The Times We Live In

Ten years ago, when I was a little child, when my mother told me that we lived in the Kalyuga the Age of Downfall (The fourth stage of the world development that we are currently in. As the corruption gradually developed wider in the earlier stages), I would screw my face up, and tell her that the world seemed pretty nice to me even though I was not happy with my name, my school, my teachers, and with the neighbor who would pop up at my place each time to take my candy.

Now that I’m a grown-up, it upsets me to accept that this age truly is the Kalyuga. After all, how can one explain barely fifteen year olds getting pregnant or the vulgar songs that play at every night club- be it Hindi or English or the leers a woman gets even if she is wearing a salwar-kameez (an Indian attire worn by majority of women. It is a pair of loose pajamas and a long dress) or eminent politicians advising women to stop going out at night because they are too lazy to do anything about harassment?  The horror of the above list diminishes as the newspapers fill their spaces with gory details of the rape of little children in the most unthinkable ways, of the world fighting for no reason in the name of religion and people from all over the world coming together- not to promote peace or cleanliness- but to terrorize the rest of the world! That is not even the end of it all. How in the world does one explain killing about two hundred innocent children at a sacred institution where they went to grow and bud into better humans? There lie thousands of hopes and wishes and aspirations buried along with the lifeless little bodies of the helpless, never to turn into anything more than hopes and wishes and aspirations. Who are to blame for that? Are we to blame for the selfish leaders of Pakistan who are deluded by the power entrusted to them by the people of Pakistan? Or are we to blame the Taliban? Or are we to blame Lord Krishna for predicting that we were going to live in a gory world?

To me, the people with big guns and by that I mean the terrorists like Taliban and the members of Islamic State seem to be the face of the problem whereas it runs very deep. The village of Ajmal Kasab , the terrorist (of the Lashkar-E-Toiba terrorist group) who was sentenced to death for killing hundreds of innocent citizens of India in the 26/11 attack in Mumbai, cried over him and cursed India. They even pelted stones at the reporters who had gone to cover the story and instead of condemning the horrifying act, they worshipped him.  I still remember the maid who worked at our place in 2008, Zahira, told my mother once that Osama Bin Laden was their God, and that he was the rightful ruler of the world. As astounding as that is, it does not seem to surprise me now. Families tell their sons that they can live in whichever fashion they want to and that the daughters are to stay at home and cover themselves from head to toe. And if they are harassed even after that, well too bad, it is still the girl’s fault because she provoked the “pious” man who can do no wrong. Men recruit little children and train them into doing wrongful things because these children have been taught that it is their duty to kill for religion, or that their families are living in peace and comfort because of what they are doing.

What we are told is what we believe. People are brainwashed and told things that they eventually start believing. It is similar to a little child believing in the tooth-fairy or magic or monsters under the bed. I believe the problem starts at the base, it lies in what we are taught is right. To curb the big problem of terrorism, I believe people must be shown how to interpret situations in a different way than they do right now. People must be educated- in the right manner- in a way that promotes harmony and peaceful living rather than destruction and violence.

WARNING!

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There was a boy. He felt worthless. And he wanted to become something big in his life. What is that he did first? He decided to use less cell phone, disconnect himself from this vast world through the internet to have some time for him. Did he really do it? Or did he just think of leaving it all but decided to use it nevertheless, gently trying to convince himself that it was just for a while? Nobody knows, because I tell my storyteller to shut up right here.

What my imaginary storyteller was aiming at was that no matter whom they are, the first thing we blame of our failures is a small object called mobile phone. When it was first introduced in India 2003, it was a bizarre object which magically connected two people just by dialing their phone number. At least that was what was told to the ignorant old people by their equally ignorant children. No one then might have thought of how dominant it would become in our lives, and so sneakily, that we never realized it. So much so, that our life without a mobile phone these days is simply unimaginable. Be it a small child of five years, who passes his time by playing games on his mother’s phone, a student, who thinks it is nothing but normal to change his display picture everyday on facebook or whatsapp, that pouting for photos is the most obvious thing to do. Or that he has to show his friends everywhere he has been by checking in, or be it the old people. For them, a mobile phone is an absolute necessity to keep a track on their children’s activities or reply to emails or keep in touch with their friends.

People are so engrossed in the phones, that they do not even realize when and how their time flies by. Every night I promise myself that I would not use my cell phone for more than five minutes, and just as I take my eyes off the screen to check the time, I realize that it has already been three hours of me using my phone.

A simple gadget which helps your call people is less time taking than the one with an internet facility. And some might put arguments against it, saying that it is the quick facility of internet on phones that has made us better equipped and more informed. But question yourself- how much time do you spend talking to your friends through internet than using it for banking, or searching information or just working? Yes, this facility, so easily available, has made us better equipped, but all it has provided us is, an easier way of throwing away our precious time. Had this precious time been used to think about where India has sunk or what kind of politicians are really are ruling us, India could be a better country already.

Where such mind numbing facilities have been made available to the most rural parts of India, be it the auto-wallah who is taking you somewhere, or the butcher nearby, or your housemaid, or the adivasi that lives in the jungles, or the banjara who lives in the desert- each one of them has it., whereas most of them are blissfully ignorant of who is ruling them, or what his/her ideas are to make their lives better. Is that the reason we are so easily led to believe anything anyone says?

Although a better phone is defined as the one with every facility – be it the whatsapp, or facebook, or snapchat or whatever, these really are the evils of the society, barring you from thinking of anything but about the little comfortable bubble that surrounds you. And it should never be like that.

Because that gives a wide, unquestioned opportunity to fools, corrupted minds and bodies, and utterly selfish people to rule over us, who think of nothing, but gaining their interests and miserably failing but still trying to rule the world, when their own country is staggering, wounded by the fatal attacks they have made on us, the common people as a whole, our country.

The whole generation, be it the fluently  English speaking elitist children, or the gali ke tharki (vulgar vagabonds who lurk around dirty streets, ogling at every girl that passes by), all mesmerized by a small palm sized entity, blissfully ignorant, working like mules, to pour their hard earned money to the big sharks, and what for? For a few days of pseudo-pleasure, which turns to restlessness if denied to you.

Totally Personal

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So today, my exams are over. But this time, fortunately, there is no aversion to studies I usually felt when I was in school. This time it is exhilarating to have done well. I finally feel like I had given my heart to work for it. To those ignorant of my subjects (this whole wide world is ignorant of it), I have English, French and Tourism. In school, I studied Physics, Chemistry, and Biology.

Maybe it is because of my and teachers’ attitude in school which made me feel like it was nothing about gaining knowledge or learning new things, or it was really there, I never felt like the studies were constructive, or the teachers were working towards teaching us something, until these six months.

“And now we will study -name of the topic- I don’t suppose I need to teach anything in this, since you all understand what it is” our physics teacher would say to us and then skip to another topic, and then say the same for it. Our biology teacher would make illegible diagrams and talk about her love life, or her in-laws, or rumors in school. Our chemistry teacher was the best of all, since she really did teach. But she would teach everything so fast, as if she had a train to catch and the last thing she wanted to do was teach. Believe it or not, she had once finished a chapter of 12 pages in two periods of thirty five minutes each. All of them presumed that their students must go to some money-sucking coaching institute, they would spend their time consumed by books and hard-headed numerical problems. What they did not realize, or failed to notice, or refused to take into account was that there were some people who needed encouragement- just a little bit of it. Actually, they would sneer and snicker and speak ill of those who did not have a thought other than that of going for being a doctor, engineer, or a chartered accountant. The rest were nothing but piles of garbage.  Thankfully, we had an amazing English teacher. She was so animated and spirited even at the age of fifty six, that she would pull a student into what she was teaching. Where there was no respect for the other teachers, I loved our English teacher, and I still do. The same is the case with others.

Being in the college I am right now, I had made projects, on my own (the project we were supposed to submit for physics’ finals, our teacher had told us not to waste time and just buy one from the market), really understanding what the whole topic was about. In my papers, I wrote exactly what I understood and got marks for it (in my optional subject psychology, it was compulsory to cram the notes our teacher had provided to us, or she would look at us disgustedly and mercilessly cut our marks). Some might say that I am exaggerating too much, but that is exactly how I see it. I know what they have killed in me. I know who the culprits are for a beaten spirit.

And though it might seem that this is a vengeful spirit of an angry lady (which it might as well be), it breaks my heart to think of the thousands “nurtured” in such an environment which disapproved of so much, killed curiosity, creativity and originality of so many. I have known at least one in ten not wanting to go to school, because of the fear of bullies, rigid and unthinking teachers. Imagine a child in class one refusing to go to school and begging his parents not to send him. I have seen children like that in school.

On farewell day, I was sad that my friends would now be distant and that we would be sailing into unchartered waters (for us), but I was relieved and ecstatic that I would finally be leaving this jail of a school.