Sunday, October 23, 2011
Wednesday, October 19, 2011
Which is the first word that springs to your mind when you think of Parsis? Other than endangered, I mean? Homi Bhabha? Rich? Dhikra? Elite? JRD? Philanthropy? Berry Pulao? All right. These are few associated with them but there is this one term they truly deserve but hardly get referred by. Minorities. They are one of the very few communities in India who can actually call themselves THAT and get away with whatever they want in the name of political reservation. But unfortunately, that ain’t the lame case. No one assorts pity when it comes to Parsis for a very simple reason – they don’t need it. Ironically, the word 'parsimonious' has nothing to do with Parsis.
They may be accused of being English during the Raj but then so were the princely Maharajas and Nabobs of that time. What matters is Parsis have been actively contributing to the bigger canvas named society thanks to their collective acumen in the world of business. In other words, they kept the promise their Dastur made to the Gujarati king centuries ago. Even today Tata is the most beloved brand hence duly respected too. Reliance may be roaring loud but it lacks overall public goodwill. The balance Parsis maintain between personal prosperity and public welfare is worth emulating. Thanks to the number of hospitals, schools, museums, and other such people-oriented undertakings, they have successfully carved a niche for themselves in metropolitan India.
About two weeks ago, I and my equally crazy friends biked all the way to Udvada in Gujarat to visit India’s (or should we say, world’s) oldest functioning Parsi fire temple. The only trouble was getting in as Parsis are quite particular about prohibiting non-Parsis from entering their religious premise. Give or take, that day, four guys from New-Bombay were utterly disappointed. Not with Zoroastrian in general but with their own lack of preemptive research! But anyway, it was an enriching experience as we visited a nearby museum, coincidentally inaugurated by NaMo, that detailed Parsis and their way of life and a lot more. My personal favorite was reading Sam Manekshaw’s contributions though I’m a pacifist and all that jazz.
Coming back to their dwindling number, one can’t overlook the stringent laws Parsi religious heads adhere to in the sensitive matters of inter-religious marriages and the resulting proselytism. This penchant towards staying ‘pure’ has badly affected their census number. Had there been some relaxation and due acceptance of non-Parsis into the fold once they marry a Parsi, things could have been numerically colorful. And Parsippany indeed would have been a place full of epiphanic Parsis.
Parsis basically follow 3 principles in life: good thoughts, good words and good deeds. No wonder they are on the endangered list today. Secondly, the word of the year for Parsis is and shall always be reproduction. Seriously. One can fully understand the vanity in preserving something that is not at all interested in avoiding extinction but still. After all, who cares whether Freddie Mercury was a Parsi who just happened to be gay enough to title his band “Queen”! Speaking of which, I’m aware of four Boman Iranis. Perhaps along with Parsis, their names are scuppered too. Blame it on globalization but we are so busy running that we have stopped bothering where a person comes from as long as we know where he’s headed to. And there’s hardly anything wrong with it, ad hoc.
Concluding where I started from, if you think of Parsis and the word ‘endangered’ doesn't click in your mind, then you are definitely a Parsi.
P.S. When I have absolutely nothing else to do, I worry about Parsis' declining population.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
I’ve entered my fourth week of unemployment. This whole newness is so surreal in a very non-Luis Buñuel kind of way. Being free and moneyless and all. The thing is when you have a job, all you want to do is slack. For the employed, job is a dirty word. But as soon as you get to the other side of the fence, things starts falling into perspective. Or rather, things fall into uglier perspective. For the record, most of my weekdays are spent on a mundane hype called weekends. No kidding. I literally wait for Saturday. I haven’t figured out why yet, though.
Once you’re jobless, you notice stuff you used to take for granted or forgot to notice in the first place. For example, all unhappy employees are alike. They’ll find excuse to hate their job more than they are supposed to. It’s an evolutionary build-up against complacency. You’ve got to abhor the very enemy that supports you financially. That’s how it works. Of course, I’m not speaking on behalf of all employed folks. I am just pitching up for 98.71% of the crowd. The bottom-line is some people will never be happy. Let's just call them employees.
I was once Jack's raging employee who was not able to keep up with social media. In my erstwhile office, I used to struggle with the organizational setup to tweet on a regular basis which was nevertheless difficult. That’s one of the reasons why I turned bot on Twitter. But now that I am majorly indoors, I wonder why core issues like unemployment are seldom discussed on the timeline. The reason is pretty simple – most of the tweeps are unemployed and home truths are hard to swallow (or sell). Furthermore, no one can match unemployed folks in driving the point home. There are positive sides too. Unemployed folks try not to take God's name in vain on a Friday morning.
I miss my colleagues as well as my boss sometimes. Just for old times’ sake. Nothing personal. Whenever people ask me why I left my job, I try to be at my diplomatic best and suggest that there comes a time in every person’s life when he contemplates becoming a farmer with unlimited access to internet. And then, in my defense, I remind them that my forefathers were bona fide farmers so maybe I should go back to ploughing. But the truth is there comes a time in an employee's life when he decides to take a lifelong break from serving a particular field. And that’s exactly what I did. On a broader scale, I was done with transcription.
I don’t want to be an employee anymore. I want to be one of those guys from Indian TV soap operas who never have a job yet live a rich life full of dialogues. Just kidding. By the way, although I’m a Christopher McCandless fan, I’ve got nothing against money. I’ll never burn them. I’ve been working since I turned 20 so I guess I value money and the hard work that goes behind earning it. And Nickelback's Rockstar is nothing less than an inspiration. Not.
Having said that, employees are nothing more than salaried machines. We like to call ourselves employees as it sounds cool but it doesn't change the fact that we are bonded laborers who gave up too soon. For the record, the company I used to work for was way too kind to tolerate my mediocrity. I remember the chair I used to sit on. It was like the loyalest employee out here. It won’t let me get up unless my job allowed me to. OK. Granted, that was an exaggeration. I can afford one, as always. Like jobless guys are expected to.
Monday, October 10, 2011
Everybody believes the race is up against time when in practicality, it is Death we are chasing. The poor florist has to sell his flowers before time smuggles them to Death. No matter what, we are all programmed to end up on the losing side of Life. You see, the problem with Death is it knows exactly what it's up to. Life, on the contrary, doesn’t. In the battle between Life and Death, one of them gives up to let the other survive. Furthermore, Life speaks Death fluently and vice versa. They are made for each other. Ironically, Life and afterlife are conjugated by Death.
A few days ago, I woke up to the news that Steve Jobs has passed away to a place in dire need of technological innovation. I always admired him for the way his Life shaped up and inspired millions not only to touch buttons on their small screens but also give digital revolution a chance. And like the rest of them, I too was shattered. The last time I felt such grief was when Pope John Paul II deceased. It’s kind of a strange feeling to be sad for someone whom you haven’t met but are damn sure about their goodness.
A few hours later, I was confronted with the knowledge that my close friend’s mom has fallen victim to a fatal heart attack amid Vijaya Dashami in a local temple that very morning. This was too much. It was like Death retweeting itself (for those who are familiar with Twitter). She was such a beautiful person. This was not only cruel but also unjustified. But then, who will challenge the final verdict? No one, I suppose. Maybe Death is the most pragmatic thing that ever happens to us. If not, kindly point me down the path that won’t lead to Death.
And then today, dad informed me that Jagjit Singh, one of the finest few Ghazal singers I admire, has left earthly bounds. Of course, there’s nothing phenomenal about people taking birth and then dying eventually. But still, you want others to survive; live one more day; get a better hang of Life. And if things don’t materialize according to your wishes, then you pray or hope the person dies an easy Death. The reason for this concession lies in the fact that there is no such thing as a perfect Death. How can there be a perfect Death when there ain't no perfect Life? By the way, Humpty Dumpty deserved a better Death.
Dying is totally over-rated. So is birth. Both happen every single day. Well, can't say the same about Life though. After all, the most constant side effect of Life is Death. People die in earthquakes and whatnot and term it accidents, either man-made or natural. While doing so, we conveniently overlook the truth that Death is a natural disaster, too. These are the times when all our opinions about Life and Death sum up to what they are indeed worth – nothing. Apparently we face too many of near-Death experiences but very few of near-Life ones to comment. That’s the reason we haven’t come to terms with this reality YET! Give or take, nothing else kills us faster than Death.
Birth gets trampled by childhood that gets trampled by youth that gets trampled by dotage that gets trampled by Death.
Lately, some Tibetans immolated themselves as a protest against Chinese aggression in Tibet. They merely burned themselves to Life, not Death. I fully endorse these sort of protests in which you hurt yourself instead of innocent bystanders. Needless to say, The Burning Monk is my hero. History is rife with such hyped glorious stories, permanent deaths and a little bit of temporary lives embedded in between.
Poets, not philosophers, came close to deciphering the mysteries of how everything begins and ends. They made a habit of romanticizing the experience of leaving this planet forever. I've got nothing against them or the alcohol they were on but I’m sure there must be better ways to die a poetic Death. Metaphors containing myriad meanings had been employed by them which help us get close to the cold truth. I agree with most of these verses and disagree with very few. For instance, economy, not Death, is the great leveler. And sometimes, we do feel older than Death.
Tip: Smile. Death can wait for your poker face.
There comes a moment in everyone’s Life when they finally learn to STFU. Nah, I ain’t talking about Death here. It’s called common sense. The court think it can decide (preferably, on behalf of the citizens and based on human laws) what is right and what is wrong when it comes to sentencing someone to hang till kingdom come. In any case, Death penalty itself is a crime. You can’t go wrong with this. If A kills B and C kills A via legal frameworks, then there is very little difference between A and C. Having said that, I’m not at all in favour of Kasab *enjoying* the costliest criminal status in India. There is no way can he reconcile with the grave mistakes he committed under the guise of ignorance and brainwashed ideology. Perhaps Death is more disappointed in him than Life itself.
"If you were on a death row, what would you like your last meal to be?"
"Delivered on time."
Death is beautiful because, unlike most other things in Life, it happens just once. It will certainly smell sweet if one is drowned in a pool full of chocolate or ice-cream. I keep discussing Death as it makes me feel good about the Life I never had. As I’m growing older, I’m realizing how lonely I really am. I don’t fantasize killing myself or anything. I am too selfish for such foolery. But every time someone I look up to or love decides to call it a life, I wonder why. Thankfully, I’ve stopped molesting poetry. Or else I’d have written some miserable verses on the perpetual shallowness of Life and the escapism facilitated by Death instead of this lengthy falderal. Anyway, just because I never had a Life doesn't mean I can't comment on it. By that yardstick, none of us should ever mention Death.