Saturday, January 26, 2008

Learning to say good bye...

Saying goodbye is one of the hardest thing in the world. I always have mixed feelings about moving on. While it is obvious that everything in life is temporary ( including life itself); we tend to get attached. Attached to people, places, situations and this attachment causes a lot of grief.

I am moving on from my current job and also from Bangalore. The city in which i have lived for 26 years. I am also leaving behind many friends, my family and many memories - both good and bad. The last time i had to say goodbye was to Istanbul, a city i fell in love with. Just after five days in the city; i had started to feel that i belong to the city. There was a certain sense of attachment that i developed for the city and as i was boarding the flight to return to India, i felt strange, almost melancholic about leaving the city i had started to like so much.

When one is saying goodbye, a few things are happening : firstly, one is sad that the familiar is going away. One is moving away from the comfort zone. There is nervousness about what awaits us. Perhaps, some anxiety too. I think it is a state of mind. If one looks at it objectively and is able to visualise what the future holds - and try to look at the brighter side of life; saying goodbye isnt such a hard thing.

I also remember the day when I had to move away from my parents home ( when they divorced), I was not too young; but young enough to feel the impact of the move. I remember crying almost the whole day. It was such a jolt to imagine not living in the same home where i had grown up. But i mustered the courage to hold on, imagine that all that happens is for the good; and that there is a much larger plan that all of this is leading to; and in the end, everything will be ok.

It can be a positively enriching experience. Even where people are concerned, if one is able to say goodbye graciously and with no bitterness ( even if they have hurt you or been mean), it reinforces the faith that one has in humanity and in goodness. This can also be an act of discipline.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Intellectuals, pseudo-intellectuals and ignoramuses

Someone called me a pseudo-intellectual the other day. This person said i was a phony, passing off as an intellectual. I was not offended, but piqued about what she meant. I started to wonder what or who is this animal called an "Intellectual".

Infact, that is the last thing that i try to come across as. My self-image is that of an ignoramus. An intellectual is the last thing that i consider myself. I have no "intellectual " inclinations ( though i do read and write quite a bit). I think this word ( much like Advertising) has been over-rated. These two areas of human endeavour ( intellectualism and Advertising) are often mis-understood and often over-rated. Both cannot change the world. Both are supposed to be confined to higher mortals who have god-given talents and hence in some way superior to others.

Let us first look at who an intellectual is. To me, an intellectual is by definition who is in love with knowledge, to whom truth is paramount and all other temptations ( power, wealth) are of no significance. By this definition, most of our "intellectuals" alive today would be ruled out as "anti-intellectual".

Also, i abhor the types who are so full of themselves, bitter, angry at someone/ something and so arrogant with their supposed knowledge that nothing is bigger than themselves.

Does education have anything to do with being an intellectual ? Well, I suppose yes, but these are mutually exclusive. One does not have to be educated to be an intellectual. The prophet Muhammad was illiterate but considered one of the greatest intellectuals. Consider his contribution to feminism : He is the first who suggested in 7th century arabia that women have the right to divorce and the right to property. The so-called enlightened Europeans were grappling with these issues until recently and are still not sure about these issues.

Anyway, more later.

Basis of a healthy relationship

Read an interesting article a few months ago about the basis of a healthy relationship. It said the five questions which will help one decide if a relationship ( between a man and woman) is healthy are:
1) Do we share a common purpose in life ?
2) Do i feel safe expressing my thoughts and feelings to this person without being punished ?
3) Is the person a mensch - a refined and sensitive person who seeks to grow on a continuous basis ( and not just comfort seeking)
4) How does he/she treat others ? ( especially those below their status)
5) Is there anything that you would want to change in this person ?

A critical look at these questions will throw light on the kind of relationship that one has and how healthy it is.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Jacques Derrida on Forgiveness

Derrida on Love.

Fidelity is threatened because of the difference between who and what

Naom chomsky vs Foucault

Hilarious - Ali G interviews Naom chomsky..must watch !

Ali G is the fictional character by Sacha Baron cohen - the guy who did the Borat movie.

Naom Chomsky on Clash of Civilisations

Good Muslim, Bad Muslim

Interesting video of a brilliant intellectual who has written some path-breaking books about Islam's relationship with the West. Mahmud Mamdani.

sending money out of India

While it is very easy to receive money from outside of India, it is virtually impossible to send money out of India through money transfer companies. Western Union is one company i have dealt with several times and have personal experience of their efficiency( or lack thereof). They are ok. But i trust the hawala dealers ( illegal money launderers) more.

A few years ago, i had to send money ( a few hundred dollars) to a friend stranded in Thailand. Boy ! did i have to go through hell. Western Union simply turned my request down. So did many of the local money transfer companies. It was as if they were telling us all "Indians are good at receiving money, but not good at sending it out". Though i dont understand macro-finance and banking laws, I am assuming this has something to do with the RBI guidelines for money transfer etc..

If India really wants to join the global community ( which it claims it wants to do), then it better get in tune with the way other countries function. The core of this is putting the citizen as the focus and ensuring that his/her life is safe, comfortable and worth living. This focus seems to be missing in Indian policy making. Hope better sense prevails over our Bureaucrats and policy makers and they start thinking of these small but annoying details and synchronise our systems with that of other countries so one does not have to deal with "illegal" people.

In the meanwhile, if you have to send money out of India - to your friend/ relative or anyone, urgently then your only hope today is through the hawala. And i speak from experience.

A joke - play on words

A distinguished looking friend of mine ( who is also equally distinguished in his field of work) told me this anecdote a few years ago. He is a tall, well built chap with a flowing beard and a very royal demeanour.

As he was waiting at an airport in Newyork, wearing a long-white jelaba (Arab dress a white woman approached him and asked " Excuse me, but you do look like a Sheikh ( future king). Are you one ? "

To this, my friend ( Mirza yawar Baig ) smiled and replied " Not yet "

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Tales of passion

Isabel Allende is a beautiful woman. She is also a gifted writer. Saw this video by her the other day. Like she says, without passion; there is nothing left of life. Imagine a life without passion and one can guarantee a life without any advances either in any field of human endeavour. All inventions, discoveries and any progress is the result of passionate search and effort.

Without passion, life is reduced to the daily grind of going from one thing to another and the monotony is sure to kill us mortals much before our time has come. Passion uplifts, passion leads and passion gives meaning to life.

Hats off to Isabel Allende for reminding us again.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

On the wings of dreams...

Last night I attended the inauguration of Bangalore International Film fest. It was a gala function with several top-notch directors from all over India present. A Bengali film " ON the wings of dreams" was screened after the inaugural function.

The film directed by Rabbany Biplob is an innocent story of how a couple find a few notes of foreign currency and how this "wealth" transforms their lives. While they are living in an illusion of great wealth,their dreams and aspirations make them insensitive to the harsh realities around them. As they are building their castles in the air, each family member is drifting away from the other. The film culminates in them realising that these currency notes are from Zaire and now defunct and worthless. This sad realistion brings them back to their senses.

The script is very simple and acting quite powerful. While the cinematography is excellent, the pace of the film tends to slow down a bit half way through. But overall, it is a great effort at showing how greed, dreams and fantasies can impact our lives - sometimes very badly. Considering it is the Director's first film, i think it is a great effort,.