I went to Chor Bazaar today. Or as my Spanish colleague referred to it- 'Antique market'. He was shocked to know I had never been there. Trying to explain to him that I am a 'Juhu girl' who hates traveling beyond Bandra would not mean much to him.
I had to travel to Worli on work many moons ago when I was young and thin- well at least young. And like a princess my dad used to drop me and my friend Sonul's dad used to pick us up. Or the other way round. And I used to whinge about the travel time- much like Sanil does now.
Between Prithivis, Silver Beach, Juhu Church, Qualities and the bhel puri wala near my building, I had everything I could possibly want. Why bother with the needless travel? However I thought now that I was 'this side of town' I should not pass up the chance of visiting the legendary Chor Bazaar. I always wanted to, but the hike from Juhu made it a daunting task.
Well I have digressed...this post is about religion, or rather how religion agnostic business is.
I was explaining to my Spanish colleague about the Indian God Structure. I started with the God trinity- Shiva the destroyer, Brahma the creator and Vishnu the....err I stumbled. For the life of me could not remember. So I skipped that and moved over to Ganpati (0r Gantapi as Sanil used to say)- the elephant God- remover of obstacles. Hanuman then monkey god. Krishna of Hare Rama Hare Krishna fame. And ....well that's pretty much where I got to.
While I was explaining this we were in a small store, that magically became a lengthy maze of artifacts '500 years old'. The owner was a Muslim like most shop owners in Chor Bazaar are. He explained that Vishnu was the Protector. He then went on to show my colleague beautiful Madonna statutes. And stone carvings of various saints. He knew all their names. "This is Saint Roch because you can see the dog next to him". I was clueless. 10 years of Convent education and I had no idea what he was talking about. He explained how he bought them from Goa where a church could not be maintained, so they were selling off the carvings. He gave the whole history of Portuguese influence in Goa.
While my colleague was admiring the. Rs 20,000 stone carvings, I asked the owner about Krishna statues and he asked me back if I wanted one with Radha or Krishna alone? Did I want a 'bal ladoo Gopal'? Errr what? I had no idea Krishna was called that. Then he went on to show me the variety of Krishna murtis available whilst chatting to my colleague about various Mother Mary statues. He spoke about Buddha statues and Sai Baba with equal ease.
His kids kept coming to the back of the showroom looking for their dad. It stuck me how his only religion at that time was his work and his business. To make the sale and earn the money, to give his children a better life. He was knowledgable about all Gods. You might say, that's his business and he has to do this make a living. Whatever be the reason, during his business hours he had no religion.
His religion lives in his heart, in his home, in his place of worship. Where it would stay, if outside influences don't bring it in every time there is an election or a terrorist attack. He probably does not care for any of it, but he is made to choose. Organized religion inculcates fear, which usually triumphs.
We all work with people from different religions. My Creative Director was a staunch Christian, copy writer an atheist, art director was a Muslim and I a Hindu. No one ever asked anyone about their religion. We worked as a team... probably for a Jewish client. We put our passion into our work. Our religion was our work. We did not are about anything else. The aim was to do great work, and yes earn our accolades at the end of the project, and salaries at the end of the month.
Why then do people let religion be a barrier in other aspects of our their lives? Live and let live has always been my philosophy. Just like at work, let's keep religion out of everything else. It would make lives more peaceful for everyone around. And we all could really do with some peace.
Written from roof top lounge at ITC Grand Central, Mumbai.