Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Zero killed (One of the supposed origins for the term OK – meaning all good, no casualties )



My father was lying on the hospital bed. His forearm wore  a motley collection of needle pricks that were administered to draw blood samples. Two tubes were pumping fluids through his veins. The sedatives and painkillers were not enough to dull his pain. His face was contorted in a familiar scowl in his failed attempt to bear or hide the pain. But whenever any family members or I approached him and asked him “How are you feeling?”  Each time, without fail, he would flash a radiant smile, make eye contact and say “I’m OK” Seconds later the face would relapse into insufferable agony.

Not long ago, I once took a left turn from a side road onto a priority road. I was on phone, hands free, and my concentration was not what it should have been. I was hit from the side, 50 cms ahead of my seating position, thanks mainly due to the guy who tried to avoid the collision as much as possible. The car was a wreck. My son seated in the front passenger seat got a slight bump on his foot. All of us walked out of the car without a scratch. I was 50 cms and fraction of a second away from being hit head on by the full force of a Jeep two tonner traveling at 100 kmph. My friend, who was travelling with us on this trip, saw the accident through his rearview mirror and pulled over frantically, almost causing another accident, and ran over to find “If I was ok?” I had a smile on my face and told him “I am OK”

We were clambering down towards our camp on day 3 after a grueling day long trekking. The enervation of the day, coupled with the promised rest and leisure that the sight of the camp promised, made us a little careless and my friend in front of me stepped on a loose boulder and fell. His walking stick broke, the pant tore where he hit a sharp edge, there was an ugly looking cut on his calf, the glove was torn leaving his palm exposed with its lattice of abrasions. He did not stand up immediately and when I offered him a hand to stand up and asked him if he was ok, as we had the summit climb in the next 36 hours, he took my hand, hauled himself up with visible pain but flashed a 200 Watt smile and said “I’m OK”

We were biking on the countryside. The terrain was uneven. The fallen leaves hid the root of a tree completely and I was sent flying with the bike cartwheeling behind me. I landed on all four. As if a scraped skin, cuts and bruises and a laundry ready jersey were not enough, the bike surprisingly maintained its direction and landed on my back. The handle bar knocked my noggin and the seat jarred painfully on my back and the rotating pedal bars left ugly looking tear on my jersey. I was in shock and in pain. My friend, a more seasoned biker, who was ahead of me stopped and returned to help me, and also to assess if I was still mobile. I winced in pain as I stood up and told him “I’m OK”

In all the episodes outlined above, everyone knew it was NOT OK, but each time it was said. The person who said it and the person who heard it both knew that it was NOT OK, but still it was said. 

It was not a statement to describe the situation. 

It was a promise, a reaffirmation that we would strive to make it OK.

That we shall overcome!

And come out tops!

That is why I feel this is the shortest , most beautiful and extremely powerful word.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Thank you Rene and Albert

Everything I needed to learn in my life, I learned from reading the Asterix. Here is what the characters taught me in my life



Asterix : To be the steadfast hero. Size does not matter. Don’t get intimidated.

Obelix: That what friendship should be. Not to get overawed by an abundance of intelligence and power around you. Being simple has its own merit. There is always a simpler way (at times not exactly “proper”) to get things done. Probably father of the KISS philosophy. (Keep It Simple & Stupid)

Dogmatix : To have a simple dogma in life and hold on to it. Probably the world’s first green dog. Be an environmentalist.

Getafix : That there is always a simple concoction available to fix anything under the sun, be it a broken heart (even that of Obelix ) or a magic potion!

Vitalstatistix : That the chief should rely on data and not by perceptions (ok, ok, sky falling on his head can be bracketed as superstition )

The shield bearers : Unnamed. That one should go around doing his duty without shouting from the roof top.

Cacofonix : That you are always a gifted musician. Even if the world around you can’t appreciate it.  Sing when your heart commands. Maybe you are ahead of your time! You will always find your Pepe!!

Geriatrix : That age is just a number. If your heart is willing anything is possible…………

Fulliautomatix : That one should not ignore a good physical condition. The only character who looks fit in the whole village. Also as the name suggests, to be prepared for a future full of gadgets.

Tragicomix : That falling in love will lead to complications and at times can put your best friends to greater lengths of trouble to rescue you.


Instantmix : Probably the father of two-minute noodles concept. Taught me how to keep my kitchen always full during my bachelor days.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Filter Bubble

Beware the filter bubble !!!!

For the uninitiated --  filter bubble refers to search engines prompting and narrowing down your searches based on history and location.

Often seems convenient when you do the search online.
So long as you search for hotels, accommodations, places of touristic interests and night clubs there is no threat.
When you search for stories and views it gets murkier.

You get to read what the net wants you to read.

Or more precisely “what the net thinks that you want to read”.

You keep reading what you have been reading. You do not get to see the other side.

Sounds confusing.

If you have searched for Trump and read four or five articles that were Anti-Trump, chances are the next time you search Trump the top search returns revolve around the “anti-Trump” theme ONLY.

So you end up reading more and more of only one view.
It reinforces the initial opinion and does not allow you the choice of reading about the counterview to help you form your opinion.
It requires a highly sane and stable mind to search further and look at more data and opinions before forming one.

In this world today where we have created an illusion of paucity of time, it is easy to select the first story and conclude.

It is similar to a judge listening only to the prosecutor throughout the trial and passing judgment.
Scary, right?

It is happening to you and all of us and we need to take  care of it in time.
Filter bubble is a new term in this techno world.

But is the phenomenon new?

We have all been practicing it for centuries.

The usual suspects are religion, community and politics.

I recall this famous quote “People listen to reply; not to understand”

This is the after effect filter bubble that one should be careful about.

How many times in our lives have we listened to a counterview and actually changed our stand?

Compare it to how often we stood our ground and held on to our own views and convictions that were, in all probability, conceived on less information.

Let us look at all those crossroads, in retrospection, where we ended a conversation, a discussion by saying “I have nothing more to say” and use clever escape routes like “I agree to disagree”.

The religion and politics have demonstrated that repetition of one-sided view for too long have yielded the results desired. Where the majority calls the shots and the minority is questioned, threatened and often left to isolate themselves rather than get drawn into a controversy.

The saner minds have rebelled, periodically, and have lent a sense of balance to, still, a skewed system .

Greater damage has been done and will continue to occur in the realm of society and in relationships between individuals.

How predictable this cancer is:

We listen. We observe. We form an opinion. We tend to listen more selectively. Or filter out what we hear selectively. We ignore the other side as an aberration or as a mere act. If we see a relationship deteriorating we discuss it everywhere and with everyone except with the person concerned.

Probably with the underlying fear, which we will never acknowledge, that the assumptions made could be blown away to smithereens by a simple explanation.

We forego years of efforts and the results in the blink of an eye. We are never prepared to see our conclusions, arrived at through the filter bubble, be proven wrong. We would rather let the conclusions based on our assumptions prevail. And to ensure that it prevails we would continue to assimilate more opinions of the chosen version to feed the situation.

The two individuals could be husband-wife; father-son; brothers; brother-sister; friends;

I have been a witness to all such combinations. I am yet to see a mother being an active participant in this imbroglio.

Women yes but mothers NO.

Maybe there is a lesson there!




Saturday, November 19, 2016

MUSE


muse
As a verb, to muse is to consider something thoughtfully. As a noun, it means a person — especially a woman — who is a source of artistic inspiration.




Can you fall in love with a girl on a hoarding?

At first, it appeared to be simply carnal as she was naked as the day she was born posing provocatively and teasingly

There was no vulgarity despite her nudity

It was almost art

It started as a joke

Each time I passed the intersection (where the signals always turned red, the Lucifer intervention probably) I paused to drink the picture in

My obsession spread, thanks to the advertising type that I am, and everyone started ogling at her citing my name in defense

Did she become my muse? Probably yes.

Was she the most beautiful? Certainly not. But she had an aura or manna or whatever you call it.

Ah ! Clever you, you noticed the past tense in the last statement.

Last Sunday I was driving to TESCO and stopped at the signal, which was red as usual, and turned to my left to speak to my muse.

Yeah! We reached a stage where we were having regular conversations, unheard by others.

WHAM !!!!!!!!

She was gone.

Thankfully there was no travesty of another one adorning the sacred place.

The wall was empty reflecting my mind perfectly.

With each drive past where my muse delved, I apprehensively sneak a look

I do not know what am I expecting!

Will she be back in a new avatar?

Will there be another one? Heavens forbid!

All I know is this – that she in her old form will not be back – the probability of that is almost zero.

So what am I going to do?

I will continue to drive past that way hoping that the wall remains blank, which is unlikely given the commercial considerations of the vantage point.

One day the place will be tarnished by a new apparition. I need to see that as an act of catharsis.

After that, I will change my route.

So long ! My Muse !






Thursday, November 17, 2016

Ambition Fatigue

I am not sure if I am coining this phrase or if someone had already done it.

That, hardly, is the issue. 

After 30 years in corporate world I have come to a stage where I see this ailment more clearly than ever before. And my interactions outside the corporate world had shown me that this ailment is not restricted only to the business world. 

It is pandemic! 

I can observe the signs of this gnawing at the innards of most friends in my social circle too.  It is gut wrenching to watch the victim. 

Before I proceed to my understanding of the malady, its initial days, the tumultuous middle years and the pathetic end stage, let me summarize here the tell-tale signs of someone suffering from this supreme ailment.

Loss of capacity to smile.

An eternal hurt look, as if the world is out to destroy one’s happiness.

Capacity to find faults in everything.

Lack of decorum.

Passive aggression.

Aggression.

Twisted approach to trap well-wishers in an engineered conversation and leave them helpless and feeling miserable.

A general perception that one has failed in life that is so deeply ingrained that nothing convinces them otherwise.

Alienation from friends

A coterie that gets smaller and smaller

These are just the top of the pops and I am certain that I could list many more characteristics and manifestations but that is beside the point. 

You get the gist.

I do not know the origin of this malady. Surely it is not a modern age phenomenon. It has its roots in ancient history. Maybe all the way back to the cavemen. This has never been recorded as extensively as it should have been. I am not a scholar. So it is not possible for me to refer to specific instances. So I will keep my narration and observations to a general overview. And try my best to refer to instances in recorded history (both actual and fictitious – as what is history if not an elaborate fiction) to make it easier to relate to.

The underlying trigger for this malady is competitiveness. It could be good to let you raise your standards. But at what stage it turns to a monster and destroys you completely is not easy to pinpoint. This stems from the need to be “better than A or B” and not simply to be better than just what one was the previous day. In the latter case you end up seeing successful people who are happy and contended as they are not in a race. 

The former case leads to successful people who are not happy suffering from AF.

It could have been the caveman who clubbed his fellow caveman to death as he wanted to nail the babe the other had succeeded to manage. (to be politically correct and not to have gender discrimination it could well have been the cave woman too ……..)

Jumping to an earlier work of fiction, recorded as greateststory ever told, one comes across Cain who murdered Abel – most miss out the secret message that the murdered was the shepherd and not the crop farmer, thereby forever casting the shepherd (the Lord is my shepherd..) as the pitiable one and the victim but I am digressing here to my favorite punch bag <evil grin>. 


Fact was Cain was made to feel less wanted because someone (naming that someone  would be labelled as blasphemy and I do not want more troubles of my blog becoming a matter of religious debate – God forbid (pun intended)) and ended up knocking off the other bloke. 

Is anyone naïve to believe that Cain lived peacefully after the act. 

On the contrary. 

In the absence of any recorded evidences of the caveman/cavewoman episode referred to above, and resorting to the well-known work of fiction I could not be wrong in labelling Cain as the first known victim of AF.

Or Moses and the Pharaoh of Egypt!

Later on (or was it earlier) Judea Ben-Hur and Messala!

Later in history, more notably among the emperors of Mughal empire, we come across many instances where a sense of competition drove brothers against brothers, sons against fathers to rebel, decimate and deal with the most extreme step of extinguishing the other person and thereby remove the cause of their anxiety and after that continue to wallow in misery till their last breath.

A classic case in reference could be Aurangzeb (prophetically named as his name translates to “universe seizer”) who in his ascend to the throne ensured that he killed his elder brother Dara Shikoh after leveling unverifiable accusations against him and imprisoned his father in Agra Fort with a feeble concession of granting him a window view of Taj Mahal.

A sense of competition bordering on the murderous raged among all the rulers of Mughal empire and instances of fratricide, patricide and all sort of cides were rampant in almost all the recorded history of this bloody empire (again pun intended)

The deceits and travails of such nature were evident in medieval history all over the world.

So much so English language went all the way to coin a word called Regicide!!

Other than what was briefly delved into in the article so far it is possible to compile a copious list of well-known names throughout the recorded history Ramesses, Xerxes, Caligula, Charles, Henry, Nader Shah, Gustav and in recent memory Birendra of Nepal!!!

It is my conclusion that these acts are the culminate acts of the extreme stages of AF. One wallows under this unwinnable race called ambition in its most detrimental form, unable to let go, impossible to see rationalism, fights as far as one can, and finally gives in.

To draw on a simile from the 20th century works of fiction, each Corky is finally controlled by his own Fats.

With tragic ends that are so easily avoidable if one employs reason.

In the modern civilization, murder is not easily performed or condoned.

Unless it is done in millions in the names of rebellion, freedom, emancipation and ironically under the guise of human rights and waged by powerful nations.

In the absence of the extreme outlet that a murder can deliver, the sufferers of modern day AFs end up in punishing themselves and turning on their misplaced wrath on people around them, usually the ones that are dear and near and who does not deserve it at all.

As with all psychological maladies AF is completely misplaced. 

It is a syndrome. 

It has no reason. For everyone else it is obvious. But not to the afflicted. They wallow in misery. Make meaningless comparisons to justify why they are a failure. And how the world is against them. They can be students, successful professionals, entrepreneurs, sportsperson, actors.. etc. etc….

A general statement can be made that those in public eye are more likely to be inflicted by this than those out of the public scrutiny.

As this malady is not recorded and treated,  statistics do not exist. The public eye AFs could be , to risk a cliché, just the tip of an iceberg.

The thinker I admire most, J.Krishnamurti, observed this and probably suggested even a remedy.

Quote:

Competition is the strongest form of evil; by comparing A to B you destroy them both.

Unquote.

He mentioned this in reference to the faulty system of education, which he tried to eliminate in his Rishi Valley schools, and addressed this mainly to teachers on how to nurture children, but in the modern word situation of a self-inflicted AF syndrome it applies to each one of us.

Does it mean one should remain noncompetitive and carry no dreams of growth and achievement? Is that what am I professing?

Certainly not.

A healthy sense of competition and a desire to excel is mandatory. It should be healthy. It should pit one against oneself. One should aim to become a better person.

Better than what he/she was, better than what he/she thinks he/she is capable of. Like Sergey Bubka who pole vaulted one cm higher each time.

Set goals, put in your best to achieve them and never falter.

But do it with a smile. Without destroying yourself in the process. What is  a pinnacle if you are not able to smile. And you have no one around you to be stupid with.

The psychoanalysts and psychiatrists of the world can have a fortune treating these people inflicted.

My advice to those I see around me struggling in the vice like grip of AF.

Relax

Reprioritize.

Trust

Smile

Respect

Resist the instinct to punish

Stop wallowing in self-pity

Stop over analyzing

Live the moment

Learn to forgive

Learn to forget

STOP COMPARING

If my suggestions sound like a prescription for mediocrity and how to be a failure in life, my dear friend, my sympathies are with you.

You have just been diagnosed with AF.





Thursday, November 10, 2016

What a Trumpsy world (with due apologies to Louis Armstrong)

I see groups of people……Hispanics and Muslims too and
I see them flee ……….far from me and you
And I think to myself ….what a Trumpsy world

I see no clear sky….not even clouds
The dark smoggy day……….and fouler air to breath
And I think to myself ….what a Trumpsy world

Where are the rainbows….used to be a pretty sight
The smiles on the faces…used to be there too … would
I soon see people shooting others
Saying  this is what you get

They are really saying…. To hell with you

I hear grownups cry………I watch them cringe
They’ll suffer even more….than they’ll ever know

Yes I think to myself .... what a Trumpsy world
Yes I  think to myself ….what a Trumpsy world





Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Restraining Order

In his seminal work on Adolf Hitler, William L Shirer expresses his surprise that the world was shocked when Hitler started unleashing his evil genius. It was not that the world was not warned. Hitler spelled out every single act, to the last minutest detail, in his book Main Kampf.  And once he reached power he systematically and systemically implemented his plans one step at a time. The mistake was with the world that did not take him seriously. The world expected that those were empty boasts and ravings of a megalomaniac which they expected would either die down on acquiring power or would tone down on application of rationality.

The world made one mistake. It judged Hitler to be a rational man. It did not understand that here was a man possessed by his opinions and who was "hell bent" (unfortunate use of an apt phrase) on implementing his strategy with a ruthless and cold clinical fashion.

The rest was history.

That cost the world decades of setbacks, billions of dollars in money, and millions of lives, lost either on the war front or simply brutally extinguished  with no compassion.

History has a perverted knack to repeat itself.

Invariable aided by morons.

Majority of the US of A citizens who turned out to vote had decided to elect an imbecile who
  1. Promised to build a wall isolating his nation from Mexico
  2. Boasted about grabbing women by their pussy
  3. Suggested use of Nukes to settle issues  Quote : “beat the shit out of them” Unquote:
  4. Has promised “within hours of entering the office 11 million will be deported”
  5. Has threatened his rival that he would appoint a special prosecutor and imprison her (judgment already delivered, the prosecutor part is just a road show)
  6. Wants to ban entry of Muslims into US of A
  7. Is against abortion

The above list is not exhaustive. It is , at the risk of a cliché, just the tip of the iceberg.

He is uncouth, temperamental, a liar and, if I can say aloud what the world is afraid to say, STARK RAVING MAD.

I have two children; one in her early twenties. The other in the end of his teens.
They have dreams, ambitions, aspirations and plans.

As I write this I have no guarantee that their lives would not be extinguished by this madman with his finger on the nuke button.

When threatened by an individual and if there is ample evidence of a threat to life or grievous bodily harm to me or members of my family, it is possible for me to have a restraining order issued against an individual by a court of law.

So that my family and I are safe from this menace.

I would like to file a restraining order on Donald Trump to safeguard my family.

I would like my daughter and son to die when they have to die, not because some idiot pushed a button.