Saturday, October 18, 2008

My India - The Best Country ? - Part 1

Almost an year into my Stay away from my India, I decided I’ll finally feel the question that has been pounding my heart ever since my departure from there.

“Sai, do you think my India is really the best country in the world ?”, my heart asked.

“hahaahaa, What sort of a funny question is this ? And don’t you know my reply, especially when I know that there is every chance that you are going to write a blog out of it whenever you ask such questions ? Come on yaar, India is India ! It is the best no matter what. India rocks man !”, replied my mind.

“Be honest”, asserted my heart.

“Come on dear, Did you not eat the salt of India for 23 years ? And just an year away from our place and you think you are a maha thope who can question the greatness of a country which has a 5000 year culture, which has given the world the Vedas, which is the root of all humanity in the world, which has never invaded another country in its history, which is tolerance personified, moral values exemplified and family values personified ?”, said my mind.

“Don’t you think we are just a little too over glorified ?” asked my heart.

“You are provoking me dear ! You are supposed to be very kind in nature but only I know that when it comes to arguments with me, you are the most cruel and ruthless. The world calls you a conscience for your ruthlessness but will call me a selfish person with a cunning ‘mind’, someone with no values and someone who has forgotten his roots too soon on speaking the truth. Its unfair yaar. So, no more arguments. INDIA IS THE BEST. Anyways, aren’t you an Indian yourself too ? Don’t you know what to feel when such a question is asked ? Why do you even ask me ? :( You are an Indian and you have to feel yourself as the best whenever such thoughts come and trust me you are too ! Please be patriotic and faithful to the salt you ate”, finished my mind.

“Yes dear, you are very true. If you think patriotism as a thought that your country is the best in the world just because YOU were born in it, then my India is the BEST. And no second thoughts about it. But don’t you think such a patriotic thought of calling YOUR country as the best just because YOU were born there in it, is just another form of ego ? An ego that is concealed by a beautiful name ? And anyways, as of now, just between us, I am asking you to answer it with a real patriotic feeling not a patriotic thought ! ”, said my heart.

“Patriotic feeling ? What’s the difference between patriotic thought and patriotic feeling ?” asked my mind.

“Patriotic thought is to ‘think’ that your country is the best in the world no matter what just because YOU were born in it ! It is protecting and defending your right to think so. Patriotic feeling is to ‘feel’ that your country must become the best and start working towards making it if it is not ! And you can only work towards making it the best only when you accept it isn’t and see where it isn’t ! So, unless you let me know that it isn’t and start working towards it, please do not think you have patriotic feelings. You are just being egoistic as ever ! You only have patriotic thoughts and not patriotic feelings. Anyways no more talking about this. Go ahead, think India is the best” Said my heart.

“Heyyy, What’s this ! What sin did I commit that makes you always torture me in such ways ! Please do let me go. God gave you free will, independence and a good brand name no matter what you say. People will associate all good things with you no matter what. But my friends and people do not do that to me. I have to live with them and their thoughts about me for the next few decades and how can I live with them if I don’t call and think of them as the best ? Infact how can I live with myself if I did not think so ? Please yaar, understand.”

“Hypocrite”, Said my heart.

“Oh if I am a hypocrite, then you are nothing but a bunch of secret feelings. And if I am Hypocrite, big deal, so be it ! I am being a hypocrite only to you, not to my people”, replied my agitated mind.

“Hyprocrite you are not being to me, but to your people own you dumbo !”

“Ok ok, don’t even bother about what I am. No one will want to find it out except you. And even if they did too, they are not going to hang me. They are all the same as me. So, please sleep now. There is a mid term next week. By the way, know what ? The orkut photos of us is not looking great these days ! Need to put on some weight. What say ?”, said my mind trying to divert the topic.

There was silence from the heart.

“Are you there ?” asked my mind.
No reply from the heart.
“Hello, are you there ? there ? Echoooooo”, tried my mind once again.

“Ok.. Stop your satyagraha now ! I give up. Please do speak. Else I cannot sleep the whole night !” begged my mind.

No reply yet.

“I promise I’ll be honest and say what I think” offered my mind.

My heart was not yet moved. No reply.

“And people say you are very tender and you are easily moved ! Ok now.. Final deal. You can also write a blog about it and I don’t care what people would think of me. So, please do speak now !”

There was a sudden feeling of happiness rushing into the blood.

“Promise ?” asked my heart.

“Bribe works even with the heart. No wonder it is the most sought after in our place. When It works with you, it should work with anyone !”, thought my mind to itself.

“Promise ?, Do you promise that you’ll honestly express your thoughts on the topic and then write a blog on it” asked my heart again.

“Dear, don’t you know me and my ability to keep promises ?” replied my mind in a satirical tone.

“That is the reason I am asking you. If you fail to be honest, I’ll haunt you for life ! And you know how that feeling can be”, warned my heart.

“Ok ok. I promise”

“So, do you feel that India is the best country in the world ?”, asked my heart.
“Well I feel my India can be the best country in the world”, replied my mind.
“I need honesty. Not diplomatism please” said my heart authoritatively.

“Hmm.. ok yaar.. its not. Agreed.. Enough ? India isn’t the best country in the world. Its 11 in the night now. I am feeling very sleepy and want to sleep. Bye”, said my mind turning on the Ipod and falling into a trance.

My India - The Best Country ? - Part 2

At 2:30 in the night, I suddenly woke up. The ipod just finished playing “chaiyya chaiyya” and started playing “Dil sey rey..” I felt thirsty.

I grabbed a glass of water, checked the time and switched off the alarm that would be ringing in another 30 minutes. As I was pulling over the pillow over me to sleep again and felt its cozy warmth, a silent voice asked “Why isn’t it the best ?”

“What ? What is why isn’t it the best ? What are you talking about ? Oh, the movie ? I guess that movie had no script to it. Hence it flopped. Just because Malaika danced to an A.R.Rehman tune doesn’t mean the movie must be a hit. Even Mangal pandey had good music. Was it a hit ?” Said my mind.

“I am asking you why do you think India is not the best country in the world ?”

“What ? Which dumbo on the planet said so ? Shoot that Namak Halal with a gun.” said my mind.

“You said it !”, said my heart.
“Huh ! What ? When ? What’s the proof ? ” asked my mind.
“The promise !”, reminded my heart.

“Hmm.. Will you never give up ?” asked my mind.
“When you don’t, why should I ?”, replied my heart proudly.

“Its 2:45 in the night yaar. Are you crazy ? You forced some thoughts out of me before i went to sleep and are asking me to justify that now ? You are a sadist !”

“Yes, I am crazy and sadist. That is the reason all love & hatred comes from me and all reasons & logic to do so from you. Right now I want reasons from you for your thoughts about India not being best in the world.”

“Hmm.. Anyways, ok yaar.. I tell you.. I’m not being diplomatic but the truth is my India can become the best in the world. But will it ? I’m not so sure.”

“Ours is a country that got independence from a ruler who ruled us on DIVIDE AND RULE principle. But then I think we achieved independence only from the ruler but not from the rule.” Said my mind.

“Hmm.. What do you mean ?” questioned my mind.

“I mean everything. From classifying a newly born child to choosing with which child must the parents stay during old age, everything is still based on divide and rule principle.

A boy child is preferred over a girl child at birth – Division at the time of very birth based on Gender. Two girl children in the same family and the society is extremely happy ! Not for the family but for the mountain of life that the family has to climb before it gets the respect of the society.

At education again, the division begins on gender basis. The boy child begins to rule. But then i pity the boy for getting the preferrence. It is just the beginning of hell. They are put into education which is nothing short of a training to hate your fellow being and compete with him/her in the name of cut throat competition. Just 7 technological and 6 management institutes of international repute for a population of over a billion. 5000 seats for over a crore people. Those who make it are considered THE BEST. Those who didn’t are treated as B Grade movies and need to put up with the stigma associated with it for the rest of their lives no matter what.

My heart, where hardwork meets opportunity, genious is born. But then where opportunity is given based on the karma done by forefathers, fate is accepted. I don’t even dare to speak of that topic. I’m accept it as my fate and I blame my grandfather for it. That guy didn’t allow his friend to come into his village and school, so in return i should not go into a university which I rightfully deserve on merit. By making two wrongs, we will do a right.

And so now at age 25 you have a boy who has accepted his fate, a girl who thinks that life is unfair. Adding salt to injury is when the girl is all of a sudden married to this boy, because its time, through a system that exists for getting society’s respect than for creating each other’s love !

And i love my country inspite of all this. You know why ? Because it has found a way and taught me to fight this division and live through it. It is called “adjusting”. It represents corruption. As per this way, if you cannot go to the university you deserve for a degree, then buy the degree from a printing press ! University degrees are worth a few thousand rupees. Jobs arising out of them worth a few lakh rupees and the society has said that all this can be again collected from the girl’s family as dowry at the time of marriage.
And so what is morally corruption, is treated as investment. The higher you invest, the more is the return. And the higher your returns, the lesser are the unfulfilled needs of life and more is the happiness. And with lesser needs, more happiness in life, you become a good man and eligible for salvation.

Where on earth can you find such romantic naughtiness in a system which has righted two wrongs beautifully and made happiness even in what should have been sheer misery, wrongness and injustice. And no country in the world can claim to have done this with a 100 crore people for 60 continous years after freedom. And that is why i think my India can be the best but am not sure if it will be. It is hard to fight a system to has learn to adjust to misery than fight to live with happiness.

And these are just divisions at birth and education on gender and opportunity basis. It is just the beginning. The real fun is the division based on religion and caste. When you see that there is a Brahmin community, a Reddy community, a Naidu community, an Iyer community, a Telugu community, a Tamil community, a Gujarati community and every possible community on the planet except an “Indian community”, imagine how deep is our Divide and Rule principle ! To be belonging to a community is our birthright and we will have it, Use it and Propogate it ! That is our way to salvation after death and we will not give it up. To live in hell so that we can go to heaven after we die is our motto.

And know what my heart ? I am very happy that by not respecting, not loving and not caring for every person equally when I live, I am going to heaven after I die ! God is great ! I love him and it is for his love I am facing all this.", finished my mind.

“ Hmm, when you see so many problems why don’t you do something to change this ?” asked my heart.

“ What ? Who said they are problems ? Are you an idiot ? Come on yaar..See the west ! They are the ones with problems. They are shameless. Firstly, they don’t even respect their parents. Focus on making wealth by loosing health and then spend all the wealth to get back the health. Is that a life too ? And see how unfaithful they are to each other. See how insecure and lonely their life is. See how careless they are for a fellow person.”

“Compare them with our place, my neighbour is after me and news about me more than his/her own child :-). And that is because of love. Isn’t it ? I’m always compared with someone who is better than me so that I feel encouraged to become them and spend my life doing it. Where can you find such people who think for you and only about you ? :-) If I was in Infosys, I am encouraged to target Microsoft.. If I am in Microsoft, I am encouraged to work onsite.. And if I am onsite, I am encouraged to take care of my parents by getting them there and if I take them there I am encouraged to come back to our country and do something for it. Amazing man.. ! Our love and care can make a Software Engineer out of a Writer, a Doctor out of a Painter, a Manager out of an Engineer and literally anyone out of someone. ”

“In short a looser out of a winner”, said my heart.

“How dare you say that ! Don’t you know that 30 % of Microsoft are Indians, U.S. rocks because of Indians, there isn’t a country and company in the world who’s growth doesn’t have the contribution of a talented Indian.. How dare you call us Indians loosers ? We are all rounders and we like to think so”

“So, why don’t you do something about it ?” asked my heart.
“About what ?” my mind asked.

“About all these problems !” asked my heart.

“Arey again and again I ask, are you crazy or what ? Who said they are problems ? My country is the best in the world. It is shining ! It is going to lead the world in 2020. Even if it doesn’t, we have bollywood. we will make a movie and show people on how it will feel to lead the world, just like we made Chak De India showing our Women’s hockey team winning the world cup. We are living on the principle, “If you cannot be, feel to be !” And if you cannot feel so, treat this world as Maaya. Heaven is full of Indians and there we are the best and the most represented because we lived our lives the 'right' way. We faced our karma without complaint rather than doing any karma that you want me to do to change. We understood that life on earth is just transitory and can end any moment. So why worry about it ? Plus this is Kaliyuga, doing anything and everything is considered sinful in these times. We will adjust in this Yuga and through time and not work, we will become the best. But know what heart ? I only pity the west. They do not know all such things. They think they are the best and that they will remain the best. Poor guys, when they shall die, they will know the truth. They will go to hell for kissing the one they love in public, they will go to hell for choosing to live away from their parents and they will go to hell to suffer for enjoying here instead of suffering. But we, who can evetease in public, we have the largest number of old age homes in the world, we who have the largest number of hostels in the world, we who will deny equal opportunities to everyone, we who will consider disability as a "purva janma paapa" instead of creating facilities to counter the same, we will suffer here and will not work to change but then by suffering selflessly and accepting our karma as such, we will please God, Go to heaven and Enjoy there. Till then let the west think they are the best, while we will sacrifice, suffer and wait for death to show them who really are the best. What say ?” asked my mind.

“Hmm.. I am not sure what to say. But I am just reminded of a couple of lines from a famous movie”, Said my heart.

“And what is that ?” asked my mind.

“Ab bhi Khoon Jiska Naa Khaula, Khoon Nahin Woh Paani Hain. Joh Desh Kay Kaam Naa Avey Who Bekar Jawaani Hain”, replied my heart.

“Ya ya sleep now ustad, there’s a mid term next week and i cannot get my returns for the investment if i don't study well and get a job !”, said my mind.
My heart didn't say a word anymore..

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Am i living the way I am FOR the society or Am i living the way I am BECAUSE of it ?

As I was traveling to my college today, a strange thought struck me.
“Am i living the way I am FOR the society or Am i living the way I am BECAUSE of it ?”

“What’s the difference ? Why on earth do you think of all such things ? As if you don’t have enough work on hand. There’s a project due next week you escapist” my MIND said.

I could feel a smile at the answer of my mind. And I knew immediately I was in trouble. It was my HEART ! Now, this thought is not going to escape me unless I sort it out. So I had to delve into it.

My heart did not say anything further. And yet I felt very uncomfortable. Then as ever my mind had to speak up.

“So, what’s the difference in living FOR the society and living BECAUSE of it ?” it asked.

“The same difference that exists between what you wanted to become and what you became” my heart replied.

“Oh Great ! Well, I’m doing my Master’s degree in one of the prestigious universities in the world. I am working in a field that is going to revolutionalize the world in the times to come. I am living in one of the best countries of the world comfort wise. My parents are here. What else can I ask for ? I am living as per law, rightly and for my parents, for my friends, for the society and more importantly according to it ! So, whatever I became, even if its BECAUSE of the society, its great !”

“Oh that’s awesome ! But then if you are living for the society, for your friends and for your parents, can you tell me how many of them are going to really miss you when you are not here anymore as of today ? Imagine if you are not a part of the world for a week. How many people are going to feel sad and how many of them are going to miss you even for that week ?”

It was my mind’s turn to be silent. :( It wanted to say “My professor for my work and My parents”, but then it knew that my heart was in no mood for jokes. The relation between my professor and me was more like work for money and for a better future. So, him missing me is him feeling the monetary loss for the investment he made in me than really missing me. The relation making my parents miss me is love. And I should say, it is more of an one-side love. Else, why is that I am writing this blog instead of spending more time with my mother who has travelled thousands of miles, across oceans and continents into a strange land just to ensure that I am well taken care of here. So, I cannot claim that I lived for them enough and feel happy about their missing me.

“So, no one is going to miss you for you are as of today Sai. That’s because you never lived FOR them dear. You have always lived BECAUSE of them. :)”

My mind said “10 more minutes and my bus stop will arrive. The guest speaker of the class today is a Maha Thope of his field. Should be a great experience”

“Dear, as a child of 3 years you wanted to become a car driver. At 10 you thought that was a childish idea. You wanted to play cricket but then avoided it for life it because someone said you can’t run between wickets. In 10th class of your school, you wanted to become a doctor, but then took up the route of engineering because you could not draw well and felt cutting cockroaches was disgusting. You took up Electrical Engineering because you could not get Communication Engineering in the college you wanted. After graduating as an Electrical Engineer, you took up a job in a software company because no one else was offering you a job and that big a money. So, it was no surprise you did not like that job as you never had genuine interest in it. And over a period of time you started hating it. And now you are in the U.S. trying to Master a subject in which you never were into from the start, got your parents here because you couldn’t cook well and worse now consider yourself a great individual living FOR the society doing work that is going to revolutionalize the world ?” my heart began to laugh heartily. :(

My mind was shocked.

“So, what do you want me to do ? Drive a car for everyone like I wanted to do in 3 years ? I AM ONLY DOING WHAT I AM SUPPOSED TO DO. THAT IS WHAT EVERYONE DOES” my mind replied furiously. Guess it was hurt. Truth does hurt. :(

“When you do what you are supposed to do and because everyone does it, that’s what is called living because of the society”, my heart replied.

“Ok agreed. So what if I lived because of the society ? I am doing great as it is ! ” My mind said.

“You are doing great. You have been doing fantastic and will do too. But you know what I feel Sai ? When praises drive you to work more than passion, When feeling greatness than being goodness is what makes you do the things you do, When you follow the rules of the society rather than the directions of the heart, when trying to be different is what you want rather than creating the difference, when order in life is what becomes important than doing the right thing you might become great but I am never sure if you will feel happy”

“No, I am happy and will be too”, said my mind.
“No you are not and will not be no matter what”, said my heart.

“How do you know ?” my mind asked.

“Because happiness is a feeling and feelings belong to me and experienced by me, not you dear. So unless I am happy you cannot know it and I know what makes me happy”, said my heart. “That is why everyone says ‘I love you with all my heart’ than saying ‘I love you with all my mind’. That is why everyone says ‘I give my heart and life to you’ than saying ‘I give my mind and life to you’. ”

“So, what do you want me to do now ? Leave this work and start gazing at clouds, smelling flowers sing songs and serve humanity ? You know what ? I would ruin myself and people will call me mad”

“hahaa.. Naa dear. That’s true. People will certainly call you mad if you act in such brainless ways of throwing away what you have, for something that will not make you worth living. You’ll be crazy if you don’t use your mind. And you’ll be heartless if you are only mindful of what people think of you. The key is to find a balance. Find a balance and find a way of making the mind do what the heart wants rather than make the heart adjust to the decisions of the mind. When the mind follows the heart, difficulties might arise, questions might be asked, feelings may be laughed at but, but most importantly you begin to live. You begin to fight for a cause. You start doing the right thing. You care least for the name but you focus more on the cause you live for. And when life is based on such fundamentals of truth and love, happiness is only an event waiting to happen. But on the contrary, when the heart follows the mind, life becomes a compromise. The entire forces of mind are used only to control the desires of the heart. You start to focus on the name you get while you live and after you pass away rather than living the life for the purpose it was given. And dear, its better to adjust with difficulties in life than compromise on life itself.”

“Dear, neither live totally for the society nor live totally because of it. Live in a way, that the society of tomorrow tells its people that it wants them to live like you. And if that needs you to fight the society rules of yesterday, do it with all your heart and mind today. That is what will give a meaning to your life. After all, the whole purpose and meaning to human life lies in what you were to others and that cannot be achieved if you are only just a part of others, follow their rules blindly especially when you know it is wrong. Challenges pose difficulties to life, but then they also add meaning to the same. Questions asked can be insulting, but finding the answers is what will define the purpose of life. This is a choice for everyone. Live like the 6 billion around you or make the 6 billion live the right way and the way you want even if means for 70 years of your life you will be questioned and considered mad. Atleast as a mind, you’ll feel happy about yourself. And as a heart, that is what I think is right. What do you say ?”

“The bus stop has come. I need to focus on the class.” Said the Mind.