Naraaz

Zikr na kar mera, magar meri yaad ko yun nazar-andaaz na kar

Mohobbat meri bhulaade beshaq, magar yun taghaful ka aaghaaz na kar

Meri khaamiyon ko tawajjhuh dekar, khud ko na de yun bewaja taqleef

Apne dil se mujhe mitaakar, yun apni dhadkanon ko naraaz na kar

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Khaak

Furqat bhi thi, rafaaqat bhi thi, najaane kaisa tha wo manzar,

Unki bewafaai se kai badhkar tha meri mohabbat ka asar,

Aa jaati thi phir labon par muskaan, laaut aati thi palkon mein namee,

Jab kabhi yaadon ke jahaan mein yunhi ho jaata tha unka zikar,

Ek daur wo bhi tha, jab unki tamaam chaahtein thi humeein se,

Guzarte waqt ki raahon pe chalte, badal li unhone chaahtein magar,

Bhulakar tamaam jasbaat hamare, kuch yun apnaaya taghaafuul unhone,

Jab kisi mod pe ho jati thi mulaqaat, chura lete the wo humse nazar,

Haathon ki lakeeron ko qubool lia humne, chhor diya us afsaane ko namukammal,

Unki adaavaton se shikayat toh nahi thi, thaa to faqat khaak ho jaane ka darr…

Balancing the weights

Back in school, we had this physics lab experiment that aimed at teaching how to balance weights. The task at hand was apparently simple. We had 4 metal balls which we had to rest on a lever such that the lever didn’t bend on any of the sides. What seemed simple at first turned out to be quite a challenge. A slight movement was enough to disturb the balance and move the weights on one of the sides. I remember how at my first attempt, the weights actually slid down to the right side.

weights on the right

Back to realty. Growing up in India (and many other parts of the world), it’s not shocking to see how women have been labelled and treated as the weaker, less important section of the society. Our age old beliefs, customs and traditions are a testimony of the above fact. In some areas, girls are still not allowed to work, or even go to school. Household chores such as laundry, dusting, cooking etc have been for long thought of as the sole responsibility of the lady of the house. With such and many more pathetic, non nonsensical beliefs, the shockingly high number of crimes against women, cases of eve teasing , sexual harassment and female foeticide are perhaps a direct consequence. For a long time, some men ( who don’t qualify as men, really) have committed heinous acts against women and have put the entire men population at shame.

In recent times, however, the awareness about injustice against women and the fight against the popular version of gender discrimination has picked up pace. The educated youth of today doesn’t support such kind of injustice and discrimination, and is ready to raise its voice against it. An average educated boy doesn’t believe that a girl studying in his college is less deserving. Perhaps this kind of change in trend is what has led to women achieving more than before, as they’re given more chances to showcase their true talent and capabilities. Today, the world knows and accepts what women are capable of, and this is but a tight slap on the face of those who ever believed that women are weak. The social media is a great contributor towards spreading the awareness about the wrongs done to women, and why it has to stop. If today, a girl gets harassed, you’ll perhaps notice more men than women, who feel outraged at such incidents. That’s a place where we should be at.

Talking of that physics experiment again, I remember that it was all but simple. While at the first attempt, the weights quickly slid down to the right side, as I tried to balance them again, they all now shifted towards the left. It wasn’t just me. Almost all of my classmates faced this stubborn problem. When we tried to fix one end, the other end would bend.

weights on left

Somehow, I feel a striking similarity between this experiment and our concept of gender equality concept. Lately, we’ve been trying to fix one end, but the other end has slowly begun to suffer. It’s funny how in the patriarchal society we’ve been living in, the men have started to feel discriminated against. No reserved seats for men in public transport, restricted entry for men without female company to some clubs/pubs, preference of women candidates in jobs etc are some ways men feel the bias against them. If a man happens to get involved in a tiff with a women in some public place, we all know who is held, or at the least, assumed guilty. There are times when the discrimination is so subtle that it fails to make a lasting impression. There was this news headline on a newspaper some days back that read ’15 dead, including 4 women, in a train accident’. I wonder how 4 women adds to the impact, perhaps their lives matter more. If a man kills another man, well it almost feels like an ‘acceptable’ crime. Why wouldn’t it, it wasn’t a crime against women after all. Lately, there have been a few cases, where some women misused the state of affairs to earn some limelight and false praises. But let’s not even go there, just the way I won’t mention any more of the various other cases where men get discriminated against. I won’t go there because that’s not the motive.

weights balanced

Back to that physics experiment, the good thing about it was that on the third or fourth attempt, almost all the class was able to get the weights balanced correctly. Basically, our society is still stuck in the second phase. For long, it has been weighing the first half more than the other, and now we’re trying to fix that and in the process, we are perhaps bending towards the other side a bit. But that’s alright, and perfectly fine as long as we realize it in time. We have to realize the true meaning of gender equality. Men and women are equal to each other, and should be treated like wise. If women have some weak points, men have their own. None of the two is superior to the other, and none deserves any less respect. To all my fellow men, we need to understand that women are as important as we are. They deserve a lot more than just sticking to kitchens or keeping fasts in hope of your longer life. If today, you sometimes feel that they demand more than they should, and in a way, are being unfair, it’s probably because they have been deprived of a lot for generations. We would have probably done the same, and its totally fine. Women need to realize that just because 10 percent of men commit rapes or sexual crimes, it doesn’t mean all men do. It means that those 10 percent are not men. Women should also realize that if they misuse the growing awareness about anti women crime against men for fame or monetary benefits, this can revert the state and put us back to where we came from.  Ideal would be the world where no women is expected to cook, not any more than a man, and a world where no man is expected to earn more than a woman.  And we’ll reach there. If students in a school can learn to maintain the balance, why can’t we?

gender equality

 

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The Dead Innocent Kid

Deep down in our hearts, we’re all little kids,
An unnoticed innocence lies within, nurtured by our soul,
Our thoughts and intentions, are benign at the core,
Then what is it, that so artfully moulds,

Our good intentions into evil acts,
Which make us the opposite of who we are,
In the end, we’re all but innocent,
And the benign intentions stand miles apart,www

Is it the false pleasures, that the world has to offer,
Or the fear of lagging behind in the race,
Is it the demon, better known as money,
It’s certainly a greed, in many different ways,

We strive hard, to fulfill these desires,
We manage to grab more than we need,
What, then, keeps the feeling of fulfillment away,
Is it the guilt of our wrongs, indeed,

In the process of achieving all that we want,
We ignorantly murder that innocent little kid,
We successfully achieve money, power, even fame,
But fail to achieve the peace which we once did,

Then how can this all be worth it,
Why do we give up our souls, in a glance,
Lets not let the false pleasures drive us any more,
Let’s give that innocent little kid another chance…

The Innocent Little Kid

We, The Superstitious People of India…

Think about the most dangerous villains, criminals and evil minds that have resided in India. Make a short list in your mind. Chances are that your list includes names such as Dawood Ibrahim, the don, Kasab, the terrorist who was hanged, and Veerapan, among others. Without a doubt, these names deserve to be on the list for all that they have done. Shockingly, we don’t think about any of these names in our daily lives, except when the media reminds us of them. It’s interesting how the most fearsome men don’t cause fear in our hearts, at least not in our daily lives. What’s twice as interesting is the fact that something as harmless as a black cat crossing one’s path is assumed to bring doom, and that chilies and lemon can act as Rajnikanth and prevent this doom like a boss. We have villains like no others, and superheroes in unimaginable forms. Lets take a look at some of them.

The Villains:

  • Black Cat, for who needs guns when you could kill them by just walking across the road
  • Number 13, not just your regular teen
  • The Evil Eye, everyone has one, especially the neighbors
  • Certain days like Tuesday and Saturday, when you get killed for eating meat or washing hair
  • Mars, the evil planet, with it’s ‘Manglik‘ trademark
  • The Colour Black, too dark to make your day brighter
  • Upside Down Slippers on the floor, they can probably turn your lives upside down
  • Broken Mirrors, watch yourself in one of these and you’re life is destined to be broken

The Super Heroes:

  • Lemon and Green Chilies, put them together and they’ll take care of the rest
  • Black Spot on the Face, guarding you against evil eyes since eternity
  • One Rupee Coin, added to the cash gift, because the amount in the envelope is not enough
  • The Super Lockets and Precious Stones, wearing whom you are immune to difficulties, and well, ghosts
  • The Brave Coconut, who willingly gets smashed to the ground to make an event auspicious

Superstitions

Ever wondered how that poor little cat would have felt when we linked her with bad events? How would you feel if you were that coconut who was forcibly banged on the floor only to bring good luck? On a serious note, if we think radically, it’s not hard to tell that these superstitions don’t make the slightest of the sense. It might be true that some of these did make sense back in the day. For instance, talking of cutting nails in evening, it would not be a good idea in days when there was no electricity and we had to make do with the dim light of candles. We could have hurt our fingers. However, it clearly makes no sense in modern times. With time, we have to realize what deserves to be left behind, and make sure that it is left behind. Some of us follow these for the sake of our elders. Our elders believe in these age old superstitions, they expect us to follow these, and we follow. I wouldn’t have a problem with such obedience, if it weren’t one of the key reasons that prevent our country from getting rid of these false beliefs. Most of the new generation doesn’t believe in any of these, but follows some of these any ways. Not believing is doing no good. Not following is what is required. We might like to believe that nobody really believes in them these days, but most of the people I know don’t eat meat on Tuesdays, and almost all the houses on my street have a ‘Nazarpattu’. I guess it’s time for a reality check.

nazarbattu

 

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Should I be a proud Indian?

The 69th anniversary of our country’s independence is here. The patriotic in me feels proud of what my country has achieved over the past seven decades. From being known as the land of rituals, snake charmers, and superstitions, we’ve really come a long way. Today, the world knows us as engineers, CEOs and scientists. The Mangalyaan makes me proud, and so do men such as Mr. Sundar Pichai, Mr. Satya Nadela or Mr. Kailash Satyarthi. I feel honoured to be a part of such a nation. I feel like waiving my beloved country’s flag.

Proud Indian

But as is true for anything else, there’s another side to me. The ‘I hate this country, it can never develop’ side. I find myself complaining about my country’s problems every day. When I start my day and head out for work, I resent the overly crowded streets I cry about the densely polluted air and poor traffic control. When I see beggars and poor children clad in torn clothes, I curse the government for their condition. Of course, it’s the government’s fault. Had the ministers and political leaders been doing their job with sincerity and honesty, problems like poverty, pollution and population would not exist. I go through this round of thoughts every day. However, that’s precisely where I leave my country to its problems. My responsibility ends there. No one blames me. No one asks me to not stop there. No one expects me to be doing anything else about it. No one, except the evil whom I hate the most. My biggest critic, Mr Conscience.

Ashamed of being Indian

That demon questions my right to be proud of my country’s achievements. What exactly, have I done to take India where it is today, he asks. I want to punch him in the face. He goes on to ask if there’s any tiny contribution that I’ve put in for my country in the twenty five years of my existence. I try hard to recall the last time I did something for my country, so that I can shut his bloody mouth. But I can’t. I begin to feel irritated. It’s only the beginning. Mr. Conscience tells me on my face how I have no right to make any complains about my own country and it’s problems. Since I’m not the part of the solution, I must be a part of the problem, he says. That’s it, he has done it. It’s time I shut his damn face and go to sleep. The best part of sleep is that you get to escape whatever you want. Sometimes, that’s your only way out of dealing with your conscience.  I love sleep.

Honestly, I know I could have contributed a little in all these years. I know I still can. I can perhaps donate a small amount of my monthly salary to a charity. I can resist taking my own car and use the public transport, for the sake of one less car on road. All those times when I wasted food, I could have saved that and gave it to the needy. I can also give up the greed and pay all taxes with sincerity. I can spread awareness among people to keep the country clean, or at least, make sure that I myself don’t litter public places and roads.  I can perhaps plead to my friends on Facebook to do something good, instead of posting that selfie that I was about to post. I can start on this Independence Day, for what else could be a better day. But I’m probably too lazy to turn ‘can’ into ‘will’. It’s a lot easier to feel proud while other’s give us the reasons. So is to complain and forget. I think I’ll stick to the routine. I will probably fly kites in the morning feeling proud, and drink beer with friends at night, cursing my country and its problems.

India


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Common Man Vs Poverty

India’s major troubles come from the three P’s; Population, Poverty and a beloved neighbor. Among these, the second is perhaps the biggest enemy of any country. In India, poverty is too widespread to miss the eye. You don’t have to be in some rural areas to spot the poor. The streets of some of the most developed cities house more poor than we can imagine. What poverty leads to, and why it is obnoxious is obvious. What I’m more interested in, is what I and you can do about it. When we think of such problems, we are quick to blame the government, its policies and corruption. It is true that such country level problems demand actions and measures from the govt. Corruption is, without a doubt, a key culprit. We vote to form new governments in hope of a corruption free country. From that moment, we sit back, hoping that the govt. will do its job and things will get better. If it doesn’t, we blame them again. That’s pretty much sums up our contribution. Why get our own hands dirty when we can blame someone else. Simple!

The next time your car breaks down, try sitting back in the hope that someone else will come and fix it. You won’t, will you? It’s your car, and it’s your problem. For once, can we not think the same for our country? Why not get up for our country? Many of us want to help, but don’t know how. For something as big as eradicating poverty, where does a common man start from? It’s a genuine question. The answer is not straight forward. Perhaps, there is no quick solution. However, if we mend our daily habits a little, we can help.

Think about the last time you ate at some fine restaurant, or went for a movie. I’m sure you wouldn’t remember the exact amount you spent. But hey, did you try to bargain? Do we ever bargain at a restaurant, at a shop at some mall, or at a movie theater? We don’t. Bargaining applies to the street markets. Those vendors who struggle to make a living out of selling veggies on the streets. Those kids who sell corn on the roadside. Getting back to the aching reality, most of these street vendors are financially weak. They don’t have parallel businesses running, unlike some of the restaurant owners. The reason why bargaining works with them is that they need money so badly that they agree to sell even at much lower prices. Do we really need to bargain with them? Say they earned ten bucks more each time, will that really burn a hole in our pocket? It will surely help those chaps a lot. A ten rupee note matters much more to a poor man than it does to the rich. We don’t mind tipping fifty bucks to a waiter who is already earning a salary. However, buying groceries without bargaining seems wrong. Can we not spare this little amount for the benefit of the poor? Sometimes, it’s not about saving those precious ten bucks. It’s the ego, the one that says ‘why give them the price they ask?’ The next time someone tells you that he bought the same amount of lemons at a cheaper rate, tell him proudly that you made the seller’s day!

bargaining

Having talked about our practice of bargaining, another habit that I see around quite often confuses me to the core. Some of us who argue for five or ten bucks while shopping, have absolutely no issues while giving alms to beggars. Beggars, who don’t work for the money, while they can. Beggars, who are made handicapped, had their arms or legs amputated so that they can beg for mercy. Imagine, you work hard and get paid very little, and you see that a beggar who’s not working at all gets more than you. How would that feel, wouldn’t that discourage you? Think about those cruel evil minds who run this business. Wouldn’t it help them? We all know the answer. Then why do some of us give alms to beggars nevertheless? If you believe you’re helping them, you’re mistaken. Your intention might be good, but the action is only making things worse. Want to help? Pay good to those who work. Don’t encourage the beggars, and see how it helps end this dirty business.

beggars or labourers

Who, do you think, deserves the money?

While some easier steps have already been talked about, I’m going to touch upon some other ways that we can adopt to help our country.

  • Pay Taxes Sincerely: We all understand that it is the government’s responsibility to plan and fight against such country level issues. What we must also take into account is the fact that govt. works on our money. The tax we pay is the money that the govt. works on. If we really care for the eradication of poverty and other issues, we should pay taxes with sincerity. We must not think of it as the money that’s being taken away from us. It’s the money that we are contributing for the country’s development. In all possibilities, it’s a good cause. There must be a good reason why every country has adopted this methodology. Pay taxes sincerely and feel proud of it.
  • Save Resources when you can: Saving is as important as making. It doesn’t take a big effort to not waste the necessary resources, such as electricity and water. Less resources wasted equals more resources available. More resources available means lesser the price charged. Lesser the price charged implies more accessibility to the poor.
  • Donate: How many times a year do we dine at expensive restaurants, buy pricey stuff or spend money at partying? Out of these occasions, if we save the money spent on just two of them and donate that sum to some charity, it will help more than we think. If most of us develop this habit, it will be a huge help. Besides, the warm feeling that you get after charity is priceless!

No wonder it’s the government’s job to look after such issues, but the government can’t do everything by itself. If I and you, the common men, start contributing towards fighting such issues, things will definitely change for better. Somewhere deep down inside, we all know what we should be doing, but as Morpheus from The Matrix rightly says,

There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path…