An Open Letter to the great Jain community

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Dear Members of the Jain community,

You people are wonderful, both Digambars and Shvetambars. I respect with all my heart and stomach the Paryushan Parwa, which serves as a cleansing festival for you and purifies you of all the toxins and deficiencies, contrary to the thoughtless food that the rest of the world is consuming.

I have always had a lot of respect for Jains. Many friends of mine over the years who do not eat garlic, ginger, onions and miscellaneous flavorsome vegetables without which I cannot imagine my life. I bow to you folks who lead such a simple life and do not eat any of those. I cringe when I, as a lesser mortal, find myself eating an onion in front of my pure Jain friend or a colleague. I feel totally shamed and humiliated about my existence on earth.

I would like to talk briefly about the meat ban that your community is trying to impose on all of us and which the honorable Supreme Court rejected. I wonder what the court might have thought about issues of freedom to choose what we should eat. I empathize with you people for thinking so much about non-violence and the benefit to humankind. Do not get us wrong. The Supreme Court is a bunch of ordinary mortals who do not understand your feelings and believe that freedom to choose is important for people like us.

This, in no way, affects the greatness that you are trying to project upon us. As I said, people who do not understand that beauty of following the Jain systems of food are ordinary, pithy, stupid, idiotic and non-discerning individuals. We are not up to your level of purification and intelligence. We just do not get it why we should not eat meat when it makes us feel healthy. Even for a few days, it sounds illogical to us because we are used to it. As far as the overall effect of the ban is concerned, there are people who are saying that their livelihood gets affected- people like butchers and meat sellers. They are stupid, too for they do not understand the wonderfully spiritual impact that a few days of restraint could cause on their lives.

Dear great Jain people, please forgive us for not being able to match up to your standards of intellect, spirituality and non-violence. Unfortunately, the very human society functions, some animals exist so that we can eat them and otherwise, there might be no use of such species. I guess.

In order to conclude, I would just like to see your magnanimity of the heart in bearing with us lesser mortals, not just in the case of the meat ban but also in the ordinary course of life.

If you see that, we are eating onions, garlic, or other such violent food, please forgive us.

On behalf of the non-Jains of the world…

A lesser mortal

Why Old is Gold in Manali

I visited Manali a while back and had thought about writing this piece but could not get around it, until today. Do I recommend Manali-the old one, like the old monk? Young monks do not look that wise. The last line was a joke, request the monks reading this not to get offended. Wait, do I know any monks? Oh, let it be.

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The city of Manali has two parts- Old Manali and new Manali.

There is nothing much to be said about new Manali because it is touristy, crowded and boring. There is the ubiquitous mall road where honeymooners, families and gang on boys wander around, doing nothing but stare at each other. It is like any other tourist place that attracts the normal tourists who go there to tell people that they have been there. A lot of people travel for this reason only- to tell people that they have traveled. Like this couple…

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If you travel to be with yourself and immerse in a different environment away from the maddening crowds, do not go to new Manali.

Go to Old Manali. Old Manali feels cosmopolitan and rustic at the same time; a small colony, if you are okay with calling it a colony. Alternatively, call it what you like. The streets of old Manali are buzzing with tourists from different parts of the world and it just does not feel like you are in India. It is a cool atmosphere with cafés serving cuisine from different parts of the world.

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I particularly liked Café 1947 and gave them a lavish review on TripAdvisor. The old Manali Street starts from the end of the bridge and it goes up the slope. The entire street is dotted with cafes and shops selling clothes or jewelry for women. You cannot have a market, which does not sell jewelry for women.

Most of the cafes are open until midnight and some of them play live music. It sounds great whilst you sit by the side of the Beas River. Listen to the music or sit close to the river and enjoy the sound of the flowing water. If you are me, that is one of the most beautiful sounds in the world.

Other things to do in Manali

Rent a bike: Rent a bike and drive to Solang Valley just to enjoy the ride-the valley does not offer anything besides a cable car ride, which is trite. I did not do it because I find cable cars boring. However, the bike ride within the mountains in exciting enough to get the adrenaline rushing within you.

Rohtang Pass: Do it, for everyone does but do it only once. The place is crowded and dirty because we are a mess as tourists. There is some snow during the summer seasons but there is enough to play with. Enjoy the landscape and move back.

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Eat a lot: Ah, I know the touristy thing but then not all touristy things are necessarily bad. While you are at a place, it makes sense to try their food. While in Rome, eat what the Romans eat.

If you choose to go to Manali, go there to chill and be, stay at old Manali and may be take a bike and travel around. Traveling will never be about the destination. It is about the journey and it will always be about the journey.

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The meaning of silence

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Imagine you ask a girl out and she does not respond for a month. What would you think- is it a yes or a no?

Silence has many meanings and the best answer is the boring one, which is ‘it depends’. For example, in the case above, it could mean that she thinks that you suck as an individual and you are not fit to go out with her. It could also mean that she is shy and to be honest, girls are not shy anymore. Shyness used to be a feministic trait. Now, it perhaps is a gay attribute.

If you are a performer, silence could have many meanings. For example, if you are on the stand-up stage and the audience is silent, you better get away from the stage or do something to make them laugh. Silence for a comedian means death.

If you are a poet and then room is silent, it means that the audience is listening to you intently or they would be busy talking to each other.

If you are a corporate slut which most of you are, and you send across a presentation deck to the client and the latter is silent, most likely, the deck is fine. Very few people are grateful or appreciative. They would just go silent if they find the deck great. Therefore, in case of professional matters, silence is a good thing. If you have fucked up, you will know, trust me, all the time.

If your girlfriend or wife is silent, it is always a case of lull before the storm. It is in your interest to figure out what has happened and why she is silent. If she has to explain her silence to you without your having probed it, you are in a much bigger trouble than you can manage.

If your friend is silent for a while and you get no reply to your message or the call does not return, that friend of yours does not want to be a friend of yours anymore. It is time to move on.

In any case, silence is meaningful. The silence of the night precedes the hustle and bustle of the morning and tells us that it is time to rest. The silence of men is asking for solitude since unlike women, we like to deal with our mess largely by ourselves.

When we meditate, we let our lives come to a halt in a moment of practiced silence. Many people cannot bear silence since their only idea of enjoyment is noise, meaningful or otherwise.

Do not leave silence alone. It always says something and waiting to be heard.

Depressed? DO NOT see a psychiatrist.

Are you depressed?

You know the moment you are asked this question, you would start looking for reasons why you may be depressed and considering the vicissitudes of life, you will find some reasons why the answer to the question could be yes.

At a point in my life, I got severely depressed and it was not really the worst phase of my life. Life was looking up and things were good. However, perhaps it was a sickening feeling of competition that led to the depression or a rather unhealthy attitude to life.

I had to take a break, briefly saw a psychiatrist but I did not take the medicine and get back to life with a renewed attitude. Unfortunately, as we have seen in the celebrity demise of people like Robin Williams, not everybody is able to cope with it. In addition, perhaps with age, the ability to cope with it diminishes. I am not sure-perhaps.

Back home in India, the suicide of Jiah Khan shocked everyone. The declaration by Deepika Padukone surprised people.

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Depression, they say is a reality in today’s life. There is no reason why it should be a reality of our lives. Psychiatrists will put you on sedatives and you will be sleeping wondering what has gone wrong with you. It is an escapist form of curing a problem, which needs a lifestyle cure.

There is something wrong that we must be doing to cause it. There is no one thing. It is a multitude of negative factors, which lead to an avalanche of negative thinking which makes people feel depressed and in the need of medical advice.

What should we do?

There are fundamental issues of existence at sake. We cannot be living a life, which feels empty on the inside. We cannot be competing or comparing our lives and our worth from what others think of us and we must build health relationships out of love.

I am no authority on a happy life, yet. However, I would like to put down a few things we could perhaps do, in order to make our lives a happy one and not have the need to visit a psychiatrist-ever.

 

  1. Have a purpose

Most of us live reproductive lives and that is the only purpose of their lives. They want to find a job-any job and then find a partner-any partner and then raise kids with that partner.

Now, there are many things fundamentally wrong with this kind of existence. Your life is only limited to your family. This means that you have no objective but to see your kids growing up and then seeing their kids growing up. This puts a lot of pressure on the lives of your kids, since you are drawing your happiness from what they do, not what you do.

Find a purpose beyond raising a family.

  1. Find your passion

There has to be something that fires you up to get up in the middle of the night and get working. Can you not just brood over your school and college life and think of things you would just do free?

All of us must find a passion, which defines who we are. I am passionate about writing and stage. I quit my job recently to try to create a life out of my passion. You have to find a passion and find work, which connects you with your passion. No, I have not succeeded yet but I am much happier doing the work that I have done this year but that is a subject for another post.

Find your passion. Work that we do not find rewarding drains the life out of us, every single day.

  1. Let love drive your relationships

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I am not married and do not know when I will tie the proverbial knot. However, I have been in relationships. Having said that, our personal life is an extremely important part of our lives and form the backbone of our lives.

Love makes us strong and strong relationships give us the power to face the challenges of life. A lot of us are in relationships, which suck. Arranged marriage is a terrible institution and neither the name nor the form this institution exist should exist in a healthy human society. If you find love in an arranged marriage, good for you. When love knocks the door, open it.

Walk out of unhappy relationships. It is not good for your kids to see their parents after each other’s neck. May be, you will find a happy relationship, may be, you will not. However, it will be better than being in a painful relationship.

  1. Stay physically active

One of the reasons I think I got depressed is because I stopped exercising and taking care of myself.

Our minds and body are interdependent and the soul, if you must call it, is the entire being. If the body suffers, the mind suffers and the other way round. Work hard on keeping fit. Fitness is a state of physical and mental well being.

  1. Work hard and find time to reward yourself

You like going to spas. I do. Work hard on your passion and as I said above, only do the work that excites you. Excel sheets should be left for accountants and quantitative experts who get orgasmic at pivot tables and macro charts.

There should be multiple sources of orgasms and your work should be one of your sources. Work hard and enjoy hard. I do not want to get into hardness any further.

  1. Be grateful

Do not compare your life to that of others. If nature wanted us to live similar lives, then why would we be different people? You get the point. Be grateful for your life. The fact that you can read this means you have the benefit of a good education, access to a computer, have a roof on your head and umpteen things to be grateful about.

Be grateful for this life and accept that it gives you with humility, always with humility.

I think I am at the end of my list and this piece has turned out to be much longer than I had anticipated.

I want people to be happy and I want to be happy. There is no reason why you need to feel sad when there is so much to feel grateful and happy about.

Carpe Diem.

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Intellectual freedom now banned in India. And we are not sorry

Do you see a pattern in the bans they are imposing over the last few months in India?

I do.

Let us look at what is happening. The government owes its roots to the so-called cultural organization- the RSS. Now, as far as economics is concerned, they will leave it to BJP, its political arm and not mess there perhaps because they don’t have the expertise in that area.

However, as far as matters of daily life are concerned-everything is cultural! What we eat, how we behave, how we mingle with each other as people, which religions or castes get prominence and importance in the society-are all matters of importance of the RSS and hence the government.

Look at the meat ban. According to NDTV and other news reports, we are doing this for the Jain festival of fasting. Now, if you are in Mumbai and you are not a Jain, why should you fast? Why, on earth for one day or 2 days or for the Godforsaken 4 days?

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The point- the religious views of one community are liable should be respected by the people of the state-no matter what their religious beliefs are. Why?

This means that if you accept this bullshit, then in future, especially if you are an atheist, then you will have to face the prospect of respecting the religious sentiments of Hindus, Muslims (trust me, this will never happen), Christians (this will never happen too) or Sikhs (they are too cool to bother anyone).

See, the point is 80% of this country is Hindu; forget Sakshi Maharaj telling Hindus to have four kids still! Now, since they are the majority, they want to ensure that their views or rather the right word is ‘sentiments’ are respected by the rest of the people.

You live in India. You respect the majority sentiments.

The porn ban did not stay because it is not exactly a religious matter and everyone- no matter what religion- needs porn!

They banned fifty shades of grey for screening. Why? Apparently, because of nudity! Fuck, we are 1.3 billion wasted people. We are not a result of masturbation! Indians are literally screwing each other under the name of arranged marriages to produce useless people who don’t know right from wrong, who cannot be educated and who support the bullshit we face right now because they don’t know better.

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I will talk about one more ban- the ban on the documentary, India’s daughter. They banned the movie saying that it was a conspiracy to defame India. Now, we understand that rapes are not only an Indian but also an international problem, but that does not mean there is something wrong with a movie that, with a sincere intent, tries to understand the mind of a rapist. I have no idea why the filmmaker chose to make the film in India and not in her home country but the fact is-she made the film and it was an incisive film-something that nobody attempted before. Every time we run away from the truth, we show nothing but our cowardice.

The others bans, like the ban on cuss words, the ban on partying, chasing Valentine day’s revelers are a matter of academic importance now.

We are supposedly, a free country where we have the right to choose our actions basis our beliefs. Nobody should have the right to tell us what we should do with our lives, as long as we are not affecting someone directly.

The bans are a ban on our freedom, our ability to differentiate right from wrong and a ridiculous imposition of a majoritarian mind-set.

Every time I think about majorities, I think of what Mark Twain said about it:

Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect.

Thanks for reading.