The Price of Ambition

During one of my travels, I was seated next to an elderly Indian couple. They seemed to be in their mid fifties and they were in US to attend a wedding. As our flight was a couple of hours long, we spent the time, talking to each other about ourselves. So after the customary interchange, the conversation went like this.
Before I begin, any Indian person who is 10 years older than me is considered an uncle/aunty. Jokes apart I quite like this cute avuncular culture !

Uncle: So, how old are you?
Me: I am 27.
Uncle: You are married?
Me: Nope
Uncle: It is the right time, you should get married. What are you waiting for?
Me: I still have some distance to go before I think I am mature enough for that.
Uncle: What nonsense, you seem to be in the IT industry. How much do you make?
I disclose my salary after which he felt sorry for me and suggested he will put in kind words to his nephew who owns a start up company in SF.
Aunty interjects: What is your caste, beta?
Me: Uhm, I am not sure.
Aunty: Well, what is your last name? I can deduce your caste from your last name.
Me: Mind – Blown!
So here is the thing about Indian Aunties, they come pre-programmed with “ancenstry.com” database. So they can spell out your ancestors, what they did for a living, where they lived etc… all by just learning your last name.
I personally think they would have made very good Nazi’s as racial profiling comes easy to them. Don’t be offended, in India, ethnic cleansing looks something like this:

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I watched an interview of George Harrison, the fabled Beatles man. When asked about his cult status in the music industry, he said how he felt trapped under the limelight. Everyone around him thinks that he is a genius, but he alone knows that he has no idea what he’s doing.
I am officially an adult and I am really not sure how why this is the case.

Growing up, I was very excited and looked forward to the day when I would become an adult. I wanted to do what the cool people did, like go anywhere they want, eat anytime they want and talk to strangers as if they knew each other.
But more importantly as a career move, I never knew how people figured what they wanted to do. I mean, I am okay with computers I guess but I never understood  why would anyone pay me to do stuff which seems fun and quite easy?

So I asked a friend who went to IIT because I thought that he would surely know how to decide on a career. He said something brilliant.

The world loves mediocrity, if you are average, people aren’t threatened by you. So they would accept you, as a peer. And you would never be over-qualified for a job. So you can gradually make progress and be at a stage in your career. I mean imagine, if you were a genius at an entry level job. Wouldn’t that guarantee depression?

We all adore people who are brilliant but I feel most of them lead turbulent lives. Especially the ones who made an impact in history. And I am not talking about insecurity, I worship intelligence. When I listen to a Brahms composition, or read “Edward Bernays “Propaganda” or watch a performance by Martha Graham, I go numb. I am awestruck but at the same time sad that I would never be able to reproduce that. Ever.

I hope I didn’t come across as a douche with my choice in entertainment. I just wanted to sound eclectic! I am a regular guy with regular choices. And I think I am comfortable with that, because I know things that I am not.

Which brings me to another theory that I find fascinating -Peter’s Principle.

Peters principle: “Members of an organization where promotion is based on achievement, success, and merit will eventually be promoted beyond their level of ability”.
What it means is say you are an excellent programmer, you’d be promoted to an average senior programmer, then if you do stick on and hit the targets, you’ll become a manager. But since you were promoted for your technical skills and not people management, you’d end up becoming a terrible manager. But you can’t work on the same pay check years after working in the team. So getting promoted to a job you’ll be terrible at, seems to be the only logical way!
This might have been a demotivational article so far but look at the bright side. I think there is a reason why Indian and Asian students thrive in the western economy.  We are number one in IQ and intelligence and shit last in self esteem. So we ride this hamster wheel of hard work without realizing that, we have achieved our goals.
We seem to have an enforced sense of humility that prevents us from selling ourselves. I am tired of smart people complaining that “I do my job and expect rewards. I can’t go around prancing and announcing how terrific I am at what I do. That is just not me”.

And don’t even start about the inflated self purpose that us STEM folks have. We are just more relevant at the current time stamp in history that is all.
I would really recommend everyone to watch “Dirty Jobs” produced my Mike Rowe. He educates us about vocational education and it’s relevance in the job market today. You don’t have to cut it out as a marketing manager or a software analyst or an investment banker to become financially independent.
You could still lead a comfortable and a fulfilling career while being an electrician, crane operator or even a plumber. Those jobs won’t be automated. At least not in the near future. If my parents waited for their perfect job, they would never have provided me the opportunity to pursue what I wanted to do.

During my time in the middle east, I came across a lot of immigrant workers from Nepal, India, Philippines and Sri lanka. They would scourge and live minimally and send all the money back to their homes. And hopefully channel those resources to pay for their kids tuition’s. Unfortunately, due to their poverty they don’t think free will exists for their children.

They won’t allow their kids to become electricians or plumbers or a mechanic. They want them to be engineers and doctors. And if chips don’t fall the right way, they are just carving a very expensive tomb for their children in the form of student debts.

I am still trying to understand why paychecks are seen as a barometer for ambition? I just don’t get it. When people my age push their limits to get a better job and an upgrade in quality of life, I get it. Totally, but what is the answer to the question , what’s next?
Surely it can’t be just a better car, an expensive house or an exotic vacation. It just seems stupid and narrow to me.

In my own naive opinion, I feel we should measure our lives by experience rather than achievements. I am 27 now and frankly I have no idea how I got here. And I am pretty sure that when I become 40, I still would not have a clue where to go.
But I don’t want to extinguish this stupid addiction I have for experiences. I may change my opinion in the future, but isn’t having an evolving concept of what I want, an experience in itself?

But at present, I am comfortable with ambiguity. It doesn’t keep me up at night 🙂

Why do we get Offended?

My friends and I were heading to an Indian restaurant the other day and we saw a car swerve around us. A guy flipped us off screaming something like “curry Indians” and sped away. I was pissed but my friends and I decided to shrug it off. But I realized if that happened to an American, god forbid a gun lover; things would have gone from weird to George Zimmerman in no time.

So I thought of listing things that get easily offended and decided to pen about them. But I thought well what if I end up offending more people? I kind of buried that instantaneously. Because when you think of it, you’re always forced to be nice and say nice things about people and places. Think about it.

Say I visit Delhi for the first time. And I undergo several unpleasant things such as being spat on from the roof, getting robbed, having to listen to Honey Singh in a stuffy taxi or worse encountering Rahul Gandhi at a mall (while he attends “fuck the poor” convention). That would leave a very unsavory taste for me, right? So don’t you think I should reserve a right to say “Delhi Sucks”? Imagine if I had some mileage as a socialite and I uttered those words. Mobs would be all over me.

So that being said I will assume a right to have my opinion and exercise it poor humor in space below. I think there are three entities which are constantly offended.

Women: Whenever there is a discussion about Women’s role in the society, A lot of men resort to whipping the rhetoric by saying things like “All women are my sisters or mothers and I have a moral obligation to protect them”. Some men even push the envelope and go from being apologetic to I-hate-that-I-have-a-penis.

The agenda shifts from solving a problem to Worshipping/Respecting all women. I think to myself, Well isn’t that is cocky? Why should we generalize, I mean I am sure there are a lot of good women out there. But respect all of them? Why? Jokes apart, I highly recommend reading this article by Shoma Choudhury titled “Women in India, Sluts or Goddesses”.

I think on an average, an urban woman gets more offended than an urban guy. And I think a lot of men are at fault here.  You see growing up in an orthodox south Indian middle class society taught us men boys to be non-confrontational with women.

Punching a boy in the face and splitting his lip-

Social Reaction: Oh boys will be boys.

Having a fierce argument with a girl

Social Reaction: OMG, ZOMG Your son is going to grow up into a wife beater/rapist.

I remember this vivid incident, a few years ago. I was walking down the road the other day from my school and there was this fire truck going past us and a whiny girl in our group said “Why the fuck are these fire trucks and ambulances so loud. Ughh, they’re so loud & dumb”

I so badly wanted to grab her by the arm take her to her father and tell him that he should sue the school and get a refund on the fees he spent on her.

But I didn’t, I just nodded along. So when women go through their best years without any arguments from men (man bitches) like me. They take things for granted and get offended when people don’t agree with their opinions.

You see as a guy, I know my limits. My friends wouldn’t spare two seconds before pointing out that my argument is flawed, I am stupid and I shouldn’t be such a jerk. But I don’t think women have that feedback mechanism in them. And no grown man ever confronts or argues with a woman over a fallacious discussion because, uhm how should I put it mildly

………

……

.because they want to sleep with them.

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Governments

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One thing that I love about United States is their freedom of speech. I mean Anthony Weiner got into so much of humiliation for sexting and got kicked during the mayor election. And we have rapists in our legislative assembly. Imagine this conversation between a female reporter and a male politician.

Hot Bong Reporter: Sir, why do think women get assaulted on the streets.

Random Wannabe Politician: Because when women wear seductive clothes like salwar kameez, jeans & t shirts they know that they create attention and want to be teased.

HBR: You are such a sexist!

RWP: *Blushing and pushing the microphone aside*, Aap bhi looking very sexist madam, kyun party warty ho jaye?

You can’t even pass a bill that says criminals can’t contest in election. I mean that’s like allowing repeat sex offenders to become pastors and hang around altar kids. Oh well, you get the idea.

In order to scrutinize governments let us revisit one of the pillars of our education which went by the name Discipline. All of us wore the same uniform, studied the same kind of subjects and proceeded to carve similar careers. It felt more like being a part of an industrial supply chain rather than schooling. More importantly we were taught to think ‘ALIKE’. Respect your elders. Don’t talk back to teachers. Aberrations to the norm set above were punished.

So when we become a spineless generation that was raised from the same ground, this fear of being disciplined is ingrained in us. We do not question authority, we do not ask ourselves why we are way we are. It behooves all of us to respect the authority and even questioning/reasoning it, is seen as a mark of disrespect.

And when anyone questions the authority they are jailed or as they call it in China “Government Sponsored Holidays”. It is easier to control people when they are united in fear. So when people question the authority; they are vilified. But my argument isn’t absolute and must be taken with a pinch of salt, especially after the whole fiasco over authenticity of “Syrian Rebels”.

Religion

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Religion has been getting offended since the dawn of humans. (Insert Darwin joke- Check!)

Talking about religion isn’t my favorite hobby, but as a confessed atheist I definitely have a morbid curiosity to learn how it affects humanity.

They say criticism of religion is the beginning of criticism. But I haven’t come across a single religion which promotes reasoning. Each religion only allows questions that glorify them. It’s like every networking session I have ever attended at school. Q&A sessions were reserved only for sucking up.

I’ve always wondered why do religious people get offended so easily and react with violence when reasoned. From stoning the heretics in the black ages to blasphemy laws in a few Islamic countries in the middle east.  When scientists like Galileo, Copernicus proposed their theory on our solar system, the church didn’t condemn them for being wrong, but for being offensive.

The reason why religious people are so insecure is because religion happens to be an Idea which is seemingly immutable. Which means we can never edit it or nurture it. We can’t even add stuff like, child marriage should be banned or men shouldn’t control reproductive rights of women. They seem like good ideas right?

We won’t be here if we didn’t question ideas. The idea of energy, language, evolution, music, food etc… All of these theories were tested, improved and perfected.

Ideas are powerful and sometimes immortal. They can masquerade as ideals. Ideas are hard to give up especially when an idea grants you power over your fellow men. And that is the reason why some people want to treat them with impunity. Say what you want but all the religions have always worked in cahoots with the government in one way or other.

*Profanity ahead*

I agree that people must have freedom to have their own opinion, but not facts. So when a clusterfuck politicians discredit Global Warming to pacify Big Oil companies. It affects ALL OF US. So screw them, if they’re offended.

The same goes with gay marriages. If you are not for gay marriage, I am sorry; fuck you. You know why? It has nothing to do with you. Although you are allowed to be a homophobe within your community , you cannot ostracize a legitimate part of our society just because of their orientation.

What irks me most is when religion claims copyrights to morality. So even if a belief system is flawed you can’t question it because you can’t derive morality without it. Now this is the single reason why I chose to become an atheist. My mom used to say that when we were not so advanced, religion is the reason which taught us to be good and not kill each other.

I refuse to accept that humans who are capable of tremendous feats such as stem cell research and interstellar travel can’t figure out that killing others and beating the shit out of your parents is wrong.

We’re living in an environment which is increasingly becoming hostile to people who question the norm and attempt to hold organizations accountable. The riots in the middle-east, collapse of oligarchy’s in South America after legalization of drugs and Europe’s exoneration of the financially irresponsible are few but telling tales that there is a movement in motion. We should raise the next generation on how to learn and not force them what to learn.

If you find yourself offended all the time, I want to end with this quote.

“If you run into an asshole in the morning. You ran into an asshole. If you run into assholes all the time, YOU are the asshole.”

P.S: I have heavily referenced this article. So if you’re offended please realize that you are pissed off over facts, not opinions.

A Cultural Quick Fix to RAPE

Of course most people reading this need no introduction about the incident which happened in Delhi, where a woman was so brutally raped that she now needs an intestinal replacement surgery. This incident has given diet pepsi wielding, Rang De Basanti patronizing self-confessed vigilantes who think they have a solution to this heinous act.

Following is a ten step program which girls can use to avoid rape.

1. Do not travel late into the night, traveling places which are poorly lit is a strict no-no.

2. Women should not drink or smoke as either of the acts exhibits promiscuity.

3. Women should not dress provocatively and must adhere to cultural garbs to discourage unsolicited attention from men. Must take fashion cues from Jayalalitha and Mamta Bannerjee.

4. The ideal age to marry for a girl is 21. It may be increased to 23 if she is pursues MBA, because the father has to recoup his losses. If she is married and has kids, then maybe she might not be prone to privy eyes.

5. Girls should not frequent bars or disco theques as they are filled with vile men under the influence of alcohol. It would be akin to dancing with the devil if you chose to party. And immoral, remember god is watching you

6. Sex education must be implemented in schools. Of course by that we would teach them 99% about cross pollination and asexual reproduction and 1% about human anatomy. Also we should insist that casual sex is hazardous and masturbation would lead to global warming.

7. Men and women are equal; however we should treat women like  Sisters or Mothers. It is not patronage but a tribute to our maternal society. And since a girl should be married by 21, it doesn’t give any man a chance to think about women under any other context.

8. We have forgotten our tradition; most women in the name of empowerment go out to work where they are under severe gender bias. On top of it they have to work at home to being a wife to a husband, a mother to the children and a dutiful daughter-in-law to the husband’s parents. A woman’s prime responsibility is to champion the household than struggle for independence by working.

9. Women should always travel in company of men, ideally their brothers or husbands. Because even if you befriend any other male you can never be sure about their intentions, hence it is always better to be safe than sorry.

10. Some of the younger generation might feel rebellious after listening to their elders. But they have to understand as Kareena kapoors grand father from Jab We Met said “Ek akeli ladki, khuli hi hui tijori ki tareh hoti hai” which translates as “A single girl, is akin to an open safe”.

Because a girls only treasure is her character (Read virginity), once she loses that she brings shame not only to her but also to the family and the community. Hence the girl should be responsible about her behavior as it affects a lot of people.

How to fix rape?

  1. Death to the rapists, hang them by their balls over light posts in public.
  2. Marry off the girl to the guy who raped her, because no one else will accept her afterwards
  3. The home minister should retire, politicians should be fired. Fire all the policemen, they can’t protect the public
  4. Create a Facebook page which talks about punishing rape by death sentence
  5. Write a song about how women are mistreated in this chauvinistic male society; since AR Rahman is busy we will let Pritam compose the music. It should be catchy so he should be allowed to be inspired by Korean pop bands.
  6. Women should no longer be objectified in movies; they should be no longer depicted as saucy vixens dressed in skimpy clothes. There shall be no more beach scenes and all movies should be shot at the mines of Karnataka where even partial nudity cannot be justified.

I am a huge fan of satire and I love exaggeration, however none of the above points are fiction. I have merely regurgitated the opinions voiced by many on endless TV shows and column inches on newspaper.

Now that Sachin Tendulkar has retired many columnists are going to vomit verbs from their dictionary and the focus will shift from Delhi to Sachin’s legacy. We are a bunch of indifferent and pathologically passive pedestrians with a very short attention span. And that should scare us more than anything!

The Dots Do Connect…

I came to USA to get a masters degree in Computer Information Systems from GSU. And my My visa interview at Mumbai went like this:

Interviewer: So why do you want to get a master’s degree?

ME:

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When it comes to job hunt people often demonize it by saying that its wild life out there and you can trust no one. In my own naive way, I have always believed that there is good in everyone of us.

Ok, I was just kidding. But in all sincerity I believe that there is no such thing as a rat race and we all can be successful at the same time. The following post is about the travails I went through during my days of job hunt.

One of the earliest things I realized about education and job search is that it is a very interactive procedure. Especially as an MIS/CIS student who swears by the pledge “I don’t want to do coding because I am tired of it”. The excuse naively obfuscates the reality which is an inherent inability to code rather than reluctance.

I never shy away from coding as it remains the Holy Grail that I think I try too hard to achieve. It is not my core competency to be a programmer and I have come to accept that. During my first semester at GSU, I joined a networking fraternity. I was blown away by the social complexity that was out there. There were so many equally bright students vying for the same job. And the ferocity of their intention was very visible.

The fraternity opened doors to recruiters who would showcase their company and talk about their working culture and at the same time identify candidates who fit the bill and begin to track them. By the time I realized this, my first semester came to an end and I was in no way closer to my job hunt.

Tips: 1) Networking is not sucking up, it is a chance for the employers to know you better. Put your best step forward

2) Reach out to the recruiters via linkedin and add them after thanking them for their time. Being pro active is everything when it comes to a job hunt.

I understand that a job hunt is a laborious procedure and it is O.K. to be discreet about it. Some are superstitious that if they reveal they have an interview, they will fail it. The other reason is you don’t want to be a douche who yaps about interviews where your friends struggle.

The only upbeat thing about spring semester was that I was selected to become a VISA leader for fall 2012. I really undervalued the opportunity at that time as an internship was the bigger challenge.

But looking back the desperation was the negative factor. It sapped out all energy I had in me and it was difficult to digest that your friends already have a job and you are still unable to even land an interview. I realized that I was capable of jealousy too, but I didn’t want it to affect me. So in order to escape from masochism, I was reluctant to go to parties and get together. I would disable all notifications on Facebook in order to prevent me from going into a shell.

But I never gave up; I worked for about a month for a small start-up pro-bono learning open source technology. They didn’t offer me any compensation and also broke communication for some reason as the company went under. I approached professors for pro bono work and got one to build a system using share point but that work won’t begin until November and I remained to be restless.

I attended host of networking events, curbed my spending habits to stay afloat. I played soccer every weekend and in times of tumult that was my only solace. I took two classes in summer, one during May mester which lasted for a month and other during June-July. I have always been a pragmatic kid and was never under financial duress, ever. But the spending habits of your friends do rub on when you realize that you can’t afford to join them. It is humiliating but I found humor in it which helped me preserve my sanity.

Then came august and I was becoming more confident. I had 3 interview calls, two of them went well and VISA leader program was just about to start. It was one of the most fantastic experiences I have ever had. From being a willing social outcast to be recognized on the streets, it was an uplifting experience. I am very grateful to that special group of friends I made who made me feel this way.

I became chums with some great people all over the world; I went out to parties with them. Played soccer, got back into shape (From round to not-so-round). And call it comeuppance for the efforts; I got an internship by 3rd week of August!

I had already taken up two GRA’s and 3 classes and an internship on top of it was insane. Many of my friends advised me to drop one of them so that I don’t go bonkers. Meanwhile the career fair was approaching and I had to ready myself for another grueling session.

My grades in one of the subject did take a hit as I got a humiliating B+ in one of the tests. But it was bound to happen. Remember I said I got interview offers from 2 companies, I got a job offer from one of them by the time I was interviewing with the other J So I was confident/cocky about it.

The second company was the one I was targeting all year around. And guess what happens on the D-Day?

I show up 20 minutes late to the 30 minute interview due to some mix up. I have a good chat with my interviewer who seemed to be impressed by my candor and lack of nerves. I was mentally shitting bricks, but I didn’t let that surface.

I followed up that brief interview with a 30 minute phone conversation and voila, I struck gold twice. I got the call for the final round.

THE DOTS…

I have immense respect for Steve Jobs as a person than an entrepreneur. And those who know me how much I abhor Apple products. But in his great speech, he mentioned about how a person should follow their calling instead of chickening out. But the trick is to find your calling. Following were my career choices

Ice cream vendor, Railway pilot, Astronaut- Kindergarten to Mid school

Scientist, Photographer for Playboy magazine and physiotherapist for Brazil’s women’s beach volleyball team – High school

Journalist, Sound Engineer- Undergraduate

Technical Consultant, Business Analyst, Analyst, Documentation specialist, Window cleaner, Pet walker, Free mason, will-work-for-beer-money: In various times of desperation from January- July 2012

About the dots:

I started this blog to while away my time when I was working in Saudi Arabia to get attention and express myself. And I wanted to prove a point to myself that people apart from my mom also think that I am funny.

I got my internship after they saw my experience with word press. I got a full time offer from the consultants as they believed I could communicate my ideas with conviction to the clients and be solid academically as they learned about my VISA leader experience.

My interview with the partner entailed me describing how much I love Football (Soccer) and why it is important to root for one team. I gave her a passionate 5 minute speech of how much I yearn to see Arsenal play at the Emirates.

My idea of happy hours during school and under graduate was to be able to spend time at the library when other kids won’t be around. All those hours in the afternoon spent among dusty bookshelves and under a fan (60 rpm/second) didn’t go to waste. These are the things that I loved doing without any expectations or burden.

Trust me, the dots do connect. Believe in yourself and March ahead comrades! Good luck for your job hunt.

Thought Crime

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I owe the readers of this blog a narcissistic apology for not writing more frequently. But I intend to repair it; I promise I will be more frequent. The past couple of months have been electric. I yearned for a super-fast/hectic lifestyle when I was applying for my master’s degree. And I am happy that I have it J

I wanted to be surrounded by assignment schedules, late night discussion over project and seriously missed the tension caused by never ending exams. For those who are making fun about this, wait till you start working!

The atmosphere here in United States is very topical to say the least at least with respect to the election. Both parties are leaving no stone unturned to make sure they get their hands on the next term. I believe the United States government has behaved irresponsibly in the past however it is the only country which is capable of repairing the global crisis both economically and politically.

My friends and my family tease me for taking interest in US politics as they quizzically ponder whether I become another “Wannabe Immigrant”? My answer is No. Not yet.

The reason I wasn’t very interested in Indian politics was because of its stymied nature. When I walked past roadside tea/coffee shops there used to be a sign which read “Discussing politics is not allowed”. Even in social situations when people began discussing politics there used to be an elder in the crowd who would say “Now, let us not spoil this wonderful evening by discussing politics”.

I empathize with everyone who has a disparaging view about politics but I feel it is morally and intellectually irresponsible for an educated adult to ignore politics. Media proliferation is a huge factor as I am amazed by the brazen nature with which each political issue is being dissected.  Every politician up there is at the mercy of the viewers which makes the competition fun to watch.

I find it funny that people are so uptight that they hold “values” more than people. These ideas or borrowed morals are so revered that they voluntarily override the basic humanity which I like to believe we are born with. Take an example

Right to Second Amendment: The right to second amendment states that every American has a “right” to carry a weapon to defend them. My humble question is if United States has the largest army in the world (More than 16 countries combined) why can’t it protect its citizens? Why do fellow Americans pay tax money which goes to defense but still have to acquire firearms to defend them? Is the amendment more precious than someone’s life?

Global Warming/Climate Change/Climate Hoax: It amuses me that US is one of the very few countries which still has this debate going. I understand that in democracy you must agree to disagree. But how far is far enough? What’s the next great debate going to be about, Gravity a hoax?

Homosexuality/Atheism: I had a very naïve impression of what homosexuals suffer as they were always a subject of ridicule in India. They are at best, a last resort to an expletive in my country. People still cannot fathom why they should be given equal rights. And I think media has a huge role to play in it. For example how do you make a bald-well built-tattooed all over the body-psycho maniac even scarier? The answer: Make him gay.

And the people who defend homophobia say that they don’t feel right about it and that’s why they don’t approve of it. Pardon my French but when your feeling impedes another individual’s way of life, you have progressed from being a douche to a c*nt.

The same goes for people who cannot identify with a religion or a god. As far as I know no atheist/agnostic takes offense to the fact that the other person is a Hindu/Christian/Muslim/Jew or whatever. In that case why should religious people take offense to the ones who cannot or won’t identify with one?

How come when it comes to healthcare, politicians scream personal rights but when it comes to their belief, sexuality or abortion it’s a government policy?

Values: There is something very interesting article which was a part of our course work. (http://userhome.brooklyn.cuny.edu/irudowsky/PM/articles/TheExperienceTrap.pdf)

It talks about how managers assume that their cumulative experience makes them the best judge of the situation, even though the circumstances have changed.  And how it has been identified as the chief reason why experienced people fail at IT projects.

I don’t know enough to comment about the values that the founding fathers in US preached. But I certainly do when it comes to my country.

As a kid we are taught that the greatest contributions by India to the world are our values. From family bonds to social architecture and that we have been at the pinnacle of civilization at every turn of the century. And we take that fact for granted and somehow it’s misrepresented across generations. Should these values be shielded from reasoning?

I think most of us happen to believe that these traditions or values somehow have a life and would wobble and cry if we scrutinized them. Or somehow our forefathers would take offense to our curious nature and fart upon us during our nuptials.

Look at any social justification for rape, dowry, caste discrimination, genocide, war or nepotism the underlying reason is “It is our tradition and it has worked for us so far, so don’t question it”. People would go great lengths to defend thoughts which aren’t theirs to begin with.

The real reason I am proud of being an Indian are not the values but the effort of thought that went into them. Indus valley civilization, contribution to mathematics, medicine and literature, Gall of individuals who went against the grain like Gandhi, Bose, Ambedkar, Vivekananda, Ramanujam, Chanakya, Valluvar, Rk Laxman, Verghise Kurein etc… They empowered several others to think, question and act.

We don’t have to achieve greatness, but the least we can do is commit our reasoning to the values that are forced upon us.

I could very well end this post with an inspiring quote which would amend my exhibitive pretentiousness which was omnipresent. But these are my thoughts and I don’t require an oracle’s wisdom to approve it.

Go ahead, commit a thought crime.

Satyamev Jayate?- An Insight

It’s been a while since I wrote something new; I want to accuse my cruel Graduate studies for that. It sucked the life out of me and kept me running from pillar to post.  I had to dress up formally almost every day to college, suit up occasionally yada yada. I was very sincere with the whole thing you know? I would even iron my shirt and trousers, spray deodorant over my socks the previous night. Gosh! My mother would be proud of my preparedness.

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Anyway a new television phenomenon seems to have hit our Indian Telly. I have respected Aamir for his gutso, dedication and sincerity to art with a faint disregard for commercialization. Dhobi Ghat, Taare Zameen Par and Lagaan were testaments to his caliber. And it is refreshing to see him take on Indian television with the same attitude.

I believe gender bias is the reason for whole female feticide episode. It has many causal effects, reduced sex ratio as shown is just tip of the iceberg. As the gender gap widens, it creates logistical problem for men. It is like studying mechanical engineering in Anna University for the rest of your life, no girls for you.

I think the issue is by large a projection of our society, our values and our culture. I want to tie this issue to my generation which grew up in the late 80’s and early 90’s.I feel the change agents are my generation; hence I feel it is our moral responsibility in some way to uplift the image of our society.

I in some way was brought up in a gifted society. My parents were very educated, secular and the educational environment they provided was orthodox to say the least. My schooling was from a government school, nothing fancy. To share an example our extra-curricular activities would suck, they wouldn’t even let the boys dance with the girls in the group dance events. And mind you the dances won’t even be mildly provocative; the regular Daler Mahendi marries “My India the greatest” albums.

Let us look at some of the rules that our well educated, progressive yet orthodox society had set for us which could plague our social outlook towards women in the future.

Study well: For a majority of the guys like me who hailed from an  orthodox middle class family, we didn’t have the luxury to easily befriend girls and date them at a young age. Not that the 16 year old me would send the ladies toes curling. Girls were seen as distraction to boys and parents infuse a sense of guilt if a boy is spending time loitering with girls, irrespective of the academic performance.  Our teachers would report us to our parents if they found we were fooling around with a girl. In summary we were promised that girls would come eventually to us if we were successful with our academics and career. Isn’t that incredibly sexist? I bet you didn’t think so when they summoned you.

As girls are seen as an end product of success, it becomes a mild mental block to think of them as individuals. To be disappointed with the newlywed wife is akin to saying I bought this toy and it doesn’t listen to me anymore. Most guys who seriously believe that studying well is the cardinal rule to marry a hottie think again.

Imagine this scenario(Arranged marriage): Sincere boy abiding by their parents rules studies well and is at the girls house to seek the girl. Guy fantasizing that though the address is Anna naga there might be a Megan fox in this house hold dressed up in madisaar. But when ”homely” looking girl shows up and churns out dialogues like “Got 97% in tenth standard, strong communication skills and ability to make coffee while discussing editorial in Hindu” How heartbroken the guy would be. It is the same feeling that suicide bombers face after they discover that the 72 virgins are actually World of Warcraft nerds with sweaty underarms and ample acnes.

No wonder they turn out to be assholes during the marital life. (I think I might have offended both feminists and terrorists in one go. Never thought I would do this. Again.)

Think about this, we are taught to respect girls as our sisters and mothers but never as equals. We mask a hidden sense of disparity and indifference under the cloak of respect.

The problem with Elders: The show depicted women being cruelly dealt by the inlaws, some of them so uncharitable to mention in the space of this blog.  Now those in laws used to be children once, what changed; what exactly went wrong? You would find sapient 50 year olds writing columns and columns of how we need to improve as a generation, but what can they say about their conduct?

We are taught to treat our elders with veneration and adulation. There is nothing wrong in that, but when respect is transposed as unquestionable faith in their decision making; it bothers me. I had a huge tiff with my parents growing up where my parents and uncles were teaching me “manners”. Often they would go about how “parents/elders know what is best for their children”. I think to use todays jargon, I trolled them big time. I was forced to attend Java and VB classes. So I asked them which language do you think would be more productive, Java or VB? The fact that I didn’t know jack shit about programming nor do I know now is not the issue here.

The “elders” stood flummoxed but I do remember hours and hours of drama after that question, because I had proved to them that elders do not know best. They know only what they have been through and even then it doesn’t grant them any authority in my decision making. There is this untold fixation with authority that plagues our elders. Now I am in no way giving tips on parenting for it would be as pointless as reading an erotica written by L.K Advani.

The social divide: In the first world countries the only place where I see a gender divide is in the public restrooms. But take a look at our country, from ticket counters to public transport to election booths. We have separate lines for men and women. Shouldn’t they be more comfortable around us as we should be around them? How long do we need moral policing and forced guidance in social etiquettes?

Societal Pressure: I am talking about dowry system. This used to be the prime culprit for female feticide as poor people couldn’t afford to pay dowry to get their daughters off married. And they thought them of as burden as they couldn’t work with them in farms. This pathetic condition still holds true in many of our villages. But are we as metropolitan cities any better?

And if you ask the parents or the girls why they agree to it they would say that in order to be a part of the society we need to do it. If your neighbor spends X amount of money on wedding, you should at least spend X+1 on it. This social imbecility has to stop sometime, but I reckon it won’t.

Educating and empowering women has shown to be a great solution to eradicating poverty and as a majority of our population still lives in villages we should embrace it. Aishwarya rai’s apparent expulsion from a movie prompts a twitteranche (avalanche + twitter) but would they hike the salary by the merest of margins if their maid got pregnant?

http://www.oceanofweb.com/bollywood/aishwarya-pregnancy-bhandarkar.html

I want the show to put us at unease and ask uncomfortable questions which we have been avoiding for a long time. Under the aegis of technology and industrial revolution lies many a skeleton which haven’t seen the light. I hope we work towards a society where we are treated on basis of our behavior rather than our gender.  Good luck Aamir and Team!