Sunday, 27 December 2015

Santa Claus: The Salesman with Claws

Having emerged from the Christmas season, which is not yet over, a not-so changed man, I wonder how many actually did bring about a change in their lives in this year.

Well Christmas is indeed a time of cheer and goodwill among men but it is also the international standard for sales targets, advertising budget overruns, depleting savings and burning through piles of hard earned cash – all in the name of the Lord.

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Well, that’s at least what I’ve heard some of the clergy say this year what with the birthday boy, Jesus himself, disappearing out of the whole Christmas picture with every passing year. To put it into perspective, there seems to be a feeling that Jesus didn’t get invited to his own birthday party because somebody brought the cake, another brought the drinks, a third brought the food and the fourth brought the dessert and there was nobody left to inform the guy for whom they actually threw the party.

Sounds weird?

Some seem to be concerned that the commercialization of festivals has led Santa Claus to become an even bigger idol that Jesus today. And that should worry the leaders off the church if it doesn’t already. One has to admit, it is great for the propagation of religion but the essence as such keeps losing significance.

To kids today, Christmas seems to mean nothing other than the fact that their parents getting them gifts, for teenagers it’s all about the parties, for young adults it’s a day off of work and the others, some time to spend with the family.

This obviously doesn’t hold true for everyone but observation has led me to believe that the importance of Christmas has dwindled down to just the poster boy of a soft drinks company and means nothing more than just another holiday.

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It is just like what happens to other festivals celebrated here in India that I’ve written about in this post on Durga puja. But well, something needs to be done to drive sales and what better way than appealing  to peoples sentiments that inadvertently force them to show their love towards their family by having them make money for companies.

In the memorable words of Lord Cutler Bekett from Pirates of the Caribbean:

It’s just good business…

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A very Merry Christmas to you and a Happy New Year!

Note: This post is not meant to be disrespectful to any religion, people or God/s. It is just my personal opinion on what I've observed in my vicinity. Any connection to people (living or dead) or Companies (and franchises) or Gods (and Goddesses) is merely coincidental and is not deliberately meant.

Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Can Meritocracy survive in the face of Corporate Seniority?

There is usually a lot of chatter at different workplaces about quality of work, standards of employees, dishing out of credit and progress of the deserving and the unworthy alike.

Now, it may occasionally happen that a young employee with formidable talent and skill and may come along, one whose talent may overshadow even those with many years of experience under their belts. These suave and confident beings may or may not realize their potential but in a highly competitive workplace, contemporaries, if not superiors, are sure to take notice sooner rather than later.

With enough time spent and hard work put in, these young ones may tend to catch the eye of the boss if they’re looking enough attention. Well, that is a prerequisite for bosses nowadays when even CEO's are out hunting for jobs. The constant need to improve on the workplace and generate better profits for the company keeps even the laziest of bosses on the lookout for those who have the ability to grasp things and climb the proverbial ladder.

This is where the problem occurs.

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Should the boss promote the underling and bypass the senior?


Or should the boss risk wasting potential to preserve peace in the workplace?

Not all bosses have the kind of rapport with employees so as to understand the dynamics and offices politics playing out under their own noses. In their rise, they leave behind common ploys and play the same game at a higher level.

But only those working together actually realize how team dynamics work under the complex hierarchy that modern industry is based on. They know who works well with whom, who works better than whom, who cannot work with whom and who cannot be trusted to work at all. And they often know all this more than the bosses themselves who have glass cabins shielding them from the best and worst their employees have to offer.

So, does meritocracy really survive if the hierarchy is put in danger?

Does the workplace dynamic take a hit in light of a jump in promotion?

Does merit even stand a chance in the face of superiors taking credit for everything?

Or is the cumbersome method of seniority the only way to ensure smooth functioning?

Food for thought, dear leaders…

Saturday, 15 August 2015

With Great Power comes Great Responsibility: India & the UNSC

It’s been 69 years since India became an Independent nation. The leaders that formed the government then thought that the time was right for India to govern itself. The government today believes that India is ready to be part of a committee that aims to keep the world secure, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC). To this end, they have been looking for support from every quarter with the constant spate of foreign visits Prime Minister Narendra Modi has already made to several nations since his government came to power in 2014.

They feel the time is right for India to take its rightful place, seeing as it considers itself a leader in Asia. It is looked upon by various South Asian nations as a big brother, an insurance policy of some kind, against the threat that an aggressive China poses in the region.

For & Against India’s seat

But India has apparently failed in impressing contemporary world leaders who have opposed India’s most recent bid to restructure the UNSC like its reluctant friend US President Barrack Obama and its long-time ally Russian President Vladimir Putin. The third nation, China, in spite making tall claims of friendship during President Xi Jinping’s diplomatic visit, is still a regional rival along with another claimant to a permanent seat, Japan. However, the other two permanent members, France, under President Francois Hollande and the United Kingdom, under Prime Minister David Cameron, support India’s bid.

Other Contenders

Along with India, the other G-4 nations, comprising of Germany, Japan, and Brazil have all longed for a permanent seat in the UNSC. Germany, because of its GDP, which is the fourth largest in the world, Japan, because of its regional (albeit muted) power status in Asia, and Brazil, by virtue of being the only regional power in South America.


Although India is slated to be the most populous country in the world by 2022, although its economy is great as an emerging market, although it has a stable democratic structure and although it is a responsible nuclear state, India hasn’t exactly been doing what one would expect members of a ‘security council’ to do.

  • India hasn’t sent help to the coalition fighting terrorist groups outside its borders
  • India is not involved in helping bring back a democratic government in Yemen
  • India didn’t until very recently stand up for or attempt to mediate the conflict brewing in the South China Sea.
  • India hasn’t spoken up on human rights issues in the Israel-Palestine conflict.
  • India stood passively by in the Iran nuclear deal.
  • India hasn’t done anything for the Rohingya refugees from Myanmar.

When you take a look at all these conflicts that India has deliberately avoided, stayed out of, skirted or just verbally condemned, it is hard to imagine that this country is a regional power which will do anything at all, even if it does get a permanent seat at the UNSC.

Favourable Statistic

However, there is one thing that certainly goes in India’s favour and that is the number of personnel it has sent to the United Nations Peacekeeping Force. India has sent 8,112 people and is third in terms of this contribution, Bangladesh and Pakistan holding the first and second positions respectively. The permanent members come nowhere close to matching these numbers.

Unfortunate Reality

However, merely these numbers cannot hide the fact that India has in fact chosen neutrality and made the decision to stay aloof from world conflicts even in this age of co-operation. Although India now contests that it just needs a two-third majority in the UN General Assembly to get a seat, the problem is that India might fall short on its claim to be able to handle that much power without taking on responsibility.

Monday, 10 August 2015

Owning up to the Real Issues at Hand

We see and are a part of a number of things that are wrong in society in daily life. We want to make them better, we want to be better as a civilization and we strive towards that very common goal with the rest of humanity.

But we sometimes lose sight of the bigger picture either by quickly finding someone to blame or getting caught up in unnecessary nuances that hide the real issue, which is then left to stagnate and dealt with at a later date.

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These are the issues that really need to be dealt with, the crux of the matter, the questions we should really be asking. Divided by categories, here are the real issues and their tangents we have been obsessing over.


Radhe Maa in a skirt or Radhe Maa abetting suicide

The self-styled ‘Godwoman’ known as Radha Maacame into the news recently for her apparently racy photos in which she is wearing a short skirt or a dress. Although the real issue of her involvement in the death of a woman in a dowry case came to light, everyone was obsessed more about her short skirt than her abetment of suicide. That says more than one thing about the Indian mindset.


Japan’s new defence bill or Chinese aggression in South Asia

Everyone, from pacifists, to students, to academicians, to the common people are opposing a bill cleared by the lower house of Japanese parliament that will allow their military to help their allies fight threats. This means, Japanese forces will once again be able to deploy beyond their shores. What is not being taken into consideration however, is the Chinese aggression in the South China Sea that is taking a turn for the worse and Japanese self-defence may be reliant on reciprocation of the same to its allies.

Social Issue

Politics or Human Rights in the Israel-Palestine conflict

Political deadlock between Israel and Palestine seems to have become a permanent feature for that part of the world. With uncompromising parties on both sides giving no room for a peaceful reconciliation, the conflict seems in no hurry to end. However, human rights abuses, both by militant groups as well as police forces seem to be sidelined in favour of sovereign territorial disputes, settlements and violence on the streets.

Culture & Heritage

Protecting Monuments or Stopping Conflict

Cultural heritage all over the world is in constant danger of being enveloped into the conflicts that result in their unnecessary destruction or the threat thereof. The destruction f the Bamiyan Buddhas (Afghanistan), the looting of Iraqi national museum (Iraq), the allegations of the Taj Mahal being a temple (India) and the threat to Palmyra’s ruins (Syria) is very real and disheartening. Religious intolerance and conflict will continue to exist till there is a shift in mindset or in vested interests, but heritage will not come back once it is destroyed.


The Porn Ban or the need for Sex Education

Amidst the uproar on whether the Indian government has any right to tell its citizens what to watch on the internet due to them banning over 800 porn sites, the real point of sex education and its despondent state in Indian education has been lost. The government has cited immorality as its feeble excuse to try to get away with its regressive policy but all everyone can be bothered with is the right to watch porn. What about the real bad effects it has on children? The answer is lost in the echoes of morality, decency and the freedom of the internet.


Fanaticism or Blame Game

Religious fanaticism exists in almost every religion and even examples seem unnecessary in this case. How much ever one tries to deny it, everyone knows that fringe elements exist in every religion, the people who are either too naïve to figure out that they are pawns in a bigger game and those who do so for their own vested interests. But popular concentration seems to be on placing the blame not on these elements alone but on a broader spectrum of people, most of whom abhor these elements and wish to see them wiped out as much as any sensible human being.

Time for a reality Check, maybe?

Hence, to say then that we aren’t actually facing up to the real threat wouldn’t be much of an overstatement. Time to see things in a broader perspective, don’t you think?

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Porn Ban: An Alternate Solution

The recent impromptu porn ban initiated by the Union government of India who has advised ISPs to block more than 180 websites displaying explicit content has resulted in a subtle yet massive backlash by the Indian populace, the majority of which comprises of people under the age of 35.

Facebook, Twitter and the Blogosphere is awash with sarcasm, incredulity and outrage against the feeble excuse of those in power attempting to steer the nation away from things ‘immoral in nature’ and not befitting their standards of culture. Others in this list include homosexuality, beef and even language used in cinema. But there is also support from those who believe pornography to be the reason why rapes, sexual harassment and molestation plague this nation.

What is the truth?

Damned if anyone knows!

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The Case FOR Porn

While some call it a good measure, others believe that this ban will eventually lead to more frustration among people and will result in even more incidences that the government apparently wants to see a reduction in. Just like those who believe that legalizing prostitution will help bring down illegal trade, human trafficking and recognition for those who actually want to be in that profession, they also believe that porn at least lessens the chance of sexual frustration than what it could be in its absence.

The Case AGAINST Porn

There are adverse effects of porn too like heightened expectations from the real act of sex, the desire to try unrealistic things, act out dangerous scenes that border on line between the legal and illegal, and children getting sexual education from there in lieu of schools and colleges.

Is there Another Way?

Are these reasons enough to ban porn entirely or can other measures be taken to counter their side effects without trampling all over the freedom of the internet as is done in regressive nations like China and North Korea?

The Possible Solution

One possible remedy that comes to mind is to introduce actual sex education in Indian schools to tutor teenagers and adults alike in the ways of sex ,safe and unsafe, legal and illegal, realistic and unrealistic, what to expect and what not to, and how to prevent sexually transmitted diseases.

Sex Education can go a long way in preventing the misuse of porn and instead can better the knowledge of what sex is, what it does and how to safely engage in it. Do you have a better way?

Saturday, 1 August 2015

Don’t Spit in your Boss’ Coffee Maybe?

Internships are prerequisites for jobs in India today. Whether you attribute this trend to increase in competitiveness or blame it on overpopulation, internships have entrenched themselves as precursors to jobs in every field today.

Medicine, law, journalism, IT and in fact every private sector job opening requires the completion of one or more internships before the offer of a job comes your way.

I know this because I interned at two national newspapers, two magazines, a regional television news channel, a web news channel and a Public Relations agency before landing my first job. That’s seven internships in five years of my under-graduate and post-graduate studies.

Of the seven internships listed above, I had a disappointing experience at only one. And this too was only because my potential wasn’t fully realized due to mismanagement and faulty delegation of authority. This account may sound one sided but it is diluted by the fact that I received recommendations by every other place I went to. You see, that’s why I actually have a job as a journalist today.

Bad experiences are part of internships but one has to learn not to overreact to them in the spectacular way that this person has, whose note to his/her boss speaks of unmitigated hatred and revenge for unrealized potential.

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Read about why you shouldn’t overreact to your Boss and just suck it up or quit the internship instead of making a mistake that jeopardizes your career in the field. The entire opinion piece is here on the Youth Connect magazine: [He reacted to his bad internship in the worst way possible. Here is why it is better to suck it up]

Monday, 27 July 2015

Change that Channel: Putting on Blinders or Protecting your Children?

Growing up in a household where Doordarshan was the only channel on television in classes X, XI and XII, I know how hard it is to be relegated to a monotonous voice saying something while you attempt to “make” something out of your life, “work hard now to reap fruits later” and “study hard, college is all about fun”.

Parents regularly attempt to contain their children’s consumption of television content by locking channels, unsubscribing to them, denying permission and deriding their choices if they watch channels they think are unsuitable or “not good” for them.

Putting on Blinders

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Now, is it not possible that the parents, by restricting access to content, are limiting their children’s exposure to the wider range of experiences available to the next generation? Are they not putting on blinders on their children? Are they not letting them see a partial worldview by limiting the content that they watch?

Apart from the news, there are many such topics which have a variety of opinions and each need to be viewed and heard to have a complete understanding of the same. By restricting half of the content, a partial message is conveyed and ideas that are developed then tend to move only in one direction. There is a certain lack of objectivity, and in some cases, radically and disastrously so.

Protection from Bad Influence

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It is not always that parents restrict content to their children based n their own prejudices. It may also be so that they may actively attempt to curate television content in a way that only the best things come across. But this is also based own personal experiences and prejudice. Subjectivity would probably hamper the development process; however, that does not in any way lessen the importance of good intentions.

However, it must be noted that content on television is monitored and not a lot of content is actually there to subvert young minds. But, a check definitely needs to be kept. How? Now that is the real problem. Also, who can decide what is good and bad? Isn’t that too subject to personal prejudices?

The Million Dollar Question

How does one objectively curate content for children in such a way that it protects them from supposed bad influences while giving them an impartial worldview of all that television has to offer?

Do you have an answer or perhaps an opinion or observation you’d like to share? Well, let’s hear it.

Friday, 24 July 2015

Dad, I’m in a Live-in Relationship

That perhaps is one of the hardest letters to write to a conservative Indian parent.

Fears of loss, hatred, marginalization and pain accompany the decision to call a parent one knows is not going to accept their choice. Tremendous courage and hope for understanding and failing that, reconciliation is the only thing that can help mitigate the fear of telling this parent that one is staying with one’s partner outside of marriage.

Here is one such letter from a hopeful son to his father.


You must be surprised that I wrote you a letter but believe me, in this case, it was the only way I could sufficiently put down everything I want to tell you. The telephone, the tone of voice, the emotion; it all is too much of a distraction.

I’m in love with a magnificent woman named Anna and we’re in a live-in relationship. We have been so for a month now.

This must come as a shock to you as I haven’t said anything about her or us till now. But there is a reason for that. I don’t know if you’re angry or sad or disappointed in me but I must still shamefully ask you to trust in me.

I know that you and mom brought me up believing in the sacred bond of marriage and you must feel that you could have done something more, especially after this letter. Please don’t, it isn’t your fault, it is just my choice.

I love her and she loves me and we have done so for over three years now but mom only knows her as one of my friends. She turned out to be something much more and I see her as my partner for the rest of my life. Perhaps we shall also marry one day but that day isn’t today or tomorrow or at least in the next five years.That day might also never come.

It isn’t the fault of education or this big city or bad influence that has led me here, it is the realization of what is good for Anna and me and how we want to live our lives, at least for the moment, without societal shackles till we are absolutely sure than we can bear each other for a lifetime.

I ask not for forgiveness or acceptance, I ask only for your understanding of the choice that I have made and am about to in the future. I need you to have my back, Dad.
Your loving son,


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Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Shashi’s Seven minute Succinct Speech on Saying Sorry

Quite the tongue twister that one, eh? Yeah, that’s what happens when you try to work a little too hard on your title. You end up making a tongue twister that hardly anyone can read, much else dare to click on the link and read the supposedly equally horrifying content contained under such a dubious head line. However, coming to the topic at hand...

The Statesman who almost did things

Dr Shashi Tharoor
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Dr Shashi Tharoor, the man who almost headed the United Nations, the man who knows almost everything about socio-economic India in the present age; this man almost brought the British Empire down to its knees at the ‘Reparations debate’ at the Oxford Union Society. The proposition was that Britain owed reparations to her former colonies for their colonization.

The Case for an Apology

The British Empire Anachronous
Image Courtesy: The Red Hat of Pat Ferrick

Dr Tharoor spoke eloquently for the proposition, made mockery of the opposition, cited statistics, and even managed to calculate to a certain extent, how much Britain needs to pay India if she decides to do so. But, in the midst of all the financial talk, he said something that made perhaps more sense than everything else put together: The need to accept a mistake and say sorry. To pay or not to pay is a matter of ambiguous uncertainty but to say that a debt is indeed owed is what is important.

Indirect genocides through the inaction of the British Empire through various famines and the active participation in human rights abuse is something that needs to be accepted. Although it is true that a deliberate mass killing was not initiated but the death toll and one psychological, need to be addressed.

The Unanswered Question

However, one question does remain unanswered.

Sixty-eight years on, do Indians even care about reparations, and for that matter, do any of the former colonies who have since then stabilized, settled into their democratic framework and progressed with the world into the 21st century?

This question is not meant as an insult to all those who fought for our freedom or who lost their near and dear ones either fighting for or against British rule in India. Only time and the unearthing of bones long put to rest will tell whether we are indeed capable of holding on to an almost seven decade long grudge against people long dead and dusted.

Saturday, 18 July 2015

If Minions were real, Humans would kill them all

Since the first Despicable Me movie released in 2010, toddler and teenage audiences have been obsessed by the little yellow innocently evil army of villainous sidekicks aptly named ‘Minions’. 

Although the minions were conjectured to have been engineered from humans by Gru, their master, the latest ‘Minions’ movie, released in 2015, apparently says that they were present as an individual sentient species on Earth since the dawn of man.

The Minions, considered cute, cuddly, oblivious to their havoc and seemingly unaware of their stupidity and utter devotion to pure evil, have won over audiences all over the world. This is probably what led the producers to make a film entirely dedicated to them as central characters and set the timeline as the prequel to ‘Despicable Me’ and ‘Despicable Me2’ where they serve as underlings to a super villain Gru in the former, and his reformed self in the latter.

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But the fan following for these adorable creatures can materialize only in cinema, as present societal beliefs and practices prove so blatantly. This conclusion can be drawn from just one pertinent question that needs to be asked.

“Would humans find the minions so adorable in real life?”

The answer must be a resounding ‘NO’.

If we strip them down to their basic qualities, the minions are a highly intelligent life form, very durable, capable of building and operating complex weaponry, socially inept, linguistically hampered, ardently loyal and in perpetual need of a leader (preferably evil).

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If one were to go through these qualities again, the realization that this army of mad mercenary scientists want to willingly pledge loyalty to an ambitious psychopath hits pretty hard. Well, at least to people who know how civilization works.

Would governments in the world today accept this species to live and flourish alongside the human race?

Would they take the chance of the minions falling under the command of rogue forces, terrorists and dictatorial nations?

Would they not be swiftly and brutally exterminated because of the fact that they potentially cannot be rehabilitated (as evidenced by millennia of lack of evolution)?

Even if they did eventually learn to lead normal lives along side humans (which is not possible given the assumption that the Neanderthal was wiped out by Homo sapiens) would we accept them as equal to humans or would they be degraded to second-class beings?

So, is there a scenario in which the Minions manage to survive and make a place in the hearts of humans as they have in the films? I find it highly unlikely.

What do you think?

Thursday, 16 July 2015

Lèse-majesté laws: Shield of Solemnity or Sword of Silence?

The term lèse-majesté implies injury or harm to the majesty of eminent persons, most often used to describe insults to monarchs and visiting heads of State and Government in many countries of the world. In some countries, it may also be treated as treason.

Since the decline of absolute monarchy in all but a handful of nations, there aren’t any strict laws against lèse-majesté but laws preventing the populace from speaking against democratic governments have instead sprung up, which basically amounts to the same thing.

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Recent incidents of people being charged with lèse-majesté in Europe show that it isn’t taken very seriously and may be categorized with similar laws like defamation or libel. Over years, these laws have been watered down by the rise of democracy and the lack of power wielded by the monarch. A Polish man was fined US $ 6,200 in 2005 for insulting Pope John Paul II, a visiting head of state. In 2007, a man was jailed for a week in the Netherlands for insulting Queen Beatrix. A magazine in Spain was fined for portraying the then Prince of Asturias and his wife engaged in sexual intercourse in 2007.

However, in nations like Thailand, where the monarchy is looked upon in reverence and is almost deified, lèse-majesté laws are brutal and have a maximum of 15 years imprisonment for trying to besmirch the image of the ruler, the head, the face and the symbol of unity of the nation. Also, lèse-majesté doesn’t need to be proved in Thailand, it need only be deemed to exist. The government has taken an increasingly hard line against those who criticize the monarchy, even though the king himself asked the public to do so because even he was prone to making mistakes. From 1990-2006, the country saw approximately 75 cases while it saw over 400 from 2006-2011.

The arguments for lèse-majesté laws can be made on both sides. On one side, they protect the sovereign, who may be the symbolic or actual personification of a nation, from being treated like a common person. On the other hand, it withholds from the public the fundamental right of the freedom of expression. Now that the world is over the whole idea of the ‘divine right’ to rule’, should the monarch still be kept protected or should the people get the right to express discontent and criticize those in power?

How do then governments strike the right balance between preserving the dignity of monarchy and preserve the right to expression? The answer is not  simple one but one perhaps that can be answered by ruling families themselves who can be open to civilized and constructive criticism, and learn to take sarcasm in the right spirit. Looking inward to introspect and improve relations with those devoid of “blue blood” may perhaps yield better results than laws dealing with lèse-majesté.

Whether you are a reader from a monarchical nation or not, I’d like to know your thoughts on the matter.

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Is the Illiterate better than the Educated?

The Narrative

So there was this friend of mine who had to go pay her electricity bill and then get to work. To her dismay, she found a long line of people waiting in line to pay their bills. That day she learnt not to wait for the last day to pay a bill. As you will see, a lesson well learnt.

So as she resigned herself to being late to work and getting half a day’s pay getting cut by getting in line, she knew that the boss was wasn’t going to happy. But this was more important. If she didn’t pay the bill today, a lot of other people wouldn’t be happy what with the earth-scorching heat in India rendering even industrial strength fans useless.

So there she stood, drops of sweat dripping down her forehead one by one like the ticking of the seconds hand on her watch. One bill got paid, two, three, four… and then something happened.

A man and someone who appeared to be his valet came into the office. They discussed something and the valet stepped into the back of the queue as his employer went striding directly into the office, not giving a damn to the incredulous looks of all those awaiting their turn.

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All this took place in slow motion for her. You see, time tends to slow down the longer you stand in a queue. Every minute becomes longer then the next and one gets the time to ponder upon every thought running in one’s mind till they simply run out eventually.

It was only after she had exhausted every other thought that her mind, craving activity, demanded that she divert herself studying those destined to sweat it out along with her to avoid doing so at home later.

It was then that the man and his valet had appeared from the sunlit doorway and proceeded to do the things they had.

Fast forwarding to five minutes later, when the man came out of the office, summoned his valet to get out of line and bring his car around. Their work there was done, the bill paid, the tea probably drunk and all without breaking a single drop of sweat.

Aghast was the word that she used to describe the expressions of her co –queue mates. Piercing stares followed the couple out the doors, looks probably reserved for the most hateful of criminals and dictators.

And the moment they left, chaos erupted throughout the office. And by chaos, I mean a wild, shouting, discourteous discourse between all those standing in the line. Maybe it wasn’t so dramatic but I’ve been assured it wasn’t murmured whispering of dissent either. Everyone was up in arms about the way that man’s bill had been paid for he had definitely come to pay the bill and he had done it by cutting the queue.

The Mindset

Cutting a queue is considered an act that is viler than even murder in India.

With such a population, queues always seem to be longer than the importance of work to be accomplished at the end of them. And although corruption is an accepted part of life now (debatable), it still invokes the kind of powerless hatred that comes with not being able to stop people who engage in it.

The Takeaway

At the end of this incident, an old woman made a very compelling statement that struck right at the heart of “educated” society. She said, and I paraphrase, “The way these literate people behave, it’s better to be illiterate.

Such a poignant statement from one so experienced is not to be taken lightly and although the lady may be making a gross generalization enveloping all kinds of people under one umbrella of honesty and corruption, the thought dos have merit, at least in this case.

The Million Dollar Question

Assuming that you who read this are literate, allow me to pose a question:

Is the educated Indian really working towards abolishing corruption or engaging even more in its depravity?

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Two boys: One Gay, the other a Terrorist

The boy who gained sympathy from the likes of Hillary Clinton and Ellen Degeneres for being worried about his future in a homophobic world is perhaps no different from the child who is brainwashed by terrorists and ordered to execute a Syrian soldier in cold blood.

Both these boys are rightfully afraid for their present and future because they live in a world where both of them are considered non-conformist, alien and diseases.

  • One is scared of being shunned, the other of being shot.
  • One is scared of being marginalized, the other of maximum security prison.
  • One is scared of his father on Earth, the other of his father in Heaven.
  • One lives in the closet, the other in the wilderness.
  • One knows his choice will not change, the other does not have one.

It is easy for children to feel different from others, what is difficult is bringing them back. The world is becoming a harsh place for the very children who are to inherit this planet. The United Nations report on child rights, their conditions, nutrition and death is appalling.

And in the case of these two kids, the world is a much nastier place because malnutrition, diseases, poverty… these are accepted problems by the world community and everyone is, at least in concept, willing to work on these causes. But homophobia and hatred/fear towards child soldiers are not things governments are willing to talk about.

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A large section of the world criminalizes homosexuality and treats it more like a disease than a way of life. The basic human right of love and the freedom of expression are suppressed either by avoidance of discussion or by severe repercussions.

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Child soldiers remain in the hands of their terrorist handlers long enough either to get killed by government forces or to grow up believing staunchly in the cause they kill and mutilate for. Then, there is no way back for them.

Engaging in meaningful dialogue through spread of awareness and strong action by governments are not enough. They are a step forward, sure, but not enough by any standard of measure. What the world needs is a change in mindset for people to accept diversity as part of human nature. The children need reassurance that the adult world is there to look out for them and no matter the cost, the future of the race will remain secure.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

10 ways living in a boys PG is more horrifying than you think

Some of you already know that living out of your house is not great and all is not hunky-dory but only when you go to live in a boy’s PG do you actually get to experience hell-on-earth. It is a truly enlightening experience.

1. There’s a distinct lack of privacy

 Privacy? Ha-ha, what is that? This is the state I have had to live in for the past five years. Over time I’ve sort of become an expert on the subject with people peering into my computer screen, looking at my texts, opening my cupboard and generally being more of a nuisance then they tend to be everywhere else. It is more like a community shelter. I’ve often wondered why I pay to live at these places and then I realize that my job pays me so much that I can’t afford my own place without mortgaging myself and nobody will even accept as collateral.

2. Even your bottles get stolen

You have to get used to the fact that you no longer buy things for yourself but for everyone who ventures into your room to use your deodorant, eat your snacks, drink your juice, sleep on your bed and even drink the water that you kept in the fridge five hours ago so that it could get cold. In the end, you still get to drink hot water in 45 degrees Celsius. Your things get used and then they don’t even get replaced because you obviously brought it for everyone to use. You stop expecting people to fill your bottle and keep it after they drink from it because no matter how much you scream at them, indiscipline is the only principle that is followed with religious zeal everywhere.

3. There’s no space to even walk around breathe!

The paying guest business is booming and if I had enough money, I’d buy a place and rent it out too but since I don’t I’m waiting for someone to gift me some property. In the meantime, PGs are so cluttered that you are overwhelmed with the sheer number of people in your vicinity. I had a sense of personal space about five years ago. It got violated the first time I stepped into a PG and I’ve never managed to reclaim it ever since. You gradually realize that the only place you have a modicum of actual unadulterated air to breathe is on your own bed. The moment you get up, it’s like a Mumbai local but with considerably less chances of getting thrown out and dying.

4. Food habits change with every new place

Like South Indian food? Like Punjabi? Like Indian-Chinese? Like Gujarati fafda-jalebi? Sorry, who cares what you like. Most PGs hire people who can cook a maximum of two types of food. Sometimes, it’s just one type. So if you manage to find a place that serves different food on different days, you’re in luck but if you’re getting too cocky, don’t. You never know when the cook might get changed for stealing, making everyone sick or because of a payment issue. You might want to search out a safe alternative place that will deliver food to wherever you stay. It makes life much easier. But you always have the option of staying alive on tea, biscuits, wafers and good old Maggi. Damn! Is that an endorsement? Will I go to jail?

5. Contracting a communicable disease is relatively easy

Did you read the third point where I said that… just go and read it. On the other hand, if you did, you now know how it would be as easy as one sneeze, one cough, one handshake, one snot-barrage to spread any air-borne or touch-based communicable disease. PGs are what you can describe as the perfect environment for malign viruses and bacterium to flourish. It can take anywhere between three days and a week for the common cold to infect everyone. Now you know why I had myself checked for swine flu every time I coughed or sneezed. If you didn’t already know how dangerous this disease is, go check the stats, this article can wait. And now imagine that you are living in a place looks clean but harbours more diseases than the WHO lab in World War Z.

[This is my article for the Youth Connect magazine. You can read the entire article here: 10 Ways living in a Boy's PG is more horrifying than you think]

Sunday, 28 June 2015

The Burden of Great Expectations

To be or not to be - that is the question I asked myself when faced with the prospect of studying law a few years back.

It was a tough question, one I could not take lightly. To study for another five years, to study something else or to start working immediately after my graduation, these were the A-B-C options I had. I took the second option. I decided to study journalism.

My choice was a disappointment for many and a surprising move for others. But I had made it nonetheless.

Now, after two years, at the cusp of my post graduation degree and after the submission of my thesis on ‘Conflict Reportage in Indian English Newspapers’ I am finally sure that I indeed made the right choice.

However, now that I’ll be going out into the real world, I realize that the expectations of all those people who supported me as well as those who were skeptical of my choice are entirely too much. Over time, people have come to expect great things from those who complete their ‘Masters’ degree and the case is the same here.

I’m expected to get selected into a large firm, get a respectable position and draw a salary that an HR would choke on before doling it out to a fresher. Great expectations!

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Confidence in a person’s ability is great, but turning this person into Atlas by tossing him a world of expectations and saying, “Catch!” well that’s not cool. Time and experience is what takes someone to great heights and erecting an unreal pedestal before that helps nobody.

Hence, all you impertinent parents and teachers and friends and relatives, calm down.

It will happen… in Time.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Haiku #11 – An Illogical Choice

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In this modern age,
Where science explains life itself;
Religion still rules.

Note: This Haiku is written in the Indian context where political leaders and pseudo-experts claim that cures to dreaded diseases are contained within religious texts without any proof.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

The Visitation of a Lifetime

This was weird!

By any standard of archaic Indian culture and tradition, this was not only weird; it was in direct violation of how things should be.

I had carefully combed and again tousled my hair which made it about the fifth time I had done so in the past 15 minutes. Around six shirts lay in a heap on my bed and three pairs of trousers were strewn in a menagerie of disarray, creating a cloth road from the bathroom door to the kitchen where I gone to check up on the stuffed turkey in the oven and chocolate cheesecake in the fridge.

It had to be perfect; every aspect of it.

They were coming to see me, asses me, see if I was fit to be married into their family. And for that, I would have to work hard, very hard. You see, inter-religious marriage still isn’t a very big thing where I come from.

I had invited them over to dinner and they had accepted. My parents would not make it today, their flight delayed by incessant rains, but these people hadn’t cancelled. They wanted to see me what for I was, without having to make small talk with my parents.

I just hoped my apartment, my cooking skills, my education and most importantly, that I was up to their expectations. I wouldn’t want to disappoint my love.

I had prepared a slightly burnt vegetable starter, tomato soup, a stuffed turkey and a hopefully delicious cheesecake for dessert. Ping! The turkey was done. The taste was delectable. They will love it, I assure myself.

As I start folding the rest of my discarded clothes and arrange my truckload of novels neatly on the living room shelf, the doorbell rings. I panic, hastening my chores and shouting, “one minute” in the general direction of the doorway.

“Don’t bother, it’s just me. Open up,” I hear the voice of the one who makes my heart flutter and skip a beat. “Coming,” I yell and open the door.

“I knew you wouldn’t be done, so I came to help out.”

“Thank you darling, you’re the best.”

As we joined forces to put the rest of my apartment into some semblance of a habitable environment, “What’s that weird smell?”

“What?” I ask.

“You don’t smell it? Really?”

And then it hit me. The acrid sting of rain-soaked clothes mingling with a hint of turkey and a waft of chocolate hit me just as I was about to retort with extreme prejudice. The metaphorical glass of illusion had shattered. And suddenly, I was panicking again.

“Damn, that’s strong.”

“Exactly!” came the even more stinging reply.

I ran to the bedroom to get my can of deodorant and proceeded to soak the house from balcony to verandah till I ran out of it. I sat down, a triumphant smile on my face. Done… and done.

And then there it was again, emerging from the thick barrier of deodorant, to assault me once more. Damn! Why wouldn’t it go away?

“Looks like your master plan’s a dud, huh?” sarcasm in the face of an emergency. Like that was going to help.

My partner ran down to the car and rushed back holding a can of Ambi Pur Air Effects Spring Air Freshener. “Try this maybe?”

I didn’t need to be told twice. And just as I finished gently dabbing the apartment with it, the doorbell rang. It was time. And I was ready; the apartment, smelling like the 1st of July, was too.

My love went to the door just as I finished straightening my clothes. Opening it wide, she said,
“Here is the man I want to marry!”

I am blogging for #SmellyToSmileyactivity at in association with Ambi Pur.

Thursday, 18 June 2015

Faith in the Obscure: A Musing

What is Faith? Is it being Religious? Is it being Spiritual? Is it being part of both? Or is accepting one of them is enough?

By Faith, I mean belief in God. Not this God or that God, not multiple Gods or a single entity, not male or female, not multitudes ranked by relative importance, but the supernatural ‘Thing’ (for lack of a better word) that some believe created everything, runs everything and destroys everything.

Faith is a tricky subject and writing about it even more so. However, I wish neither to hurt feelings and sentiments nor create a controversy. ‘Faith’ is merely the word written upon my parents’ house and I’m just in the mood to ponder upon its placement in life.

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Is Faith being a part of an organized or unorganized religion having rituals and practices? Is that a necessity? Or is it alright to not be part of religion and still have Faith. Yes, in order to have Faith, there must be a metaphorical or supposed entity to have Faith upon, but what if this entity has no shape or size or face or being? Can there be Faith without a point of reference?

Can Faith be largely a part of spirituality with attaching oneself to religion? Is it possible to put Faith in something that isn’t quite part of any religion but religious in an individual context? Can Faith exist in a void where there is a falling out between personal beliefs and the beliefs of religion? Can Faith exist without religion?

The possibility of keeping Faith in something that is somewhere and which is not hampered by the teachings of elders or the traditions of a people under a religious roof is something many people cannot comprehend. The ability to have Faith exists in all and the varying degrees to which they have it also depends on their personal experiences.

A disillusionment of religion as an institution can bring about the type of Faith I’m talking about. Although remnants of an imbibed religion may remain to guide the psyche to a new way of belief, it will no longer be the topmost priority in forming a Faith that almost nobody can reconcile to.

It is a difficult concept to grasp, especially for those encumbered with the weight of religious learning and years of practicing rituals and following traditions but this does not mean that an individual having Faith in a concept unknown to others is asking to be persecuted or is supposed to be worshipping evil or is straying from the path of God.

Faith cannot be ranked, for each one has his or her own and is different from the Faith that everyone else has.