The Burgers are extra- spicy


Let us for a moment, talk like the arm chair analysts that we are and not like the Pulitzer prize winners we pretend to be.
Let us for a moment ignore the precedents it would have set and the precedents for it already extant.
Let us make an effort to differentiate between de-politicising a situation and dehumanising it.
Let us fade out the coloured lines. Forget red, blue, green. Let us revert back to black and white.
Let us all take a collective step back .
Let me tell you of an incident that happened to me, many years from now.
When I was thirteen I got a room of my own for the first time. It was the high point of my existence till then. I was the master of my domain. The king of my castle.
The only thorn in my crown being the other occupant, my two year old brother.
In retrospect it shouldn’t have bothered me. How much space could a two-foot child take? I practically owned the place, as depicted by the posters of my idols adorning three fourths of the room. The only exception being the corner occupied by my kid brother in his crib. For all practical purposes he was a guest in my home.
And yet it rankled me.
As long as he stayed within the confines of his crib, I could tolerate him, for a while. But my mother, astute policy maker that she had shown herself to be over the years, had given me the room with a proviso. The room was mine, provided I kept the other occupant, satisfied.
In plain terms, the room was not mine by right, it was a trust, made on an understanding with all of its occupants, that I would not usurp their rights. All fine and dandy when they were just words that I excitedly kept nodding my head to.
Something had to give.
When my brother started crawling, nobody had been happier than I . Of course that had all been before he took up residence in my den. Suddenly nothing two feet from the floor was safe from his tiny hands.
I tried keeping him barricaded in the middle of the room with obstacles that he couldn’t climb over.
In time he learnt to crawl around them. Things came to a head when he managed to crawl under my study table, the seat of my throne, the Kings Landing to my seven kingdoms.
All attempts to drag him out from under there were met with loud wails and hysterical sobs that brought immediate response from my mother.
I had arrived at a deadlock. Force would only give temporary respite. I might get my room back but for how long?
Mother would not let the wails of her youngest go unheard. And once she intervened the decision would no longer be in my hands.
I summoned a meeting of the elders.
My two sisters had also been given a separate room and my action would no doubt affect them too. So it was only fair that I discuss the current dilemma with them.
The two sat impassively as I presented my case; the study area was sacrosanct, if I let my brother enter it, I would be setting precedents with disastrous consequences. Pretty soon he’d be roaming all over the place.
So? They inquired.
But that must never happen.
Why? They inquired.
I owned the room he should limit himself to the crib! I bellowed.
Owned?! They inquired.
Fine, I shared it with him, I huffed.
And? They inquired.
It was a trust shown in us by our parents and we were both equal parties to that trust, I mumbled.
So is the room yours by right? This was getting annoying.
No, but I was the majority by size and I couldn’t give in to the whims of a smaller party, that would show me as a weakling, I sputtered. He’s a mummy-daddy weakling! I earned this room!
And a show of strength against this mummy-daddy baby will prove your strength? They asked, what’s the worst you can do? Lock him in his crib? Once he has endured your worst do you think you will ever be able to use it again without mother finding out? And how much longer after that will you be able to hold sway over the room? On the other hand, what if you let him roam around? He tears your posters? Stick them a bit higher where he can’t reach.
Let him crawl wherever he wants to, how long do you think will he stay there? What’s the worst that can happen? He can’t possibly take over the room. Most probably he will grow tired and bored. You will still have the aura of being bigger without having to show your superiority and he will continue to look up to you for guidance and support. On the other hand if you choose to show him who’s boss, mother will have no choice but to interfere. She will take away our privileges of being responsible adults and you will have wasted, in a moment of arrogance and high handedness, our years of obedience and diligence which led us to our freedom.
It was an eloquent response, I had to agree, albeit to myself, but I wasn’t ready to cave in yet.
He will always be a mama’s boy won’t he? Calling for her help to get his way.
Weren’t we all, at one stage or another? She smiled.
Yeah but not anymore, this is mothers way of keeping us in check, my tongue was running ahead of my mind now.
And that’s bad because?
Because I’m too old to take directions and instructions anymore! It’s my room I’ll do what I want there, I can’t let mother question me everytime he complains to her! I was losing the argument, I could feel it the balance shifting.
My elder sister stood up, grabbed my younger sisters finger, sighed and said, do what you will but know this, I will not be a part of this, it will define who you are for the rest of your life, you will not have gained anything and your strength will forever be exposed .
With that the two walked off into the sunset of their room.
In the course of time, I learnt to ignore the odd torn book or spilled milk. To say I was happy would be an understatement , I was happy with the status quo prior to the onset of the crawling. But now I realised that change cannot be stopped. You have to roll with the punches and hope to remain standing at the end of it all.
That is strength.
The source of power lies in never having to use it.
I never again had a problem with my brother , who in time has come to be my greatest supporter and defender.

You tell me..

What defines a person?
How can you spot one in a crowd of millions?
Is it something that can be seen in his looks?
The way he walks and talks?
Is it hereditary?
A real man, or woman is one who is who he is not because but in spite of his appearance. Behind the talk, underneath the muscles and within the blood and bones there is a piece that refuses to yield. Something that only grows stronger and harder the more pressure you put it under.
Mark Twain once said, ‘The two most important days in your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why’.
I believe that there is a third day, although not so much a single day as it is the period from the moment one realizes ones reason for being born to his/ her death. It is the period spent in trying to bridge the gap between one’s self-actualization and actual perceived self. How near or far these two points are by the time the fat lady sings, well that’s something worth finding out about isn’t it?
You may not have the legs to tear up the race track
Or the arms to rip a cross court forehand
Or the ability to see ten steps ahead of the present
Does that make the task that much harder? Probably
Or the odds stacked against you that much higher? Definitely
But should that stop you from reaching for what you want?
…You tell me

Roadside Buddha


060What is the meaning of life?
How is one to attain happiness?
These are the type of introspective questions that are bound to pop up in one’s head from time.
I am no exception. Both in terms of thinking about life as well as in coming up empty handed.
Travelling by bus during the afternoon as the sun is a sullen red ball about to dip over the horizon, is perhaps the best time to indulge in actions lazy cousin; introspection.
And you just have to get a window seat or else all is lost.
As the bus meanders through the city and makes its way to the countryside the sea of humanity starts petering out until you catch a weathered old man reclining on a rickety charpoy puffing on a hookah, surrounded by his meager wheat field. A toddler crawls at his feet, probably grandson. There’s a look in the kids eyes that sparkles in anticipation of the stories that he will listen over a crackling fire under a starry sky.
In the background smoke rises from a mud house. A muscular and younger version of the old man carries a pail of milk to the open kitchen.
As the bus passes this scene I lock eyes with the old man. He nods.
I nod.
Is his life easier, more comfortable than mine? Not likely.
Is he happier than me? Perhaps, yes.
Would I trade places with him? Absolutely not.
What did I just see in those few seconds? Happiness? Maybe, sure why not.
Contentment? Absolutely.
And there it is. The meaning of life is what one chooses to make it. Happiness is not a path that one stumbles upon or finds through the sayings of a sage. In all probability these sages lived lives which were harder and troubled than we can imagine. But they learned to savor the few fleeting moments of happiness in between the troubled seas of life.
And so it is my friend. Happiness is cherishing those fifteen early morning minutes spent with your child before heading off for work. The meaning of life is fleeting. It changes as you change. Don’t beat yourself too much about it. Just find your source of happiness and hold on to it. Life will find its meaning accordingly.

Blink before you peak

where did the years go

Where did the years go?
One day you wake up and realize you are closer to 40 than to 30 and the sinking feeling in the pit of your love-handled-surrounded stomach lets you know that the net balance of those years is showing a deficit. You have nothing of significance to show for the decade since you stepped out of college, full of promise, hopes and dreams.
Now what?
Is it too late?
Should one give up? Reconcile with fate and trudge on towards that ‘elixir’ we have been spoon fed on; pension?
Don’t kid yourself, you know the answer. You always did. You were aware from the first day of the creeping vine of complacency as it twinned itself around your ankles and immobilized you one muscle at a time.
You are being fed, just enough to ensure that you can still nod when spoken to and sign your approval if and when required.
And that’s about it..
As the years go by, your body and mind develops a taste for this feed. Those organs that do not adapt to this sort of nourishment are atrophied and fall away by the wayside. Foremost among these is creativity and independence of thought. Once you find yourself starting every sentence with a ‘Sir if I may’ and ending with a ‘you are absolutely right Sir’, it is time to burn all your childhood photographs, for that person is gone, lost.
So, is there hope? Animals raised in captivity are not always able to survive once they are released in the wild. It all boils down to who you are and who you were before putting on the collar. You already know the answer to that, it is not important. What matters is what you are willing to live with. Freedom with the chances of being your own boss and enduring bleak days of famine and rejection, or servitude with a steady feed of bare essentials and an assurance of being put down humanely once your use is over. So which one is it?
You already know the answer.

As simple as catching a bus


'Dang! Every time I've almost caught up to the bus, the driver puts out that stupid stop sign.'

‘Dang! Every time I’ve almost caught up to the bus, the driver puts out that stupid stop sign.’

Believe me there’s a hell of a difference between having nothing to do and not feeling like doing anything.
Think of it both scenarios as a bus stop.
For starters the atmosphere is tenser in the former station.
Even though the seating is all leather cushion and the works,
yet you might as well be sitting on a bed of nails, what with all the pent up energy.
In the latter, you’re standing under a rickety shade and the next bus is hurtling towards you.
You have to make your way through a sea of humanity with your luggage to get to the bus and you only have a couple of seconds to do it.
But that doesn’t stop you from putting the load down, arching your back and tying your laces.
In your head; there’s always the next bus just right around the corner.

All Aboard!

train of thought

When one says ‘train of thought’ it is in fact exactly that.
Words are funny that way sometimes.
We might all be thinking the same thought but as with a train, we might pick up different aspects of the thought and thus, metaphorically speaking, climb onto a unique caboose within the same train.
Now whether we reach the same destination in the end or not will be determined by the other passengers in our caboose such as off shooting thoughts, personal views, biases, pre-conceived notions and not the least important; our intellect who is also in essence the protagonist trying to get on the train.

Anatomy of a Government Officer


It all starts from the shoes.
It has to.
They have been run ragged, scampering from floor to floor..pressed under the burden of massive, rotting, fly-stained files. Each time the wearer presents a new case to his superior with ‘submitted for kind perusal, please’ , the soles cave in on themselves a little more.
The socks are lucky that they do not need to be presentable or seen for it is too late for them. They have long ago lost the war to the big toe and have no identity or shape of their own anymore.
Next come the trousers. Legend has it that they were once a part of a suit. Maybe they still are together, maybe not. The rigors of working in the government have driven clefts between the staunchest of relationships. The trousers have seen better days. Now they just look slept in because they usually are. It is no longer advisable to look for the crease because their isn’t one to be found. They have long since crossed over the partition between trousers and shalwar. In fact, they are now categorized as ‘Shalwousers’. Of special mention are the knees which show more wear owing to decades spent smooching the floor, bent over.
The belt comes with the area, and disposition of the wearer. For those unlucky souls, still floundering in the choppy waters of the bureaucracy, the belt has lost its efficacy due to the countless times they have been futile in rescuing the trousers from being pulled down to knees in meetings by irate seniors –figuratively speaking ofcourse.
The shirt is irrelevant and comes into the equation not because of its texture or quality. Rather it is due to the monstrosity that it tries to encompass..the gut. Their ability or failure to ‘hold it all in’ is in fact the actual ACR of the officer if there ever was a need for one.
The gut is the end-all-be-all of the government officer. You can tell a lot about the government officer by the acreage of his/her pastureland (don’t kid yourselves’re in it too, although in case of females the gut readings are not as conclusive or accurate owing to difficulties in terms of norms and ethic involved in observation. Therefore, anthropologists have reverted to other tried and tested variables such as quantity of war paint and accompanying paraphernalia.)
If the buttons are down to their last threads, hanging on for dear life cliffhanger-style, you can tell the wearer has been classically conditioned in the art of seminar/workshop/meeting attendance. The gutsize of an officer is directly proportional to the number of meetings attended which is in turn, a dead give-away to the level of involvement in day-day government affairs. Because, lets face it; not much happens in all committee meetings involving done-to-death powerpoint presentations that does not involve tea, biscuits, sandwiches, patties, working lunch ..*starts to drool*
One of the first thing a government officer learns is to never..NEVER pass on a chance to feed the gut. There may not be any free lunches in life, but if you play your cards well and are willing to take minutes of meetings, you can assure yourself a pre-retirement era of free luncheons.
Moving on.
There are two things that define a government officer; a tie and cufflinks. After a few years in the service, an officer can easily quit his job and open up a tie and cufflink shop. No matter what the weather; come hail, snow or fire the government officer will be sporting a tie that will have seen better days. Cufflinks will mostly be sported by officers whose hands are in full view most of the time. Be it holding the millions of files as they scamper after their boss or the food plate while heading out for refills on state-sponsored buffets. Nothing says ‘made it’ like a gleaming pair of cufflinks-one of many presented to the wearer on prior such ‘meetings’. And that my friends is what we call ‘the circle of life’.
The coat has spent more days hanging on the shoulders of the chair than on those of the owner. It thus, performs two important functions; on the chair it is a constant reminder to snooping seniors who are liable to burst in on any day that the wearer is present and on premises, even though he isn’t. On the occasions when the coat has been spotted in the company of a live person, it is easy to mistake it for a shawl, kurta or even a jacket..depending upon the mileage the apparel has accrued.
Sitting on top of this amalgam is the owner; the government officer. A quivering double chin that has heard more ‘no’s’ than ‘yes’s’, fed on years and years of office tea and samosas leads up to a pair of lips that have been frozen into a scowl that strives to resemble a smile. Spectacles are mere decorations, eyesight has long since been considered obsolete along with other mental faculties. The officer performs purely on muscle and gut memory.
The crowning glory of the specimen is a clear and shiny helipad that has been created over the course of days, weeks and years pulling out hair, one follicle at a time.
And there you have it ladies and gentlemen! Boys and girls! Your beloved government officer.
Disclaimer: Resemblance to any uncle, father, aunty, brother, sister is purely coincidental.
Corollary: (i) It must be noted that the size of the gut is irrespective and in most cases, in contrast to the overall health of the officer.
(ii) Government officers are rarely spotted in isolation. They travel in packs and feed off of each other’s company.
(iii) There are further sub-species within, known as ‘service groups’ which may differ slightly.