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Month: January 2014

Thinking in labels

Is he hungry or a Himesh fan?
Is he hungry or a Himesh fan?

Labels are valuable. They save lives and, at least partly, have ensured human race survived to this day.

The early man saw a lion and thought, “Dangerous” and ran. Of course, sometimes the lion would be a non-violent kind or a vigilante who only ate evil animals or abhorred human flesh or lazy or not even hungry – but survival was more important to our primitive uncle than understanding the niceties of the leonine mood.

There was a time when I thought exclusively in labels. Years ago, but the time did exist.

Anyone who had a car in the eighties came from a family of moneyed blood suckers who built their wealth on the toil and tears of the hardworking poor. Rich puppy! Undeserving parasite wallowing in the luxury of the ill gotten wealth of his father. Too much seventies Amitabh, I guess.

Anyone from Delhi was a super fast man of the world, full of street smarts to even sell a dead rat to pest control.

Anyone who didn’t go to an IIT, and this I admit with a lot of embarrassment, was a below par sub humanoid. Anyone who didn’t study science in 10+2 didn’t exist.

Pithy approximations based on my limited view of the world to help build a model and make sense of it.

And then, as my world expanded, I met kids with a car in the eighties as nice, warm, ambitious, hardworking and fun as anyone; Delhi kids as naive as anyone from Sitapur and Sitapur kids who could sell off your ears without you realizing you’ve lost them; Humanities graduates who would outscore me every single time in, woe betide, Computers – which I thought had to be my bunny owing to my premier engineering degree and high voltage work experience building IC design software.

That’s when it occurred to me – labels limit. If you only see in black and white, you miss the colors. If you only see in red, blue, green, you miss the shades. The real world is far too complex, real people have way too many nuances.

Both are "Bow-wows" for the 2 year old Aujas
Both are “Bow-wows” for the 2 year old Aujas

For the two year old Aujas, both the dog and the cow are “Bow-wows” and it helps him decide to run when he sees either. As he grows up, he will realize that everything walking on four legs is not “Bow wow”.

However, we can’t entirely discard labels too. For one, they are too deeply ingrained in us, a survival trait sustained by organic evolution, and then, in the times of information overload, they may help us stay sane.

Thinking in labels is so powerful that the entire marketing industry revolves around pasting the desired label on an idea, product, brand or a person. The easiest way to win over millions of people is to build the right label and make it stick.

Congress has been trying to fix “Maut ke saudagar” on Modi for ten years now while BJP jostles to paste “Development Superman”. Similarly, labels of “Pappu” and “Reluctant prince with a heart that bleeds gold” compete to find a firm place somewhere on Rahul Gandhi’s visage.

“Elite”, “Intelligentsia”, “Masses”, “Classes”, “Communal”, “Secular” and the flavor of the season, “Anarchist”. Labels are omnipresent.

Smart ass advice 1: Labels make us a victim of, “Has a tail, is a ‘Bow wow'” logic.  Avoid them.

Smart ass advice 2: We will forever be susceptible to labels – create the right one & slap it on with the stickiest glue when selling something.

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Welcome son!

Dear Son,

Welcome to the world.

First thing I want to tell you is that right now, what gives me the greatest pleasure is just watching you – you sleeping, you awake. You smiling, you grimacing. You blinking, you winking and you giving those innumerable expressions no dictionary has the words to describe. They are simply so many. Most of the adult faces I know, including my own can manage only four or five. Where do so many come to you from?

IMG_4217Or are you telling me that as we grow up, the multitude of expressions we once had coalesce into a few we now possess? Do we lose most of those feelings as we go along?

People told me I’d all of a sudden become very responsible (yes, they thought I wasn’t) when you come. They said life will change. They also said you’ll be a huge responsibility. Possibly. Right now, though, you are just 3 kgs.

Frankly, I haven’t felt an emotionally overwhelming moment so far. Yes. When your little hands shivered in my arms after the nurse handed a new born you to me, I felt an urgent helplessness – wanted to stop your shivering but didn’t know what to do. Yes, I can sit for hours just watching you and I love to wrap myself around you and hold you close to my chest. But, not one moment has been an unleashing of a tsunami. May be that’s how it really happens – slowly and definitely.

I want you to grow big and strong and happy. I want you to be brave. I want you to be kind and loving. I know, a long wishlist for such a small you. But dads are selfish. Yours too is no different.

There, you’ve already started helping me understand my dad in turn.

The day you were born, I saw a small puppy, near the super market and it occurred to me that he too would have been born just like you. Possibly he too was as precious to his parents. And I also saw a child begging at the traffic light – a torn sweater in the chilling December cold. He too would have been as precious to his parents. I don’t know what it means. Most probably, random ramblings of a newly minted dad. Whatever.

Million things I want to tell you and we will talk as we go along. A couple, I think are most important.

First, do everything like the only thing that exists in the world is you and the thing you are doing. I have done things both ways and the most rewarding experiences have come when I’ve done them as if nothing else exists – no past, no future, no people, no causes, no consequences. When you do something and your mind is elsewhere, that’s when you don’t enjoy it and that’s when it doesn’t work out.

And then, be brave. No matter who or what you face, no matter when or where you face them. You will realize sooner or later that the most important thing in life is to take a stand, your stand. No matter what others, including me, tell you.


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The mad CM

So who exactly is Kejriwal?kejriwal7_650_012114050706

A CM insane or a phantom warrior for Congress?

CIA agent, Ford foundation protege, Naxalite sans weapons, Muffler wearing anarchist, Bespectacled fascist, Backstabber, Leftist, Vigilante, Anti national, Bull in a china shop, Man in a hurry or a Messiah.


Labels, some of them mutually inconsistent – how can he be an anarchist and a fascist at the same time. As an anarchist, he would want to destroy the system and as a fascist, he would want to expand the system and usurp it for himself. Not possible till he is a shape shifting monster powered by secret CIA technology known only to US Army and Kejriwal. Dig deep enough and you’ll find documentary proof of the secret deal somewhere on Facebook.

Opposing FDI in retail makes him a dangerous leftist out to drag India to the dark days of license raj. Horror of horrors, even BJP opposes FDI in retail and with no less venom. Confusion plus plus. Read more.

Prashant Bhushan talking of referendum on army presence in J&K makes him a traitor. So what about Chacha Nehru who promised referendum on the very accession of Kashmir. And wait, iron man Patel too was a member of that cabinet and collective responsibility ensures that he too can’t shake away the blame. With due respect to the great men, moi confused like a kid Sidhu in a topless bar.

arvind-kejriwal-sleeping-pti-360Publicity hungry, eyeball grabber. Item girl. Well, the Delhi winter is not going anywhere for the next week or so. Rail Bhawan too is free now.  AAPtards have shown the way, time for Moditards and Rahultards too to join the fun. Forget the 500 or 1200 Crores. They are up for grabs. The eyeballs. Anyone game?

Congress agent? Possible. Only Congress needs to have some serious BDSM fetish for that.

Oh, and he is sending one of his best men against Rahul. Will BJP follow suite? Modi? Jaitley? Sushma? Rajnath? Anyone of the big shots? The shortest route to Congress free India. Stop the Gandhis outside parliament and watch Congress disintegrate. They wouldn’t survive 5 years without a single Gandhi to bow to.

An activist not content with intellectual masturbation, a revolutionary not content with a high seat, a politician not content with winning an election and a CM not content with making the right noises.

A new beast is in town and no one knows who or what it is. A bird, a plane or a man?

Confusion is not mine alone, all are equal in this bath.

Congress can’t decide if AAP are gutter snipes or worthy teachers. BJP perplexed if they should tolerate AAP or go all out against them. Copy or criticize? Sanjay Nirupam goes on Anshan for low power tariff in Mumbai while Shinde calls him a crazy CM in Delhi. BJP copies them in “Ek vote, ek note” for Modi while pouring verbal vitriol elsewhere.

Media confused between adulation and condemnation.

Am I happy?

You bet I am.

It’s almost the Lanka Dahan scene from Ramayana.

Watching career politicians confused and scared is funny. Watching intelligent people float fantastic conspiracy theories is funny (check out Zaid Hamid if you have a taste for them). Watching the ivory towers of politics crumble is enthralling. Watching a CM brave brutal Delhi cold through the night on the road is sobering.

He is making politics more difficult and less lucrative. That’s all I need today. Labels may wait.

And the sky would wait too.

Why, if it stayed up during the past 60 years, I am sure it can take some Kejri knocks too without falling on our heads.

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