Wednesday, November 8, 2017
The October Revolution(s)
The road to hell is paved with good intentions and it behooves us on certain anniversaries to reflect how that innocuous path taken in the beginning led right to the sulfurous pits of fire. And no I am not referring to the recent history of demonetization and its appalling aftermath. I am jogging your memory back to a similar economic terrorism let loose on an unsuspecting population based on the noble ideals of social equity and punishing corruption.
A hundred years ago, back in 1917, there was a large country, riven with rifts between the devastatingly poverty ridden majority populace who lived hand to mouth existence as serfs and the fat cats who ruled over them by colluding with those in power, all of which was centered around a single family rule. Sounds bizarrely similar to current India and a certain congress party? No, I am talking about imperial Russia and the ruling tsar family. There was even a secret advisor who had the ear of the empress like a certain pc of the UPA government who was widely blamed for all the illogic laws affecting the poor populace and whose ill-intentioned advice was responsible for the majority of the anti-people edicts which so poisoned the serfs and peasants against the then ruling government of the tsar.
History, shows again and again that rulers who listen to the backroom boys with no ear to the ground among the people are the ones who end up with all the opprobrium and hate of the people while the backroom manipulators escape with their reputation’s untarnished to serve another set of rulers again. Meanwhile the long suffering poor and downtrodden looked out for a messiah, even if he appears to be a snake-oil specialist to all un-blinkered realists and a charismatic demagogue appeared on the horizon – someone who promised to end the single family rule and put the fat cat capitalists in jail. The October revolution happened and blood flowed all over Russia. The imperial family was decimated, those close to the tsar were hounded out of Russia and all looked rosy.
But. As a corollary to the main show of political freedom, the new rulers of Russia, Lenin and his thug, Stalin, a backroom manipulator of the party, who together ruled over the government and the party decided they needed a grand economic narrative, something to change the course of history and etch their names in gold for posterity. So despite the best advices from a host of economic experts, the two not-so-wise men of Russia decided to implement socialism in one stroke, overnight. Eliminate private property by converting it all into public property and hence destroying the ill-gotten gains of the corrupt with one surgical strike. Anyone who protested the illogicity of such drastic action and its obvious effect on the economy were labelled anti-nationals and either shot or sent into re-education camps in Siberia, something which has thankfully not happened over here.
The move to destroy all property ownership was received with acclaim by the poor and downtrodden as they were happy (vicariously) to see the rich suffer the same fate as themselves, much similar to a hundred years later when everyone was happy about their neighbors and dog queuing up outside the atm’s to receive two, two thousand rupee notes a day from the ration shop turned ATM’s. But such vicarious pleasure at the sufferings of others only offers temporary gratification and does not feed the belly. The economy took a nose dive and crash landed so badly that the starving masses instead of getting their bellies filled just had new competition for scarce resources in the form of the newly poor and desperate. These were mostly the middle class and the intellectuals who were treated with contempt and anathema by the illiterate thugs now in power and who had always harbored a secret envy of the educated middle class who had till then somehow managed to just about stay above the poverty line.
And as a corollary, the uber-rich managed to flee the country with their ill-gotten gains, courtesy the corrupt amongst the new ruling dispensation to safe havens in Great Britain aka how Vijay Mallaya and Lalit Modi fled a 100 years later. The thugs of the ruling party, local commissars who let their petty power go their heads, stifled dissent in the name of patriotism, destroyed all individual initiative in the name of progress and instituted a widespread surveillance system to root out those desperate enough to speak the truth and all this in the name of doing good to the country.
And Russia instead of getting the change they hoped for, went into the dark ages for a hundred years with countless millions dying of food shortages and official apathy while the rulers celebrated each anniversary with pomp and pageantry and self-pats on the backs for achieving equality and egalitarianism. The economic experts re-wrote fudged data numbers showing bountiful harvests even as millions were slowly starving. The newspapers , the paid media of those times, reported the obviously false data as verified news and sang paeans to the rulers and everything looked hunky-dory till it all came crashing down almost overnight and all the lies were exposed for what they were, mere self-delusion.
The October Revolution of 1917 has now been universally condemned by history as a colossal failure led by megalomaniacal rulers who brooked no dissent in their belief in their own infallibility. History has a way of surprising us when it repeats itself, first as a tragedy and subsequently as a farce. To conclude, I can only repeat the cliché that those who don’t learn from history are condemned to repeat it. Unfortunately we didn’t and we did. I rest.
Monday, October 30, 2017
The Brave Cowards
I recently finished a book called “Origin” by author Dan Brown which stars his favorite hero the Symbologist Robert Langdon. Langdon is not your conventional hero who goes all out swinging right from the first page. He is far more realistic and like the majority of us someone who survives (shivering and cursing) being thrust into situations not of his making. He admits his lack of guts and never hesitates to use his brain instead of brawn. And it’s refreshing to read about a mainstream character from a bestselling author who refuses to be brave all the time. Most literary heroes would never admit to any doubts about their lack of guts. Offhand I can’t recall a single major character from any bestseller who admits to fear or acts a coward, without a redemption story. If at all a character is written like that- he becomes a side-kick or comedy relief like Neville Longbottom of the Harry Potter series who ends up becoming a brave heart (of course) by the end of book in a mandatory plot twist. All of which made me wonder whether bravery is synonymous with courage? And my conclusion was that both are as different as chalk and cheese and I will now explain why, in a long blog post guaranteed to bore you to tears.
In my younger days (damn…those feel like eons ago) I used to watch a cartoon series on Tv called “Courage the cowardly dog”. It was one of my favorites along with Oggy and the cockroaches, Heidi and Chotta Bhim. Anyway the premise of the show was that the dog Courage, contrary to his name, was a bit of a coward and afraid of pretty much everything under the sun. But as luck (bad luck) would have it, in every episode he would have to face one of his worst fears and battle it to save his beloved owner. The moral of the cartoon series was on how love (for others) makes us conquer our worst fears and act courageously. One of my takeaways from the ‘toon was that no matter how much of a coward you are, sometimes you just have to stand your ground and face your fears without retreating. The reason may be immaterial but when you have no option to run and hide you are called brave and only you know the true extent of your knees quaking under the table. Which brings me to the concept of bravery.
When people say so and so is brave what I assume is that the said person is fearless and has always been fearless and has a track record of being fearless. These must be exceptionally gifted people who have never seen failure I suppose. Or never ever entertain the thought of failure in their lives. Their confidence in themselves, courtesy their upbringing or maybe their socio-economic status or their lifestyle, must brook no option of their even losing or being humiliated in public or god forbid getting maimed in limb or life. But unfortunately for average people like you and I with normal middle class upbringing there is no such over-arching self confidence in our success rates. We are the ones who have been trained to walk on pavements, look both ways on the road before crossing even if it’s a zebra crossing with red lights on etc. We are psychologically trained to admit that shit happens in our lives despite our best precautions. For us it’s never a question of being brave all the time – there is no absence of fear from our lives where it lurks just under the surface. It’s merely a fact of conquering fear enough to step out and do what is necessary despite admitting that our best may not be enough and the probability is great that we are going to fail. And that’s why I rate courageous people better than brave people. It’s easier to accomplish things in the absence of fear, but conquering fear? Ha… that takes a lot of courage.
To end this post, I would like to paraphrase a quote from Tolkien “the bravest step he took was the first one from his doorstep”. Indeed, for a hobbit the fear of leaving the safety of his snug house must have looked more daunting than facing those orcs or beasts or even the might of mordor. And likewise every step we take out of our houses in the morning is a badge of courage for all of us naturally cowardly people. Would you agree?
Friday, September 29, 2017
Absent Empathy and Low Emotional Quotient
When you are sick and at home a'bed you have time, lots of time, to rehash the past and go revisit all those wounds which scarred you over the course of your life. Although not a healthy practice in everyday life, sometimes it does become necessary to reopen old scabs and inspect the wounds underneath, to stare at and learn something from past errors. The most worrisome thing is when you rehash the past and find that you haven’t learned anything at all from it but have kept on doing the same mistake again and again. And that is something I find I am guilty of. I have never seemed to have learnt from my mistakes. All of my actions, say for instance in my relationships, seem to follow a predictable pattern. Invariably I have been associated with people (let’s leave it that) who have been barely stable psychologically spanning the entire spectrum right up to frank psychopaths. I could give specific instances with examples, but as that wouldn't serve any purpose other than titillating you the reader- let me pass lightly over all those unsavory types with overactive imaginations who read too much into casual things and couldn't deal with reality but tended to lash out at me for not acting up to their imaginary expectations.
After much thought into why I repeatedly attract psychos towards me – I can only think of two reasons- either I am one of them too (if I were, would I know it?) or it’s because of my innate empathy- my high quotient of emotional intelligence which makes me sympathetic towards those who are barely there psychologically. Unfortunately no good deed goes unpunished and those very same unstable characters that I alone am able to tolerate their antics of, react like the asp cladded to the chest and tend to bite me as soon as they can and poison my peace of mind. So in retrospect I think I would have been better off if I had behaved insensitively right from the beginning and been the kind of self-centered asshole most men are when it comes to women. Being sensitive has its punishment- it attracts the wrong types who subsequently manage to make life hell for the sensitive person. It’s always better to be an asshole rather than be at the receiving end of one. Be bad or be crushed is the conclusion I can come to after reviewing my entire case history. Empathy, sympathy and all kinds of tolerance are the enemies to decent people. Assholes have it easy, good guys don't. That sums up lesson number one of my relationship error history- be selfish in getting what/who you want.
Lesson number two immediately follows- never mistake pity for love. Many times I have been guilty of dating the undateable, loving the unloved. I can’t help it- I am made like that. I am a great friend of all street dogs, homeless people and the left behinds of society. That might be a part of my job as a doctor- to help the unfortunate but when it comes to selecting someone to spend the rest of my life with- that’s about the biggest error to make- as I have learnt to my cost. There are some people who have been left alone because they deserve to be. Why society, even nature has judged them and found wanting – that they are fit to be alone all their lives- the confirmed spinster types. And it’s the height of foolhardiness (masquerading as bravado) to go and start something with them. They won’t give you any love or gratitude for rescuing them from a life of loneliness. They will instead show all the pent up hatred towards society for neglecting them all this time- all on you. You will become the symbol for everything they have lost in their lives till then- all their wasted youth, all their lost dreams all their expectations towards finding a good match- all of it foisted on your head and the blame laid solely on your head.
Let’s come to the gold diggers next. Those women who don’t give shit about you or your emotions except in learning how to manipulate them to their advantage before finding a good enough reason to justify dumping you after their exploitation. These are the types who often scream “harassment” and “stalking” and all those carefully pre-selected keywords which immediately stroke the ire of the femi-nazi brigade who they hope will confuse the issue enough by talking about women’s empowerment to mask the bare faced financial swindling they subject the men to. Their logic is simple when a woman screams harassment nobody ever asks so how much did you borrow from him or how much did you make him spend on you? I know that it’s not a given that anybody, any woman who makes money of you should get compulsorily emotionally involved with you, but when you dangle emotional entanglement as a carrot for financial benefits it becomes a straight financial trade doesn’t it? To make him spend his last rupee before he realizes that no she has not loved him, has never even been in love with him is the ultimate goal of such gold diggers.
Compared to these type of women the straight sex for money kind of dealing by professional sex workers is far more honest as at least you know what you are getting into right at the beginning and will by the end at least have some money left in your pockets instead of being completely wiped out- both emotionally and financially. And that’s lesson number three- when a woman is more interested in your financial background, asks how much you make per month and wants to be taken to expensive food joints in the guise of experiencing new ambiences- all those are warning flags that you are about to be swindled left, right and center. No woman who is looking for lifelong commitment is going to make that decision based on how much you are willing to spend for her on every single date. Just take an about turn and run.
Finally the point of having a life time commitment is that for a long time you not only have to tolerate each other but also depend on each other- for everything. Your life partner is not only going to be your closest friend emotionally but also your financial planner, your investment adviser, your banker and the first person to listen to and give advice on any and every major decision or event of your life. Would you choose someone who gives you wrong advice? Or who is clever enough to guide you on the right path when your mind is fogged with emotional turmoil? Or would you select someone standoffish who doesn’t want to hear your troubles but prefers to talk about their troubles all the time? Which is the worst option? Based on such questions alone should you select a life partner- someone with whom you going to share food, share a bed, share a room, share kids, share money, share property and share everything else- including when you are old and feeble at the fag end of life. That’s not a decision taken lightly is it?
Hence my decision to look for someone with high emotional quotient and real empathy and to sterr clear of psychos henceforth. Wish me luck, comrades.