Does time run out?

6 years- the time between my paternal grandfather being operated on and my maternal grandfather being operated on. If anything embodies time, then it is the experiences around these two grandfathers.

 

Back in 2011, just before my paternal grandfather passed away, he was operated on for a blood clot in his brain. In the days that followed, we vetoed the idea of an attendant and between my father, my brother, my uncle and I- we took turns being his attendant while my mother and my aunt ensured his timely meals and nutrition. All in all family effort. At 68 kilos then, I lifted by substantially heavier grandfather and did so with ease and effort. When he passed away- I was distraught with grief, being my first experience around bereavement.

 

But 6 years later, as my maternal grandfather recovers from a hip replacement, I, along with my family, had to ensure the services of an attendant as my parents are old themselves and my back suffers from a spinal disc herniation. My maternal grandfather himself represents the inevitable authority of time. As a person he is disciplined without compromise. Gets up at 4 am, goes on his walks in the morning and evening, consumes healthy food and does not suffer from diabetes or blood pressure- the two inevitable characteristics of Indians. As far as I recollect, he never compromised on his television shows or access to newspapers, no matter who had to make the sacrifices for his benefit.  He ruled his business and his home with authority, honour and while biased, he did his best trying to keep it together for his children. Yet time has caught up to him. He is frail and needs assistance to walk.

 

With these experiences, I have realised what a gift my parents have ensured for me. By ensuring their independence and my basic necessities, I now have the time to reflect on time. Time will run out, but I have the luxury of a choice. Either I can be conscious of its slow passing or live in a way where my time runs out before I know when or how.

 

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

 

Dear LBC writers, apologies for the delayed posting. I was caught up travelling for a conference and later for a small two day holiday to Italy and between cliff diving and gorging on pasta, couldn’t find the “time” to post.

 

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Sunrise or sunset

Yameen Rasheed, a name that hardly rings a bell. But not too long back, the news reported that a dynamic blogger, activist and Maldives popular satirist happened to be found murdered on the 23rd of April, 2017. He was 29 years of age.

 

His brand of satire breathed optimism and humour in a struggle that is anything but funny. In the fight between Saudi sponsored radical ideology and scientific rationalism and human rights, Rasheed, though principled, used satire to keep things lively but focused. Take for example this post from the month of November,

Court to begin trial on MDP leadership election

Alhan Fahmy wants the court to force MDP to hold an election and choose a new President and VP – asserting that the terms of President Nasheed and party deputy leader Mohamed Shifaz are over.

Now, I honestly don’t know if there’s any merit to Alhan’s case. I’m way more fascinated with Alhan’s strange sense of entitlement to the party’s top position. Why would you want to be the leader of a party where, clearly, nobody likes you?

alhan_egyptian

Just think about it. Alhan once held a public rally, and literally six people showed up. I have had more people show up to my birthday party – and I didn’t even invite anyone! (Also there was no party. And it wasn’t even my birthday)

The last election he contested, he barely managed a double digit vote count in a seat he had previously represented.

And instead of humbly accepting this public drubbing and trying to rebuild his base, he instead goes: ‘Fuck this shit – I’m going to aim for the party’s very top position’

That’s not how it works, Alhan. That’s not how anything works.”

While clearly taking a dig at a leader who lacked popular mandate, the self depreciating humour around the birthday party that wasn’t, was such a breath of fresh air. I will miss his writing incredibly.

 

You might be wondering, what is Yameen to me? After all, bloggers are under threats across the world, Bangladesh and Maldives being closer to home. Truthfully speaking, I had no idea who Yameen was until I met a friend of mine in Singapore who was from the same institution where I completed 12th grade. She was Yameens classmate and introduced his work to me during our conversations when we met.

You see, Yameen was her classmate and a senior of mine in the very same institution where I completed my 11th and 12th grade. One of my greatest regrets will remain that I knew him only by his blog, the daily panic, than in person even though he was just a few classrooms ahead of me and despite having friends in common.

In such a short span of time in his life, Rasheed made a name for himself through courage, exemplary integrity and resolve to a cause that could not be shaken, even as the ruling government threatened to “use the truncheon in lieu of conversation”. An extraordinary life full of accomplishment, in his death, he has left a role model almost impossible to emulate.

Everything that begins must end and that is the rule of nature- but when a man like Yameen Rasheed rises, his light burns so bright that when it dies out, it leaves a void. To the men and women who plotted and executed his murder, Rasheed will remain alive for a long time to come because through his words, he has transcended the limitations of time.

May his satire reign supreme and may the spirit he represented burn brightly in every Maldivian out there!

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

How to argue…. or not to argue like sunshine

IMG_1976

I know I promised a blog about nothing. I intend to honour. This post is about me and therefore about nothing.

Call it a bad habit, but sometimes I can’t help this compulsive behavior on my part. Rest assured though, I fully intend to seek professional help for this compulsive need to express my knowledge and experience through the medium of writing. Without further due, allow me to get to the point.

So, I made the mistake of expressing an opinion about a serious issue, death penalty for rapists. While previously, I would torment only my friends on facebook with such useless thoughts, lately I have felt the need to provoke the larger world out there by making such posts public.

One particularly kind lady countered my anti death penalty stand by suggesting that leaving rapists alive would contribute to them victimising more women. So my bad habit kicked in and I cited the experience of the FBI whose study of serial sex offenders fine tuned investigation and prosecution tools improving the speed and efficiency of apprehending suspects and convicting them.

Now I consider myself a good debater, being a lawyer and all. But this time, I confess, I got owned. The said kind lady responded to my citations and arguments with a single line that literally “trumped” (pun intended) my point, “Don’t talk political bullshit to me sunshine”. As I crawled into my ego’s metaphorical bed to lick my mental wounds and cry like a child, I was consumed by the singular need to talk about my background and experience in assisting law enforcement with investigation and prosecution of sexual offences. But then it hit me, I am a speck of dust in the kind lady’s… actually in anybody’s world. Of what use or worth am I or my supposed wisdom?

So I did what any sane self respecting individual would do under the circumstance, I simply acknowledged her excellent come back, thanked her for helping me remember maternal love by calling me “sunshine” and picked up the number of my therapist who I intend to call to help me with my compulsive need to write about stuff like the death penalty.

Its a different world ladies and gentleman and to not reason is to survive 🙂

10th and 12th exam results- To the other guys!

South Indian parents remember God the most during summer break every year, which is when the infamous 10th grade and 12th grade results are announced. Every time I came close to complaining about the stress of 10th and 12 grade exams for children, people wasted no time telling me that no matter how profound the child’s anxiety was, it was nothing compared to that anxiety which parents feel when it comes to their children’s exam results. Well I guess this argument is not without merits.

Between Rao uncle’s daughter who won the 100% attendance award (poor thing spent her childhood trying to earn validation for herself, ever since she disappointed her parents by being born a girl) and Anu aunty’s son who cried for two entire days because he lost a whole of half a mark in his math final exams (With a 99.5 instead of 100, the gap between the second rank holder and him decreased by an abominable and shameful 0.5 marks), I can understand why parents feel competitive. It is not our success or failure, it is the success or failure of their genes. I now concede that when the ladla aka project child prodigy fails to make it to IIT-Kharagpur, or makes it to IIT-Kharagpur only for computer science instead of Electronics and Communications, the parent’s are clearly to blame, for the following reasons,

  1. Failure to eat the right kind of brain food before conceiving. Dal cannot be a substitute for fish, vegetarian values notwithstanding.
  2. Failure to consult the astrologer as to the best time to attempt procreation. Not only did the child turn out to be a daughter, but she chose fine arts, all because of the astrologer not supervising and recommending the right time to have intercourse.
  3. Location, location, location- if only the venue for the amorous encounter was the study room instead of the bedroom, the soon thereafter beta would not be sleeping all the time and would actually be studying, for purposes other than curing insomnia.
  4. Failure to cross breed. When horses from different pedigree and regions have sex- the resulting progeny is smarter and faster. But when daughters are routinely married off to maternal uncles over generations and cousins marry each other as well, the results are often disappointing. Generations of intra familial marriages due to our ancestor’s poor socio-economic vision have compromised the quality of the parents’s genes and therefore by definition, that of the children as well.

The above list is no doubt illustrative only and not exhaustive. But truly, when a child scores well or does not score well, it is the parents to blame.

So to all the children who have the privilege of having just one college option instead of many, the ones who provide the meaning to the term “plausible deniability” in the parent’s dictionary, the ones who made the mistake of being happy, to the ones who are offered the sympathetic and almost comically insincere “don’t worry, its the ones who don’t score that do well in life” and to the one who set out to become a child prodigy but became a prodigal son instead- remember its not your fault, its your parents’.

So don’t kill yourself and certainly don’t despair. Instead do as any responsible adult would, blame it on some one else. Motivate your parents to see their failures and their poor upbringing. Remind them that sending you to the neighbouring Prema aunty’s tuitions instead of buying the subscription for the IIT alumini driven online tutoring led to the debacle.

Help them realise the error of their ways- Did your mother check your father’s report card before agreeing to marry him? Because if she had shown that concern and diligence, the father’s lack of aptitude in mathematics would have been a deal breaker. Did your father not realise that your mother holds only a Bachelor of Arts and not a Bachelor of Science? If he had thought about his marriage logically instead of being enamored by your mother’s good looks and virtues, today you wouldn’t have invited the shame of scoring well in social studies but losing your shit in science.

Your 90% versus the neighbouring kid’s 98%, would not have happened if not for parental incompetence. And if you think that your options have become limited, that you will command less dowry during your wedding and will probably have to settle for becoming a lawyer instead of a B.E., MBA stud that you thought you would become- you are probably right.

But honestly, life is not so bad on this side of the achievement spectrum. If not anything else, you get to write a blog and address children facing their 10th and 12th exams. Its not a bad place to be…… No really its not. What? I mean it. Really…………………

This will go on until I convince myself. Excuse me.

History, the rascal

 

Allow me to begin my expressing how good it feels to write for the LBC again. I found that with my character and virtue being loose and all, my perspectives would be relevant to the loose blogger’s consortium, whose members are, unlike myself, virtuous enough to invite me into the fold.

 

History and me, until recently had a nice and intimate relationship. What I lacked in math and chemistry, I made it up with a flair for history. Its of course another thing, that more than my bad scores in mathematics, my good scores in history was the cause of shame in my circles 😝 Never the less, during my teenage years, I spent countless hours reading articles on various historical subjects on Wikipedia. Be it stories of Shivaji or Emperor Ashoka- it kept my focus away from the culture of alcohol, drugs and cigarettes in high school and instilled values (which I now find are as impractical as they are addictive). But history has evolved now, hasn’t she.

 

History has now become a politician. You will see History making an argument that hindus must rise to fight the jihadist-marxist-communist conspiracy. You will see History making inflammatory speeches in Andhra Pradesh about how Muslims in India would be able to crush the Hindu majority in a span of hours. History has joined hands with the radical to become the drug that induces intoxication in people, distracting them from the vision for the future. Where once history refrained from taking sides, from passing judgement and from provoking people towards violence, distrust and conflict; now she is neither impartial nor dispassionate. From being a medium to document human history objectively, she has become a mischief monger.

 

So how do we remind history of its proper place in our world? Is it even possible? For that the jihadist, Marxist, the communist and the Hindu must actually sit together and conspire over a cup of tea and ensure History ceases to intervene in our present and in our vision and design for our future. If we cannot detach ourselves from the experiences of our ancestors, then we are doomed to come in our own way while we walk the path to progress. History tells me, we are not capable of such smarts. I am waiting to see us prove otherwise.

 

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

Why can’t I write anymore?

Well the answer is simple- I have nothing much to say. I happened to review my older blogs which I have closed because I was unable to bear the shame of my younger self’s thoughts and opinions. What I saw from those dark years was how deeply everything affected me. From the Lokpal movement to developments in my personal life- I remain surprised at how naïve and how easily affected I was. I had a political stand, I was sensitive and I really did, for some unknown reason, give a care.

Where I am today- my political stand reads “undecided” and my personality trait reads “exhausted”. Where once the news struck a nerve, my nerves have become numb (quite literally too, thanks to a slip disc). I sought inspiration back in the day. Now I seek funny dog videos. Where once I felt stimulated enough to emote anger and passion, these days I only find it within my means to laugh at everything that once provoked my anger and disgust.

The news itself provokes little except a shrug. Who does one trust after all? I stopped watching news for information and instead saw the jingoistic legends (the plural refers to the man, the ego and the legend popularly known as the Holy Trinity) on screen as the inheritors of Ekta Kapoor’s questionable legacy involving mothers in law and daughters in law learning to empathise with each other through the seven or eight seasons of sheer agony. I find myself happier and contented ever since I withdrew from that nation which constantly “wanted to know”. I thought I will instead focus on myself. Who am I?

After much Jedi Training, I have begun to discover answers. For one- the jedi training taught me balance and I learnt it well. Therefore I decided to put these new skills to good use and become a professional fence sitter. But that then led to another problem. You see, while being on the right invited the ire of only the left and being on the left invited the ire of only the right, being a fence sitter has invited the ire of everybody. A simple post highlighting the goodness within both the right and the left, got a krav maga expert and a popular artist attacking me on both sides of the fence I was sitting on and my survival instinct couldn’t help but wonder if the only way out of it was to go up.

Eureka-therein I learnt my lesson. What the artists and the deadly martial artists of the world taught me is that I am an observer in a grand social experiment. Between the road rage on the roads and the ideological rage on the internet- threats get traded and words get exchanged, but very little action is taken. In this experiment, I saw democracy and all it could achieve- nothing. Therefore, my role perhaps is to be the housefly that simply buzzes around observing through its many eyes, nothing. Hence, the writers block and today, I find the cure.

This blog going forward is likely to be about nothing….. only because that has not been done before right.

If I were to become a leader

 

There is something a lot more dangerous than the politicos and the leaders shooting their mouths off on air and stages- the feeling that I can do their job better than them. Not only is that a lie, but the belief, if any, in such fiction would ultimately result in my face dripping with water from a puddle after a less than gracious fall into the ditch.

But I have the benefit of being surrounded and knowing many individuals well entrenched and very good at being politicians. I mean that as a compliment by the way… pinky swear.

These shining examples of abundant competence demonstrate certain qualities that set them apart as leaders- a) Superfluous use of the word “introspection” without a clue as to how it must be practiced, b) Absolute lack of a sense of humour- mention the word cattle class and consider yourself downgraded, c) A rather strong spine, literal and metaphorical. After all taking the right side (which could be the left or the right, but not necessarily right) requires more backbone than the nerves which flow northwards of the human body d) Loyalty- to justify the unjustifiable, d) Genuine faith in oneself and one’s intentions to do good (also known in common parlance as denial), e) Resisting the urge to poke fun at the fans and instead be grateful for their mindless following, f) Most importantly- the awareness that a spirit of inquiry unlike matters of faith must be private, confidential and at best unexpressed.

To be able to bat for Rahul Gandhi’s abilities, blame election defeats on EVMs or justify a statement that argues that evangelists, jihadists and communists bond over a common hatred for hindus (also known as the Jihadist-evangelist-communist conspiracy)- requires skill set and talent no doubt. But more importantly it requires conviction and the sincere faith in the completeness of these ideas and arguments. The difference between Donald Trump, a leader and Kellyanne Conway, a follower is that Kellyanne Conway pauses a second, takes a gulp before uttering the words “alternate” and “fact”. Au Contraire, Donald Trump is the alternate fact.

Think about it. Having to constantly watch what one can say and do. Not being able to crack cruel jokes, having to be sensitive, pretending to care all the time, not being able to flirt with a member of the opposite sex and certainly not being able to flirt with a member of the same sex. Pressure to be married. Pressure to remain unmarried. Watching what one eats, lest the origins of one’s shit inspire a political scandal worthy of imprisonment. Politicians have it tough. Heck, it is quite appropriately a dog’s life.

I digress. Am I a leader? Not too long ago- I had an interesting conversation with a facebook acquaintance who found my cynicism and sarcasm, rather dull, negative and unsurprisingly irresponsible. The insight in his statement starkly contrasted my own lackadaisical belief that I was expressing myself as an amateur writer and a substandard comedian. It provoked an existential question. Am I a role model? Should I then consider politics or leadership or responsibility?

But unlike the Idi Amins of the world- delusion was soon replaced with reason. Role models made my childhood miserable. Those snooty rank holders with 100% attendance and a pathological hatred for leisure, afternoon naps, cartoons and cricket made leave of absence at school and just the love of hobbies, seem like liabilities. The fact that they were statistically more suited for depression, suicide and existential crises was constantly cited to highlight how inappropriate my own zest for life and a happy childhood was. “At least they will be depressed in an IIT campus”, society told me.

I promised myself as a child- I would not shoulder the karma of having an innocent child be told by his/her parents and his/her teachers that his/her inadequate existence fares poorly in comparison with my own inadequate existence. Rather, I prefer the job of the black sheep. Push the standards to the ground so that everyone can rise above it. Make the leaders look good. Thats the destiny of every member of the Guard of the blacksheep.

It is the information age ladies and gentlemen. Greatness beckons, but how many will answer the call of your nature? Don’t led the turbulent waters of life toss you around. Instead, stand your ground, lead others through the currents and find the banks of greatness. Work hard to discover the faith in the human condition. But remember- to succeed, you need the other guys. The ones who sleep soundly when the turbulent waters transport them. They are the silent guardians and the watchful protectors. They are the heroes you don’t deserve, but need. They are the black sheep…

 

The Indian Father

As I browsed through my news feed, I saw just a single male friend make a mention of Father’s day. By and large, it was only my women friends who were vocal in their appreciation of their fathers. It is no surprise that when Aamir Khan said “Jab Tak Is Desh ke baap nahin sudrenge, yeh desh nahi sudrega” (This country will improve only when fathers improve), it was so well received by a lot of us. 

 

The Indian father (especially in the context of sons) is a scared fellow working a thankless job. He has good intentions, or at least feigns good intentions, all the while beating down the child (emotionally and/or physically), instilling fear in him and making him feel like a worthless fellow. In a strange twisted way, it is the father’s way of encouraging his son to become the best he can be. But its not so simple. The son, to him, is a reflection of his legacy and values, no doubt. But he also invariably becomes the dart board for his frustrations. His vision for his son’s future, is his greatest ambition. But the son also remains his biggest competition (although he will never admit to it). The policies towards the son is fear driven and operates on the assumption that the son is a moron and will never know what is good for him. The father’s love and pride for his son is concealed, but his critique is always vociferous. The result is a relationship that is as complex as it is conflicted.

 

Make no mistake, a lot of Indian fathers are excellent role models. But not all of them are role models in the conventional sense nor do they become role models through conventional means. As a son, one’s frustration towards one’s father, is made more chaotic by the love, respect and affection the father has earned in their work place and outside the home. The mothers do a dandy job of reminding the son that all his frustrations are unreasonable, as the father works tirelessly to put food on the table and keep shelter on their heads. So the son is driven to not just become as good as the father, but he strives to become better than him.  Financial independence represents the ticket to criticize the father and break free of the conflicted position. That is how we have consistently produced such phenomenal achievers.

 

Unfortunately for the father and the son, they do not understand that seemingly paradoxical feelings can exist for the father. Instead children assume that they can either respect their father or disrespect him, despite being sub consciously aware that such categorization is over simplistic. They will not know that they can respect the good which the father brings to the table and remain profoundly disgruntled with the endless discouragement and pressure their fathers put them through.

 

Speaking as a son, we would thus be lying if we say that we love our fathers. We don’t love them, at least in the conventional cheesy sense. We are respectful, we are grateful and we will be there for our fathers as they age. But we will become conscious of the good they did only after their time on this earth is over and not before. Any expression of love will be expressed and recieved with awkwardness and therefore avoided. We can never ever feel emotionally intimate with our fathers, nor can they feel that with us.

 

For his part, the father’s role and contribution will never recieve the thanks it deserves. His insensitive actions and words, no matter how well founded and bona fide, will never be afforded the empathy or forgiveness it deserves. In short, a significant portion of father son relationships represent the greatest tragedy of the human condition, where both father and son are victims. This tragedy is further perpetuated by our failure to accept the reality around father son relationships.

 

I am not drawing any sweeping generalizations. I am sure there are perfectly simple father son relationships out there. On the contrary, there could be just as many complex father daughter relationships as well. I know for a fact that mother daughter relationships can be just as confusing. I confess that I speak for a portion, not the whole.

But the one general conclusion I will not hesitate to draw is this- Can we, going forward make better choices if we become fathers ourselves? No wait, that is expecting too much. So I will rephrase.

 

Can we, at least promise to make mistakes, which are different from the mistakes our fathers made with us?

 

I am one of those rare people in India who can say that he grew up under one of the most decent, honourable and selfless fathers a person can get. Our relationship has many flaws and we have no doubt driven each other mad at many levels. My aloofness and lack of academic drive complimented his stellar achievements and expectations from me. But all things said and done, I never needed to look outside to know what kind of a lawyer or a human being I should be when I grow up.
I do not expect to improve if I ever become a father myself, but I will hope to evolve so that my kid will find fault with me for reasons, different than the reasons based on which I found fault with my folks 🙂
Happy Bloody Father’s Day indeed 🙂

Does being older and being experienced mean the same?

As a member of the youth population, I frequently hear things like “You don’t know what you are talking about. Listen to me, I am older and have more experience”. Even people who I have looked up to as role models are susceptible to this sense of ego and prestige. I don’t blame them, nor does my respect, love and affection for them become any less, because I know the dangers of success and the obvious feeling of entitlement that comes in the wake of an effort. It is only human to feel that way. The fact that I am turning a year older, compounds the problem for me, because I am well on my way to the other side of the problem.

Heck, just the other day, a former intern of mine suggested a possible line of argument in a writ petition. I felt it may not be that useful, but both of us had considerable difference of opinion. As I tried to sell my point, I came dangerously close to saying the exact same thing that I hate listening to, viz., “I am older and more experienced. So you better listen to me”. Thankfully reason found the better of me and I did not inflict that arbitrariness on the poor girl.

It made me reflect upon the term “experience”.

If I have to analyse the term in terms of a simple equation, Experience= Amount of time spent doing something X the wisdom gained from the time and effort so invested.

While the amount of time element is objective and can be clearly defined and understood by all of us, the wisdom part is a little tricky. You see, two people can spend 10 years doing the same thing. But one student could end up gaining more wisdom from those 10 years as opposed to his peer. I, sorry we, have to make room for the possibility that those who have spent less time than us in our jobs, have probably gained more wisdom than us, thus getting ahead in the “experience” race.  To acknowledge this, is not a sign of our incompetence, because as times change, the tools available to get ahead are better available and used by the younger generations better than us. We can, in fact, learn from them and keep ourselves relevant in the process.

Take, for example lecturing as a profession. Many years back the school of thought around teaching recommended that Indian teachers should speak while the students would listen. The kind of teaching mechanism that was built around questions and debates and interactive learning was completely absent. As the internet had not yet set foot in India, the teacher was also the only source of information forcing students to be listeners. Also, constructive participation without access to information was never possible. Therefore a speaker-listener dynamic defined the average classroom.

But now, I believe in being less of a teacher and more of a moderator. I like to hear the students speak and assess their level of awareness and knowledge and see how I can stimulate their growth by making deliberately provocative statements to initiate meaningful debates and discussions. I believe this method works because I was a student only too recently and constantly felt that I was being undermined by the kind of teaching I received. However, a friend of mine, (one who I look up to even now), found fault with me for wasting time using such a method and with 35 years of teaching experience in his profile, his argument against my teaching method was both obvious and invulnerable to dissent.

See, that is the challenge. I can no longer validate the ego and the false sense of prestige on the ground that I am as human as my role models who are its victims. Why? Well, it is because I have a responsibility to my employees, to my juniors and to the children in my life. I will have to resign myself to the non negotiable obligation to either convince them by reason or accept the contrary stand they will subscribe to. Either I do what is right or end up being a hypocrite and I dread being the latter. But heaven forbid if I ever say that being more experienced, I am right and the other person is wrong!

The fact that I am older only means that statistically, I am likely to die sooner than them. That should inspire hope also. But, if someone feels that I have something of substance to offer, it is not to do with the time I have invested, but more because of what the world has taught me in this small a time. What matters is simply how receptive we are and not how much time we have spent. This is a lesson I will have to live by and I expect everyone around me to hold me accountable when I fail.

I would like to simply end with the words of my paternal grandpa after he had lost an argument with one of his grandkids, “I had to concede. He reasoned it out so well. I became small in front of him”. My eyes tear up remembering these words, not because I miss him, but because of his enlightened practice of humility.

Unmentionable Topics For TED

I guess its old age, but I had myself forgotten about this topic 😛 But if we have to talk about unmentionable topics, these days, virtually everything is unmentionable.

Its a coincidence that this subject of “unmentionable topics” comes at a time when the world is debating the scope and extent of the freedom of speech and expression, particularly in light of the Charlie Hebdo attacks. Personally, I think the issue is not just about freedom of speech and expression, but mankind’s misplaced sense of self importance. We have lost the ability to laugh at ourselves. Even as we were coming to grip with our anger at the sheer intolerance behind the attacks, a friend of mine quickly posted an article which condemned the attacks but also reminded us that Charlie Hebdo was racist.

I asked myself why they were racist? Is it because they poked fun at hindus, muslims and buddhists? When did satire become racism. For all you know, the artists behind Charlie Hebdo would have gotten along well with Muslims and did not carry any personal prejudice against them. But god forbid, if a man without any racist intentions or motives still says something that could be interpreted as racist. Because frankly thats the kind of insensitive jerks we have become. We care no more for the intentions behind people’s words and we think of ourselves as so important that, we think the meaning we attach to the ideas are the actual meaning they carry. As a listener how in God’s sweet name can I know for sure whats running in the author’s mind? And should I not give the author the benefit of the doubt or are we intent on assuming the worst in people?

 

Be it the likes of Russel Peters or Dave Chapelle or even Chris Rock, humour based on race has always been about laughing the traits unique to our context and culture and never about inspiring a sense of hatred around us. Even with the Bollywood movie “PK”, people were quick to take offense. Why not instead just perceive the movie as simply a story and a form of entertainment?

One of my greatest sources of comfort in the past couple of years has been my ability to laugh at my myself while reflecting on the stupidities I did. Be it my stint with dating apps like Tinder and the less than admirable moments on it or the fact that I am one of those losers from the male world who strongly subscribes to the existence of ‘Friendzone’, my life has been hilarious in its own way. I am able to respect myself better when I can laugh at the things that have happened to me, rather than living in denial. Its too much of a burden to live a life of perfection. Thats almost like asking a man to refrain from passing wind even in private!

Lets get off our high horses, shall we? Hindus, Muslims, Blacks, Whites, Chinese, Buddhists, Kannadigas, Tamilians, Pakistanis, etc. etc. etc.- none of us are that important and none of us are that awesome. So next time someone takes a dig at you, learn to laugh or else I guarantee you, you will be making an ass out of yourself.

This post is part of my writing endeavor as a member of the loose blogger’s consortium. The other bloggers are as under. Give them a visit, they are bunch of hell raisers you wouldn’t want to miss 😉 RummusergaelikaaMaxiThe Old Fossil and Shackman