Word of the Week #99:


So, if you were to take a quick look at the events that transpired throughout the past week, you might end up feeling quite dejected, or you might just stop feeling altogether.

Yeah, it has been that kind of a week, where we feel let down by the world around us.

I talk about the real world, of course. My world is still pretty cool, and that is what keeps me inoculated from everything real. And this is a part of art that we do not seem to discuss nearly as much as we ought to.

You see, in today’s world, art is too often evaluated by the impact it is supposed to have on the world around it.

Black Panther released last weekend, and its portrayal of minorities and women is the discussion that seems to dominate the media.

Last weekend was also the NBA All Star weekend, and an initial part of the proceedings was usurped by reactions to some Fox News anchor’s racially insensitive, extremely demeaning, and frankly quite stupid comments about the greatest basketball player of our generation.

It is gladdening, of course, to see artists and athletes using their platforms to try to change the world for the better. Their excellence grants them this prerogative.

However, that is not where we begin, right?

Art is not always a beacon that guides the entire world.
Sometimes, it is just a flickering candle that illuminates a single soul…
And sometimes, that is enough.


Word of the Week #89:


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 #82:


We have seen this happen to the people around us, have we not?

One moment, they are awake. They are talking, or singing, or cooking, or playing, or even driving. Whatever they may be doing, you know for certain that, at that particular moment, they are wide awake. And, the very next moment, you see that they are not.

We cannot say that they have fallen asleep, though. That would not be quite right. Nor can we call this a stupor.

If anything, I would call this a variant of a ‘pre-lucid dream‘.

You must have seen this, right?

For instance, let us say you are hanging out with a guy, narrative to him your latest escapades, perhaps with a little creative editing of your own. Now, towards the beginning of the story, he is all ears. Head nodding, hair bobbing, and, if your story is good enough, lips parted in an inaudible chuckle.

You grin back. Take a sip of your Thums Up, because, what else would you rather drink. By now, however, he is no longer awake.

He just lies slumped in his seat, shoulders drooping and neck arching to the front. He is already caught in the dream.

You try to resume your story, but he is oblivious to your babbling. He is held captive by the bright colours flashing before his eyes.

So, you have seen this, right?

It is already a wide-spread disorder, and it may well be one of the greatest threats our society has ever faced.

Yeah, I know hate-morgering-extreme-right-wing-pseudo-nationalism is pretty bad. I hate it too. But trust me, this is worse.

You see, unlike sheer stupidity, which some people just do possess and some just do not, this can affect almost every living human on this planet… Except maybe the poorest of guys, but really, they already have their hands full…

Your parents may say that you are the ones trapped in this, but we all know that even they are as vulnerable as you; perhaps even more so, one may argue.

Unfortunately, there is no real cure either. I mean, you could wake them up with a quick whack to the head, but really, how many of them can you handle by yourself? And for how long?

Be smart. Save yourself.

PS: You have seen this, have you not? 

No? Odd.

Well, the dream is somewhat lucid. Maybe you could try to wake up.



Word of the Week #81:


Have you seen one?

You probably have.

You may not have noticed them, or identified them for what they really are, and one cannot really blame you for that. They can be quite the masters of disguise.

They roam our world, lurking in the shadows, largely unseen and unheard. They lay in wait for the weakest of us, and when they find us at the weakest of our times, they pounce.

Occasionally, you can find them lurking behind traffic signals, often in packs. Sure, they are camouflaged perfectly as men seeking to serve and protect, but be sure you are not lulled into a false sense of security. They are waiting to lunge at you, any moment they can get.

Sometimes, they wait in your schools and colleges, your cricket fields, your gymnasiums. This may seem like their natural habitat, but do not be fooled. Without the slightest of warnings, they will slam upon your young shoulders the heavy burden of their broken dreams.

Quite often, they will disguise themselves as one of us, and with the promise of a better tomorrow, lead us down the sheer ravine. Of course, these vultures can fly, and look forward to the feast you provide.

Lastly, there are some that make inroads into our offices and industries, and often find their way to the very top. It is a good vantage point, you know, The Top. From up there, it is quite easy to spot the perfect prey, and to hunt them down with impunity. They get what they want, and then get away with it. Easy.

Now, with all these predators swarming around and above you, the question rings through your mind: How do I protect myself?

Well, you could try growing some spikes. It works for porcupines, it may work for you. But, unfortunately, that is not an option for most of us.

So, what do we do?

Maybe we could try growing some spines, instead?


Word of the Week #78:


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:


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…