Category Archives: Opinions

Yet to Decide

This was a speech I delivered in International Speech Contest. Though I did not win the contest this speech is easily one of my favorites, because of the honesty I dared to put across.

Do we all like finding examples from our lives to justify ourselves at times? I do! Greetings contest chair, fellow Toastmasters and Guests, as I stand before you today, with turmoil in my heart, tension in my muscles and thoughts in my mind, all I wish to do is to tell you those examples and stories, to relax, quench and absorb – to justify myself.

First one is of a child, about 8 and a man, his father, a civil engineer, who used to make huge intimidating blue prints, with different pencils. The child loved watching him draw. But on one particular day, the child was more fascinated by the pencil his father held in his hand; a mechanical pencil. He was seeing it for the first time in his life. It intrigued him. When the man left for dinner, the child quietly sneaked the pencil from the table and put it in his cupboard. Tiptoeing, he went to his room, slipped in his comfortable warm quilt, yet sweating. He was afraid, trying to listen to every bit of the conversation happening over the dinner table, to pick the word pencil. It was a torture. Only when he heard the man say, ‘Am off to bed!’ could he sleep too. But, he woke up with a start; heard his father shouting about the pencil, the mother trying to calm him down. Poor child could take it no more. He went to his cupboard, took out the lovely steel-blue beauty and walked with the tiniest of steps possible towards his father. With tears in his eyes he held out his hand, and the next moment his father’s hand connected, with full force, to his cheek. I wonder, was stealing the pencil a bigger issue or getting slapped after returning it?

Second one is about a girl, about 13, embracing the beautiful time of growing up. Once, she went for a camping trip from school with friends. At the end of a very tiring day, cold breeze was soothing the ache aimless wander had thrust upon them. They were lying down on hard ground and she was asleep in a couple of minutes. A little later, a touch at the places she did not appreciate woke her up. She shuddered first; then took the nearest stone and hit the person with all the strength she could muster. No one had known of the initial disturbance and the later couldn’t have been unnoticed. Shy of accepting the truth, she was punished for injuring a fellow human being, later known to be slower in his mental growth than the physical. I wonder again, who was at fault; the guy, unaware of his actions; the girl, retorting or the people who punished her?

Third story is about a man in his eighties; at his death-bed. His family around him, sad at the prospect of losing him, yet content that he would be at peace at last. But back in their bedrooms, the son was afraid, where would they live once his father was no more. His mother, who didn’t like her daughter in law, was planning to transfer the property to her daughters. He had not been able to buy himself a house with a regular man’s income. The grief at his father’s ill health was shared by the realization of not having a shelter.  All because he did not own any property! This time, I ponder if not acquiring wealth for self, a right decision as preached by many or it has a different meaning that I am unable to fathom.

The protagonists of my fourth and final story were about 80 at the time Nicholas Sparks, the author of notebook wove it; a man and a woman, deeply in love, so much so that they thought themselves incomplete without each other. But as luck would have it, the woman suffered from Alzheimer’s’ disease. She could not remember the love of her life; her children and her own name. The man could not tell her all of it as it aggravated her condition. So he lied to her every day, about her, about himself, about the life they had spent, just to have that fleeting moment when she would look at him, with the love that had been their strength to live up to 80, to be with her when they journeyed together to heaven.

And with that, finally my stories come to an end. But why did I tell 4 unrelated stories? Friends, I have been called a non believer, confused, agnostic, I told you these stories to help me understand the gap we have in the teachings bestowed upon us and the interpretation as we take. The major faiths teach us – Asteya – not to steal, Ahimsa – not to injure any living being, Tyag – not to own property, Satya – to speak truth, and Brahmacharya – to lead a virtuous life.

But the lessons that I gather from the stories are – do not steal, or if you do, do not admit. Is Asteya a real virtue then? Retort back, if the scenario demands, Is Ahimsa the correct path then? Gather, for a secure future, else worry for it when you are faced with more grave situations in life later, Isn’t Tyag, more of a burden then? Lie, if those false statements help someone live peacefully without losing sanity, does it deserve a punishment then?

I am at a stage in my life where my understanding is meager, my thoughts are many and my propensity to question insane, all that I said now, makes me wonder, which link am I missing?

I do not claim to know all, & I do not want to hide, I am yet to decide!

I am not being partial; I am not taking any side, I am yet to decide!


Seven Reasons You Should Thank A Feminist Today

I have been having a lot of thoughts on this issue, especially in the past week after reading a few well written articles. But by the time I write something coherently putting together the fits of rage, I think this article deserves to be read, and the comments following it.

The Belle Jar

If there is one thing in this world that makes me want to chew my own face off, it’s women who think that feminism has ruined their lives.

You know the type – women who want to live in some kind of souped up 1950s fantasy world where they get married right out of high school and their husband makes enough to support their family on just his income and they think the moral decline of society has something to do with the fact that women no longer wear crinolines and genteel white gloves and cute little hats. Never mind that, you know, lots and lots of families in the 1950s weren’t able to live off of a single income; trust me when I say that feminism did not invent the working mother. Leaving that little scrap of truth aside, I guess I can see what some women find appealing about this…

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To succeed in life, you need two things: ignorance and confidence. – Mark Twain

I am grateful for not knowing about the level of preparation required to ace this examination and the confidence that I had in my abilities which led to the pleasant surprise of success. 

Cleared Civil Services Exam in first attempt. Looking forward to future challenges!

A Lesson Learnt

I have been dealing with a few health issues lately. This has caused me, a complete lazy ass when it comes to hospitals, to visit a nearby hospital around five times by now. On one of this visit, at 8:30 in the morning, I had to get an ultrasound done after a blood test. I was standing in the room where ultrasound is done and speaking to the person in charge of scheduling the same. This person was – Alka. She asked me if I had a date assigned and I politely said no. Then, as is the case with a number of Govt. Hospitals, she started speaking a very rude manner, saying, “Don’t know where these people come from, without any assigned dates, don’t speak to the Doctor beforehand and then come to trouble us” and God knows what else. The whole issue was that apparently I was supposed to come and  ‘take a date’ to get the ultrasound done and I hadn’t done so. The reason for me not having done that was that I was never told about it by my Doctor. My Doctor had simply told me to come empty stomach, get the fasting blood sugar test done and then get an ultrasound done. Now I had been up by 6:30 AM for these tests, had already got my blood test, was empty stomach, with about one and a half litres of water inside (a prerequisite for abdomen ultrasound that I was required to have done) and for that day, had taken permission from office to be late by an hour or so owing to these tests. If I did not get these done the same day, I would have had to repeat the ordeal for no fault of mine. So, I went inside the Doctor’s chamber and explained all this to her. The Doctor very nicely told Ms. Alka to accept my case the same day. Following this, she again told me how it was wrong of me to go and speak to the doctor without her permission. I was irritated by now, by her behavior, language, tone, lack of food and a full bladder while I couldn’t use the washroom for at least next 30 minutes. I felt very bad. I must have uttered some curses under my breath. Anyways, for some reason, I couldn’t get the test done that day and was asked to come again, for which I took the appointment to avoid the ordeal.

Yesterday, I had to visit the hospital again to collect some of my reports. It was 5 PM and workers were going back home. While coming back I saw the same lady, Ms. Alka, walking past me. I don’t know what happened to me but I asked her, politely of course, why she was so rude to me the other day. What she told me then made me feel at loss. These were her exact words – “Dekhiye, aap to ek hi din aate hain. Aapko kya pata hum kaise kaam karte hai. Humari Mummy ki death ho gayi, humare husband ki bhi death ho gayi, ek beti thi, wo bhi brain tumor se mar gayi, bas papa hain, wo paralysed hai. Subah 4 baje uthkar, unhe latrine bathroom kara ke, nahla khila ke, hum aate hai. Subah theek chhod kar aate hain, shaam ka pata nahi kis halat me milenge. akele rehte hai, koi madad karne wala bhi nahi. Hum to itna baar transfer ke liye keh chuke hain, koi sunta nahi. To boliye kaise hum baat karenge?

Loosely translated this meant, “See, you come only once in a while, How would you know how we work. My mother is dead, my husband is also dead, I had a daughter, she also died of brain tumor, I only have a father who is paralysed. I get up at 4 in the morning, help my father in his daily routine of using the toilet and bathroom, serve him food and then come to work. I leave him fine in the morning, dreading in what condition will I find him when I go back home after work in the evening. I stay alone, there is no one to help. I have even asked for a transfer many times but no one listens. In such a scenario, you tell me how would I talk?”

All I could do then was listen and nod politely. I didn’t know what to say. But I told myself one thing that moment, I shall not judge someone or their behavior. I don’t know what they have been through and I have no right whatsoever of passing a judgment on anyone without knowing their history and their conditions. A lesson learnt, learnt well in all humility.

Random Musings on a Train Journey

Sitting on the window side of a sleeper berth, while going from Ranchi to Bokaro, in the skin parching and lip cracking heat , I wonder at a question, I read in the book that I am currently reading. what is India? Who is an Indian? How are we alike as citizens of a common country? 

An Indian Trains's Sleeper Coach

It is so difficult to relate to those women bathing in the pond by the railway station (Khalida, was it?). There is another woman sitting on the same berth as me, feet dirty, heels cracked, hair cut in the “boy style”, face as though unwashed since at least a few days, wearing a cream-colored sari with a dull brick reddish-orange border, flowers printed on it. She is wearing her blouse inside out. She has a bag, a polythene and a worn out sweater as her luggage and she is singing a song in a language which I do not understand. The TT hasn’t asked for her ticket. Does he think she is mad too? And then there are herds of cows and buffaloes in the pond, trying to defeat the heat somehow. How do I relate to these countless people selling tea, jhal-muri, cucumber, paan masala and so on in the train? Where do they board the train? Where do they get down? Where do they actually live? How much money do they make? Does it suffice? The woman I just talked about, said aloud, all the alphabets, A-Z, I don’t know to whom? I don’t know why? Its strange, the amount of questions a mere glance at the world around you can fill you with. There are plug points in this train, one each for approximately four seats, so that cell phones can be charged. And I am forced to think of the places where there is yet to be electricity. That can’t seem right to anyone. or does it? I have this sudden urge to get down somewhere near such a settlement. And talk to the people there. I want to know what do they think about. Is their life simple? Their thoughts untroubled? Do they sleep early? What do they do the whole day? The cattle. I am sure rearing the cattle must be a time-consuming and tedious task. Or is it just my notion? Do they enjoy their lives? Or do they envy ours? or maybe pity ours? The woman beside me is clapping her hands and smiling. It seems as though she is looking at someone or something, I can’t see what. But the fact that she can be so happy or oblivious to her surroundings or so carefree, makes me want to prod her. But I hold myself back. I don’t know why. Am I coward? Am I shy? Am I too proud? Maybe I will never know. I am waiting for my station, Bokaro. I will get down there to catch another train to Delhi. Even the train to Delhi would be different, forget the life. It is much more shiny, noisy, crowded, much more made up. And yet it is so much more inviting. Does that seem right? Or is it as perplexing to every one as it is to me. I should stop now. My station may come anytime. Rather, I will reach there anytime now. I should be ready to get down soon. I don’t know how long would the train stop there. And I want to look out of the window. Not intermittently like I have been doing so far while writing. But giving the hinterlands my full attention. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because I might be a dot in this hinterland sometime. So long!