Sunday, 29 July 2018

Can we fight without being fought?

I was faced with a weird dilemma the other day at work while drafting a legal document. Have you ever been in a situation where you were at a loss about what to do because the other person was being too honest? I was faced with a similar situation where i was drafting a reply and i came across the following paragraph:





I started the drafting fully geared to contradict everything the opponent said and make his case a complete nothing. And then this innocent honesty threw me completely off track. You must be wondering what this is all about so let me explain a few things about legal drafting.

It it standard legal practice that while replying to any document filed by the opponent, if any statement is not categorically denied it is implied that such statement is admitted by us. So over the years it has become the practice to deny every statement of the other party irrespective of whether it is true or false. For example, if the opponent writes that apples and oranges are fruits, we write that it is denied that apples and oranges are fruits. Because, well, when we are arguing, are we ever humble enough to admit that the other person is right about something? Not really. We often keep fighting knowing that we are wrong and in most cases the favour is returned by the other person and the momentum of the fight stays intact. This is the same in case of a legal battle. We deny everything the opponent says just because the opponent said it.

I felt bad for the person who drafted this because it is almost never that you find someone who is honest enough to agree to anything the other party says. I found it almost childlike with the broken English and the repeated "I didn't know". To be honest, our case was not even completely justified and yet I was prepared to counter him if he fought. But i didn't know how to react when he was being honest. Just like we have learnt since childhood that you do not accept sweets from a stranger, as a lawyer I have been taught to say " it is denied that..... (basically whatever you said)" but how do i deny something when the person is agreeing with me?

Maybe our mind is so conditioned to deal with people trying to hurt us that we are at a complete loss when someone is not. I can recall so many instances when I've taken a step back from helping people assuming ill about them. Haven't we all thought twice before giving money to a poor person doubting whether he will buy medicines with it or gamble with it? Or even worse, in this moral dilemma we don't help the person and then later find out that the person was indeed suffering and not trying to fool us for money. I'm not saying its always wrong cz we defend ourselves only after being tricked in the past. But what do we do in a situation where we are prepared to fight and the other person lays their arms down? We can either lay down our arms too or we take advantage of the situation shoot at an unarmed person. In this case, unfortunately, i was compelled to do the latter but i hope in real life we can make a better choice. I hope we don't reach a stage where we are so used to acting a certain way that we no longer have the choice to make that choice. I hope we do not eventually become fighter robots.


Sunday, 22 July 2018

Urgent Action Needed!

We must have all heard the saying "charity begins at home" on various occasions. Earlier today, while having a conversation with my brother, we ended up talking about how it has not rained in two months in London and what measures can be taken at individual and government levels to control global warming. Global warming is something to which I was first introduced in the primary years of school and unfortunately, over the years, the situation has only turned from bad to worse.

Warning: In case you are planning to quit reading further let me tell you, this is not one of those long boring essays about what global warming is, how it is caused blah blah.

This post is just about some small things we can do everyday to help us all live in a better place. Sometimes we are all aware of a situation but in our busy schedules we do not realize that there are small things we all can do to make a difference. So I thought i'll list out a few small things which we can do to, well not save, but help the planet. Here goes:

  • Reuse: I know its not possible or plausible to completely say NO to plastic but maybe we can try and reuse plastic goods as much as possible. Like carrying plastic bags when we go to the market instead of taking new ones, buying reusable glass soft drink bottles instead of plastic ones whenever possible, reusing the plastic bottles as water bottles or flower vases and so on.
  • Beat to heat: Using ACs is a habit for many of us. Some of us even sleep in AC rooms in winter because, lets face it its comfortable. But if we all consciously try to minimize the use of ACs as far as possible maybe we can give the planet a chance to cool down.
  • Use public transport: I know that we all enjoy luxury and it is always more pleasant to just sit in your car and travel from one place to another instead of walking in the sun or mud and fighting to find space in crowded buses or trains. But even if we all use public transport instead of private cars or cabs 3 out of 10 times that still make a HUGE difference globally. 
  • Save water: Every drop counts. Be it while brushing the teeth or taking a bath, we can make sure that we take only what we need.
  • Say NO to paper: Many offices and government bodies have already become paperless. We can all try to reuse paper, print on both sides, take notes on the laptop etc.
  • Reduce meat consumption: Yes its true. In one of my previous posts I have explained how consuming too much meat causes global warming in the long run.

I know that at this stage it is difficult to absolutely prevent global warming through individual efforts but if every 5 out of 10 people did a little bit for the world, maybe it wouldn't be a bad start after all. As John Lenon said,
"You may say I'm a dreamer
But I'm not the only one
I hope some day you'll join us
And the world will be as one"

Monday, 25 June 2018

From non-vegetarians to carnivores?

Many of you might have heard about the recent meat scam in West Bengal. Basically, a huge chain was apparently supplying rotten chicken and the meat of dogs and other dead animals picked up from dump yards and garbage. Anyway, leaving the gruesome details apart, a meat crisis was naturally a cause of immense discontent for a non-vegetarian lover like me.

Soon after the scam broke out, I had a dinner date with my office colleagues and we got to thinking what we could have at the restaurant. Even though all of us enjoyed veg food, a dinner date did not sound complete without some meat and chicken. We weighed our options between dead dog and rotten chicken and finally ended up ordering chicken. All this while, there was one question that kept on playing in my mind, why does it feel okay to eat certain animals and weird to eat others?

I have always been a big foodie and I have had chicken, mutton, beef, pork, quail, squid, octopus and various other kinds of non-vegetarian delicacies. And while the choice of edible and inedible animals vary across the world, I am sure all of us are comfortable consuming some animals while consuming some others do not feel so okay. Dogs and cats for instance, do not fall in the edible category for many of us, even though we are totally fine with mutton or pork. I wonder why. Is it because they are domestic creatures? But then so are cows and buffaloes.

Today I read an article about a man who was jailed for selling cat samosas for 8 years. Why is it that eating some animals seem cool but eating some others don't? Is it because of mindset or is it because of our love for some animals and indifference about others? Does the love for different kinds of meat make us more animal like or is it just a lifestyle choice like clothes? Why is it so that selling chicken samosas will make you rich but selling cat samosas will land you in prison? I wonder....

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Selfie Suicides

This post has been long pending and I am sure numerous people have written on it before but, what the hell, one more wouldn’t hurt. I was having a conversation one day with my cousin, my mother and my aunt about a relative who was sitting on top of a Mumbai local train and got electrocuted. It reminded me of a news report about a person who died the same way, only he was posing for a selfie while on top of a moving train. This got me thinking, how much is a selfie worth?

These days the selling features of a phone are not its call features but by how advanced the selfie camera is. They call it selfie phones. But the question is, how important should selfies be to a person, enough to risk their lives, or even worse, risk other people’s lives? I had read about an incident where two students climbed on to a rock that rise out of the sea during low tide to click a selfie with his friends and did not notice the that the tide came back. They were swept away when a man who lived nearby noticed this and dived. He saved one of the three youngsters but drowned himself. Human nature is such that people constantly need appreciation and acknowledgement. Selfies are a perfect way of demonstrating oneself before the world in the most daring, exclusive and exquisite ways. But is it okay to fall into water canals or drown in rivers or get hit by a train in this pursuit of appreciation? I doubt.


Maybe if we all took a little time off our busy schedules to appreciate the people around us for little things like a new haircut or a new recipe or an assignment well done or maybe just for providing good company people won’t feel the need to go to daring extents to be appreciated. Here’s hoping. J

Friday, 9 June 2017

Cluey Part II : Shantiniketan'er Toto-wala.

This is a longish post but I hope you can make it to the end.
My elder brother introduced me to the term cluey which in one word explained what exactly I felt when I wrote my last post. I think all of us feel cluey about something or the other quite often in out lives and the feeling cannot be better explained. For all of you who haven't come across the word "cluey" before you could take a look at this.
So now that you know what cluey means. I must admit that it is a feeling I experience very very often. A few days back, I had taken a trip to Shantiniketan with my mother, aunt and my cousin. It was quite an eventful journey but this one incident with a Toto-wala is something which ended up having the strongest impression on my mind and has left me feeling very cluey for a long time. So what happened is this. In some places in India including Shantiniketan, a Toto is the faster equivalent of a cycle rickshaw. In small places like Shantiniketan, Totos and cycle rickshaws are actually the only mode of conveyance. On our first day there we spoke to one such Toto-wala (Toto driver) to take us around the next day and agreed on an approximate rate. The next morning, Raju (our Toto-wala) was there before time and as discussed he took us too all the places that had been agreed upon. He was a youngish man in his 20s I suppose. He was soft-spoken and respectful and as you can assume, the parents found him very agreeable. We started at 10 in the morning and everything was comfortable apart from the heat. Raju had to cover almost all of his face with a cloth to tackle the loo. By the time we got back it was almost 4 in the evening and that is when things got a little bad. As you can imagine, after the whole day of driving, Raju probably realized that he had charged insufficiently the day before and when it was time to make the payment he started asking for Rs. 800 instead of Rs. 300 like he had said the day before. Obviously the parents lost it, scolded him and paid him Rs. 600.

Now if you ask me, I think expecting him to be satisfied with 300 after that long trip was not fair at all. Also it should be mentioned here that while my Aunt lost it a little bit and called him a cheater and what not he never spoke rudely or disrespectfully. Just kept saying very sadly, "ete hobe na didi, shotti bolchi. Chalate parbo na ami." ("This is not enough Ma'am. I swear. It wont be enough"). For a moment I thought he was going to start crying. However, I do understand the grown-ups point of view a little, "if it was not enough you should have said so before!". Anyhow they finally handed him 600 bucks and we left. That same day we had a train back home and earlier we had asked Raju if he could drop us to the station. While we were leaving, he called back and in spite of being sreamed at so much asked, "Didi station e jaben toh" (You will go to the station with me right?). The parents were almost about to start grumbling again when I quickly managed to convince them to let him take us. Back at home my aunt kept complaining as to why he behaved like that and he was so wrong and that my mom should have stuck to 300 and not paid him extra. She said they were very clever and only tried to extort as much as possible. Anyway, he came again an hour or two later and dropped us to the station. This time the rate was again pre-decided and he did not say anything more about it till we were turning to leave. Just when we got off and were about to walk away he turned to my mother, joined his hands and said. "Bhool hoye geche. Khoma korben. Kichu mone korlen na toh?" which means, "I am so sorry. I was wrong. Please don't mind."
Now I know that bus drivers and cab drivers and rickshaw puller everywhere are generally known for misbehaving and extorting unreasonably. But all I want to say is maybe not all of them are bad people. Maybe some of them are nice. Maybe we do not know what conditions they live in or the difficulties they face that push them to behave badly. Maybe sometimes we should be a little patient with them and not assume the worst. Some of them are genuinely good people stuck in bad situations.

Monday, 13 February 2017

A Lesson Learnt!

So I am writing a post after a year.. Not that I forgot about my blog but somehow or the other it kept getting postponed and before I knew it so many months have gone by. Anyway, I recently had an experience and I decided to finally write about it.
I met a lady. I had gone to Mumbai and was putting up at a guest house on sharing basis. On my first night there I was sharing the room with an oldish lady. She said she was Gujarati but she lived in Kenya. You must be thinking why I suddenly decided to write about her. Well, to be honest, I was sitting uselessly during internship one day and I suddenly remembered about the blog and was determined to write a post. So I tried to think about something I could write on and this lady popped into my head and it made sense to me.
So this lady, (either she did not tell me her name or I cant seem to remember it for some reason), asks questions. From the time I entered the room she kept asking me a million questions about my life, my work, my family, my affairs and every other possible aspect of my life. Now that might sound harmless to you but in my defense, that was the first time that I had been alone in an unknown city all by myself. The point being I was quite taken aback by the degree of inquisitiveness and was a little scared to be honest. I did not know where she actually came from, what she was doing there and why she wanted to know so much about me.
Since childhood we are taught not to talk to strangers or take sweets from them. And there I was in an unknown city in a room with a stranger who would not stop asking me everything about myself. So my first impression of her was that of pure suspicion and dislike.
Later, the next day she came to me in the morning and asked me, "are you unhappy that I moved into the room?" I was not prepared for a question like that and as much as I would have liked to say, "yes very much so", something inside me slightly softened for her. That night she asked me when I leave for office in the morning and the next morning I was really surprised when I overslept a little bit and she tried to wake me up so that I don't get late. This was just one of the many things she did during her 3 day visit which completely changed the way I felt about her. She was concerned when I kept sneezing and offered me fruits when I did not have anything to have for breakfast. She offered to make my bed when I was getting late and she took care of me like she has known me since childhood. She left three days later and told me before leaving, "Hey, I am leaving today. Won't be bothering you anymore." She left that night and believe it or not I actually missed her when she was gone. She taught me how wrong it is to always assume the worst about people, something we probably do quite often in our lives.

Monday, 5 September 2016

Apocalypse Now?

The recent earthquakes and the other natural and man made hazards suddenly got me thinking one day whether this is the approaching end- of the world and of civilization. We are all aware that doomsday is long gone and I am sure almost all of us took a mental note in 2012 when the world was after all in one piece. But what if we have been imagining the end all wrong?

Be it because of the movies or just imagination, but I have always imagined the end to be a day when the earth sort of sucks in every living soul and everyone is gone and there is nothing left of what we called the Earth. But what if that's not it? Since I was a child until very recently, I had no idea what an earthquake felt like, never thought I would ever know what it was like to have an earthquake. However, in the recent past over the last year or so, I have experienced around 4-5 earthquakes already. It definitely shows something is seriously wrong. It might be due to the deforestation or the planting of huge rods on the Earth for building metro-rails and flyover or the building of huge multiplexes. It is a world where people live inside mobile phones and are more familiar with their office computers than their families, a world where the poor is becoming poorer and the rich even richer. The newspapers are filled with killings, bombing, rape, protests and what not. It becomes a task to actually look for some happy news. Everybody knows the effects of global warming, and yet the number of air conditioners and air conditioned classrooms never ceases to increase. People complain about climate change and yet never stop a moment and do something about it in their own little way.

When I thought about all this I though maybe apocalypse is really coming this time but on second thoughts, what if its apocalypse now? What if this is the end of the world everybody has been dreading? Maybe apocalypse is not the end of mankind and the earth after all, not literally at least. Maybe it is this end of humanity, of rationality and of peace. To me it sounds pretty much like the end already. Maybe everybody should just stop and think whether the blind race is worth it or maybe its time to open the eyes and take a step towards what is actually worth the while.