.
    The time of long credit is long gone.
    CIA: Cash In Advance
    !!!

    [Reply]

  • AJsingh

    menon’s mother was a Punjabi
    not many people know

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    Anonymous Reply:

    Mallu and Punjabi hybrid…Extreme cunningness fused..nice breed.

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  • Anonymous

    Who paid Hindustan Times to retain the likes of Menon to write for it on very imortant issues such as what ought to be our foreign policy vis a vis China? And how much?

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  • Anonymous

    Oops ,I meant ‘important’. in my earlier comment..

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  • Probhat Sukla

    One of Bengal’s premier satirist once wrote about the difference between Indian Brains and Western Brains. In that essay, he wrote that Indian brains are very “fine” compared to the Western Brains which are “thick”. From this article I find that Shiv Shanker’s brain is so “fine” that none, including the crafty Chinese fails to divine that.

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  • Probhat Sukla

    I fully agree with the author. Present day parents are responsible for the production of pansies from the school system. They fill their childrens’ pockets with cash, and teach them to behave impudently with good and strict teachers. Very soon India will be producing totally ignorant high-school graduates like the North American school system. Incidentally, in my opinion co-ed schools are also responsible for the low standards. Boys and girls should only have co-ed classes at the University level, when they are much more mature.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_6T7JL6TUN22UAD7NSR774A44PQ Anonymous

    I do not agree to this. I’ve seen how we Indians behave meekly because of our upbringing. Our education system does not allow pupils to think of their own mind but to prepare them for rat race. How much innovation do we have in India? How many people think out of box to bring something on world stage? How many patents do we file? I do not think canning pupils brings discipline but fear. I was never canned but I still love my teachers. We need to let the children develop their own mind so that they can be different than us. We need to guide them with our experience but let them play with fire till then do not endanger themselves or others around it. The current anti corruption wave has lot of youngsters in it. This is only because this young generation has not followed us keeping heads down. @Abu lets stick to point.

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  • Vishal Kale

    Great point, Arnab. However, there is one additional consideration. There is a very material difference between now and 20 years ago: the social norms were different, the pressures on students and teachers’ alike were different, parents approach was different. This problem is more of a social problem than one relating to schools. Take me, for example: I would be very, very, very angry if corporal punishment was used on my child – I would definitely consider punitive action like complaining to the principle etc. But I am perfectly ok with other disciplinary measures being adopted. You have to understand that not every child reacts the same way, you have to understand the child and consider how will this punishment effect the behaviour we want to change? This requires parents and teachers as equal participants! Unfortunately, there is little parent – teacher interaction. And whatever little there interaction happens focuses on academics!

    Parents and Teachers alike do not understand that marks – especially in Nursery – 7/8th classes – are not the determinants of success. You should be focusing on the child’s behaviour, social interaction, participation, habits, fundamental understanding of the topic. But in place of this we place inordinate emphasis on marks, and neglect the first warning signals of problematic behaviour! This way, you can catch bad behaviour before they become a habit. What is required is proper training for teachers and re-invigoration of the system to reflect modern realities

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  • http://www.currency.com.pk/ Exchange rate

    haha, that is interestingly interesting, so true yet !!

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  • Abu Ahmed

    The Madrasa teaches theology, Quran, Science, Maths & English whereas the Shakhas teach how to kill Muslims thats the big difference, amongst several others, between a Madrasa and a RSS Shakha.
    You are hurt, for which I am sorry. Fact is the RSS is spreading militancy all over the country through their Shakhas and it is reflected in minor and major incidents of intolerance occurring everywhere.

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  • Plumbline

    We here in the west also deal with the cancer of political correctness, especially in the area of religion and morality. Kids are growing up without a sense of their Christian heritage here and have an entitlement mentality. They mock religion as they hear it mocked in the media and music. Morality among youth is very poor indeed. They are so wrapped up in thier iphones, ipads, and video games, that they have turned their ears away from the truth. Many have become insulent and arrogant, disrespecting parents and authority.

    2 Timothy 3

    Perilous Times

    3 But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: 2 For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, 3 unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, 4 traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5 having a form of godliness but denying its power.

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  • http://twitter.com/tlverma T L Verma

    ” Ibtdai Ishq hai rota hai kiya , aage aage dekhiye hota hai kiya “. This is just the beginning. Many such exposures should be there if we see the past trend of the year.

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  • Anonymous

    Happiness depends on our attitude.

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