Decision making

What a week it has been for decision making in India. The Indian Supreme Court struck down the instant triple talaq and also upheld the fundamental right to privacy. While doing the latter, it also vindicated one of Indian judiciary’s foremost tragic heroes, Justice H.R. Khanna whose dissenting note in the ADM Jabalpur v. Shukla, case is the stuff of legends within the bar and the bench.

 

Just about 12 years back, I made a decision to defy the herd mentality and take up the profession of law. Honestly, it was not an altogether uninformed decision. I liked debating, I loved writing and I enjoyed conversations. Seemed like the natural choice. Still does feel like a natural choice I admit, although my heart flutters a little more when I take up lecturing assignments.

 

But I did not fully appreciate the social consequences of this choice. In a society obsessed with science and mathematics and in more recent times Business Management, the choice of taking up the law was okay, no doubt. But as a lawyer, one is not a software engineer or a product manager in a high and fancy place. It is more a perception than it is a fact of course.

 

Exactly three years back, I decided to apply for a LLM at Harvard and Berkley. I didn’t get through to Harvard, got through to Berkley’s professional track LLM program and didnt end up going. I was an idiot, firstly for trying and secondly for turning down the LLM. But in hindsight I realise that choice was driven more by the need to live someone else’s expectation and someone else’s dream. It certainly wasn’t my dream then and if it was, it certainly was hazy and lacked clarity.

 

Decision making is inherently tough. Decisions have consequences, that are more often than not, difficult to foresee. Under these circumstances, it is important that one gets rid of irritants like societal expectations, family perceptions and just the general need to satisfy someone else’s expectations. I say so not just to improve one’s decision making, but also to prevent someone else from wasting time on the exercise I find myself indulging in every once in a while viz., wanting the approval of others.

 

As I write this post, I feel compelled to blow my own trumpet by describing the many good things I did following the decision to practice law. But that is a product of an insecurity and the desire to convince others of a choice I made or a decision I took. I should not do that, now should I 🙂

 

You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin and Shackman, Ramana

 

 

 

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Future Shock

Colour television was a marvel, cable television was magic and cordless telephone was sorcery. As a child born in the 80s and growing up in the 90’s, I saw the onset of the future. Be it the aforesaid or email, pager or the mobile phone, the pace and the sheer possibilities emerging technologies left me feeling like I grew up in a world similar to Hogwarts and Harry Potter.

 

On the other hand- I find myself feeling as irrelevant as my parents and grandparents felt in my world. I can hardly relate to today’s music, lyrics or even cinema and literature for that matter. After having enjoyed the works of Fredrick Forsyth, his retirement from espionage thrillers has left a void in my world that even the best of espionage writers of today haven’t been able to fill. Having found myself moved to tears by the actor of yesteryear, Dr. Rajkumar, I am now offended when some critics remark that he was a little too dramatic for their liking.

 

I find myself battling irrelevance. It is scary and I feel more conscious of it than I should. As much as I tell myself that I must turn with the world, my sensibilities have been conditioned and stimulated in a certain manner for so long, I am finding it difficult to retune them to accommodate the Justin Lins and Justin Biebers of todays world.

 

And yet, the future did not bring many of the bounties it was supposed to. Solutions and spirit of inquiry was to substitute prejudices. Boundaries were to disappear to make room for more people to people interaction. Yet today the information age has turned us into zombies and prejudices are becoming more entrenched than they were ever before. Boundaries, far from disappearing, are now emboldened in the hyper nationalist narrative which is stuck on correcting history instead of correcting the present and the future.

 

I have now made peace with the miniscule and irrelevant nature of my individual existence. I cannot affect what is not mine and that’s just what the future is. I am a victim of the future shock already. All I can now hope to do is to ensure my future generations accept the future and mould it appropriately instead of being shocked by it. I fear its now their battle more than mine.

 

You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin and Shackman, Ramana

The Resident Indian son

The antonym of the non resident Indian son is the resident Indian son. He is also known as the black sheep, the other guy or simply the guy who lives in his parents’ home (not unlike the stereotype of the man living in his mother’s basement).

 

At the outset, if you are the resident Indian son, you are many things. But it is easier to describe what you are not, which is anyone or all of the following,

  • Not a software engineer
  • Most likely not a science degree holder
  • Couldn’t make it beyond a bachelor’s degree without wanting to kill yourself.
  • Not talked about in family functions or gatherings.
  • Not the favourite child in the family functions and gatherings.
  • Not rich (enough and never can be)
  • Talented but not talented enough
  • Not marriageable material
  • Not cool
  • Not the role model

What experts can say that a resident Indian son is, that too with a reasonable degree of certainty, is as follows- he is the guy who everyone has to speak to about how awesome his non resident indian counter part is. Make no mistake, he is no underachiever. He is just the disappointment by omission. In other words- they don’t have bad things to say about the resident indian son. They just don’t have good words to offer either. After all he isn’t slaving away for one of those big companies that steal your data and profit from it.

 

But the resident Indian son has a lot going for him. One, he doesn’t patronize the country or its governance, even though the situation merits such patronizing. Of course his non resident counter part would argue that this is because the resident indian son is merely ignorant. That is unfortunately true. Unlike the conservative leanings of his non resident counter part, the resident Indian son likely endorses liberal causes like equal rights for gay people, mostly because like gay people, resident Indian sons are not particularly admired in our society (And lets face it given a choice, the resident indian son would also be declared illegal).

 

He is probably philosophically inclined. He views material pleasures like fancy cars and big mansions with detachment, primarily because unlike his non resident counter part, enlightenment is a compulsion and not a choice. He prides himself as the man who sold his non existent Ferrari before the big life changing heart attack, because lets face it, he can’t afford treatment for a heart attack. He isn’t impressed easily by wealth, especially the wealth of his non resident counterpart. Experts have a term for this skepticism- insecurity or envy, as the case may be.

 

The resident Indian son and his non resident counterpart share one thing in common- a love for Donald Trump, albeit for different reasons. While the non resident Indian loves Trump for his unabashed loathing of all things cultural, intelligent and Islamic; the resident Indian loves trump for highlighting the stupidity of his non resident counter part. Trump also made the resident Indian son feel good about his otherwise bad decision of not wanting to go to the U.S. to study and work. Trump, in other words, did what the resident Indian sons’ parents never could do- made him feel proud of his choice (non existent one) of staying back in India.

 

To the parents who view the resident son as the less accomplished version of the non resident counter part, remember this- the resident indian son is the watchman, the driver, the nurse and the caretaker. In other words the resident indian son is all your non resident indian’s son’s employees put into one multi talented individual and you guys get him for free. In other words, when there is something wrong in your neighbourhood, who do you call? The resident Indian son (for free). Treasure him, adore him and if you can bring yourself to, tell him you are proud of him (even though both of you know that ain’t true).

Eastern and Western Culture

I am not nearly not as well travelled as I ought to be to speak intelligently on this subject. The sights and sounds of many eastern cultures in countries like Indonesia, China, Korea, Laos, Mongolia,Japan, Cambodia, Thailand and Vietnam have eluded me or I have eluded them. While I often promise myself that I will make up for these experiences, my travel to the west has been confined to barcelona and tuscanny on the west and Singapore on the east. In fact, when I think about it I haven’t even seem the eastern part of India itself.

 

With whatever limited exposure I have had to the cultures on both sides of the vertical hemisphere, I like to focus on the positives while being acutely aware of the many negatives. With a lot of eastern cultures, such as the japanese and the koreans, the discipline and sensitivity to people around them never cease to amaze me. With the many Japanese I have had the pleasure to interact with, their humility and just the sense of respect they afford to the other end of the conversation is unbelievable. In Singapore, I saw the opposite of Chaos, a uniquely Indian trade mark. The sense of respect for a pedestrian right of way and for a line at the metro, never ceased to impress. Not a single vendor frowned at me for not giving change.

 

My travels to the west yielded rich experiences too. In Spain and Italy, I discovered hospitality, which until then I was told was exclusively an Indian forte. Their understanding and appreciation of our own culture, history and legacy contrasted our own lack of self respect and understanding of who we are and where we come from. I discovered courtesy, not just as a rare occurrence, but as a way of life. I discovered an appreciation for the concept of family which I think India has completely lost sight of. In more ways than one, Europe showed me what Indian culture was famous for.

 

In short, I have discovered that good people are the same everywhere. I have discovered the best in humanity everywhere. And while we are different in our own ways, we are also far more similar than we care to acknowledge. The boundaries that are drawn on maps and separate us seem so superficial. If only mankind could abandon the culture of selfishness and embraced his migratory instincts, I suspect that the many divides that we now have would disappear, not easily perhaps and with some struggle, but it eventually would.

 

You can see what the other writers of the LBC have to say in their respective blogs.  Maria, Pravin and Shackman, Ramana