Word of the Week #133:

Porcine

Say… What do you think about bacon?

I had some a couple of hours ago, and I just could not stop thinking about it. So, as one does, I decided to write about it.

You know, there are some things over which Western pop culture tends to obsess, right?

We all know the OG, the hotdogs and the hamburgers, the pizzas and the apple pies. Now, I still love a warm slice of apple pie, especially with some sugar and cinnamon dusted on top and a scoop of smooth vanilla ice cream, and firmly believe that people who cannot appreciate a good pizza simply should not be allowed to mate.

However, the Holy Grail has always been this thin strip of fatty cured meat which, quite honestly, always seemed far too overrated. I mean, it cannot be so good that grown men would swoon over it.

Little did I know that its majesty cannot be described. It needs to be experienced first-hand to be truly appreciated.

Of course, all of this love cannot good for my heart, right? Or all of this cholesterol…

But I can’t help falling in love with you.

Advertisements

Word of the Week #132:

Bide

Think of a profession. Any profession.

No, I am not going to guess which one you are thinking about. That is not what I do here…

No, think of a good profession, one that you wish was yours.

Okay, turns out, I will be guessing…

I guess a common answer would be a professional athlete. That is fun, after all, right?

Well, I agree, playing for money does sound fun. But think of it this way. Is every aspect of the profession fun?

Now, I am not talking about the mental aspect, just yet. Being able to take a pressure, the weight of expectations of your fanbase may not always be fun, but some people are still better equipped to handle it than others, right?

No, the parts that nobody would enjoy are the more mundane ones. Things like the incessant travel. Nobody wants to take a cross-country flight after every game. But, it is something you cannot avoid.

It is the same for musicians, singers, comedians and such. You have to travel before you get to perform.

Lawyers have to do lots of unglamorous things, like examining briefs and filing motions and visiting jails. It is not all courtroom drama.

Now, I don’t know what part of being a doctor is fun… I do not understand that profession, to be honest.

But, you see, that is how all professions work. You need to do some of the annoying stuff in order to do the stuff you love.

It is like eating on orange. Nobody enjoys peeling an orange. But if you like eating an orange, you have to endure peeling it.

Being a writer is the same. There are so many parts that drive me so crazy: Editing, querying, marketing, dealing with publishers… None of it is really fun.

But you are done with all that, you get to do what you really love. Just sit back, and keep writing all day.

That’s the dream, right?

Well, I look forward to the day it comes true, once again…

Of course, I remember a time when my Mom would peel the oranges for me. A convenient system, you know.

If only I could find an agent to handle all the peeling for me, now…

HWAITING!

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.

Word of the Week #124:

Secession

Earlier today, on the eve of our 72nd Independence Day, the President addressed the nation.

Did you watch it?

Of course, I did not watch it live. I did not even know it was happening tonight. For some reason, I thought the speech happens on the Independence Day…

But, for the very first time in my life, I actually watched the entire thing.

Among his 21 minutes of remarks, one statement stood out in particular to me. I must warn you that the following is not a precise translation, but I believe I do his sentiments justice.

At the very least, I did a better job than the folks over at NDTV. Come on, guys. You are supposed to be the professionals, around here…

Expanding the extent of freedom is an unabating endeavour.

— President Ram Nath Kovind

Such alliteration… Wow…

Of course, it is news to nobody that we, as a nation, have a long way to go.

On 15th of August, 1947, we did successfully secede from the British Empire. I wonder if any country can truly be called independent, in this day and age, but we have maintained our sovereignty, which is commendable.

However, when it comes to freedom, we have a particularly long way to go.

Just a couple of years have passed since the JNU incident, wherein the government decided to arrest students protesting in the campus and charge them with sedition. Talk about overkill…

While the matter is still sub judice, the court asked the university to take no coercive action against the students, including Umar Khalid.

Naturally, the university responded by refusing to accept his PhD thesis. This was, once again, followed by much hullaballoo.

Now, Khalid was allegedly shot at just three days before the next hearing. Coincidence?

Maybe it was all unrelated… Maybe he is just unlucky… Who can say, am I right?

Of course, according to the National Crime Report Bureau, over 142 unrelated cases of violence against journalists have been registered in the past 3 years. One wonders how many passed not registered.

Interestingly enough, not a single murder of a journalist has been solved in the country over the past decade.

So much coincidence. It makes my nerves tingle.

Clearly, we have a long way to go. And a particularly difficult one at that.

But for now, we fly these colours. Let us talk more about it next week.

Word of the Week #123:

Apocalypse

This post culminates the discussion we have been having for the past few weeks, and let me just begin by saying this: DON’T PANIC.

Now, anybody who has not been living under a rock for the past few years must have noticed a few subtle changes in our socio-political landscape over the past decade or so, in our country and across the world. Certain elements that have existed on the fringe of modern society suddenly find themselves a part of the mainstream..

Of course, the eldest among us would argue that the fringe has always existed and it is only the media that now highlights it more than ever before, but there is more to it. One cannot deny that the extremists among us have been emboldened by certain individuals.

One might be tempted to ask, “Really, just what does it matter if certain dogs continue to bark? It is what they do, after all. Why should we bother?”

The answer is actually simple, and lies in the Middle East.

The Iranian Revolution in 1979 overthrew the Persian monarchy and replaced it with an Islamic theocracy. There may be some who would argue this was a step in the right direction but the members of the Jewish community in Iran, which essentially halved overnight, might want to disagree.

There are always certain people who will ask, “What is wrong in seeking religious, ethnic, or ideological, homogeneity in your country?”

Well, if every citizen chooses to believe the same thing, nothing is wrong, is there? It is the opportunity to make that free and informed choice that matters.

Of course, you cannot choose your ethnicity, so if the regime suddenly decides it does not want you around, you better get ready to run, am I right?

The question we now have to ask is this. How does this lead to the end of the world? The answer is, once again, quite simple.

The world is always ending.

It is the rule of entropy.

It is why your clothes are constantly getting dirtier, and your body is growing wearier every day that passed. Both avoid complete degradation because you put some effort in making them last just a little bit longer.

The same is true for the world at large. It is always ending. It survives when the best and the brightest of the entire human race come together to make it last a little longer.

However, that may not continue forever, and from the recent evidence of our self-destructive nature, I wonder how much longer we might have.

Word of the Week #122:

Pestilence

Okay, I’ll try not to get too dramatic, here.

However, as I mentioned two weeks ago, we may be approaching what can only be described as the beginning of the end.

Let us skip the feels and focus on the facts.

Last week we discussed how the world we live in can be defined by two words: Liberalism and Globalisation. Of course, these are not firmly established truths in all parts of the world, but at least they have been seen as ideals worth striving towards. Unfortunately, in many nations around the world, that no longer seems to be a case.

In the words of every horde of aliens invading the planet, let us start with America. The so-called leaders of the free world are themselves being led by a historically incompetent administration, and its population is deeply divided on all major issues. Of course, a difference of opinion among the masses is not a bad thing. But if those opinions are based less on rational facts and more on irrational feelings, there is no way to address those differences and move forward.

Sure, we could talk about the situations with xenophobia, racism, Islamophobia, Nazism, gun control, or the lack thereof, failing healthcare, crumbling infrastructure, income inequality and dozens of other things going wrong with the country, but those are just the symptoms. The two causes are actually quite simple, and exceedingly common:

  1. Apathetic ignorance among the many
  2. Unmitigated dishonesty among the few

The British are similar of course, but with better accents. Their own chicken, fondly known as Brexit, is coming home to roost soon enough and they could not be less prepared if they tried.

The rest of Europe is also far from flawless. Hungarian Prime Minister Orbán is extremely popular, both within and beyond his own country. This is despite his blatantly Islamophobic views on immigration and the European society in general, or is it because of those views? Just last week, the government in Poland passed a law that allows them to handpick the chief of the Supreme Court. Neat.

Additionally, economies like Greece still remain in crisis, while Italy is plunging towards a crash. That is definitely going to hurt the entire European Union.

Towards the Middle East, just earlier today, Israel signed a new law, essentially mandating apartheid. The crises in Syria and Yemen are far from resolved, and the Arab Spring has subsided into the Arab Winter.

And this is all without even talking about the Russias and the Chinas of the world.

These can be seen as isolated problems faced by separate countries, but nothing is truly isolated in this ever-shrinking world of ours. If allowed to fester, I see this as an epidemic that can decimate our world just like Black Death through Medieval Europe.

Some people might think this is too outlandish. They would want to remind me that, despite all its problems, this is by far the best time to be alive.

Well, they are not wrong.

However, I would counter with this: A mango is the sweetest just a day before it starts rotting.

Word of the Week #121:

Advent

Democracy by itself is not a new thing.

As with many other things, the Greeks did it first. The format itself was dissimilar to what we observe today, but the intent was largely the same.

Experiments with electoral systems continued almost for two thousand years, before the first modern democracy was established. Of course, even that seems archaic by today’s standards.

So, when did real, modern democracy become a norm? As we discussed last week, a lot of this was an aftermath of the two world wars. Essentially, we can mark three major points of inflexion in our recent history.

1918

After their losses in World War I, the German, Russian, Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman empire fell, laying ground for the foundation of—at least relatively—democratic regimes. Universal suffrage in the United States followed soon.

However, this push could not build to a tipping point, as a combination of economic strain and budding nationalist sentiments led several states towards authoritarianism. This was one of the major causes for World War II.

1945

After World War II, the balance did tip in most cases. The newly liberated colonies opted into this democratic experiment, as did Japan. However, authoritarian communism stayed strong in the Soviet Union, and soon spread to China as well.

With the world divided between the two superpowers, each espousing a diametrically opposite ideology, tension continued to brew. Often referred to as the Cold War, this tension further precipitated in conflicts in Korea and Vietnam.

1992

Eventually, the Russian influence began to wane, before being extinguished completely with the dissolution of the Soviet Union. The end of the Cold War ushered an era of economic growth in the former Soviet dominions and allies, and saw another push towards liberal democracy. The unparalleled power of the United States, the consolidation of the European Union and the rise of China and India, aided by the rapid progress in technology, initiated a movement towards unprecedented globalisation.

Those are the two words I would say represent these past few decades: Liberalism and Globalisation.

So, why do we need to talk about this now? Well, to put it simply, I believe we may be moving towards another point of inflexion. The pieces are all there, one simply needs to put the puzzle together.

What is going on? Why should we care? Let us discuss that next week, shall we…