Categories
Viewpoint

The Politics Of Confusion

Almost every person who has known me for a while would know that I am a person with no political affiliations whatsoever. Yes, so if you ask me about the political outfit I stand for – I really do not have an answer for your question.

The reason being simple – I am politically confused.

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That definitely does not mean I am disinterested in politics. I started keenly observing the political space as a child. I grew up at a time when my country, India, had just opened its doors to the world; when the information overload had just begun. Politics was something that you simply could not miss, thanks to the omnipresent media through which political leaders announced their gargantuan plans for development (most often leading to a series heated discourses, arguments and counter arguments on national television). The Narasimha Raos, the Deva Gowdas, The Gujarals and the Vajpayees never failed to catch my attention.

Despite my obvious interest in politics, something that was cultivated within me from an early age – thanks to the unavoidable information overload, one thing always kept bothering me – my inability to take a political stand. It even reflects in the way I have exercised my electoral franchise all this while. I have actually voted for all the major outfits throughout my voting stints till date! It also doesn’t help that different members of my extended family are part of all the major outfits as well. My paternal aunt and her family are chronic supporters of the left while my maternal family has never failed to vote for the Congress. And my cousin’s husband had actually contested in the parliamentary elections on a BJP ticket! (in those pre-NaMo times, that is). Which means, there practically is no ‘influence’ from the family to support a certain outfit; not that I would want such a thing myself, but yes – if such were the case, I could at least cite a reason why I support a particular party.

And that brings me to the reason behind my obvious political confusion. Now, allow me to ask you something: Why do you support the political outfit of your choice? Their ideologies? Their track record? The rhetoric and public support of the illustrious leader of the said political party? The history and the legacy of the political party and the role it has had to play in the development of your country? Or… is it because, the political party you support openly endorses the religion or the faith you believe in?

For me, all these questions fail to give justifiable answers.

As for ideologies, I don’t see any clear-cut ideologies offered by any of the political parties worth standing by. I was briefly enamored by the Aam Aadmi Party’s stand against corruption. But a party with the major selling point of anti-corruption, with a feeble leadership and lack of other driving agendas is bound to failure (which eventually happened, sort-of). Besides, if a party with the sole stand of anti-corruption could raise so many eyeballs (in the good days of AAP), it simply shows the ideological drought India is going through… I happen to be a clear casualty of the same.

Things are funny when it comes to the track record and party legacy. For every ‘achievement’ each party quotes as its own – there are five other stark examples of rampant corruption/mismanagement. I really do not want to get into the nauseating details here, but if you’ve been watching TV, you know, right? I hope I’ve made my point.

Now, as for leadership – I definitely have to admit that the leadership qualities and the public support enjoyed by our Honourable Prime Minister Shri. Narendra Modi are exceptional. From a party that was in a nearly decimated state a couple of years ago, he could garner public support by building a brand of his own and even single-handedly winning the elections with an impressive majority. As an able leader, many believe that he has the potential to turn around the fortunes of the country. That said, it would not be factually accurate to call Shri. Modi a person with a clean track record. And history has enough examples citing what could happen when a respectable leader chooses the wrong path.

Besides, one cannot turn a blind eye to the rising instances of communal polarization happening in the country right now. I see many people and organizations among me, spewing communal hatred and venom. I do have my reservations and fears about the direction our country is heading to. I can only hope for the best and pray for peace, to the same Gods for whom people are ready to die for (and even kill for). In fact, communal polarization and appeasement has always been a driving force for all political parties who have ruled the country. It’s something the congress and its allies have successfully employed for ages to ride on the wave of the minority vote-bank; that’s one of the reasons why have had the country in their clutches for quite a while now. The ruling front is allegedly reinventing it, through ‘majority appeasement’.

And I strictly do not endorse linking religion with politics. I am a devout believer in Hinduism, but that is definitely no reason for me to support a ‘Hindu’ party. I am of the opinion that religion and beliefs are personal choices, and should ideally have little role in nation-building. Apparently, a lion’s share of India’s population disagrees with my point of view – and that’s what scares me the most.

I don’t think I am the only person facing the same dilemma – if I look around, I can find a million politically confused friends of mine. And I feel this is one of the biggest dilemmas faced by the youth of this country. All of us want to do something for the country – we are bustling with energy, with resources, with intellectual capital. But, deep down, we are confused. We don’t know where to start… We don’t have lofty ideologies to drive us… Heck, we don’t even know what do or even whom to vote for!

Will I ever find a way out of this confusion? I really do not foresee the birth of any radical organizations or parties, at least in the near future. AAP did bring some hope, but it fizzled out within no time. People voted the BJP to power with a lot of expectations – but we are yet to see any radical changes. Of course, there is one thing we could do as empowered, educated youth. Keeping the political confusions and influences at bay, we ourselves could take the baton of nation-building on ourselves. Yes, there is a lot we could do to uplift our nation. A starting point to the same would be to do best the things we do/we love to do. Perhaps, when we all strive collectively for common good, a unifying ideology would emerge… Something that would help us not only make our country, but also the world a better place… 🙂

The fact that we are politically confused would become a non-issue then.

Categories
Mobile Phones Technology

5 Reasons Why Splurging On Gadgets May Be Not Worth It

Let’s face it: gadgets have become a part and parcel of our lives. We’ve become so ‘connected’ to them (pun intended), that we cannot imagine a moment without them. Many among us (myself included) spend a sizable proportion of our income on buying the brand new editions of the latest gadgets on the block. But,  is spending the equivalent of your entire month’s salary on a device which you may not necessarily need, worth it? Read on to find out why it may not be – at least for many among us.

smartphones1

1) Many people buy expensive gadgets just because they are… well, expensive!

It’s true. At the end of the day, any gadget, irrespective of its ‘smartness’, is is just an accessory. Now, isn’t owning an expensive accessory the best way to make your friends envious? When the ‘accessory’ in concern is a smartphone or a tablet, its oomph value actually skyrockets. This phenomenon was more prevalent in the early 2010’s when smartphones were not as common as they are now.  I know many people who maxed out their credit cards to buy iPhones, just because they felt owning the device probably made them feel like Steve Jobs himself! Even today, when almost every other kid in the block owns a smartphone, people buy shiny and expensive smartphones (with features no different from phones that cost less than half), just because they think owning such devices makes them special. If you’re one among such people, I’m really really sorry to break your bubble. You are no different from that friendly-neighborhood millionaire who sports gold-plated teeth cause he thinks it makes him look cool. 🙂

nobody cares

2) An overpriced device is a dead investment. 

You don’t find the average user making more than what he spent by selling his used phone (there are exceptions). Coming to think of it, any electronic device is a dead investment. In all probability, you may not make extra money by opting for an expensive gadget. You would only lose out on the margin, thanks to its depreciation in value over time. If that’s the case, what’s the point spending a lot of money on such gadgets? With both expensive and entry level phones using the same operating system and the same applications, spending more on an expensive device definitely makes no economic sense for most people.

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3) “But, but my phone has that supercool feature that no other device has!” 

Oh really? So you emptied your bank account to buy a ‘better’ phone that can, well, check your pulse as well? LOL.  Just think. Are you REALLY gonna use your phone to check your pulse every now and then? How many features of your smartphone do you actually use? Apart from social networking, messaging, playing Flappy Bird and taking selfies, that is? The biggest joke is, all smartphones were initially touted for their myriad productivity enhancing applications! One look at iOS/Android store, and you’ll realize how popular these productivity-enhancing applications are. 🙂

4) Your phone may be new… but not for long. 

Technology changes fast, phones get old. Within a year, your device’s price gets halved (think Galaxy S3/S4). Not your ego. But, you absolutely have to own the best gadget in the world, don’t you?  Fueled by peer pressure, you get yourself a new (and better) gadget. And voila! You’re the proud owner of the shiny new phone that’s been getting rave reviews from all over the world. The icing in the cake is, you were one of the first people in your country to own it too (thanks to ‘offers’ from ecommerce portals) Now, don’t forget to put up a status about it too! Of course your gadget will lose its sheen in barely a year, but who cares? You can always buy a new one, can’t you? So, is splurging on something that you’ll be changing for sure in a year or two, really worth the extra expense?

5) Yawn… 

Economics aficionados would definitely have come across the term ‘diminishing marginal utility’. To cut the jargon crap, it means that the more you use an item, the satisfaction you gain from using it decreases with successive use. The smartphone is the quintessential example of this theory. With the average user not bothering to explore its many applications, anybody would get bored with his/her device in a matter of months. My question is, what’s the point spending a fortune on a device that you’d eventually get bored of?

The Last Ink Drop

When I say that splurging on gadgets may not make sense, I definitely do not advocate everybody to get a budget device/smartphone! 🙂 After all, it’s each man unto himself. Of course, some of the more expensive devices are power packed and provide a great user experience to the discerning user. 🙂 That said, I cannot say the same for the average gadget user in a developing country like mine where the average ‘high end’ smartphone costs way more than the monthly pay package of an average citizen. If you view gadgets as power-packed advanced devices, and you can think of multiple ways in which they can (realistically) help you, and of course if you’re rich enough to afford it,  it makes sense to buy a high-end gadget. Else, give it a miss. A feature-rich laptop/smartphone/tablet is just the thing you need . 🙂

Categories
Life Personal Thoughts Viewpoint

8 Things 2013 Taught Me

By all means, 2013 was a roller-coaster of a year; so much to the extent that I’d like to borrow an oft-abused cliche to describe the year – ‘life changing’.

Yes, 2013 changed the course of my life.

And what a year it was! From exhilarating highs to excruciating lows, from dizzying successes to debilitating failures – my life kept zig-zagging through a trajectory of the most unpredictable occurrences. Today, as I look back at the year that has sped by, I realize that I have changed. I’m not sure whether it’s for the better or worse, but the life-lessons I’ve learned over this year have been amazing. Things suddenly make more sense than they used to, and I’m sure these vital life lessons would go a long way in helping me live my life in a better way. I’d like to share some of them with my dear readers. 🙂

Life – As you know it

Here’s a list of 8 things that 2013 taught me:

  1. Stay Detached – I know, detachment is easier said than done. But, trust me, staying detached will solve a lion’s share of your problems. And by detachment – I certainly do not endorse living life in your own little shell (we’re all social animals for God’s sake!) Complete detachment practically impossible too  for lesser mortals like us. That said, we can definitely curb our desires. Give that overpriced, fancy new phone you’ve always craved for a miss. You’ll slowly notice your life changing for the better. Speaking from experience.
  2. Find time to do what you love – Thanks to economic pressures, we all end up doing day jobs we hate. We don’t have other options, many among us need to code our way to glory to earn our daily bread! It’s necessary evil. Yet, we all get our share of spare time – which, sadly, we end up whiling away doing the most unproductive of tasks. I hope I don’t sound like a management guru when I say this – but, try finding time to do what you love. Even if it’s for thirty minutes a day. If you’re a bibliophile, grab that John Greene book, if you’re into arts and crafts, start making seasons-greetings cards for your loved ones, in your spare time. These little joys of life have helped me survive the most traumatic of experiences all through this year. I’m sure it’ll work out well for you too 🙂
  3.  BE Selfish! – Okay, I know some of you guys are gonna beat me up for saying this – but trust me, you HAVE to be selfish to survive in these cut-throat times! For a person who virtually ruined his life trying to do good for his loved ones, this nugget came as quite a revelation! No, I’m not asking you to step on others shoulders and put them down so that you could climb up. Just realize this fact – at the end of the day your life is YOURS ALONE  – so is your happiness and your problems. So the next time you make that sacrifice for that friend, just think twice: Is what you’re about to do worth it?
  4. NEVER Stay Idle – How often have you been in debilitating situations, all your life? Situations which pull you down to your worst… As they say, “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade from it!”. Never ever let your depression leave you paranoid. The idle mind is, and will forever be the devil’s workshop! So whenever you’re down, or whenever you’re idle with nothing to do – find something to engage yourself. Preferably indulge in tasks that excite you. 🙂
  5. Never Take Anyone for Granted –  Oh, so you have that super-awesome buddy who has been with you through thick and thin. You consult him/her for your life decisions and you pretty much tell everyone that he/she will be with you till you dying day, right? Well, brace yourself – it’s easier said than done. This, my friend, is the age of unpredictability. People change, and before you know it, your ‘best friend’ will leave you for reasons that could be downright silly! Of course, all your love and care, all the sacrifices you’ve done for them will vaporize instantly. Be prepared for that loss – it might come any day. Practicing detachment will help ease your pain too.
  6. Brace yourself… The Sky is about to fall! – Yes, you read it right, my friend. With the randomness of life destroying all existing rules of probability, you’ll have no idea what’s about to happen to you in the days to come. Life has a habit of surprising you ever day. The surprise may be for good or bad – if it’s good, you rejoice. But what if it is bad? What if it destroys your life, as you know it? Always be prepared for the worse – you never know when your world comes crashing down. Quoting my dad: “Expect the best and prepare for the worst.” 🙂
  7. “Love your job… But NEVER fall in love with your company!”  Thus spake one of the front runners of the Indian IT Revolution.  Even whenone of the most-renowned CEO’s vouched for this axiom – I always rebutted this… only until I realized the bitter truth. If you’re employed, you are just a RESOURCE for your company. (In fact 99% of the IT companies publicly refer to their employees as resources). And like all resources, once you’re depleted, you must be set aside (read: kicked out!). Just make sure you do your job without fail and also ensure that you actually have a life outside work. And there’s absolutely no harm in changing jobs for a better package. When you’re nothing but a ‘resource’ for you company, what’s the point in being loyal to it?
  8. There is a better life outside the social network – This was one of my biggest lessons from 2013. Those of you who know me personally know how addicted I was to the whole concept of social networking. True, it did add a lot of brownie points to my resume – from introducing me to the career of freelance journalism to making me a professional social media manager. But at the end of the day, my life began and ended in the internet. I did learn the hard way about the dark side of social networks. That said I haven’t abandoned them; that would be sheer escapism – but I decided to ‘disconnect to connect’. And I must admit – I am happy. 🙂

The Last Ink Drop:

Just a disclaimer for some of my ‘intellectual’ readers – these realizations that I’ve had, these ideas… they’ve been around for a while now. They are not strictly speaking, ‘original’. But they have been discoveries for me personally. I can’t speak for you, but they have changed my life for the better. 🙂 If you feel like implementing any of them in your own life, be my guest. 🙂 I’ll only be too happy that I brought a smile to your life – if it makes you feel better.

And, I know an update here was long due. My apologies to those who still come back here searching for new posts and were left disappointed.  I’m going to be regular from now on. 🙂 Have a few surprises ahead for you guys too. Do keep checking back.

Season’s greetings, folks! Here’s wishing you a great year ahead! 🙂

Categories
Fiction Narration Story

Happy Birthday!

The sun’s rays pierced through the plate-glass window of my flat, penetrating right into my eyes, rudely awakening me from my sleep. Mom used to constantly scold me for not sleeping facing the sun, years back when I was a child. Even though I used to disobey her back then, I started following every word of her advice, including this one, once I had moved away from home. My tummy rumbled as I slowly made my way out of bed. It had reason to be upset, for, it has been surviving on liquids for the past couple of days. I took a cursory glance at my watch to check the time, only to realize that it didn’t have a watch any more. It, along with my iPhone 4S now rested at a local shop, and had helped me survive the past couple of weeks. I fished my old Nokia  from underneath my pillow. It quietly announced that the time was 9.30 AM. Quite early, by my current standards. Nearly two months back, at the same time, I would be taking time off to enjoy the breathtaking view of Singapore, from my cabin in my company’s 24th floor office…

Those days were long gone. Life turned upside down overnight, thanks to a monster called recession. One night, I was partying with my friends at the Acid Bar, and the very next morning, I get the pink slip… Life does work in mysterious ways. Everyone was ‘shocked’ (at least, apparently so) by my exit from the company. I was billed as the rising star, the next in line to be the CEO. All those dreams were shattered, in a face-saving act by my boss, who decided to save his skin by putting all his blames on me. The damage was done; the black mark on my career was permanent. No other company would offer me a job, my boss had pulled his strings to ensure just that. The fighter that I was, I decided to fight back with a vengeance. In the past two months, I had knocked the doors of every consulting company that had its offices in the island-country. Their replies weren’t that disheartening though. All of them said, they would they ‘consider’ me, and that they would present my case in the forthcoming board meeting (which never happened). And whenever I called them back, they said they were still ‘considering’. Despite the failure of every ‘consideration’ – I never lost heart. I always believed in my values and in Krishna.

It seems that Lord Almighty too had left me out in the cold.

I noticed a blinking message icon on the top left of my Nokia. My inbox was full, thanks to SMS remainders from the bank, asking me to pay up the latest installment of my home loan. I never even bothered to open any of those messages – they are going to kick me out anyway. I should survive till then, somehow. While clearing the pending messages, the phone beeped. There were a couple of incoming messages. I shrugged and opened the latest text. Thank God, it wasn’t another ‘gentle reminder’. It was a text from her.

HBD. 🙂

It took me a second to decode the acronym.

And yet another, to remind me it was this day, 28 years back, that I was born.

She was the only person, apart from my mom, who religiously remembered my birthday. I never thought she would wish me on my birthday, even after we broke up last month. I was genuinely touched, and I badly wanted to reply, with a hundred :-* smileys’ to say that I still loved her with all my heart! Mom too must have tried to call me, only in vain. My mobile connection was quietly deactivated by Singtel last week. Thankfully, they still allowed incoming messages.

I could literally hear my tummy’s rumble this time. Must grab something. I did a quick search for my purse and found it exactly where I had left it: atop my shelf. I approached it with alacrity. I did remember seeing a $10 note last night. It was all what was left from the $600 I’d got from selling my iPhone and watch. It should get me something. SOMETHING. I opened the purse with expectation.

It was empty.

I checked again – I was damn sure that I did see the note inside. Hell, I literally survived on water and orange juice for the past couple of days, so that I could eat something solid today! That hope too was gone. I felt dizzy, probably from staying hungry. I quietly slumped down on the floor. The purse slid away from my hand and fell down. I could feel my head throbbing. I stared at my purse, which was flooded with $1000 notes at one time. It was months now since it saw even a $500. Suddenly, I noticed part of a red coloured paper jutting out from an inner-chamber, near my credit cards. I quickly took the purse and emptied my five hugely-overdrawn credit cards. I had the surprise of my life!

There, underneath the cards, lay a crumpled $100 note!

Snippets of memory started trickling in. I had kept that $100 note underneath my cards about six months back. My purse was so stacked with notes that there wasn’t any space to keep the $100 note I got as change from buying groceries. Left with no other option, I removed my Platinum Visa card and stuffed the note into that pouch, and had forgotten about it!

I thanked every God I knew for giving me the ultimate birthday gift!

I quickly ran, and changed into a shirt and a pair of jeans – prized possessions of mine, and rushed out of my flat. Despite having had nothing for the past couple of days, I managed to run as fast as I could to the nearest hotel – a Chinese restaurant next to my flat. My tummy craved for their delicious noodles, and I was about to eat like a king! Passers-by were staring at me, I was pushing my way through the crowd, fighting my hunger, desperate to enjoy my own birthday treat!

As I was about to into walk into the restaurant, panting, I felt a tug on my jeans. I turned to see a small girl, maybe 7-8 years old, pulling my jeans. She was a cute little child, looking at me with tears streaming down from her eyes. I leaned down, and ruffled her hair, like I normally do with kids.

“Hello darling! Why’re you crying?” I asked.

She pointed her fingers towards the hotel. Three muscular men, similarly dressed in waiters’ attire were running down the aisle pointing at the girl. One of the ran towards me, and grabbed the girl by her wrist, and started shouting at her in Mandarin. Another guy raised her hand and was going to slap her. I was alarmed. I quickly pulled the girl back from the ruffians and asked them what was wrong. Apparently, the girl, who was a beggar, had eaten from the restaurant and tried escaping without paying the bill. They were chasing the girl, who ran to me and hid behind me.

I tried reasoning with the ruffians, but they wouldn’t listen. Using my broken mandarin, I somehow convinced them that the matter could be settled, only if they would calm down.

“The girl ate noodles worth $85. We need her to pay up, or we’re going to the police.” one of them managed to speak in broken English.

I looked at the girl, who was now weeping. I saw myself in her. I would have probably done the same thing, if I hadn’t found the $100 note. And I’d probably end up in jail too, for stealing food. I didn’t want this little girl to end up in some dingy children’s home for a mistake any human in her situation would make. My tummy started rumbling louder. I decided to ignore it once again. Another day of liquids wouldn’t kill me, after all.

I paid the sole $100 note to the ruffians, who quickly went to the counter and gave me the change. I took the girl to an ice cream vendor nearby and bought her a chocolate ice cream for $15.  As she finished eating, I patted her and turned to walk back to my flat. As I was walking back, I heard a faint voice, saying “Happy Birthday”. Shocked, I turned back.

There girl had gone.

My tummy stopped rumbling.

P.S. Inspired from Vaikkom Muhammed Basheer‘s ‘Janmadinam’.