2012 in review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog. Here’s an excerpt: 600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,200 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 14 years to get that many views. Click here to see the complete report. ...
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India Remembered: Review

‘India Remembered’ gives us a glimpse into the moments just before the new nation was born, all through the eyes of a young eighteen years old teenager, none other than Lady Pamela, the daughter of the last Viceroy and first Governor General of India, Lord Mountbatten. Illustrated with rare photographs of the Mountbatten family with Indian leaders, Lady Pamela provides us a first hand account of the behind the scenes happenings of this important family, who adopted India and its people as their own, unconditionally and as part of their larger personal mission. Edwina, coming out of her wild days and tragedies, found her life’s work here, and her husband succeeded in a most difficult endeavour, a success subsequently marred by tragic events. The Mountbatttens do not turn away with disdain at the poverty and sometimes horrifying conditions of the people around. They don’t make fun of its problems, or look down on its people. Rather, they take up the challenge to...
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Controlling ‘Rage’

Rage (Stephen King novel) I planned to write this post a few months ago, and it was about the association of campus shootings with a novel called ‘Rage‘ published in 1977. It doesn’t take a genius to figure out the influence books have on adolescents. I still fondly remember the impression ‘Resurrection’ had on me in high school. The movies hold an even harder grip on our imagination, and it’s horrible to think what today’s youth are getting from, say Bollywood movies. There is a writer by the name Stephen King, who published this novel under a pseudonym. Rage is about a college student holding his classmates hostage and killing a teacher. The story ends with the protagonist not being tried for reason of insanity, and getting committed to a hospital. It ends with a sweet and innocent line: ‘I have to turn off the light now. Good night.’ Surely enough, the lights were put out of the lives of many students and...
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Our worst enemies

They have already made a conquest by claiming depression as their territory. Kids, schools and colleges are already a fertile ground. Offices, homes and marriage will fall easily, and I guess the last has done so already. Let’s for a moment keep aside the ‘true cases’ of the loose nuts, and think for a moment about why some people, who are a far stretch from the known cases, are ‘taken’ to see the doctor. In the US, it is known as commitment. Forced of course. A real tragedy and affront to the so called ‘patient’. Once dehumanised of their composure and intactness, their families can heave a sigh of relief. Their social obligation, of explaining why some one at home is unemployed, reclusive, aggressive, a runaway or just living one’s own life, is over. This is how ‘troublemakers’ are dealt with in some cases. Not by instruction, not by a careful weaning off, not by good example. It looks like some people...
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Oriental Express goes for a ride

Anyone concerned about the state of conflicts in the world today may pause and repent that the gifts of science, technology, education and healthcare and all the personal amenities were ever brought into the world. ‘It was better to let the world stay in the darkness of the ancient and medieval times. That is what it truly deserved,’ one may think with repentance. A little thought will then reveal itself — if that had been done, not many would have enjoyed the good health and freedom that they enjoy today — freedom from superstitions and ignorance. The biggest threat to young adults today comes from their very own protectors, who know nothing better than the false promises of paternalistic care and medicines. A young man or woman has an ego which is given to us for self-protection. And above all, a Self that guides itself. This idea of personhood, wherever nurtured, leads to freedom. It finds no co-relation or parallel in the...
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How famous can one get by dancing around like a horse?

It’s considered ‘catchy’ and the video has crossed a billion views. A world record. Everyone wants to dance in the Gangnam style. The lyrics are unknown. The dance moves fit only for kids. But the video has everything that makes for a smash hit. Just like Kolaveri di did sometime back in India. When poor kids move around in t-shirts carrying the slogans, we should know the thing has touched the common sense, and the world has progressed. That things are normal, or at least some part of the world. ...
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Thomas Stephen Szasz (1920-2012)

Thomas Stephen Szasz died by his own hand on September 8, 2012, via Thomas Stephen Szasz April 15, 1920 to September 8, 2012. I went to the Szasz site to see if he had anything new to say on the recent mass killing at a school in Connecticut. Only to discover that he had died, killing himself, after suffering a vertebral fracture. To those who may not be familiar with his ideas, he championed the right to live and the right to kill oneself. About the public shooters, he had written about this plague earlier, calling it a form of suicide. I’ve often read his writings, and two of his major works, on and off for the last 6 years or so, and reading them was a much solace and intellectual stimulation. They were of course non-conventional, a challenge to common ways of thinking, but greatly stimulating. His fight for autonomy, self-independence and individual freedom against the establishment is a great example of how...
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The cigarette smoker and the scene at Gaya – Jules Verne

A few days ago, in the 21st century: At the paan vendor’s kiosk, the poor man in plain clothes puffed on the cigarette as he looked at his friend with fixed eyes. The smoke had done its work, with his mind ready to take off at a tangent. But not for him. Raising the hand that held the cigarette, he pointed the burning end at his friend. “I will leave this… I will quit smoking… once I go to Gaya. Only once, let me come back, and that will be it,” he said, shaking the pointed end like a dart player prepares for a throw. The determination on his face supported his words. What is it about Gaya that excited the man, and held him in such awe and binding obligation? The tradition, the sentiment, the stories he heard in childhood, the grandmother’s undying belief in its sacredness? Could such a man live his life without this simple faith? Bereft of this only...
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Mumbai Realty dream a nightmare for human relations

The profile of a typical member of a housing society managing committee in Mumbai is of a loser — someone who has been pushed around all his life, who was stuck in a low-paid job and was never given any importance. Post-retirement, the grandiose titles of honorary chairman, honorary secretary and honorary treasurer are their ways of getting back at an unfair world. via Mumbai’s redevelopment: Realty dream a nightmare for human relations – The Economic Times.   ...
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