Sunday, December 13, 2009

Do I know what suffering is?

A bit.

I've seen a lot of people suffering around me, they lack three meals a day, a roof, independence, a decent education and dreams. Things that are precious and vitally important for me. But for me, they are a given, and therefore I can take them for granted.
I have seen a lot of suffering from afar. And some up close. Very close.

But yes, I've only seen it around me.

A very tiny bit.

Personally, I have just had my 2 months of deprivation of excesses, when I was a poor graduate student who wasn't funded*. This, is not even suffering.


I know nothing about what suffering is.

Some will say. And I will agree sometimes.

But at other times I can't help but ask myself some questions and lean towards disagreement. Does one have to experience something to know what it is? What is empathy all about then? Can I not feel what another human feels, when I keep my eyes open and my emotions alive?

Yet another question for which I have no answer.

* I had to write this down to show that tremendous difference that I see between the experiences. Even though, placing this in a post about suffering could in itself be construed as an insult to every person who has ever endured the kinds of things I can only start to mention, it is not intended to be so.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Can it ever be the same again???

Why do I think so much about the past when the future has so many things to offer?

Why do I find myself wanting to get back the things that I enjoyed so much in the past?

Will I ever get to see my friends the way they used to be?

Can I get back to the way I was?

The answer, clearly, is stupidity for the first two and a NO for the rest.

And yet, the mind refuses to let go...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Then, my own :)

Wrote this during my undergrad years, inspired by nature and my own state at that time - my first and probably last venture into writing verse:

From Darkness

The mind was restless,
Thoughts uncomposed.
A dismal stage of my life
Seemed determined not to pass.
Everything suggested despair
My spirit seemed crushed.

Hoping to find light,
I looked up at the night sky.
Only to see nature appear as doleful as me.
Plunging all things in dark,
The moon went behind the clouds
And my forehead, into my palms.

A moment went by.
Driving away the dark,
Light filled up the night.
I looked up expectantly.
The moon was shining,
Its glory overruled all things morose.

Everything will pass.

Friday, November 20, 2009

And one more

In the mood for my favourite lines today... So, here is another one

தேடிச்சோறு நிதம் தின்று
பல சின்னஞ்சிறு கதைகள் பேசி
மனம் வாட துன்பம் மிக உழன்று
பிறர் வாட பல செயல்கள் செய்து
நரை கூடி கிழப்பருவம் எய்தி
கொடுங்கூற்றுக்கிரையாகி மாயும்
பல வேடிக்கை மனிதரை போல
நானும் வீழ்வேனென்று நினைத்தாயோ

And I attempted a translation of this verse. Did I really think I could translate Bharathi?! No! But I thought I would give it a sincere try. And it was hard indeed! So with due apologies, in my own space, will live my translation of these powerful lines.

Like these amusing people,

Who seek their daily rice and dose of rumor;
Are hurtful and themselves suffer;
Age and grey doing nothing but

And then fall prey
To spiteful words spoken of them
After passing their length of time,

Did you imagine that I too would fail?

A few of my favourite lines...

When the spirit rises and commands
The gods are willing to obey!
- Ella Wheeler

And this:
The heights by great men reached and kept
Were not attained by sudden flight
They, while their companions slept
Were toiling upwards in the night
- Wordsworth

And this:
Live like you were to die tomorrow;
Learn like you were to live forever
- Gandhi

How some things enthuse me!!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Leave Behind Beauty or Leave Nothing Behind

I'm very fond of one simple philosophy. "Everyplace you go, everything you use, when you leave, leave it as it were untouched if not bettered". I try my best to live up to it.

From cleaning up the kitchen after you are done, heading to "As a courtesy to the next passenger, may we suggest you wipe the sink?", cleaning the comb and the fallen hair on the floor. Doesn't take ten seconds after each use, but paves the way to living in clean, pleasant homes.

To things like leaving camp grounds without a human trace, leaving nature pristine to posterity. Things have been done and advances made. Some very beautiful - mankind has indeed bettered some things! But there are some messy things that we have done that will disgust the next users of our planet, if we do not clean up after ourselves.

I promise, I'll clean up after myself. I'm no artist to make ordinary things beautiful, but let me, at the least, not make matters worse.

Thursday, October 22, 2009


I met some Oliver Twists during my first visit to the richest continent on the planet. Though these children may never share the fortunate fairy-tale climax that he had.

October 14th. After the first half of the conference. We were in the train station and were waiting to buy tickets. A one-way ticket to my hostel from the university was 1.50 euros. Three little kids, not more than 10 years old, came and stood all around me, very close to me. They had unused tickets in their hand and were trying to get me to buy those instead of from the slot machines. Suspicious, I told them that I didn't want their tickets.

Two of the children got closer to me and to the slot machine that I was trying to operate. I selected the option of buying one ticket and put in the money for it. The money came out instead of a ticket. Now why would that happen?! I decided to try again. I selected the single ticket option and put in the money again. I noticed the kid who was to my left stealthily press the cancel button that he had positioned himself against. The kid on the right, by then, had his tiny hands in the tiny slot where the money would come out. The money did fall out in a bit and he took it all and they both scurried away. My friend who was also trying to buy tickets caught one of them by hand. The other dropped the coins he had and they all made an escape. All in a few seconds. Training and practice were evident. The boldness was startling.

When you are 10 years old, you don't want to do things that are bad. Or rather, even if you want to, you don't want to be caught by anyone doing those bad things. Drinking honey from a bottle and then filling it up with enough water to make things look untouched makes kids, kids.

These children, had none of that innocence. They did what they did openly and daringly. There was none of the subtleties of Fagin's methods. They were stealing. Another persons property. But what did that even mean to them? Did they have anything they called their own, for the meaning of ownership to be revealed to them? Were they raised by parents who taught them that it was bad to steal what was not yours? But did they know what "yours" meant? They probably knew what "not yours" meant though. Wasn't that everything there was? Did they have parents who taught them things and were kind enough to be listened to? Did they have parents?

In India, I would expect things to be worse, but I have not seen children stealing so openly and brazenly. It was a shocking experience. Clearly, things are wrong everywhere.

I do not know where we are headed. Does anybody?

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Faith vs. Reason

Accepting a view on faith is admitting that it cannot be accepted on its own merit - Anon.

The people who do this cannot be expected to reason about everything they do. They can be expected to be unreasonable. And they live upto these expectations.

People like this, in a herd, are a hard bunch to do anything with. Or without.

So people, REASON! Get out of that crowd that acts based on the reason-less brainwashing called faith! Reason and then rigorously examine your reasons. For each of your actions.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009


Something that so many people go without each night. The lack of which causes so many deaths each year. The primary reason why we labour. I cannot accept food being wasted. No justification can be valid.

I do not eat meat. I can never bring myself to kill my own meat. I cannot enjoy eating something that had to be killed. I have been offered/ coaxed/ forced plenty of times, but I have never knowingly eaten any meat.

Then I dished onto my plate some meat entrée the other day. Unknowingly. A friend told me just in time that it contained meat. I threw the plate away and started over with a new one.

What followed was guilt. Anytime that I saw food for the next few days. Did I do the right thing? I had thrown away what is food for so many.

What are my morals? Is an objective analysis of ones morality ever possible? If it is ones own, is any analysis possible? Can all ones actions be truly morale even only within ones own definitions of morality?

Monday, September 21, 2009

On shadows and then some

While walking home some days ago, some cars tried to trample my shadow. But it was my shadow that always won! Yet, it could lose. If it were on the wrong side of me...

Philosophizing this bit of physics, I inferred what the Mahabharatha says, characterizing Karna as it does. "Be on the right side. And you will win."

If only all things were that simple all the time. Or at the very least some of the times?

By the way, what is right? And what is loss? Does loss lead to sadness? And what is happiness?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

What a decision makes

Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back. Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation), there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one's favor all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance, which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it. Begin it now.

- The Scottish Himalayan Expedition by
William Hutchinson Murray quoting Goethe

How many people in this world give up their dreams for senseless reasons? How many people never realise that magic is for them to create? How many never dare?

Far too many.

Sunday, June 28, 2009


What is tolerance? The most unimaginative beginning would be to pull words from the dictionary.

From, Tolerance is "a fair, objective, and permissive attitude toward those whose opinions, practices, race, religion, nationality, etc., differ from one's own; freedom from bigotry"

That is clear and mostly unambiguous. And yet, we are unable to tolerate even small behavioral differences even though we want to belong in this shrinking world. Is the human race capable of living together as a peaceful, coherent structure? Or will there forever be chaos? Isn't the global village about being together as a people as one community? Can we ever get to that stage where we look at a random person from this planet and say s/he is a potential friend? Without thinking about race, color, religion?

Will there ever be light?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Change the world

Go read:

This is to all those of us who can't seem to think that we can actually make the difference. No... I'm not pointing fingers here, I belong in that group too.

I've actually had the fortune of having met this person in my social entrepreneurship classes, and the article pales in comparison to the persona... If you get a chance, go there!

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

I have a dream

But there is something that I must say to my people who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice. In the process of gaining our rightful place we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.
We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.
- MLK Jr., I Have a Dream

The end does not justify the means. Taking an innocent life can never be justified.

Land is the only thing in the world worth working for, worth fighting for, worth dying for, because it's the only thing that lasts.
- Gerald O'Hara, Gone With The Wind

Not sure if I agree with this anymore. I probably did when I read it the first time, around 10 years ago. But no piece of land can never be truly yours. It can never belong to one person. It lasts, but it has never been yours. It never will be.

All boundaries are drawn on paper. And they have caused a lot of misery. They will continue to, until we as a population, realise that we are not local anymore. There is no way we can contain ourselves within a border. This makes the border a senseless, archaic, violence causing artifact.

I have a dream that there will be a time when borders do not matter anymore.

Edit: This was written after Prabhakaran was killed and the Sri Lankan army declared victory.  Should the justified struggle of the Tamils have been conducted from a higher moral ground? Would there have been lesser human tragedy and a cleaner, surer victory? I wish I could tell.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Can we make this reality?

A dream of so long ago. A dream that we are no where close to fulfilling. The dream that must drive the new reality.

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought and action--
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

-- Rabindranath Tagore