The October Revolution(s)


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.

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The Brave Cowards


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?

My New Year Resolution(s) – Make That One


My New Year Resolution(S) – Make That One.

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After a shitty 2014 when I went through all the emotional upheavals you associate with being caught complacent in life and then being kicked on the ass by destiny/fate, I have rebounded back to attain some degree of mental equilibrium. It’s so easy to say shit happens and life throws lemons at you- even more easier to share it as internet memes- but when it comes to accepting it in the real world it takes a lot more than you thought you had in you- to deal with the vicissitudes of life in all its darker shades. But like everyone who goes through the shadowed valley and comes out the other end alive, I too hope to make a fresh start this New Year after conquering the demons which plagued my recent past. And to carry that forward I have made a new year resolution- yes, I said “a/one/single” and its simple in itself- to be more out there- there in public.

To explain in detail (and here comes the boring part dear reader- self psychoanalysis alert) every time I am traumatized by events I tend to withdraw into myself a good deal- just imagine a hurt animal retreating into a darkened cave to lick its wounds and there’s me. I have over the years tried to reduce the time period for such self-imposed seclusion but I have found out (through trial and error) that the process takes its own time and I can’t hurry it along without re-lapsing back into a feeling of solitude. So this time I have made the deliberate decision to go out there and socialize more as a way of showing fate that “keep throwing those lemons and see if I care”. This is my way of showing bravery, my way of showing that whatever happens to disrupt the normal peaceful routine of my life, I will not withdraw myself away from public gaze (and from the company of my friends) but would fight to remain normal and social.

Having made this my new year- 2015 – resolution, I have decided to invite more of my friends for meet and greets. Especially my online friends from twitter and Facebook with who I have interacted for many years online; but haven’t really met face to face. I am planing to invite all such friends for a coffee or a high tea and just sit across from them- a real person across the table and talk to them like I normally do online. This is my New Year resolution – to talk in person with all my online friends.

So wait for that invite dear friends- this year we will definitely be meeting face to face. Please join me for a coffee, tea, beer, lunch or dinner. And don’t worry- we need not discuss my life or yours- we can keep it simple and gossip about celebrities. Do join me, will you?

The Emden Saga- Shelling the British Raj Off


The Emden Saga- Shelling the British Raj Off

emden-4Intro : This post was written as part of my madras day series…but got misplaced on my hardrive…yeah, you are probably scratching your head and wondering “how in hell?”…but suffice to say that I saved it under a wrong/bizarre file name and hence it took me a while to dig this out and once I discovered it I coudnt resist showing it off to the world at large and specifically you my dear reader..ps..i almost said you poor son-a-of-a-damn….so go on and read this – even if it feels a bit dated….

Emden_1914The dawn of the twentieth century was also a dawn of sorts for India as a country. I say “of sorts” because the conception of the country as an independent nation was still in the minds of a few leaders and not even a figment of imagination in the consciousness of the vast majority of the toiling millions who finally turned the freedom struggle into reality by their mass participation later on. The few freedom fighters who were struggling alone like Lala Lajpat Rai and Bal Gangadhar Tilak were all playing the waiting game- waiting for the British to come to reason and acknowledge the truth of self governance. The Congress party under its puissant leadership was busy petitioning the local crown representatives about its grievances and patting themselves on the back for having done a good job. After all what else can you expect from a party led by a bunch of lawyers like Mohammed Jinnah and Motilal Nehru who were taught to respect duly constituted authority above else, including, if I may add self respect and national pride. But this state of stasis was not to last long- the turning points of the struggle were coming along in the guise of two unrelated incidents- the landing of Mk Gandhi on the shores of Bombay –the premiere port city of the west and the bombing of Madras port on the east coast by the German battle cruiser Emden. These two were the bugle call to action – to awaken a moribund organization like the Congress into the path of mass disobedience and to enmbolden the patient masses to take on the might of the British Empire in the quest for their freedom from the foriegn yoke.

Indians have always been labeled an insular people who never bothered to keep abreast of the rest of the world. This like all throwaway statements has a large measure of truth in it. The Islamic conquest under the brutal Mongols and Tartars had destroyed the rich fabric of cultural assimilation of the country under the Mauryas and Guptas. The medieval period of Indian history was a long struggle for mere survival of the masses laboring under unjust rulers and brutal warlords each struggling to carve out an independent existence away from a weak central authority. The mughal emperors ruled over the conquered masses by granting feudal fiefs to their most able (and blood thirsty) commanders regardless of their religion and they maintained their misrule by the principle of might is right. Even the arrival of the Europeans failed to bring the much needed renaissance to rejuvenate the country and it took an hundred years of British rule to consolidate the warring pieces into one country- willing or unwilling.

But still the masses of India- the working millions were not bothered about their rulers. Why should they? For whoever ruled them, be it the local jagirdar, the zamindar, the Mughal Emperor or Queen Victoria, their sweat and toil was not their own to benefit from. It was all took away as tax by their rulers to maintain their massive palaces and their Rolls Royces. There was no feeling of solidarity for the toiling telengana peasant struggling to grow cotton for the Manchester mills in the conscousness of the indigo farmers of the champaran region who were the producers of the dye to color that very same cotton. The Indian, as he was then, was content to think only about his neighborhood and his village for his life revolved around them. For him the local seat of government Delhi was as far away as London probably was. And Europe? What’s Europe? Was the awareness level of the vast majority of the people. To expect such a people to be aware of the Great War being fought on the European mainland was expecting a mite too much.

But it did happen- the Great War ceased to be a struggle between white men- European killing European and became an Indian issue on a balmy night in September, 1914. It was on 22nd September – almost a hundred years ago to this day – that the light cruiser Emden of the German navy coasted off the Madras port and started its bombardment of Madras city. It was probably helped by the flashing beacon on top of the light house in the Madras High Court premises. The bombardment resulted in little damage in actual terms but its psychological effect was massive. The British government which had been lulled into complacency believing their own tales of the invincibility of the royal navy from the times of Admiral Nelson was shaken to the core to realize that the Germans could assault their eastern colony with such ease. The myth of the royal navy’s superiority on the high seas received a massive blow.

Emden-2For the unsuspecting populace of madras city it was the much needed wake up call to make them realize that though they may close their eyes to the world the world will come knocking at their doors. The captain of the Emden Capt. Muller, it was later learnt, had deliberately avoided targeting civilian areas but a few stray shells did land inside the city limits – fortunately in lightly populated areas. One of them – an unexploded shell- can still be seen inside the madras high court premises- cordoned off from the public and with an almost indecipherably worn out plaque commemorating the bombing. Though the civilian population escaped unhurt from the bombing- the very fact that the city had been shelled caused a massive panic attack and mass exodus from the city. Many families- including my grandparents- left the city the very next day – to get away from- in the picturesque words of my grandpa “as far away from the coast as possible”. Because the citizens of madras city strongly believed that the bombing of the port was not just a coincidence but an advance softening before landing troops on the ground. Entire areas of the city like royapuram and chintadripet were evacuated and people fled by whatever mode of transport was available- even walking all day- into the neighboring towns like chingleput and kancheepuram to get away from the soon to be coming German army.

emden-1If there was one group of citizens who welcomed the German invasion it was the looters and freebooters who found the lure of the hastily vacated houses too rich a temptation to resist. The police force was also busy in organizing a cordon sanitaire around the port area and in organizing civil defense forces to give much care to preventing local looting. The citizens who fled in panic later returned to find entire homes looted and bare. The local British government imposed strict rationing of essentials which did more to plummet their popularity than any other single step as the people despaired of supporting a war effort which did nothing to protect their very homes from bombardment by the enemy. The might of the British empire stood exposed as mere words and people lost their fear of London- which alone had kept the millions of India at awe of the British and subservient to the British raj.

emden-5Meanwhile the assault on madras city brought a rare awareness to the people of India that they were not as isolated from world affairs as they had thought hither till. The vernacular newspapers highlighted the struggle between the allied and axis powers to assert their supremacy as a world war on their own doorstep. The overseas shipment of Indian sepoys as canon fodder to the battlefields of the Middle East and Africa brought the war home in a very personal way to even otherwise unaware Indians. The vast populace which till then had only worried about putting food on the table began to realize that their fate was not their own and a sudden death could visit them for reasons unknown and wars which had nothing to do with them. A new awareness dawned on the people that they were being exploited for fighting others wars and the situation was ripe for ferment. And then Mk Gandhi landed on the shores of India and spoke to the masses in their own language and about their own issues igniting the flame of freedom finally. But that is a story for another day.

So let me conclude by giving the local Tamil translation of the word “Emden”- referring to a cunning person who is often implacably vindictive. Thus the German Cruiser Emden after a single action still lives on in popular Indian consciousness as not only the first and only enemy ship to shell mainland India but also to unshackle the minds of the Indians from the fear of the invincible British army which had decimated them during the mutiny. The Germans in the end won out- they may have lost the First World War and their quest for colonies on a par with the British Empire but they made sure that the British Raj lost out too- in a mere thirty five years the British lost the crown jewel of their colonial empire and India stood free as an independent nation. In the end Emden had stuck a blow for Indian independence too.

Madras Yenga Madras…


Madras Yenga Madras…

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Every year for Madras Day I do a blog post on the city I grew up in and lived for a majority of my life. Having had my entire life turned topsy-turvy recently (in a good way) I was noticeably reluctant to do one this year as I am pretty badly exhausted by the time I get home from work and sitting down in front of the computer to type sounds less and less appealing as the days pass by. But enough of that. My blogger friend Susan Deborah has initiated a blog theme on “what I would like to change in madras” and she has provided me the much needed spark to park my butt down and type this post.

So what would I like to change in madras? Well, off-hand I would say “nothing at all, the city’s fine as it is”. But that sounds too glib, doesn’t it? On further reflection I do find that there is one thing I would love to change in madras, but more about that later in the post. Right now as part of madras day celebrations I would like to record for posterity (hahahha….feel free to laugh too- at my expense) a few unforgettable landmarks of my childhood days – which are now in the unique peril of being forgotten by everyone except a certain generation who grew up in the madras of those times.

I would like to record my remembrances here of a few places like:

Maskanchavadi – also known as Koli market (Chicken market)colloquially, it was THE place to go to buy a pet, any pet you fancy- right from a cockatoo, an angora rabbit, love birds, mynah birds, any kinda bird or dog or animal you fancy- you name it and the dealers there could procure it for you. The maskanchavadi market was at a tri-street junction off Broadway, right opposite the old Broadway theatre building and it used to function on Sunday mornings- when the crowds came from everywhere to just look around the menagerie. But repeated raids by our efficient local police force to check for illegal/rare bird selling businesses has driven down the entire market to death and it now exists as a paltry few shops selling broiler chicken for the table. Times move on and what was once considered commonplace- now resides in memory as a quaint old place.

Satti-Panai Kadai – right off koli market as you keep moving towards the interior of Broadway you run smack into the Pots and Pans market- where once people who cooked exclusively in earthenware pans and drank water off mud pots used to come to buy the stuff. Now that the market has shifted to aluminum and eversilver (stainless steel) cookware the pots and pans of earthenware have died a natural death and returned to earth (so to say).

Roundu-Kuzhai- As the name indicates it was a big rotunda with a municipal pump bang right in the middle of it all with various streets branching off in all directions. It was situated off Mint Street and connected most of the other streets parallel to mint street in one single place. People used to give address locations as “you know round kozha? Take the 2nd right….etc” in the pre-Google maps era. The area was also notorious for being the place where most riots started and you often learnt that some political party or the other had declared a bandh/hartal when the stones started flying around the roundu kozha area.

Broadway Theatre/Padmanabha Theatre/Prabhat Theatre/Murugan Talkies- none of which exist as theatres now but places where a lot of film history was made. In the end of their cycle as viable entities going to murugan was often synonymous with going to watch a bit-film….you know the ones where in the midst of a normal/boring movie they insert a little pornographic slide or two just to wake up sleepy audiences? That’s what I mean…Murugan along with Parangimalai Jothi theatre was the pre internet era’s easy access porno knowledge providers to a whole generation of boys growing up without official sex-ed.

Krishnappa Naicken Tank Agraharam- would you believe an honest to god kumbakonam style agraharam (a brahmin community only) kind of locality in the midst of busy Broadway? Yeah, it existed once- situated roundabout krishnappa’s tank- in concentric streets off the tank area.

Finally Diamond Tea Stall- the place where boys turned into men- the fag end of Mint Street right opposite mint bus terminus- this was THE hangout spot for all the rowdies and roughnecks of GT area- where awestruck people used to point them out as celebrities. The language was all pukka madras bhashai – starting with kasmalam and asking about nenjullu erukkara manja soru. And dress code? Strictly Lungi…pants were for sissies.

I could go on and on…but what the point? These places even though they no longer exist physically still stay on as evergreen memories in all long term residents of George Town area.

And oh about the changing madras thing? I would of course like to change madras’s politicinas – the ones who didn’t hesitate to jettison the wonderful old name madras for chennai under the guise of langauge pride in the hopes of a few paltry extra votes.

 

Proving a Damn Point.


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A friend was talking to me yesterday when he started complaining about the teasing he was suffering at the workplace from the management and how his entire job experience had turned bitter. When I asked him as to why he was still hanging around that damn job, for after all he was well qualified, experienced and bright and would be snatched up by any other competitor, the answer he gave me was this “because I don’t want them to win, I want to prove my point by sticking on there till they kick me out themselves”. Excuse me, you would rather wait to be kicked out then walk out with dignity? Surprising. Anyway to come back to this “proving a point” thing- I keep hearing this justification very often from plenty of others too and each time I wonder about it, whether it is a wisest course of action.

 The point is, I don’t get the point of proving a point (forgive the bad alliteration, coudnt resist). In my point of view any place, act, or situation which makes you uncomfortable and irritates you is a flashing red sign to get away from that stressful place (or person). If going to work every day means you are at a high state of tension throughout the day and the stress is going to give you High Blood Pressure, Kidney failure, maybe a Stroke or two and an Heart-Attack to boot, then I couldn’t care less about proving a point to some moron if it’s going to hurt me that much ultimately. No anger or grudge is worth destroying our own health and peace of mind. When I stated this belief of mine to another colleague seated nearby, he said that he sympathized with the other guy and if I didn’t agree with the majority view, then I must be a cold blooded type.

 I am not sure what he meant by being hot-blooded but if it means flying into a temper at the drop of a hat, boiling with rage, swearing vengeance, carrying grudges or fighting a vendetta to prove my point- then please count me out. I am not interested in remembering every hurt or betrayal and living just to take revenge for it. That is just not me- I am slow to anger, fast to cool down and I forgive easily. Life, to me, is too short and precious to waste it on grudges. I would rather forget and move on with doing my own thing. And I sure as hell don’t want to prove a point to anyone on anything if it means loss of peace of mind to me. In my often stated view- life should be calm, peaceful and stress-less as we glide over its smoothly polished surface.

 To intentionally create havoc in our own lives just to teach someone else a lesson is utter foolishness in my view. Karma will get them in due course so why waste all our energies and precious moments of the present planning a possible gloating moment of the future? Maybe I will never get it- why people are ready to go so far to get revenge. Maybe I really am a cold fish. Or maybe, just maybe, I am wiser than all those grudge-holders, revenge-seekers and point-provers. Who knows? Have you any idea?

I Party in Bed on New Year’s Eve….


I Party in Bed on New Year’s Eve….

bookreadingThe Christmas to New Year season is one of the few times in the year when I wish I could avoid the Internet completely. This is not only due to the innumerable party pictures my friends post on line but also because of the many invitations I receive to join them in such parties. Now before you ask me what’s wrong with partying let me add a brief personal reminiscence. Sometime ago in the past I was a complete party animal. I had a large group of friends who were all A-listers in the party scene – offspring of movers and shakers, film-folk, fashion-folk etc and we used to hop around from party to party all over the town never staying at one place long enough to get bored. In fact, it became such a routine part of life that pretty soon there never was a weekend without any action if you know what I mean.

People were bent on discovering the newest and hottest party spots- they change as often as a month before falling out of favor with the hep crowd who simply moved on- and they wouldn’t stop before dragging you around to show their newest discovery where you can have the best party ever. But after sometime it all becomes a blur as you go around hugging and air-kissing the same crowd of strangers masquerading as friends and flirting with women who you know you won’t dare proceed with any further and in turn being hit upon by girls you barely know and won’t be caught dead with in the real world- it was all a strange surreal experience and it took place every Saturday night, till you came home exhausted at 3am the next day to hit the sack and sleep till noon.

After a certain period of this- I rebelled- I didn’t want to continue this fast life anymore. I decided I was gonna clean up my act, get rid of this partying addiction and get on with my normal everyday life. But it wasn’t as easy as that. Kicking my addiction to a night out every Saturday night was one of the hardest things to do. It took every ounce of will power I had to turn down invitation after invitation from well meaning friends who often as not sounded genuinely puzzled on why I was avoiding them (had I moved up a higher scale in social standing?) and even used flattery to tempt you saying “But you are the life of the party- it wouldn’t be the same without you”.

And at least initially it used to leave me at a dead end wondering what the hell I was going to do with my suddenly free weekend and there was a subconscious itch somewhere whenever I remembered that other people were out there on the town having fun while I was holed up in bed with a book. But I took it on manfully and I beat my temptations and I no longer had the craving to live just for the weekends. Saturday became just another day and Mondays turned exciting- I turned into a total workaholic- and work and more work became the raison d’être of a good life.

Anyway it’s been many years since I gave up my partying lifestyle and I am proud to say that I have steadfastly refused to succumb anytime I was tempted to just have one last fling. But you know what, however long you stay off the stuff- the memories never go away, the memories of the good times you had in the past always stay there at the back of the mind and every time you show the slightest interest in nostalgia it takes it for a sign of weakness and starts tempting again. And you end up having to fight the good fight again and again- especially during the holiday season when others post their party pictures. Bu the thought that if you give in for just one more time- a final fling- very soon you will be again coming back home at 3AM on Sunday morning regularly acts as a timely warning to keep you on the straight and narrow road. And that is definitely not something to look forward to at this age.

So every year between Christmas and New Year I stay off the internet because having seen the so-called good life, I know by now that it is not really that good and so am quite happy to read a book or watch TV at home on New Year’s Eve. And if you are out there partying, I wish you a Happy New Year, 2014 and do have one on me….