Monday, January 12, 2015

Because compassion will cure more sins than condemnation ...

As I watch the almost non-stop coverage on certain television channels on the outpouring of grief and condemnation on the Paris Terror attack on Charlie Hebdo, I wonder what it must be like to be a Muslim in France right now. I’m sticking my neck out and taking a view on religion and a country which I rarely do, but here it is anyway.

In my country of birth, I am neither part of a minority religion or demographic outcast in any way (so you're also right when you think "how in the world can you be so sure, anup"), in fact I’m the antithesis to all of that , so yes, this is not a feeling I have never personally experienced. But here I was sitting and feeling a touch of sadness (not pity, sadness I repeat) on the average peace loving Khaled or Khadija living in France right now.

From tomorrow onwards, He or She would be someone who would compulsorily have to smile through cartoons and ridicules which question and insult the very thoughts, beliefs and way of life. I can imagine an office cafeteria conversation going on about Charlie Hebdo’s cartoon in the day’s papers and if Khaled walked past, he would be under immense social pressure to publicly join the little joke. However if Khaled were to make a remark with the slightest hint of disappointment on the cartoon or the cartoonist on at the portrayal of his beliefs, he would be looked on with deep suspicion. Khaled’s name, his well-trimmed beard, his summer holiday to Jordan and the Quran on his desk is all that is needed to make him a suspected Social Pariah.

Condemning the vile act by three mad men is important, but in the same breath spare a prayer for those 5 million+ innocent Muslims living in France being subject to those silent stares.

#Jesuischarlie but I think we also need to take a moment and think deep if borderline vile and derogatory cartoons on people’s cherished beliefs and value systems, should be condemned or praised.

In closing all that comes to my mind is that condemnation and all of that is good, but remember that compassion and empathy will cure more sins than condemnation...

P.S Just Saying...Khaled or Kadija are purely ficticious cvharecters and do not resemble anyone I know

Sunday, July 13, 2014

..because an eye for an eye clearly isn't working

I woke up today morning to see this picture on the Washington Post shared through a social media site on my timeline. I shall never understand that human mind which resulted in this war, the mindless killing in the name of religious differences and geographies, or the war between Israel and Palestine. Surely, no one in the right frame of mind can agree that killing of children in the name of war and land!

I’m not an expert on the crisis, but I do have Palestinian friends and Jewish friends, who both justifications for this hatred and killing. Is killing children and humanity really the answer? 60 years of violence and war has resulted in nothing but more killing (here's an interesting video shared by a friend of mine the other day on the whole crisis, if you dont know anything about it) and I think it’s time to change approach.

It made me think, what would happen to Israel’s stance if there had been a Palestinian equivalent to Gandhi, Mandela, King or the Dalai Lama whom they had to fight against? When Gandhi said “In a Gentle way, you can shake the world”, he walked the talk in every sense and gave India the freedom from a century old British rule. When Nelson Mandela said “Courageous people do not fear forgiving for the sake of peace”, he proved to millions that Blacks had an equal right on their land without firing a shot. When Martin Luther King rallied humanity with his words “Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that; Hate cannot drive out hate only love can do that”, I think maybe there are a few words in there for Palestine to listen. 

If there is any weapon that can break into Israel’s Iron Dome missile system, then it is Nonviolence. Love, my friends, is the most powerful weapon that has ever been invented, and when you shower your enemy with non-violence, there is no missile system that can protect enemy.

Among the thousands of children born Palestinian every year, I hope and pray for a Gandhi or Mandela to be born among them, I hope for one man or woman to be born who would stand up and tower herself or himself over the Israelis and wield that sword of non-violence and cut into their hearts without wounding them.

In the month of Ramdan, whichever side you belong to, I'll be praying for peace for your beautiful land....

Peace...

Monday, April 9, 2012

School Notes - Part 1

Nowadays, I’ve been dropping Adi to school in the mornings due to some technical issues with his school bus routine. Today we’re running a bit late and I’ve just put on my best Michael Schumacher hat, stepped on the gas pedal and  managed to drop Adi before the 7.40 bell rings.

I don’t know if it is just me being in a grumpy morning mood, but to make matters worse, a heavily made up, garish red lipsticked mom who had her kid in tow, bumped straight into me. She mumbled an apology, but what struck me was, why the heck was she dressed up like THAT. It was early morning, and what in the world motivates someone to dress up like that to drop their child to SCHOOL! I mean, you’re not coming for a social do, are u?
So I decided to list down the kind of characters that I've had to grin and bear while dropping my kid to school 

Specimen 1: Mrs Red lipstick – The red lipsticked, short skirted, SUV driving Mom (who cant park in her given parking space) of a 10 year old clearly needs to be reminded by someone that its easier to just walk around with a sign board on her neck saying “available”

Specimen 2: Mrs. Botox – Clearly Mrs Botox has had herself botoxed from some discount offer available during Dubai Shopping festival, else why will her face look like that!!! unless she got a free Nose job (which went all wrong) and a lip job (and whatever else jobs) as part of her Botox offer. Someone needs to tell her that there’s something called a “aging gracefully” look most men like better than her current state of affairs.

Specimen 3: Mr. Suits – Mr Suits is always in suits, almost makes me feel he sleeps in them also. Yesterday Mr. Suits was clearly wearing his best suit possible. Grey suit with little white prints, grey tie and hair dripping gel. Maybe he should just ask out Specimen number 2 for a date!

Specimen 4: Mr. Bum Crack – This specimen was the worst disaster I have had to encounter. He was this late 30s beer bellied chap, who seems to think he’s still in his teens and can carry off wearing those low slung jeans with his boxers in view. So when he bent over and kissed his child bye, yours truly had to go through the agony of having full view of his hairy butt crack for a full 2 milliseconds! 

Oh groan!

A Man. A Woman. Just Friends?

(Reproduced from NY Times/Sunday Times)


Very interesting, thought provoking article which I came across. The Sunday Times is a paid membership so some of you may not be able to read it, so yours truly, just blatantly went ahead and copied it into his blog :). Read on and enjoy.



CAN men and women be friends? We have been asking ourselves that question for a long time, and the answer is usually no. The movie “When Harry Met Sally...” provides the locus classicus. The problem, Harry famously explains, is that “the sex part always gets in the way.” Heterosexual people of the opposite sex may claim to be just friends, the message goes, but count on it — wink, wink, nudge, nudge — something more’s going on. Popular culture enforces the notion relentlessly. In movie after movie, show after show, the narrative arc is the same. What starts as friendship(Ross and Rachel, Monica and Chandler) ends up in bed.

There’s a history here, and it’s a surprisingly political one. Friendship between the sexes was more or less unknown in traditional society. Men and women occupied different spheres, and women were regarded as inferior in any case. A few epistolary friendships between monastics, a few relationships in literary and court circles, but beyond that, cross-sex friendship was as unthinkable in Western society as it still is in many cultures.

Then came feminism — specifically, Mary Wollstonecraft, the mother of feminism, in the late 18th century. Wollstonecraft was actually wary of platonic relationships, which could lead too easily, she thought, to mischief. (She had a child out of wedlock herself.) But she did believe that friendship, “the most sublime of all affections,” should be the mainspring of marriage.

In the 1890s, when feminism emerged from the drawing rooms and genteel committees to become a mass, radical movement (the term “feminism” itself was coined in 1895), friendship reappeared as a political demand. This was the time of the “New Woman,” portrayed in fiction and endlessly debated in the press.

The New Woman was intelligent, well read, strong-willed, idealistic, unconventional and outspoken. For her, relationships with men, whether or not they involved sex, had to involve mental companionship, freedom of choice, equality and mutual respect. They had, in short, to be friendships. Just as suffrage represented feminism’s vision of the political future, friendship represented its vision of the personal future, the central term of a renegotiated sexual contract.

Easier said than done, of course. But the notion of friendship as the root of romantic relationships started to seep into the culture. The terms “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” also began to appear in the 1890s.

We take the words for granted now, but think of what they imply, and what a new idea it was: that romantic partners share more than erotic passion, that companionship and equality are part of the relationship. A boyfriend is a friend, as well as a lover. As for husband and wife, Wollstonecraft’s ideal has long since become a cliché. Who doesn’t think of their spouse — or claim to think of them, or want to think of them — as their best friend?

So friendship now is part of what we mean by love. Still, that doesn’t get us to platonic relationships. For that we needed yet another wave of feminism, the one that started in the 1960s. Friendship wasn’t part of the demand this time, but the things that were demanded — equal rights and opportunities in every sphere — created the conditions for it. Only once the sexes mixed on equal and familiar terms at school, at work and in the social spaces in between — only once it was normal and even boring to see a member of the opposite sex at the next desk — could platonic friendships become an ordinary part of life.

And that’s exactly what has happened.

Friendships with members of the opposite sex have been an important part of my life since I went to high school in the late 1970s, and I hardly think I’m alone. Consult your own experience, but as I look around, I don’t see that platonic friendships are actually rare at all or worthy of a lot of winks and nudges. Which is why you don’t much hear the term anymore. Platonic friendships now are simply friendships. But doesn’t the sex thing get in the way? At times, no doubt. It’s harder for the young, of course — all those hormones, and so many of your peers are unattached. In fact, one of the most common solutions to Harry’s quandary is to have sex and then remain friends. If the sex thing gets in the way, the answer often seems to be to just get it out of the way.

But it doesn’t always get in the way. Maybe you’re not attracted to each other. Maybe you know it would never work out, so it’s not worth screwing up your friendship. Maybe that’s just not what it’s about.

So if it’s common now for men and women to be friends, why do we so rarely see it in popular culture? Partly, it’s a narrative problem. Friendship isn’t courtship. It doesn’t have a beginning, a middle and an end. Stories about friendships of any kind are relatively rare, especially given what a huge place the relationships have in our lives. And of course, they’re not sexy. Put a man and a woman together in a movie or a novel, and we expect the sparks to fly. Yet it isn’t just a narrative problem, or a Hollywood problem.

We have trouble, in our culture, with any love that isn’t based on sex or blood. We understand romantic relationships, and we understand family, and that’s about all we seem to understand.

We have trouble with mentorship, the asymmetric love of master and apprentice, professor and student, guide and guided; we have trouble with comradeship, the bond that comes from shared, intense work; and we have trouble with friendship, at least of the intimate kind. When we imagine those relationships, we seem to have to sexualize them.

Close friendships between members of the same sex, after all, are also suspect. Even Oprah has had to defend her relationship with Gayle King, and as for men and men, forget about it.

I cannot think of another area of our lives in which there is so great a gap between what we do and what our culture says we do. But maybe things are beginning to change. Younger people, having grown up with the gay-rights movement and in many cases gone to colleges with co-ed dormitories, are open to a wider range of emotional possibility.

Friendship between the sexes may no longer be a political issue, but it is an issue of liberation: the freedom to love whom you want, in the way that you want. Maybe it’s time that we all took it out of the closet.

Reproduced from the NY Times - Sunday Review Op-ed.

Monday, March 26, 2012

Random impressions

I may be rambling here, but am just in one of those moods today and came across this scribbling that I had done in a novel which I had bought on 04/03/2001.

she left impressions in the sands of time
washed into infinity by a rouge wave's climb,
the yearning never stops with one life,
entwined forever as man and wife.

Generations have come,eons shall succumb
The ocean waves will continue to drum
and then the rare few shall always create
Impressions in the sands of time forever

I dont even remember why or when I wrote it this, its just one of those scribbled things. I'll pick up on this when I remember what the heck this was all about.

PS: Ignore the madness

Friday, March 2, 2012

Every sinner has a future

A while back I happened to re-read the line "Every Saint has a past and every sinner has a future". It remained in my mind for a long time. I wrangled with the statement and tried to find parallels from my personal experiences of people around me, and I found several.

Here is something that I spotted today, in the FT Weekend edition titled 'Syria activists risk all on Homs supply runs'. It told the story of how professional smugglers were helping Syrian activists in bringing in medical supplies into Homs and taking out the wounded into safety.

One smuggler who initially started doing this for material gains, is doing the same for the sheer joy of helping the needy.

"I am so happy and proud to do such a thing" he says. "I am helping poor people who are asking only for freedom"

Here's to freedom, here's to a better world; Here's hoping that every sinner has a future, because every saint has a past!

Dont try and figure if there's a long overdue confession hidden somewhere in these lines above...its called writer's license (aka poetic license) ;)

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

...because failure is an event, not a person

Over the past year, I have pondered several times on education. No, I don’t plan to get back to college again, but the last year gave me quite a bit of time to think on Adi’s education. Living in Dubai gives you so many options for your child’s education (The UK Board, International board, Indian, American Medium etc.), that it sometimes confuses you.

My perennial crib and biggest fear with the Indian Education system is that it refuses to teach children values like innovation, humanity, empathy or social good and seems to drive them towards a single minded goal of becoming fat cat bankers or a faithful, analytical, white collar “employee” who is destined to a life of mediocrity making power-point decks or coding software.

I wish education systems also teach children that failing sometimes is not a crime. My take is that failing while trying something spectacular (and unconventional) is not a crime. I want them to be taught that, with each failure, they should just forgive themselves and move on into the next spectacular untested idea in their chosen passion. As I read somewhere, I want them to be taught that "walker there is no path; the path is made by walking"

It is but definitive that in our children’s lifetime, they will encounter far more black swans than the ones we have seen in the past decade (Dot com bust, US Sub Prime, Greek Debt, Middle East realty, War etc) and it is not education, for the sake of education which will help them survive through the same.

Across these economic catastrophes, intentionally or unintentionally, I have seen several friends and peers switch career paths and try the untested. Some succeeded; some remain in comatose while a few others have met abject and complete failure.

Without naming them publicly, here’s a sample of a few that got me thinking :

 - Friend who worked with some of the best known TV stations in media sales/ Asia; leaves it, and starts an adventure travel company (happily converting her passion to her profession)

- Asset Manager/ stock broker starts a slick deli/ restaurant in Dubai after he got retrenched from his job last year

- Finance manager in an IT company who starts his own IT company and finally ends up selling it and ends up rejoining the industry as an employee all in the last 18 months

 - And the most exciting of all, is that a close confidante, is in the process of setting up an amazing web 2.0 venture/ tech venture based out of Dubai. From what she studied to become, to what she's doing now & where she's headed...the trajectory is definitely upwards :)

The one common thread in those who succeeded (after failing elsewhere), has been that I found them to be more well rounded human beings.

By “Well rounded”, I mean those who have strong foundations, a cosmopolitan/global view of life and higher sensibilities. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mean to say that those whom I have seen succeeding were fans of Luciano Pavarotti and Mozart, I mean to say I found them to have absolute clarity on what they wanted out of life and knew how to live life to the fullest.


and then I wonder,if its just nature or nurture that endowed them so...