Wednesday, September 17, 2014


Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things. and no good thing ever dies.
I don't remember how many times and to how many people I've recited these lines, in the 6+ years since I watched 'The Shawshank Redemption' for the first time. And yet, much as I keep convincing people to believe in these words, I sometimes find it hard to trust in them for myself, shaking in the belief about the sanctity of these words.

For longer than I can remember, I had been certain about my life and the way it'd go on. I knew what was going on, and where I wanted to see it, for whatever time-frame was asked of me. And then, 6 months back, things changed drastically, dramatically.

All throughout these 6 months, up until the last few weeks when I found some peace of mind and stability, I had been wondering what is it that kept me going. What is it, that even after the tables had turned, made me want to believe in a better tomorrow than the yesterday? And each time, there was a singular answer: Hope.

Hope is one emotion that I don't understand much. It's moody, and shows up only when I'm either very low or very elated. It doesn't turn up when I'm in a neutral mood. Hope is erratic in how strongly it comes by and puts its face in front of me. It is arrogant and refuses to shake, no matter how much I wish for it to be gone. It is important, even if I wish for it to be superfluous.

Over the past few weeks, each day, I've been hoping more than I have before. More for the future that I want to see and the life that I want to live, becoming only more certain with each day, about how I want to live it. It isn't the dreams, it is the hopes that I'm talking about. These sprouts of stability, make me anticipate the future I want to live, I have always wanted to live.

So, is it that when you rise from a devastating fall, you hope even more strongly? I don't think so. Shouldn't it be the other way, that you stop hoping for and wanting much, because your dreams have shattered once?

I realize that what drives our anticipation for a better tomorrow is a desire for better days, a yearning for a happier life and a wanting for things to be different. We don't want things to be the same way they've been before. It's tried and tested that it doesn't make us happy. We want them to be different. And that's exactly what we hope for. This desire to want different things and to make sure the same things don't happen to you again, is the reason why we refuse to be the same person anymore, and why we, unconsciously, end up hoping more than we did before.

It usually is after a huge, unexpected blow that we start thinking more clearly than we did ever before, even though it all seems like a massive blur, a daze, in the beginning. Because all throughout, we've realized what we don't want. In retrospect, we've actually understood how particular we've got about what we want.

I've seen people strife to get to where they have seen themselves, and hurt their ownselves in the process of getting there. It dumbfounds me how healthy it is, and it doesn't seem ideal to me. Far from it, in fact.

What is it about hope that keeps us so enticed in it, about it? Why can't we just dismiss it as a random emotion, that the pessimist inside each one of us would like to deal with it as? Why can't we refuse to accept and we still believe that the best is yet to come, even if superficially sometimes? Why do we keep going even when we think all is lost?

Hope isn't conscious, that's something I'm certain about. It is subconscious. It has to be. Enough that the only thing that's real about it is its presence. There's little we know about how it empowers us even in the most unexpected, unwanted, uncalled for conditions. And hope drives fear away. It is in the hope of a better tomorrow that we can stop worrying about it. It is in the happy anticipation that we can sleep peacefully at night.

Hope is stronger than we know, or believe it to be. It is straight forward, not crooked. We simply hope for things that'd make us happy, in the end. Not those which would fetch us the slightest of sadness.

And, all of that, is exactly what makes hope so powerful an attitude that it moves mountains. It is only because of hope that there's light at the end of a tunnel. It is knowing, believing and wanting to get out of the pain that gets us out past the most perplexing situations. It pulls us forward when all we want to do is stay stuck in a place and sulk. It sits by us, patiently until we need to lament, and then convinces us of what we deserve.

For all the sadness and pain, there's an equal amount of hope that drives us to the happiness we so truly deserve.

Yes, hope, indeed, is a good thing. And probably, the best thing.

After all, there is something positive, even at the end of even the best day. Anticipation.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Dance Of Democracy

Almost exactly a year ago, I wrote about my desire to do my bit for this country, and this world, to make it a better place. Considering how huge and important the impending elections in the world's largest democracy, and my dear nation, India, are, it is befitting that I express my views about the state of it.

I'm not a member of any political party (not that I know of, at least). And I have strong reasons to admire and hate every party. Seriously. I have enough reasons on both side that it comes down to a very illogical, but personal choice for who I'll end up voting for, during the "biggest festival of democracy".

Festivals, from what I understand about the meaning of the word, are about celebration and for spreading joy and happiness. And since the day the longest elections in the history of India were announced (and much before) I doubt anyone has seen anything but. Not a single cheerful, hopeful emotion has been demonstrated by any candidate from any party. The elections seem more about showing why you shouldn't vote the other guy to power than about why you should vote me. They seem about proving who is the worse guy, while we both are bad for you.

I turned 20 a couple of months back and this is the first time I'll ever be voting, and already, I have such strong hatred towards the system that it makes me not want to vote. The state of politics and the legislative branch of the Government in this country makes me sad, and their antics make me wanna puke.

It sucks that elections aren't fought on ideologies and policies but on name-calling and irrational promises. It is sad that most of the promises made in election manifestos are half-baked. It is frightening to know that we trust people who would give up their morals and sell their loyalty for the sake of a ticket to fight the elections.

Let's be honest. Most of us know the candidate we want to vote for (yes, I'm talking about the white-bearded guy from Gujarat). But, does any one of us know what he wants to do for the country? He wants to wipe out corruption, great, but how? He wants to bring jobs to the poor and stimulate the economic growth, urm, what's the plan there? And I can go on and on about every promise that has been made during every speech that doesn't get even close to the action plan to achieve those.

I recently got done watching all the 7 seasons of 'The West Wing', an American TV show that is about the life of the senior staffers to the President of the United States of America. During those seasons, they have beautifully shown 2 elections being conducted and how the Presidential candidates fight and win elections. And that's actually what inspired me to right this.

I want to vote for Narendra Modi, only because he is the man who has put Gujarat in the fastlane of progress since the horrific 2001 earthquakes with its epicenter in Bhuj, Kutch. To bring Modi to power, he needs to win a majority, 272 to be precise, of seats in the Lok Sabha. And for the same, I should be voting for the Shiv Sena/BJP candidate in my constituency.

So, for getting the guy man who I wish becomes the PM, I have to vote for a random politician who only shows up 2-3 times every 5 years, and whose posters line up potholed roads which he didn't bother doing anything about. That doesn't seem fair, does it?

It gets deeper. I can't really expect the Member of Parliament (hereafter, MP) to talk to me, or understand my problems and act upon them. I can't express my opinions to him about the bills that are in the Parliament, or my issues that should become bills. I can't expect him to go against his party, and vote for a bill that would actually benefit his constituents, while it may not make a difference to the rest of the country. I may not have voted for him, but, in the end, I am his constituent, and he represents me in the most powerful law-making body of the country.

Oh, and honestly, those are far-fetched desires. I can't expect him to represent the party he is contesting from in the next elections as these, because the morality, being with a party whose 'ideology' you agree with, doesn't exist. It is about how much money which party would throw at you, and which would give you the ticket to fight the elections.

Accountability, or rather, the lack of thereof, is the reason I think Indian politics is in such a terrible and pitiable state. That's also the reason our opinions of politicians are the same as that of thugs and sleazebags. Of course, there are exceptions, and those exceptions are the very reason I have some hopes for the future of this country.

So, here's what I think, and here's what I feel underlines how this all changes. Here's what I'm going to be doing for the next month, before I set out to cast my first vote on the 24th of April.

Get in touch with the representatives representing various parties, competing in my constituency, and ask them why I should vote for them. I want to ask them about my election issues, and what they'd do for them, during the next 5 years. Ask them for their contact details and if I can get in touch with them in the future when I need to talk about the bills that are under debate in the LS.

I will vote for the man I want to see as my MP, not the man who is a member of the party whose PM nominee I want to see at the center on 16th May. In the end, what the MP does, with regards to my constituency, in the next 5 years, will matter more. Because pothole-filled roads, higher electricity prices, incomplete infrastructure projects, street-lamps that don't work, and errant auto-rickshaw/taxi drivers are the things I can talk to him about, and expect him to do something about.

That doesn't mean these are the only things that bother me. I want to be able to talk about conducive economic policies, trade practices, military funding, education, healthcare, security forces, para-military, environment, major infrastructure projects, scientific research, and a million other things that deserve a national debate. Someday, I want to be able to discuss these with my MP as well as the PM candidate, but, that's not possible today. Change is slow and time consuming. But, it must start somewhere.

So, this is where it starts. This is how the uneducated lot that serves and frames the laws that govern the educated lot, learns they need to be responsible to govern the 10 crore new voters. The voter of today is more well-read and aware about everything that matters to him, and he deserves more than a guy who relaxes in his extravagant holiday home, except when he is directed by his 'party leadership' to go to the LS to cast his vote for a bill. This is to show the politicians that the voter today actually gives a damn about who governs him and how. This is how the PM candidate 10-15 years down the line will know to be more humble, and understand the problems that plague constituents, and bother to listen to their problems before deciding what his next speech is about.

Until today, we the people have been dancing at the behest of the lords who are intolerant to our questions. Not anymore. It is time to do the right thing and make sure the laws of this country as stated in the revered Constitution of India, are upheld.

It's time to make the politicians dance, The Dance Of Democracy.

Parting notes:
1) I have used the masculine (guy) while referring to the politicians all along because that represents the majority of them, and my current MP. That, in no way, is meant as a bias, but is only a very general linguistic usage.
2) I have written most of this post as what I want, but, in most cases, I think it becomes obvious that it's about each person who will vote.
3) This is something I really am going to be trying to do. And, if you agree, I want you to do the same. It'd be great to share what actually the result of this is. If so and you want to contact me, there are a couple of ways you do so as detailed here.

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