Sunday, December 22, 2013

On Being a TA...

The job of a teacher is to help the students learn the subject and that of a teaching assistant is to help the instructor in doing that. But does making the students learn the subject mean equipping them with the required theorems and formula so that they solve the mathematical sum asked to them? Or does it mean telling them the necessary technique to write a good paper or make an impressive presentation?

The responsibility of educators and education system at large is beyond these minute intricacies.  Teaching should be aimed at helping the students see the bigger picture in any subject, be it mathematics, or biology, or history, or literature.

The job of an instructor or a TA is to mediate whenever necessary to help the students see the bigger idea. The first step towards this is not to provide students with the answer but to guide them work towards it. This is something which I learned through the GTA workshop where it was emphasized again and again not to give answers to students’ doubts but help them solve those on their own.

Easier said than done! Working as a GTA for the Circuits & Electronics classes, my biggest challenge has been to prevent myself providing the direct answers to students’ problems and at the same time making sure that they are able to see the larger idea. In other words, I have to help students solve the problems on their own, make them understand the relevance of what they are doing, and equip them to apply what they learn in the process.

The process of following these guidelines has been taxing so far as students come expecting a ready-made answer to their problems. And they are not patient enough to understand the theorem or the formula which they need to apply in order to get the answer.  They just want to know the relevant formula and not the concept involved in how one can derive them. At times even if they want to understand the mechanics behind a theorem, they get intimidated by the mathematical details involved. In such scenario, I make sure that I explain the concept to them by reducing nuanced facts and specific details and rather focus on the primary concepts (the bigger idea!).

An example of focusing on the larger idea is making student realize that current is nothing but a movement of electrons and since electrons flowing in a circuit cannot accumulate at a node and hence all the electrons coming to a node must leave it. This is nothing but Kirchhoff’s Current Law which states that sum of currents at a node is zero, a bit complex statement for students to understand.

Use of analogies also becomes a very effective tool in doing this. For example, many students do not understand how potential gradient drives the current in a circuit (Ohm’s Law). Here I generally ask them to consider the voltage difference as the difference between two heights and current as water flowing from a higher altitude to lower which makes them understand the role of voltage difference in a circuit.

The biggest learning which I had through such experiences is that students are willing to learn if they are able to comprehend what is taught to them. And as instructors (or TAs) it is our responsibility to help them understand a complex concept starting from the basic ones. And the results of this technique are manifest when I see students appreciate learning high-level engineering concepts from the basics and applying them confidently in their homework problems.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Goose Bumps!

What is knowledge? Who decides what knowledge is? How does the socio-cultural conditioning of the one who constructs it determine the nature of knowledge? I do not know the answers to these seemingly abstract questions, but I am sure I will know them someday. And very soon! However, what I know is that learning in any form makes me happy, be it technical, historical, social, information-based, or even understanding of knowledge as a concept.

But what has this to do with goose-bumps? Well the story which follows answers this question. Having a terrible day with respect to comprehending the lecture (Numerical Analysis & Software) today, I was looking for courses which I could pick up if I decide to drop the mathematics course (Gosh! I suck at mathematics!).  And then I decided to randomly browse the courses from each department till I stumbled upon the course “Constructivism and Knowledge”. I saw the course listed at 6:40 pm with one seat still left in the class. Interestingly the first lecture for the course was to start exactly 20 minutes later. I quickly decided that I was going to attend it: I looked for the location of the classroom and ran for the bus only to realize that I was late. The bus had already left, but luckily (for me), there was a road accident a few minutes back leading to a road block, which helped me catching the bus after a few minutes of running. As I got down from the bus, incessant rains welcomed me. I had to run again, this time to prevent myself from entering the classroom in rain-soaked cloths.

It is said that “what man proposes, God disposes.” But what I think is if man keeps on proposing, he entire cosmos conspires and forces God to accept the proposal. I reached the class on time, just on time. And this is when it began. Two hours of absolute fun, talking about knowledge, its nature and construction, and then how the learning about knowledge would be accessed by the professor. The class has people from six different nationalities, each having a different reason to take the course. It was fun to see how a skiing instructor who wanted to teach in high school was sitting with someone who just wanted to know something about constructivism and analyze it as a concept.

However, I have my concerns about taking the course. There are issues of getting a good grade in a non-technical course, taking a course which is completely out of sync with my major, pressure of making sure that my actions do not have any negative repercussions on my future and other such worries. But the joy which I got in a single class is incomparable. I wish each class had a similar feeling to it, a similar joy associated with it.

One thing I am extremely happy about is the fact that I broke the inhibition and went ahead to attend the class. To learn whatever I want to is the only reason that I wanted to go to grad school. To study and acquire knowledge without being constrained by factors like grades and funding gives me a joy unparalleled to anything else in the world. Not that I have become fully free from these entanglement (and I believe that one cannot ever be free from such restraining factors)but those few hours of boundary-less leaning made me suck the marrow out of life every moment. And hence the goose bumps!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

The Kids Are All Right: Heredity, Legality, Morality, and Anthropology

Since I watched the 2010 movie ‘The Kids Are All Right’, I have not been able to stop thinking about it. It is a unusual film with an uncommon theme and a different script but the questions which it left in my mind about family, parenting, genealogy and heredity are ubiquitous, especially with growing single-parent families, homosexual-parents families and increase in number of children born through Assisted Reproductive Technologies (ARTs).

The film’s story is fairly straightforward when viewed from a very cursory standpoint. A lesbian couple bears babies from the sperms of the same donor. When the kids grow up, they try to find their sperm-donor-father. Once they meet him, they start building an attachment with him. This bond of affection between the sperm-donor and the children is disliked by one of the mothers and leads to entanglements and later conflicts with the donor. While at one point of the time it looked as if the kinship would crumble because of the presence of this ‘external yet close’ man, relations garnered over the course of over 15 years triumph and the family stays together with this ‘extra-family’ man being shown the exit door.

However this simple-looking story poses many questions, some even on the ethics of the use of science in human lives. While the two children (a girl and a boy) got somewhat close to their biological father, I wonder if it would have been the case had they been raised by a straight couple. Was it the lack of a male parent which led to immediate affection with an ‘outsider’? in the movie, we see that the two mothers were also comfortable with the kids spending ‘quality’ time with their biological dad, could a straight couple ever accept this?

The movie also got me perplexed at how human relations are shaped by the socio-political and legal conditions. Despite the fact that the sperm-donor was indeed the biological and ‘real’ father of the kids, he was completely treated as an outsider, initially by one of the mother and later by the entire family. This might look quite logical to anyone as someone who was not present in the lives of the kids for 18 and 15 years of their lives respectively and has no legal ties with them cannot be their ‘father’. However, this does not change the genealogy and hereditary facts. While society and law might take away the fatherhood or motherhood rights from a person based on particular socio-political constructs, for genealogy and heredity, parenthood is ascribed only to those who egg or sperm was involved in the reproduction of the child. While it is easy for heredity or law to ascribe parenthood to a person, it makes me thinking whether the same ease lies for a child who was adopted by her legal parents from the real ones.

While dealing with these entanglements in the domains of legality, genealogy, heredity, parenting and family, questions about the ethics of ARTs also come into the limelight. During the first ‘extended’ family meetings with the biological father of her kids, one of the mothers asks, “I remember when I was reading your file, back when we were looking for you know, sperm... Anyway, you said that you were studying international relations.” after being told that he worked in the food services industry. While it might look pretty ‘normal’ for a lady to go through the file of the sperm donor, moral questions start arising when the selection is made on the bases of the credentials of the donor. While it might somewhat look like natural selection, the differences are quite stark. And these issues take center stage when parents start selecting particular attribute not to mention the commodification of gametes which is underlying here.

As the movie progresses, relationships grow stronger between the sperm-donor dad and the family. Not only the kids start getting attached to their biological father, one of their mothers gets close to him and ends up having intimate encounters. And when the family becomes aware of these sexual intercourses, tension develops leaving to a situation where it looked that the family would be shattered. But the bonds of love and belonging triumph over the biological kinship and the children unite with their mothers leaving behind their biological father.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Freedom of Religion (Bijoe Emmanuel & Ors vs State of Kerala & Ors)

The case Bijoe Emmanuel & Ors vs State of Kerala & Ors deals with the expulsion of three children belonging to Jehovah’s Witness sect being expelled from the school because they refused to sing the National Anthem during the morning assembly. The followers of the given sect worship only Jehovah – the Creator and it is against the tenets of their religion to sing the National Anthem. A Commission appointed to inquire and report said that the students were “law abiding” and there was no disrespect shown by them to the National Anthem. However, the children were expelled by the Head Mistress of the school under the direction of the Deputy Inspector of Schools.

This given act of expulsion led the fathers of the children to request the Educational Authorities to let the children attend school. However, this plea was rejected and then they filed a Writ Petition in the High Court seeking an order to allow the children to attend the school. However, the appeal was rejected which led to the case going to the Apex Court of the country.

Article 19(1)(a) of the Indian Constitution guarantees all the Indian citizens the right to freedom of speech and expression and Article 25(1) provides for the freedom of conscience and right to profess, practice and propagate religion, subject to order, morality and health to other provisions of Part III of the Constitution". On the other hand, Article 51-A(a) of the Constitution bestows upon the responsibility on the citizens of India to abide by the rules mentioned in the Constitution and respect its ideals and institutions including the National Flag and the National Anthem.

 According to the verdict of the Supreme Court, the given expulsion of the three students is a violation of their Fundamental Rights as enshrined in the Articles 19(1)(a) and 25(1) of the Constitution. The children refrained from singing the Anthem because of their strongly held religious faith and they respectfully stood when the National Anthem was sung. No provision in law obliges a person to join the singing of the National Anthem. Moreover, the students gave due respect to the National Anthem by standing up during its singing. Hence, in order to restore the rights of the students to freely profess and practice their religion, the judgement of the High Court was set aside and the school authorities were redirected to re-admit the students to the school.

While the Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution gives all the citizens the freedom of speech and religion, Article 19(2) gives liberty to the State to make laws to regulate the freedoms given by Article 19(1). Similarly, the State is given the liberty to “make a law to regulate or restrict any economic, financial, political or other secular activity which may be associated with religious practice and to provide for social welfare and reform, even if such regulation, restriction or provision affects the right guaranteed by Article 25(1)”. However, whenever any rule is made under the clauses 2 to 6 of Article 19 to restrict the freedom guaranteed by clause 1 of the same Article, it must be a law made by the legislature and must not be a departmental or executive guideline. The two circulars (issued by the Director of Public Instruction, Kerala in September 1961 and February 1970) on which the Department relied in this case did not have statuary basis and were just based on executive orders. Hence, the Court was right in nullifying the expulsion of the students from the school.

The religious practices of the Jehovah's Witnesses students might seem unreasonable to many. However, it must be noted that the beliefs of the community are genuinely held across the world.  The petitioners had not chosen not to sing the National Anthem first time or out of any unpatriotic sentiment, they stood up for such beliefs in other countries as well. There have been court cases where the petitioners from the given community have detested the singing of the National Anthem not only in India but also in the UK and the USA. In this light, it seems reasonable to protect the faith of the people of the community under the Article 25.

There have been instances when the parliament of India has tried to pose restrictions on the practices allowed by religion. The introduction and the subsequent enactment of the Hindu Civil Code Bills (Hindu Marriage Act, Hindu Succession Act, Hindu Minority and Guardianship Act, and Hindu Adoptions and Maintenance Act) in 1955-56 can be seen in those light. However, it must be noted that the purpose behind these acts was to unify the Hindu community and hence these laws were aimed at the social welfare by improving the position of women, reducing the distinctions on the bases of caste, introduction of divorces in the Hindu Community and others. On the other hand, the religious belief of the Jehovah's Witnesses community which prohibits them from singing the National Anthem has no social malice and hence, it should be respected.

The Constitution of India protects religious faith of each sect which is organised under it. Such a shield is necessary for the continuance of that community and the sustenance of any government under which a community has put its faith. Any law made by any legislative body, or any rules made by the order of an executive body must make sure that the religious faith of any sect remains sacrosanct. Moreover, only the judiciary has the power to interpret the law in India. Hence, the Courts have been given the power to strike down any law which violates the Fundamental Rights of the citizens or any other tenets of the Constitution. The given verdict by the Supreme Court of India surpassing the circulars issued by the Director of Public Instruction, Kerala not only protected the rights of the people to follow and profess their religion but also restored the faith of the Jehovah's Witnesses sect in the judiciary and the Constitution of India.

P.S. This write-up was a part of my assignment for the course on Law at the Young India Fellowship. I was required to analyze the PIL Bijoe Emmanuel & Ors vs State of Kerala & Ors (11 August 1986) which deals with a conflict between the Freedom to profess Religion and respect for the National Anthem.

Sunday, May 19, 2013


“Your guru should always be a crackpot”, said Dr Madan Gopal Singh in one of the music workshop sessions which he conducted at the Young India Fellowship. “There is no beauty in being normal” he added emphasizing the futility of having a customary and standard life. While this statement seems a bit outrageous at times, especially when we try to trace the conventional path of success in our lives, diverting from the conventional path makes us special and hence exceptional.

Though most of us end up living ordinary lives, each one of us wants to lead extraordinary lives. And we cannot make our lives special if we move on the regular path. However, one should not deviate from the well-set path of life just for the sake of going on a different path. The urge to choose one’s own path, however different and unheard of it might be, should come from within. One way to make sure that one is following one’s own path in life is to keep on doing what one actually wants to do. The nature has made us unique and a bit of crackpot too; and if we follow our inner calling we will be able to find that distinctive path leading to an amazing life.

We need to be distinct, not only in what we do in life but also in our behavior with other people. This uniqueness of behavior is something which keeps us lasting in others’ memories for long.  It is difficult for anyone in the beginning to accept a divergence from the ‘normal’ behavior but this deviation is something which we start loving later on. This is what makes us miss someone close. Had every other person displayed same manners, we would not have missed particular persons.

The digression from ‘the perfect’ is something which enhances physical beauty as well. Does not the moon look a lot more beautiful because there are black spots on it? Or does not a mole increase the elegance of a lady a thousand times over?

Most of us try to suppress our irregularities in behavior, looks, or attitude hoping that we would achieve perfection by doing so. However, this exactness always remains a mirage. Instead let us try to be comfortable with who we are as we are already beautiful people with our unique characteristics. Let us be happy with being the crackpot each one of us is and there would no longer be need for perfection.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Delhi: A Novel (from the angle of city development)

Delhi: A Novel by Khushwant Singh tells the story of development of the city of Delhi over a period of more than six hundred years. It touches upon different events which factored into shaping the city into what it is today. It talks of people who came to Delhi as plunderers or came and settled here as conquerors. It talks of the lives of common people who got affected in various ways due to these foreigners. While these developments are talked about in the novel through various semi-fictional characters, there runs the story of the narrator and a eunuch, Bhagmati in the backdrop.

The novel opens with the narrator returning from England after he had his “fill of whoring in foreign land” (p. 1). And then there is a description of the love-hate relationship between the narrator and the city which goes on. On one hand,  he gets confounded by the power cut, delays at the airports, being gouged by cab-drivers, no water supplies and a plethora of other issues and on the other, the cool and fragrant morning breeze brings back his love for the city.

There are many insights about the development of the city over the period of time. Historical events play a significant role in development of the city. During the reign of Ghiasuddin Balban, Mehrauli used to be a different village from Ghasipur (around the Nizamuddin area) and the distance between two was covered with villages which were inhabited by robbers. It was because of the fact that Saint Nizamuddin Khwaja lived in a hospice in Ghasipur, the area became famous and still holds significance. At present the entire length between the two areas is a part of the city. Similarly, the walled city of Delhi or Shahjahanbad, as it was called, was built during the period of the Mughal Emperor Shahjahan when he decided to shift his capital to Delhi.

Apart from the historical reasons which led to the development of the city, there has been a lot of natural growth which the city has seen post independence. Just after independence, Patel Nagar used to be a suburb and it was only near the suburbs of Patel Nagar that the narrator finds Bhagmati. Similarly, areas like Okhla, Badarpur and Mehrauli were distant villages with no influence of urbanization. In fact, one could even find snakes in Okhla.

The city has been changing continuously. As the narrator recalls his childhood days, he compares and contrasts what he sees in Delhi when he is in his youth. During his childhood, “there were herds of bull and wild pig within a mile of the city walls. Tigers were seen on the Ridge behind Rashtrapati Bhawan” (p. 18). He blames it to the hunters for the depletion of wildlife around the city.

Through Bhagmati, the author has tried to show the social position of eunuchs. The relationship of the narrator with Bhagmati is looked with contempt. When the narrator takes her to his apartment for the first time, he does it furtively. And this relation becomes a matter for ridicule and joke for people around him including his friends and the guard of his apartment.  This kind of inimical behavior towards the hijdas is prevalent in the society since long which is very evident when Ram Dulari, the wife of Musaddi Lal, a character from the Sultanate period says, “Let our enemies be hijdas” (p. 71). Bhagmati and the other eunuchs live in a secluded locality called Lal Kuan. However, the silver lining is that though the eunuchs are treated as social outcasts, inside their own localities, they live a life of their own which is complete and self sufficient in itself. Though Baghmati cannot bear children, she has a husband and co-wives who take care of her during sickness and at times of need. Moreover, as the eunuchs are treated as social pariahs, they achieve some sort of immunity from whatever happens in the world outside. This is evident when Bhagmati tries to save the life of the narrator and asks him to come to Lal Kuan with her. She is sure to be safe on her way as she knows that “Nobody will bend a hair on hijda’s head” (p. 387).

There is a good sense of insight about the building of the city through the experiences of builders. There are instances which show how the officers in the Central Public Works Department (CPWD) are bribed by contractors to get the building contract. There is a description about the builders’ and contractors’ community, which majorly constituted of Sikhs who came to Delhi from Punjab and adjoining areas. The contractors form a community by the virtue of sharing the same profession and develop cordial ties among themselves.

There is a lot of praise which the author offers to the British town planner Lutyens. He calls him “a man of vision” (p. 326). Lutyens proposed the idea of planning trees on the sides of roads. A huge nursery was set up to cultivate different kinds of saplings. There were plants which were imported from Africa. As the author says Lutyens was a man who “talked of designing a city which would meet the needs of its citizens for two hundred years” (p.326).

The book also underscores the unscrupulous practices the contractors and builders were involved in. A half of dozen of Sikh contractors had built their houses on the Jantar Mantar Road. They used to cheat and build mansions for themselves. “One of them who got the contract for the supply of stone and marble built himself a palatial mansion of stone and marble bigger than any private residence in Delhi (p.334). The one who was not doing half as well “acquired two cars” (p.334). However, this practice was prevalent since old times. Talking of the builders of the old Qutab Minar, the narrator says “it was obvious they had stolen a lot of stone and marble from older buildings” (p.336). There is also a surprise and wonder ascribed to the strength of the old monuments and building which have been there for more than a thousand years.

However, this sudden wealth brought with itself a lot of problems. While the contractors were busy making money, they were not able to keep an eye on how the money was being spent by their sons. In fact, some of them even derived pleasures from spoiling their sons. As a result, most of them went astray and started spending times in hunting and whoring. This lead to impetuous fights resulting in a few deaths as well. This trend can still be seen in the National Capital Region today where there is a lot of crime done by the kins of contractors and land holders who have become rich very quickly.

The novel also takes us through the pains of partisan through the experiences Ram Rakha and his family. There is a vivid description of killing of people on both sides of the border.  Apart from that, the novel talks of a strong anti-Muslim sentiment which runs through Delhi after independence. There are the flag bearers of RSS who vehemently oppose Gandhi and his ideas of religious harmony. There is detailed description of the anti-Muslim riots and how the lives of the Muslims changed in the city just after independence.

The novel also provides us the glimpses of the anti-Sikh riots which were witnessed by the city after the killing of the then Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi, in 1984, by her Sikh guards. There are lurid descriptions about how the Sikhs were murdered and the Holy Book of the Sikhs was burnt by the angry and agitated Hindu mob.

Delhi, as of today, is a mixture of traditions and modernity. Given the influx of migrants the city witnesses, it can be said that it has become a melting pot of cultures. This influx of migrants has led to rapid expansion of city and there are buildings built all around. The villages of Mehrauli, Chirag, Okhla, Badarpur and others which were once covered with forest and greenery are covered with buildings today. The old monuments which represent the glorious past of the city have either turned into ruins or are turning into ruins. But by no measures one can say that the runs have lost their splendor. In fact these “ruins proclaim the splendor of an old monument” (p. 25).

To a stranger, the city might seem repulsive, and nothing more than “a gangrenous accretion of noisy bazaars” (p.1). The same can be said of the people who inhabit the city. They do not endear strangers and are dirty in their mannerisms. But one has to love the city to know about its true charms. Its only until one knows them, one can find them unattractive. Despite the city has been “long misused by rough people” (p.1), there is still a lot of charm in the city. In fact, it has been able to hide its “seductive charms under a mask of repulsive ugliness” (p. 1). Amidst all the chaos which makes Delhi, one really needs to struggle a lot to survive it. And in narrator’s words, it is “only death and drink which make life worth living” (p.12) in Delhi.


Singh, K. (1990). Delhi: A Novel. Penguin Books India.

Monday, April 29, 2013

Iago Speaks. . .(to a priest)

Priest: Thou art a sinner, who fears no God,
Who speaketh a lie, who betrays his master,
Who torments his wife, who maketh a fool of a loyal man,
Who casts a spell on the General, who kills his wife!
Iago: Talk not of indulgence, for what you do is no lesser sin.
You maketh religion a garb to hide your misdeeds,
You use Jesus to kill the mortals, you use God to betray people.
Never said the Holy Father to kill and torment,
Fellow beings from the East.
He never asked to make slaves, the people
Who know no wars; the people across the seas
Who know no discrimination; born to be respected,
Not for being bonded Ariels or Calibans.
Talking of Christianity, you made the circumcised Moor the General;
Where was your religion then?
Where was the moral of honesty, loyalty and divinity lost?
Or did you fear honesty commanding your land?
You follow not a single word of the Holy Father,
You scoundrel, preach no more religion to me;
For I know what I did was wrong, but it did
Reflect what I saw when I was innocent.
Denied education because I refused to submit,
Denied praise because I refused to cheat.
I learnt to survive this state of affairs,
Be not honest as honesty hath no value.
I turned to dishonesty, betrayal and violence; as
It gets you a job, its gets you education,
It gets you praise, it gets you promotion.

P.S. This was a part of the submission for the course ‘Shakespeare and the World’ last July. In this piece and other pieces which supplemented it, I had tried to present Iago’s background and the hypocrisy present in the society due to which Iago was forced to take extreme steps. In this piece, after being reprimanded by a priest, Iago tries to bring out the misdeeds of the entire social framework of Venice and the double standards of the aristocracy which runs it.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

The Road Accident

That day while returning from morning walk, I saw something which I had never seen in my life. I witnessed my first-ever ‘serious-looking’ road accident happening right in from of my eyes. I experienced the immediate fear which cripples one for some moments just after the incident. I felt the anger for rash drivers running down my veins for some time. Despite my serious and sincere effort to contain my rage, I could do little to prevent it from overpowering me. And last but not the least, I felt sad, helpless and hopeless; for road accidents happen every day. Today, it was someone unknown to me; tomorrow, it can be me, or my near or dear ones. I cannot just sit quiet and watch it happen, but I feel weak as I can do nothing about it.

The story goes like this: I was coming back to the hostel from my half an hour of morning walk session in Sanjay Park, Qutab Institutional Area. All of a sudden, I heard a loud bang behind me. The sound was of the intensity which one does not encounter daily while walking on roads. Startled, I turned behind to see what was going on. What I saw froze me for a few seconds. There was an old man lying on the road with his old scooter beside him. And a Honda City was racing past him and within moments, it raced past me. Not having witnessed a road accident before, it struck to me a bit late to note down its number; and by the time I realized that I should take the number of the car, it was way ahead of me away from my sight (However, people told me later that there was no number plate on it.).

I ran to the old man who was lying unconscious in the middle of the road. People had gathered around him. Meanwhile someone decided to take him to the nearby trauma center. And with the help of an auto-driver and ‘his’ passenger, he was taken to the hospital.  I returned to the hostel, thinking about the incident feeling both angry and sad over what I witnessed.

It is easier to blame the car-driver who was involved in the accident. It should be noted that I have used the term ‘involved in the accident’ and not ‘caused the accident’. It might be the old man who was ‘more’ responsible or the only person guilty. The car-driver might have blown the horn and the old man might have panicked instead of giving him the way which led to an unfortunate incident. And then, in order to save himself, the car-driver might have ran away. After all, if not the law, the public must have gotten against him if he had stayed. And if he were taken to the police, who knows what would have happened to him and his car? I am not being the pro-car-driver and anti-old man here; I am just giving an alternative possibility of what might also have happened. There was an accident and I do not have enough information to comment on whose fault it was. But what keeps me thinking is “whose fault is it that he (or she if it was a lady who was driving the car) did not stop to help a guy who needed immediate help? The law or the pubic or his own?”

Having said that, I also question the moral sensitivity of the car-driver who thought it wiser to run away without caring about whether the man was even alive or if he immediately needed to be taken to the hospital. We, as a nation, are developing each day. God knows when we will develop our sense of compassion for others.

Whether or not the car-driver was guilty of the accident, he should have been there on the spot when the old man was being taken to the hospital. But wow, no one even knows anything about him other than the fact that he was driving a number-less Honda City and he was not just driving it but was flying it after the accident. Though I am not sure whether driving a vehicle without number plate amounts to crime, over-speeding on a busy road certainly does! In such cases, I strongly feel that we are not mature enough to be left on our own. We need a vigilant police anywhere and everywhere we go, not only on roads but inside our houses too. Our actions need to be monitored every second. Probably, only then we will learn to be a little more civic. I have heard that in some countries, they have sensors on roads which track the speed of each car on the road. And in every case of transgression of road laws, a penalty ticket is sent to the car owner. Well, if we decide not to police ourselves, using technology to keep an eye on us everywhere is the only option!

P.S. This post was to be written on the day I witnessed the accident i.e. 14th March. I had decided to write it down in the evening after my classes. But a lot happened that day (Yes! I got suspended on disciplinary grounds, but more on that later) and I could not write it for the next few day and after that laziness overpowered me. But as they say, “Better late than never!”

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

My New Year Resolution

To my friends and well-wishers…

The first day January makes me feel weird each year. For some reason, it is in my mind that this day has to be special; one needs to forget the routine life or do things differently on this day. I remember my mother used to make some sweet dishes for 1st January evenings, when I was a child. Not that we had guests coming to see us, but for some reason it was customary to eat sweet dishes. Maybe, she did so to make us (my brother and me) feel good about this day. I wonder whether she does this even today. I think I will call her tomorrow and enquire if she cooked something sweet today.

No, it was not the sweets which made me feel weird on this day. It was this thing called New Year resolutions which made me dizzy. I was never able to find a good New Year resolution for myself. And I avoided asking people (read elders in my extended family) about what to resolve as I knew the suggestion would invariably be either to finish food in time or to be kinder to my younger brother. I still do not understand why those ‘bade log’ could not understand that there is more to a child’s life than his relations with food or younger brother.

Years have passed and I am a grown up now (Well, I think I am). However, I still struggle with the idea of New Year resolutions. After a full-day of brainstorming, I have finally come up with a resolution for myself. And the resolution is that I will be more open to people. I will try to be more honest to them; about myself and about them. More than my strengths, I will expose my vulnerabilities. I will try to be closer to people, trust them more, and be true to them.

Exposing vulnerabilities, as I had written in my last post, brings people closer and strengthens the bond among them. But  this idea, sometimes, sends shivers down my spine; probably because I am afraid. I am afraid of the fact that you might laugh at me if I tell you my feelings honestly. I am afraid because I think you would laugh at me after knowing some of my embarrassing weaknesses. I am afraid because I will be heart-broken if you laugh when I expect you to say (to me) “It does not matter. You are as dear to me as ever.”

I want to be honest to you; I want you to know not only my strengths but also my weaknesses. I want you to know that though I pretend to be sensible and smart all the time, there are moments when I behave like a complete jerk. I want you to know what those moments are. But as I told you that I am afraid. However, I resolve that I will try to overcome my fear and be honest to you.

But promise me that you will help me being true and honest. Won’t you?