A Conversation In A Few Parts

I was planning to write about this conversation in a few posts, but as the conversation goes further and further away in time, the more my heart overflows with the milk of human kindness, and I have decided not to inflict all of you with too much torture.

I was at my uncle’s home for Diwali, and had just recovered from the flu. My wife was driving so, rum and coke was the order of the day. We have a wonderful brand of rum in India, called “Old Monk”. One of the members of the group Indian Ocean calls the brand -“Budda”, the Indian word for old man.

I have my own joke about how the brand was named “Old Monk”, but it may cause me to be decapitated, so I shall not reveal this in public.

Anyway, I got chatting with an 82 year old doctor. He looked 72 to me, but that is another subject. He was remarkably alert, and does not use a mobile phone, which is a bit of a shocker in today’s world. There was a paper report about how people in India are starting to use land lines more often, because of the clarity of the connection. I prefer using the landline as well.

I have a Sony Experia, and it does not fit into the front pocket of my jeans. So, it was tucked into the back pocket, and one day it will break.

Back to the conversation. It started with my recent trip to Panipat. Panipat is significant in Indian history, and I was talking about how we are in danger of forgetting our past and the lessons to be gleaned from the past. From there, we moved to the Third Battle Of Panipat, which took place after the Mughal Empire had started it’s collapse.

From there, we moved on to the last of the great Mughals – Aurangzeb – and how his character has been distorted in history books. He has been portrayed as a bigot, which he was. Yet, he was a man of discipline, high intellectual stature, simplicity, and one who lived within Islamic Law, and did not go beyond. He is buried in a simple tomb. He was brave in battle, and a super administrator. Yet, the last 26 years of his reign were spent in constant warfare, not governance and this planted the seeds for the collapse of the Mughal Empire. We have never been taught the lessons of the past, and how these can help us protect our present and future.

We moved on to the state of India, the recent failures of the Indian Congress, and how they messed up India over the last decade. they should have read about Aurangzeb.

The conversation moved on to education, and about how the stress must move from rote to application.

We continued the conversation post dinner and moved on to a few more topics.

In short, it was one of the best conversations I have had in a long while.

What was great was:

  • We were talking to each other as people. We looked each other in the eye, and spoke to each other, and not at each other
  • We were not communicating via text message, or WhatsApp, or WeChat, or email, or Facebook. Of course, these tools help in long distance friendships. But think – the art of letter writing has been replaced by the art of writing short, mangled sentences. In this age of communication, we don’t have the time to read properly crafted sentences, nor the patience to appreciate them

The art and habit of a wonderful conversation is still not dead. This wasย something to cheer about on Diwali night!


  1. I couldn’t agree more. In fact, there is this joke about over usage of digital devices to communicate…it goes like this “My battery died so I spent so time with the family today. They seem like nice people.” ๐Ÿ˜›

    1. Heard that one! ๐Ÿ˜› And on another note, this happens when me and my sister are busy talking about our lives when we meet after a long time and mum sends a whatsapp “Please come to dining room, time for dinner!” because, well, we can’t hear her screaming from downstairs!!! ๐Ÿ˜›

      1. Hahahahhaha ๐Ÿ˜€ One of my colleague’s wife messaged him when they were both online on Facebook…to come to the kitchen ๐Ÿ˜› Lol

  2. I agree with you 200% about good, genuine conversation, and how much we are lacking it. I agree that modern technology (as wonderful as it is) has caused many of us to lose the art of crafting complete & coherent sentences. I suppose it’s all about keeping things in balance/moderation. And…I still write ‘old fashioned’ letters (you know, with paper & a pen) to some of my closest friends ๐Ÿ™‚ It also helps to keep my penmanship from becoming too messy ๐Ÿ˜€

      1. Yes, I do! ๐Ÿ™‚
        My Kendo teacher back in my hometown is 86 years old, and he still writes with a traditional brush. I always keep stationery and stamps ready so that I can reply to his letters immediately. You may laugh…but I also do ‘pen pal’ with some international friends. You won’t believe some of the friendships I’ve been able to make over the years. It’s a relief to know that I’m not the only one who still enjoys ‘traditional’ methods… ๐Ÿ˜€

      2. Oh, I do like to write with a fountain pen. My handwriting varies with my mood. Sometimes, it is legible and sometimes not!
        But, you may see it on a post… Don’t blame me if you have to squint to read it! Which is your hometown by the way?

  3. “In this age of communication, we donโ€™t have the time to read properly crafted sentences, nor the patience to appreciate them”

    So true! But know what? I don’t feel satisfied until I talk to my husband at length about the day. Every night, I begin describing the details and he says “yes I know, you texted me this. Why are you lengthening it so much!” Gosh.. Whats wrong!

  4. so true -now a days difficult to have a respectful, intellectual conversation – But going back to our parents time and old generation was the best!

  5. But in India its probably still much better than in other countries. Nearly every time I sat down at one of those innumerable tea shops along one of those great trunk roads, you could have such experiences. Great post and thanks for the reminder.

  6. Rajiv,
    i enjoyed this read very much, very much indeed for its content and for the lovely easy fluent writing style that is warm and personal.
    Thank You
    My best to You

  7. This is, indeed, something to be celebrated (not just during Diwali, but at all times): a real, engaged conversation. It is heartening to me that, unlike so many other forms of technology, blogging has encouraged such conversations in a surprising way; I’ve met thoughtful people and discussed ideas and issues of concern more deeply with them than I am able to do even face to face. For me, this is a great boon, in part because I have spasmodic dysphonia (vocal cord dysfunction) that makes it tiring and sometimes hard to talk for long, and in part because writing a conversation allows me to think more fully, edit myself a bit, and respond at greater length, and even better, to read and reread and truly contemplate what others have written. A rather counterintuitive result of the way technology speeds up communication time and shrinks the distances between us is that this allows me greater opportunity for a slower and, I hope, more reasoned discussion!

    And a companion surprise is that these online conversations give me greater confidence and patience for having real, face to face conversations when I meet someone like your friend. What a perpetually surprising world!

    Obviously, I greatly enjoyed your post! ๐Ÿ™‚


    1. What you say is very true. I also find that people tend to discuss issues quite openly on platforms like WP. The advantage of WP is that you can build up a nice community.

    1. You are right. I am reminded of two childhood friends I saw at a dinner a year ago. These chaps were in their teens, and spent the evening sitting next to each other, eyes glued to their respective gadgets without talking to each other. They felt they were being companiable

      1. write letters, tune a radio , fly a kite on a windy day, go over to meet someone at home in the same city…all forgotten aspects of life.

  8. So, Rajiv! Found out how to have long and satisfactory conversations with You – Join You in a Car journey! Hope You will come and pick me up some day, like in ten years or so, can’t spare the time before that!!!
    About Aurangzeb and the congress. The first amassed through Wars, and the latter through Corruption. But we are leaving out many others, among them, the current one, which IS the second best in both amassing and the methods.
    Finally, Hope the Rum did not go with the Driving!
    Regards to the Family and to You. ๐Ÿ™‚

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