The Indian Sandwich….

The Indian public is good sandwich material. At one end we have the Government machinery (politicians etc.) squeezing the public. At the other end we have various anti-social elements (some of whom go on to become politicians!).

The Government machinery (elected BY the people FOR the people) squeezes the people from the top. Ensuring that people struggle through life. Infrastructure is built up slowly, at snail’s pace. When something is built up the anti-social elements squeeze from the bottom by trying to disrupt the normal flow of life.

So the Indian public is good sandwich material for Government and the anti-social elements!



Go out and LIVE INDIA!

Multiple bombs exploded in Ahemadabad and Bangalore.

People shouldn’t stop living! More people have died because of the Delhi Blue-Line bus-service related accidents than all the bomb blasts put together. No one gets scared and stops using Blue-Lines. In fact the Blue-Line service has not even been scrapped!

Just because some idiots go and kill innocent people we should not let their death go to waste by allowing the people behind this to win. Especially since death is around us in every form. Everything we do has a finite probability of causing death.

Let us show to the world that Indian are the best at overcoming hardships. Our ancestors overcame foreign invasions and rulership to give us this land. Let us not dissappoint them by hiding in our houses.

The River of Life flows through my house….

Last few weeks I had been living alone in my shared house. So when someone came to stay here for a few weeks my mind went back to the people who had stayed in this house over the last four years that I have been living here.

Since I moved in here in July 2004, I have had more than 15 different housemates. Few stayed for a couple of weeks and few for a full year. This made me feel as if I am sitting on the banks of the river of life which flows through my house.

Often people stop for a while and interact with me. Then they move on. All the while I remain sitting on the banks, observing events unfolding around me. I the observer, them the observed. 🙂

But somewhere I feel that I don’t have much time left. My time on the bank is drawing to a close. When I am gone, someone else shall take my place and maybe for them I will be the passerby, who stops for a bit and then moves on.

Whatever happens, I know one thing. I have left my mark on the grassy banks of this broad and fast-flowing river. As the marks fade with time after I have left and the river of life changes its course erasing any trace of my presence, I shall have no regrets.

I shall know that I got this chance to sit by the river of life and observe the flow. 

I shall know it was but my destiny to rejoin it, as it flows.

Sati – the voice of emotions

The practice of Sati – where the widow burnt with her late husband on his funeral pyre, is now prohibited by law.

I think the choice should be left to the person concerned and not be banned by law.

The concept of Sati has been lost in time then re-discovered by society, transformed and re-formulated by each generation. The speculations on the purpose of Sati include preventing wives from poisoning husbands and enactment of the story of goddess Sati. It is now considered an almost barbaric practice.

Sati, of all the practices, is a good example of how concepts can be twisted by people over generations which result in their true meaning being lost.

Even in today’s day and age Sati has several advantages. But it should be kept in mind that Sati was voluntary (if you go by the story of goddess Sati) and something done with inner resolve. It was never supposed to be ‘forced’ on a widow by society. Throwing a widow on to the funeral pyre of her late husband, against her wishes is a crime. But willful immolation is not. Also Sati here also needs to involve the widower and not just widows. The sexist nature of the practice is like adding insult to injury.

The main advantages of voluntary Sati are:

– Taking the Hindu concept of life and death followed by re-birth, Sati quickens the jump to the next birth.

– Living without a loved one can make each day on Earth hell. Especially if the love felt was true and deep.

– These days children grow up too fast and are busy in their own lives, many times making their parents live alone, perhaps even in a different city. Imagine all that when your partner, is dead and you are all alone. It is better for the couple to end their life together than for one person to suffer all this alone.

While all these factors are important, we must remember things have changed. The concept of widow (or widower) remarriage is now well established in society. The advantages of Sati might be nullified by professional grief counselling.

So if due to intense grief the widow or widower is not able to handle the loneliness and decides to take the Sati option, professional help and support of loved ones can convince them to live on. Things are rapidly changing. This goes back to the original point that Sati needs to be voluntary with a clear inner resolve. It is not just about throwing yourself (or being thrown by someone else) into the funeral pyre.

I don’t think people will agree with this point of view. But the fact is a person’s life is in their own hands. No one has the right to control it. No law can prevent X from taking his/her own life. Instead of treating Sati as barbaric and something to be ashamed off, it should be treated as the ultimate compliment to life and love.

It, in my opinion, defines the saying: “to live and die in love”.

On being being alone and feeling lonely

Life has taught me many important things.  The main difference between being alone and feeling lonely is one of those things.

Being alone is a feeling that there is no one person in this worlld who cares about you as an equal. In other words there is no one who loves you.

Feeling lonely is about not having people around you. It may mean that one special person or even a special friend/family member. Loneliness has a cure. Being alone doesn’t.

One of the benchmarks of a successful relationship is whether it addresses the feeling of loneliness. Perhaps more important than that is whether it can prevent you from being alone!

You may feel lonely when your love is not around. But if your relation is real, you will never feel alone. Where ever you may be. You will never feel alone!

India: The one billion strong classroom…

The other day NDTV was showing Sonia Gandhi addressing a 50,000 strong crowd. Which made me realise that not only can she not speak decent Hindi but even her English has a strong Italian accent. Perfect for India where rapidly languages are loosing their purity.

Anyway,,, the way she was addressing the crowd reminded me of a teacher address a class of 10 year olds. As I was discussing this with a friend she happened to mention that yes and we bitch about them like kids talking about their teachers. Also that there are very few we actually like!

So if politicians are teachers and the Indian public the students then we have the largest classroom in the world with a class strength of 1 billion+!

The problem with this school is that no one knows what the curriculum is. Furthermore most teachers end up pulling down other teachers and proclaim what they are teaching is right.

Imagine, if, when you were in school your science teacher not only told you that your english teacher was an idiot but also told you what was being taught by that teacher was wrong! Imagine the confusion. Would you learn anything? Would there ever be any progress?

In this setting parents of the children are the international community. They come in and through money make the teachers dance to their tune.

The principle (the Prime Minister) is obviously living on a different planet!



Circles everywhere!

Everything is cyclic. Seasons, life and the whole world.

Why? I wonder why!

A news item yesterday proudly proclaimed: ‘The market for e-learning, in India, to grow by 40%’

The story was about how Indian tutors are giving tuitions to students in the US via the Internet. The popular subject being Math since ‘Indians are known for their Math skills’. Online lessons cost one-sixth of the price of normal tuitions. 

US is known for higher education. Thousands of students from all over the world make a bee-line for US universities every year. Yet the domestic levels of Math and Science education have been falling in the US.

Thus the circle is complete. We teach them at school level and they teach us at college level. The circles are also getting bigger.

I guess Globalisation is another term for the completion of the circle.

Camera shy…

The other day a friend was showing me some old photographs.

This made me realise how efficiently we can, now, record our past and present. Till about 100 years ago we could only record our past using text and audio. Then came the camera (the non-experimental version) which was followed by the video camera. This allowed us to record our lives in motion and colour. This created a ‘visual’ history. But taking photographs and making videos was not an easy task till digital cameras came along. 

This opened the floodgates of visual information. Now anyone could take and re-take photographs as many times as they wanted. With modern digital cam-coders we can record each and every moment of our life.

We are creating, for the generations to follow, a visual record of our times.

But is this a good thing?

 Is it a good thing to have an increasingly detailed record of our past? Does it hold us back and prevent us from moving on? Does it help us cling on to old things?

I think it depends on what kind of a person you are and what kind of a situation you are in. This ability to examing and re-examine our past is both a good thing as well as a bad thing.

Where earlier the natural process of memory degradation lead to people forgetting trauma as well as happy moments these days due to external memory aids (like photographs and videos) things remain with us.

In fact earlier normal photographs used to fade and degrade with age. Now with digital photos they remain the same and only problems with storage can destroy them. So these keep both good and bad memories alive.

Also if we are honest with ourselves we will admit that for most situations and people the associated memories are not all happy and cheerful. It depends on our frame of mind whether we remember good things or bad.

But the question remains… is it better to forget naturally or to remember.

If you forget then you obviously forget both good and bad things. If you remember, again you remember both good things as well as bad things….

Destroy everything you touch…

Destroy everything you touch today.
Destroy me this way.
Destroy everything you touch – Ladytron
This is the beauty of human nature. We destroy everything we touch and end up destroying ourselves in the process.
We attack both bad as well as good things. We attack terrorism as well as alcohol abuse. We also attack Mother Nature as well as our fellow human beings.
But with each attack we are slipping. With each step we are falling deeper.
Everything you touch you don’t feel.
Do not know what you steal.
Destroy everything you touch – Ladytron
We do not feel the pain of the tree we touch to uproot. We do not know that in stealing the life of a tree we are stealing a part of our own life.
Life is like an old Tom & Jerry cartoon where Tom thinks he got Jerry and is unaware of that big hammer or a pair of scissors heading his way. That is what Life is about. That is what we have made of it.


A funny thing happend to me a few days ago. I was at my place of work and was walking to another part of the building. I happened to pass a water-cooler and decided, in a flash, to stop for a glass of water. After having my glass of water I resumed my walk and reached a set of fire-doors. As I was reaching out to open the door it was opened from the other side by someone who had arrived at that opposite side exactly at the same time.

As I passed through the doors I realised that had I not stopped for water I would not have arrived at the door at the same time as the other person. I know people will think that I am making a big deal and that since it is a place of work, people are bound to be passing through those doors regularly.

Firstly I am not saying there is anything magical about what happened. The other person was a young lady but I did not even see her face properly. I don’t know her. Our eyes did not meet. It was not love at first sight! Secondly I work at a university and these days there are no students on campus due to the summer break. The faculty strength is also reduced since most people are away on holiday. So obviously the foot traffic is reduced.

Coming back to the point I was trying to make, this incident made me first realise and then question the effect of choices. Do choices we make end up making a big difference or not? The future is fixed or is it not fixed? Did I make the coincidence happen by suddenly deciding to have water. Or was it going to happen in any case?

There is no way to tell.

This little incident also highlights the two approaches to life.

One approach says that the future is fixed. Whatever has to happen will happen.

The other approach says that each and every action (and in-action) changes your future. The ripples we create today become waves tomorrow and tsunamis the day-after. Or the tsunamis that rock our life today become mere ripples tomorrow.

The Bhagvad Gita gives this debate an interesting twist. It says:

He who sees inaction in action,

and action in inaction,

he is intelligent among men,

he is a Yogi and a doer of all action

In other words even inaction is a form of action. It makes everything inaction and action.

Taking a step is inaction. Why? Because you cannot try different steps in one go. So while with respect to that selected step you have taken an action, with respect to other possible steps which you could have taken you have shown inaction.

Therefore the Gita tells us we are always active and passive. Thus we are always changing the future through action (if the future can be changed) or we are playing out a fixed script through inaction (if the future cannot be changed)!