On Gratitude

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Clearly, the glory days for gratitude are here. It’s having its moment in the sun.

Every popular psych or self-improvement piece seems to mention it. Apparently it’s the quick fix to happiness.

Gratitude however, much as the miracle cure it is made out to be hasn’t really worked for me.

In fact, often gratitude makes me feel worse. It puts way too much pressure on you to be happy and be thankful. Sure, it makes you look at the positives and how good your life is. There is always something to be grateful for, right? Sure. But you still don’t feel grateful. In fact, you begin to feel worse about not feeling good in spite of everything that’s going your way.

Gratitude makes you feel like an ass.

Sometimes, it can also make you go into a spiralling state of momentary depression and questioning.

I love eating out. So some days when I remember, when I’m mindful and count my blessings that I have a juicy burger staring me in the face, it also occurs to me that under privileged kids the world over would kill for that. That awareness, that someone doesn’t have a meal, bites a chunk out of your happiness quotient (which is the point of gratitude). The world is cruel and unfair. But you also know that you don’t care enough to do anything about it and once that fleeting thought bids goodbye, you will go back to the same old cycle. The kids will still starve and you will still have your bacon.

And that makes you feel like an insensitive jerk.

Of course chances are, I’m looking at it all wrong. Perhaps the gratitude habit could do with a little bit of tweaking. Let’s see what Google digs up. All help is appreciated.

Image credit: Sodahead.com

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The Acid Test

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That’s incredible, pretty amazing, but I’m not sure I’d want to visit, I thought to myself putting down the paper and pondering over the article I’d just read.

The headlines read ‘Acid attack victims join hands, open cafe near Taj Mahal in Agra’

I’d be too overwhelmed by the horrific nature of such violence. It would be frightening to see someone living through such an ordeal with her nose melted away and her eyes burned shut. By her having to smell her flesh burn and feel so helpless and all she can do is wait it out. And then live through that.

Here in the Asian subcontinent, acid attacks are not very uncommon. From my limited understanding, a lot of these attacks are by spurned lovers looking to avenge their rejection. The sole aim of this kind of brutal crime is to disfigure the woman and turn her into some kind of monster that all of mankind would ostracize. For her to feel the shame and rejection they felt when they were turned down. We must shoot those retarded bastards!

Barely any of the criminals are convicted while the woman has pretty much lost everything but her life. Imagine not being able to muster enough courage to look at ones face let alone walk around without a veil. Loss of vision. Acid thrown on genitals. And that’s only the physical, the psychological damage is tremendous. I shudder even as I think about it.

I look at the photo of the victims again. I force myself to not look away. The women in those pictures could have been my sister, my mother, my girlfriend. ­­

I can see them trying hard to smile. Brave women, trying to get by. Despite everything, trying to move on and get on with their life. Trying to come to terms with the ugly truth and deal with the pain.

I take another sip of my coffee, the least I could do was muster the courage to visit their cafe and deal with the harsh realities of this world, and congratulate them on being so courageous.

stop-acid-attacksImage 1 credit: wikimedia.org

Image 2 credit: http://blog.ipleaders.in

You live. You learn.

2014 was a fantastic year. An epic year.

A year where I haven’t regretted anything. Of course, there were decisions that I’ve sometimes second guessed. But it’s been backed with the maturity that taking bold decisions are a part of life. You win some and you learn some. That’s an important part of growing personally. The ability to take a few hits coupled with the understanding that these are small roadblocks and in a few years maybe even in a few months these wrong turns may not even matter. Sure, some of them might, but you can back yourself to tackle them.

Although the year just raced by, it’s been a year of consciousness and conscientiousness. I took the time to feel. I’ve tried to tackle my apathy. I’ve tried to draw in the reins on my stoic attitude and tried to apply a greater degree of self knowledge.

On the contrary I’ve also learned that my poorest decisions are taken out of emotion. You don’t take major life decisions when you’ve just been hit. You have some fine Scotch and sleep over it.

I’ve looked for progress not perfection. Which I believe is another turning point. Progress is encouraging and keeps you going. It’s as simple to understand as it is difficult to apply. Now I just focus on baby steps.

I’ve learned that it’s unfair to expect people to understand what you’re going through. Most people won’t. They can’t. Cause your situation is unique to you. The few that do, keep them close. Real close.

At the end of it all, it’s important to be hopeful. A new year brings hope. A chance to start over or an opportunity to pick up from where you left off. It’s a clean slate once again. That in itself is quite liberating.

I’m looking forward to 2015. To be present. To just be.

Image Credit: www.Etsy.com

Image Credit: http://www.Etsy.com

 

The Devil of Dogma

“It’s so ironic you know.” What? I asked my friend taking my eyes of the skyline in the distance. He was wasted and we were slumped against the wall of the terrace. It was rather cold and windy. Winter was setting in. “People. We live in a world of bigots. I cannot accurately convey the frustration I feel at such incidents.”

“Then you might want to tell me what exactly you’re referring to?”

“Like the other day, this friend of mine put up this post. It was about cruelty to animals. You know how they put a sorry picture of a wounded dog or whatever, and say how inhumane it is to torture or kick them. You know that sort of shit. And the next thing you know she puts up some really appetizing pictures of these pork chops. Like that cute pigling was pampered at the pet spa before landing in her plate.”

“Guess maybe it rids them of the guilt of not doing anything although they care and helps them feel better about themselves?”, I said trying to block out images of cows hung upside down, being dismembered.

“Like even this moral policing you know” he went on “It’s quite ridiculous, wouldn’t you rather look at silhouettes of people kissing in public than watch people defecating in broad daylight during your morning commute?”

“I’d rather have neither, but I understand what you’re saying”

Image Credit: Sodahead.com

Image Credit: Sodahead.com

“And this friend of mine, she practically lives on McDonalds and taunts me that marijuana is someday going to kill me. Junk food and all that commuting, inhaling those poisonous gases coming out of those cars, is a far more effective way of buying a ticket into the other world than marijuana! Smoke will kill her too, just of a different kind.

It’s ironic how they unconsciously feed the monster they set out to destroy. People are quite fucked up like that. All hypocrites. They just have this fucked up habit of trying to appear all righteous and conveniently ignoring the true picture.”

My thoughts stalled and jammed momentarily on what he was saying. And he was right, my friend so haunted by talent as he was swallowed by addiction, my friend, he was right. His outlandish comparisons strangely made sense. And as I saw him inhale the white line of smack of that crumpled foil, with its subsequent crackle, I couldn’t help but smile at the irony, the irony of him bringing up the fucked up habits of others.

Image Credit: djbiggaboss.com

Image Credit: djbiggaboss.com

Why so Racist, India?

Racism for some reason has always been the subject of my interest. It’s amazing how the colour of your skin can play a vital role in determining your place in the world. It’s also funny how people can love or hate you based just on that.

We’ve seen the media rife with news about Michael Brown and Eric Garner recently. It’s sad that racism is still quite rampant in a country as progressive as the US. But it also got me thinking about racism in our own backyard. Would such a killing in India (which surely happens every now and then against the lower castes) even warrant a trial? Would the authorities in rural India even consider it a crime? Do they even consider them human? I don’t know. But I do know that a significant number of them are considered slaves. But that’s just rural India, right? Well, is it?

I grew up in the hip suburban town of Bandra which is also quite popular for its forward thinking citizens and all kinds of pop culture. But I still was occasionally subject to racist behaviour in school. Although, I don’t consider myself especially dark skinned just a tad bit tanned from all the outdoorsy activities, my classmates occasionally called me ‘Kaalya’, when they ran out of more intelligent retorts, almost as if they knew that it was a very effective cheap shot. The colour of one’s skin is a very personal matter and although fully aware and equipped with the knowledge that I was anything but black, it still did considerable but temporary damage to my self-esteem. I can’t imagine, what those kids who are actually dark skinned go through. They were teased all the time. And whatever happens to the girls. At such a young impressionable age it’s difficult to understand that the colour of your skin doesn’t make you any less of a person.

I was at Leopold Cafe around 4 years ago, the legendary Colaba bar, but I was treated with disdain. The staff was eager to serve all the Caucasian white customers but very pretty rude and impatient with me. This definitely wasn’t about a higher tip. They looked like hippies and weren’t particularly the high spending type. I looked like I could match their tip or higher perhaps. Alas, I wasn’t white. Indians treating Indians as second class citizens in India. Appalling! Again, happening in the heart of India’s arguably most modern city, in the very liberal Colaba.

Image Courtesy : The Hindu

Image Courtesy : The Hindu

To us, all black individuals are Africans, and only whites have nationalities. All ‘Africans’ are drug dealers and all whites are highly paid expats. Until recently most North East Indian folks were called Chinese or Chinky. Now a lot of them are being brutally beaten.

We want fair skinned celebrities and fair skinned grooms & brides. I barely see any dark skinned actors either on TV or the big screen. I barely see any fair skinned labourers or domestic helpers. We complained about the Americans whining they had an Indian as Miss America instead of lauding the fact that she became Miss America in spite of being dark skinned. Would a girl of her complexion even stand a chance like that in India?

A close friend of mine, routinely asks me a question whenever a dark girl passes by me. He asks me if I would date them. He asks me because she’s seemingly pretty. He doesn’t ask me these questions when a fair skinned cute girl walks by.

We may all be racist in some ways. But at least the Westerners seem more sensitised to it. We just don’t admit it. Maybe we don’t even know it. I think we just ignore it.

India’s is on the brink of being a formidable world power with the new government. We have start ups and business springing up all around. But the true progress of a nation should be judged by its mindset and outlook towards such things and not merely by the size of its economy.

Image Courtesy: http://paulhastings.me

Image Courtesy: http://paulhastings.me

What you didnt say.

 

“Good writing does not succeed or fail on the strength of its ability to persuade. It succeeds or fails on the strength of its ability to engage you, to make you think, to give you a glimpse into someone elses head. ” — Malcolm Gladwell

Only you can tell me if Ive succeeded or failed. And I would really like to know and improve. Youre feedback means a lot.

Let it slide

“The ability to let that which does not matter truly slide.”. Remember Tyler Durden? Fight Club?

As soon as I heard the protagonist say that, I couldn’t swear more by that line. It became my mantra pushing everything that bothered me under the carpet, making myself believe its water under the bridge, let it flow. So whatever went against my way of thinking went out of the window (The shrinks call it Cognitive dissonance). Whoever hurt me could *******  they are not worth it anyway.It made me feel better about myself and protected my ego. It’s a good thing to do, it makes you stronger.

But then sometimes you shut out the right stuff just because it feels wrong. And then suddenly you get so caught up in letting things slide you lose the ability to let the things that really matter not slide. Friends, relationships….they all begin to slide. It takes a lot of time and effort to hang on to these. Life just gets complicated as it progresses and the people who simplify it move away. Most of the time you don’t realize it until you’ve hit rock bottom and you’re home alone on a Saturday night. But then once again you let it all slide, it doesnt really matter, telling yourself you’ve got better plans, better plans like updating your blog.

The banality of evil – Written by a friend

As i go through a bulging bic mac, my inquisitive companion attempts at preserving our feeble conversation
“So, whats this song about then, the banality of evil?”

The irony of the question, ofcourse, doesnt catch upto my simple friend focusing on his beefy (in more ways than one) burger.

“Well its sort of like how even common people will be accessories to the most hideous and unspeakable crimes of humanity, even augment it through order and structure, simply by reasoning to themselves “thats how things are done or how they’re supposed to be”; the holocaust for example. Most times, they are able to cope up with transgressing what they’d otherwise consider evil, simply by not dealing directly with it, by electing a leader who they know favours ethnic cleansing and will indulge in it if elected, for instance. A king who might order people tortured and killed, as long as he doesnt have to see it happen, would i think make another good example.”

“Oh, well not very relevant then in todays civilised world, I mean no person in their right mind would support something like the holocaust now or even elect a maniac who favours ethinic cleansing, we dont have many kings neither, do we? Funny thing they should name a song that, can’t imagine many would relate to it.”

“Perhaps not, but it still happens in many ways, its inherent in our nature. Anyway…so how you…um….enjoying your um…BEEF BUR-GER?” I said stressing on the ‘beef’, conjuring images of large packed abattoirs, cows being culled, skinned, mainly by machines, places of death filled with fear and shit, processed, grilled, nicely packed into wrappers, branded and sold to me and my friend here; and that cute little kid with the most endearing smile (kiddie meal, ofcourse), and his mommy.

“Um, well, i probably should eat less of this garbage, its a bloody challenge getting off my ass” said my friend oblivious .

As I laughed in concurrence, it hit me why you just gotta love humanity, and how it works, with all its flaws and greatness. It also hit me that the girl in the black jeans who just walked by had a butt like how it should be.

Shower Scribble

Theres nothing like a cold shower, especially when theres sweat trickling all over your body. Theres also nothing like pondering in the shower, especially when you have nothing to ponder over.

I’ve thought off a couple of sayings, they don’t make for interesting reading but what the hell if your on this page you don’t have anything interesting to do anywayz.

How can you be yourself if you don’t know who you are.

Whats life if you have nothing to complain about.

Damn there are just two, maybe I should shower more often!