Thursday, August 20, 2009


It is a very creepy thought to pick up and I wonder why I am writing this at all. I was reading about this Swiss organization called Dignitas which has a very specific market in mind (Though it is required by Swiss law to be a 'non-profit' organization). It is a group which specializes in assisted suicide. The Swiss government believes that amongst all the other freedoms that a person possesses, there should also be the freedom to pull the plug on one's own life if one chose to and so it went ahead & gave it to them. Aged men and women from around Europe come to Dignitas to face death with dignity, their bodies tortured by terminal diseases or pain beyond the capabilities of modern medicine.

In a way it is an act of extreme mercy on a person from whose existence the light of joy has faded out and will never return but it still qualifies as murder. Old age must be such a difficult and lonely place to be in. The life you had built for yourself was now a relic of the past, torn down and built over by subsequent generations whom you had helped raise to competence. Now you are most likely the beneficiary of a polite tolerance more hammed than natural. With the overutilized body acting up in every possible way, it's a place nobody wants to be but has to end up going. It's a tough life but that's the way it is.

What if everyone of a certain age were given that option? Wouldn't so many of them end up taking that option, abandoned as some of them are by their own progeny or worser still, feel like some kind of a leech on their offspring's family and happiness? I have met a lot of old people who are brimming over with a zest for life even more so than me, and an equal number of them whose every morning groan is a precursor to yet another day of incurable aches and unrevivable hopes. Life is a gift indeed but how much it feels like one when you are 90 and bed-ridden is highly debatable. Yet it is so horrifying to see someone being given that choice and choosing not to walk on, choosing to stop and melt into a sleep of peace.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


I have been sick for a very long time. In fact since I was in class 3. Thanks to my early start in the world of myopia, I am next to blind without my glasses on but my frames feel as much a part of my body now, as say my arms. There is no existence for me without them and extreme short-sightedness is a way of life for me.

The only time it comes to feel like a handicap is when I am forced to make the occasional visit to the optometrist's clinic. Today was one such day. It doesn't really help when the doctor in charge is one of the prettiest girls I've come across in recent times. Talk about a made-for-each-other couple! Nearly blind guy meets optometrist sweetheart on a hot summer afternoon! Naturally the intoxication of beauty lasts only until she instructs me to take off my glasses. Then she is a haze, a frequently smiling and giggling haze but a haze all the same. Such is the double edged sword of this disease that it brought us together but I couldn't really see her when she was closest to me. Ah well, such is the way of the world!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


My friend from engineering school is in Colombia right now! He found a friend from Colombia in his graduate school in Ohio and now has flown straight into Medellin in his new friend's home country. Colombia of drug cartel, Valderamma and Shakira fame, very symbolic of the roguish charm and exotic nature of South America being trekked across by the same guy whom I borrowed notes from and shared a common anxiety with over what the future held for us as we crammed and mugged to become engineers in the little town of Kurukshetra. Since then we have met in Calcutta on New Year's Eve, in a nondescript town in Maryland where his car had caught fire and roamed the streets of Washington DC together with his crew. Talk about the currents of fate and they sure seem to choose strange places for us to run into each other.

Life is infinitely unpredictable. As friends who partnered in carrom, or slouched next to each other as any random action movie classic played on HBO under the exhilirating coolness of the common room coolers, was there any way in which we could've told how our lives would proceed. Or could have any of the others who'd shared the same lifestyle with us, one of intense inactivity in Kurukshetra? So much can change over just a couple of years! As my pal roams the late Pablo Escobar's sprawling fortified mansion in Medellin, now a museum to the extravagant lifestyle of the most powerful drug lord of all time, with his personal army and supposedly 7th on the Forbes list of billionaires at one point of time, he must be puzzling over the same question that often intrigues me, "This feels great but how the hell did I get here?"

Monday, August 17, 2009

Beer fueled optimism

It was the weekend before the weekend of the 15th of August. It was late on Friday evening and we had driven down from Boston to Jersey City, NJ right across the Hudson from the brilliant glowing night skyline of Manhattan. The good stuff and the coolers were in place in the gazebo at Avalon Cove where some lucky friends had an apartment overlooking the water as seven of us guys found ourselves taking in the view of the million odd building lights from the island on the other side cold beers in hand. The city that never sleeps shone crazy bright that night as if only to keep us awake and talking as Friday slipped into Saturday.

The truth must be spoken and like all conversations in a guys only gathering, the start point was definitely not out of the ordinary. A vigorous and somewhat healthy discussion on the artistic merits of "" [Guys, it's worth the visit and girls, PLEASE DON'T GO there as it's not worthy of your type of curiosity] and of free speech ensued. Somewhere between the first beer and the second, the conversation took an abrupt turn. It's hard to remember what caused the sudden change in the frame of reference but we were plunged into a world of Gandhism, and why it'd or it'd not work; whether India's historical passivity as a nation was an indicator of its wisdom or its cowardliness; the wretchedly desperate lives that a majority of our countrymen are condemned to live; Naxals, Maoists, Sangh Parivar maniacs, Islamic extremists, corruption, inefficiencies and their cures if any: all of this came spontaneously tumbling out in fountains of passionate debate. The fires of the argument raged into the morning long after even they turned off the technicolour lights on the Empire State Building.

Exactly a week after was India's Independence Day. It's easy to laugh away all of our bluster as the usual tall talk fueled by alcohol. But I thought it was a really note-worthy fact. Here we were a bunch of young yuppies, half a world away on the banks of a foreign river in a foreign land with no apparent cause for discussing such a head intensive topic. Yet we were completely immersed in it, cocooned by a variety of our concerns and solutions which we saw as the most appropriate for a land that tied us together despite all that distance. In chai wallah stands across the country, in railway stations and bus stops, in offices and pubs, on cricket grounds and wherever else the youth of my country gather I imagine such topics being simultaneously broached. Whatever may be our limited suggestions, that we are ready to talk and invest our passions into at least thinking of a way out is a major first step. After all, we very well could have stuck to more appealing topics like Savita Bhabhi for what our time was worth. There's a buzz in the air whenever the word "India" escapes a pair of lips and there's no way to deny that fact.

Not all of us are going to go ahead and act on those brave words of ours but even if 1 in 10000 takes that next step, India's got it made. All those concerned voices booming in chorus is sure to make the earth shake and make that handful of people stand up and take notice. Naysayers, smirk away as you look on the impossible odds stacked against us, but deep inside you do know that India's time is coming!

Monday morning flew

I trust there is some major issue with my mental make-up. Of all the work-day mornings, Monday morning happens to be my favourite. It's the only morning when my shirt and trousers are ironed and my shoes are shined to a dull black (My shoes never really managed to get that reflective glint seen in Cherry Blossom ads). There is a mad hope permeating this much maligned day that it was the beginning of that week when everything was finally going to come together. I was going to complete all the tasks which I had putting off for months at work and which had now come to a critical status of "must do" because I shouldn't have shelved them away in the first place. I was going to make this week, the week of iron discipline where I'd focus on only work at work and then give vent to my creative urges too by churning out a little post everyday for my blog. After all, it was always possible to give half an hour a day for the rare thing that is precious to me in life, right? Domestic chores like the laundry, cleaning up and re-organization of my corner of the house were pesky little creatures which were going to go down during the course of this landmark week. A smile on my face blazes like Sherlock Holmes when he sees through his cases. It's a pity that this kinmanship with the superior spirit of the Great Detective is so short lived and lasts only that one glorious day of the week.

Soon it's "Things are not going to plan" Tuesday, and then it's time for "Things are definitely not going to plan" Wednesday. Before I can say "Next", "We are pretty much where we were on Monday" Thursday is here and the week is wound up by "Already worked hard enough this week, will see this off on Monday" Friday. Weekends are of course beyond the flailing arms and outstretched fingers of guilt. It's a weekly joke, a very rapid deconstruction of a myth which tends to gather force everytime another Monday approaches gradually fizzling out by the end of the week. Monday mornings are good times, when the ridiculousness of my plans and strategies is flowing underneath mountains of optimism and goodwill for all of mankind. The rest of the week is engulfed by a slow and painful process called a "reality check".