Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Theory of difficulty - 2

If I accept that it is a difficult task to manage you along with work, complaining alone will not help. It might get some sympathy but doesn't help me solve the problem. I need to look at available solutions as well. What are the options that we have? Having some one from India will surely help. But that doesn't work for us. One of us can chose to stay at home. That one has to be Ashwini for many reasons. But that won't help much as well as she will be loaded with all the work. She will still have to depend upon me for few things. The only sound option is to go back to India. That would work really well as there is no dearth of helping hands there. Even if I can't find any support within the family, I can still employ someone for household work. We had a maid for household work when it was just two of us staying in Bangalore. So moving back would surely solve all our problems if we think it is a problem. Then why are we not going back to India? No one has forced us to come here to lead a tough life. No one is begging us to stay here for longer.

If we go back to India, it will surely make our job easier as per as your care is concerned. However it will take away the comfort of our life style from many other aspects. The roads will not be as smooth as here. The environment will not be as clean as here. The healthcare will not be as efficient as here. It will fix one problem but will end up adding others. However, none of them would have appeared as problems if we have hadn't lived here for last 5 years. Five years of comfortable lifestyle had made us forget the life style we were used for more than 25 years! It was the same experience I had after moving to Bangalore for work! The coastal weather had suddenly turned hard to bear though my body was used to it for 22 years of my life!

My mother used to tell some interesting stories of her life. When they were kids, they even had to struggle for stomach full of food. Though poverty was very common during those days, there was no shortage of rice for living. Still the elders were too cautious about the future and used to provide as little as possible to them. They were neither allowed to go to school or enjoy the childhood like we used to do.

The conditions under which we were brought up was entirely different from the conditions in which you are growing. We are taking care of you without much help from our family due to our personal reasons. However my mother didn't have great support when she brought up four of us. There wasn't much place for us in my fathers house due to the big undivided family there. My grand mother was restricted to bed due to her illness, so she was an additional responsibility along with us. My father couldn't come home everyday due to work and other reasons. We were grown up mainly with the support from our neighbours and one of our aunt.

The village where we grew up had no roads. The nearest hospital was nearly 5 miles from home out of which around 3 miles were walk way. The availability of buses to rest of the journey was also very limited. There were no doctors in our village neither any vehicles to rent. When one of us fell ill, either my mother or grandfather used to walk those five miles carrying us on their shoulder. Without any access to the medical information, without any knowledge of basic health care issues, I can only imagine how difficult it would have been for them when we started getting different illnesses.

Apart from the normal difficulties that we are also facing, they also had to undergo some unusual issues. Our house was very close to the river. During rainy season there used to be floods surrounding our house completely with the water. Some times it used to take 3-4 days to go down and we would be completely cut off from the outside world. There were 2-3 cases where it even came till our kitchen forcing us to vacate the house. Our house was very old and it would often invite unintended guests like snakes, scorpions etc. Spiders and centipedes were more common. Surrounding our houses there were also couple of open wells and ponds. They had to watch and protect us from all these things as well in addition. Here we are even afraid of leaving you on your own in protected rooms. Imagine how difficult it would have been for them.

There are hundreds of such issues that they had to face while bringing us up. There are others, in our family itself who had to face even tougher times. If I compare what they had to go through with us, there is no way I can call anything that we are facing as tough task. Still, if we feel that it is tough, we really don't have any idea about the real problems people are facing. It isn't just our problem. People in general have very short memory. A short stint in Bangalore makes me completely forget about the humid, hot coastal weather that I had grew up with. A short stint in western country makes it really hard for me to adjust back to the Indian lifestyle that I lived for 28 years. My definition of difficulty is changing fast with the time. In other words, there isn't anything called absolute difficulty. Everything is relative.

For a person striving hard to earn his bread, people like us are living a heavenly life. Where as people like us despite having everything essential in life worry too much about things that we don't have! The more I think about the nature of difficulty, the less I feel I have understood it. When should I really call a situation as difficult? Is it always relative or is there a point at which the comparison ceases to exist? My definition of difficulty is a tough situation without an easy way out. An unfavourable situation imposed on me without my consent. A situation that makes my present miserable even after concentrating all my efforts, resources on that. Certainly your care is not one of that. This is neither imposed nor unsolvable. If it can be fixed, there is no point in calling it as difficulty. If we really think it is difficult, is just because of a failed judgement over priorities of life!

Think of people having chronic illness that disrupts all their plans of life. Think of people under dire poverty where meeting two ends of meal itself is a challenge. Think of people who have lost all their hope of having a better life. There are millions of people facing these difficulties every minute, still some of them are optimistic about their future. Whereas millions of people with all the basic necessities or even the luxuries of life still feel they are leading a miserable life. The more you look at what you don't have ignoring what you have already got, the more difficult the life becomes. Without facing difficulties, it is hard to realize what happiness really means. The more I understand it the more I enjoy these circumstances. I don't complain about my changed life because I don't have the right to complain. The change might irritate me at times, but it will surely make me delighted to look back few years down the line!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Theory of difficulty - 1

Dear Arjun and Anirudh,

Have I ever told you how difficult it is to manage you both? Probably not. I was often told by people that we are doing a great job of coping with you and our work. I just smile to them, without starting with my long story. I am sure you are willing to hear the story of our daily routine atleast once. You can decide for yourself later whether it is a tough task or not.

Ashwini gets up at 6:30 in the morning, prepares the breakfast and leaves to her office at 7:30AM. I get up quite late between 8:00-9:30. It is a complex algorithm depending upon too many factors which even I don't understand properly. Then I get ready for office which only takes half an hour. Since I have to drop you to child minder on my way to office, I need to get both of you ready for that. That involves a series of sub tasks like brushing, searching for dresses, changing nappies, putting two three layers of clothes etc. It also used to involve giving the breakfast which I managed to offload to your child minder. Occasionally I end up sharing my breakfast with you as it is difficult for me to get ready when you are awake. Then I drop you to child minder on my way to office. When the weather is not friendly, taking you till the car itself is a pain. The moment I drop your hand, I invite all sorts of problems.

For us office is the place for relaxing. It doesn't mean that we don't do any work at office. It is much easier compared to our struggle at home. Since we have to pay our child minder on hourly basis, I only spend around 7 hours at office. I have successfully convinced my manager that I work very hard after going home as well by sending mails late night. So leaving office early was never a problem for me. Then I pickup you both and return back to home between 6:00-6:30PM. After that I start preparing for the dinner. Since you don't allow me to do anything, I also need to make sure that there is a constant supply of snacks to keep you occupied. Ashwini will come back home at around 7:30 and then takeover the kitchen responsibility, while I take care of you. By the time your food is ready it will be 8:00PM. Then she will start feeding you which will take around 30 minutes to one hour depending on your mood. Meanwhile I take some rest locking myself to the laptop for 30 minutes. Then I take bath and prepare things ready for your bath. You will be ready for the bath by that time and I give bath to one of you. Ashwini will clean the mess you created during dinner and give bath to another when I am done. After your bath she will take bath while I play with you for 10-20 minutes. You will be ready to sleep at around 9:30 and it is my task to make you sleep. That is another nightmare task which takes around 1 hour. Meanwhile Ashwini will complete the kitchen duty for our dinner. When you are fast asleep it will be around 10:30 to 11:00. That is when we get our complete freedom back! Ashwini will get a solid 1 hour break and I get 2 before we go to bed. Ofcourse we have to do some office work as well in that time, but we are not allowed to count that as work!

Friday is a special day as we both work from home to save some money from child minder. Working from home and managing you both is nothing short of any adventure. The routine remains the same, except that Ashwini will have to take the extra responsibility of giving you both breakfast and lunch. Her office is more demanding compared to mine so she needs to take more calls while working from home. During calls, only one of us can work(or pretend to work). Luckily putting you to sleep in the afternoon is much easier, so we get a good 2 hours of time to work peacefully!

The weekends aren't any less challenging. In fact we prefer weekdays to weekends in most of the days. We don't have to do office work, but there will be loads of other work like shopping, grocery shopping, cleaning etc. Managing time for all these is definitely tougher than doing the regular office work!

All these are assuming things are going normal. But things will seldom be normal. Every week you will attract some kind of bug and disrupt our schedule completely. Most of the time one of you will catch the bug, play with it for a week and then pass it to the next one. Everything will take double the effort when you are down with those bugs. Our schedule will be updated with frequent visits to GP and hospital . We don't get free sick leave for your illness, so it is a bigger problem on week days. In addition to the work, it is also a problem for the sleep. If you don't sleep peacefully, we can't think of sleeping either. When you are sick you throw up more than what you take in. In addition to cleaning that, we will also end up changing a lot of clothes with a big pile for washing! The medicines also needs to be given in time so we end up keeping the alarm for odd hours. Most of the time we keep doing that for 10-15 days in a row!

Some people were saying earlier that having twins is a problem only at the beginning. As they grow older, they will play together paying back the time that they have taken earlier. We are waiting for that day eagerly, since a long time. I am not really sure whether that day will come any time sooner. You guys like to fight with each other more than you want to play with each other. No matter how many different toys you were given, you always want the one in others hand! More often it turns physical with one you hurting the other badly. None of the solutions in the internet works when it come to these matters. However we do see one of you playing in your own world sometimes. Unfortunately that often happens when the other one is down with fever! 

So what do you think about our daily routine? Is it really a difficult job? You don't have to tell me. Your answer doesn't matter. May be it looks difficult in the eyes of some people. May be it looks monotonous to some people. But I don't think it is a difficult job. There were definitely times when I had lost my control yelling at you. There were definitely times when we felt it was too difficult to continue with that kind of routine. There were definitely times when it all looked too monotonous. But I can assure you that all those were momentary times. I never really complained to anyone saying it is a difficult job. I couldn't complain because I didn't have the right to complain...

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The passport story - day 2

Dear Arjun and Anirudh,

In a way, it wasn't that bad. If you were not twins, I wouldn't have avoided going to the embassy for the second time. Other than that, I didn't have anything else to calm myself. I have wasted 9 hours waiting for nothing.

After reaching home, I immediately opened their website. I had to continue my cursing for asking those useless self attested copies without mentioning it in the website. Surprise, surprise! By the time I reached home, they have already updated their website. It clearly mentions about the self attested photo copies for the passport application now! How can that happen. I clearly remember going through that at-least thrice. Selective reading! I can read only what I wanted to read. The concept of the self attested photocopy with originals has become so alien to me that I couldn't notice that even after going through it multiple times. Whom should I blame now? The officer who was blindly following the procedure without any concession? The age old policy itself? Or my blindness due to preconceived notions?

I went to the embassy again after two days. Same routine. Get up early in the morning, travel to London, stand in the queue in biting cold for 2 hours. Wait for one more hour inside the embassy. Finally my turn came. I had to avoid the person with whom I had already had a big fight. I can't trust these people. Even if all the documents are fine, they can still find ways of harassing. Luckily, I didn't had to do anything to avoid him. I gave all the documents one by one. I was an expert in this process now. Everything got finished in just 10 minutes!

I came out of the embassy happily and took a tube to Hounslow, where I had parked my car. That is close to an hour journey. It was off peak time, so it wasn't that crowded. I got a seat to sit. After sitting, I really wished I hadn't! In-front of me, there was a lady of Indian origin. I think she was somewhere between 30-35. For an Asian origin, her dress was irritatingly liberal, exposing her thunder thighs! I was in a fix. How can I be normal? If I just look straight, I will be only looking at her. In normal situations that is fine. But with her extra liberal revealing dress, it was difficult. If I don't look at her at all, that will look too odd. I didn't even had a book to pretend reading something. It was really irritating, but I tried to be as normal as possible, as if I wasn't bothered with her dress at all.

All of a sudden, her face turned red with anger and she got up and charged towards me. 'You old bastard, what are you doing, what are you looking at', she screamed at the top of her voice. I was completely nervous and my face turned white in shame! I was certainly not peeking at her thunder thighs! Well, that is not entirely true. Unless you were making some effort, you will be looking only at her thighs! Did she misunderstood me if I had accidentally looked at her revealing dress? Even if I did, why would she really get so upset. Obviously she has dressed up like that for others to see.

'Show me your phone, show me your phone' she shouted and reached towards me. And then, she tried to snatch the phone from the person sitting next to me! I was relieved! Apparently the person sitting next to me was using his phone to take her photos or videos. She saw the reflection of the phone screen from the train window and understood what he was getting at. I knew he was constantly looking at the phone but didn't realize he had the courage to do that so openly. He looked like a silent person of asian origin aging between 40-50.

Her mother was also there and both of them started scolding him with all the beautiful words in their vocabulary. I could never imagine me scolding anyone with that language. Anyways he deserved it. She even hit him twice in the attempt of grabbing his phone. He constantly refused that he didn't take any video. But it was very obvious to everyone as what he was doing. That is the reason he couldn't give his phone to check the same. Both mother and the daughter continued their abuses threatening him to call the police. I was in a dilemma now. Should I continue to sit next to this peeping Tom or should I move to a different place? I couldn't decide anything quickly. They would have continued with their scolding for some more time, but their stop came next and they had to get down the train. Just before getting down the old lady uttered another abuse. 'I pray to god that your daughter gets raped terribly'!

What! What the %*£# are you talking? Why are you bringing his daughter to this issue. Why should she get punished for her fathers fault? By the look of her, I was sure she would have enjoyed seeing that horrible act. Now I was in a bigger dilemma. Who is the lesser evil of these two people? The guy who took a secret photo of the lady exposing herself or the lady who wished his daughter pay the price for the mistakes of his father! How can a lady who can't withstand her daughter getting illegally photographed, withstand someones innocent daughter getting raped? How shame it is to be an elderly women without being compassionate to another women. The sayings are definitely true, women are their own worst enemies. It is certainly not the first time I am witnessing that, sadly. Anyways, she at-least solved my first dilemma. There was no need for me to change the seat!

I got your passports after a week. They were also supposed to send a document about the birth certificate, which never came. I didn't have the patience to call the embassy to track that. I just hoped I will never need that document. Between, here is your passport. Even I can't believe that is really yours, but certainly it is!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The passport story - day 1

Dear Arjun and Anirudh,

You know that your first 17 days were spent in the special care unit at hospital. After you came home, there was some pressure on me to get your passports sorted as quickly as possible. Our family members were really sceptical about our ability to take care of you without their support. I wasn't paying much attention to their concern, so dragged it to 3 more months. But we couldn't drag that further as we had to book our flight tickets for your first India visit.

Apparently, getting the Indian passport is as tough as getting the UK visa. That is probably true for any work that needs to be done at Indian embassy or any other government office. I wasn't that sure whether it is really that difficult or people feel it that way after getting used to UK culture. I didn't want to risk much, so talked to one of my friends who had gone through the pain fairly recently. Based on the inputs from him, I went to Indian embassy site, downloaded and filled all the forms. Taking the photo was a challenge, especially when you want to save some money and want to avoid going out to a photo booth in the winter. So, I started taking your passport photo myself. There are quite nice websites which helps you in creating the passport size photos for a fraction of the money that you pay for the professionals. But taking the photo was a bit of challenge as you were just 3 months old. You still needed head support and having a clean white background masking the supporting hand wasn't really that easy. Somehow we managed to get some acceptable photos meeting the requirements. If you didn't like your first passport photo, please don't blame me. With all the effort, I couldn't make you look any batter!

Indian embassy in London is truly committed to give the feel of India to everyone coming there. So, they haven't implemented any appointment system. Based on the suggestions, I went there fairly early in the morning. I had to start at around 5:30 to reach the queue at 7:30AM. I am not used to getting up early and to the horrible early morning cold. There were already 15 people in the queue before me. We had to wait for close to 2 hours to get the token number. They have also retained our culture of making every official process purposefully complicated. To get the passport, we first had to register your birth at the embassy as a separate process paying separate fee. After that I had to go out looking for a photocopy shop to get some documents photo copied and then to a post office to get a return envelop. I have no idea why it needs to be so complicated.

After that, I went to the passport counter. But my token number was already been called as it was more than an hour in the registration section. I managed to submit my forms ignoring their call based on the token number. There were only two counters for passport service. When I submitted my forms to the officer, his look was typical of a strict school teacher. A teacher who knows that the student has copied his homework without even checking it. I submitted two forms together, to get some sympathy. I was used to get sympathy everywhere I go because of you both. People here really understand the pain of bringing-up new born babies. When it is double, the trouble is also double, as well as the attention and sympathy. However, I was in the counter of Indian embassy. A nation having more than a billion people. A nation where it isn't manly to understand the pain of bringing-up new born babies. Of-course, I can't expect them to understand that I may not have had good sleep for days and needed some courtesy. I can only blame my eyes or spectacles for masking my tiredness of sleep deprivation. Even if it was evident, I would have been grateful if they haven't mistaken that for a hangover. Anyways, after giving two forms, I obediently took one back as he ordered me to submit one at a time. He looked at all the documents, wrote down few things and then asked for the photo copies. I was fairly sure everything was fine. Of-course I had already talked to my friend and looked at their website several times. Then he asked 'where is the signature on the photo copy'?

What? Signature on a photo copy. Dude, I have given you all the originals. Why do you need a self attested photo copy when you can verify that from the originals itself? If you really needed a self attested photo copy, why don't you mention that clearly in the website. You didn't ask for a self attested copy for the same document that I had submitted earlier for the birth registration. But I knew there is no point in arguing about the useless process with them. That will only ignite their ego without any benefit for me. So, I said I will get the signature and come back. I took the token back as I won't be able to enter again without that.

I put my signatures on all the copies, But how do I get Ashwini's signatures as she is probably 4 hours away from the place. What if I forge her signature? Will they come to know about that? If I look at my own signatures, I really can't be sure that they are all really mine. It is so hard to get all the signatures look alike. Given that, why would they even want to verify those signatures when the original documents are in-front of them. I am not trying to sell anything to anyone. I am only trying to get a passport for my new born babies. Why would they really think I would indulge in some kind of shady business to get a passport for my babies. But, I am dealing with Indian government officials. There isn't much room for rational thinking here. So, I called up my wife. She said 'just sign on the copy. Legally they don't have any reason to complain as I don't have any complaints about the same'. That looked logical to me. Without a complaint from the person whose signature is forged, what can they really do. I checked with her again and she seemed quite confident about that. I forged her signature on the photo copies and went inside with a slight fear of doing something wrong.

I was sure it won't be smooth if I go to the same person. So, I waited for the right opportunity to submit my documents in a different counter. Luckily I observed that a lady also forged her husband's signature in-front of the officer and he just gave her a warning, but didn't reject the documents. So went to him, gave the token and submitted all the documents. Then he asked for the photo copies. I gave them too. But I realized I still had forgotten to put a signature in one of Ashwini's copies. How irresponsible I was! But it was too late. I looked at the officer. He was busy verifying my documents. I quickly forged her sign in the paper and passed it to him. But to my unluck, he was really intelligent! He checked the copy twice and yelled at me, 'this isn't your wife's signature'. Yes, I know that, but what other option had you left for me. I replied 'No, it is my wife's signature. All the signatures can't be similar. Look at my own signature in different forms. They don't look similar either'. There was confidence in my defence. 'Do you think I am a fool. I have seen you forging the signature in front of my eyes. I will take you to court in the forgery case. We do have security cameras that might have caught you red handed', he retorted back. There was more anger in his voice. 'By all means go to the court. That is my wife's signature. There is no need for me to forge when I have the original copy'. I thought there can't be a legal case after speaking to Ashwini. But looking at his anger and confidence, I wasn't really sure about that now. But I didn't think the security cameras will have enough clarity as to know whose signature I was putting. I wasn't even sure he will have the intention/time to take me to court. That gave me a dumb courage. He continued yelling at me framing me as fraud, an insult to the nation. I reminded him that he also accepted a similar forged document from the previous lady though she accepted that it was forged. That didn't make much difference. I continued my argument for a while. Realized that it is not going to take me anywhere. Then I started pleading. I explained him how difficult it is to manage two babies, how overly complicated this process really is, how difficult it would be to repeat the same process again. That didn't work either. Then I told him 'if you don't believe that it is really my wife's signature, I will go and get her signature again. It won't take more than an hour'. He wasn't ready to accept that either. 'You have already cheated once, I can't believe you. You have to come again. I am not giving you the token again' and he tore it off in-front of me. I was boiling with the anger and helplessness. But there was nothing I could have done to convince them. He would have been convinced if I was a good looking hindi speaking lady! If my scolding had any power, he wouldn't have been discharged from the hospital for few months!

Sunday, October 27, 2013

AAP: Is that the Hope?

I have been asking this question to myself from a long time. What makes me think that AAP will not be just another party in the long run? What makes me really think that they are capable of breaking the old saying 'power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely!'. Do I have any proof that they are really different or is it just my emotion of helplessness against the system that is keeping me optimistic about them. I have heard several other people raising the same questions many times with some valid reasons as well. Every time I heard those questions, I have tried to convince myself by telling repeatedly that they will be different. But, am I really convinced clearly about that or am I still letting that ray of hope to speak on behalf of me? Perhaps it is time to clarify my stand clearly.

Before AAP came into existence, I have been a big fan of Jayaprakash Narayan from Lok Satta party. He is an idealistic man I still respect and accept as one of the finest politicians I have seen so far. When AAP formed, my first question was, why they couldn't collaborate to have a single party to fight the evil. If there are two good people fighting against the same monster, it doesn't make any sense for them to fight independently with reduced power. That is certainly the minimum that we should expect from them. When that doesn't happen, how should I really convince myself that they really are fighting for the same cause and they have valid reasons for not fighting the battle as a single unit? What can be more important than their common vision of cleaning the system?

When Kejriwal floated his new party, people said he deceived Anna and others who wanted to keep the motion apolitical. I didn't believe that. When Kejriwal said, he didn't plan the political party but he was forced to enter the politics, I didn't believe that either. Anna is no where when compared to the intellectual capability of Kejriwal. He was certainly just a tool to grab the attention of the nation on a serious issue. I certainly think it is Anna who got more publicity from Kejriwal and deceived him by not joining his political force. If not directly, at-least as an external supporter. Instead, he went to the cheap level of accusing Kejriwal, giving misleading statements, harming his own image. Whereas Kejriwal maintained his stand, didn't even utter a single word against Anna, despite the clear break-up between their paths. Kejriwal has certainly chosen his every move very carefully defeating everyone decisively. Everyone including Anna, Bedi, government failed to understand his potential. Kiran Bedi is still openly supporting the corrupt BJP as an alternative. Kejriwal was certainly right in assuming that the existing political systems has gone too far in the wrong direction as to completely lose their way back! Being apolitical in a political matter just doesn't make any  sense. It is an excuse for being hypocrite and cowardice.

Even a bitter opponent of Kejriwal cannot deny the fact that he is one of the smartest politician that India has seen so far. They cannot fail to notice how intelligent he is, how calculated he is, how aggressive he is in terms of achieving the goals. Otherwise it is impossible for an ordinary person to raise to the occasion of challenging the major parties to become a serious political force within a span of 2-3 years. That to with no money and no political connections. India is certainly not an easy country to rule. With so much of poverty, so much of diverse problems, it is hard to unite people on a long term ideological cause. Yet, Kejriwal was successful catching the imagination of people, attracting the poor and middle class people to join his fight against corruption. That is the striking difference between AAP and Loksatta and my reason to believe they can achieve what Loksatta has failed to achieve. Being ideologist is just one thing, and bringing that ideology into practice is totally a different thing. It certainly needs aggressive planning, courage, short term gimmicks, dedication and a lot more.

Though there is an overwhelming support for AAP in general, there are also lot people who question and think they can't bring the change that they are promising. It is easy to dismiss if it is coming from a staunch supporter of corrupt parties with some vested interest. But when it comes from others, it feels really bad. I personally feel they are just pessimistic.  But I also wonder a lot of times as whether that is a realistic opinion which looks like pesssimistic for me because of preconceived notion? Looking at some of the incidents, it certainly feels there is some room for people to think that AAP is not as ideological as it seems. Sometime back when Kejriwal expressed his concern about Batla house encounter and Ishrat Jahan encounter, I was really furious. Certainly that was a muslim appeasement gimmick in my opinion. Otherwise there is no need for him to bring those issues. Terrorism is certainly a bigger issue than fake encounter of terrorists. If there is anything wrong with those encounters, it must be the generic issue with all police investigations. He could have easily picked up a common man's case instead of singling out these specific controversial incidents. That is certainly not warranted for AAP publicity. They definitely have other burning issues to raise their voice for.

When I looked at various reports on the AAP candidates also, I got the same impression. Out of 61 candidates announced, close to 11 were affiliated to various other parties earlier. People coming from other parties certainly doesn't make them dishonest. However there is also a strong dissent among the party members against those kind of candidates. Often they switch parties because they were denied tickets from their parent parties. There was a specific instance with one of the candidate who was known as a ration mafia with a pending Lokayukta case. The AAP members went on strike against his nomination as it was against their wish. In fact, there were allegations that the high command completely ignored their suggestions and went ahead with their own list of candidates. That is certainly not what they have promised. Though the cases are not yet proved, AAP certainly doesn't have the moral ground to give tickets to people with questionable reputation. Is it really that hard for AAP to find an honest candidate in such a large country? There were also complaints that most of the candidates are selected based on their proximity to the core committee, but not due to fair election from the party  members of that constituency. Only the people from those constituency will know the real truth, but certainly I wasn't convinced that AAP has really kept their promise in selecting all the candidates honestly. Despite of all these, I could certainly feel there are atleast 30 honest and educated candidates looking at their CV and few comments. That is definitely much better than all other existing parties.

With this change of mind, I really started thinking again. Can AAP really be the change that we have been looking for. What are the dangers that they will not become yet another party in the long run? However looking at the credibility of a lot of people supporting AAP, I feel I have no right to question them. One of the RTI activists, an MLA contestant lost her life fighting against the corruption through RTI. There were so many volunteers who have left their well paying jobs and family to work for AAP in delhi elections. Eminent political scientist and an incredibly honest person like Yogendra Yadav is also part of the party. Looking at the life of Kejriwal himself, I have very little doubt left that about the sincerity about the party. Kejriwal certainly understands the minds of people better than people like me who don't have the real data. His main intention is to get to the power to pass some strong bills like Janlokpal. Once they are passed, even if a legislator is not really very honest, there isn't really much he can do to ruin the system. The reality is that, we still haven't grown enough to chose the right candidates. Considering that, it is wise to make a winning move by sacrificing some of the ideological practice rather than trying to keep every step clean and safe. The damage that can be caused by not winning the elections is much severe compared to the damage that can be caused by few people with questionable integrity getting elected.

Whatever our disappointment is with AAPs decisions, we shouldn't forget that we are still comparing them with other parties who have already got the chance of improving the system. Even with their little mistakes, they are certainly thousand miles ahead of other parties. The change cannot be a overnight process. If they have given tickets to some undeserved candidates for the sake of winning, that is certainly due to their compulsion. But at the same time, we also need to make sure that it doesn't become a habit. Ironically, Kejriwal himself has a become a cult hero in the process of destroying the blind hero worship culture. That is certainly a dangerous development and it has all the potential to take the party back to the same line as other parties. At some point in the past, most of those parties have also started as a good alternative. Congress(not Congress-I) fought for the freedom, Jansangh(BJP) fought against the emergency, now AAP is fighting the second freedom. If we understand where those parties failed, we can certainly keep AAP becoming yet another party, without any difference. We need to keep producing more Kejriwals and more AAPs when the need arises. Until then going along with Kejriwal and AAP and supporting them with whatever we have is certainly the best thing anyone can do at present.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

NaMo RaGa

I have been wasting a lot of my time for quite some time monitoring the build up of 2014 central elections. As many of you might have already noticed, we could classify people in two different categories, both obsessed with the emerging new leaders of the two front running parties. There are some overlaps as well between these two classifications, but for clarity it would still make sense to keep them separate. The first classification is dominated by two major groups. One that vehemently condemns each and everything that NaMo does and the other that blindly believes he will be the saviour. In between those two vocal groups, there is also a minor group whose voice is almost unheard due to the noise created by these two groups. That group neither believes NaMo is the saviour nor believes he is going to be the destroyer of 'secular' democracy. The second classification is unanimously one sided, with a large group of people who think RaGa is good for nothing and the minority group that is desperately trying to project him as the one who can steer the nation in the right path.

It is always easier to be in a majority group. You will have very few questions to answer. When there is something hard, you will find hundreds of people trying to support you in competition. Unfortunately, I have a disease of associating myself with the 'minority' group. My brain finds ways of convincing itself that they are always the ones naturally suppressed by the other group and the one that needs the support. Though I was a big supporter of NaMo at one point, I have been gradually drawn to the minority group that thinks Modi can never be the answer to our problems. On the other hand, I had a blunt hatred towards the 'Royal' family at one point, but gradually started becoming 'sympathetic' to RaGa, looking at the way people criticize him. Perhaps there is a pattern for my change of opinion on all these personalities!

I read a lot of criticism on RaGa's CII speech and his remark on 'poverty being a state of mind'. Tempted by those criticism, some time back I watched his long speech at CII's annual convention. To be honest, I couldn't really believe that it was RaGa who gave that passionating speech. There wasn't anything worthwhile criticizing in that speech. Even if there was, it would be really stupid to criticize RaGa for that. They should have criticized the person responsible for that speech instead of the medium that expressed it. For anyone who had also seen the Q&A session that followed the speech, it would have been very obvious. I thought even the questions will be given earlier in those conferences so that they get enough time to prepare for the answers, but probably that didn't happen there. Instead of targeting him for his lack of awareness, I would really appreciate him for his courage to take those surprise questions. Even on his popular poverty statement, he was bashed with unwanted criticism from all the sides. Clearly, he wouldn't have come up with that quote on his own. The quote also started with a story of a woman who came out of poverty using her confidence and self-help group. It was very evident that the author was trying to project the importance of self-confidence  among the poor people. Burying that good intention and projecting him badly based on the out of context quote is surely not worthy of criticism. I would be really surprised whether any of them really understood the strength of that statement even when quoted out of context. Perhaps they have never seen any poor people living happily despite their dire poverty.

People criticizing RaGa for everything should really spend some time trying to put themselves in his shoes. Have you ever tried how difficult it would be to talk some one else's speech that you don't really understand? If you have tried, perhaps you would understand the pain that RaGa is taking for his people. It is easy for someone smart to understand these things easily. But not everyone is same. We need to appreciate the efforts as well. I feel it is a tremendous achievement by RaGa to even show up in those meetings/rallies and address the crowd. Even for an expert, it isn't that easy to face a group of experts. When you don't have that intellectual luxury, you would need to put mammoth effort in bridging the gap. For some one who is really undecided about his goals, the mental strength required to overcome that would be even greater.

Of-course, I don't think any one would argue against the fact that it is the country that is in need of RaGa's service and not the other way round. RaGa would surely have enough money to buy a small country if he wishes. It is also very clear he is not really that interested in the politics of this country. He is being forced by his party and the fellow country-men to be in politics. Whether they are right or not, he has to value their opinion. After all we are a democratic nation, it is not the right or wrong that decides the outcome in a democracy. It is the number that drives everything. If people are ignorant and want him to be a PM, who are we to question them. More importantly what right do we have in finding fault with RaGa who is just respecting their opinions. Just let the people decide that instead of criticizing him for others mistakes. I don't even understand the argument that he can't make up a good PM. They forget the fact that they have already seen 10 years of his rule. Even our PM feels proud to serve under his leadership. When such highly respected people recommend his ability to lead the nation, what is the issue with these common people who don't understand anything about governance. Why are they getting so annoyed when this is all about an official process for change of name?

That is why I feel really bad when people comment about him without realizing what he is really going through. What he really need is some support and appreciation for his efforts.

The topic of NaMo is certainly more complicated. He is clearly a divisive personality. You hardly see anyone taking a middle ground when it comes to NaMo. Either they desperately want him to be the PM or they hate him with all the venom they have!

I have tried a lot to get to the truth of much talked about NaMo development model. The most convincing I could get was Mayank Gandhi's blog. I am not a big fan of pseudo seculars who only talk about riots and fake encounters. Looking at some of the bio-data of the encountered people, I really don't understand why people are making such a big fuss about those encounters. Obviously, the law doesn't allow that. But a country where hundreds of innocent people die everyday doesn't have the right to cry foul for the human rights of criminals. The riot is certainly a black mark on NaMo's record. But attributing all the killings to his name is also blatantly wrong. Perhaps an honest evaluation would be to look at the past records of all communal violence, what was the trigger, what were the losses and mapping that to Gujarat riot. That would give a better indication of how many innocent lives he had failed to save. Further, I don't see much logic in separating the riot victims from other victims. Innocent people don't die only due to riots. There are also a lot of other deaths a government is  directly or indirectly responsible for. Like death due to road accidents, poverty, malnutrition, crime etc. I don't think anybody can claim that these deaths are inferior in nature compared to the riot deaths. Deaths are deaths. When it is unnatural, the only classification should be whether it was preventible or not. So, the real question should be 'how many deaths NaMo has failed to save under his rule compared to other CMs'. I don't think anyone has bothered to check that data. Perhaps it isn't even easy to get any authentic data on that.

So my issue with NaMo isn't that he is communal or he was communal once. People who are after power don't really care much about the religion. He has already shown that in action by demolishing illegal temples and sidelining some of the hard core hindutwa groups. Perhaps the only 'communal' action that we could expect from him is bringing the uniform civil code and bringing the minorities to mainstream. That would certainly polarize  the votes again for him in another election. In the pretext of suppressing the minorities, he might end up as the greatest reformer of muslims of India. So I am certainly not worried about his safron colour. My main problem with NaMo is the authenticity of the development that he has projected to outside world. My problem is in understanding whether Gujarat really saw the magical development under his leadership or it is just the success of a well planned publicity gimmick. My problem is about those crores of people who really think the country will change magically after he assumes the power at centre.

Mayank provides the data showing some crucial points regarding the myth of 'vibrant Gujarath' in his blog. The same data is also available in few other places like this.
  • Gujarat has seen high growth since last 20 years. No surprise there as everyone knows that business skills are in the genes of Gujaratis.
  • Gujarat's focus was mainly on urban development and industrialization and not the rural part
  • Gujarat is only ranked at 11(out of 20) as per as the poverty alleviation is concerned. The tribal(17%) have actually become more poor in NaMo's rule
  • Tough NaMo is clean and reduced the corruption at lower level, he hasn't done much in reducing the corruption/irregularity at higher level. That should be very evident as he hasn't done much to pass a strong Lokayukta act in the state.
  • 2013 lokayukta act is just a face wash and criticized heavily by the activists
Perhaps I can even conclude NaMo's elevation won't make any drastic difference without looking at these data. NaMo is certainly an 'individual' with a difference. But he doesn't represent a system that is different. If he was a 'system', he could have surely made some miracles in the last 12 years of his rule in Gujarat. The number of seats that he has won is almost the same in last 3 elections. That itself says his 'development' hasn't reached everyone. If it was a miracle, surely more people would have acknowledged him as the leader. Certainly he might have delivered better than others, but that is not the change we should aim for. His performance is going to be even poor in the central compared to state. A lot of states would still be under a different government and it won't make much difference to them. We have already seen how corrupt the Karnataka BJP government was in the past. Having a strong PM with weak state governments will not make a big difference to the people who are in need. The same set of corrupt legislators won't bring much changes however strong their leader may be, unless he is a dictator controlling them with a gunpoint.

If there is any hope for this country, that is only from the new Aam Aadmi Party. That brings a real change in the system. A system that can scale well for this large diverse country. A system that doesn't suffer from the weight of the legacy compulsions. A system with a vision for decentralizing the power completely to the right group of people. A party that doesn't need to return the favour of illegal money of its election fund. A party that is capable of making miracles in a short span. I hope they will win the Delhi elections first and then spread to other parts of the country like an unstoppable tide. They have certainly brought some optimism about the future of India. If we fail to give them a chance in next 10-15 years, we must permanently forget the hope of seeing a better India. We don't even deserve to see a better India. Those who think they have been let down by their ignorant fellow citizens should really think seriously about migrating to some other country with a hope of better life.

However, when it comes to 2014 elections, it won't be that easy for me to decide as whom to vote(though I may not vote, I can still influence a lot of votes). Despite my 'sympathy' for RaGa, I don't think any sensible person can seriously consider him as a PM candidate. AAP is certainly the party that has brought the hope back. But looking practically, 2014 is too early for them to contest in the central elections. They would need to win the Delhi assembly first, prove themselves that they weren't just talking in the air and then strengthen the party in other states before really attempting anything for the parliament. Only three months after the Delhi elections is too short a time for doing all these. We have waited for 60 years and another 5 years wouldn't make it any worse. So the obvious choice has to be NaMo. Not because I have any hopes of seeing something dramatically different under his rule. But only because it will clear the illusion of crores of people expecting a miracle from him. I will also be able to validate the 'NaMo magic' myself instead of relying on others stories. The change that a clean new system like AAP can bring would surely be unmatchable compared to that of a corrupt system with an able leader. Dream big, don't settle for anything less! Though we have waited for unusually long time, it would surely be worth the wait!

Friday, September 20, 2013

The first birthday

Dear Arjun and Anirudh,

It is more than three months since we celebrated your birthday, but it took so long for me to write about it. Your first birthday was very special to me. Not just because it was 'your' first birth day. Because it was the first time we organized anything on our own!

When I was in school, I used to take part in lot of competitions. But, when it came to organizing something, I had always been a back bencher. I didn't organize anything on my own when I was in school or in college. I left it for my brother to handle every function at home. I didn't do anything worthwhile during my marriage. I didn't even do anything special for your baby shower. So I was quite nervous when it came to your first birthday celebration.

I am not a big fan of any grand celebrations. I see them as some kind of show offs in many of the cases. The first birthday is even more 'special' in that sense. It is more of a hassle for you than celebration. The celebration is all for us. So I wasn't really very keen on celebrating the same. It makes more sense to celebrate only those birthdays where you can really have some fun. But, I had a dilemma there. Since I haven't organized any functions on my own, I wouldn't be really certain whether it is my fear of organizing the first party or the concern of your inconvenience that is really influencing me to take that decision. The party isn't going to be any more inconvenient than going outside at the same time. Both would make you feel uncomfortable by messing up your sleep time. So, I shouldn't be so worried about that, at-least for a day. Though it feels little weird to make you uncomfortable knowingly on your birthday. I know what would have really made you happy on your first day. Some new usb cables, a lan cable and probably a hdmi cable! Very cheap and easy to arrange. But we have already decided that it is not going to be your turn for celebration!

Dhruva's birthday party was the last party that we have attended. It was a nice evening party that looked like professionally organized. I was there too for some of the preparation and still remember Swathi's tense face like a player who had to score 4 runs in the penultimate ball! If that was her situation with one kid, what would be ours with two? So, we started planning for the event more than a month before! It was easy to finalize the hall and caterer. As you might be knowing, I am too lazy to look at more options. More options mean more work and more confusion. So I generally stick to the first one that I felt better. We saw two halls and finalized one of them without thinking much. We didn't even consider any options for the catering, just went with the one used by one of our friends earlier. A lot of other things were a textbook requirements. It was easy to finalize them as well based on the inputs from others. Only the main thing left was hall decoration.

I had a reasonably good idea as how difficult it would be based on the experience from two of my friends party. Since the hall rent was based on the duration, we tend to save some money, ending up with too little time for decoration. Most of the time people go there without any preparation and then lose the battle to time and confusion. We had a good advice from Swathi regarding the planning. So we went to the hall once again to see how we could do the decoration. It was good that we did that. The hall wasn't that co-operative for a birthday party decoration. So, we ended up taking the measurement of main things that would affect it as it was hard to decide anything there. Then started googling for ideas about the decoration.

I know very well that I am not a creative person. But at-least I wanted to be honest and creative while copying the ideas from others. While doing some re-search on the decoration, I accidentally came across balloon modelling, which really grabbed my attention. Immediately I ordered some modelling balloons and a pump to start learning. In two weeks time I could get a good handle on copying some models. These balloons can't be kept for more than 3-4 days. If I am not fast enough, I wont be able make enough models in the limited time that I get.

With that additional learning, we got a reasonably good blueprint for your birthday party decoration. It also helped us in getting more with very less money. The only thing left was to execute the plan properly in 3 hours. Luckily Vasanth and Manju were there very early to start the decoration. They put their creativity as well to the plan to make it look more elegant. Chetan and Kishor joined later to help. Still, there was a lot left to do after 2 hours. I had to come back to get ready and pick you all. I was certainly nervous as I wasn't sure things will turn up as I imagined. I knew it was hard to get things done in time, but was very optimistic with so much of planning. The last hope left was the people, who are generally very kind not to turn up in time for any event!

However, when I came back it was very delightful! The entrance was welcoming everyone with mild decoration.

The stage was nicely set with good number of balloons and other balloon models.

Some more models were hanging here and there within kids reach. Luckily I didn't have to put any label saying what those models really are!


The flower pots and flowers on the table also looked quite nice. So is your collage on the background.

 The cake wasn't as good as it looked on their website. The writings were so horrible that I just felt like erasing it on the spot. But it smelled good, so I was optimistic that it will also taste good.

We cut the cake after most of the people arrived. There were close to 60 adults 10 kids and 15 infants. Not a bad number as we met most of them after coming here. The food wasn't bad, though it wasn't as good as it tasted in their restaurant.

You both slept very nicely amidst the big crowd (Thanks for Swathi's and Vasanth's mom to free up our hands)! We had a very good time talking to everyone. There were a lot of hands in cleaning everything at the end. It felt really great for so many friends to stay up with us to help and celebrate. Though I am not a big fan of special days, I realized how great it feels to celebrate!

Everyone said the arrangements and decorations were really nice. They also showed their surprise in getting all that done managing you both! Of-course, I don't believe all that they said. They will have their compulsion of not giving any negative feedback even if it was bad. I understand the feeling of showing some kindness, encouragement and sympathy! But what matters most for me is that whether I was satisfied with what we have done. Certainly I was. It was the first celebration that we organized and we didn't screw it up!

Oh, yes. we have already started thinking about your next birthday! It will sure be different and better. But, sadly I don't think you will have any fun in your second birthday as well. But, I know it doesn't matter to you. We have fun every day, not just on birthday! 

Monday, September 9, 2013

Lucia - The new face of success!

Few days back, I talked about a new experiment in Kannada film industry through Lucia. I also told that I will share the link for film once it is released. The film got released on Sept 6th and got very good reviews. I am sure it will be a great success. However, I decided to withdraw my distribution right after the release. I felt really sad while doing that, so I wanted to share what that means to my earlier post and what provoked me to do that.

A day after the release of Lucia, we received a mail from Pawan saying we will have to wait few more days before getting the online link to watch the movie. His main concern was that, if it is shared online, there is a very good chance that one among the 1300 distributors will rip the movie and upload it online which might compromise the sales. So, he said the movie will be shared after the theatrical run.

That didn't go well with many of the distributors. Few showed their unhappiness over the decision publicly mainly on the following point. The decision to delay the online release is against the concept of pre-order as those who have pre-ordered the movie wouldn't be able to watch it till the theatrical run is over. It is also against the concept of 'audience funding' as the film is being delayed for the audience who have already bought the tickets to watch it. If the piracy happens only because of the online version, none of the existing films would have really had the problem of piracy so far.

I agree with all those points, so I really felt that the decision to delay the online release was against the principle of pre-order. But at the same time I also understood the compulsion to delay the online release as the chances of pirated versions will be higher with simultaneous theatrical and online release. That may not be a wise move for a commercial venture. But one could also argue that it wasn't a pure commercial venture. It is a venture to change the existing system. In any case, the decision to delay the online release wouldn't make much difference to me, though I might feel bit disappointed. That was the same view expressed publicly for the mail sent by Pawan as well.

6 hours after Pawan sent his first mail regarding the delay of online release, he sent another mail justifying his decision. The subject line was 'Loads of Criticism about Online Release'. That indicates it is not just the people who publicly questioned his decision, but many more private mails as well expressing the disappointment. It is that mail which made me think more than his original mail about delaying the release. The main points from his mail in his own words:
  • A request... pls dont treat ur 'Pre-order' as a BUY. We never took you onboard as a customer, and neither were we vendors. We always said - Thank you for associating with Project Lucia... called you Team Lucia
  • If I was in ur place, even I'd be quite disappointed. But its beyond my control.
  • At no point did we say... U WILL PIRATE. I know for sure that you wont...  
  • I don't see a theatrical run of more than 3-4 weeks. That would be the max. As soon as the movie shows a downfall in sales... i will send you all the link to watch n distribute. May be sooner than that...
  • And we have not sold the rights or entered into any agreements with anyone to stop us from doing this. Our only intention on holding Online release is to avoid piracy... thats it. And this was informed in regular font size while the film was bought.
  • We are almost done inventing a technical application... where in we will be able to identify anyone who downloads and pirates.
  • To all the unhappy ones, to those who still think all this not valid, I have even offered a Refund. Pls write to audiencefilm.lucia@gmail.com with Refund as the Subject. We will gladly return. Just dont question our integrity, vision, our ideas n efforts to bring in a change. If you think you were a customer in this project, then you got it all wrong.. so pls dont hesitate to claim refund.
I had been following Pawan's blog for some time. This was certainly not the impression I had about 'audience film' and 'Pre-order' till date. It looked like Pawan was just trying to justify his decision rather than accepting that he has done a mistake by delaying the online release. I do remember reading one blog post in home-talkies criticizing those people saying home-talkies entertains the piracy as the one with wrong intentions of not able to see the success of a good project. There was also another post by Pawan where he talked about releasing the Lucia only on home-talkies if he can't break the nexus of theatre owners and the current system. That certainly gave me the impression that he was very serious about taking the film directly to audience using home-talkies as a vehicle. If that is the case, why this double speak in his latest mail. He was a true hero of film industry for me till today. Why would such a great personality find it so difficult to accept his mistake and say sorry instead of trying to defend his action through double speak. I was in a dilemma to doubt him. So went through the mail again and sent him a response. The essence of that mail was:
  • What makes you think that 'Pre-order' isn't a BUY? If it wasn't for ordering the movie before release, why would you even call it 'Pre-Order' to confuse others? The mail response after the pre-order says "The Lucia Audio Album is in its final stages of production, we will mail you a download link very soon. We will deliver DVD and movie steaming ticket as soon as the movie is ready for release. An estimated date of release in is April 2013."
    Isn't that saying the movie will be ready to watch when it is released? 
  • If you were in our place why would you get disappointed? The only reason to get disappointed is when you were promised something, but wasn't given. That is indirectly accepting that the decision to delay is breaking the trust of distributors.
  • You have clearly said in your mail that one of the 1300 distributor will be having the bad intention of ripping the movie. Technically, you did say I could be that person who wanted to pirate the movie. What is the need to change the plate now?
  • Instead of vaguely saying it will be released when the sales is down in 3-4 weeks, why don't you clearly say the movie will be released online by 3 weeks or 4 weeks. That would have surely made things much easier.
  • You say you mentioned the movie could be delayed in regular font, which I don't think any one of us remember seeing it. But the home-talkies pre-order says in bold letter that it will be released on Sept 6. If it is not for online release, why even bother to put that misleading information in home-talkies? Why would you say you never had any agreements with anyone to stop you from delaying the online release?
  • A software to curb the piracy can make millions on its own. So, I don't really think that is the reason for delaying the release.
  • If I claim the refund, it is not because I considered myself as a customer. But only because I could feel the arrogance in your response. I agree it feels bad to get abusive mails. But what you really need to do is to feel the anger from people who think they have been cheated. What you have sold to us is not the film, but an idea and a dream. Clearly you have failed to do that in your first attempt. No worries, I can completely understand that. We still need some more time to achieve that. But, what I don't understand is the arrogance in defending that you haven't sold us that dream. I think you still have the time to accept your mistake. If you fail to do that, I am sure you will lose many more fans like me.
I knew success might also bring arrogance along with that. I have experienced that myself to some extent in the past. But, surely I wasn't expecting that from Pawan. Certainly he is more mature than I was. But I have little doubt left now that he got blinded by the success of his new venture, atleast for some time. I should perhaps stop expecting too much from individuals as 'complete human beings'. I still wasn't sure whether I should ask for a refund or not. I had to hear atleast few words from him before framing himself with my charges. It shouldn't be that difficult for him to respond as the questions were precise and I was starting a dialogue instead of framing him. I could decide whether to get the refund or not based on his response. Within few hours I got the reply back.

pls claim refund. thanks. :-)

After-all, he wasn't as arrogant as I thought. He was kind enough not to say 'take your money and get lost!' directly.

So, I had no option left but to ask for a refund. I am truly happy that it won't affect Lucia in any way as the film is already released. I was extremely happy to give my support when it was needed for Lucia. I have read loads of good reviews that the movie has come wonderfully well. I was also happy that it will bring some change in the film industry that I was hoping to see when I did my bit to support it. If Pawan wants support for any of his future initiatives, I might still continue to contribute. But, I am sure Pawan would never understand why would I support him even after writing so much about a 'small issue'. That is because he never really understood why I and many more people like me supported Lucia in the first place!

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The naked truth - 2

Dear Arjun and Anirudh,

You must have realized by this time that there is too much hidden beneath these clothes. Peeping through them to see what they are really covering would be quite exciting. I need to focus my attention strictly on the subject or else it will drag me to somewhere else. So, I will be more serious this time.

Like food and shelter, dresses are also essential. Their role in human life is multiple, some of which are essential and some are not. Like shelter, it will protect us from the severe weather conditions. That is likely the primary use of clothing during initial period of human race. The secondary use of the clothing is for the 'cultured society' to protect them from their shame of nakedness. No other roles of the clothing are fundamental for human beings.

There is a major Jain division called 'Digambara' which treats the sky as their clothing. Thousands of years back, they had realized that clothes aren't a basic necessity of human beings. According to some traditions, all the followers of jainism were renounced of all the attachments and bindings, including the emotion of shame at ones nakedness. A part of the community migrated to south at some point due to the prediction of famine, and the other stayed back in the north. But, gradually the community in the northern part became relaxed in their practice of austerity and started wearing white clothes. That sounds quite logical as the weather in northern part of India is very cold compared to the south.


That makes me wonder whether the clothes are really essentially for human beings. If there are still people who think it isn't essential, it wouldn't have been essential part of human life for some time. But how do we go back in the history to find when people really started thinking 'nakedness is a shame and we need clothes to cover that'. When everyone is naked, why would some one even consider that as a shame or problem? Imagine a world where we are brought up in an environment where our elders don't program our brains with their perception of what 'shame' is. In that world, would we be so paranoid about people not wearing anything to cover their body?

Perhaps I don't need to go back in the history to find the answer. The answer might be just around us, in you and me. I didn't have any issues roaming around naked till the age of 5-6 years. After starting school, I started feeling the 'shame', because others repeatedly told me that it is 'shame'. You certainly enjoy not wearing clothes at present. The joy of not wearing them is very evident in your expressions. After all, we share the same genes! If we are surrounded by people of our mentality, when would we start feeling the guilt of not wearing anything? Would it continue till our adolescence? That is still a hard question as we are trying to answer something we would never experience in our life. It is not much different than going back in the history to find exactly when human race started thinking of wearing the clothes to cover the shame of nudity.

No one has come up with a convincing theory for human evolution. Darwin's evolution theory worked well only in our high school exams. Even if we accept his theory of evolution by giving some additional credits, it only proves that clothes weren't essential part of the human life. None of the early descendants of homosepians were seen wearing clothes. Except for us, none of the other species in this world has seen the need for wearing clothes. So let us forget the evolution theory and believe that God created us all as a 'special species'. I don't know whether God is also ashamed of nudity or not. But I am sure he didn't want us to feel the shame of nudity. According to Abrahamic religions, Adam and Eve didn't have the shame of nudity till they ate that rotten apple. If god wanted us to wear the clothes, he would have created us fully cladded with beautiful clothes. But none of us are born with clothes, neither we wear any clothes after the death. So the need for clothes in human life is only transient.

Thinking again, I no longer think that the primary reason for wearing clothes is for protection against the weather. The other species in the nature use food and some kind of shelter for their survival, but don't use clothes for the protection against adverse climate. The same logic should hold good for human beings as well. The initial human race might have started in a hot terrain and later migrated to other colder places for whatever reasons. The weather is unlikely to be the key reason for clothes even in those places as our body would have found some way of bearing that similar to other living beings or the migration wouldn't have happened. So, the primary reason for wearing clothes must be same everywhere. That is to cover up things that we don't want to expose!

What we are trying to cover up isn't that easy to understand. If you think that the clothes are to cover up the sexual organs, you are certainly wrong. Every one has got the reproductive organs, so what is the need for hiding it? I can't see any pressing issues. The cover is needed only for those secrets that we would like to hide from others. Those are the secrets that others wouldn't have expected from us. Those are the secrets that would have changed their opinion on what we really are! Those are the secrets that our mind cannot effectively hide from others like our normal thoughts. The cover is essentially for the mind that has the control over our secrets, not for the body parts that acts as a vehicle to express it!

The growth sprout during adolescence period brings a number of rapid changes in ones body and the brain. The physical and psychological developments during this period also includes the production of hormones that control ones sexual desires. In the absence of clothes, the naked body acts as a catalyst for ones sexual desires. The natural desires aren't easy to control and the desire soon stimulates the hormones turning what was essentially invisible in ones mind into physical form through various body parts linked with sexual arousal. It is those desires that aren't common to all and the ones everyone want to hide from others. If not, those thoughts at a wrong time will make the situation very uncomfortable for everyone involved. The thoughts are hard to control, but not the actions. So, it makes perfect sense to hide those thoughts, that need not necessarily result in any action. People who have absolute control over their sexual thoughts, don't need to cover up anything for themselves. Still, they will have to do that for others to prevent being a source of stimulus igniting the sexual feelings in others. That will also help in maintaining some order in our society. Many wars have been fought in the name of love and sex. Absence of clothing could have only made it worse. So, covering our body is essential to keep our secrets of sexual desire within our-self and also to minimize the sexual desires of others. That is the basic need of clothing for human beings, all others are secondary.

I finally got a convincing answer to Ashwini's question. I can go out naked in the public when I reach the stage where I have absolute control over my hormones. Still, I wouldn't do that unless I am sure that others watching me also have achieved the same level of control. That is when every one of us attain the status of those Jain monks. For them, the 'salvation' can't be reached unless one wins the war against their hormones. When we achieve that, we won't have anything to hide anymore! But not every one is after the 'salvation', we have our choices!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Lucia and the Aam Aadmi

Two things I have been following very closely these days are 'Lucia' and 'Aam Aadmi Party'. They are two entirely different ventures, yet have too many things in common. One is a pure commercial venture, trying to address few issues in a small sector. Another one is a pure social venture, trying to address the larger problems of a nation of billion people. Both of them are exceptional ideas started by two brilliant individuals. Not many people think they will really succeed, but it all depends upon how many people will really believe in their idea and ready to take a small part in their venture.

'Lucia' is a kannada film directed by Pawan Kumar, which is funded by the audience itself. The film started last year and will be releasing in August. Here is the story behind the film.

After directing his last successful film 'Lifu ishtene', the director finds it very hard to get the dates for his next film by prominent actors. That wasn't uncommon in our film industry where film heroes are treated like gods. There was a time in the past where the story-line and directors used to control the movies. That era saw the greatest directors like Puttanna Kanagal and also a lot of great movies. But, once the weight shifted towards the actors, everything else started to lose. The stories became the slaves of the actors and movies became a means of quick money. The entire film industry became just like our political system where talent started following the hereditary genes making others hard to enter the field.

Pawan got sick of this attitude from the industry. Instead of going with the flow to have a comfortable life, he decided to go against this mentality decisively. As a result, he came up with the idea(not really new) of raising the money from audience themselves. Within 27 days of his proposal for crowd funding, he got the funding of 51 lakhs for the film. That includes 12 producers, 27 co-producers and 28 assistant produces. On top of that, you can pre-order the film and become as distributor. There are 971 distributors and I am also one of them. By paying Rs2500, I get to see the film and 50% commission from whatever I sell. Doesn't that sound like a good business deal? Probably.

But, I didn't do it for investment. I don't have the time or energy to market this and make some money. I took part in it exactly for the same reason why Pawan started this project in the first place. In his blog post 'Making the enemies', Pawan explains how the remake is ruining the film industry. The 'hero worship' in this country is damaging everything. They are doing it as a family business making it hard for new talents to enter the field. If Pawan's strategy works, it could make a revolution not only in Kannada film industry, but in many other places and sectors having similar issues. He certainly brings some hope to the people who understands that there is a problem. Rs 2500 isn't that big a money for me. 5 people having a good lunch in Bangalore will cost more than that. So, why not use that to support something you believe might bring some change?

But, I felt little bad when Pawan told they don't want people like me to 'support' them. Instead, I should look at this as an investment. Sorry, I have other options for investment. This may get me some money, but I am not 'investing' here for money. This is not my area of interest for making money. Pawan certainly has realized that it didn't go well with many people. So, in a recent mail he acknowledged that people also want to 'support' this in addition to 'investing' in this venture. He also requested everyone to share the information to spread the news by using their blogs. But that is not the main reason why I am writing this blog.

I mentioned earlier that I am also following 'Aam aadmi party' from Arvind Kejriwal fairly closely. I don't need to talk anything about Arvind Kejriwal here. He is undoubtedly the greatest Indian of our life time. The task that he has taken is something that can change the entire image of our country. The bulk of the problems that India is facing today is mainly due to corrupt politics. The corruption has spread in such a way that, it is impossible to clean it unless we shake up the entire political system from the top. In 2012, the CBI told that Indians have $500 billion of illegal funds in foreign countries. The actual figure might certainly be more than that. If you count the illegal money within India, it would be hard to imagine the amount of illegal money that is stashed by corrupt Indians by looting their fellow citizens. In addition to that, they also have got tons of legal money as well. If India is put to sale in an open market, this group will have enough money to purchase the entire India. On the other hand, AAP has collected only Rs 4 crores so far for their election fund. How hard it would be for them to fight such a gigantic beast?

We have close to 5000 elected representatives in India(MPs+MLAs). Let us assume all of them are corrupt. Let us also assume each of the representative will have another 100 political leaders in their area who are also corrupt and made substantial money by corruption. That brings the total corrupt politicians to 5,00,000. Let us also assume there are equal number of business people and others who are also corrupt. If we assume majority of the corrupt money is due to this group, we are still talking about only 10,00,000 people. That is less than 0.1 percent of our population. It is these people luring probably another 0.9 percent to their group via various means. I find it very hard to believe there are even 1 in 100 that wishes to support a corrupt government because they are also getting benefited by this corrupt system. So, in a democratic nation, it isn't really hard for AAP to fight this gigantic beast responsible for majority of the problems of India. But, will they really succeed?

That really depends whether those 99% of the people really want to see the change or they are just complaining because they just love to blame others for the issues of the country. This is as big as the independence movement against British. But it is certainly more easier than the independence struggle to win as the communication has become more easier now. Though our democracy doesn't function properly, we still have some means of democracy and elections. Still, if we fail to win this fight against the corruption, we will permanently lose our right to blame the politicians for our current situation of misery. A lot of pre-election predictions for Delhi assembly elections have already predicted the raising popularity of AAP. They are very likely to emerge as the winning party. That will be a stunning performance by a party which is yet to complete an year. If they can do it in Delhi, it will spread to other parts of the nation as well. So, there is some hope for Indians. Thousands of volunteers are dedicating both their time and money to this noble cause. Thousands have even gave their blood and few their life. So, what are we doing to support this herculean task?

I should definitely not use the word 'support' here. It is more of an investment than support. Let us assume only 50% of the tax payers money is lost due to corruption. Looking at the black money data, I have no doubt more than 80% of the public money is lost due to corruption. Some one having a more accurate data should probably do that calculation. With 50% loss, if you are paying 1lakh per year as tax, you are actually giving 50,000 to these corrupt people. You are losing 50,000 each year for each lakh of tax you are paying. If AAP can minimize that to 10%, they are actually giving back 40,000 to you each year. So, how much should we actually donate them to make them ready for the big fight?

Lets start with a very small plan. Lets decide to contribute only 0.1 to 1% of our wealth to AAP for fighting against corruption over a period of 5 years, based on their performance. If our worth is 10,00,000, we are targeting between 1000 to 10,000. That shouldn't be that big as we are still having more than 99% of our wealth for ourselves. It is not really a charity as it is going to benefit us in the future. If everyone of us can do that, I am sure it will be a huge boost for the people who are ready to sacrifice their time, blood and life for this country. More over, the happiness that brings by doing something as grateful as this one can't be compared with other material things. Tomorrow, if India is able to win against its corrupt politicians, we can only feel guilty for not doing what is required of us today.

That is the intention of this blog. 'Lucia' got 50 lakhs in 27 days. But a cause that could change the entire nation is still trying hard to get the attention of people. I like to support both the causes, but at the same time I am aware which one really deserves more attention today. 'Lifu ishtene' is a very nice movie. Please use this link to watch the movie if you haven't watched it already. I am sure 'Lucia' would have come even better. There are a lot of new talents in that movie. That would be coming some time in August-September and I will post a link in my blog once it is released in the home-talkies. Please watch that as well, if you like good kannada movies. All that I get as a distributor of these two movies will be given to AAP. Think about this calmly for atleast an hour. Do the right thing by being the change to see the change.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

The naked truth - 1

Dear Arjun and Anirudh,

I know you get bored of hearing about your growth stories all the time. I wanted to tell you about other interesting things also from a long time. But as usual, the days are still having only 24 hours and a third of that is still reserved by my sleepy mind. Few days back, I looked at one of the articles shared by a friend of mine. I was very surprised to see that the author has somehow stolen my thoughts that I haven't shared with anyone. I could see my thoughts being framed as stale copy by not sharing them soon enough. So, came back quickly to put things together, but soon realized that the very thought of a fresh idea itself is an illusion. There is absolutely no way of proving that no one had thought about an idea earlier. So, there is no point in thinking that an idea or a thought originated only from one person. They are more like our software patents. Many would have thought about it, but only a few would go about expressing it outside.

If you haven't noticed already, one of the common fights that I have with your mother is over the selection of dresses. I don't have to explicitly say that it is over my dresses, and occasionally yours! I have a very clear expectation from my dresses. Its primary job is to make me feel comfortable, rather than to work on enhancing my looks! You can assume that it is due to the realization that even the best dresses can't help much with my looks! So, logically it doesn't make much sense for me to invest much effort on my clothing. Selection of a good dress is one of the most complicated tasks. Most of the time, what looks good for her looks absolutely horrible for me! And what looks good for me doesn't go well with her tastes. To complicate things, what she is really after is the appreciation from others looking at those dresses. And I have no idea how difficult it would be to know their taste and start dressing as per their interests. That is why I go with one simple rule. I don't put any restrictions on her dresses neither I take any restrictions from her on my selection!

Being an engineer, I continuously look for ways to save time by optimizing  my day-to-day routine. Some people see that as my laziness. I don't see much difference. Optimization is all about getting rid of unwanted things. I have stopped wearing formal dresses from years. As a side effect, I have also stopped ironing my shirts. I only keep one belt as searching/changing them is a pain. Whenever I wear some other pant without the belt, I end up holding them while running as they will also start running otherwise. I don't really care much about that as it is a fashion in England to wear the pants very low to show the underpants! I don't know whether the underwear companies pay for that space for advertising or it is just a not-for-profit service. Whenever your mom sees those teenagers, she will start scolding them with everything she has in her dictionary. On the other hand, I am in full support of them. If showing the back with deep cut blouse is a fashion in traditional India, why should she hate these teenagers still covering their body parts at least with underpants! Why do we even treat the underwears like a low class citizen. One of my friends used to wear multiple short pants inside his pants! How can she be so sure that what they are really showing off is their underwear? It could be a short pant inside the pant like my good friend, in which case she has no reason to blame them! If we go with that logic, even exposing the underwear isn't a wrong thing. They might be wearing more than one underwear or something in that category. Thinking more and more about that, I really fail to state clearly when she will get the right to blame them. In order to understand that, we need to define clearly some of the very basic things about dressing.

There was another argument we had related to this subject. When we shifted to our new apartment, I observed that the large bathroom window was very different to the windows from rest of the rooms. It was sufficiently tinted so that people from outside won't be able to see the bathroom. So, I never used to put the curtain when taking bath. After having the mould problem in bathroom, I went one level up to open the upper portion of the window as well without putting the curtain. Without much thinking, one might argue that I was taking bath with the window open! But, the angle of opening and the position of window is such that, unless someone really tries hard to see me taking bath, it wasn't easy to do that. Ashwini had fought with me several times against me taking bath without pulling the curtain. She also challenged me that everything would be visible very clearly from outside during the night with lights inside the bathroom. That was a fresh news for me. I couldn't buy that argument above my own instincts. The people who have designed the flat must have surely thought about that. Otherwise why would they take the pain to have a different window only for the bathroom. If not for Indian standards, at least for the UK standards! Even in India, the standards are very low when it comes to males. It is quite common to take bath in public with only underwear! So, there wasn't anything I needed to worry here. Still, I wanted to verify her argument. So I checked how it would look in the night with lights on. I could see few things that were very very blur. I could identify moving objects, but it was impossible to know clearly what I was seeing. But things were very clear for her eyes. So we went with the third party to resolve the conflict. The third party gave the verdict that the bathroom is partially visible, so it is not acceptable for ladies, but gentlemen may chose not to worry. That small edge from the third party was sufficient to ignite the flame. The war of words continued. Naturally, I like to win the arguments like any other human beings. But at the same time, I do want to realize my mistakes. If not at that time, atleast after the heat of argument was reduced! I was only arguing against her opposition of my freedom to take bath with open curtain. The third party judgement was technically not against my stand. Still, it was against my perception of the matter in general. We continued the argument for some more time and then Ashwini asked, 'if you are acting so liberal, why don't you walk naked in the streets?'. It came as a shock for me. I don't generally get such quality response back from her. I didn't have an answer ready this time. I just told 'I know what was expected of me in this society, so I act accordingly. I don't see any issues taking bath with open curtain, but I do see issues walking nakedly'.

I don't know whether that convinced her or not. But definitely it wasn't convincing to me. It was a very poor answer to my standards. It was just an ordinary answer to win the argument for the sake of winning, not the one that could give me a satisfaction of winning. I had always been taught that 'food, clothes and shelter are the basic necessities of all human beings'. Without food we can't live. Without shelter we can't bear the scorching sun, chilling cold or the pouring rain. But, can't we live without the clothes? We are not born with the clothes neither we wear them after the death. So, why are we so mad about them in between. It makes sense for people living in UK or other cold countries. But not much to people in India and other hot countries.  So, I started thinking very seriously on that question. Somehow, it didn't look as important as the other two basic necessities.

My recollection of the childhood memories doesn't show me or my friends with much clothes around. Perhaps we were wearing even less clothes than that of bollywood actresses! When we were kids, we only used to get 1 pair of clothes per year during deepaavali. That is one of the reason why deepavali was so special for us! I don't think we were really wearing anything when we were like you. Untill 5 years of age, roaming around naked was very common in our village. We used to get clothes once in a year, but there were few who didn't even had that luxury! Up to 10 years, we used to take bath naked, publicly. It was very common, atleast in our village, so we never felt that was unusual.

But, that is not the case with you! The only time I see you naked is while changing the nappy and giving bath. Other times you were always covered. That makes sense as you are living in this cold country where being naked isn't as exciting and encouraging as it was for us. We visited India for the first time after your birth when you were about 6 months old. Since it was very hot, we had to strip you to the nappy most of the time. And for some reason, that looked quite odd for us! Whereas seeing you in full clothes was quite odd for your grandma and others over there. They were used to seeing babies of your age naked. So they weren't quite getting the feel of you as 6 month old infants! Since it was very hot and the nappies were expensive, we happily gave you the freedom for few more days, which also made them happy!

That also reminded few other incidents of my childhood. When my sisters were in high school, one of my uncles brought two chudidhars as a gift to them for his marriage. My father was very furious to see those dresses. It was very uncommon for girls to wear chudidhar's in our village. It took more than a week of drama for my uncle and mother to convince my father. Even though he gave his permission at the end, I don't think he really liked them wearing that dress for the marriage. Later, more and more girls started wearing that dress and it became the de-facto standard for ladies dress in the entire village. The scenes were pretty much similar, but probably with less drama when my cousins started wearing jeans. I don't think they still wear that in our village. Forget them, I don't think even your mother wears jeans in our home, though I have told her repeatedly to wear that many times. I don't see much point in trying to pretend in order to please others. But, that could be just me!

There is a tribe in our village called 'kudubis'. The traditional kudubi ladies don't wear any blouse like other ladies. They just wrap the sari slightly higher to cover their chest area. Any of the film actresses wearing that kind of dress would surely attract a lot of attention. Unfortunately, in our village, it was mainly their older generation who were following that traditional dress code. The younger generation found that little uncomfortable with the society and switched to the dress code of the majority.

These incidents really made me think hard about this subject. Why those younger generation should feel ashamed about their dress code of the tribe. There is so much of nudity in the temple scriptures, still why people feel so shameful about the nudity? If we are not having the dress during our birth and death, why are we being so paranoid about these dresses in the middle? Why people even go to the extent of judging a person based on the dress they are wearing? I started thinking hard on this subject on the very same bathroom that ignited these questions. With the curtain and the window open, all the foul smell went outside and the cool wind started blowing some fresh ideas to my head. I finally came out of the bathroom enlightened!