Archive for March 2009

Can I smoke?

March 28, 2009

Smoking is injurious to health- no, I am not issuing the ‘statutory warning’, it is a fact. Having learnt of the black swan from Taleb, I am not saying this simply because the statistics declare the morbid association between smoking and ill health; I am merely against the dependence and the myths that every mind propagates to make illusory comforts essential. Smoking is not going to reduce anxiety, nor will it be soothing in depression. It will not spur creativity, and it will never make somebody believe you are superior or stylish- ofcourse it is not a sign of intellectual preoccupation. It is a habit and it is a bad habit in the sense that it is at the most harmful to health and at the least a waste of money. Yet, I wonder if I can smoke now!

I learnt smoking when I was fifteen years old, primarily to show off, and now I cannot show off that I smoke! But smoking is not the issue- I wanted to think aloud about politics that worked on the smoke screen called policy! What good would it do other than giving an impression that i am hallucinating- there are no ears to listen!

India is a strange no-smoking zone now! Many smoke on the roads, some even in hospital compounds, but the elite and the socialite circle do not smoke anymore in pubs and restaurants. They shrug and move to non-descript rooms to inhale and exhale on fellow smokers. In a funny way, the rich and the affordable, who have hitherto not cared to follow many of rules that have been framed (for the country?) by the country, adhere to the non-smoking rule! Five star hotels are strict! It is just the poor and the middle class who still decide to light and puff a cigarette at odd places which are supposed to be non-smoking (not smoke-free) zones! But then, it is again the poor and middle class who think that a vote is going to matter, and they ‘elect’ a government which would ‘look after’ them! In my experience, the government always looks ‘after’ they have voted! By the way, I am just curious to know how many of the manicured nails are going to be smeared with the ink that shows you have voted- it is too late to count the number in the last election, but it is possible to attempt now!

Why am I writing now instead of just taking my charminar and lighting it? Simply because I foresee a scenario when I may walk into one of the Taj hotels (even the one which made the socialites weep more than the socially conscious), and smoke on the table where I had just finished my dinner. times have changed! The man who so zealously advocated the no-smoking ban is no more in the ruling alliance. A shameless spokesperson of a party insults all of us by saying there could be post-poll alliances/agreements/adjustments! If in a rare chance the alumnus of my fraternity makes it to the same ministry again, I have to perhaps still hide my lighter and the cigarette pack? This is what my naïve mind thinks! Since it is the policy of the present government invariably the next one will not care much about it. But then, the son of the third(?) big party in tamilnadu could still retain the portfolio- it does not matter whether the congress or the BJP win. Slowly some rules may get relaxed as some lobbies become lucrative! If one decides to fight against someone who had till a few days ago been a partner-in-whatever, what big deal would it be if he decides to not fight against some public activity which had been his passionate obsession a few months ago?

So, can I smoke in public now? As a law-abiding and duty-conscious citizen I should not- in public, therefore I shall not light a cigarette in a forbidden zone. In the same law-abiding and duty-conscious mode I believe I should vote! Just as how some who make laws would smirk when they see me struggling to resist the urge to light a cigarette in some places, so would they, seeing me stand in a queue (and I had better be early else someone else may appear with ‘my’ identity card)!

My vote is rather inconsequential. The afore mentioned minister did not ask for anybody’s vote last time, nor will he this time. He will be nominated, along with the other such ‘born-with-a-political-spoon’ kids!

I have been one of the many who thought that a token protest, very selfishly not causing any discomfort for me, by way of registering my displeasure at the political choices before me in the election, was enough. I argued with confused poll officers, made them create a temporary page in whatever book they had, and registered my decision to not vote under section 49 (O). In fact, I took pains to check with my friendly journalist Gnani, on what exactly to do on the morning of that election, as he was one of the most vociferous advocates of this form of protest. At the end of the game, one of the many who did not meet ‘my’ criteria for a good candidate, won. There were votes polled for and against. In the past elections, there were also a certain number of votes declared as invalid! But nowhere was there, in the last election, any mention about the number of people who decided to register their protest by refusing to vote for one of the candidates. I felt invalid! I perhaps am!

Now I have another chance! I can again go and torture those poor uninformed poll ‘officers’ and sign a register and walk out with ink on my finger. And then? Somebody is going to win. Some losers and some winners are going to come together to save the country, while I will be wailing in my own little blog!

A friend of mine told me just a couple of weeks back that there was a statement in Quran that those who can do something to the society, and still do not do anything but keep talking, are the worst kind of people. I have not read such a thing in Quran, but even if it is not there in the holy book, it makes sense. So? I decide I should do something.

What do I do? Can I smoke?

What the frock? -misspelt ( as in this word)

March 25, 2009

Misspelt? ( as in this word?)

Misspelling is allowed in English, and cricket is very English! So, IPL need not mean Indian! It is just cricket- the most important activity of the country, the indispensable duty of the citizens, and the source of food, education and national pride!

Though I do not believe that the general election in India is going to send worthy members of the society to handle the affairs of the country in the parliament, though I do feel frustrated that my choice is not going to be the best of the best but from the better of the bad, though I feel that 49(O) is just an option to satisfy my social itch without impacting the party-based vote banks, though I have lost faith and respect in this ‘democratic’ process, I cannot accept a private entertainment company talking tough to the home minister, and threatening to take the show to some other country, and the media going into their live-latest-breaking-reporting histrionics on an issue that is at best an entertainment played out for big money. Lalit Modi would have been happy if the election dates were rescheduled to accommodate the cricket carnival that he plans to hold. This election must happen at least to stop cunning clowns from throwing their weight around. The other Modi naturally is offering security for the games to happen in his home country!

The Gujarat’s Modi, perhaps has learnt over the years the art and trick of providing security to people, unlike a few years earlier when masses were massacred while he was at the helm of affairs. Perhaps being a political bigwig, he can selectively secure some selfish interests. And, P.Chidambaram has been suave and slippery from the beginning not going tough on the organizers who had actually challenged the government by stating they would manage their own security and declaring with pomp and arrogance that the show would go on without any rescheduling of dates.

Now the show is going to go on, in another country! I am supposed to be upset and angry that the government is giving more importance to its constitutional commitment than cricket! No one yakking their head off in every channel that invades my television set wants to ask lalit modi and ipl to shut up and listen to the government. No one is asking them to cut the tournament short and get it over in a few days. It is now pretentiously portrayed as a loss to India, a shame to India that cricket cannot be played when elections are going to be held.

So what if some games are not played on some days? The average TV viewer would still get his dose of expert comments on the politico-democratic game show the great general election. There would be live scrolls telling the scores that the parties had managed. There would be speculations on the shameless ‘alliance-maths’ that would inevitably be needed to have some government at the centre. There would be jokes aplenty on strategic partnerships and lofty principles. There is bound to be a thrilling suspense till the new prime minister is elected and sworn in. so, what is the common man losing? He still is going to see a thriller, with enough comedy interludes and brilliant though stale performances- is cricket necessary at this point?

A private entertainment company is daring the government of India, and no one remembers the word- sovereignty. There was blatant defiance and a brutal disregard for the concerns of the ruling government in the statements made by the entertainment-organizer. Some people have been taken to task for talking much less! I neither see nor hear any words that ask the entertainment company to shut up and wait, instead there are murmurs that cricket is indeed a national passion. Cricket is also being touted as a religion. Is cricket supposed to provide the opioid effect of religion? Well, in this pseudo-democratic self-centered clan-oriented political milieu perhaps cricket is indeed the opium of the masses that has to be peddled even by our law makers and caretakers!

If cricket matches are shifted to South Africa, we are supposed to be the losers. If the elections are not held, we are supposed to be the losers. When are we supposed to become winners? When we rush to vote and come back home to chew the ink marked nail and watch a match- which too can be fixed?

The ‘patriotic’ Mallya, who bid and won to bring back Gandhi’s personal belongings that were being auctioned in another country, is a willing party to shifting the game show to another country. No need to give respect to the country’s democratic duty bound process! The ‘I love India’ sloganeering soldiers on cricket field too would be participating- even if they had to be in their streets on the Election Day to cast their (even if useless) ballot!

Voting is supposed to be not just your right but also your duty as an Indian. But then, cricketers and their managers, their sponsors and their bosses once again have blatantly declared to us that they are not equal among equals. They have their own rules and priorities. They are stars and superiors. We would subscribe to this view once again by gaping at the small screen for hours together, for weeks together.

Even if there is a (god forbid) war in which India has to be engaged, even then these guys would look for alternate venues to keep playing their games. They know what is important to them. They also know how to sell that importance to us. We consume crap most willingly. We will be provided more and more of it, till we say we can’t take it anymore.