The world remade.

How would I remake the world?

The question makes me quiver with a strange kind of excitement. The anticipation of a power, handed to me on a platter. Like I am the most supreme, and that I have everything under my control. I can twist, tweak, mould and reshape what I want. Oh, what fun! But yes, also an enormous responsibility.

Is it not easy, I ask myself, with one sweep of a wand, to make everything peaceful and perfect? Then life would have no twists and turns, be one straight long road, and life would be one big party. There would be no need of a God to pray to, no police for want of protection, no religion for a feeling of belonging, no nations to feel patriotic about, no movements to fight against discrimination. Sounds so desirable, but is it practical?

The world was meant to be just the way it is. The imperfections, the injustices, the tyrannies of rule and mishaps. I believe that there is a purpose behind everything. And if there is chaos in this world, it is there to teach us something. To keep people moving forward, to mutate, to fit and to survive as evolution meant us to.

One single person in this world changing things would cause a feeling of dissatisfaction to a lot of others. Like a dictatorship. Because that is how we are made. Everything is relative. For every good, there is an evil; for every misfortune, there is a miracle; for every superstition, there is a rationalization and we all know that every human thinks in two radically different ways in any given situation.

If I try to make things better for one person, then I am bound to make someone else dissatisfied. Even terrorism seems to have another point of view, or it would not have survived this long!

So is everything hopeless? Is there nothing we can change? I believe that the change is something buried deep inside of us. This would be the place to target. For humans to understand that they are always not right, that every one step each one of us take can cause myriad ripples in multiple directions and so we must be careful. And that we should learn to care. About ourselves, our fellow beings, our environment and of things beyond that we do not understand as of now.

Caring, a lot of people believe can make us weak. The biggest decisions in this world were made with our heads rather than our hearts. But look where it put us. World wars, communism, the formation of countries, religion, the caste system, gender stereotyping, traditions – all of which were in the first place decided upon rationally to bring a semblance of normalcy to this world. But did they?

Therefore, I beg to differ. I feel that caring is the one thing which makes us strong, gives us foresight and wisdom to change what we can, fight when the need be and sometimes let go of things which cannot be changed. Every social evil, and environmental catastrophe that I can think of could have been changed if we had cared, rather than made-rules!

This I believe is the change the world deserves. So yes, if I could change one thing in this world, I would choose to inculcate the feeling, the thought and the attitude of ‘caring’ into every single soul living on this earth.

Then I would say, may the fittest survive.  This is my world remade.

This post is a part of a competition that I am participating in.

“I am participating in the #TheWorldRemade activity at BlogAdda in association with India Today #Conclave15 “

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Rejuvenation!

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Hello everyone.Every once in a while, there comes a time in my life when I suffer from a severe case of “exhaustion block”, diagnosed by the symptoms of extreme sleepiness whenever the computer is switched on and complete blankness of mind at all other times! The past two weeks, hence were used to read, both books and blogs, which sort of recharged my system.

One of the blogs which helped me out of my mental exhaustion is by an Australian called Phoebe(yes, just like the one from friends) called The Little Grey box. (I have not yet mastered the art and the science behind making a blog link open by somehow attaching the link in my blog, so you have to google it if you want!). She writes about travel and inspiration. It is how she writes about really philosophical things in a way that makes you understand what she means to say, that make the blog a good read. When down in the dumps, read Phoebe, has been my mantra the last two weeks!  Then there is a cooking blog or website called the Edible Garden, which opens under the link www.cookingandme.com which gives you really nice recipes which are easy to make and the way the recipes are explained make you feel like as though the writer is speaking to you! So, I have also been trying out recipies in a frenzy!

Apart from this, I read a book called ‘All about Bacteria’ written by an Indian author Ravi Mantha. Got intrigued what someone could write for 230 pages about bacteria under the category of ‘popular’ non fiction. But the book is good. It is about the millions of trillions of bacteria which live in and around us and have been totally misunderstood as beings which out there to make our lives miserable! The book goes on to explain how all bacteria are not pathogens and that we needed quite a few to be healthy too. The bacterial symbiote is based on the premise that humans and bacteria have lived in harmony together for times immemorial, and only a handful of these bacteria cause us illness. Hence, just as a few bad experiences do not put us off the whole human population for good, a few illnesses should not make us believe that all bacteria are bad for us.

When we go through our MBBS degree, we go through a whole subject called microbiology which teaches us all about harmful bacteria and what damage it causes, and side by side we learn pharmacology which is almost manically dedicated to eradicating these pathogens. But nowhere in our training that I remember, were we taught about how to understand our body bacteria and work with them rather than against them for a healthier life! Have developed a new respect for these small creatures after this book (I know I sound weird, but its true!).

Apparently in China, till about a century ago, the village doctors who were given the charge of public health of an entire village, would be paid their monthly salary only if they managed to keep the whole village sickness free for the entire month!  Great concept, right? The doctor hence needs to be a teacher, a community physician who also works a lot towards primary prevention rather than tertiary care. It also describes how the medicine we  currently practice, is now more palliative instead of curative, hence giving rise to more resistant strains of bacteria and newer mutations of the older easier illnesses. The peanut allergy syndromes, the relation between peptic ulcers and obesity, how body defenses work and many more such interesting facts are explained really well.

Remember reading a similar book long ago called ‘The Survival of the Sickest’ written by Dr. Sharon Moalem. This book is all about why we need diseases to survive!  Dr. Atul Gawande is another person whose books make me feel that medicine is all about thinking simple and logical. He makes the most simple statements, but they make such a big difference to the way we function in hospitals. I felt my work exhaustion dissipating and some new energy creeping in!

The aftermath of this was that I got so hyper interested in reading similar books and ordered a whole lot of them online and am waiting desperately for them to arrive! Will keep you posted how they are! Till then, have a happy weekend with your family and your body bacterial symbiotes!!

A confused Indian, hindu, mother, human, me?…

Let me confess at the outset, that I do not even know whether I am qualified or deep enough to write this piece. My defense is that there may be an equally large number of people out there who feel like me, and are also not completely well read in all matters history, religion or politics. And I also confess that being a mother,  I tend to dwell a lot on the premise of what kind of a world is it that I am letting my children wander into?A world where you have to be scared of belonging to a faith? Or one where you wear it like a badge!I feel it needs to be neither.

This year has been all about a feeling of unease about religion. I have never big on either politics or religion, but this year has pushed me into thinking a lot about it for various reasons. A few to be mentioned are- the recent spate of killings by the ISIS, a few videos that I watched on whatsapp of a close up of beheading done in cold blood in some Arab country, “Aavarana”, a book by S.L. Bhyrappa that I read with mixed feelings, a few statements made by our seers which claimed that Hindu women needed to procreate with greater speed and intensity to save our religion and finally culminating with an experience that I had this afternoon- a ‘Pathasanchalana’- a march of thousands of RSS swayam sevaks held in my hometown.

Growing up, I was brought up in a family which held our country’s values of democracy and secularism in high stead. My home town, though rich in history was not too communal. And the street I lived in had people belonging to almost all religions and caste. Hence, the idea that something really deep could divide us only struck me during the Babri Masjid riots. I remember huddling in my school waiting for someone from home to come and pick me up. I also remember the fear on my Muslim friend’s face during the wait. It was a little more complicated for her. She was waiting to be taken home safely by someone hopefully arriving to pick her safely! After this, there was again a sense of peace which prevailed for the next so many years. Slowly, I pushed these disturbing memories to the remotest corner of my mind.

I have always felt that religion should be something very personal. Something which gives you a sense of peace, a feeling of security and belief that if something goes wrong,the Almighty(with a capital A) was there to protect you. And some place you send your prayers to. But why is it not so simple? Why do people then try to publicize it? Or propagate it? Probably because then you get the power of numbers? And then politics enter into it? And jumble it up further? And make you smile at people and want to stab them in the back at the same time? But still want to stick to the book and pretend to be a pious human being who does no wrong? And so many more questions that I have, which will fetch me more confused answers!

So I decided to read up (at least a little) about what drives these religions. And I came upon Aavarana, a book which sort of describes the history of Islam and the Mughal rule in detail. Lets say that it was not all complimentary to Islam, but the book does claim to have its research done from books written by Mughal rulers themselves. Which is the reason why, we can understand having a right wing which claims to set right these wrongs and protect the Hindus. And we have, in between all this, the British who tried to stay back and rule by dividing the already divided, further! And our politicians, who have tried to cash in on this divide, for votes. Now, how do we ever disentangle this mess?

Reading further and deeper into this topic is guaranteed to make you more and more depressed. There are so many avenues, nuances, dead ends and a general insensitivity which make the situation worse. Where do we start smoothing the creases? And revert back to the basic concept of getting comfort from your choice of faith? Because, now it scares!

Standing on the road today, watching the procession, I was eves dropping on the conversations going on around me. And generally observing everything going on around.Two women discussing the number of ‘holiges’( a sweet preparation) which were cooked for the swayam sevaks’ feast. A fully sozzled guy, trying to clearly voice out ‘vande mataram’. Two girls obviously tickled about his inebriated state and giggling away constantly every time he managed to get it right. A lady trying her best to edge into the front row, using her husband’s paralytic limb as an excuse.  A policeman, trying his best to control an undisciplined crowd.  Swayam sevaks in the march capturing images on their mobile phones. Two boys sitting on roof top, emptying Nandini milk packets on to a huge hoarding of Shivaji! Our grocery store, uncharacteristically being closed owing to the fact that it belonged to a muslim and there was a RSS march going on. Basically, life was going on as usual a midst all the hype about faith. This reassured me, that deep down, all that we want is food, a roof, some security and an opportunity to have some harmless fun.

Abraham Maslow, a psychologist, famously gave his pyramid of hierarchy of needs. The pyramid claims, that unless basic needs of food and security are met, you cannot move on to the next level , and later push yourself on to achieving  self actualization- ‘nirvana’ in the end.

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In this respect, we in India, at least vast majority of the population, are still grappling with stage one and two! Then why should we confuse issues, instead of providing for the first two levels?

Why should we inculcate religion like a discipline, rather than teach our children to grow into a faith of their own creation? Based on what is needed for the day, rather than what had happened many hundreds of thousands of years ago? Some place where the need of this day is discussed, rather than vengeance? Where we can discuss religion freely, rather than impose it upon others or worse, behead them?

History tells us about how different faiths have tried to come up each, by putting down the other. Why not make it better now rather than ruffle feathers?We have always been taught that all religions are good. lets now learn to accept the fact that there is some bad too. And move on.

I know that this post contains more questions than answers. It is because these questions have been there for a long while without finding answers that pacify me. And leaving me confused as to what I should be first- a mother who teaches secularism, a hindu (just because I happen to be born one), who upholds ideals dealt out by our seers, an Indian or just simply, plain old me????