She’s India

India is Gandhi, Patel, Shashtri and Nehru

India is Sadbhavna, Satya, Swaraj and Ahimsa

India  is Kashi, Kali, Jaganath and Meenakshi

India is Shivaji, Akbar, Ashoka and Babur

India is St. Francis Xavier, Sri Krishna and Sheik Salim Chishti

She is the towering figure of Indira, Vajpayee and Rajiv, India is the snow capped Himalayas, She is the hot sands of the Thar and the Tigress of the Sundarbans

India is the houseboats on Dal Lake, the Saffron fields of Kashmir and the Tea gardens of Assam

India is Xacuti,Khosha,Zhutho and Dhansak

She is Shah Jahan’s Peacock throne, She’s also the Kohinoor.

India is the music coming out from Anglo-Indian houses, She’s the sound of Azaan mixed with the  sound of temple bells.

India is Ruskin Bond’s novels and the passion of Jim Corbett, She is Kalam, Azad, Bose and Tagore.

She’s also Kabir, Babasaheb, Phule and Guru Nanak

She’s the mighty waves of the Indian ocean and the mighty thoughts of Vivekananda, She’s Basavanna, Adi Shankara and Mirabai

She’s Buddha,She’s Mahavira and She’s also Mother Teresa

She’s the Periera’s, the Kapoor’s, Malik’s, Khan’s the Ahoms, the Khasis, the Iranis and the Colaço’s

India is the Gopura of the Virupaksha temple, She’s the Minarets of the Taj Mahal and the white façade of Velankanni, She’s the Tomb of Humayun, the serenity of Kedarnath and the bustle of Bombay.

India is RK Lakshman, Malgudi and Mahabharata

She’s the Brahmaputra ,She’s also the Hooghly.

She is a Bodo, She’s a Karbi, She’s a Mizo,She’s a Garo. She’s also a Sentilesse, and a Santhal.

India is in Birmingham,Brampton, Burma and other far away lands like Malaya, Singapore and Africa.

She’s the Sitar playing in the background of a Beatles song, She’s the Ghazals of Rafi and Chants of Om.

India is  an old structural Temple,  A beautiful Anglican church and a grand Mosque, grander than even the grandest

She’s the Qutub Minar, the Stupa at Sanchi and the Mahals of Jaipur

She’s the loud music of a wedding procession, She’s the serenity of Coorg, She’s also the chirping of the bulbul

India is not Hatred, Bigotry, Violence or Intolerance

She is soothing, peaceful and calm

She’s a champion of Democracy, Justice and Hope

India is Inclusive, Secular and Tolerant towards all

India is home to me and a billion more.

If you like the above post feel free to share this! Do let me know in the comments if you did not  get the meaning of any line, will be happy to explain!

I went for a haircut

Like many others, I haven’t cut my hair since the lockdown, while it was very tempting to try cutting it at home, I resisted the urge, I told myself- what if they suddenly open the lockdown, you will have to step outside and you’ll have a disaster of a haircut, don’t risk it! 

Fortunately, the state where I live allowed salons and barber shops to reopen, I wore a mask and armed myself with lots of sanitizer and bravely went for a haircut, I had read about various precautions I had to take and I went ahead. Anyone who has experienced an Indian summer will tell you how good it feels to cut your hair!

 

The next thirty minutes changed how I viewed life and the virus itself. My hair cut goes to guy is  Mark, he’s from the North East of India and moved to Bangalore many years ago, he and his wife pooled all their savings and started this salon a few years ago, ever since then I’ve only trusted him with my precious hair. His story is what I call the ‘Indian Dream’. He hails from a tiny hamlet, a beautiful place nestled in the Hills of the North- East but he wanted more, he wanted to get out his comfort zone and start an adventure, he then learnt the basics of haircutting and styling and soon moved to Bangalore, in the South of India. What makes this story more beautiful is that the language, culture and the conditions in a big city like Bangalore are  very different than what it was like in his hometown, yet he worked hard, tried his best to learn a few words of the local language and he made friends- many friends and soon this became his home. 

 

Like always he was happy to see me, he asked me how I was but then quickly told me not to enter the saloon, he then took out a temperature gun and quickly tested me, only then was I welcomed inside. He felt all too guilty about this, he told me “I wish I didn’t have to do that! Feels like I don’t trust you!” But I was okay with that, it made me feel safer. He was wearing a mask and so was I, lucky for me he couldn’t see my huge grin, how happy I was to be back, it felt good to behave normal again. 

 

His wife takes care of the ladies’ section of the saloon, she too is very hardworking, she’s normally the one who has control over the music and she never lets me down in that department- Guns ‘n’ roses, Southern Gospel music, Green day, Bollywood,  Bee Gees. Both of them have literally built this saloon, one brick at a time, they went from being the only employees to employing about 3 other people, their saloon is now a household name in my neighbourhood, they are known to be honest and good people, the type of people who have made this country what it is. 

 

I took my seat and the haircut started, normally I would have had to wait for a bit, their saloon would always have a wait time, I would normally pick up a random men’s magazine and browse through the pages and try to make sense of the articles. This time was different, I was the only one. As I sat down I remembered the day I once came for a haircut late in the evening, I was their last client that day, just as I was done, it started to pour heavily outside, Mark offered me some tea and egg puffs from the Bakery downstairs, he assured me that I could sit on the couch and wait till it became better, they anyway had to clean up the saloon. This time however the Bakery was long closed, no tea, no rain, no egg puffs. Just me, my mask and a lot of sanitizer. 

 

As he cut my hair, I asked him how he was doing, “I was okay for the first month of the lockdown sir, but things got hard after that, I don’t know how long we can survive with no customers coming in”. I was terrified at the prospect of his saloon closing down, but deep down I knew this could be reality sooner or later-  things had to change. 

At the point I had walked in, his  saloon had been open for one day and six hours and I was his  second client. The disparity was stark, he serviced nearly thirty  clients a day normally, much more on the weekends, now it was a struggle to get one. 

 

I always took Mark’s haircuts for granted, never had it crossed my mind that a tiny virus could come in-between me and a haircut. His saloon was always full of laughter, he always made it a point to chat with his clients, he would ask me random questions in a quest to keep me engaged- What did you eat sir? Have you read the new Shashi Tharoor book?  Sometimes he would invite me to his village- “You should come to my village one day sir, it’s beautiful! I will make sure you are served the best roast pork you have ever eaten!” And yet sometimes he would scold me-” Sir, you need to oil your hair more!” “Sir, don’t use so much shampoo!” But today there was a gloomy  silence, he asked me just the basics- “What style do you want sir”. 

 

He constantly sanitized his hands and made sure I was comfortable, he would normally offer some water but couldn’t due to the new protocol,It never occurred to me that a simple haircut would need so many extra fillings just to make sure it was safe! But I was happy to do everything he asked, I’m not going to deny that this virus is a dangerous one. 

He was soon done and thanked me for coming, he then asked me if I could spread the word that his saloon was open again for business and they were taking all necessary measures. I waved to him and soon left.

I walked away from the Saloon hoping that it would survive. This virus has done much more than just keeping people at  home, it has destroyed millions of small scale neighbourhood businesses across the world. I always feel happier when I spend my money at family run businesses because I know that my money is ensuring that a family stays happy, there’s always a more personal connection we have with small businesses than we will ever have with large ones. Screenshot_20200514-232327

As the world slowly reopens in the next few months, let us promise to visit and help out our neighbourhood stores and businesses, they are the real community. People like Mark have never cheated or disrespected us, they’ve always given us honest and homely service. I know for a fact that I can go get a haircut at his place and tell him I forgot my wallet and I’ll be right back, I could never do this if it wasn’t for the personal connection we have. They’ve always been there for us, happy to help us whenever we have needed them and now it’s our turn to return this favour. Be kind to them, allow them to open up steadily, don’t get mad at them when they make small mistakes, recommend them to friends and family and together we can get out of  this mess. Many of them have adapted- many offer home deliveries and contact-less delivery, they have tried to maintain the highest standards of safety and hygiene but don’t support them because of this, support them because they are our friends, they are people we wave to when we walk past, they are the very cornerstone of our country’s progress.

 

COVID-19 Advisory

The world is undoubtedly facing an unprecedented crisis, across the world Governments have advised people to take a number of precautions. As responsible citizens of the world, it’s our duty to be cautious and to take recommended precautions. In times like this, let us put our full faith in Science and let us take a moment to thank our doctors, nurses, health care workers and everyone else involved in the fight against this virus.  As a responsible blogger, I’m sharing WHO’s advisory in the hope that people will pay more attention to it.  Let us show more kindness in these dark times and let us all be more responsible. Stay Safe!

Please click the following link for the most accurate and detailed advisory from WHO-

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public

And I can’t stress on this enough!-

Wash your hands 🙌🏻
Wash your hands 🖐🏻
Wash your hands👋🏼
Wash your hands👐🏼
Wash your hands🤚🏻
Wash your hands🤝🏼
Wash your hands👐🏼
Wash your hands🤲🏻
Wash your hands🙌🏻
Wash your hands 🙌🏻
Wash your hands 🖐🏻
Wash your hands👋🏼
Wash your hands👐🏼
Wash your hands🤚🏻
Wash your hands🤝🏼
Wash your hands👐🏼
Wash your hands🤲🏻
Wash your hands🙌🏻
Wash your hands 🙌🏻
Wash your hands 🖐🏻
Wash your hands👋🏼
Wash your hands👐🏼
Wash your hands🤚🏻
Wash your hands🤝🏼
Wash your hands👐🏼
Wash your hands🤲🏻
Wash your hands🙌🏻
Wash your hands 🙌🏻
Wash your hands 🖐🏻
Wash your hands👋🏼
Wash your hands👐🏼
Wash your hands🤚🏻
Wash your hands🤝🏼
Wash your hands👐🏼
Wash your hands🤲🏻
Wash your hands🙌🏻

Is Post-Modernism still relevant?

Post-Modernism is an ideology which came up right after the industrial revolution, it’s an ideology which is based on the basic tenant that there is no meta narrative, all knowledge is partial and nothing is absolute. It first emerged in the art and literary circles and then slowly spread to other spheres. Post-Modernists believe that all truth is subject to social and economic conditions, they reject anything universal or binary. 

In the 21st century, debates over Post-Modernism have erupted once again, we face several issues and the way to solve many of them could be rootes in Post-Modernist thought  but again there are questions about this, can we find a middle ground to this, after all the rejection of extremes would mean a middle ground would work right?

Diversity is the greatest thing about the human race, the fact that we can all be so different yet similar in so many ways is a magical fact, but what happens when each community or group starts believing that they are superior?  The Holocaust for example was carried out with this argument, that one race was superior to another. Post- Modernism believes that all knowledge is local and partial, this basically implies that every community, creed, race, religion or group can have their own identity and ALL of these identities will be valid, no group would be considered inferior because no single group is considered superior, all truths are equally important. Multiculturalism is therefore Post-Mordernist. 

Post-Modernism rejects absolutism, which would ensure dictators, tyrants and despots who believe that they have all the answers will be rejected, a society  based on Post-Modernism would be based on consensus, dialogue and debate. Hitler for example believed that he and he alone had all the answers, he basically narrowed his people’s vision to view the world, such absolutism is rampant in the 21st century . Such absolute views would only lead to war, bloodshed and more war. My way or your way, as long as there is a way, it’s alright. 

Post-Modernism allows inclusion, our world today is a cruel world for those with disabilities, for those standing at the end of the line, we live in an increasingly exclusionary world, a world where certain  groups find themselves isolated and left out, thousands of them are denied jobs, shelter and even basic resources to even survive,in a Post-Modernist society, there would be room for communities like these because it forces us to accept other options and to allow other options to thrive even if we don’t agree with them. Our planet can’t be viewed only in black or only in white, we are black, white, yellow and red and blue and green and every other colour in the spectrum.

 

Our education system is exactly where we need Post-Morderism, our education systems have been designed in such a way that only students who fit into a particular mould will do well but what happens to those who don’t fit into this mould? What happens when those diagnosed with autism or dyslexia can’t fit into the mould? Our current system would isolate, humiliate and belittle them because it’s based on a rigid doctrine. Flexibility is another key Post-Modern concept, a concept which would allow those who don’t with the flow to reach the finish line. 

 

Post-Modernism also allows different definitions of concepts like tradition and morality, what is considered moral for you may not be moral for me, thus we could have different notions of morality and we could still coexist, there need not be one universal code of morality because again this would only lead to more conflict. Tradition too is a very fluid concept. Your father may seem traditional to you and your grandfather may seem traditional to your father, with time, the defenition of tradition may change and this is alright, as long as your notion of tradition does not stop someone else from practicing his notion of tradition, they can coexist.

 

Post-Modernism in simple terms is not singular, it’s plural, a plurality of faiths, religions, creeds, ideologies, belfies, truths and cultures, a Post-Modernist society would be accepting and tolerant. I may not agree with you but I care about you, I may not like what you’re saying but I will accept you, I may not look like you or eat like you or speak like you but we can still be friends, you could worship in any way you want, you can wear any dress you want, you can speak any language you want and we can all coexist. 

 

Post-Modernism however isn’t  a perfect ideology, it needs to be adapted into the 21st century and it needs a lot of evolution but the basic values of Post-Modernism can offer all of us valuable guide points on how to navigate these troubled times of conflict and chaos, people have argued that Post-Modernism is abstract , vague and filled with questions, but the Post-Modern way offers all of us a chance to discuss and debate over the issues we face. Climate change for example can’t have one universal solution, it’s going to take local knowledge and local solutions to combat climate change, Post-Modernism can help us with issues like these, issues which can’t be solved by one universal solution. 

Can we look beyond the problems of Post-Modernism or are we going to conceptualize a post Post-Moodern era ? Let me know in the comment section below! 

 

Audi Alteram Partem

Audi Alteram Partem

 

While the title of this piece is a famous Legal phrase translating to ‘Listen to the other side’, this piece isn’t related to Law in any way at all, this piece is more about humans and  the urgent need to hear the other side. 

(Audi alteram partem (or audiatur et altera pars) is a Latin phrase meaning “listen to the other side”, or “let the other side be heard as well”. It is the principle that no person should be judged without a fair hearing in which each party is given the opportunity to respond to the evidence against them)

We unfortunately live in  a very polarized world, a world where the political has become the personal, a world where people seldom have the patience to listen to opinions which aren’t similar to theirs, it’s obviously very convenient for us to shush opinions which we don’t like, stay away from people who we know aren’t going to have similar positions like we do, unfriend people who don’t hold the same views and so on but we don’t  realize the danger of this. 

 

When we refuse to listen to other opinions, we create delicate bubbles for ourselves, while bubbles may be pretty to watch, carelessly floating in the air, they burst after a point. When we start to go across the aisle and reach out to people who we are certain don’t have the same opinions as us, we begin to learn , we grow as human beings and we eventually come to the conclusion that no ideology, opinion, view or argument is larger than humanity. 

 

It’s normal human nature to stay away from people who oppose our views, I too turn off the volume when politicians I don’t like come on television, I’ve had several heated arguments with people with whom  I didn’t agree with, I have unfriended these people and I was certain that my truth was the only truth. While my truth may be the best truth, I needed to realize that my truth is the best truth for me, other people may think otherwise- this is perfectly normal. Unless I start having conversations with people who may not like my truth, I will never understand how the world works, I will never understand human relationships and I certainly never understand humanity. The more I become deaf to other views, the more I isolate myself from society, the more I become radical in my opinion and if history is a lesson, radical views have never worked.

 

When I look back and read history, I can point out several instances where disastrous things have occurred simply because people have refused to hear the other side, a good example would be Napoleon, he was quite confident that he could annex Russia , he brushed aside all dissent and refused to listen to anyone who was against his view  and went on to invade Russia- unfortunately he picked the wrong month to invade Russia and the famous harsh Russian winter crushed his army. Hitler too would go on to do the same several years later and fail. Other examples would include Mussolini, Idi Amin and hitting closer to home- Mohammed Bin Tuglaq, the great Delhi Sultan who is now synonymous with failure, indecisiveness and stupidity. All these people failed or are viewed in a bad light because they refused to follow the famous Latin Maxim- Audi Alteram Partem, they constantly told themselves that their stories, views and opinions were the only ones that existed, they didn’t allow any room for dissent and this in turn blinded them from viewing the correct point of view. 

 

 We need to remember that the other side may say uncomfortable things, they will irritate you, anger you and make you feel like punching a wall but remember it’s always better to hear them out than to assume what they may say, don’t allow assumptions to become the basis of your argument, you will lose. Let me make it clear that by hearing the other side out, it does not mean you are compromising on your principles. Your ideology or your position won’t blur simply because you heard the other person’s view, it only means that you are a human being who’s tolerant to other views. 

 

So I ask all of you to hear other people out, hear out people who don’t have the same ideology as you, hear out people who don’t talk like you, hear out people who sound silly, who sound smart, who wear clothes you would never buy, hear out marginalised groups, hear out your fiercest critic, your best friend, your neighbour and anyone else who speaks to you because only then will you start understanding humans, you will appreciate the beauty of democracy, you’ll grow as a human being and above all, you’ll shake the world in your own way. In the midst of division, hatred and polarization, may we all build bridges of understanding, inclusion and reason. Audi Alteram Partem. Always.

Let’s make this world a better place

Last Christmas I wrote a small passage of what I’d like from Santa-

Dear Santa
This year I hope you’re kind to those without homes, to those without food and to those stuck in war zones, I hope you give peace to the kids stuck in wars, I hope you help those in the periphery of our society, I hope you help the marginalized and the weak. I hope you give medicines to the poor and warm blankets to the men on the road. I hope you bring love to those with hatred towards other groups
In turn I promise you I’ll do my bit and stand up for these people whenever and wherever I can

 

This year I’ve decided to do a small fundraiser for an organization called U&I. I’ve been teaching at a school aided by U&I and they mainly work with providing quality education to underprivileged children across India

 

I’m sharing the details of the same below, hope you will take some time off to read it and spread the word and if you can chip in a bit!

Details here-

Hi,  Thanks for stopping by to read about how I’m changing lives – and how you can help! I’ve been volunteering with U&I’s Learning Center, Nirmala Vidyalaya, in Bangalore for the past year. The Learning Center caters to the academic needs of 39 underprivileged children. Volunteers like me spend 2.5 hours twice a week teaching the children English and other subjects. We focus on their wholesome development and conduct library se…https://heroup2019.ketto.org/fundraiser/shreyas-wh91v?utm_source=internal&utm_medium=whatsappShare&utm_campaign=shreyas-wh91v&utm_content=d4f4f9628b61cdede2274cd6612f54bf&shby=1

*Donate Now to help Shreyas Isaac* –

https://heroup2019.ketto.org/contribute/contribute.php?fmd_id=139490&fmd_sc_id=&utm_source=internal&utm_medium=whatsappShare&utm_campaign=shreyas-wh91v&utm_content=d4f4f9628b61cdede2274cd6612f54bf

 

Merry Christmas 🙂