Thursday, September 14, 2017

A Balanced Life


Can we have our cake and eat it too? No? Does that sound too greedy? But why not? Why can’t I have a great career? A good family life? Enough leisure time? Adequate “me” time? All of the above, instead of picking my choices from one of the above? Sounds bizarre to you? Yeah to me too. All I want is to have a balanced life, where I can work a little, play a little, sleep a little and just lie down there and daydream a little. But increasingly I find that I just can’t find the time to fit all of this into my daily schedule. No I am not trying to beat my own drums that I am very busy and can’t find the time. The truth is sometimes I just can’t remember where the time went when I reflect on it at the end of an average day. Some of it surely went sitting and waiting in traffic on my daily commute, up and down the city working at two jobs at either end of the metropolis. But travelling does give me the time to catch up on my old favorites on FM radio channels and I am usually in a chirpier mood after listening to for instance “mundhiri muthaella syenjukku” or whatever it was from the song “nenjinelle, nenjinelle” from the incomparable AR Rahman. Leaving that aside, travelling also gives me a great perspective to write the kind of short fiction I like to write. I look at people and try to imagine their everyday lives and then I use them as characters in one of my stories. Where else would I go for authentic personalities if I spend all day locked up in a cubicle listening to people explain in great detail what they think their disease is and what treatment should I do to them?


Nutritionist’s talk a lot of balanced diets. About how we need carbohydrates/proteins/fats in equal measure…but every single diet out there stresses one particular aspect in favor of the other- low-cal diet, no-fat diet and they all seem to work to some extent. What works for food ought to work for life too right? Do we need to live a balanced life or can we live a life where we are happy to accept that life is essentially unbalanced and you just can’t fit in all you want to do, the operating word here being “want”, in a span of 24 hours? What if you were to work all week and rest all Sunday? Like the good lord told us to do on Sabbath? Is that a balanced life? Or are you building up to having a coronary? What if I just pick and choose one aspect of my life? Say my career? And revolve all the rest of my life around it? Arrange to have a convivial family life with someone who respects my need to work hard at my career even at the expense of forgoing any leisure time or activity? Can it be done?  I definitely hope so. When we get to the core of it the only persons who can choose to have a balanced life, do all that their hearts desire- rest, relax, spend time with family, work within limits- are those who were born with a golden spoon or those who have already attained a certain level of affluence where money becomes superfluous. All the rest of us poor mortals have to slog our butts off to make a decent living and stay off the poverty line. We can ready in lifestyle magazines about the heady experience of living a balanced life and then get on with trying to balance all our different priorities into the same time frame. Live one day at a time within our means and not be greedy to have it all. In the end its better to be practical rather than be idealistic. And keep alive hope that someday…..

Monday, September 4, 2017

The Gloating At Others Discomfiture- New India

The Gloating At Others Discomfiture- New India



Last week there were two significant judgments delivered by the supreme court of India. The first was on the constitutional validity of the right to privacy where the judgment affirmed that right to privacy is a fundamental right. And in the very same week the judges pronounced that personal laws are no longer valid by striking down the triple talaq law under Muslim personal law. Now the two may not seem related at first glance but lets dig a little deeper to see what this means at ground level. In fact to digress a bit there are those who are celebrating both the judgments without realizing that they are both contradictory. The first one is an instance of executive over reach being corrected by judicial over sight and the second one is an example of judicial overreach (with the full connivance of a double-speaking executive) which has used the judiciary as a stalking horse to achieve a backhanded assault on personal laws and right to privacy.

Now disregarding the feminazis who will celebrate anything which makes life harder for men (like easier divorces) and disregarding the usual Muslim baiter's who will celebrate anything which will annoy or inconvenience the average Muslim citizen of India, the real reason people should be afraid of this judicial over reach is that based on this judgment any and every personal or religious belief/freedom/personal law is open to censure by the courts and government. I was so forcefully reminded of this by the Jallikattu movement a few months back when a few offended animal rights activists invaded the personal law space of Tamil pride and got jallikattu banned through the supreme court. Now jallikattu might be a regressive practice in the eyes of a few volunteers working with animals but does it give them the right to impose their will on a million others under the garb of the court's orders? Invading personal laws of various religions is pretty similar when you come to think of it- tomorrow any person can state that they are offended by this or that particular practice – say tying a mangalsutra on a woman’s neck (just for an example) as a regressive practice under Hindu personal law and have the supreme court ban it. Will it end there? There will be more and more invasion into the personal laws of people based on the whims and fancies of whoever rules us or based on lobbyists influence with the powers that be.

I remember reading somewhere that Sardar Vallabhai Patel warned Nehru against meddling with Hindu personal laws as opening up a can of worms and it’s taken us all these years to find out that the Sardar was bang-on right and Nehru was wrong, as usual. That single instance of unwanted meddling with hindu personal practices was the catalyst which fanned the flames of hindutva renaissance all through these years and has atlast brought the current party to power capitalizing on the hindu community’s feeling of being selectively targeted by politicians which might or might not be true  but you cant play with people’s emotions with intellectual arguments based on the view from the lofty heights of Lutyen’s Delhi or western mores.

If only Nehru had listened to the Sardar’s words and just declared all personal laws as invalid from (or sacrosanct as the case may be) instead of selectively targeting Hindu personal laws for reform we would not have seen such communal polarizations and religious riots today in our country. The root cause of all this evil lies solely there in the mists of forgotten history when our first prime minister tried to reform Hindus from without instead of waiting for them to reform from within. This left, in my opinion, a feeling of being sinned against in the Hindus who instead of blaming the politicians (the Congress collection of St.Stephens crowd) who had tried to pit one community against another for their own narrow political needs instead took to venting their ire on fellow sufferers like Muslims and Christians under the erroneous belief that they enjoyed more religious freedoms that the Hindu’s were denied using the law as a tool to bludgeon the Hindu community.

And the politicians succeed in driving a wedge between hitherto peaceful communities for political gains and the same successful formula has been used ever since by every mainstream political party to reap electoral rewards while us citizens of India despite our religions and differences end up being made fools of. Fools enough to not protest against executive or judicial over reach even into the sanctity of our personal relationships leave alone personal laws. And future generations will probably say the same thing about us that we accuse them of- that we were mute spectators and applauded inwardly (envy/hate – are two sides of the same coin), the judicial invasion of another communities personal laws. Now nothing is personal anymore in our new India. And we are all in danger of being legislated or judged out of our beliefs and ways of existence which has stood the sanctity of time.

Friday, August 25, 2017

The Anti-Bro

The Anti-Bro



The very famous Tamil actor and equally famous Tamil politician Captain Visaiyakanth is credited with speaking one of Tamil filmdom’s most iconic dialogues ever (in a movie called ramanna) which goes something like this “the only word I don’t like in tamil is sorry”. Sorry, what? Anyways Copy/Paste to 2017 and I would have to borrow from him and say (hand on my heart) that MY most hated phrase in English (in recent times) is “bro”. (disclaimer: my hated words keep changing with time- previously they used to be exams/marks/ its morning get up your ass, don’t you have to go to work/ but I don’t think of you that way, ours is a platonic friendship....etc…etc).

I don’t know why but every other pseudo hearty guy I meet nowadays greets me with a very hearty and instantaneous “bro” in a loud pitched voice. And truth to say, that grates on my system, makes me nervous and look back over my shoulder to see if anyone’s creeping up behind me to mug me while I am distracted by the false heartiness of my suddenly found “bro”. Bad enough that the girls used to call me bro/brother/bhai/bhayya as soon as they espy me anywhere within 500meters of them (early warning sign, I guess) but in my worst case scenario now even guys are calling me “bro”. Bro this, Bro that, bro everything.

Just last year it was Dude (pronounced dood) in a very fake American drawl which stank to Yankee Doodle Dandy. And the year before that, it was “mate” like every other guy halloo’ing at me was a stinking Australian crocodile Dundee. I get it, I get it, I get that sometimes guys have to use informal but respectful forms of address to each other but what’s wrong with good old “meester”? Or “sir?” or even “your worshipful excellency?” if it isn’t quite a mouthful to pronounce.

Digging back in time paleontologically, I can try and trace all this “bro’ing” to a very execrable television sitcom called “how I met your mother (who was passed between me and my best friend like a piece o’candy)”. The characters in that sitcom (who I might add in real life are gay, not that I am homo-phobic or anything for I even had a rainbow coloured facebook dp once for a few hours before I learnt what it really meant and changed back pronto) called each other “bro’s” and that’s where the famous “bro’s before hoe’s” phrase first came up I guess, the line which encapsulated the modern millennial man’s motto perfectly- “ first screw up your bro/friends life before you go home to screw your girlfriend's”.

In our native culture we have certain perfectly acceptable form of greetings called “machi”, “machan”, “dei porambokku” “ngotha deiii veena ponavaney” etc. and having such a diverse form of addresses to suit every occasion (and person we meet) I fail to understand what prompts the youth of today (mee too youthu only bba, ok?) to call each other’s as “yo nigga” “damn homie” or “bro”. That stuff doesn’t express the varied emotions like a heartfelt “deii paradesi naaaye” when meeting a friend after an absence (or even daily).


So to make a long story short (as I am running out of words), let me repeat my original premise – I am no one’s bro (least of all, of random girls I run into suddenly, caveat added- only good looking one’s mind you, for the ugly ones can bro me to their hearts content). Anyway, I digress from the topic. To come back to it, call me anything, but just don’t call me “bro”. Howazzat Buddy?