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 was something to cheer about on Diwali night!