If I was 300 years old.

This post, which is being written at 12:30 at night, is something that I am writing on the spur of the moment. I am not sure about the direction of this post. It is inspired by the comment made by a lady called Kathryn Sparks, in response to my post called “Billions”, and she commented about how some erudite scientists have been talking about taking life expectancy to 300 years. 

Gollum lived to 500 years, and at the end of his unnaturally long life, he felt stretched. The Ring had taken a heavy toll on him. 

Now, if I was 300 years old, I would have been born in 1715. Delhi would have been in turmoil. Aurangzeb, the last of the Great Mughal Emperors had died in 1708, and the Mughal Empire would have started its long implosion. The Marathas from West India had started to snap at the heels of the Empire, the British, French, Dutch and Portuguese would have started to fight to preserve their trading rights and privileges that the Mughals had granted them. India had about 15% of the world’s GDP. 250 years later, after the British Rule had ended, it had dwindled down to less than 1%. 

In 1857, I would have witnessed a Mutiny, and the subsequent butchering of the Indians. I would have been walking in Delhi, which was then called The City Of The Dead. I would have been overcome by the stench of rotting corpses, as the dead were piled on top of each other, to rot in the streets. 

The Mughal way of life would have ended, the last Emperor sent off to exile, the poets and artists would have been banished. The English would have started to divide the Hindus and the Muslims, in order to strengthen their hold on India. I would be confused in my feelings for the Brits, on the one hand hating them for the damage they were causing to my country, and on the other hand, I would admire them for the investment they were making in infrastructure. 

Being an ordinary man, I would also be confused by my Indian leaders, as from 1890 onwards, while they fought for Indian independence, they started to speak the language of division between Hindus and Muslims. Religion would become more important than nation, and my neighbours and I now started to look at each other in suspicion. This was the 1920’s, and hundred of years of brotherhood were coming to an end. 

As I aged, and 1947 came along, I moved from my homeland to my my new home in India. The Muslims, they killed my friends and family. I returned the favour, killing them with equal brutality. I killed my neighbour, a man I had known since childhood. I raped his wife. Why? They are Muslims, and I only felt blood in my brains. 

I moved to India and started a new life. It was hard, and the wounds of the Partition were fresh. My nights were haunted by the look in my friend’s eyes, looking into mine while I cut his throat. 

In time, I witnessed three, four wars between India and Pakistan. I never understood this. I had, in any case, never understood why Indian soldiers went to fight for the Allies during World War II. It was not our war. 

As I aged, my family and I struggled to build a new life. Old values seemed to vanish. I had witnessed the death of an age in 1857. Now, in the 1970’s I witnessed a changing India, one where corruption seemed more important than anything else. 

In the 1980’s my home state of Punjab burned with the fires of separation. Terror ruled in North East India. In 1992, they demolished a mosque, because they claimed that it was built over the birthplace of a God. 

What God was this that stood by, and watched people being killed and murdered over his birthplace on earth? What God was this that allowed politicians to manipulate his message of love so that they could come to power?

What God was this? 

The environment started to degrade. People dumped pollutants into rivers. Money ruled the waves, as India started to grow. The westerners who left India in 1947, started to return, as they saw business potential in India. 

Yet, as we grew economically, I now see women being raped with impunity, as the Government stands by , spouting cynical expressions of morality. 

God, they say, demands that women remain indoors after dark. 

It is 2015, and I begin to doubt the existence and purpose of God. 

It is 300 years since I was born. I have seen too much death, too much hate,too much cynicism. 

There is beauty, yes.  When I was 140 years old, the poetry of Zauq and Ghalib ruled. This was the poetry of love, of grace, of beauty. 

There is beauty, yes. There is beauty in the human spirit, yes. However, I don’t like to read the papers. They believe that, to sell more newsprint, they must only print tales of horror. All they want to do, is to sell more newsprint.

I am 300 years old, and to reaffirm my faith in humanity, I have to reach down into myself. 

My nights are filled with dreams of death, of war, of rape and slaughter.   

I am 300 years old. Do I need to carry these scars to The Eternal Dark? 

Does Sauraon live? Does the Ring bind us yet? 

300 years is too long to live. Too many memories. Too much blood….

Three Men, Great Britain And A Line

I am reading a lot about Indian history these days. More specifically, about the period of India between 1857 and 1947. When I am done with this, I will go back to the history of ancient India. 

History is a strange thing. It is a very strange beast indeed, and the history that we know, is the version that schools and historians want us to know. When I was growing up, we were taught about India’s Independence, the Great Partition, and how Jinnah was such a power obsessed bastard that he drove the Partition of India into India and Pakistan. 

As I read more and more about these years, the more I am forced to reassess my understanding of Jinnah, and history. Jinnah did indeed drive the partition of India. Yet, as it transpires, this was not his intention. It seems that, for over 30 years, he was a champion of nationhood and Hindu-Muslim unity.

While there were indeed differences between the Hindus and the Muslims, they fought together during the Mutiny of 1857. People at that time identified themselves more with their region than with the differences of religion. 

After 1857, the British started to play their game of divide and rule between the Hindus and the Muslims, and the gap started to widen. 

When the Congress Party started to push for independence, our first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, driven by his view of how India should adopt Western models; driven by his desire for power; and, driven by his personal antipathy towards Jinnah, pushed him further and further away from the centre of the Congress. 

Gandhi was, it seems, erratic in his stand, and tended to give the reins to God to resolve this issue.

It was in 1937 that Jinnah finally realised that he had no hope with Nehru, broke away and started to think of a Muslim homeland. Talks of Pakistan first started in 1940, gained momentum bur, it was not until the end of 1946 that Pakistan became a reality. Great Britain, broken by the spends on World War II, wanted out and rushed the Independence of India faster than envisaged. 

And so it was that a line was drawn on the map of India. On one side lay the future land of Pakistan, and on the other lay India. 

Hundreds of thousands died in the conflagration of Independence, and millions were displaced. 

The leaders gained the seats of power that they so desired, but at a huge cost. 

People once united, were now divided. The wounds of Partition and Independence have not yet healed. 

The line, drawn shakily one night in India, became a line of destiny and a line of hate. 

The leaders did indeed gain the seats of power that they so desired, but at a cost that they had never envisaged. 

The Hunger Project 4 – Cluelessness?

A couple of days back, I was at the India Habitat Center in Delhi. I was dog tired. I had slept for a little over 3 hours the night before. I had dropped my daughter to school at 4 am, and then I have to make a presentation at 7:30 am to a bunch of 30 people. I followed it up with some meetings in Delhi, and by the late afternoon, I was done. 

So, I went up to the Library Lounge, settled into one of the comfortable sofas, and decided to take a Power Nap. Note the capital letters, please! 

As I was gently drifting into the world of dreams, I was yanked out of my slide by a conversation that was taking place between two learned gentlemen who were parked on the next sofa. 

It went like this:

Gent 1 (G1) from now on: Have you had lunch?

Gent 2 (G2) from now on: No, buddy. No time.

G1: How about a asandwitch? They have some good sandwitches here.

G2: No, no. I have to watch my carbs. I control my carbs these days. Sugar, you know.

G1: What about some dessert?

G2: Good idea….

G1: I am going to have a lemon tart and a chocolate tart.

G2: I think I will have a pineapple pastry..

Guys, I felt like saying, who are you kidding?  You watch your carbs, only to stuff yourself with dessert? Have you heard of complex carbs? Or, glycemic indices and glycemic load? 

In nutrition, as in many aspects of life, we fool ourselves with the fashion of the day. Nutrition is a complex subject. Taking in the calories, for instance, does not mean that you feed yourself well. Apart from the fats and the macro-nutrients, we need a balance of micro-nutrients. You cannot divorce total calorific intake from exercise. Neither can you divorce the balance of the calories (fats, carbs etc) from the kind of lifestyle you lead. 

We often study a subject at it’s most superficial level, and allow ourselves to be fooled by the latest fads. Or, we succumb to social pressures. 

I worked in nutrition and health for many years. Many of my colleagues had some awful health statistics because they ate the wrong food and drank too much. Strange, huh? We preach, but don’t practice.

I add my name to the list of people who ate wrong and drank too much. One day, when the grey hairs starting peeping out, and the young girls stopped looking at me through lustful eyes, I told myself that I need to change my lifestyle and try and be healthier than I was. 

This is something that I often have to remind myself about. Lessons preached. Lessons forgotten.

Chocolate tart, lemon tart, pineapple pastry and no carbs!

Our Time On Earth

 

TimeOnEarth

 

Our time on earth
The living and the dead jostle for space on this crowded planet.
The arrow of time moves on.
In time, we shall join the dead. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The living and the dead jostle for space as the arrow of time moves on inexorably.

 

 

 

 

 

Whimsy: Pissing & The 6 Degrees

Jaunpur, India

Jaunpur, India

DSC_0006

Athens, Greece

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Years back, Alexander The Great crossed mountains, rivers, deserts and possibly large bodies of water as he made his way to the borders of India (what is India today). At that time, he defeated a king called Porus, and then decided to turn back.

Some of the Greeks, it seems, decided that they liked the fertile plains of India – possibly the Indus River and declared their intention to stay back. Some of these chaps of yore may have simply decided that they were fed up of good old Alexander, and wanted to put their feet up. And, some may have felt that the attraction of the nubile young lassies of India was just too great. Why fight all your way back to Greece, when you can stay back and have fun in the warm climes of India?

Greece is a hot country, so they may have felt somewhat at home.

Anyway, these gentlemen brought their habits and their genes with them. Did they leave them behind? No. How could they do that? They had to come in with all their baggage.

Every bit of it. Every single bit of baggage.

Some of the effects of this genetic history, and some of these hoary old traditions have come down to the India of today.

When I was in Athens in 2005, I could not help but notice the gentleman pissing by the wall, while the lady next to him, directed the operations. Call her “Director Of Operations” if you must.

Ten years later, in 2015, I took this picture of the gentleman above filling the waters of the very polluted Gomti River with his urinical flow. Why not add some ammonia to the flowing bog, he seemed to ask, as he pissed away in great abandon, completely oblivious of the passersby and the odd cameraman as they cheered him on.

So all ye merry gentlemen and ladies, when you come to India and ask why so many Indians piss on the roadside, you have the answer.

It is in our Greek heritage ;)

Blame it on the Greeks, I say!!

(NB:- With due apologies to my Greek brethren!)

 

The Mathematics Of Driving In India

How many of you people out there remember school maths, where you were introduced to the wonderful world of the LCM.

The Lowest Common Multiple.

When you drive in India, you are confronted by some, or all, of the following. Sometimes at the same time:

  1. People driving the wrong way
  2. People driving slowly in the fast lane while talking on the phone
  3. People driving between lanes
  4. Cows, pigs and other assorted forms of the dinner menu
  5. Auto rickshaw drivers that weave in and out of the way of cars
  6. Chaps on two wheelers, who weave in and out of the way of auto rickshaw drivers
  7. Trucks and buses
  8. Tractors
  9. Speed breakers.
  10. Pot holes. I don’t know why we have speed breakers when we have pot-holes
  11. Police barriers. I don’t know why we have police barriers, when we have pot-holes and speed breakers. Plus, the police men just stand there and scratch their bums and other parts of the anatomy that shall not be mentioned in public.

So, what happens is that, despite your best efforts, you end up weaving in and out of the traffic.

You also end up blowing the horn, and adding to the general level of decibels that are produced in the world. It can be almost like a Death Metal concert at times. I don’t know why people pay for that stuff, when they can stand on the roads in India.

Now, when you drive in India, you are forced to weave in and out of the traffic. The traffic looks like a flow pattern.

The mathematician who comes up with an equation to describe it, will win The Nobel Prize.

And that, my friends, is how Indians invented the zero and the infinity symbols ;)

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