Word of the Week #151:

Aerodynamics

Imagine you are a child.

Done? Good.

Now, imagine your parents telling you the following things at the following ages.

At 8: Kid, stay away from aeroplanes.

At 12: Kid, stay away from aeroplanes. They are not safe.

At 15: Kid, you are staying away from aeroplanes, right? You better… It is for your own good.

At 18: Kid! I have told you a thousand times, stay away from aeroplanes! No talking about them, no looking at them, no thinking about them. Nothing. This is not how we raised you.

At 21: Kid, if you do not stay away from aeroplanes, I swear to God, I will shoot you both out of the sky!

At 25: Kid, you have been good all your life, and as a reward, I am getting you a plane! So what if you have never been in, or even around, a plane… So what if you have no idea how to fly it, how to land, how to maintain it, how to make sure you won’t kill yourself in a fiery crash within the next year… Oh, I’m just so happy! You know what we should do? We should celebrate this news with thousands of people we barely know and will never meet for many, many years!

Sounds ridiculous, right? Well, that is how marriage works in India.

No wonder it is such a bumpy ride.

Word of the Week #148:

Bereavement

Well, everybody hurts sometimes
Everybody cries

That’s what the guys over at R.E.M. taught us, many many years ago. And everybody heard them, because it does make sense, right?

Unfortunately, they seem to have forgotten to mention that everybody processes the pain in their own ways. I suppose that is why nobody realised that a person can be in pain even if you don’t hear them whining about it.

For years, people have been telling me that I need to discuss my problems, share my pain, express my feelings… And I just cannot understand why.

Empathy? Please. As if I can be understood.
Sympathy? Please. As if I need pity.
Counsel? Not interested.
Perspective? Resolution? Catharsis? I can get that from within, thank you.

You know what I need when I am in pain? Some space, some time. Perhaps some sugary drinks.

You know what I do not need? People encroaching on my space, taking up my time, giving me grief. As if I don’t have enough of it already.

Or, to put it very simply, for all intents and purposes…

Word of the Week #147:

Detoxify

How to detect traces of toxicity in yourself?

Simple. Swallow a pill of bitter truth, and observe your own reaction.

If you feel any inflammation around your cheeks or ears, you may be experiencing some symptoms of chronic toxicity. Let us take a look at the following video, for instance.

Thoughts? Generally, a nice video.

Nice message. A rare, but refreshing, example of a corporation taking a stand. Right?

Well, oddly enough, the video has twice as many dislikes as it has likes, presently around 1.2 million, with thousands of men claiming they felt attacked by the ad and vowing to never use a Gillette product ever again.

Just take a moment to think about this. What exactly does the video say?

  • Misogyny is bad.
  • Sexual harassment is bad.
  • Violence is bad.
  • Bullying is bad.
  • Men shouldn’t do above bad things, and set good examples for boys.

Now, if any of the above points seem like a personal attack on you…
You’re probably NOT the best a man can be. Just saying…

Word of the Week #146:

Forewarning

We live in interesting times.

Just last month, the central government gave itself the power to snoop into any computer.

No warrants, no limitations, no nothing. Unlimited unbridled power.

Big Brother is watching. Cool.

I guess I’ll have to set up a VPN and a private browser just to read the news. Oh, how the world has changed.

Additionally, political opponents of the ruling party were thrashed by the police last week. For what Crime? Wearing black clothes and releasing black balloons in the presence of the Supreme Leader.

Who here is surprised?

35 years too late,  but let us still take a look at the 1984 checklist.

  • Personality Cult? Check
  • Denouncement of Facts? Check
  • Rewriting History? Check
  • Hateful Propaganda? Check
  • Eternal War? Check
  • Unlimited surveillance? Check
  • Thought Police? Well, we are getting there

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Word of the Week #145:

Quagmire

‘No’ means ‘no’.

We’ve been hearing that a lot; perhaps more often and more loudly over the past few years.

But is that really true? Does ‘no’ always mean ‘no’? Does ‘yes’ always mean ‘yes’?

You know, humans aren’t the most honest of beings. We are trained to lie and deceive, to blend in and hide our true feelings and desires in order to survive in this world.

Think about it. Try to remember the times when you would attend a birthday party as a kid. Remember how you would be offered an extra piece of cake, and when you took you it your parents would glare and frown at you.

If you were at all smart, you would understand exactly what it meant: “The next time someone offers you more cake, you better decline, you little critter.”

Makes sense, right? After all, nobody wants their kid to be branded as a glutton.

So, the next time you are at a party and someone asks if you want more cake, what do you say? Well, there have been many, many times when I said ‘no’.

Did I mean ‘no’? Occasionally, yeah. If the cake is bad, I’m not interested in seconds… But if the cake is soft and moist and just the right amount of sweet, why would I not want more? Then why would I still say ‘no’?

Well, in some cases, ‘no’ might not mean ‘no’.

It might mean ‘yes, I do, but I cannot.’
Or ‘not right now.’
Or ‘Yes, but I am just too full.’
Or ‘I do, but I am on a diet.’
Or ‘Yes, but I have to fast before my colonoscopy.’
Or ‘Yes, but that amount of chocolate will kill me.’
Or ‘Yes, but I don’t want it from you; who knows where those hands have been.’
Or simply ‘Nah, I don’t do chocolate. Cheesecake only.’

Regardless, that is far from an invitation to come and try to stuff that piece of cake into my mouth. Try that and you’re going to got killed, boy. DO NOT test me.

No matter what was meant or why, when you hear ‘no’, you better take it as a ‘no’.

To paraphrase a beloved poem from my childhood,

Their’s not to make reply,
Their’s not to reason why,
Their’s but to get the hell out of my face.

Consent. It’s a piece of cake.

Word of the Week #129:

Supernumerary

You know what I truly dislike about this country? The labour laws… Or perhaps the seeming lack thereof.

How many hours is an average person expected to work in a week? In most reasonable parts of the world, the answer is 40. 8 hours a day, 5 days a week. As I said, reasonable.

In India, however, the answer can jump up to 60. The law actually states 9 hours a day, 6 days a week, but who cares about that, right?

In most parts of the world, every employee gets around 35 days of paid leave every year. Plus weekends, which gives us roughly 140 days a year. In India? 25… So adding a lone Sunday each week, we get around 80.

Add to that the geographical size, lack of affordable and reliable transportation, and the high concentration of jobs in urban centres, odds are you would not get to visit your home more than twice or thrice every year.

And, as I probably do not even need to mention, the pay is far from stellar.

Growing up, I was always led to believe that we work in order to live, but I do not see much evidence of life around here.

Knowing all this, one might wonder just how this can continue, right? Why do we, in India, tolerate such treatment for so little compensation?

Well, the answer is simple. If you don’t, someone else will.

We are a nation of many people. Too many people. Way too many people.

And as the workforce keeps growing, the employment opportunities struggle to keep up. It does not take a genius to realise this system is built to implode.

I just hope I do not get caught in the aftershocks.

Word of the Week #125:

Amour

Ah, love.

Everyone loves love, right?

Isn’t this what we grew up watching in our movies? A young couple, hopelessly in love, who battle against all odds and either end up living happily ever after or die trying.

The formula is quite old. Romeo and Juliet was written over 400 years ago. Considering this, it is quite surprising that the story is not considered outdated.

Why?

Because our society still does not seem to understand that personal relationship should be just that: Personal.

Instead, it becomes a referendum for the entire country. Not just your close family and friends, everyone from your teachers to priests to gynaecologists feels the need to weigh in.

Of course, none of this concerns you when your parents have your back. But when they don’t? When they cannot accept the fact that their children are capable to making decisions for themselves?

That is how we end up with 251 reported cases of honour killings in one year. The key word here being ‘reported‘. Who knows how many of them slip under the radar because, well, dead men tell no tales.

I would generally go on to elaborate the widespread chilling effect this has on women in general but Kavita Krishnan already did a great job at it, in her article for Al Jazeera.

For now, let us look at something interesting.

Our Constitution gives us the right to freedom of speech and expression, which should enable us to express our feelings for whoever we happen to love, and any person who tries to stop us will face the wrath of our legal system, right? Right?

Actually, quite wrong…

You see, there is a catch. Just half a dozen lines later, the Constitution also states that the State can “impose reasonable restrictions” in the interest of “decency or morality“.

34% of our Members of Parliament had pending criminal cases when they last got elected, 21% being charged with serious crimes.

These are the people who get to “impose reasonable restrictions” on us in the interest of “decency or morality“.

After all, nothing says freedom like having your voices muffled by thugs.

Romeo and Juliet must be rolling in their graves.