Archive for August 2008

replacement on expiry

August 31, 2008

What happens when you grow old? Ofcourse you expire!

But growing old was easier in those good old days when you had no internet. Life was moving through less traffic on the roads of time! It was easier to navigate when destinations were definite, and wayside landmarks static. Now, every morning dawns differently. Just go through the roads of Chennai, the once upon a time really lovely but always wished and therefore described as a lovely city, and you will know how much you are outdated. The road that led me to my favourite restaurant is no more a thoroughfare, I have to take diversions. And, at times out of habit I may enter an empty road with no one honking from behind, just to find an onslaught of traffic from the other side simply because the cops decided over their midnight tea that the road shall henceforth be just one way. With a beard long enough to evoke a sympathetic scorn from the traffic cop, I am able to get away with mild reprimands most of the times. But life just doesn’t move on roads. It travels on time, and I do not encounter sympathetic cops there.

I had my first computer when I was thirty five and I had the best machine available at that time- an XT! There was no MS office and ofcourse no MS word. GB was something never mentioned by anyone and by the time I upgraded and got my internet, I was already thirty seven. The machine did not have windows. I felt at that time I was moving on with the times and having a firm grasp on the new stuff that science kept offering. By the time I turned forty, I had to keep upgrading the machine almost every year if I did not want to get outdated. Well, I thought, science is indeed taking rapid and long strides. Slowly I turned away from the monitor so that I could see the screen that destiny keeps opening every moment for me. Life meant other pursuits, not just typing commands on the screen. As I kept focusing on life’s screen and its display of destiny, my computer screen kept growing in an uncaring and dark manner. When I came back to it, the screens held many new things.

I was so used to talking to people face to face, but now anonymous and pseudonymous people were chatting away to their fantasy’s content. My lazy postponement of replying mails could no more be blamed on the usually innocent albeit inefficient postal system. I could read scientific abstracts almost as soon as they got published. By the way I have always made an abstract out of full length scientific papers the way I skimmed through them and so this was a blessing, undisguised. With wonder and curiosity I tried to keep pace with my computer. But that was not for too long! I gave up, leaned back and learnt to use simpler key tricks like an eighty year old learns to use his walking stick. Life was still easy. I had no regrets or complaints, till this morning.

I happened to glance at The Week, the weekly magazine and its cover story startled me. It describes how the girls of today are sexually uncaring, free, unabashed and so on, though not in these terms. The story is about the sexual freedom –desired and/or experienced- by the current generation of ladies. Girls, it seems, are no longer stuck up about virginity, single partners, marital honesty ala fidelity and such old world concepts. It should have startled me morally. It didn’t! Since I meet a lot of young girls and talk to them I knew that The Week was almost factual, in the sense that many young women of today do not hesitate to touch and talk, and that is not a sexual escapade but just an attempt to internally assert their equal opportunity social movements- one has to be lenient to the scribes who must at any cost make any sensitive issue sensational. I was not just curious or impotently angry at the story, I was just jealous! I wished I had been born later!! not for the sake of enjoying life and companionship in the sexual sense , but for the ease of retaining my many lost pals who faded because of unused friendships.Since this blog is not about my scruples or about the integrity of the women of The Week, let me come to what made me write this.

There were, ofcourse as usual, experts who gave their comments on this psycho-social phenomena. One comment went like this: these girls would do it now, but soon they will grow old and will be replaced by young ones, and then they would feel low, depressed and rejected. I hope my dear reader would remember that sometime back I had declared I skim and not devour the written word. Well!! My worry was about the expired products. Not all will be taken by an optionless soul, like the one in a Chinese movie whose name I cannot ever recollect. So will there be many that are left over to be trashed? What will happen since the products have more longevity but less usability (like the VCR at home)?

One has to grow old. Old has to give way to the new. These basics I presume are still in vogue. Perhaps the expert was right. Perhaps these chik-lit cuties will get depressed. So what? Only a bio-neuro-chemical depression needs treatment. All reactive depressions need only supportive therapy. What would be the support for all these prophetically doomed females of our species? Time!! And, its most useful adjuncts- common sense and reality orientation. So, it is not doomsday for those damsels least-dressed . All they have to do is keep tracking time. It will move fast. It will keep giving new images. Just accept that your moments are passing, and then you would rather lean and look forward with the joy of curiosity than backward with the bitterness of envy.

they are at it again

August 31, 2008

A nun was burnt. It is just incidental that she was a nun. She could have been any lady. In the fiery final moments she would have shrieked, not with the passionate love of God but with pain- a pain exactly similar to the sisters, mothers and wives of the arsonists. She was not the enemy of the fanatic mob. She just belonged to another group which had another ideology. I have no idea whether she was a fanatic or a fraud. I do not even know if she provoked the fiery mob. I do not even think she may have been right in her views. But, though those flames have not scalded me directly, the news has charred my mind with a hurt. I am hurt that my country men are losing their sensitivity and sensibility. I am hurt that selfish leaders are goading idiots into a riot mode. I am hurt that I am just potent enough to write on the virtual space instead of directly interfering in this social sickness.

This is not new. Neither the feeling of impotent rage nor the happening that hurts is new. But every time such a thing happens, it hurts. It puts me to shame. Like the arm-chair analysts of yesteryears, there is this new lap-top-indignant Indian breed into which I have willingly initiated and included myself for it is easy to be angry from the safe distance, the comfortable room. But the least we selfish, cowardly but superficially concerned and angry, pseudo-intellectuals can do is talk about these things. Talk with the hope that some sincere and selfless member of the society would do something.

Some of the news creators say that this was a retaliation by a righteous(!) mob. The mob had lost a veteran member and was grief stricken. The ordinary you and me would shed tears, but not this mob. They become angry. Perhaps if their leader is allegedly taken away by God, they would torch down some temples; maybe they would even stop trying to build a temple. The mob that inflicted these burns on our social fabric belongs to a particular party. Their anger was allegedly created when one of them was killed.

Like the female nun who died in the hands of the mob, it was a Hindu swami who was killed by his enemies. As in the case of the nun, I have no deep knowledge about the swami. Though I read that he was having a strange habit of creating ruckus every Christmas, I do not agree that he had to be killed. The sorrow of the fact of the matter is that religion has become a touchy subject in this secular country. I honestly don’t care whether a Christian or a Hindu is killed, but I am pained when a man or a woman is killed because she or he happens to follow whatever their religion demands; and am more incensed when the killing is done by a cowardly face-dissolving mob.

A Christian and a Hindu have been killed; many more Christians and a few more Hindus are also getting killed. Temporarily the Muslims have been left out of the killing fields. But soon the government will do something, some more talking and some more hoodwinking. Evidences and accusations will be promised a fair trial. Tehelka tapes, notes and printed material have already started gathering dust. There will be some more enquiry commissions. Some retired judge will have another stint of salaried pomp and an office. After a brief breaking-news and flash-news game, the socially-committed but TRP-obligated newsmen would scourge for other sensations. The print media too would send this matter to the second page and soon out of its pages. We will begin our daily routine. We would go on to do our religious rite-oriented activities. Some day in the future another outburst will be reported. And the game will start all over again. What is wrong?

Criminals just get away too easily. Government is more concerned about retaining itself than ensuring peace and harmony. News-persons who should be stirring our consciences are focusing on their own sensational stories- after all, all the news gathered and briefly told can someday become a book. We have no time to pause and ponder. Our stock watch and ad-watch are consuming all that is left in our mechanized minds. Politics is no more about policies. It is not a blunt and apathetic nation, it is just that every one’s vision has become selfishly narrow. What a situation!! Can there ever be a more fertile ground for mobs to be instigated, hatred and violence to be nurtured, and for petty, perverse politicians to play verbose and venomous games? They are all at it again.

The senseless and savage mob needs its daily money and alcohol. The sick people need just an assurance that the mob will not turn into their streets. The politicians need any and every gimmick to try to make people vote. Not that voting really matters, for the candidates and the poll process will all be crooked.

Though the entire system appears to be flawed and the society happens to live in its paradise of folly, the main problem is the new found religious fanaticism. If one can kill another and escape the wrath of God and the terror of hell, how can legal punishments be a detriment to unleash the un-evolved violent nature? Especially when the loop holes are larger than the laws!

Religion and race have always gone hand in hand. Using any one of these potential weapons one can cause havoc in any society. Let us just ignore for the time being the oft-referred Hitler, and look back upon our Indian leadership.

Tilak was the one who used religions sentiments in a brash and direct fashion, and it worked only because Vivekananda’s weakness for universal religious brotherhood could not douse and light up the sleeping Indian slaves. Then came Gandhi. We all know and remember him as an apostle of peace who preached non-violence. Ofcourse he did make it his life’s mission to focus on non-violence. But, if only non-violence and non-religion were to have been his commandment, imagine how India would have become. Even this day fat , hungry and thirsty politicians pretend to fast and observe non-violent protests following his style. If Gandhi had not encouraged religion, BJP would never have even been considered by Indian voters. Possibly the ‘Ram’ of Gandhi was not just the blue colored, calendar-art inspired god, but a more mystic and true divine power. But since these things were never spelt out to the illiterate masses that worshiped Gandhi enough to get their skulls broken, religion and its co-ordinates continued as our heritage and his legacy. Now in the hands of criminals and money-power oriented politicians religion has become the simple spark that can make the whole country turn and stare. Defying archaeology and mocking the courts, mythic narrations have become themes for slogans. How many would pause to ponder when such stories heard from the time of (and by) grandmother’s grandmothers are used to fuel a foolhardy indignation? Religious faith, an unquestioning acceptance of myths as facts, is not just a hindu phenomenon. It is pan religious. Therefore is it dangerous, omnipotent t and omnipresent like the gods it alleges to follow.

Religion is no more used in the gandhian way to inculcate values and moral systems in the minds of the public. It is an easy fuel now to inflame the minds of idiots and jobless mobs. It is now a potent weapon to disrupt democracy. It is the easiest way to spit on the face of secularism. It is an election tool and a mass-gathering technique. It has been so used in the past and the unscrupulous have tasted blood. They are thirsty again. Therefore they are at it again. They will be at it again and again till we wake up. Let us atleast know that the enemy is within the country.