Word of the Week #106:

Interlude

Okay, we did have something interesting, and also quite important, to discuss today, as I mentioned last week. However, it looks like we would not be able to get to that just yet, as a little news has popped up that made us want to take a quick break.

You see, the good folks over at WordPress were kind enough to inform us that we have now complete two whole years online. Now, I have no reason to doubt them, but it is odd how 106 weekly posts seem to amount to two years.

Nevertheless, we thought it might be interesting to pause for a moment, and take a look back at the old hits. There have been some pretty good one, haven’t there?

#1: Procrastinate

After all, we never forget our first, do we?

#11: Culture

Oh, this one remains one of my personal favourites.

#16: Conformity

“One of these things is not like the others,
One of these things just doesn’t belong.”

— Ernie, Sesame Street

 

#29: Fortitude

Sometimes, the short ones are the strongest, you know.

#32: Pinata

Damn! This one went really wrong really fast, eh?

#34: Mitigation

This might have been the only time when I willingly and publicly praised the actions of our government. After all, credit where credit is due, right?

#37: Resurgence

A first-hand account of our trials and eventual triumph at the Delhi Comic Con, ’16.

 

#41: Eerie

This was our immediate reaction to the unusually creepy season finale of Sherlock.

#50: Matrimony

“Do you swear to keep mocking this ancient, outdated tradition till death sets you free?”
“I do!”

#60: Morbid

You know what? There are moments like these when I will creep even myself out…

#73: Ornithology

Who here doesn’t occasionally indulge in bird watching, right?

#74: Blitzkrieg

Well, this was the end of an era, to be quite honest. Book Two, Baby!

#77: Credit

You know, the time we discussed whether I get loans…

#80: Monster [Guest Post]

Not taking any names, but I know for a fact that some readers actually cried reading this one…

#81: Scavenger

If you see something, say something. Get it?

#83: Cataclysm

Every heart-touching story can use a sprinkling of some wordplay, right?

#86: Caesura

This talks about the night poetry touched me… You know, in the good way…

#89: Contraceptive

Well, even if the government does not want to talk about it, we will.

#105: Nuance

Yeah, I do believe this last one was quite special.


Of course, if you have any other ones on your mind, do let us know…

We will be back next week…

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Word of the Week #103:

Vexation

Generally, I love science fiction, especially the futuristic ones.

And while I do enjoy a good post-apocalyptic dystopia, tonight I am talking about the more urban futurism, the kind one would expect from something like I, Robot or Avatar or Fifth Element, or even Altered Carbon, more recently.

I love how these stories transport us to a wonderful world where the realm of reality has been expanded upto, and often beyond, the limit of our expectations.

The brief escape they provide can be valuable…

This escape, however, comes at a cost. The stark contrast they offer to this ridiculously mundane world of ours can be quite disheartening, and even infuriating at times.

Sure, technology has advanced by leaps and bounds over the past couple of decades, but it has not even nearly caught up to what was promised in Back To The Future.

And do you know where this contrast between what is and what could be becomes the most jarring? Why, the banking sector, of course…

Have you been to a bank, lately? Since the advent of e-banking and such, we don’t have to, as often as we used to, so we don’t have necessarily care as much. However, an occasional encounter is enough to remind us exactly how archaic and patchy our banks still are.

I mean, an entire afternoon to reset your net banking password and linking your PAN to your account is not reasonable, okay.

And the removal of what doesn’t work is really the bare minimum. There are still way too much we can do, and it is annoying when nobody does it.

Now, is it fair to blame them for not living up to our expectations? I don’t see why not.You see, the technology does exist. If you won’t use it for banking, of all things, then where will you?

As consumers, it is our right, nay, duty, to keep whining about mediocrity, and to keep dreaming about excellence.

As a great man once said, the future must remain bright.

Word of the Week #89:

Contraception

Well, I am not sure what prompted our enlightened leaders to take this step, but here we go:

No child’s play: Condom ads banned from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. in India

NEW DELHI: The government on Monday strictly asked TV channels not to air advertisements selling and promoting condoms because these are “indecent especially for children” and can create “unhealthy practices” among them.

Yes. This is smart. After all, nothing screams “unhealthy practices” like using a condom, right?

Hurling abuses at one another, making galling jokes about women and the elderly under the garb of comedy, and spewing vitriol at those who disagree with us, both literally and figuratively, still find place on primetime television. After all, isn’t that the true cornerstone of our society?

But condoms are “indecent especially for children”…

And, yes, this is a country that already has a larger population than it can sustain, where sex-education, and really any rational discussion about sex, is taboo, and where medical facilities are sporadic at best.

FUN FACT: While five million abortions occur annually in India, only 10% of those are performed within the structures of a high-quality hospital.

Let us consider this graphic:

Screen Shot 2017-12-13 at 12.08.36 AM

And these are official stands taken by the teachers and administrators of the states, not some random guys sitting under the banyan tree… Of course, those may be the same people.

The thing about sex education is, if you don’t get it, you will never realise how much you need it. Therefore, the opposition to it does make some sense.

After all, we all fear what we do not understand, right?

Anyway, in case someone is wondering, let us take a quick rundown of all the places where discussion about safe sex does not occur:

  • Home
  • Primary School
  • High School
  • College
  • Public places
  • Urinals, or at least one would hope
  • Television

So, what do we have left? Newspapers? Radio? Yeah, if we were trying to reach middle-aged men, those mediums would be perfect.

For everyone else, we seem to have only one path forward: This, right here.

The internet remains, in most regards, the land of the free. Let us use it to talk about the right things.


PS: To the ones who would counter that some ads did take it too far, I would like to say this: Would you ban water if one man drowned to death?

Word of the Week #78:

Bigotry

I remember sitting in my father’s study one day, towards the beginning of this millennium, rummaging through the cupboards, looking for something.

What I sought there must have been something ridiculously inconsequential, like a stapler or such, and what I happened to find was anything but that.

If I remember correctly, and I think I do, I stumbled upon a large, yellow notebook, uglier than most I have seen to this day. On the very first page, written in the familiar italic scrawl was a quote.

“Those who will not reason, are bigots, those who cannot, are fools, and those who dare not, are slaves.”
― George Gordon Byron

Of course, I did not understand this the first time I read it. I was barely 7 or 8, after all. I did have a dictionary at hand, though, and I had at least managed to teach myself a new word.

I would not come to truly understand the full measure of human depravity for another couple of years or so.

You know, 2002

15 years have passed since then, and while one would expect the world to have learned quite a few things over this span, the reality forces you to pause for a moment, and try to understand just what went wrong. Just a brief scan of the news is enough to make you cringe.

How did we start the week?

Well, at supposedly one of the finest educational institutes in our country, students protesting sexual assault faced physically assault.

Yeah, you can’t make this stuff up…

And on the other side of the globe, a bloviating buffoon created a man-made disaster immediately after a series of natural disasters had just subsided, essentially declaring that protests against intolerance will not be tolerated.

The irony…

Looks like in the time I grew up, the world has gone completely senile.

Word of the Week #77:

Credit

You know what I don’t get? Loans.

Well, yeah, I actually don’t get loans. You see, I don’t have any credentials or collateral to enable me to get one, but that is beside the point.

The real point here is that I don’t get loans. I just cannot understand the concept.

Really, you are just betting that you though even though you do not have the money now, you will have it someday. Of course, you won’t actually have that money because, well, you’ve spent it on the EMI.

Also, if you took the loan to buy, say, a new cell phone, or a car, or a nice TV, you must know that the item would hardly last as long as the term of your loan.

So, at the end of the day, you are bound to end up with neither the money nor the stuff, half-broken by the burden bearing down on your back.I will admit, there are times when you have to take a loan. You cannot be a doctor if you do not go to a medical college, and those things can be rather pricey. Here, at least you know you get to keep the degree. Same with houses and real estate and such stuff, at least unless you buy a sea-facing bungalow and, well, the rising sea level leaves it half-submerged. It can happen, you know…

And, of course, there are times when you just have to borrow, perhaps for a business venture. As they say, you need money to make money.

Or, perhaps you need it because your daughter needs an urgent surgery. You really cannot ask her to just sit tight while you earn that money with your own hands, right?

Some expenses are indeed unavoidable, and some burdens have to be borne.

So, in conclusion, I guess I do get loans.

I wonder why my government thinks otherwise…

Word of the Week #72:

Sovereignty

Well, yes, this is indeed a day for celebration.

The roads are filled with men and women waving the tricolour, and the screen with speeches and colourful highlights of our relatively young nation.

Yes, this is, for the most part, a day for celebration.

After all, in most respects, we have arguably come farther in these 70 years than any other country, with the exception of China. Of course, anyone who knows anything about China would know the exact reason for that.

And if you don’t know, just ask Liu Xiaobo, the Chinese human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize laureate.

Oh wait, you can’t, can you?

Anyway, let us return to our own territory, and let us make merry, for this is a day for celebration.

However, as I’m sure a teacher of mine would have reminded us, it is also a day for introspection.

Yes, we have make far, but this is still not nearly far enough, is it?

To quote the very first speech made in Independent India, or was it the last one made prior to independence… Anyway, the quote is what matters, here.

“That future is not one of ease or resting but of incessant striving so that we may fulfil the pledges we have so often taken and the one we shall take today.”

— Jawaharlal Nehru, Tryst with Destiny

It is quite obvious that despite having achieved freedom from our colonial rulers, we haven’t yet succeeded in ridding our land of the plethora of problems that plague it.

Since I am not a JNU student, I probably wouldn’t just suddenly start chanting out the entire list. You live here, you know it as well as anyone else; if you don’t, you should probably be on the list…

Today, we stand at an undeniably interesting juncture in our planet’s history. A shift in the balance of power is already underway, and we have the opportunity to not just observe this historic moment, but mould it with our own will.

How exactly will that pan out? Time will tell, I suppose…

Word of the Week #70:

Dissent

As a kid, I was usually quite well liked by elders. You see, I have always been nice and cute and smart. People tend to like that in kids.

However, as I grew older and smarter, I found that there were a couple of aspect of my personality that seemed to prick certain grown-ups.

You see, I was always an inquisitive kid. When someone would tell me something, or ask me to do something a certain way, I thought a very reasonable response was, “Why?”

At that age, it is bizarre to think I would not have actually intended to challenge the authority of the aforementioned elders. What kid ever thinks that way?

Now, as a few more years passed, this habit of mine evolved to the next level.

Now, not only was I completely unafraid of asking “Why?”, I was also assertive enough in the face of their floundering responses to say, “No.”

Needless to say, such behaviour was not without its consequences. Some parents believed I was a bad influence on their kids. Some teachers may have been convinced this disobedience needed to be flogged out of me, but corporal punishments were not in vogue anymore, and juvenile attempts at public shaming had to suffice.

I have always hoped people would look at this with equanimity and ask themselves who is a worse influence on impressionable minds: a child who seeks to understand before he obeys, and thereby chooses to disobey if he disagrees, or a supposed ‘grown-up’ who cannot even defend his beliefs to the aforementioned child, and thereby sees him as a threat.

“Inevitably it follows that anyone with an independent mind must become ‘one who resists or opposes an authority or established convention’: a rebel
And if enough people come to agree with—and follow—the REBEL, we now have a DEVIL.
Until, of course, still more people agree. And then, finally, we have… GREATNESS.”
― Nicholas Tharcher, Rebels and Devils: The Psychology of Liberation

The times have changed, since. We are the grown-ups now. It is time for us to shape the world we have inherited.

“Silence becomes cowardice when occasion demands speaking out the whole truth and acting accordingly.”
― Mahatma Gandhi

Do we want our children to stay silent, or do we want them to speak out?

It is now for us to decide.