Absent Empathy and Low Emotional Quotient


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.

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Angry Birds Who Shit On Me.


Angry Birds Who Shit On Me.

I recently celebrated yet another birthday and as usual it was time to reflect again on certain aspects of my life which I feel the need to improve on at least in the next year. One area which I definitely have to work on is in my attitude to relationships. Being single at the end of one more year, I couldn’t help but deeply ponder on my relationships lakshman rekha- the very bright red lines which cause me to opt out of any relationship. The absolute be-all and end-all relationships killers. And in the top of my list was anger.

Believe me I get that anger is a very human emotion and everyone gets angry at one time or the other. Even I get angry maybe once in three years or so (don’t believe me? ask my mother who will certify the last time she saw me angry a few years ago). Not getting angry or reacting in anger is a major plus in my work as a government doctor as there are umpteen number of patients and situations everyday which tend to provoke people with less control of their temper to say or do something hasty and nasty. But I always remember that these patients are in trouble, severe pain, and it’s not right to get angry against them when they can’t help it.

This very attitude from my professional life is what I unfortunately tend to carry over to my personal life. I give allowance, great allowances to the moods of others and tend to look at things from their point of view, thereby making myself the butt of unjustified anger which I never deserve. Somehow, I don’t know how, I always end up attracting people opposite to me in temperament, the angry birds, who are always going around with feathers ruffled trying to peck anyone who is stupid enough to fall for them.

Being in a relationship, especially being the sane person in a relationship, the calm person, the mature person in the relationship does not earn me any kudos, instead it gets me un-ending abuse in the guise of “just venting off steam”. I, on the other hand, (unfortunately) am wise enough not to vent off steam undeservedly at my loved ones, I vent off where necessary and not at innocent souls who can’t even comprehend what they did to deserve this stream of abuse.

And I just can’t agree that people get angry at others and spout rubbish because they are short tempered. Have you ever seen any short tempered person scream in school at their head master? Or at work at their boss? I too, haven’t. Even those who confess to being short tempered are prepared to hold their tongues in the office against a boss for whom they might or might not work within the next few months. If they are prepared to bite back the angry retorts and abuse for something as transitory as a job where you spend a few hours a day what prevents you from doing the same with someone you want to spend a lifetime with?

The license to get angry and vent off for unrelated stresses and tensions works both ways doesn’t it? What/how would it look if I did the same? Not that I am capable of doing that, but still for the sake of argument just imagine me screaming and ranting and “just” letting off steam. And that’s why anger and short temper continue to remain my lakshman rekha, the line that thou should not cross. But being the floor mat that I am (prepared to let another person walk all over me) I still allow the same number of strikes Krishna gave to sisupala- abuse me a 100 times and I shall bear it, the 101st time I walk out without looking back.

Now I know that you will be thinking what if I deserved it? Well, let me tell you that if I really deserved it, I would stand there and take my punishment like a man. It’s just the underserved abuse coming from temper tantrums I am in no way responsible for that I totally abhor and will walk out off. Fair warning, if you are in a relationship with me and if you are going to get angry, go punch a wall, go scream alone, go work it out of your system somehow, never ever try to ram it down my throat. I don’t deserve abuse. I don’t like short tempered people. And I absolutely abhor angry people. I would rather spend all my life alone than be in any kind of relationship with someone who gets angry at me for no fault of mine or is generally short tempered. Its time I get stopped getting shit on by angry birds who cant find anyone else to take their shit.

So to end this- short tempered people, angry people- go see a shrink, just don’t come near me. For me a peaceful life is a happy life. A life where no one raises their voice at the other is my idea of a perfect relationship. Disagreements should be talked over, preferably over a cup of coffee like mature adults and not screamed at. Don’t agree, just take a walk or I will and never look back. And this has been my credo for all these years and that why I am still single and can’t find a girl who is not short tempered and who will not shout at me. Know anyone like that?

A Balanced Life


Can we have our cake and eat it too? No? Does that sound too greedy? But why not? Why can’t I have a great career? A good family life? Enough leisure time? Adequate “me” time? All of the above, instead of picking my choices from one of the above? Sounds bizarre to you? Yeah to me too. All I want is to have a balanced life, where I can work a little, play a little, sleep a little and just lie down there and daydream a little. But increasingly I find that I just can’t find the time to fit all of this into my daily schedule. No I am not trying to beat my own drums that I am very busy and can’t find the time. The truth is sometimes I just can’t remember where the time went when I reflect on it at the end of an average day. Some of it surely went sitting and waiting in traffic on my daily commute, up and down the city working at two jobs at either end of the metropolis. But travelling does give me the time to catch up on my old favorites on FM radio channels and I am usually in a chirpier mood after listening to for instance “mundhiri muthaella syenjukku” or whatever it was from the song “nenjinelle, nenjinelle” from the incomparable AR Rahman. Leaving that aside, travelling also gives me a great perspective to write the kind of short fiction I like to write. I look at people and try to imagine their everyday lives and then I use them as characters in one of my stories. Where else would I go for authentic personalities if I spend all day locked up in a cubicle listening to people explain in great detail what they think their disease is and what treatment should I do to them?

Nutritionist’s talk a lot of balanced diets. About how we need carbohydrates/proteins/fats in equal measure…but every single diet out there stresses one particular aspect in favor of the other- low-cal diet, no-fat diet and they all seem to work to some extent. What works for food ought to work for life too right? Do we need to live a balanced life or can we live a life where we are happy to accept that life is essentially unbalanced and you just can’t fit in all you want to do, the operating word here being “want”, in a span of 24 hours? What if you were to work all week and rest all Sunday? Like the good lord told us to do on Sabbath? Is that a balanced life? Or are you building up to having a coronary? What if I just pick and choose one aspect of my life? Say my career? And revolve all the rest of my life around it? Arrange to have a convivial family life with someone who respects my need to work hard at my career even at the expense of forgoing any leisure time or activity? Can it be done?  I definitely hope so. When we get to the core of it the only persons who can choose to have a balanced life, do all that their hearts desire- rest, relax, spend time with family, work within limits- are those who were born with a golden spoon or those who have already attained a certain level of affluence where money becomes superfluous. All the rest of us poor mortals have to slog our butts off to make a decent living and stay off the poverty line. We can ready in lifestyle magazines about the heady experience of living a balanced life and then get on with trying to balance all our different priorities into the same time frame. Live one day at a time within our means and not be greedy to have it all. In the end its better to be practical rather than be idealistic. And keep alive hope that someday…..

The Thin Line Of Hope


The Thin Line Of Hope

“Hope is a wonderful thing. It’s the thin line which often separates life from a life not worth living for. The absence of hope is the greatest tragedy of human life. Especially when humans lose hope just when their life is going to take a turn for the better and make some hasty decisions. Of course, humans can’t see the future as we do and that’s the beauty of hope. They have to believe in it, believe that life is going to turn on its head for them in the very near future. That a benevolent god is up there watching over them and he sends angels like us down to earth to walk with them in their most care-worn states. That belief and the hope it generates is what human life worth fighting for. Loss of that belief and consequent hope for the future results in such cases” he gestured to the prone figure on the bed battling for life “and just when her life was about to get better she has taken poison to kill herself. And now we just have to wait here for the grim reaper to come collect his toll”. “But” the cherub asked the senior angel “can’t we do something?” It was its first day on the job and it was still learning the ropes “can’t we, like, turn back time and show her a little hope? Give her hints that she just has to pass over this bump in her life to be happy again?”

“Ahh”, the senior angel shook his wise head negatively “that’s just what we are forbidden to do little one. Remember the fight over the first man Adam’s creation?” he winked as he didn’t want to mention the ungodly revolt even here on earth for god had eyes and ears everywhere “well, God in his everlasting benevolence granted Adam and his progeny the gift of free will. It’s up to the humans how they use it. To better themselves or to fall into temptations. And we are forbidden to interfere in their choices even if they make some such stupid decisions like taking their own lives”. He stood there wings folded staring pensively at the woman on the bed now whooping great gasps trying to suck in air as the poison started taking greater effect. “Now look at this girl, would you believe that six months ago she was a bright and cheerful girl always with a smile on her face? Then she lost her mother, her father a drunk, disappeared around the same time and she joined up as a domestic help in a wealthy household. And that’s where the seeds of her destruction were sowed. It took six months, but that family was the one which killed her today”.

“An entire family were responsible for her taking poison?” the newest cherub to join the angels asked aghast “how is that possible? Wasn’t there even a single person in that household with a little pity in their heart?” the senior angel looked oddly at him and then making a decision “No, that single family was the epitome of all human vices- there was lechery, greed, jealousy and hate but no redeeming features in them. All in all, I would say, they are a typical human family. I think it would be better if you saw for yourself so come with me” he said, “and I will show how she ended up like this today” and taking the little cherub with him the senior angel flew off to visit Seth Narotamdas Damodardas, the wealthy philanthropist and benefactor of many temples, ngo’s and cows.

They entered a massive villa built like a replica of the Jaipur palace and the first person they saw on flying in through a first floor bedroom window was a young man snoring away on a palatial bed in an alcohol induced haze. “This is Pankaj, the only son and heir of Sethji’s vast business empire of beedi and gutka” said the angel “and also the father of the unborn child in the dead girls womb. While pankaj got her pregnant with his tender profession of love, beguiling the innocent little fool fresh from the village, it was his father sethji who drove her out of the family mansion for daring to accuse his son of being the father of her child. Sethji was angry beyond words because he knew any word of this leaking out would damage the marriage prospects of his son to some other rich business family.

And how do you guess the whole affair came to light? It was jealousy which did it. The Seth’s daughter Neerja hated the servant girl from the first, hated that even in her rags and grime she looked far lovelier than the bejeweled Neerja. She especially hated her because her fiancée, Paresh had once spent an entire dinner staring at the servant maid as she served at the table. Though plain and ugly Neerja has a haughty heart, a heart which cannot countenance playing second fiddle to anyone and she bore spite from that moment on towards the maid. And when she found out the idle dalliance between her wastrel brother and the maid she couldn’t wait to run in and inform her father and mother. Sethji was a tad less guilty in that he only dismissed the maid and sent her out to starve in the streets, it was his wife madamji -Manju madam, who not only hid her gold ornaments but made sure that the seth file a police complaint against the poor girl and had her arrested and sent to jail for her temerity in beguiling her innocent son. She was also responsible for spreading the word around in all the voluntary organizations and women’s rights organizations she served in, that anyone having the intention to help this particular girl would earn the undying wrath of the seth’s whole family.

The poor girl was driven to begging on the streets to satisfy the hunger pangs of her unborn child in the womb. She couldn’t eat enough to feed herself let alone the child gnawing in her belly even though she spent all day on her feet begging for work, some work which would allow her to live with dignity or at least feed her babe. But society, human society is a cruel, cruel thing, humans have no pity on those who are down on their luck, they avoid them like the plague to make sure that their ill-luck doesn’t rub off on others. If only they knew that nothing is ever so simple” the senior angel sighed “just this afternoon this girl fell down on the street dashed by a passing motorcar and when she reached her tenement she found her petticoats running with rivulets of blood and she felt she had lost her child, the only thing which had made her current life worth bearing and unable to face such a bleak future she took the easy way out, the only way she knew to end her misery in one stroke by swallowing a packet of poison”.

The cherub was aghast “senior angel ji you speak as if sympathizing with the action of this human. Hasn’t god expressly forbidden taking self-life by humans? Isn’t it a great sin?”. The senior angel smiled cynically “yes god, has said that, he has had it written down by his prophets and messengers and had it widely disseminated to everyone. But, you know, humans, they are a weak souled species, they cant take adversity and attribute it to gods way of testing them before rewarding them. They are so short sighted and short lived that the trials and miseries of a few years breaks their will to live”. He continued the lesson to the young apprentice “Now take this girl for instance, in a few months there’s a going to be a major car crash and the sethji, his wife and daughter are all going to die. The seth’s son, this girls lover is going to be crippled and he is going to come crawling back to her to marry him and restore to her rightful place as his wife”.

“But, but” the cherub spluttered “she’s dying right now and how can all this come to pass if she dies tonight?”. The senior angel signed long and deeply and said “exactly, that’s why I said humans are so short sighted. If only she hadn’t taken the extreme step of taking her own life tonight, her life in a few months would have seen a miraculous turnaround. But that’s free will for you- that which the humans alone were deemed worthy to receive from god and not even we angels got”. The cherub was impressed by the gravity of the senior angel’s pronouncement “so the humans have got better than us? Are they that special to god? Don’t we angels deserve something too? For following gods will without question? While they get to have free will, hope and every kindness in gods power to grant?”.

The perturbation of the little cherub brought a smile to the angels face but when the senior angel smiled this time, it was an ugly smile full of hidden menace “yes they have free will. Yes they have hope. But we, my dear cherub have got the power to break their hopes, merely by standing by and not doing anything to help them. And can you guess the best way to break hope in someone? You don’t break them, you just break something they love and if it’s something which loves them back that’s even better. That’s how they lose hope and give up themselves. And that’s how we angels get our revenge on mankind”. He smiled as gaily as if he had won a great prize.

For hope is indeed a precious gift for mankind and we humans treat it as if it doesn’t matter.

P.S. I have written a lot of short stories- crime fiction, science fiction, social fiction etc but I have never yet written a moral story, something which has a message for the reader. I have been re-reading a lot of my favorite Russian authors- Tolstoy, Chekov, etal and under their influence I have tried to write a honest-to-god message oriented short story for the first time in my life. I expect reader’s feedback to see how far I still have to go to improve. Do write in with your suggestions.

The Mental Aspects of Disease


The Mental Aspects of Disease

Are you frequently fatigued and unable to bring up the drive to work properly as you were wont to do previously? Are you always sad and depressed and don’t have the enthusiasm to do anything about it? Do you keep getting fat even though you are semi starving yourself all the time? Are you anxious? Depressed? Eccentric? Is it time to visit a therapist? A counsellor? A psychiatrist? And talk things over?

Hold on a minute. Perish the thought that psychiatry comprises counselling primarily and counselling can cure anything. It never happens that way in real life despite the millions spent on counselling therapy by gullible people who are desperate for a cure for their symptoms and problems. Despite what counsellors would have you believe, venting out for an hour in a darkened room to a bored person who keeps interjecting soothing platitudes is not going to make your problems disappear or your diseases to cure itself. In 90% of the cases I have mentioned above you will have an as yet undiagnosed physical condition with the remaining being the interplay of your inherited genes with your environment.

If you are depressed or anxious visit a psychiatrist who can prescribe you drugs to bring your mood swings under control before you slash your wrists. Talk therapy can achieve only so much when the entire gamut of your neural messengers inside your brain are playing havoc with your individual neurons making some misfire and others to cease fire.

If you are fatigued all the time go visit a good internist or general physician and rule out any viral diseases -for most of the times, it’s these little culprits who drain you of your energy without any obvious reasons. If still not satisfied, the next port of call should be an endocrinologist who will assess your chemical messengers from the adrenals and thyroids which have an effect on whole body wellness even in miniscule amounts. Any absence or reduction in these little proteins can lead to a whole lot of misery in everyday life.

And finally if you are desperate to lose weight and find you just can’t control your appetite don’t listen to the counsellor who says you have weak will power and over eat. They are just putting the cart before the horse and failing to diagnose the underlying physical problem which is causing you to feel hungry all the time and makes you overeat. Go visit a good endocrinologist and check out your hormone levels. Once you get them under control, your hunger pangs and mood swings will automatically disappear. Don’t blame yourself for being fat and don’t let others blame you- especially if they are taking good money off you just to listen to your failings.

Hunger is an awful thing and you are only human if you are miserable and pre-occupied with thoughts of food when you are dieting. Add to it the emotional stress of being fat- the unspoken judgment that you lack will power, the suffering from internal starvation and the constant guilt feeling when you listen to your body and indulge its wants – none of which can be cured by lying down there and talking about how you are going to make an effort henceforth. Get a blood test done before you start keeping a fancy food diary. Re-balance your hormones so that the food is burnt up to feed you and not just stored away as fat. Do the simple things, the basic things right and the larger issues (pun intended) will take care of themselves.

The mental aspects of disease are real, no one denies that. But that’s not all we are- we are an amalgamation of nerves, hormones and millions and millions of bacteria which live inside us. Any change in any one of these components can cause disease by the very imbalance the body is incapable of managing. You are not just your brain or your mood- you have an entire system of interconnected body parts and organs which, all of them, have their own agenda and look out for their own good. The loss of balance in your physical body can and does affect the brain and vice versa. It’s far easier to diagnose and treat any bodily ailments before trying to tamper with the brain. A good therapist can make you talk your fears out loud, but merely talking them out loud (and paying your therapist for that privilege) is not guaranteed to cure you once and for all. Everyone deserves to live healthy and live happily- not either or but both. So think over your options before jumping to conclusions. All the best.

P.S. this rant was triggered by too many patients professing that they undergo counselling even for blatantly physical diseases which require medications and a boot up their backsides rather than couch talk. I am not sure how these counsellors have done it, but they seem to have convinced an entire generation of idiots that they can talk their way to good health. If only.

The Bold King, The Wise Minister And The Evil Citizens – Short fiction


The Bold King, The Wise Minister And The Evil Citizens.

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The king was bored, truly bored. He had, ever since he had clawed his bloody way over to the throne subduing all internal opposition and dissent had true peace for once as he had also subdued almost all the neighboring countries under his rule. Just sheer gossip that he was amassing an army to invade often forced the neighboring countries to surrender immediately and offer up tribute to stave off the invasion. For they knew all about him and his barbarian ways and knew they could expect no pity from this man who had risen up from the dregs of society by his sheer bloodthirsty ways to become a warlord who ruled over all the lands with fear as his main weapon, lands which had once despised his kind but forced to now kowtow to him. And like all uneducated barbarians who rose to be kings by the power of their bloodthirsty swords this king too depended on the advice of a learned minister to take care of the day to day ruling of the empire the details of which bored him immensely. As long as the palace coffers were full and as long as there were enemies who could be beheaded, hung or burned alive the king did not bother to think about anything else. The minister, the kings right hand man as it were, was like all educated men forced to serve barbarian’s to survive, secretly hated and despised the king for his bloodthirsty attitude and was merely waiting for the chance which one day, the minister often assured himself, the barbarians idiocy would offer him on a platter, a chance to destroy and replace the king on the throne where the educated minister was sure he could perform better. And his chance came that day.

The king as we said was bored, and being bored wanted to be amused. He called his minister and asked “tell me minister is the country happy? Are the people happy?” to which the crafty minister replied “of course your kingship, the country is happy and the people, they are very happy”. The king frowned for of course this was not the answer he had expected to hear so he asked the minister “but why?”. The minister hesitated a moment to ponder whether this was a trick question before answering “well, because the nation is at peace, we have no enemies. The people are all prosperous and rich and that makes them happy”. The king thought this over and asked in a puzzled tone “the people are rich? The people of this country?” and the minister began to fear the tone of the king in the conversation and hurriedly said “yes your kingship, we have conquered all the surrounding lands and there is peace and prosperity everywhere. At last all our people are free to work hard, make money and grow rich”. The king went on to ask “but what about taxes? Don’t they pay taxes? How can they be rich then?” the minister now understanding the way the kings mind was working went on to say “of course your kingship the people are paying all the taxes we have thought up. But what to do, these people, these peasants, are hardworking, sincere and very industrious. The more we tax them and take away their money the more these people work day and night to save money”. But the king was still not satisfied “but how can they be rich? That means that we are not taxing enough if they have money enough to be rich even after paying taxes”.

The crafty minister smiled at this and said “but your kingship, you forget one thing, these cunning peasants never tell us how much they earn in truth for us to tax properly. It’s all about parallel economy and black money with those beggars. They never tell the truth of their incomes and earnings to our sincere soldiers who go for tax collections daily. If a potter sells ten pots a day he pays tax on nine pots only and saves the money he makes on the last pot for the day he falls ill and cannot make a single pot. Similarly that old woman who sells idlis for a living says she had sold fifty idlis a day when in fact she sells sixty, hoping to save that money for a rainy day when she cannot stand in the rains and sell any idlis because the customers avoid coming out in the rains. These people are all cheats your kingship, they are selfish and avaricious and they lie boldly to the hard working tax collectors about how much they have saved for calamities like rainy days or sickness or any family emergencies. Almost all these peasants and farmers have stacks of coins-one annas and two annas- tied up in old bed sheets under their beds. That’s how rich they are.”

The king was incensed on hearing this “they are rich, are they? How dare they be rich? How can they be rich in a country where I rule? Don’t they know that I despise money? I never had any money yet I became king through my talents. I want to punish them – punish them all severely minister. Shall we hang them all in the market place for hoarding black money?” The minister at last had the chance he had been waiting years for, the chance to get rid of this barbarian king once and for all. In a slow whisper he went on to say “I have a better idea my king. These people with their one anna and two anna coins think they are rich. Even if you hang them they will die happy thinking that they die rich. The only way to properly punish them is to make them poor. Make them beggars again. Show them that even hard work and industry is not enough to make someone rich in our country. Show them that if they are born poor they can only die poor and never better themselves. Make them despair of ever improving their lives” The king was pleased with this advice as it was what he believed in wholeheartedly “How? How? Tell me minister, how to make the whole country poor, so I can be the only rich man in this country?” The minister with a significant look at the king said “my lord, people think they are rich because they have money in their hands- so break their confidence on money itself. Just declare that all money today onwards is worthless and you can beggar the whole country in minutes. Then you and only you will be a rich man my king, while everyone else will be left holding worthless pieces of metals, those beggars.”

And the king who did not have the benefit of a proper education and never learned the concept of thinking things through which is the benefit of a proper education, by a single decree declared all money worthless and beggared his nation and people at one stroke. And the aftermath of this act was filled with tragedy and pathos and many deaths which is a tale to be told on another day.

On How I Got Old And Got Religion


On How I Got Old And Got Religion

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On my good days i am an agnostic and on my bad days i am an atheist.  Which simply means that most days i am too busy to think much about god and his various malfeasances on my life. Its on those rare days when i have absolutely nothing to do- like days when i am on Sunday duty (on 24 hours duty from Sunday morning to Monday morning) or on jail duty (when i sit inside the prison hospital all day/all alone, waiting to treat the occasional prisoner with a real illness) that i get to think about my lot in life and the role belief in divinity plays in it. Such deep and uninterrupted thinking mostly makes me uncomfortable- as a man of science the more i think about it logically, the more the inherent pattern of the universe reveals itself as orderly evolution and not dependant on the whims and fancies of any single divine entity. Ok, to stop beating around the bush- science and all my scientific temper tell me a creator is not needed as the universe can exist by itself famously and we need look for no further mysterious entities to explain the order and beauty all around us. But and this is a slowly evolving but, except in those rare periods when i allow my brain to over-rule my gut, mostly my gut makes me automatically genuflect to every little roadside deity that i pass by on my commute as in a “What if? Anyway, its not gonna hurt is it? Showing a little respect on the off-chance that god really exists?”

And i find i am doing it more and more nowadays, worshipping god- whom i don’t believe in half the time, reading and researching books about hinduism – the religion i was born in and publicly defending hinduism against various assaults by other unbelievers and intensely religious people of other religions. Which last point is the crux of this post {there, there, i finally got around to it after beating so long around the bush}. Anyway our religion is mostly what we are born with- at least in India. If you are born a hindu , 99% of the time you die a hindu. Its the very rare person who converts into a different religion and not because of any lack of effort from the votaries of other religions.  Its because hinduism is the easiest of religions to follow- it has no single god you need to worship, it has no fixed set of timings or days you need to worship- you can pray as little or as much as you want. You can go for years together without thinking about god and suddenly get religious and start worshipping every calendar or wall poster with a goddess picture on it. There are no strict rules or rituals to follow (if you disregard the brahmin priests who keep trying to thrust their version of an aryanised/sanskritized form of hinduism on others) and you can worship whichever way you want and whichever deity you want. Freedom to worship or freedom not to worship- both are the essence of hinduism. That kind of incredible choice you don’t get in other religions.

Most hindus i know are atheists except on feast days when they adopt religiosity mainly for the sweets served as part of the celebrations. I was like that too- until i recently became fed up of all the proselytizing going on around me trying to convert me. I belong to the hindu religion so i have every right to question the questionable practices of hinduism- like the barbaric practice of sacrificing animals to gods, or the pseudo-sanctity of the priestly class who insist that they alone are eligible to approach the sanctum sanctorum inside temples or otherwise the deity will get polluted and things like those. I can and will raise my voice loudly against such insane acts and self serving beliefs in the name of rote rituals which merely serve to alienate the majority of hindus away from hinduism. But that doesn’t mean i will convert away from hinduism into christianity. No sir, no way. There is no chance of it- when it comes to being stubborn and digging my legs in immovably- a donkey can pick up pointers from me.

Just because i criticize hinduism doesn’t mean i am ripe to be converted into a christian. And i observe that every single time i criticise hinduism or raise my voice against whatever is wrong in hinduism immediately i am flooded with dozens of messages from well meaning christian friends wanting me to understand the superiority of christianity and trying to save me from my sin of being born a hindu. I got nothing against jesus christ, but when a man is questioning the very basis of religion does it make sense to try and preach to him the superiority of our own religion in contrast to his inferior one? Why the average christian is so desperate to convert others is something i fail to understand. Does the conversion of one pour soul- me- an out and out sinner going to make any difference to the kingdom of christ? Does jesus wants me so bad? If so wouldn’t he appear to me directly like he did to saul? To try and save me from any further sins? Or better yet, why didn’t he make me be born directly into a christian family so i could have been a christian from birth? Instead of taking this roundabout way to salvage my soul by converting me in this ripe old age when i already have one foot in the grave.

Whenever i publicly and loudly criticise those charlatans who are giving hinduism a bad name- people like jaggi and sri sri my christian friends immediately join in the chorus to talk about these false priests as the very idiom of the devil but when i also raise the names of dinakaran or sadhu solomon or mohan lazarus they clam up and go defensive. Why? For a fraud is a fraud in all religions. And those who use the name of god to make a fast buck must be called out regardless of whatever religion they profess. Why this double standard is what i fail to get.

Anyhow all this preaching to the wrong choir has at least got me thinking about religion and god and hinduism. I am reading more books on hinduism and trying to learn more stuff to understand why it is the way it is. My understanding of hinduism and religion in general is expanding the more people try aggressively to convert me.  I am trying to read up on all the different streams of hindu thought –advaita/dvaita and all those hard to understand stuff i used to skip during my younger days. I am trying to understand the paths of saints who suddenly discovered god and turned religious. In the recent few months i have turned more religious than i ever was in my younger days- thus perfectly embodying the old adage “you get religion as you grow older”.

And i think i will stay an hindu for the rest of my life- not the rabid hindu fundamentalist type of hindu- but a more gentler philosophical type of hindu- someone who gets that religion is just a different pathway to morality. Something i wish that all my proselytizing friends who wish to convert me will also understand and which will make them better persons in their own religions. Jai Hind.