Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Gandhi Who?

i wrote this article for a magazine that a club i was once a part of used to publish. it didn't make it to the magazine, cuz our club president thought that there was sufficiently enough inflammatory language to mislead our readers. just to clarify in advance, this is not an anti-gandhi article. read it till the end before pasing judgement. this article was written way before munnabhai 2, and at the risk of sounding boastful, i claim that i used the reference of gandhi on money for the first time, way before it became fashionable to do so. also, i'm no gandhian, so this article is no indication of my ideological inclinations. it's just something i wrote, and wanted to be able to read once in a while...

Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. The Father of our Nation. The Naked Fakir. Freedom fighter. Champion of Non-Violence. Deliverer of Freedom. A Mahatma.

Which Indian hasn’t heard of the Mahatma? His ideology and the stories of his epic struggle for Indian Independence have spread all over the world. So far is his reach that his name even appears to be familiar to the most uninitiated of NRIs and POIs (People of Indian Origin), who may not know too much more about him, apart from the facts that he led India to her freedom, and that he did not believe in dressing up. Indeed, in a country where titles have been abolished by our Constitution, one would normally not mention the name of Gandhi, without prefixing it with ‘Mahatma’.

But today, the Mahatma’s popularity seems to have diminished among the youth. The thin, bald man, with the round glasses and langoti no longer holds the iconic stature he once enjoyed, almost to the extent of monopoly, with the youth. It is not uncommon to come across a group of 20-somethings criticising the Mahatma in most uncharitable words. And of course, there are those who are ready to swear that had Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose been given a free rein, we may have achieved independence far earlier than we actually did. “Gandhi,” remarked an ‘intellectual’ friend once, “was a selfish fool, and a tyrant. When Netaji was fighting the British troops for our country, Gandhi goes on a hunger strike in protest! A messiah of peace, huh? He wanted all the credit for himself!”

Whether or not Gandhi’s methodology was the wisest is not an issue that I would care to debate over. That is the province of the major political parties, who depend on it and so many other irrelevant controversies for their bread and butter. If it weren’t for such matters to keep our politicians preoccupied, they might have to turn their attentions to the more insignificant and ancillary aspects of their job, like fostering communal harmony, or reforming the judicial system, or else, God forbid, good governance!

But as far as the yuppie Indian youth of today are concerned, Gandhi’s relevance is confined to his portrait on currency notes. The reality is that for the youth, Gandhi is an outdated hero, who just doesn’t fit the Superman profile. Many youngsters would rather read ‘Mein Kampf’ than ‘My Experiments with Truth’. We speak of him unkindly, when in truth most of us just don’t know. But what is sad, perhaps even disgraceful, is that most of us don’t want to know, because most of us don’t really care.

But there are those who have taken the trouble to look into the Mahatma’s life a lot more closely than the rest of us. Many youngsters have devoted a lot of time to discover that Truth that Gandhi spent part of his life searching, and the remaining part, preaching. The greatness of the Mahatma is not only locked in history texts, but is still echoed in the spirit of a portion of the youth, sadly constituting only a minority.

Perhaps, when the rest of us learn to expand our horizons beyond the boundaries of ‘I’, ‘me’ and ‘myself’, and learn to tune in to the national conscience, the spirit of the Mahatma will inspire us again. The mark left on our nation by the teachings of Gandhi is indelible, and sooner or later they will regain their prominence. Then, perhaps, the memory of Mahatma Gandhi will occupy it rightful place in the heart of every Indian, instead of being relegated to two or three National Holidays.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Just Flinging It

for those who may have been following my blog for a while, you might remember a post which read "I'm in unlove". in that post i was rather uncharitable to the person on whom it was written. i realised a while back that my unnecessary outburst in my blog reflected a certain amount of immaturity. so i removed that post. yet, as these writings are the only , though unsystematic, record of some happenings in my life, i felt it necessary to lay down my thoughts on the subject again.

a few months ago, i started seeing someone. it just happened all of a sudden. in fact, it was kinda strange. i met this gal on the christmas eve of 2006, and we sat over coffee and a sandwich, generally chatting up on a bunch of things. it is my experience, and i'm sure many will agree, that when a guy and a gal talk to each other for an extended period of time, the conversation invariably veers towards relationships. past flames, likes, dislikes, what you look for in a guy/gal, stuff like that. and this time was no exception. it was a few months before my finals. i was about to leave college life behind, and i didn't know where i'd be after that, but i knew i wouldn't be in pune. an era in my life was ending, and important era, one which is meant to be THE time in my young life. so far, i had had a great college life, although the really good stuff only started from 3rd year. there was one thing that i'd always wanted to try, but never did go for. and that was, the iconic, the legendary, the elusive, amorous, no-strings-attached fling. it was about time 'ol Da got his 'hands dirty' and played the game for the heck of it. i was at a point when love was an overrated concept and a thorough waste of time. and besides, i don't believe in long distance relationships, so it was illogical to fall for someone and then quite possibly leave her behind while i go in search of the rest of my life.

i realise i've digressed a little. back to the coffee, the sandwich and the gal. so we got talking on relationships, and interestingly, i quite categorically told her that i'm looking for a gal who'll be able to let go when i'm leaving town. nothing thereafter. i was to have my space even when we're seeing each other, and there was to be no clinging, and definitely no nakra (can't stand that crap!!!). what's really interesting, and even amusing, is that she said that i would have a hard time finding a gal who'd be ok with such an arrangement. and i told her that i'm not desperate for a relationship, but if it were to happen, it'd be on these terms.

we somehow ended up spending the night talking to each other. during the course of the night, i more than once felt that there were some vibes flowing between us, that maybe she was attracted to me. but i didn't think about it. i know it seems unbelievable, but i actually spent an 'innocent' night with her, which means that i had no ulterior motives, so to speak. i hadn't even thought of dating her.

We actually got around to seeing each other after new years eve. in the interim, i had ample reason to believe that i was getting the green signal from her. from my conversation with her on that Christmas Eve, i had learned that apparently she too was looking for a no-strings-attached, just for fun relationship. the night i proposed that we start seeing each other, i actually reminded her of my terms, and she agreed. it looked like i was en route to an uncomplicated good time. but fate, it seems, had other ideas.

within a very short time i began to realise that our lil' fling had the makings of an emerging 'serious' relationship. i had hardly started seeing her when one day she called me, asking if i had had a thing for so-n-so girl. it seems some chick in her evening class 'revealed' that i had had a major thing for her as early as a month previously. that came as quite a surprise to me, not simply cuz i didn't even know who the chick was, but cuz i'd never been involved in such a controversy before, where my girlfriend is getting reports from random females that i was 'involved' with them. it had a certain novelty to it, and the first time i had to comfort my gal that there was nothing between me and that other chick, it felt kinda good. but that feeling dissipated when my gal called me up later, all happy like, saying that she 'now' believed me cuz she had read this blog, and since i have previously posted stuff about all the females i've ever felt for, she knew that i had not fooled around with that chick. from this i simply realised 2 things - a. that my gal didn't trust me, b. that if my blog has saved me once, it might save me again, so i gotta keep it updated (hence this post). as for her not trusting me, i could hardly blame her, cuz she barely knew me. still, it didn't feel good to be doubted after giving reassurances.

i can make no bones about it; i wanted to get physical with this gal, of course, only on the condition that she wanted to do the same with me. it started off 'encouragingly', and i felt that in time things would take their due course. but it rapidly became clear that she would make this sort of committment only on one condition; that we should get 'serious'. i admit that this is an inference on my part, but our talks pointed only in this direction. she was falling for me in a big way, and i was still not ready for it. with due respect to her charms and personality, she just wasn't my type, which is why it hadn't been difficult for me to have a 'fling' with her in the first place. i was sure that as she wasn't my type, there was no danger of me falling for her, and so when the time came, it wouldn't be too difficult to let go. but i guess she began to view things differently. she had already begun contemplating the continuation of our relationship after i had begun my work, and was overjoyed to discover that i'd been placed in bombay. she was looking forward to visit me after i shifted to bombay, or that i would come home to pune to see her n stuff. the situation began to take a stifling turn for me.

there were 2 alternative courses of action that needed to be taken; 1. either i could be a horny bastard (read ' the common perception of your average guy'), lie to her that i liked her, and have my way with her, or; 2. break up with her before the situation got out of hand. i chose the latter course (and received a lot of criticism from a lotta guys :). i simply could not bring myself to lie for sex. i guess that's just not my thing. there are better ways to get some :) . so, after having been her boyfriend for around 10 days, i broke up with her.

she called me up the day after that, saying that everything that had happened between us now "feels like a lie". i confess that pissed me off, cuz in my book, i'd been about as open as i could from the beginning regarding our 'relationship'. but hey break-ups are hard, and since she had started liking me, it had to be tough on her. before i realised this, i posted 'i'm in unlove' on this blog. it was immature on my part, and the mere fact that i don't like being called a liar is no ground for me venting my ire like i did.

my 'fling' was a good learning experience, as i believe all relationships before the final one are. it showed me the kinda guy i am, and what i seem to be (in)capable of. in several ways, it made me feel pretty darn good about myself. i hope that the gal learned a thing or 2 as well.