January 17, 2011

Learn to be Still

Between posts, I generally like to take some time to aggressively publicize my blog, add widgets that can do the same job in my absence, closely monitor my blog's stats, wait for the occasional comment and sometimes(depending on the amount of free time I have), play around with the themes. Sometimes, it so happens that in the middle of all of this, I come up with an idea for a new post. This is one of those times.

The seeds of this new post were actually sown sometime when I started this blog. Well the original was actually more of a tirade than a post, but quite a lot has changed since then. The weather in Bangalore, for starters, has been strange for this time of year, with blistering day temperatures and a very short winter. By the time this post is published, we could well be into summer and as my sweaters lie neatly folded in the cupboard, I am determined to find out what's been causing this change.

Over the past few months or so, it has repeatedly been brought to my notice that nothing in 21st Century India is quite as popular as a good Rajnikanth joke or a noble Cause. Save our Tigers. Greenathons. People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals. So much so, that, of late, we have gotten used to the sight of Prannoy Roy and his buddies going live from deep within a wildlife sanctuary, to bring us a 12-hour telethon to raise awareness on how human interference in ecosystems affects them adversely(?) More on that, here. We have also become accustomed to the sight of Bollywood actresses dressed up in their best green sarees telling us about austerity, churning out sizzling performances at lavish ceremonies, being driven around in eco-friendly cars, wearing eco-friendly watches, swearing by organic vegetables and 100% natural baby-wipes, trying to raise money for "the environment". We have become used to people posing nude to raise money for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, but fail to realise that no similar group exists for the ethical treatment of humans. However, regardless of all these observations, the above initiatives have, in some way or another generated money that will hopefully be used wisely. So what is the problem, you might be tempted to ask. Here is my humble reply.

I remember reading an article recently on the United Nations Climate Change Conference that was held in Cancun in December, that was laced with common sense. A small snippet is included below. 
"The problem of climate change cannot be solved only by investing funds from the developed countries and implementing bureaucracies or diplomacies. What about the change of our inner climate? What about the mess in our individual life? Climate change is an issue of human values which is directly related with the green values of the planet earth”  
Some of you may still not have got the point, so let me try and paint you a little stereotype.

You are a manager at some obscure company, the unnecessary details of which you proudly furnish on your LinkedIn profile. You don't go anywhere without your bluetooth headset. You probably already own a Hybrid SUV and in your efforts to make the world a better place you are planning to buy a Prius sometime soon. You don't mind paying an undisclosed amount for a good buffet, where, depending on your diet, you either eat like you're auditioning for America's Next Top Model or like a competitive eater who's just had a swim. But since you "Like" the "Help the Hungry" app on Facebook, I suppose that's ok. You definitely own a handycam, which is used rather liberally, to capture life's precious moments, such as your child's first steps, the first time he soiled his pants, his first swimming lesson and so on. Speaking about children, you probably already have three, but the target lies somewhere in the middle of the Fibonacci series. Whatever the number, their education has been planned meticulously, in advance. A few moments after childbirth, the first one was asked to write an entrance exam for a highly sought after crèche. The second one got a Britannica for his first birthday. The third one, after kindergarten, pursued vocational training from NIIT. Currently, all of them study at Random International School, where the teachers make more money than you ever will. However, since money is no object for you, the cost of a movie ticket is considered reasonable so long as it doesn't exceed the cost of a healthy pancreas, and therefore, the multiplex is your sanctuary. Family outings imply trips to the mall and team outings mean bowling at Amoeba. Coming back to you, you almost certainly have a smart phone. Your work generally involves coding of some sort or preparation of PowerPoint presentations that can almost certainly be done from the confines of your LED lit bathroom. Lets face it, the work you do is probably just as important as Sharad Pawar's views on corruption or Laloo Prasad Yadav's views on family planning. But you love the daily commute and since your corner office won't occupy itself, you make it a point to set out during peak hours in aforementioned hybrid SUV, roll up your windows to keep the dust out, turn on the A/C and sing along to devotional music. Your idea of contributing to society entails taking out coins from the glovebox and handing it out to deserving beggars at signals. To accommodate yours and other similar vehicles, the government decided to build flyovers, underpasses and what not. They also, rather short-sightedly, decided to cut down trees in order to widen the roads. Needless to say, birds slowly started to disappear. You and your kind thereby managed to do away with Bangalore's sparrows and since the guilt was too much to handle, you started Twitter, hoping that no one would notice.

Now that we're done with the stereotype, let me try and paint a solution for you. In a word, I'd call it restraint. It could mean leaving the SUV at home and taking out the bike. Leaving the bike at home and taking the company bus. Shortly, in Bangalore atleast, it could mean leaving all of the above and taking the Metro. In its final stage it could also mean convincing your managers that working from home would be more productive and efficient. From a family welfare point of view, it could mean exercising a little more restraint than a stray dog in heat. If you are incapable of such high levels of restraint, I could even summon the BBMP to neuter you for free. The highest form of family welfare could even be the realisation that bringing up a child is more important than the content of his DNA, and adoption could follow. Now that you are working from home, assuming that your education was not an utter waste, you could easily teach your own children, atleast upto the point where they could prove that what you studied was wrong. Extra-curricular activities such as sports, music and dance could be taught and encouraged within the residential community itself. Once we have spared ourselves the rigours of the daily commute, traffic congestion would start to ease. We would have more time for ourselves. Travel could actually mean seeing new places or meeting new people. Trees would remain and we could slowly have our weather back.

So then, why, sweet Moses, are we trying to raise money for issues that never needed money to be resolved, investing that money in technology that has always been a substitute for common sense and a remedy for thoughtlessness? Maybe we have done enough already and we just need to Learn to be Still for a while, because trying too hard is probably the cause of and the solution to all of these problems.


  1. Okay, this will probably be the longest comment I have ever written. Anyway, here goes:

    Agree with you on many points here. I remember Priyanka Chopra was with NDTV when they held some Green-whatever-Thon. I wonder how much she does apart from raising(read making) money. She would definitely fit into the stereotype of that "manager" you have described, oh so aptly. Also, I think such THONS need to concentrate on save the girl child more than save the tiger. *sheesh* With all the female infanticide and the honour killings happening and also murders cases that get "Closed" for whatever effin reason. (big loop hole in justice system, but that is a different matter altogether I guess)

    Agree with you on the restraint part too. One of my cab mates is a manager, good to see they don't need to drive their cars 18km to office, increasing pollution + traffic. Working from home though, may not be a good thing in the long run but we must make use of the flexi hours (if) provided. Also, our city has quite a good bus service (BMTC). Agreed even I need to change 2, sometimes 3 buses to get to my destination but that is the most stressfree way to commute long distances, and you can give yourself a pat on your back, albeit a small one, for making *some* difference by not polluting the city more.

    Agree with the point of adoption too. I sometimes don't understand why people take a lot of trouble to have their own kid. Like Homer Simpson said - "If something's hard to do, it's probably not worth doing it" :P Just go in for adoption is what I'd say. Giving a poor/homeless/orphaned child a good loving home and upbringing, is one of the noblest things one can do.

    All in all, a good post Saj. Keep 'em coming and get the junta thinking more on such and other issues. :)

    P.S : "Leaving the bike at home and taking the company bus." Do you do that? :P

    P.P.S : Please forgive me for any grammatical errors you might find :D

  2. amazing read mapley.. there are a lot of ppl who say such things..the imp thing is to see if one can follow it..my observation starts from u..hope u dont disappoint...
    anyways,its a very sensible piece of work..made me think...appreciated..!

  3. thanks akshaya..now to comment on your post :D
    "Working from home though, may not be a good thing" really confused me though..
    leaving the bike at home eh? i was sort of hoping to skip straight to the working from home bit..

  4. he he. I meant you can't keep working from home for eternity man.

  5. Your kids will become as dumb as you if you listen to your own advice and teaching ... ;) .. Think practical mate

  6. what kids?
    i might be forced to adopt yours :D


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