May 042016


(image source : here)

Facebook tells me, it is Star Wars day.

This is how mythology begins. Wait a thousand years, and see it being transformed into a religion, replete with a ‘God’, good and evil, heroes and villains, and most importantly, an organised clergy that helps perpetuate it.



And, it has already begun.

There is a Temple of the Jedi Order that is the main stay of the ‘religious’ movement. it defines itself as follows,

Jediism is a religion based on the observance of the Force, a ubiquitous and metaphysical power that a Jedi (a follower of Jediism) believes to be the underlying, fundamental nature of the universe. Jediism finds its roots in philosophies similar to those presented in an epic space opera called “Star Wars”. It is a religion in and of itself.

The Jedi religion is an inspiration and a way of life for many people throughout the world who take on the mantle of Jedi. Jedi apply the principles, ideals, philosophies and teachings of Jediism in a practical manner within their lives. Real Jedi do not worship George Lucas or Star Wars or anything of the sort. Jediism is not based in fiction, but we accept myth as a sometimes more practical mean of conveying philosophies applicable to real life.

There are, of course,  the 21 maxims of Jediism.

All in all, it has aims that are quite noble, and it doesn’t ask too much of its followers. Which possibly explains why people are choosing it in many countries. New Zealand, Great Britain, Australia, Canada to start with. In Turkey, students are demanding that the Jedi Temple be allowed on University Campus’, along with Mosques.

Any religion that has Han Solo as a defender, and possibly a future icon to whom believers offer prayers, cannot be too bad. I am not quite sure how future followers will deal with Jar Jar Binks, or with the Ewoks; but, i can see Chewie having a pride of place, as would R2D2 and 3PO.

In centuries to come the Great War between the Sith and the Jedi will go into mythology as a religious war.  The Battle for Endor will have ballads written for it, and Darth Vadar would possible be part of the holy pantheon (as opposed to the unholy one). There will be a cult of the Emperor, and other Sith Lords; and I can see  orders devoted to both, and religious wars will continue. It is human nature to fight. People will fight about this too. But, for now the religion remains mostly harmless, and kind of goofy.

My favorite story on this comes from Wikipedia,

In 2008, 23-year-old Daniel Jones founded the Church of Jediism with his brother Barney, believing that the 2001 UK census recognised Jediism as a religion, and that there were “more Jedi than Scientologists in Britain”.[10] In 2009, Jones was removed from a Tesco supermarket in Bangor, North Wales, for refusing to remove his hood on a religious basis. The owner justified Jones’s ejection by saying, “He hasn’t been banned. Jedis are very welcome to shop in our stores although we would ask them to remove their hoods.Obi-Wan Kenobi, Yoda and Luke Skywalker all appeared hoodless without ever going over to the Dark Side and we are only aware of the Emperor as one who never removed his hood.

All in all, it sounds like good fun, and a joke gone wrong (or right, depending on your point of view).

Mar 162016

Good read in today’s NYT:

two stand out paragraphs, i felt myself nodding in agreement

the omnipresence of social media has created a new sort of shame culture. The world of Facebook, Instagram and the rest is a world of constant display and observation. The desire to be embraced and praised by the community is intense. People dread being exiled and condemned. Moral life is not built on the continuum of right and wrong; it’s built on the continuum of inclusion and exclusion.

And this.

If we’re going to avoid a constant state of anxiety, people’s identities have to be based on standards of justice and virtue that are deeper and more permanent than the shifting fancy of the crowd. In an era of omnipresent social media, it’s probably doubly important to discover and name your own personal True North, vision of an ultimate good, which is worth defending even at the cost of unpopularity and exclusion.

i am seeing the polarised commentary on my TL. and, more importantly than that, the huddling of the troops at either end. The middle ground, on anything, is rapidly vanishing. And, the ugly polar opposites is what is picked up and beamed into homes, by news television. I sometimes hear the discourse, and ask myself, who do they represent (apart from themselves) . How can anyone be so badly behaved, obnoxious, and aggressive … then answer is a brilliant line here …

In the new shame culture, the opposite of shame is celebrity — to be attention-grabbing and aggressively unique on some media platform.


(image courtesy : here)

Nov 152015

After a long time, i wrote an opinion piece for the DNA. And, it essentially was on why India was not being ruled by the Hindu Taliban.

The Indian electorate makes informed and wise decisions – it may not be as literate or as sophisticated as its western counterpart; it may neither be as wealthy, nor as involved – but, the Indian voters have tended to surprise Indian politicians, political parties, and the world at large with their choices. We vote for a direction. We vote to teach rulers a lesson. We participate in the electoral process with joy and involvement. And, we vote because it is our right to do so. There are those who many not like the outcome, but that does not mean that the voters are wrong or have voted ‘fascists’ or ‘communists’ or whatever. Accepting the Indian voters’ choice is the first step of understanding and participating in Indian democracy. The political parties have to do so, in all humility. It is time supporters of those parties did so too.

Read the full piece here

Nov 072015

so, there was a march today, to prove that India was tolerant.

and, while on the face of it, it was a good idea – who can disagree with the concept of ‘marching for tolerance’, it has gone wrong  in terms of basics – don’t lose your temper, smile, wave, come across as reasonable. This march should have been less about the sense that India is insulted and you have to take up arms against those you think have insulted it; and more about reaffirming the civilisational ethos of tolerance. Somewhere it got muddled.

There are things you don’t do when you are marching for tolerance, you don’t call into question the right of other people to hold views, no matter how offended you feel about it. Nor do you rage at those you oppose. Or call them names. I am not sure of what the takeaway of those who walked for tolerance, as opposed to those who viewed it on their screens – i daresay it would be different. What came across as news feeds, from reporters on the ground, from other media houses – was the same kind of anger that one sees on social media every day. And, that kind of anger is off putting. It may attract those who are already angry or raging, but, it really doesn’t do too much for the rest of the people.

On the other side, it is the same story. The desire to label somone as ‘fascist’, a stormtrooper, bhakt and other things. The screechy pitch of wanting to demonise rather than understand. And, this sense that if you are not in complete agreement you are outside. The feeling that George Bush put rather crudely, but succinctly,  “you’re either with us, or against us”

All there is, is rage in the discourse. That desire to shout someone down, rip out their hand and hit them on the head with it. Sometimes that bothers me the most. where does this rage come from. Has it always been there? And, this rage is not specific to one side. It is almost like everyone is having a monologue in raised voices, with other people having their own monologues.

Tolerance is the absence of anger, a certain understanding & empathy, and the sense that we will live together in relative harmony. It is an active state, and should not be mistaken for apathy. A view that says, that i am benevolent, and you can hold your views because of my benevolence, is not tolerance, it is arrogance.  And, this is a problem with both extremes.

There is polarization and intolerance. And, it isn’t religious or caste. It is between those who controlled the narrative in the past, and those who want to control the narrative now, and going forward.  And, in this battle, the doublespeak is phenomenal, the positions are carved in stone, and the middle-ground is shouted out or down, or just put off by the ugliness and leaves. The tendency to quote out of context and fan flame is great; as is the ability to take offence and flame people. All in all it is ugly, and it is going to get uglier.

Mumbai - fire in the sky2

and why this picture, because in all this screaming and shouting and general purpose ugliness by both sides – i feel kind of adrift in the ocean 🙁



Oct 242015


My mother went to one. Between her graduation and her marriage. Before she went to study for her masters. She learned how to arrange flowers, make a salad, lay a perfect table and the rest. When they got married, my father knew how to make the dal and rice, the rasam and the rest. “i taught her to cook” he would guffaw. They would have been married 50 years this July 12th.

I think that maybe other topics should be included in a course like this – how to have a conversation, how not to snap at your spouse, how to enjoy life without it becoming bogged down by what to cook, and where to eat. I am assuming that modern day marriages are more than food and sex.

Ten years ago, I would have ranted at this ad – and it’s innate sexism. Today, i realise it is fulfilling a need. But, the need is read wrong – it should be less about cooking and make up (there are delivery places and parlours for that) – and more about trying to build a life together, that doesn’t end in bitterness and recrimination. Nice topics – for both parties – would be cooking together, reading together, viewing together, laughing together — but, unfortunately ‘togetherness’ cannot be taught

(via my brother’s FB status update)