The history of the human species runs alongside that of bacteria and viruses. We have no evolution without them. They have always been in us, around us, on us in every way shape and form. There can be no existence without them, there is no way to eliminate them either. As much as we know about them, we know far too little. We are only now beginning to find out a few things about the creatures that live alongside us, as the latest research leaks out over the blatherspeak of social media. The vast majority of us are incapable of dealing with the magnitude of information on this scale, and its far reaching effects on our minds, and even our bodies. Hindsight is always left to later times.
In my country, as in many other places there are two sides, which mock each other relentlessly. One of these sides coined the term WhatsApp University to imply that people on the other side were getting most of their information from social media sites promoting fake news, which they were indeed guilty of doing. But when the people on the other side heard about WhatsApp University, they quickly cottoned on, and started deriding those on the other side for getting their information from WhatsApp.
Women love a good disappearing act and most times we don’t know we are doing it. We can disappear into clothes, both slutty and religious, into rooms, into families, and worst of all we disappear into the stories that define our cultures.
We the she learn to disappear from view so subtly but so absolutely, that she is right there in plain view but not really present in the description of the man who writes her, as in Marriage Story or Kramer vs Kramer. It is anticlimactic but true that despite #metoo, nothing seems to have changed between 2020 and 1979. Continue reading The disappearing woman
I was trying to reply to a message without being rude, even though I knew the original message to be wrong. We can argue philosophy and say there’s your version of the truth and mine, but we should be able to call a spade, a spade without going into the merits of the different brands of the tool in question. Anyway, after a while I went back and deleted what I considered a carefully thought-out polite reply. I realised there is no polite way to reply to someone, however dear they are to you, without appearing rude even if you meant well. Meaning well can also be self delusion. Continue reading To text or to speak, that is the question
We only ever notice the ogres from the #metoo stories, not the nice people that walk among us, pass among us. When the less obvious or the everyday monsters are finally outed, sometimes we will not want to see, choose not to see, because they were always so affable and it is just too difficult to believe such stories about them. Some of the #metoo reports are about people we idolised. All this time, they were simply signalling virtue.
If we stop to think about it, there is something very important buried in the chronicle of stories written by Ronan Farrow in The New Yorker. It’s in the detail deep down in the stories. Ostensibly, what we tend to remember are the Israeli spies, open bathrobes and emanations into potted plants—the dramatic circumstances. People are tuned to enact and respond to that in other people and in the stories they read and watch. Spectacle is what great mythology and morality fables are about, we live for the soap opera.
Were we always like this? Precocious virtual conquerors. Facebook, WhatsApp groups are filling with so many of us seeking instant validation: each one a more concerned citizen than the next. It’s counter intuitive but, perhaps, this is how everything went wrong. Everyone a plastic activist, animal lover, tree planter, vegetarian or crusading meat eater. We should have changed the world for the better, except for the troubling evangelism of the unquestioning do-gooders—Us.
My country is rich with paradox, for instance, the patriarchs and the privileged loath dynasts. Anyone who was ever ‘heard’, or has a column, is privileged, right? They have the resources to be heard, they were born into castes that had access to higher education when the majority did not have those resources. They had the means to succeed and then feel sorry for themselves, where others did not. The loathing of dynasts seems somehow convenient, when the loathers are themselves dynasts. Perhaps they hate themselves, or are guilty of how they got what they have? But no, it’s not that either. Continue reading Privilege envy or the loathing of dynasts
Edgy folk are defined by their openness to experiment and novelty of all kinds. This openness to meta-physical and material evolution crosses over to permaculture in a popular, transcendence-inducing topic called the edge effect. Simply put an edge is a junctional area between two ecological zones, which attracts bio diversity as these borderlands combine the qualities and species of the two zones that meet here, often leading to the evolution of micro climates and new species.
I must be bizarro world’s Arundhati Roy. Opening up the weekend paper a few days ago, there, spread across four pages was every minute detail of Roy’s new book, from how the cover got made to how many translations were in the works. It must have induced the green-eyed monster in me to open up its beady little jade eyes. Hence the following.
We only ever hear stories of success, also known as the survivorship bias, and never hear from those who failed. Well, I failed, and even if my story does not inspire anyone it could perhaps contain a kernel of value. My book did not get published. Although its manuscript was longlisted for the Man Asian Literary prize in 2009. Immediately after this announcement, a leading Indian literary critic wrote in a column that a manuscript longlisted for the Man Asian Literary prize does not mean much. Though she did not say so in these exact words, she more or less said only the shortlist that follows matters as it weeds out the chaff. After the shortlist came out, I realised I was human chaff. Ultimately, only getting published is of merit. But in India, perhaps elsewhere, getting published is about effective networking. This means that the writer either needs to market themselves, move in the right closed-publishing-group circles, know the right people, so that the powers-that-be will give you a reasonable hearing.