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Been a while since I’ve been in a relationship. The ones I had were good while they lasted while some shouldn’t have been in the first place but overall they’ve taught me a great deal about the general nature of the biped mammals that thrive on the planet.

If you ask me a relationship is something that connects 2 people that’s it. Something that “connects”, and this is not to be confused with “holds together”. Connects is a better term than holds together because it implies an external force holding 2 objects together. And where there is force there is bound to be a counter force and instead of working on the connection the energy of either or both of the individuals is expended in exerting a counter force towards the force holding the relationship together. That being said only a minuscule minority of relations are the ones with a connect. There are no expectations, it is just about 2 people acknowledging each other, they do not necessarily need each other all the time, they just connect, frequently or occasionally or sometimes rarely, but the next time they connect its still the same.

Now the majority of the relationships are based on “give and take” , a transaction. These are the ones where there is a force and a counterforce at play. The one who can play the game well wins while the other sulks around or after a lot of whining quits but by that time there’s a lot of baggage and battle scars and a subconscious need for getting back so the next relationship is more or less doomed. This is why after the closure of any relationship DTox is a necessity. DTox is another misrepresented word. It is not intended for toxic or harmful substances but something even worse. DTox is the toxicity of the mind and the baggage being carried which needs to be jettisoned before moving on. Unless that happens there cannot be a move on.

Coming back to the point most of the relationships be it platonic or sexual or even familial are based on the context of “give and take” or “compromise”. But that is how we are brought up in the first place. As kids the concept of responsibilities that is ingrained in our minds is pretty much an example of the fact. Responsibilities and duties should be out of your own conviction and not out of obligation. This is one fundamental that needs to change. Acknowledging your feelings or presence of others is completely alien to most and ironically for a healthy relationship that is one thing that needs to be inculcated in the generations to come.

Till such a time that a human learns to acknowledge the presence of others in his life and accept the same without any expectations or transactional mindset, Newton’s third law of motion will continue to be applicable to relationships as well.

The concept of time for humans has always been unidirectional i.e one way.. flowing from the past to the present to the future. Time with relation to the human life is linear. We always move forward to the future. Also there is a cascading effect of our actions in the present to move towards the future. The possibilities of each future is based upon the actions we take, but that we shall dwell upon in a future post.

The past is a reference point in time where we learn our lessons and plan our way forward. That is what the utility of the past. To take lessons and plan a course of action based on those lessons. But the human nature has a failing. Sometime it just forgets that time for us is linear and we are fixated to that point in time. A particular point in the past is fine as long as it is a reference point, but then it should not be a halting point. Some people insist on staying there. If me as a person insist on staying there then it can be termed as a guilt trip or guilty conscience. That is an affliction that affects quite a section of the people. Then the natural outcomes is guilt trips, depression, self pity and the likes of it. However, there is yet another section who insists on living in the past, not their past but the past of others, passing summary judgements with respect to the individual in question based on the point of reference. That is dangerous very dangerous to the person being judged.

People need to understand that the universe and time is in a constant state of flux. The circumstances always differ from each point. The set of parameters for that particular situation in the past cannot be the same else everything will be in the state of deja vu. And when parameters change the set of outcomes will also be a different set.

What people need to realize that we are not yet evolved that we can exist in infinite space time as of now. Time for us is still linear and there is no point in being fixated to the past. Unless you want to recreate the past again and again the best way is to pick up lessons from the past and move on towards creating a new future. Probably that’s why some wise chap said “Let bygones be bygones”.

A lot has been said over the past few days over the growing intolerance in the country, needless to say this is getting more comical by the day. I could’nt but help wondering what the hullabaloo was all about so then I got around to digging out stuff to understand what it was so here’s what I found.

Some bunch of people burned down n killed some other bunch of people in a place called Dadri, it had something to do with the groups of people following some particular archaic concepts. That’s alright the world thrives on those outdated concepts. But then the world economy literally runs on those outdated concepts and the ideas spawning from them so let us leave that discussion for someday else.

So the thing is a bunch of guys massacred another bunch of guys and there’s a whole ruckus about it with everyone from prime minister’s to home ministers to chief ministers to wanna be chief ministers to wandering minstrels to now the hallowed Indian media hollering and ranting about it. Well that’s common… at least the part about a bunch of people getting killed and the political class , here I will not mention the media as they are an offshoot of the political class, hollering about it. This has been happening for generations lot of examples if you see our post Independence history. But then here something new happened, Writers, Artists and their ilk started returning their honors given to them by various entities including the government. The reasons are many including beef ban and dead people but then the common thread they said was “Growing Intolerance”.

Ok so “growing intolerance” in the country caused these people to return their awards. I cannot think of a single logical reason what would evoke such a response. I could understand if a certain Sudhindra Kulkarni returned an award but unfortunately this time he has none to speak of. The man’s face was blackened and I would understand if he took it as a personal insult and returned any award. But come on guys what’s the point? There’s no protest here except for a few minutes in the media’s glare. Why protest now? Our history is replete with intolerance and the intolerance i’m talking about is not a bunch of dead guys killed by another bunch of guys. The truth is we are an intolerant lot . Period.

We as a culture are inherently biased and intolerant. Any slight difference in skill color or for that matter caste or positions make us uncomfortable that we tend to persecute the other into submission. Hell right from childhood we are groomed into unhealthy competition. We cannot revel in the success of our countrymen we find a thousand different ways to pull them down. For example say good for a particular community and you will be faced with a torrent of instances of the finer points of other communities. When will we finally understand is saying that one is good does not mean the other is bad.

Intolerance must be protested but there are other ways to do that. Returning an award is not the way. It is like washing off your hands off the greater responsibility. But then its something that is ingrained in the DNA of Indian society, might take a couple of centuries to get rid of this kinda immature behavior. Hell I just realized the protests if any are itself based on the wrong premise.

So till such a time that the Indian society as a whole evolves into a mature, thoughtful, sentient society there will be such instances that will continue to happen. We can do our bit albeit silently and hope that sporadic efforts might increase and grow into a cohesive coordinated renaissance.

Till then take all of this with a pinch of salt and continue to work and do your bit for the society. You may not reap the benefits but there will be generations who will have the privilege of not living with blooming idiots.

Cheers.

Decisions, the bane of my existence, somehow since childhood that responsibility has always been mine. Take a decision. Fine, I learnt over the years to bear the consequences of my decisions but those were mine to make as were the decisions mine to take. No regrets there.

It should be very easy now, with all the years of experience, but the older you grow, the harder it gets. Seriously its simple, take a decision and be done. But now there are what if’s. Hell i never thought of all that before, then why now?

People exist, they no longer are alive. They are merely living out their existence. A lot of them actually. Living like automatons day in and day out.

Look around you, especially in the city of Mumbai, right from the time you wake up to be bell of the milkman or the maid who agreed to at 7:00 am to not lose out on that extra job. To her credit she has a family to feed, too many mouths actually but then let’s leave the discussion on “acche din” for some other day.

if you start at 7:45 you’re clear, but then if you start 5 mins late the time taken to reach your destination doubles. This is where the race starts.

The race is not just to reach the office. It is also to struggle up the ladder and there in lies the seed of the problem. The first and most important thing that is compromised is your own time. Personal one, spent more at office to rise up the package. As a chap once told me “sir number of years of experience x 3 should be the salary”.

We all live on a set of parameters designed by someone else. Nuclear families in my younger days had a different meaning. But now these are turning more or less into “Satellite” families. with people coming home over the weekend or just for the night to rest their butts before heading back to the race the next morning.

We simply do not have time for each other. No wonder relationships are collapsing, the quality of existence has gone up but the meaning of life is lost. Everything is now restricted to the virtual world. Happy friendship day messages rule social media, but gone are the days when friendship meant waking up your friend at midnight to go for a spin or going impromptu for a chai at the local tea stall or a simple hug. Calls are not returned, so called “friendships” are restricted to friendship days and other such commercial gimmicks.

The simplicity of life has gone out of the window and in its place is now a more complex warped existence which presents a rather rose tinted illusion of a “life”.

In all this “life” has become a misnomer for existence. Unfortunate, but true.

The Sniper

The sniper took careful aim and fired, the bullet hit the target directly in the chest and he lunged forward. Before anyone could realize what had happened, the yuppie standing next to the blue suited gentleman, the target, had caught him as if he was hugging him and dragged him away from the scene. The yuppie carried the gentleman to a car standing in the parking where another man hauled the target inside, including his satchel. “Ok, mission accomplished, let’s go” said the yuppie, and pumped the air with his fist. This was a signal to the sniper.

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A few hours ago, Althaf had positioned himself on top of a building overlooking the parade ground. It was 26th January and the governor and chief minister would be there to take the salute for the Republic Day parade. Armed with a telescopic rifle with a range of 200 mtrs he was sure not to miss his target. He never had. Today would be his 50th assignment, a half century as he liked to call it, something that he was immensely proud of. Not many were aware that he was an excellent marksman until that fateful day when they took him into their fold and his journey towards today had started.

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Around 24 years ago, as a kid of 12, Althaf had seen his father gunned down in his own house in the town of poonch in the Kashmir valley, by the security forces. His mother had tried to intervene but had been hit by a bullet and succumbed to injuries. The only son of his parents, he had not been able to fathom why his parents had been gunned down and that too by the security forces. The grapevine had it that his father had terrorist links and was involved in the killing of a few jawans in the valley. Althaf never really believed it, at 12 he really didn’t care. The stark reality that faced him was that his parents were killed by Indian armed forces. A few months after the incident, just after his 13th birthday, Althaf disappeared from his town. Nobody in the town had heard from him after that.

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Where were you all these years? Salim had asked him when he had surfaced in the city 4 yrs back. .. “and this is how I reached Dubai, around 10 years back, thanks to Adil bhai. By Allah’s grace I have made enough money so I decided to come back and right some wrongs” Althaf said.  “Insha Allah” said Salim.. But he couldn’t help noticing the fire that was burning in those hazy blue eyes. He had tried asking Althaf what he really did, who Adil Bhai really was, but the chirpy kid was now a sullen, serious and reserved character. Salim decided to let it go at that.

Althaf used to disappear for days together and then return, also money was never a problem with him. The life he lived was lavish and the gifts he gave were generous. “Are you sure you are not with the wrong set of people or doing something wrong?” Salim had once asked him. “Do not worry, brother, I am only serving Allah” he had said and suddenly those eyes were veiled behind a steely expression which had pre-empted any further questions from Salim.

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A few later months he had moved out of Salim’s house when Salim had got married. He now used to live in a simple 3 room flat in the heart of the city in a pretty plush locality where he had been living for the last 3 years since he had moved out of Salim’s house. He paid his rent on time, was cordial to the neighbors and hardly mixed with anyone, nor was seen with anybody frequently. Every morning a car would come to pick him up and drop him home in the evening. HP call center was what he had told the people. Anyone in his building would have vouched that he was a good guy, albeit reserved and with nobody to call his own except a few people who visited him sometimes.

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“At the parade ground, he’ll be there; our people have got the information. That’s when you’ll have to take him out” a deep voice from the other end of the phone said. “It will be done, Insha allah” Althaf had said. “Justice will be done.” He opened his diary and flipped through the pages, he thumbed through the pages till he came to the calendar. “2 months” he said to himself, “2 months till republic day”. The next few days were days of incessant activities for Althaf. Though nothing seemed amiss to the people of the building where he lived. Every morning the car came to pick him up and drop him back in the evening, and on days when his shift changed the car used to pick him up at nights and drop him back in the mornings. He knew he had a façade to keep, he knew he had a target to achieve and towards that he kept working incessantly for the next couple of months.

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The building under construction next to the parade grounds was a perfect hideout for Althaf. The sleepy caretaker cum watchman of the premises had been comfortably silenced with whatever amount of money he had asked for. Even he knew that if he breathed a word about this to anyone, he wouldn’t live to see another day. So it was business as usual for anyone who passed by, but Althaf was setting up his vantage point to let the messenger of death loose upon the unsuspecting target.

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The morning on 26th jan 2008, Althaf got up early in the morning, offered namaz to pray to the almighty for success. This he did when he went to every assignment; he trusted Allah to take him through every trail of his, for was he not acting as per the command of the lord.

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At 5:00 AM he perched himself on top of the building and set his sights. He had articulately cleaned his telescopic rifle so as to ensure a smooth working of the machine on D-Day. The first set of people started to trickle in at the venue, Althaf had to keep himself from feeling sleepy, but the predator that he was, he knew well enough that lethargy would spell doom for him, so he kept himself active and awake. The police were beginning to scan that area but fortunately for him, they never came where he was. Althaf thanked his stars for that.

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7:15 AM, there he was, wearing a blue shirt; Althaf put aside his binoculars and pulled out a photograph from his case. The photograph was exactly the man who now stood with a small group of people in the parade ground waiting for the governor to arrive. The target located, he readjusted his binoculars, and scanned the ground. He soon heaved a sigh of relief. There was the yuppie, nearing the target, nobody even noticing him as he mixed with the crowd. There would be no communication between them after this, except sign messages and that too if needed. The yuppie was accompanied by a girl, who looked much like his girlfriend. Althaf saw this and frowned. Silently he offered a prayer hoping that the yuppie would not screw things up.

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7:45 AM, the governor had unfurled the flag and the crowd as clapping. The march past of the state police would begin in the next few minutes and the dignitaries would be proceeding to their seats.

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8:05 AM the march past had begun, the dignitaries were seated at their places. The blue shirted man was talking to the one of the secretaries of the dignitaries. Just then the yuppie walked upto him and engaged him in conversation. He drew him back a few rows where he was seated. The gentleman in the blue shirt clearly seemed to be disturbed by something and it looked like he did not like to leave his place away from elite company. He turned to go back and that was when Althaf fired. The silencer had muffled any noise and the only voice was a muffle which was drowned in the cheer of the crowd that was watching the parade. The yuppie, pretty much quick for his stature, showed that he was a professional and before anyone could notice, with a smile on his face had caught the falling gentleman in the blue shirt. A couple of people turned but he just dismissed them with a wave of his hand saying all was well. The girl joined and together they carried him to the parking lot where a car was already waiting. The car took the 3 of them and sped off.

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Althaf looked at this watch. 8:13 AM. 8 minutes and the job was done. The sniper had struck again. One more mission accomplished. His 50th, all of it for Allah and he was proud of that. He left the premises, and nobody noticed as nothing untoward had happened. The parade was ending but Althaf was in no mood to watch it.

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ATS Deputy Chief Adil Siddiqui was smiling; he had just received an SMS which said. “Happy Republic Day”. As soon as he had entered his office. He went to the communications room, where he called up a hotline number meant especially for the deputy and the chief of the ATS. “Mission accomplished Sir. The bomb has been defused. And no sir, we’re sorry, the carrier is dead. You can take charge of the body and the belongings whenever you want.”

With a smile on his face Adil Siddiqui walked out of the communications. He breathed in a lungful of fresh air and looked afar onto the traffic that was starting to buzz on the roads of the city. Today was going to be a wonderful day after all.

Ever wondered what has been the defining characteristic of Indians in the last 100 years?

I am sure a lot of you will come up with answers like innovation , tradition, culture, resilience etc and also a lot of good sounding words. Agreed, those have been characteristics we have been showing occasionally but these are few and far between. In a population of over 120 million , the primary defining characteristic we have been showing not in just the last 100 years but for a long time as far as our “vaunted” history goes .. can be defined in one word “slavery”.

We are a nation of slaves that dates back to the times of the Mughal conquests and and Timur even before that. Agreed that those were barbaric times and we cannot judge the “now” on the basis of the “then” as those were different times and the fate of races , countries and people were decided on the basis of martial skills and doubtless to say the invaders have always been a powerful force to reckon with. But there is one thing that started then and has percolated down to the people today. We have become a tolerant lot. Spineless or tolerant remains a matter of debate but let us leave that for another time.

First it was the Mughals and more recently the British, French, Portuguese and now ourselves. India achieved Independence in 1947 from the British and we were supposed to be liberated then. But are we really liberated? The answer is a resounding NO. We are still slaves. Slaves to a lot of things. Though we may now be politically free but we are still a country that has chained its soul and imprisoned its spirit. We are politically independent but definitely not liberated.

What exactly is liberation? Liberation is the ability to fend for oneself, to be free , not just politically and economically but in spirit and soul and in essence the freedom of our being. Look around you? How many do you think are really “free” in the true sense of the word. How many of us know the essence of “freedom” or of “liberation”. A miniscule minority I would say.

As a culture we are “taught” to honour our “tradition” and to our credit we do. But honouring it is one thing, blindly believing it is another. Therein lies the beginning of the seed of slavery. As kids we are all born inquisitive, curious and capable. The conditioning we get after we are born make us what we are. A well conditioned slave of our tradition, our culture and our limited beliefs. First it is the parents and then the society who bludgeons us into submission if we try to think outside the parameters that our history of slavery has set down for us. Standing up for what is right is a good trait and people laud you for that, but then what is conveniently forgotten is that good and bad is a matter of perspective. There can be no absolutes. That is where it all falls apart.

For long we have been conditioned with the idea of absolutes , this is right , this is wrong, this is good , this is bad. And if you start to question that idea then you are a rebel, an outcast and then starts the slander. It is a pathetic response for a civilized society if you ask me.

The approximate life cycle of the Indian involves a lot of “conditioning” in the name of parenting and mentoring when in fact the mind should be allowed to wander free.  What the “conditioning” involves is a hammering onto your psyche and your sub-conscious that you are not supposed to be a free soul.  Everyone is taught to follow a time tested slave life term which largely involves taking up a job, getting a house, finding a mate, spawning to produce progeny to carry on your lineage and then after a certain age, retire whilst reminiscing your memories. It is a time tested and good enough pattern no doubt.

But then what about experiencing life? And experiencing is not just about “work experience” or “existence” but about living. And again living is not just spending weekends with family or going out for a weekend and eating out and partying but about gathering the experiences life has to offer.  And the worst part is , this lack of gumption to experience life has an excuse called “responsibility” , a rather convenient excuse I would say.

We tend to live our lives within ourselves cocooned by our own limitations and confining our life within a set of finite parameters. Slavery is not just being subjugated by a superior race, but it also involves being limited in your quest for experiencing life. Our history is replete with subjugation and slavery. We have been slaves for a long time and though the victors have gone we still continue to be slaves to the limitations handed over to us by history and tradition. The only condition we need here is not be detrimental to the existence and individuality of another (something that is missing in our society as we live in a society that lives on the man eat man metaphor) even if that is not followed it will eventually form in the natural process of evolution because nature is infinitely more smarter and capable than we are.

Life is not just about living, dancing, earning and making merry. It is a no holds barred experience. And unless we stop fearing ourselves and our own freedom all I can say is “slaves we were.. slaves we are.. and slaves we shall be”.