Fleeting Nationalism

I wrote this post last independence day, I guess it makes even more sense to me  after a year.

Nationalism “ loyalty and devotion to a nation; especially : a sense of  national consciousness exalting one nation above all others and placing primary emphasis on promotion of its culture and interests as opposed to those of other nations or supranational groups” describes Webster.

We,  do not fit this description.

Indian flag

Photo by Gaurav Giri - http://bit.ly/cpznex

We, Indians, are very emotional by nature. It is very easy to whip up our emotions. A well written patriotic song, a Bollywood movie where  India comes out glorious despite all  odds,  is guaranteed to bring out tears of pride and joy. These emotions can easily be witnessed on our Independence day, everybody is exalting with Nationalistic pride, which is beautiful and frankly, normal. As they say,  ” you can’t be an Indian and not be proud of the fact”. But, I am afraid to say that these feelings are short lived. They come and go with these movies and our National days.

It was 1942, the year of Quit India Movement. My grand father attended a rally lead by Subhash Chandra Bose. He said, in his speech: “Independence of India is written on the walls now, I can see it from here. But, during this struggle, we have learned to learn this indiscipline.We have learned to disobey our government”. These words are true to this day, we have been free for 63 years now and have not been able to discipline ourselves. I am not saying that we all are traitors but, we do not understand the true meaning of patriotism. We often forget to keep our nation above us. Knowingly or unknowingly we often do not think or speak of our country in the manner appropriate. It breaks my heart every time,  I hear people say“I am on IST “ when they are late. As frivolous as it may sound, it does underline the fact, that we perceive our indiscipline as an inherit part of our being Indian.

I have often heard Indians talking disapprovingly of India in front of people from other countries. It’s okay to discuss your concerns in a constructive manner but I am not a fan of washing my dirty linen in public, movies like Slumdog Millionaire are there to do that job for us. The point being, do not draw a negative portrait of your country  on the minds of people who are solely trusting your opinion of your own country to form theirs. We can learn a little from this story I heard from my father when I was little, I asked him, why is Japan  so much more developed than we are? He narrated this incident that a foreigner wrote in his memoir about Japan:

He was traveling on a train in Japan, he was hungry, got down at a couple of stations and found nothing to eat. He murmured out of frustration” and they say Japan is a developed nation!” . A fellow Japanese traveler heard him, he got down the train, ran out of station and came back with a basket of fruits. He said to the foreigner “Please except this as a gift and please do not tell any one that you didn’t find anything to eat in our stations”.  The incident speaks for it self.

We need to learn from other prosperous nations, watch their ways and mend ours accordingly. We need to learn Civic sense, a little bit more tolerance and constructive ways to express our disagreements. Gandhiji taught the whole world an entirely new philosophy, a brand new way of life. Unfortunately,  we only picked a few things we should have refrained from. Yes, I am talking about strikes. Every now and then I read about organizations on strike resulting in millions of dollars of loss to the government.  Even doctors do not refrain from this practice, needless to say the repercussions . I once read about a strike in an Australian shoe factory, the workers were not happy with the management. They decided to go on strike by making just  the right shoe till the strike continued. Once their demands were met, they finished the pairs. These little things go a long way to make a nation strong.

We are lucky to be born in this beautiful country, where, love is the essence of life. We are lucky to be citizens of world’s largest democracy. We  need to appreciate this fact more and  incorporate a little discipline in our everyday lives. This is our time, we  can build the India of tomorrow by just going an extra mile. It is not that great a price to pay for the rewards we will reap.

Let every day be Independence Day!

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Autumn Smitten

Photo:(AP Photo/Mike Groll)

I made my first apple crisp of the season today. Which is a delectable insinuation that bygone are the days of flip-flops, climbing mountains and canoeing on the still waters of Ipswich. Naps on the soft sands of Atlantic is a distant memory. Scarves and sweaters have found their way, out of closets. Days have started shrinking, skies are grayer, birds have started flying south. Frigid, gloomy, snow-clad winter is very well on its way. But, not until we get to embrace the magical fall, gracefully pushing the winter into a hiatus, for just the right amount of time.

I do not play favorites with the seasons, I love them as they come, the way they are. But, I can not help doting at the fall, just a little bit more than others. I am not to be blamed. I live in New England. Fall here is nothing less than chimerical.


Urban autumn scents the air with fumes of  endless cups of pumpkin lattes, spiced candles and steers the mundane conversations to connivance about eerie dresses and Halloween parties that mandate them. Sidewalks have yellow blanket of  dried leaves, which makes walking an adventure in itself. The houses are adorned with artistically carved pumpkin lanterns to ward off the darkness. Farmer markets boast the crispest of apples and there is no better season to drink the warm, creamy soups. Life is simply festive.

When you move away from the intoxicating apple cider to the woods, nature’s treasure trove awaits. From what I hear, northern New England is the best place in the world for leaf peeping. One can witness the foliage in its full glory. Hundreds of miles of winding roads and mountains lined by trees that are scarlet and yellow, russet and brown, make me want to make them my home. I want to bask in the beauty of colors, I want to store these memories in my mind, to keep me warm during the winter’s reign. If there is a heaven, probably this is it. Oh, Autumn! how I wish I were a poetess or a better writer for that matter, to explain truly, how you take my heart away!

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Craigzies

As we are planning our move to India. Numerous tasks lie ahead of us, one fundamental and most cumbersome one is, getting rid of all the junk we accumulated collectively over half a decade. Husband swiftly played the “busy” card and the onus of selling all our stuff fell on my shoulders. I braced myself  and decided to embrace the magical world of craigslist.

An inventory list was made and  posted on the good old craigslist. Soon, my inbox was flooded with hundreds of emails. I started communicating with these strangers. Some e – haggling ensued, was stood up by many. Eventually, I sold most of our stuff, which kind of deserves a small pat on the back. During this tremulous time of opening my doors to random strangers, I did receive some responses which well, lets just say deserve a special mention. So, here we go:

It’s all in the name

This lovely email exchange is regarding our car. The lady interested was bound and determined to know my “real” name:

Liz:   hello I was very interested in your vehicle and wondering when I can look at it.

Me:  Can you come today to take a look, what is your availability like?

Liz:  Any reason you have a false name as your account?

Me:  I can show you the car on Wednesday, any time between 9-10 am. I am not sure what you mean by false name on my account.

Liz:  Shreya tiwari? She’s an actor.

Me: Really? Never heard of that. Neways are you interested in the car?

Liz: No I’m not interested in a car with a person who has a fake name.

Sure, there is just one Shreya Tiwari in the whole world and every one else is forbidden to take that name.

Gift you must give

This classy gentleman wanted something I listed for 100 bucks, as a gift for a friend:

Josh:   Thanks for getting back to me,i need this item urgently for someone as a gift,i am offering you $520 for the item including shipping Via USP Express  Mail Service(EMS) , am offering you this to keep other buyers off, so i will like you to get back with your PayPal account email for the payment  immediately and  more over i want to know why you are selling the item because i was introduce to this site by a friend of mine at work. Get Back Asap…

Yes, Josh, pay $520 instead of  $100  and you do not look shady at all!

I am so busy, I send my assistant on craigslist errands

This email might remind you of the time when you got discovered as a worthy heir, as  your uncle in Nigeria passed away and left you all his wealth:

William:

Hello,
How are you doing today? I have gone through your ad once again on craigslist and i am interested in purchasing the above mentioned. I am buying the item for my step son and his wife to be. They are the ones that contacted you at first to know if you still have it.I am paying Via Money Order and it will get to you within 1-2days.Please get back to me with your full information for payment to be sent out immediately i receive it through UPS Delivery Service.

Below are the information required:
Full Name:
Mailing Address (Not P.O Box…FedEx do not deliver to Box):
City :
States :
Zip/Postal Code:
Phone number :

I will like us to get this transaction done with as soon as possible. As soon as i receive your information, I will instruct my assistant to go right away and send the payment to you today. UPS drop box is just a stone throw to to office.I will be offering you $50 extra to hold the item in my favor because i am sure that there will be other interested people.  As per Pick Up, I will make arrangement with my shipping company to come for the pick-up after payment has been received by you.I want you to take the posting off craigslist today and consider it sold to me.

Best Regards.

William

This almost made me choke on my morning tea.

P.S. The names have been changed to protect the craigzies. All the conversations are verbatim

Any craigslist tales out there?

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Hazardous Hazare

The recent Hazare spectacle made me realize how powerful hunger can be. It also made me realize that, in today’s world of global connectivity and exuberance of means enabling people to voice their opinions, it is so easy to  whip up public’s emotions. The movement for support of Hazare is an example of this, people got overtly excited about the flawed idea that passing a bill that profoundly errs in understanding the ways in which corruption can be fought and irradiated in this country, is a cause worth fighting for. But, my biggest problem is with the means Anna Hazare adopted to coerce the government into agreeing to his demands. This trend is very detrimental to a democratic society and should be condemned by the citizens much less eulogized

Anna Hazare  who is  being compared to present day Gandhi, emulated Gandhi by going on hunger strike in order to be part of a committee that were to draft the Lokpal Bill. Gandhiji was the greatest soul that ever walked this earth, who taught us a philosophy, never seen before. The only thing people in India seem to have gathered from him is the culture of strikes and bandhs, shameful. When people compare Anna Hazare to Gandhi, it makes my skin crawl. Gandhi went on hunger strike to fight the alien, colonial rule and set his country free, not to be a part of a committee.

We live in a democratic country, we elect our government by our free will and it is government’s job to draft a bill and civil society has no business being part of such committees. Anna Hazare wanted equal representation of people and government in the drafting committee. Are you kidding? Isn’t government an extension of people’s will? It is one thing to ask for representation of public in such matter but blackmailing the government takes it to a whole new level.

It is a shame that an assortment of self-proclaimed social activists and public- seeking wannabees were able to coerce the government into agreeing to their demands.  Have these do gooders completely missed the existence of Iom Sharmila, who has been on a hunger strike for last 11 years? I didn’t see such a stir in past 11 years. Government never repealed the AFSPA because a woman has been fasting for last 11 years?  Can we blame the imminent state elections and series of scams for the current output of this particular hunger strike?

Menace of corruption can not be solved by the introduction of Lok Pal bill and hunger strikes are not the way to push a political agenda, in a constitutional democracy like ours. Corruption can be dealt with proper economic reforms and engaging people in electoral process. People who supported the Bill and Anna Hazare  were  profoundly misguided. The movement seemed to have struck a chord with people in light of current slew of scams. Hunger strikes are extremely dangerous and detrimental to a political democracy. I do not support hunger strikes, the Jan Lokpal bill, nor do I support  corruption.

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Blaze of Glory

 

World Champions 2011 !!!

World Champions 2011 !!! -- AFP

I, like every other Indian  born in 80′s, grew up without any recollection of the year 1983, when India clinched their first ever  Cricket World Cup . All I grew up was with the legends of that fateful day. My father’s narrations of the tournament, I never failed to notice the glint in his eyes while  proudly saying” we were the under dogs and we beat the mighty West Indies!”. These little tales of  pride and love for the game, which comes next if not above religion in India, would make me wonder if I will ever see a day like that in my own life, and if I did will it mean the same to me as it did to my father 28 years back.Well, we have our own piece of history today! We have our own tales to pass on to the next generation and there is no describing the  emotions that are rampant on the mind of every Indian today.

In the year 2011, things were a little different in the world of cricket, team India was no longer the underdog, they were deemed the ‘favorites’. Isn’t that great, you say. Not really. They were labeled the favorites based on their formidable batting line up and their recent victories. Being the favorites put immense pressure on the team, which is notorious for succumbing under it. The favorites had their own problems to deal with, the challenges ahead of them included overcoming the knack for anxiety at testing times, improving the mediocre fielding, which was a feat in itself considering the aging players. They were at immense disadvantage due to their  ailing bowling skills. When the matches started, we saw India’s legendary batting collapse for meager scores. I am a Debby Downer, u say? Well, I am just trying to say how amazing this tournament has been, how team India thrived despite all these odds. You almost shot the messenger, didn’t you?

This world cup’s journey has been culmination of many stories. All of them ending with triumph, the 28 year old wait came to an end, we forgave our team for all the tears and anger over loses over the past several years. The God of cricket got  “proudest moment of his life”. A whole new chapter in the Indian cricket just started.

All this happened due to grit, perseverance, fearlessness and love these men showed to the game. No one deserves to win this cup more than these 11 men. They have earned this title in so many ways. They have united the whole nation, brought joy to many hearts across the globe, they have truly earned this respect and love. And it will always stay in our hearts and the memories of this day will never ever fade in our lives. This truly was a gentleman’s game.

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Curiosities of a Wistful Mind

Einstein once said, “Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death”. True. If only it were streamlined and would never reach a point of melancholic saturation. A point where one  feels the need to abandon all the pensiveness and move to a place in life which does not thrive on cognition. The current chain of events around the world, does make one wonder if such a place can be reached.

As we grow up, our perspectives change incessantly. First we believe in a man who lives in North Pole, rides over our houses and delivers presents through our chimneys. Then, we believe, there is  a Howard Roark amongst us. Soon, this belief changes to hope. When we are young, we think a lot about notions like truth, happiness, idea of love, even life.  We grasp all this and move on. A part of this moving on starts with getting the small glimpses of reality, lingering between our still unadulterated world view. And then we reach a certain point in our lives , when nothing seem to make sense. Left brain completely takes over its counterpart. I feel I have reached that point.

Centuries of history and civilizations seem to be a farce. We have not gotten much ahead, or so it seems. When a 11-year-old victim  of a sex crime is accused of provoking the offenders, there is something horribly wrong with the world we live in. When not one but multiple people try to find humour in one of the worst calamities of our time, it is clear that only our bodies have evolved and passed the era of hominids. When  tyrants still exist and  live amongst us, have the power to create havoc and play with lives. Notions of truth, fairness and humanity cease to exist. I would like to resort to faith, if you will, in such times. But that door closed on my face when we chose to  decide that marriage can only be between  a man and a woman but it’s okay to have pedophiles serve our churches and temples.

I know, I am not the only one who feels this way. There are many of us trying to escape  the pangs of helplessness. An occasional Robert Downy Jr. flick is usually effective. Dark chocolate can do wonders as well. The world is just going to hell or the New England’s winter is finally getting me. I  sure hope it’s the latter.

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My mommy is better than yours

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Well, I am not really talking about my mother or yours. Its just my obnoxious way of referring to the mommy war that has gone viral over the cyber world and has ignited many living room conversations in the past days. First  article is called, literally “Why Chinese Mothers are Superior” which ropes in many other cultures as well, since the author took the liberty  of using the word “Chinese” loosely, and its  only fair for its western counterpart to be aptly named “Why American Mothers are Superior”.

Usually articles of such nature make me chuckle,  a face off between a Yale  professor and an academician – cum – entrepreneur – cum – world judo champ is right up my alley, so naturally I ventured into these articles, to my grave disappointment there was not an iota of humour in either of them. I was flabbergasted by the crassness of both the authors.

I  have seen parents sneaking in their kid’s achievements in routine conversations all the time, but have never seen parents boasting about their own parenting styles in parallel to  trashing not one parent but an entire culture or cultures. What happened to some good old-fashioned humility?

No culture is better than other and same applies to  different parenting styles. Each parent is unique and it is no one’s business to judge how they raise their kids. What is good or bad is an abstract notion, there is nothing absolute when it comes to raising a child. Being said that, it is not so difficult to be mindful of people around us, you don’t have to be a saint for that, just use your inner voices when you have an urge to prove superiority over others. As a French philosopher once said “To become truly great, one has to stand with people, not above them”.

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