Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Prejudice


Discussion over lunch with boss and colleagues and much of the prejudice I've seen over the last one and half years in my time here resurfaced. A blanket injunction against Muslims without a sense of history, assuming that religion is to blame and not more human qualities of conquest, desire and greed.

Every time I hear a conversation like this, I think of the damage our education system and politics have done to the teeming multitude that constitutes this nation. How many of us pause to question, find out, read? Somewhere (and I don't know whether to blame the system or each individual who chooses to accept without thinking), we have become creatures of rote as opposed to creatures of curiosity. Politics has exploited this amply, feeding the frenzy. Each time such conversations happen, it disgusts me. I want to sit them all down and give them a crash course and a reading list.

Prejudice has become a way of co-opting dissent in the public space. Of creating a populace that fulfills the agenda of un-enlightenment, of unquestioning obedience in a democracy. No wonder Indian democracy is a success!

I am reminded of a dialogue from the Fountainhead. Toohey says to Dominique(paraphrasing): If you fight a man on the basis of his capability and achievement alone, he can fight back. But prove that he is against religion or god and you've got a case that cannot be fought. Not with logic. Not with the mind.

That seems to be, to me, the main problem here. We've all been made to believe in the non-issues, leaving the issues that really matter to each and everyone of us unscrutinized. Power has used prejudice, not just in India but across the world, to create a self-sustaining cycle where the dominated live under the illusion that the power is actually in their hands. In the mire of prejudice, we forget fact, causality and the things that actually affect us. Potent potent tool to divide and rule.

PS: Reading list (Thanks to Rehab for the suggestion): 

Disclaimer: Am sticking to books I've found useful and enlightening on Indian history else the list is endless. A lot of this also concentrates on the Partition and subsequent Kashmir conflict (on which I did my dissertation in college) but I think Kashmir, like no other issue in modern India, illustrates the point of prejudice and warped sense of history that "Indians" have.

Also, the idea behind this list is to put together books that differ in perspective and none or all together lead to any one definite conclusion. So it includes both non-fiction and fiction that has been spun around India's recent past.

Okay, too many disclaimers. I will get on with the list.

  1. Revenge & Reconciliation by Rajmohan Gandhi
  2. Freedom at Midnight by Larry Collins and Dominique Lappierre
  3. The future of freedom: Illiberal democracy at home and abroad by Fareed Zakaria
  4. Kashmir: behind the vale by M.J Akbar
  5. Kashmir: a tragedy of errors by Tavleen Singh
  6. The Ice Candyman by Bapsi Sidhwa
  7. Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie
Okay, that's all I can think of now. Will add to this list if I think of any more books.

2009 was

One of discovering and rediscovering. Asking and finding, challenging the old and accepting the new. Of looking within and seeing the unexpected. Of finding passion, courage and the love inside me. Of seeing the world anew, of rediscovering faith and hope. Of old ties and new.

The year gone by has changed much. But it is still only a lump of clay spinning furiously on the potter's wheel.  The coming year may begin to tell what this clay of 23 years will shape itself into. It is time to rebuild with greater awareness, hope and joy than before. Time to start enjoying the uncertainty and stop trying to know everything 60 years too soon. Time to try things new and different, time to do things a little differently for once and maybe more than once.

There has been much to rejoice for, much to lament, much to ponder over and much to accept. It has been the most tumultuous year so far and one that has left an indelible mark on my life as it will be from now. For all the chaos, heartache, tears and smiles, it has been memorable in the way that only such turbulence can be.

So here's to a wonderful year and here's to all the people who have made it so. Some of you have been in my life from much before and will continue to be a cherished part of it. Thank you for being the absolute wonders that you are. Some of you I have found recently. Thank you for showing me the things you have, for giving so much and taking as much in such a short while. I hope you will remain what you are. To those of you whom I have hurt, I can only say Sorry. I know that doesn't make it right but that is all I can say for now. I hope you find greater happiness.

To life, thank you for shaking me out of my complacency.

Am looking forward to the new year with a vengeance.

Friday, 18 December 2009

Santa Claus

In the season of Santa Claus, it is time to put up a stocking for all that one would wish for. Only this time around, I am the only one who can give myself the things I wish for. It'd still be a good idea I think to put up that stocking and drop the wishes in. Just so I can remind myself of the things to look for when it is my turn to play Santa Claus for myself. And yes, as someone commented recently, I am wishing for a LOT this year. Fortunately or unfortunately none of it costs money :P So yes, recession is not an excuse for not getting the gifts I want.

Thursday, 10 December 2009

Wordless exchange


I was thinking about books and I remembered this little incident that happened to me sometime ago. I was walking down the ramp at Currey Road station, on my way back home from office. I was scurrying in my characteristic impatience and had a book in my hand  - The geometry of god (I haven't ended up reading much of that book but more on that later). As I was running down that ramp, I suddenly felt a tug on my hand and looked down to find a man yanking at the book. I stood still, he took the book from me, turned it over, read the summary at the back, returned the book to me, smiled and went on his way. I smiled back and continued on mine.

Such things happen only in this city. I wonder how I might have reacted to this in another city.

Dreams

Something I read that I want to put up: quoting from the Queen of Dreams

The dream comes heralding joy
I welcome the dream.
The dream comes heralding sorrow
I welcome the dream.
The dream is a mirror showing me my beauty
I bless the dream.
The dream is a mirror showing me my ugliness
I bless the dream.
My life is nothing but a dream
From which I will wake into death,
which is nothing but a dream of life.

Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Seeking Solace

I've been thinking of how I, for one, always seem to seek solace in people who are distant from my situation, who cannot offer understanding, sympathy or empathy. I am finding more comfort in inanities, random conversations, talking to those who are utterly unconnected to the things that weigh me down in solitude. And maybe once the smiles are a little more permanent, I'll get down to untangling my heart.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

Little nothings

Today morning I woke up missing an old pair of jeans that I had. I threw it away a few months ago because of a couple of irreparable tears in unmentionable locations. But today I just miss that pair.

PS: And I see the blog posts are getting teenier. Long one coming up as soon as I get my thoughts together on that topic
 

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