Tag Archives: ranting

To hurt or not to hurt, that is not the question…

I, like most people I know, hate uncertainty… and the few days after the biopsy, I spent my suspense-ridden time attempting to obtain more information about the possibilities that could emerge from the analysis. Big mistake, not everything I happened to read needed to be taken seriously, but the more I read, the scarier the picture began to look… finally my wait ended, but the agony didn’t…

Ok, the biopsy showed no malignancy…

I should be elated ! But I’m not…. the biopsy showed that P had cervical tuberculous lymphadenitis… for normal English-speaking human beings like us, It means possibly infectious glandular TB.

When the doctor described the treatment, we knew the battle lines had been drawn… The doctor spoke with as much compassion as he could, despite the insensitivity that decades of medical practice would have blessed him with. He said that P would have to take a six to nine month regimen of drugs that had side effects that could alter your body for good. He said that to address the immediate issue of swellings in the lymph
nodes, P would have to be given a Deep Intramuscular Injection of Streptomycin every day for 30 days. I thought I was going to break something. He said it would be something you could get used to, and that most people get through without major issues. I asked him what the major issues could be… and decided immediately that I shouldn’t have asked.

The journey home was silent… no tears… no emotions… no answers… just loads of questions that we didn’t want to ask…

We discussed a few things, tried to laugh at inconsequential things… failing miserably. This was the most uncomfortable evening of my life… I wanted to go somewhere else…I wished I could be teleported into outer space, where I could scream everything out of my system and not worry about sound travelling… but at that moment, I wasn’t important.

Now that we knew what we needed to do… there was little to talk about… I tried joking, laughing, singing, and each time ended up sneaking
out of the room to wipe my tears and drift back pretending I could continue my charade. P knew this wasn’t working, but played along, probably not wanting to show me how badly I was doing… it made me feel even more miserable, and later much later I sat in my balcony facing the empty hills that, before that night always seemed to cheer me up… this time nothing could change the way I was feeling. I made myself a drink and ended my evening with it… not because alcohol makes you feel better… because after a point, you feel less… I wanted to feel nothing…

The next day started as usual, I broke a toenail and bled all over the bedroom floor… Went to work and witnessed a spectacular short-circuit and a power-cut that made us shut shop and leave for the day… somehow nothing seemed to surprise, startle or stun me anymore…

The five minutes I spent last evening waiting for the injection to be administered will register as the five most unwanted minutes of my life…

No, I’m not depressed… I’m not sad… these are emotions you generally feel for and within yourself… I don’t know what this is… but it hurts… big
time…

You know if I had to make a wish right now, what it would be ?

I would wish I was the one feeling the pain now…

I don’t know how… but for the millionth time… I’m going to pull through… and I’m going to do everything I can, humanly possible or otherwise… to help P get back to normal… better than normal, goddammit… better than normal, I swear…

[Disclaimer: This is one of the posts from my first ever blog, that is now defunct. Though amateur, and in some cases silly, I did want to retain an archive of everything I have ever written in the blogosphere. Thank you for your patience]

A tale of two temples: Part I

When I started posting to this blog, I’d made a list of those topics that I wouldn’t write about… I guess all of us here have done that at some stage. Today I break that promise… by writing about a subject that has already earned more than it’s fair share of controversy and debate in recent times; “Religion”. No, I’m not a very religious person… In fact most people that know me personally would say that I wasn’t religious at all. But the truth is at times, like most people, whenever it is convenient, whenever I find myself in a situation that I think is not within my complete control, I do depend on an unknown force to help me pull through.

I was born into a Hindu household, but I respect Hinduism as a faith, more than a religion. In this, I respect Hinduism only as another pair of glasses people wear to depend on the unknown. Hinduism is the pair of glasses I have been brought up to wear, but I don’t think it gives me any better a view of God than Islam or Christianity or Sikhism or any other “religion”. Which explains why I’m most comfortable keeping my faith private, very private. This begs the question: if I want to keep my faith private, why in hell (or heaven) am I writing about it in a public space… Let me explain… Your’s truly does not visit a lot of temples. In fact, the last two times I did (in 3 years), I did it to keep somebody else’s commitments. Both of my experiences reinforce a point I’m trying to emphasize in this post. On Sunday, the 15th of May 2005, I decided to visit Kalighat Temple in the City of Joy. I went there only because I didn’t want to sound rude and spoilsport to the company I was keeping. Let’s just say that I have the experience to know that even today, most people do not look at a person who refuses to visit a place of worship, as a normal person. So they proposed and I went along… with an open mind. Besides, most “Citizens” of Joy highly recommended this visit. Anyway, this is what happened: As we stepped out of our car, three bare bodied “Pandits” with super-sized Tilaks insisted on escorting us inside the temple. We thought, “Well, they think we’re wide-eyed tourists… we’ll show them…” and said to them in a relatively authoritarian tone, “We’ll find our way around, thank you!”. I must have had a particularly uninviting expression on my face, which is probably why two of them grumbled and left. The one who remained calmly said “This is my job, don’t worry… this way please” and kept walking a couple of feet ahead of us, continuously warding off the flower-sellers, beggars and assorted junior pandits who seemed to be falling off the very walls of that entrance in front of us. He led us straight to a dingy shop in the corridor where there were assorted ingredients for a “Pooja” being sold for the “right” price and almost ordered us to keep our shoes there. I immediately did what a true Arian does in such situations and straightened up and told him to piss off and that I didn’t need his help to get around. As soon as I did that, a couple of people standing there made some noise about how you should not speak with anger with a “Pandit”, at which I lost it completely and asked them to piss off too, though in much more politically correct language. I swear I didn’t swear even once… we proceeded to another stall, took our shoes off and asked for the Pooja platter. The man at the stall proceeded to load a small 9-inch plate with about 20 kilos of stuff, including but not limited to, 2 coconuts, a huge garland, a box of vermilion, and hundreds of smaller unidentifiable trinkets. You couldn’t imagine how much stuff you could balance on a small metal plate 9 inches in diameter, but let’s not change the topic. I asked him how much the platter was for, and he cutely said, “We have a wide range, Rs.501, Rs.751…”, I cut him off and said “Rs. 51 please…”. I have never seen a quicker change of expression than at that instance. Suddenly, the contents of that platter miraculously reduced to just one coconut and a half-dried garland. I thought, “What the heck… it’s the feeling that counts”, and left towards where I thought the entrance of the temple was, but I was in for another surprise… I knew then that this was just the beginning…

“Walk this way…”, one of the hangers-on said, more like an order than a request, “and take your socks off too, they’ll get wet”. I looked quizzically at the man in the stall and he said, “He’s your Pandit… he’ll take you inside, you won’t have to stand in the queue!”. We followed, like ants in a straight line… As we entered a shabby corridor, one side of which was occupied by at least 10 beggars, most of who looked pretty affluent for beggars. As we walked inside, our Pandit whispered in my ear, “Your jewelry, your money and your cameras…. Be VERY careful!”. “Yeah, right, I thought… the only ambiguity is about who gets to rob me first…”.

The atmosphere inside the place was decidedly spooky, strange people lying motionless on the ground here and there, like dead… several pandits staring knives and daggers at us. The irritation I was feeling was overwhelming as compared to the spookiness, and faith was nowhere in the picture. As we walked around a smallish, very dirty building, I noticed… there was NO queue… “Sucker…”, I told myself, ”but what the heck, the faster I’m through this, the better.”. He led us to a closed door, a man sitting beside it, apparently the Pandit in charge of worshipping whatever was behind that door (We were later told that was the sanctum sanctorum). The Pandit asked us to recite a few mantras after him and noticeably accelerated proceedings after looking at the suspicious way in which I was staring at him. Trust me, I have heard Sanskrit and Bengali before, but whatever he was muttering sounded like it was straight from Qo’nos!

A few seconds later, he borrowed a coconut from our platter, repeated some of the gibberish, sprinkled it with some vermilion and said the first intelligible thing in several minutes, “Rs. 501 please…”. This time, I thought I’d take it cool, and took out a 50-rupee note and placed it on the coconut. The respected Pandit took the note and threw it back at me… and said, “If you can’t honor God, why do you come here?”. Seething, I asked him, “What does a poor man do here?”, and he said, “Even the poor pay more…”. I said, “What difference does it make? God has no use for money… and you look rich enough already!”, and was immediately asked by those with me to shut up… eventually I didn’t pay him more than Rs. 51, but I was too sore to continue this any further… but my torture didn’t end there…

By now I was tiring of being the pain in the ass for everybody around but for some reason, I couldn’t get myself to think that it was all right to shower money on people masquerading as agents of God. I was convinced it was wrong to do so… and my conviction was strengthened quickly by what happened immediately after. The Pandit escorting us told me it was not a good thing to question age-old rituals and the guardians of the same. I didn’t argue, only because by now, I was tired of being the only cynic around. We went around another small, even dirtier building, the gates to which were locked, but there were at least three or four people lying on the floor inside, making me wonder how they got inside in the first place. By now, the place had started to resemble the aftermath of a wild rave party, with people lying around the place in meth, coke or ecstasy induced slumber. There, a fat dude, again with a larger-than-life Tilak on his forehead, called us to another door, with a few stairs leading to it. We were made to stand on the stairs, three abreast, and after some more gibberish, we were told by our escort that the fat dude was the chief Pandit in the temple and if he performs our Pooja, any wish we make could be realized. A few seconds later, from the corner of my eye, I noticed a few other people undergoing the same treatment and heard, to my surprise, their escort telling them that the man in front of them was the head Pandit of the temple!

I played along, by now, all religious thoughts banished from my mind. Never before, I tell you, had I felt so atheist in my life, but why blame God for what his representatives do? Then, something right out of a Hindi film happened! A man walked up behind us, and passed on a 500-rupee note to the Pandit and said, “Mr. Anil Chaudary sent this for a Pooja”. The Pandit, temporarily interrupting proceedings, went on a little tirade complaining about how he does not do Poojas with such small offerings. Then, nonchalantly, his point made, he continued and some more mantras later, asked me to place some money on top of the coconut he was holding. I proceeded to place Rs.101 on his palm, and he looked at me like I was covered in something green and slimy and said, “You should not insult the Gods like this, we don’t even accept anything less than Rs.1001, at least do more than this! ”, showing me the 500-rupee note that the imaginary “Mr. Chaudary” had sent. I told him I couldn’t better that and this time, I was being absolutely honest… I hadn’t expected this to be such an expensive trip and had left my money in the car. Our man proceeded to lecture me about how he was the head Pandit of the place and if we couldn’t afford him we shouldn’t have come to him in the first place. He also happened to tell off our escort for bringing such cheap devotees to him. I told him, “I didn’t come here to meet the top Pandit, I came here to look for God, like all other devotees… so if you feel heartbroken about this, sorry but you’re not any more or less important to me than any of the others here…”.

I didn’t want to lecture him, particularly because that’s my profession and I hate it when I get into a lecture, especially when I’m not being paid for it. I was boiling inside by now, so I told him to give us the Pooja offering so we could leave. As we left, we went to the stall to fetch our footwear, and I paid the stall-owner the promised Rs. 50, when our escort said, “Sir, give me Rs.100 too, I ensured you didn’t have to take the queue”. I was stunned. I asked him “What queue?”, a question he didn’t answer but instead said, “I also took you to the head Pandit, and not many people have the good fortune of getting their Pooja done by him”. I said ”You’re lucky we’re near a temple, because otherwise you’d have been on the floor, counting the teeth that fell out of your mouth when I whacked your face. Take what I’m giving you and shut up… before I lose whatever decency I have left in me…”.

I walked off with thoughts in my mind of how long it’s been since I’ve spoken to anybody in that tone, but I was really over the edge by then. I walked away from that place feeling ashamed, frustrated, angry, disillusioned, violent and embarrassed, all at the same time, but definitely not anything I expected to feel after a close encounter with something so celestial. And looking back, I now realize just how violent and rebellious that hour-long trip down salvation alley made me feel. I had never felt this way before, and I hope I will never have to. I’ve come close to feeling like this, though. That was about a year ago at another temple, one that was much smaller and lesser known than the Kalighat temple, several thousand miles away to the west coast of the country. But more on that in part II

One thing I just realized is that, at the end of the day at Kalighat, after all the racket and the emotions involved, we eventually never got to see the Goddess… aint that strange ?

[Disclaimer: This is one of the posts from my first ever blog, that is now defunct. Though amateur, and in some cases silly, I did want to retain an archive of everything I have ever written in the blogosphere. Thank you for your patience]

Time Flies when you’re having fun…

That should read: MY time flies when YOU‘re having fun… I’m back to the other side of the country after an ultra-eventful weekend back home. I wrote before I left about how pleased I was about this happening… On my return here, however, I don’t really know if it was really worth it… I hardly found enough time to do anything I wanted. This morning I woke up really really early at home wondering where I was… and for the first time in my life, praying that I didn’t have to go. It’s strange because I’m the kind of person who’d happily hop onto any kind of transport to travel anywhere as long as I got to be on my own… That was a few months ago…

Now, after 12 flights in one month, across the length and the breadth of the subcontinent, and this coming in a year that has seen me travel over 30 times to as many as 6 countries. That should keep any wanderer satisfied, shouldn’t it? Well, among the million things I’m feeling right now, satisfied is not one of the adjectives I would use to describe any one of them. Better words are tired, drawn, burnt-out, irritable, irritating, confused, exhausted… HOMESICK etc. etc…

I hate that I had to add HOMESICK to the list above… at one stage in my life, I would have thought it extremely insulting for anyone to have asked me if I was homesick… I pride myself on my fierce independence and my insatiable wanderlust. I still think of myself as a nomad, traveling always excites me… but today, after a 2 hour 30 minute flight across the country on Business Class, I feel deprived.

It’s not that when I’m back home or close to home, life is always perfect. Well it’s anything but. Still, for some strange reason, sometimes, I
feel good about traveling only for the high that I associate with coming back, something like the after-effects of abstinence…

Maybe it’s got something to do with how work has taken over most parts of my life, maybe it’s got something to do with repetition, monotony, but I still find my work fun… it’s a passion for me, and I think it doesn’t look like that’s going to change very soon…

It almost makes me cry when I think about things I haven’t done in a long time… hosting a party at home with friends in whose company you
tend to forget the artificiality of real life, walk through the clouds watching the raindrops forming around you and falling so gently that you get wet without even feeling it, take my bike out and ride at 125kmph with the wind blowing in my hair and the adrenaline pumping in my veins… watch a movie that makes me laugh… or cry with somebody I want to laugh or cry with… wake up at 12 in the afternoon only to go back to sleep for another hour and not end up feeling guilty about it… the list is endless…

No, I’m not depressed… although I know this post makes it difficult to believe… No I’m not depressed, I know, trust me, I’ve been depressed before and I know how it feels…

I’m determined… to dream about things I love doing, and things I would love to do… I’m even more determined to chase those dreams till they become real.

And I think one of the many things that will help me is to decide to do what I want to do more often than those things that I have to do…

Till then, back to work…

[Disclaimer: This is one of the posts from my first ever blog, that is now defunct. Though amateur, and in some cases silly, I did want to retain an archive of everything I have ever written in the blogosphere. Thank you for your patience]

Technophiles or techno-idiots?

In the last 10 years or so, our lives have become more and more dependent on technology. The PC, the World Wide Web, blogs etc. have all created this new kind of human being, that has 3 parts of the brain: namely, the right side, the left side and the wired side… It is the wired side that I’m concerned about. There are ways to determine how right-brained or left-brained one is. The outcome of such a test can help you decide whether you are better at creativity or logic. This information can then be used by an individual to decide, in everyday life, which situations one is best equipped to handle and more importantly which situations one is not as apt at handling. So, if you are told that you are left-brained, creativity is obviously not one of your strengths and if you’re right-brained, you’re not going to be as effective at reason and logic. Most people commonly accept this theory. I wish there was such realization about one’s basic aptitude for technology, a sort of a test for the wired side of your brain so that we humans could respect the limitations of our aptitude and use technology more responsibly. If that made you wonder why something as profound as that needs to qualify as a treatise on technology and why somebody like me wants to categorize the human race into several levels based on technological aptitude, allow me to explain. Most of us find ourselves extremely comfortable using a PC and basic functions like browsing the web, accessing electronic mail, installing our favorite applications and so forth. In the information era, most of us also pride ourselves on our knowledge of viruses, worms, Trojans, phishing and the like. And still, when was the last time you met somebody recently who has complained about spam, viruses, worms and dangerous attachments, someone who worried about their identity getting stolen and their bank accounts emptied? Even though I spend the most part of my day in a technology-centric environment, and even if I discount all the people I meet in my line of work, I still meet such people constantly, approximately, at the rate of one every couple of days. Though I understand their concern, and appreciate their level of awareness, I constantly find myself frustrated at what they themselves were doing (or not doing) about it. If you owned a weapon, would you limit your knowledge to understanding just how to use it, or would you also want to know ways to prevent it from being used against you or others? Why, then, do people find themselves not practicing what they know and preach about responsible computing? Somebody tell me why?
P.S.
This post is for anyone who likes talking of a new virus that’s spreading across the world when forwarding a nice looking screen-saver to his entire contact list… anyone who writes a blog slamming spammers and leaves his email id on the web for comments. If you think N*****M as the umbrella organization for software-oriented companies in India would be responsible about safe computing, dismiss those comforting thoughts, the N*****M website is super spammer-friendly, just don’t ask me how! This post has it’s origins in several tons of frustration I have accumulated in the last few months watching people unwittingly fall prey to hazards of the wired world, precipitated by watching a well managed (apparently) 100 PC network, collapse before my eyes to a measly worm that is happily spreading around the place under our noses.

[Disclaimer: This is one of the posts from my first ever blog, that is now defunct. Though amateur, and in some cases silly, I did want to retain an archive of everything I have ever written in the blogosphere. Thank you for your patience]