Posted tagged ‘society’

psychology of blogging

October 29, 2012

*** this was written in 2008, posting again with cyber-accusations and criminal actions becoming more frequent.***

Whether Kancha Ilaiah is a fraud or whether saibaba is a god, whether there is brahmanical fanaticism or fanatic anti-brahmanism, there are enough blogs to argue both sides. All these bloggers can argue rather forcefully even if not sensibly. Why is blogging picking up?

Basically the operative element is an anonymous proximity. Even if my photo is seen you  cannot claim to become my friend and try to spend time with me. This safe “use and throw” relationship-of-convenience is the primary attraction of blogs. I can say what I want, and if you decide to register your protest I still have the right and the choice to allow the protest on my page. Those who see my page will be seeing my views and my counters (whenever, and if ever I can logically produce one) and no one will know where and when I am at a loss to explain.

I can still feel I am in a crowd that is talking about things which matter to me. I can protest with dignity or cheapness, be an angel or a devil, talk when I want to and be silent if that is fine for me. I cannot be forced into discussions; ofcourse, I cannot force you into a discussion, except when I dare to spit valueless venom through a personal pathology. These are the conveniences I have noticed and even used in blogs.

The second operative element in blogging is its pseudo-personal space wherein one can become disinhibited. Though your true skin will be seen by others when your blog is posted, you need not hesitate to say whatever you feel like unlike in the real world where you have to observe elementary decency to those who deserve it. Yet, it is only a disinhibited and not an uninhibited behaviour, because deep down you are conscious that your words are going to be seen by someone somewhere.

Masked identity is another courage-boosting element of blogging. You need not talk in your real name.  I know of some people who chose to mask their identity for real and valid reasons, but most of the persons who write in pseudonyms ( and sometimes in anonymity) do so out of fear. Though their words may appear courageous they still have not mustered enough conviction and courage to come out in the open and stand by what they have said.

Why mask identity? Some are like a compassionate medusa, for if their face is seen their critics would turn into stone, stupefied with fear. Some are like clowns who need to have a different identity to make an apparent fool of themselves so that others can have a good laugh. Some are like a silly child hiding behind a table thinking no one can see who and where they are. Whether one decides to disclose her/his identity or not is certainly a private decision that has to be respected and even if not accepted, not discussed.

The problem of wearing a mask is different in a socio-psychological perspective. There are intellectuals who use their intelligence to call themselves idiots, and so too are there idiots who stupidly call themselves intellectuals. Depending on why the mask is worn, and depending on the insightful intellect of the individual, a mask becomes a potent weapon or a poor joke.

It is understandable if masks are worn and identities deliberately disguised in the mushrooming social networking sites. Though these sites can be a forum for healthy and honourable matters, mostly they are used to find a `friend` to flirt. An elderly uncle who tries to wear shorts and T-shirts, ugly dyeing of hair and a false accent in which lies are expressed as values, will never be able to date a young girl with average intelligence. But in the virtual world, the same uncle just has to assume a name, age, occupation and marital status that would bring scraps to his page! But, blogs are not meant for picking up a date. Whether your profile declares you as young or old, spiritual or religious, left or right, no one `falls` for you. Only your views matter. And therefore your identity is never masked or invisible. However sublime your language, however innocent your discussion, your colours will show through the veil.

Blogging has its psychological benefits. Just as how your mind operates in a dramatic performance there are certain mechanisms operating here too. Initially there is identification, then there is the possibility of learning a conflict resolution and finally there is a catharsis. You identify with the character or the cause or the chronicle, you feel you have experienced a similar situation. Then you see the situational conflict resolved in the performance and if you choose to, you may try to use it to answer your personal question. Even if you cannot find a solution to your problem in the performance-narrative it would still be a cathartic relief. You can download feelings from your emotive memory and get the same relief of being happy, sad, angry or disgusted. But are blogs used for this?

Though blogs can be of immense personal psychological comfort, I see some bloggers using it to throw mud (if not spit venom) on ideas that are not consistent with their own values. Blogs are becoming pamphlets thrown on the disinterested by stander. If perchance someone reads and accepts their ideas it is fine, otherwise just some space on space is wasted! However impassionate and objective you may describe yourself, you will tend to lean towards one ideology versus another. If you have not formed your own opinions on matters, these moments would tilt you towards a particular idea if not ideology. The intelligent wearing the mask of an idiot would appeal to your conscience by their pseudo-innocence. You will fall for the game plan. Some vague emotional itch that you have been bearing all along would be scratched and you will not only become comfortable with that anonymous hand, you would start yearning for it.

If we can just be  a little more aware when we imagine that we are awake, we can escape from the dragnet. We would be able to retain our power to choose. We can choose only when we think. And, when we start thinking we cannot be silent. We would start protesting.

This is what had happened to me, and I consequently started  commenting on issues that I felt were concerning me, and the response I got from one blogger was that I have “become jobless”!! Blogging is not a jobless individual’s way of spending time, it is a social obligation to respond to the milieu.

Advertisements

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?

To die or not to live as dead

March 5, 2009

Some die, in fact all die. To die in anonymity is considered a humiliating end of existence- albeit purposelessness. But, death at will, and at prime, and above all with dignity that will declare to posterity about the existence of individuality, is not the blessing that all have. There are deaths in coma. Deaths in isolation, deaths in uncared corners of the society, deaths that are prayed for as the ultimate deliverance- they are all deaths not really wanted when living, but wanted just before dying. If ever we have the choice to die at whatever is the most opportune time that our dreams and desires dictate, our lives would really be fulfilled. We do not have much such choice. We wait to die, when we are supposed to die- the supposition being a physiological or a providential dictate.

There are some who die at the right time. There are some who die extending their life time causing misery unto themselves and others. But, there are a few who die- when they do not want to. There are a few who die because they are lost. They get lost not in the myriad quagmire of life, but in quixotic lawlessness of the state.

The very fact that I have to vote in the forthcoming elections means I am alive and accepted by my state as being alive. The votes are needed by the state- irrespective of its inherent capacity to produce, nurture or sustain statesmen. The elections keep telling the world and me that India is a wonderful democracy. It just happens that the democratic flame gets ignited only once in five (or just a few less) years. I am going to go to the voting booth, and like the idiotic and meaningless exercise that I did the last time, I am going to use 49o-the option to not cast vote! Who cares? What matters? I would have done my democratic duty, and the democracy would give me the devils that I did not requisition. This blog was not about voting, it was about living, and more specifically about dying- in dignity.

Some sportspersons (I wish they were sportsmen too) have been injured, some security personnel have died; some more blasts have occurred somewhere, some more and then some more, would have died. A few however would have disappeared. The media more than the governments concerned is outraged. Every news paper has the news on the first page as a headline; every TV channel keeps flashing this news and holds talks showcased for viewership enhanced sponsorship. I feel sorry for the trauma of the injured, I feel sad for the dead, and in a few minutes I worry about my beer being not chill enough.

If I were to react just this much to this “major” event, screaming at me as headlines, breaking news and news analyses- how would I care to notice a small news item that is lost in the later pages and scrolls? I do not unless perhaps, I decide to blog and get some attention- more on myself than on the matter.

200 odd people have been declared dead- declared not after examining the dead bodies but after a lapse of a few years (7?). They have been missing for years. They were not ‘traceable’- whereabouts not known! They are dead legally! The law and order that were supposed to take care of them and find them have shrugged and moved on, like what I would be doing in another few weeks when I stand in the queue to vote (or register a non-vote). Democracy lives. It has already claimed victory a couple of years ago when Modi was elected!

How many people do you know whom you can call and speak anytime of the day? For me the number is restricted to less than ten. How many people whose death would spurt tears in my eyes- my number is restricted to less than two! So 200+ is a big deal for me.

These 200 people have been missing, now not just believed but declared dead, in Gujarat. They were the ones lost in the carnage. They were the ones lost when blatant brutalism masqueraded as mass ideology. They were the ones who were no more to be seen by their loved ones, after the inhuman but vote-profiting plot of villains. They were the ones whose votes could have been polled too! After all in the pseudo-electoral process you don’t have to be alive and around to vote, there are goons to take care of your vote- as though that matters in any sense.

I feel sick. Just look at these two news reports-

1. (March 1, 2009) those missing since the 2002 post-Godhra communal riots in Gujarat will be declared dead soon by the authorities with the expiry of seven years’ stipulated time. As a result, the official death toll of 2002 riots will go up from 952 to 1,180, as 228 people, who are missing, will be presumed dead.

2. (11 May, 2005) The government told parliament that 790 Muslims and 254 Hindus were killed, 223 more people reported missing and another 2,500 injured. It was responding to a written question from an unnamed MP. Junior Home Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal told the upper house that more than 900 women had been widowed and 600 children orphaned in the riots.

So? it took three years for a government to say 200+ ( the numerical discrepancy attributed to a careless clerk) are missing, and seven years to say to those who still search for them to shut up! (check on Parzania after all you dont have to pay the original price in the black market). So what happens?

I type a blog. The charred corners of my conscience are cleared of the stains of societal guilt. I move on.

Some tears can never be wiped. They may not be streaming down the cheeks, but the wetness of the wailing soul would constantly make the mind damp- with guilt and shame, with anger and angst. Some tears would dry the mind so much that nothing would ever make a sprout of a thought grow. Tears that do not burn my eyes are just waters flowing, as waters should- eslewhere!

Empty quiver

February 23, 2009

Emptiness of the quiver is known only to the hand that reaches into it.

I like to write on the best of topics- not because they would interest the one who reads them but primarily because they would interest me enough to write to finish  The best of such topics sadly reflect the worst in the society. I would have been happier writing about the two (rather three) Oscars that Indians have won. I would have been happy writing about some wonderful books that I have recently read. I would have been even happier writing about my idiosyncrasies. But I am forced by my own sick ‘fate'(?) to write on the recent tragicomic events of law and order and the leader!

The stunning but sick visuals of police chasing the lawyers and the stone throwing lawyers daunting the police were giving me an odd surreal feeling. I was one of the mostly-law-abiding citizens of the country who believed that law would defend me if I was legally mistreated! If lawyers have to pick stones and hurl in defense, I may have to build my biceps and triceps further in anticipation of an alarming eventuality. The police too were in my opinion vigilant and kind enough to see to it that the car I may park outside my house is not damaged by some goon. Now, I think I have to employ a security for my car in the event an angry policeman goes past it in a foul mood. Well, such things happen. Just as how I always believe an election would give me a better government, so do I continue to repose my faith on these two custodians of the social fabric. But my leader!

I had concluded long ago that whatever karunanidhi does will not surprise me. But this time he did it. He has surpassed himself. The ‘great’ leader of Tamils, now has gone gandhian (not SoniaG but MKG) in his declaration that if the lawyers and policemen do not come to a compromised peace accord, he would fast unto death! I am afraid that if the comedy is enacted I would be the only one to die, though in a fit of laughter.

I have been led to believe that the chief minister of the state has control over the police. If they had not cared to inform him of their anger and intended/unintended outburst in the high court, I am sure he has the experience, knowledge and power to discipline and or punish them. He may not have much to say to the lawyers for he too needs them when after his term is over he is sure to be slapped with a string of cases. There are some sycophants amidst the lawyers too whose help he can summon with a simple flick of a finger and infiltrate the ranks of the protestors and cause sufficient rift amongst them to make the strike a failure. He does not want to do anything like this. He wants to go on a fast.

If he believed that fasting – even if not unto death, would change whoever it is that does not listen to his wise counsel or heart-felt prayers, he should have done it earlier. If his affectionate congress president had seen him fasting she would have made her henchmen in the government take immediate steps to stop the merciless killing of innocent masses in Srilanka. But then if tamils were dying for or with or because of the LTTE, a fast unto whatever would have shaken his government. Now he can fast. He is being monitored by some of the best doctors in the country, so it will never be death due to fasting. The lawyers and or the police have to relent and come begging to make him change his heart and live for the upliftment of this country! We cannot, they are expected to say, allow the wise leader to suffer for our sake. None shall even in dreams say this is another script by the man who has earned his early riches by writing. We will soon see vinyl printed monstrosities of the grieving old man with a gandhian backdrop. We will all get ready to vote in the next election. The shame of it all is that we have to chose between him and jaya! Which one is a deadlier fire and who is the more evil of devils is a fifty-fifty choice! Only the coalition wary comrades would make the best choice and talk their way into it!

The grand old man of tamilnadu politics is perhaps running out of ammunition. Perhaps his quiver is so transparently empty that his mock gesture of picking up a sharp arrow to shoot does not evoke awe or admiration in us. Mimicries no more evoke any memories or emotions.But more than that, I think we have run out of all arrows to shoot at silly and scheming politics that attempt to mock at our meekness. The more we become aware of the emptiness of our quiver the more ready we shall become to sharpen new tools- in self defense.

conversion of anger

September 18, 2008

Orissa is blithering and now Karnataka is boiling. Conversions are no more a peaceful social process by which a person after losing faith in his own socioreligious ethos is lured into another belief system. It is no more about the money or other benefits the converts gain. It is not even about the tools and tricks the converters use. It is now politics! Not just simple vote based politics, but a strong upsurge of intolerance. It is a social discomfort that irks and irritates the lords on the pedestal.

Conversion has its social, psychological, economic and political aspects. Here again one has to be clear about the real converts and the opportunistic converts. The real ones will believe that there is no God but the one they found out now. The opportunistic will try to adjust his previous pantheon and place his new god alongside. What does the opportunistic convert gain? Some fringe benefits like food and dress in extremely poor cases, and some indirect benefits like schooling and job training for their family are always there, but the real benefit which they all get in the process is the induction and initial warm acceptance in a new socio-religious group. Conversions are a topic of controversy always, but never for the converted or the converting. Who is bothered and why?

It is commonly alleged that conversions are made by luring with gifts or threatening the life.  Being the oldest in India, Hinduism apparently does not convert others, and it does not contain any prescribed rules for making one a hindu. So, the problem apparently occurs only when others try to convert hindus. Though Hinduism as a word and a concept with current rules and regulations, is not really as ancient as its roots- the original sanadhana dharma, or the tantric or the pagan worship styles of the olden days, it is essentially eclectic and embracing, till ofcourse it became political. It is only natural that the newer religions of the world try to enlist followers. Christianity and Islam had to lure or force people to follow what their religion professed as right since when they started, all the people of the time were practicing some other religion.

Let us assume that there are economic gains for the people who convert. Now, imagine somebody doing a job without passion or even basic interest, and just waiting every month for the salary day. If the converts are going to behave like this, who gains? The opportunistic convert gets the promised benefits- not the seat reserved in heaven, but socio-economic gifts. This would mean that those who are engaged in the business of converting are losing. Their purpose of bringing the black, brown and all the colored sheep back into the Lord’s fold, would have obviously failed if this is the real state of conversion. They are not incensed, their funding patrons are not upset, and the game goes on. In most cases the game is like this- in the name of conversion a person is able to get some food, some education; in the name of the same game one person is able to siphon the project funds for personal use. The passionate converter begins to convert his modest living into a modern and luxurious life. This is the most common situation in which everyone wins and the nice game also ensures a sense of pride for the donor who feels he has done his bit to better the natives! As everyone appears to get something, it is a simple business activity that should not have caused anger and social unrest.

The problem begins when there is a real conversion. In a real conversion, irrespective of the honesty and integrity of the converting person, the convert believes in the new order. He is no more a part of his previous belief system. He has had enough of the pain, disappointment and hurt in the old order. He believes his life is going to become better. He may not believe that his sons would get professional education, nor that his family would start living with better amenities.  He may not even really believe that his god is waiting with open arms in the heaven. What he believes is the fact that he is no more a marginalized member of the society. He believes that he has his own group wherein all are treated with equal respect. He believes that the socio-religious concepts of his original religion are not valid anymore. In simple words, he has thrown out the oppressing society from his mind.  This is the final irk. Conversion for gain would not create a furore as beggars are never the cause of concern for the establishment, but when it becomes conversion for a social change it is a slap on their superiority. They cannot tolerate, even in the name of the allegedly most tolerant religion. It is no more a problem of economics. It is a socio-psychological problem.

Thinking on the same lines,what is the psychological gambit of those who migrate? They do not want to live anymore in the land that was theirs. They want to move to not just greener pastures but to a land where they have apparently equal opportunities,apparent freedom and apparent comfort. This moving out is not looked at with distaste! Have you ever heard of a mob coming to bully a green card holder?

just a thought! Though there are a few rich guys who convert, the majority of those who get converted are poor. Among the poor, just think how many are dalits and how many are brahmins? Conversion is not just the yearning for material comforts; it is the oppressed society’s avenue for self- respect. It is their way of creating a social order in which they need not accept that they are lower than others.  Unless this problem is addressed, communal tension regarding conversion will continue.

The anger is not that christians are converting hindus; the real anger is that the marginalized hindus are walking away from hindusim.  A change in the established hierarchical society is the easiest spark for anger to break into rage.

Those who are beaten are poor, those who beat are poor. The rich have a way of adjusting and living in peaceful co-existence with convenient bouts of democratic and secular moods. The rich are not affected by this problem, except perhaps when there is a strike and they cannot drive out.The poor believe that they are superior because they are Hindus, or they are blessed because they are Christians. The angry member of the hindu mob knows that the stone he pelts is at a dalit’s head and not at the new cross on his chest. His anger is the social evil that chased the dalit away from his religious territory. Unless we address this problem we are going to witness more and more of unrest. A restless society does not think, and therefore does not grow.

ageing and being alone

September 6, 2008

Why do single male or female look for companionship after the age crosses sixty? (this was the question that a young journalist asked me three years ago, and since not much has changed, i am posting it now.)

Any pursuit is passionate and purposeful. It is always towards the target-mostly with awareness, though in a few instances, a subconscious search for an end product that can be cherished and relished.

As the perseverance of passion is an activity predominantly associated with youth, the elderly human preparing for (and arranging adequately) a partner for life after she/he cross sixty years of age, is more often a matter of curiosity if not ridicule. In the Indian context, sixty plus denotes the coming of `old’ age. The elderly are expected to behave, that is in other words, suppress their still alive emotional umbers, and fume within while maintaining a serene, old wise façade on the outside. If proper behavior is an act of suppression and denial, the ensuing result can only be frustrations of bitterness, and an externalization of inner resentment. Though psychological jargons are available to explain why a human being seeks a companionship even when the sexuality is not at a properly performing level, the elder’s search and solace in a companionship can never be understood without a clear comprehension of the cultural and social milieu of the individual. Indians are thus in a state that no English, French or German textbook on behavior can aptly summate.

In those days when family bonds were so sacrosanct that even a romantic brief indulgence would have incurred the wrath of not only the inner family but by the whole society, most of the men and women who wished to stay outside the shackles or shadows of marriage, had no choice than to resort to a pseudo or real philosophical and religious veil that would cover their mind’s kaleidoscope of yearning. Spiritual leanings were not only the convenient escape route, but also the one that had been prescribed down the ages. Not just the scriptures, the myths too forced a system by which one should at this age cross over from family duties  in order to pursue philosophical puzzles and discover (perhaps even invent) spiritual truths! The elder lady or man had no choice. In some cases the men were given a social nod on account of their wealth and status, but a woman, however rich and beautiful, was never ever allowed to express or act out her wishes.

This is where the story of YAYATHI becomes a psychophilosophical metaphor that is in no way less relevant or significant than its Greek counterpart. In this (story condensed for want of time and space) the king in his old age declared that his riches and all would go to the son who would exchange his youth for the old man, so that the king continues his youthful romantic or rusty behavior. What did the old man gain or lose? The answer to this riddle is what is potently lurking in the question asked at the beginning of this article,

Why do single male or female look for companionship after the age crosses sixty?

Here we have to be clear in defining the terms `single’ and the term `companionship’. As is evident the question is not just about developing a friendship, but about starting and continuing a deeper (mental and physical) partnership. Sexual connotations and intentions may or may not be present in these cases. It is the perusal of the present and the promises of the future that dictate this odyssey at this age.

The most rhetoric question that reverberates in the minds of these elderly individuals is- Siete Sola? (Which means `are you alone?’) As is invariably the case, every one at this juncture of life would say YES. Even if many people run around at their beck and command, and many children, their spouses and grandchildren profess a profound affection, the loneliness factor is always present in these minds. Company is the remedy for malady of loneliness. As physical limitations of movement seep into the frame of life, the sought companionship is generally long term, and succinctly, subtly conveyed as `till death do us part’. On a social and legal front it may be termed as an affair or a marriage, but at this age it is mostly just for sake of having a companion, with whom one can relate in reality and not just imagine a relationship as one does with the unseen and unanswering God. A relationship under these circumstances is not a happening but a creation. Like the relationship with a pet-

(as described in this poem by Erica Jong)-

“we made them in the image of our fears/

to cry at doors, at partings- even brief/…

to at us with those big aching eyes/

stay beside us when our children flee/

& sleep upon our beds on darkest nights/

cringe at thunder/

as in our own childhood frights/

we made them sad-eyed/

Loving, loyal, scared of life without us/

we nurtured/

their dependency and grief/

we keep them as reminders of our fear

we love them/

as the unacknowledged hosts/

of our own/

terror of the grave- abandonment…”

If this were to be true, even approximately, then the relationship sought and built would ultimately and undoubtedly yield only bitterness and bad taste. but then, though many are the people who prefer to be alone,  almost all the rest would never prefer loneliness. The bliss of ignorance vanishes with insight. Though ageing will be accepted as a social permission to be friends with the opposite sex, between the smiles of the minutes pause the pain of inadequacy. The elderly human is allowed some license to lurk with the opposite sex, of whatever age group, but those relationships besides arousing conflicts within, most often than not, earn  from the world, only a superficial compassion under which simmers contempt. All relationships are about sharing, the extent determining and defining their nature. In the relationships that a female/male seeks after the age of sixty, sex cannot be the major criteria. In this context we have to analyze the form and magnitude of rewards that are not economical or physical in nature. The emotional tangible benefits of these relationships are always based on trust and understanding. The walking stick is the preferred option to a static pillar.

The empty nest needs at least a stuffed toy. Fantasies are no more enough in sustained dreams. The person needs another person, not to just share the bed, but to share the jokes and pokes, laughters and tears of life. If sex is not a major criterion why seek the opposite sex? That is the design of destiny.

As the old Arab saying goes, if you lack freedom, you cannot give it to others. Freedom in this context has to be construed as economic freedom and emotional freedom; the shackles of societal pressure invariably crumbling with economic status. Once that front is in a safe mode, the hardware of the brain utilizes the software of the mind to compute results even if they are definitely simulated and not real. Unless the person is economically liberated and consciously indifferent to the societal sarcasm, a relationship cannot begin and grow after sixty.

Usually when the mind asks itself “siete sola?” it answers itself, “vita brevis“. And, when life is understood as short, after the age of sixty every sense seeks a support system that can only come from and in the form of another person. Seeking and cultivating a relationship with the opposite sex is just a socio-genetic twist to the tale.

Women and men seek after sixties a pet animal that can reply in their language, which can nurture and nourish itself, and make the long days filled with even nonsense in the place of silence. When it is another male/female life becomes more interesting, not anatomically or physiologically, but simply like the white needing the black pawns and bishops of a chess board. The opposite color adds meaning to these pieces, and sometimes though the moves are destiny’s dictation, a challenge, for the morning to not mean as waking up into another empty day that waits to become another empty night. It is the mind’s self-confirmation or the reaffirmation of the denial that the splendor of youth has dulled itself and is now devoid of the sparkle. Ageing is challenged and meanings are purported. Life with all its myriad moorings seeks another solace, even though the resting place may be thorny. For some, a few little pains are better than a long drawn discomfort; for some, life is too short to be spent in the vacuum of loneliness. Therefore the known gamble is taken with prayers and hopes that this time there will be victory, over life!

written in october 2005, for ritz  but since it appears still relevant, maybe we can talk about it!

NSG query, do we worry?

September 4, 2008

this was written in blogs.ibibo.com/psychiatrist  on 24th august 2008, and after ten days i am yet to see a follow-up news. and, india is again worried about NSG!

Well it so happened I paused to wonder in concern about my concerns regarding this country. This morning a news paper carried a small news in a rather inconspicuous corner, that a little girl was stripped and humiliated, just because her mother won a small time election. The mother belonged to Marxist-Leninist party- allegedly supporting the `terrorist’ label carrying naxals.

The front page carried how hundred million Indians are proud that three of their country men managed to win in Olympics. The next day the great news givers turned their eyes on the bizarre NSG.

Like the majority, I follow the carrot dangled as news. I shift my concerns from cricket to rifle shooting to wrestling and then to the latest least dress design. My road is tortured everyday, abused and abased for no logical reason. Various departments of the same office, allegedly computerized keep digging to make driving a misery. A hotel in the area dumps its rubbish in the street corner. There is slush even when there is no rain. ARRehman lives in the same street!

As I venture down the street I see pain, poverty and frustrations. School kids are getting on to bikes and drive nosily. Rag pickers are sifting thro apartment waste, generally finding nothing of value to them. Everyone quarrels on the road. The road is a raging wrestling arena. There is so much happening. I read that prices are going up and above the common man. I see common folk queuing up to buy jewelry and dress.While all this happens, since we don’t have psycho killers, sex scams of celebrities, cricket and cinema promos, we have to be worried about NSG.

There was a time when I used to buy different newspapers to get different news and different perspectives. Out of habit I still buy five papers every morning. I know I am being taken for a ride. I know that their news worthy items are reader-capturing matters. And like the producers and directors of our cinema, they too believe we like crap or that we only deserve crap. And we take the crap in. whatever happened to that Marxist-Leninist family? No one cares! It is not high profile arushi stuff.

The same thing goes for our `comrades’. I believed in them once. I wanted to believe in them for a long time. I had to pretend to believe in them too. The CP whether I or M, is no better than the news papers. They have their own agenda- not necessarily a Marxian honesty or a Leninian integrity, and they behave as though we deserve the hypocrisy they dish out to us.Ok then, having cared enough about NSG, let us wait for Dhoni to make life interesting. Meanwhile pseudo communists, pseudo intellectuals, pseudo journalists and pseudo people (including me nowadays) shall waste a tear drop now and then to make our laughter more fulfilling.