Archive for the Society Category

Relation Chips

Posted in Musings, People, Society on January 12, 2011 by samudranb

An understanding of human relationships continues to elude me.

I guess like my friend says, I should stop being surprised astounded at how humans are. They just are the way they are. There is no right or wrong to them, just like there is no right or wrong to a coin toss.

I am having a difficult time accepting this.

I thought I was immune to fluctuations in people’s behaviour, but apparently and obviously, I am not.

As I look back at the relationships I have seen in my life, I seem to have arrived at just a single constant – nobody behaves the way you feel is the ideal way they should.

Whether it is the girlfriend who cheats, the daughter who – on her father’s death- regrets not calling him more than once a month, the friend who lets you down on the verge of the big day, the parent who does not come to your first stage performance in spite of promises, the friends who break your trust, the husband who wants to go seek pleasure somewhere else, the boss who lies to you about you, the uncle who lies about how successful his business is, the politician who lies about his sources of income, the clerk who lies about the bribe he received, the witness who lies about the murder he did NOT see or the chowkidar who lies about how promptly he submitted the payment for your electricity bill, everybody behaves in a way that seems far from ideal, possibly even in their opinion.

But is it really their fault? Is it possible that what two people think is the ideal way to behave, given the same set of circumstances, be so divergent from each other as to actually effect shock in the one and surprise that it “effected shock” in the other?

“As a species, human beings define their reality through suffering and misery.”

– Wachowski Brothers in The Matrix

Did they hit the nail on the head? Do humans create pain and suffering in their lives willingly and knowingly? Does it satisfy some evolutionary calling that I am unaware of?

Have we moved from a “primitive”, “tribal” society based on intense interdependence encompassing huge families, tribes and a social framework more dependent on natural sources and resources and – more importantly – on each other, to a modern society without those “inconveniences”? Does modern society force us to go about life with chips on our shoulders? Do we, not having access and permission to the traditional dangers and excitements of hunting and killing for food and fun, resort to creating drama within the confines of our own puny social circles by means of bad decisions, self aggrandizing propagandas and false dichotomies? Are we constantly on the lookout for perceived attacks on our self, and for preemptive counter-measures?

Is this evolution?

Or devolution?

Cinderella of India

Posted in India, People, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , on June 15, 2010 by samudranb

X: Dude! Did you know about the Manipur blockade?!

Me: Of course! It has been going on for 67 odd days now.

X: Yea? I just found out about it! And to think I prided myself on being up-to-date on world affairs!

Me: Yea, the media has just caught on.

X: Damn man… and here I was more worried about the Gaza blockade!

How does one react, when people are more aware of what is happening in other countries, than they are of what is happening in their own?

How does one react, when people ask if one’s state is a district of West Bengal?

How does one react, when people do not know whether the place where one comes from is a part of India or not?

How does one react, when the history teacher says the reason there is no mention of Assamese or other North Eastern states’ history in the syllabus, is because they are “not important”?

It’s not just the ordinary people who seem to have forgotten that there are indeed some states east of Kolkata. The administration too.

For the last many decades, while the rest of the country has progressed on to the new economy, NE states still languish in the old economy. While the rest of the country argues over 3G, NE states still await broadband (which is of course, only 256 kbps). While the rest of the country goes gaga over the latest Hrithik / Shah Rukh movie, Manipur goes gaga over the latest Korean movie, because Bollywood movies are “banned” there. While the students from the rest of the country fight to get into one of the best Medical schools across the length and breadth of the country, those from the 7 NE states fight to get into the 6 medical colleges available to them.

Why is the rest of the nation so apathetic to the NE? Is it simply because of the cultural differences? Shouldn’t the differences be highlighted, and celebrated, the way we do with J&K, Rajasthan, or any of the other states? Why is the North East consistently given a step-motherly treatment from the centre?

Is national integration even on the agenda for the central government? Should India even be one country? Does it even make sense?

Or should we wait till midnight to find out?

Na’vi and Naxals : Does Pandora (in Avatar) parallel India?

Posted in India, Society with tags , , on December 25, 2009 by samudranb
Avatar (2009)

Avatar

I finally joined the legions of fans that James Cameron has picked up. I do not have any new words to describe “Avatar”, so I will repeat whatever others have said about it – marvellous, path breaking, jaw dropping, epic, yada yada.

But I could not help but draw parallels between what was happenning in the movie to the Na’vi, to what is happenning to the Naxals.

In the movie, the Na’vi are sitting on top of huge reserves of “Unobtainium”. Here, it is minerals.

In the movie, a big corporation tries to push out the Na’vi from their homes. Here, it is the government and big corporations (in their corrupt forms).

In the movie, the Na’vi use bows and arrows and spears. Here, the Adivasis use the same.

In the movie, the “civilized people” bring the heavy artillery, including air strikes and ground troops. Here, it is Chidambaram.

In the movie, the “civilized people” believe they are “developing” the Na’vi. Here it is all of us right leaning people.

In the movie, the Na’vi live in perfect harmony with nature. Here, the Adivasis depend on it for their survival.

I used to be firmly in the “development is good” camp. After watching Avatar, I am not so sure anymore. Are we becoming blind to reality, as soon as we take off the 3D glasses?

Lessons Learnt – 2009

Posted in About me, India, Lessons, Life. Or something like it., People, Society on December 21, 2009 by samudranb
  • Bali is beautiful. Thailand is incredible. And the people of both these places know more about “Indian culture” than most Indians.
  • Voting in a general election is pretty useless. But you should still do it.
  • Employment is over-rated. Quitting a job is no big deal. Just be sure to have enough money to last you a while without any inflows. And keep an eye on the credit card expenses.
  • It is possible to have an expensive DSLR, and be made to feel like an idiot by a 18 year old kid with a Point n Shoot.
  • Shutter block is BAD.
  • It is possible to mail the President of your company and expect (and get) a reply. It is possible to tweet Pritish Nandy, Chetan Bhagat, Gul Panag, Imran Khan and Barkha Dutt and expect (and get) a reply. It is possible to tweet Mallika Sherawat and Priyanka Chopra, and expect (and  get) promotional merchandise from their latest movie.
  • It is possible to find your ideal job, and go for it. It is however not in your hands whether you will get the job or not. Just give it your best shot.
  • It is OK to delay BIG plans. It is NOT OK to give up on them.
  • Dress code for a wine tasting festival – collared t-shirt, khakis, as ridiculous a hat as you can find and a nose angled at 15 degrees higher than usual. Strict NO-NOs – formals of any kind. (Suits? Die you pretender! ) Also, it helps if you can keep a straight face and use adjectives like “herbaceous” / “comfortable” / “smoky” / “high notes” / “oaky” to describe a wine (never mind if you dont have any clue about what they mean).
  • I prefer white wines to reds. Chardonnays to Chenin Blancs. And Reveilo reserves to Chateau Indages or Chantillis.
  • I prefer wheat beer to dark lager to premium lager to apple cider (The last one should actually be called “apple shudder”).
  • Never EVER trust directions given by a woman. 15 minutes later, you will end up at the place where you got an indignant “Of course!!” as reply to your “Are you sure this is the right way?”.
  • God invented porn. Just like everything else in this world.
  • Dating is fun. Not dating is fun too.
  • People who do not value your time, are not worth it.
  • Most people are more interesting than they seem.
  • Always ride your bike at 20% lower than the speed that seems safe.
  • No protective gear is ever not worth the money.
  • There are way too many India’s in India. And there are way too many TVS service centres in South India. And not enough in the rest of the country.
  • The Indian government is doing an OK job. I only wish they would do it faster.
  • Having patience is the most difficult thing to do.

Update:

  • Use sunscreen.
Wine tasting dress code - ©Chaitanya

Would you exchange 2 cappuccinos for peace?

Posted in India, People, Politics, Society with tags , , , , , , on December 13, 2009 by samudranb
Priyanka Borpujari, friend and freelance journalist, has been working closely with the issue of violence in Chhattisgarh. She is headed to Dantewada district in the Bastar region of Chhattisgarh on December 20, 2009. A place which has become a living hell — tribals from 644 villages have been thrown out, some villages have been burnt over 10 times, women raped, murders rampant daily, and where the perpetrators of this might be the state police, through the alibi of Salwa Judum. Why the hell is she going there?

She is also trying to raise funds to take to Dantewada, for the Satyagraha, at which 50,000 tribals from Dantewada alone are expected to congregate. All she wants from you is a minimum of Rs 100 — the cost of 2 cappuccinos with a friend at barista — which will take care of one adivasi person’s one day’s food and lodging in Dantewada during the Satyagraha. The donations need to be made in cash, and I can collect the same in Pune, on behalf of Priyanka. You will be furnished with a receipt once she is back from Dantewada. The donation would be made to Vanvasi Chetna Ashram, about which you will find in her blog. You can always get in touch with her directly (her contact details are at the end).

You might be tempted to think that this does not concern you. That this is not really your responsibility and hence, you would wonder about the need to respond. But in truth, the idea of civilization, culture and country means that problems, responsibilities, benefits and accountability is shared. Sooner or later, for better or for worse, everyone is affected. And responsible.

Especially if the problem is large-scale and involves millions of people as it does in this case. There’s a war for justice going on in the tribal hinterland of India. The people may be denied justice once, twice, thrice… maybe even 10 times. But everyone has a tipping point. There comes a time when those who are denied justice rise up against oppression and then everyone comes in the line of fire, you and me included. Millions of Adivasi people have been denied justice guaranteed by the constitution. This is an attempt to give them that, so that they don’t feel cheated by the country and the government that is supposed to protect them. It is everyone’s collective responsibility to ensure that they get it, so that they do not lend an ear to those that are telling them to take up guns to get what they deserve.

Your sacrifice of two coffees (Rs. 100 or more), goes a long way in ensuring this. Let’s, for a change, do something real. Lighting candles at the Gateway of India is a start, but in this case wont it be better to save that money on candles and instead give it in the pursuit of justice and fight against violence? Can peace prevail without justice? You decide.

I do not subscribe to many of her political views, nor do I share her opinion of the administration at the centre and big corporations. But I do agree with her that injustice has indeed been done, and that more needs to be done to bring those issues to light, and resolve them peacefully, for everybody’s benefit.

And yes, I am donating.

Priyanka can be reached at 9820741992 or aa.priyanka@gmail.com. Please read Priyanka’s blogpost to know more. She would be more than willing to take your queries and doubts, and reply to them.

So you want to change the world. Really?

Posted in Entrepreneurship, Society with tags , , on September 22, 2009 by samudranb

How many of us, at some point or the other, have thought about changing the world? How many have done something about it? How many have said “oh its just too difficult… I will just go have a double cheese burger instead”?

Changing the world is hard work. Heck, its probably the toughest work in… the world. Of course, it is not half as well-paying as, say, investment banking. That Ferrari Spider that you had been salivating after for ages? You would have to salivate after a Bajaj Super now. Probably a second-hand one at that.

So why should we not give up those world-changing dreams to fulfill our desires for something as gratifying as a sports car?

Because now is a damn good time to be doing so. The eco-systems, such as this, for such social entrepreneurs are better developed. The pay is not half as bad. With “social entrepreneurship” being the new buzz word, you get some easy publicity. Oh, and you might get some fabulous awards too.

And then of course, there is that other thing. You know, of lighting up thousands of lives, or educating thousands, and benefiting millions, or empowering the poor, or providing clean drinking water at affordable rates. Of leaving this earth a better place for your children.

Of leaving behind a legacy, instead of just a sports car.

What is marriage?

Posted in India, Musings, Society with tags , , , on September 8, 2009 by samudranb

Marriage (noun)

  1. The legal union of a man and woman as husband and wife.
  2. The state of being married; wedlock.
  3. A common-law marriage.

Love marriages around the world are simple:

Boy loves girl. Girl loves boy.They get married.

In India, there are a few more steps:

Boy loves Girl. Girl loves Boy.
Girl’s family has to love boy. Boy’s family has to love girl.
Girl’s Family has to love Boy’s Family. Boy’s family has to love girl’s family.
Girl and Boy still love each other (hopefully). They get married.

Chetan Bhagat. (except for the part in the brackets. That’s me.)

It seems like I cannot escape it anymore. Half the world is getting married (the rest already are). People are talking about it everywhere I go. People are inviting me to marriages everywhere I go. People are asking me the inevitable question everywhere I go. I of course feel my contemporaries’ kids will be in college by the time I am anywhere near producing a few of my own.

All this talk led me to have a lively discussion with Damudra…. my evil twin brother. Of course he won. He always wins. Here is the synopsis of the argument. See if you win it, if you are on the good side.

Is it a process to bring together two people closer to one another, by formalising their relationship?

How do two people, who hardly know anything about each other, forget about knowing anything about their families, their habits, good and bad, their plans for the future and  the skeletons in their closets, agree to try and make a life together? How do they even begin to believe that they will be happy together? How do they go from sleeping alone, to sleeping with an almost total stranger? What miracle do they hope will bring them closer together? Why does this “bringing closer together” need to be formalized?

Is it a process to bring together two gene pools, and thus increase the chances of survival by “natural selection”?

Wouldn’t marriage be against the principles of natural selection? Natural selection results in the best, and the fittest, producing the most number of offspring, while the unfit do not produce as many, thus resulting in more of the better qualities of the fitter population to be passed on to the next generation. Marriage provides the unfit, opportunities to reproduce, while restricting the fit from reproducing as many they could. Face it, most women would rather have Brad Pitt over you. Its just “natural selection” at work.

Is it an arrangement of convenience between 2 humans to share real estate, and soap?

What is it about a marriage that is so convenient? Why do people need to be married to share living space? What distinguishes a marriage from any other business transaction? There is a give and a take. There is a cost involved. The goods are inspected before … the transaction.

Is it an arrangement between 2 societies to spread their culture beyond their existing boundaries?

Usually (this is based on my limited marriage-going experience), marriages are often filled with conflicts regarding details of the various customs and rituals which have to be followed. The groom’s side and the bride’s side, more often than not, do not agree. There is a power struggle almost always going on in the sidelines. Not to mention the one-up-man-ship. Nobody wants their culture to be eroded. Nobody wants to not follow the customs and rituals that have been going on for ages. Since when is culture equated with customs and rituals? And why?

Is it a sanction by society for 2 people to have sex?

How do people reconciliate themselves to the fact that the whole world and his/her uncle, knows WHEN, WHERE, WITH WHOM they will be having sex? Why does the sex have to be a ritual after the wedding? Why can’t it be before, or at some random during the wedding? Is it the thinking about the sex that makes the entire society giddy with happiness at the mention of a wedding?

Is it a process used by society to identify adulthood?

Why does a marriage certify one to be an adult? Why should one’s perception of a person, change because s/he is married or not?

Is it a process designed to torture two people so that they do not think of going through the same once again? And thus encourage monogamy?

Holy mother of GOD! Marriages are so painful for the one going through it!! Imagine sitting, standing, sitting, doing whatever the pundit asks you to, reciting stuff you don’t understand, performing gestures of which you don’t know the importance of, just to formalize a relationship. ARRRGH! I am 100% sure the whole concept of a painful marriage was invented because all the studs of the village would take all the pretty brides and leave no one  for the old pundits. They were the ones who came up with the concept of monogamy, and also made the marriages so utterly painful so that nobody in their right minds would even dare to think about marrying a second time.

Is it sacred?

What is sacred? That which is believed in by hundreds of thousands? Or that which has been passed down from generation to generation for hundreds of generations? Or that which is held close to their hearts, by the people close to you?

­­Is it worth believing in?

Is it really necessary?