Friday, January 10, 2014

Taking A Stand In Life

To Kill a Mockingbird is a heart warming story told by a child, showing the innocence of children. It carries a message towards the society, to shun all the prejudices. Along with this, the book is a journey of the characters coming of age. The best part is the feelings of a child being shown. One connects with the childhood instantly and a fresh perspective evolves towards the evils in society. The concept of justice has been exemplified. Most of all, To Kill a Mockingbird is a morality tale of how injustice must be fought —a story which should awaken the society from its deep slumber.

The story is set in an old tired town of Maycomb, Alabama, where Scout Finch (6 years old, The Narrator) lives with her father, a lawyer and widower named Atticus and her elder brother Jem. Scout and Jem meet Dill who visits Maycomb to stay with his aunt for the summer. The first part of the story revolves around the fascination that these children have with a scary character "Boo Radley”, a man in his thirties who has not been seen outside of his home in years. They think of Mr. Radley as being a charlatan.

Then comes the part where a black man, Tim Robinson is wrongly accused of raping Mayella Ewell, a white woman, daughter of Bob Ewell. Atticus sets an example by fighting for the justice despite being ridiculed for helping a man not of his race. That is when Scout realizes the prejudices of the society and says “It was times like these when I thought my father, who hated guns and had never been to any wars, was the bravest man who ever lived”. Atticus on his part tells the children “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view... until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

The theme of the story is explained in a line “Mockingbirds don't do one thing but make music for us to enjoy... but sing their hearts out for us. That's why it's a sin to kill a mockingbird”, which depicts how gruesome is it to hurt someone who is innocent. The coming to reality from a dream world of the children is another aspect shown. A world with sin like rapes and racism. That the society is not perfect and they would have to face the challenges. There are lessons learnt by Scout from Tim Robinson’s tale and through the demystifying of Boo Radly’s character at the end.
The story ends with Bob Ewell looking for revenge for the shame he had to face due to Atticus, and how the scary Boo Radly does something special and unexpected. The serendipity of the gifts coming from unexpected quarters summarise the ironies present in life.

Finally, Atticus is a character who would remain an inspiration for the generations. The manner of portraying the concept of injustice is marvellous. The innocence of children oozes out and the dawning of the reality on them is just right. The beauty of this narrative, To Kill a Mockingbird, is that each character has flaws, just as in real-life. This helps the readers connect with the characters. To Kill a Mockingbird is enormously touching and powerful in its being a simple story. The book in my view is a must read to appreciate the essence of being a human being.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ambush Ambush Ambush - Why Why Why !

What’s wrong with these people? What is all this insecurity about? Don’t they trust themselves and have faith in their product? Did they not have an option to showcase themselves in a better way? Is creativity in bed with hungry corporate honchos? Is it all justified? Too many questions!

Well, these questions come swarming into my mind when I see, what I would call a mudslinging fest being played on our TV channels intermittently. Are they funny? – Yes they might be, but it does leave a bad taste when brands try to run each other down in such a blatant manner. You might get a increase in your sales, yes the graph is exponential, but is it something you have earned or is it just Ambush Ambush Ambush !! O Lord is this the way of life.

Where is the Love …Where is the Love …Hold your breaths…Wait for it…This is Brand Wars!!!

The examples have been too many to count. “Have I made it large” – I bet no one would ask that question to his/her self now ……”Pepsi, Nothing Official about it” got etched in the history though. We have seen some serious confrontations like Complan vs. Horlicks, Rin vs. Tide, Sprite vs. Mountain Dew etc. The latest one to join the ranks is The Hindu vs. The TOI with The Hindu saying that “Stay ahead of The Times”, rather too pugnaciously. So, did they mean to say that everyone who reads the TOI (Beeped in the Ad) does not know the name of the Vice President of India??

Not that I have my loyalties with either of them, but this again brings me back to the same question. Why do you have to fight it like this? When I think more, I relate this to the how things work in the corporate world and human nature in general. Now, here we see people putting each other down to bring themselves up. It seems to be the mantra of a few to speak about the flaws of others all the time. The unforgiving corporate world runs on perceptions. So you ruin someone else to rise above.

Someone had told me once that if people are talking about a person, then that person has left an impact on their lives. Thus, the people/companies who have to talk about others to gain, who ambush others to rise, must realize that they are in some way or the other lending credibility to the other person/brand.
There have been innumerable brilliant advertising campaigns which have left their indelible mark on our psyches, touched our hearts, tickled our funny bones, inspired us and all this without deriding the competition. Few of them would include: Fevicol’s campaign , “Har ek friend zaroori hota hai” by Airtel, “Hamara Bajaj, Hamara Bajaj !!” by Bajaj Autos, The 2 minute Maggi Noodles campaign, “Doobara Mat Poochna” by Chloromint and so on…..In this light, the companies should keep faith in their products, have an honest creative Ad strategy and success should be in their hands.

All this reminds me of the famous Metallica lines:
So close no matter how far
Couldn't be much more from the heart
Forever trust in who we are
And nothing else matters

Going into the realm of ethics and morality would again border on subjectivity, but till there is Ambush Ambush Ambush…there would be Why Why Why !!!

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A Thousand Splendid Suns – Splendid Indeed!

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a heart wrenching story of the pain that some women have been going through due to conflict and culture in Afghanistan.
It is a farewell ode to the city of Kabul

One could not count the moons that shimmer on her roofs
Or the thousand splendid suns that hide behind her walls.

Khaled Hosseini has the gift of making the characters come alive. It is like you are living a life, feeling the tenderness of the characters, the surroundings become all the more familiar.
He had indeed set high standards with “The KiteRunner”, but this particular book would not leave you disappointed.

The innocence of a child, the playfulness, the mystic beauty, the curiosity and the urge to be loved – all these feelings are what you get submerged with. The characters have to leave their home places due to tragic events, invasion by Soviets and the infighting among the Afghan Warlords.

The agony of Mariam at being called a ‘harami’ since a child, her longing for gifts from her father and the tragic death of her mother sets the tone of the book. She suffers through her life with a dominating and somewhat savage husband. The pain of miscarriages and abuses fills her life with misery. Another girl named Laila grows with dreams of bright future, just to be taken away by the conflict. Family dies, love of her life has to leave her and she ends up being the wife of the same husband as Mariam.

Among the wild bushes lay some flowers as well. There are small joys, small bouts of happiness accosted to these girls. They try to find joy in the beautiful valleys, the flowing streams, and the thrill of running away from the pain in the end. Killing of an unjust and cruel man was liberating.
What amazes one is how early are the girls forced to marry (15) and expected to follow so many rules and regulations. The Purdah system, a woman cannot go out without taking a man along with her, the biased rules of the society towards men, the in-numerous beatings that a wife takes, the curses sprayed on them for not bearing a boy child.

The fear of being stoned at a man's allegation of a bad character and if they escape this fate, to please their husbands remains the fait accompli. Education is treated as an offense for them.
The writ of Taliban holds strong. No one dares to disobey. TV and Music is banned. Cosmetics are forbidden. Painting pictures, writing books and dancing are forbidden. Any interpretation of the holy book these people make is to be followed as writing in the stone.

A Thousand Splendid Suns will moisten your eyes, the respect for a democracy and liberalism in our country increases many folds even if it is not perfect here.
All in all, it was really splendid reading this book.

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Big Oil Game

“Oh Indians, Wake Up….Wake Up and Conserve the OIL
Or You would find it difficult to live on this soil
So, Toil Toil and Toil
To Conserve the OIL!”

The above is a quotation I had written to start my speech while participating in a declamation in an Oil Conservation Week in the school.
It got refreshed in my mind with the recent news regarding how an embargo by US on Iran can disturb India with regards to its oil import. Also, I have had a few discussions with my friends on the same.

India is one of the main importers of Oil and our over-dependence on the same is a problem for our economy. With tensions rising between America and Iran, it does not bode well for us. Iran has said that they would block the Strait of Hormuz in case the USA continues with its sanctions. EU has already said that they would put a ban to oil import on Iran. The interesting point is that one fifth of world’s oil flows through this passage of which India is a major part.
This brings to fore a big game that US is construed to be playing with regards to its policy for countries like Iraq and Libya. This meddling in affairs of other countries some times on the pretext of biological weapons or human rights violations or dictatorships, has led to many unanswered questions and intentions of west comes under the scrutiny. Although we cannot change their policy, but we can definitely try to strategize and be prepared for any drastic situations.

In India, we have faced around 11 Oil price hikes since June 2010. For how long can we hide behind the excuse that “global forces play a big role in this”. Maybe we need a more aggressive approach to finding new sources of oil in our country or pursue good relationships with more and more countries.Energy is a big need and our move towards Nuclear energy is a step in the right direction.

We need to keep on looking for alternatives as in one way of the other we might get affected by the world politics.

Also, it becomes incumbent on each one of us to save each drop that we can. Each drop matters then !