Category Archives: General

My crude Twitter update on using fear of rape as political tool

There was a debate going on on television in which Arnab Goswami was screaming at an AAP (Aam Aadmi Party) representative regarding how they were trying to use the fear of rape to instigate people against the ruling Congress party. Apparently, the party is trying to spread fear among the people that if they vote for the Congress party, they will always be prone to getting raped and becoming victim of the general lawlessness that manifests during such a rule. Arnab was asking one of the representatives, how can they stoop so low and bring the politics to such a level?

Actually, I’m not saying I’m right, and I’m not justifying myself, my blood boils when somebody tries to take a high moral ground while trying to portray as if the Congress is being politically victimized; that was what Arnab was doing. This party tries every dirty trick to remain in power, and every dirty trick means, every dirty trick.

If it can keep the Muslims of the country perpetually scared – don’t let the BJP come to power, you are doomed if it does – why can’t another party highlight an existential reality for political gains? Crimes like rape, do tend to happen more when there is lawlessness and large-scale corruption in the country, and the Congress, and other parties of similar mentality, do encourage such an atmosphere in which people are in a constant state of insecurity and intellectual confusion so that they never get enough mental space to develop political opinions. The fear mongering in the name of the BJP is needlessly magnified.

I don’t normally, especially, sit in front of the TV to listen to these one-sided debates. So during one of my forays into the drawing room where our TV is placed I heard this line about how low they can go, I came to my room and tweeted this:

A person who reads this tweet in isolation may think what the F*** I’m talking about?

I have reason to believe that there is a troll that particularly responds to my updates. He tweeted this:

Although I never take his messages seriously, this particular update stuck with me. My tweet must have actually sounded quite crude if read without context. I don’t delete my tweets (up till now I have deleted just one tweet and that too because it would have caused problem for a public figure) so I’m not deleting this one. But in future I will be careful how I express myself, especially on Twitter.

A strange dream about my work

Day before yesterday I had a strange dream, but before that, a bit of backdrop. My two sources of income have so far been my website — http://amrithallan.com — and my consulting services to Steve Dasseos (for http://tripinsurancestore.com and other websites). Recently I took a break from amrithallan.com and decided to focus primarily on Steve’s work, and little bit on my own personal projects. But you can very well understand how difficult it is to put a business that you’ve been running and promoting for the past 7 years in cold storage.

Now the dream.

I’m at home, but it is not familiar. A Sikh youth of very small stature comes to me and offers to write content for my clients for a fixed monthly pay of Rs. 15,000. Although he is quite young — mid 20s — his beard is completely white and he is wearing a black turban. I want to pay him Rs. 10,000 but then I think, well, even if I pay him the double of what he is asking for, I may have to work on amrithallan.com for an hour or so everyday and end up saving some money. I accept his offer.

Instead of accessing my website, I leave this youth sitting in the room and go to the backroom where my business is supposed to exist. The room is in shambles. A dim yellow bulb glows in the center of the room. The walls are made of just bricks and there are some holes here and there. It looks like one of those small junk rooms you may find in a house that has been abandoned years ago. There is so much garbage, debry and dust on the floor that it’s extremely difficult to walk. I can see a big centipede trying to enter through one of the crevices and there is a big, brown furry animal in the room. It takes me a while to figure out that it’s a monkey. When it sees me it jumps out through another, bigger hole in the wall.

My computer, one of those old IBMs you had to boot off a floppy (I never even had one of those, but one of my closest friends did) was fixed into the wall in the farthest corner of the room. That’s my business. The dream stops here.

The stark difference between Alexander and Chengiz Khan

Recently the noted lyricist Javed Akhtar posted two Tweets my wife today pointed me to:

“If you plunder from west to east you are great like Alexander. if you do the same from east to west you are a barbarian like Chengiz.”

Here is the link to the Tweet.

Although I don’t have issues with what intellectuals like him have to say about various cultural and historical opinions/facts the duality is really surprising. These are well-read people after all.

Both Alexander (whether great or not) and Chengiz Khan attacked other countries in order to increase their domains and, let us say, that the time was like that, that it was okay to plunder and takeover other countries and make its citizens your slaves. Shit happens during various historical periods (it still happens but we live in denial). This is not the issue.

But you cannot equate both these guys. Alexander had Aristotle as his teacher and he had specifically employed a historian to document his conquests and experiences. Remember the encounter he had with Porus when he attacked India? He received the brave Porus like a king and even though Porus had been defeated and captured he was not humiliated or brutally killed (I am not sure what happened to him after that famous exchange with Alexander as depicted in the Bollywood movies). Could you expect similar civility from Chengiz Khan? I’m not saying that since Chengiz Khan was a Muslim so he had to be an out and out asshole (he was not a Muslim, according to WikiPedia), but he was after all a barbarian with no affinity to intellectual thinking.

Alexander built relationships (not social media and networking relationships, obviously). He was not into burning down libraries and universities and razing cities. He formed many alliances and he only attacked when kings did not except his dominance which is fair enough considering those times.

Not being a history student I don’t know much about both these historical figures but it is silly to rue the fact that Alexander is called “great” and Chengiz Khan is termed as barbarian.

Kite flying on Independence Day

Kite flying used to be a major part of the Independence Day celebrations when I was a kid. Strangely I never experienced the same phenomena once we left Lajpat Nagar.

I remember I could never fly a kite because for that you need both your hands free; when the kite is struggling to get up you rapidly need to pull the string using both the hands and then at strategic moments you have to release it. There are then quick successions of pulling and releasing until the kite is up in the air comfortably gliding on the air currents.

As I always had to hold a wall or my crutch with one hand in order to keep standing it was physically impossible for me to get the kite up. One of my friends used to fly the kite and then hand me the string later on because then it is easier to manipulate the kite.

We had a very naughty kid living in our line, and once he challenged me to have a kite fight with me. In Hindi it is called patang ladana: while flying kites you try to cut each other’s string. The one whose string is cut loses the contest and also the kite. When the kite comes to the ground whoever catches it owns it. There is a famous Hindi movie on the concept called Kati Patang.

Anyway, since it was not possible for me to rapidly pull the string or release it depending on the situation, I was in double mind. Those days I used to have a best friend. In fact I had a couple of very good friends and one of them was always there to get my kite up in the evenings when we normally went to the roof with our kites. So one of my friends prompted me to accept the challenge because none of us liked that naughty kid.

I accepted the challenge and soon that kid’s kite was up in the sky scurrying around with great speed and noise. He was known as a great kite flyer.

I balanced myself properly with my back firmly stuck in the place where two walls meet, holding the string tightly in my left hand. I could either release the string or I could use it like a saw by wildly flailing my arm. It was a windy day. On windy days you can move your kite extremely fast in various directions by pulling the string with force. That’s what the kid did. His kite was at quite a distance from my kite but it approached my kite with great speed as he kept on pulling the string. When I knew that his string would take just a few seconds to clash with my string I simply released my string and my kite started losing altitude as if the sting of my kite was already cut. After the swoop his kite started rising upwards with a sharp inclination and his string missed my string narrowly.

After reaching a certain height he directed the nose of the kite downwards and dived towards my kite. At this moment I stopped releasing my string and stretched my arm forward as much as possible. Since I had been releasing the string for a long time and then I suddenly stopped releasing it, the kite trapped a current and started rising upwards with good speed. Now that kid’s kite was coming down towards my kite and my kite was going up towards his kite. He was pulling his string furiously and he was already glancing sideways at me with a smile of victory while my friend stood behind me cursing in excitement.

At this particular moment my sharp eyesight was the only upper hand I had. I had the confidence that I would be able to see the exact point where both of our strings would meet. Just half a second before that I needed to pull my arm backwards and if it didn’t work it wouldn’t work it all. I did exactly that.

Just when the strings were about to meet I pulled my arm backwards with such a great force that I fell on the ground. My friend was laughing and clapping with uncontrollable happiness and that naughty kid was pulling fast to salvage as much string as he could. With the string cut, his kite was gradually going down. Since I had fallen my friend had taken over and held the string with one hand while trying to help me with the other.

About doing good to others

Not that we do good to make people feel obliged, but often the outcomes are surprising. We always extend a helping hand — in monitory terms and other ways — whenever we can, to people who need help. For instance, we got Vasudha’s previous maid (around 15 years) admitted to a school. My wife went with her, met with the principal, and bought books and dresses for her. When she was caught letting our daughter eat mud in the play ground (our daughter was around 3 then and the maid was simply looking at her while she ate the mud — Alka saw it from the balcony) we asked her to leave. Then we thought, well, let us give her another chance, as she had just started going to the school (she used to come to our place after her school and still we paid for the entire day) and we thought it’d be very bad for her to leave. So we called her back while she was leaving.

In the evening her mother came and said her daughter was not going to work for us as we had yelled at her. Although we told her the reason, she said no. Then my wife told her that her behavior was totally uncalled for, especially when we had got her daughter admitted to a school and we were still worried for her schooling despite how nasty she had acted. Her reply: I never asked you to get her admitted.

Although it never crossed our minds that they should feel grateful or something, but by this we were totally caught off guard.

Similarly there have been many incidents in which we were simply trying to help people and instead of acknowledging they simply made us feel as if we had to gain something out of it.

So, we’ve been quite confused. Why do people act so nasty even when you are so nice with them? I found a partial answer today while reading “Of Human Bondage” by Somerset Maugham.

Thinking he had done a generous thing, he had expected that Monsieur Ducroz would overwhelm him with expressions of gratitude. He was taken aback to find that the old teacher accepted the present as though it were his due. He was so young, he did not realise how much less is the sense of obligation in those who receive favours than in those who grant them.

“he did not realise how much less is the sense of obligation in those who receive favours than in those who grant them.”

Whether this is right or wrong, it does manage to explain a bit.