Thursday, December 15, 2016

My Tryst With Mortality

Duplithingal was the name I was given by Saju. He had somehow obtained information that my last name was inherited from another source and hence I was not the "original" but the "duplicate" and hence he Called me Duplithingal. Funny how that is the thing I remember most about him apart from the fact that he was probably the one person who was cheerful most of the time. But as the cliche goes, it is the good souls that are called upon first. The call was rather jarring for a rainy, dark morning in Chennai. Saju had been in a motorcycle accident and passed away, said the caller. His body is in the morgue. Standing outside that morgue I still couldn't believe what I was there for. how can a 19 year old die. That was unfathomable to me. As the daily commuters went about their business unaware of this catastrophic event, I realized that what shakes one world goes unnoticed in another and just like that he had left us all and we continued on with life.

Dhavinder was the tallest kid in class. Lanky built but a towering figure nonetheless. He too seemed like a happy-go-lucy kind. Always smiling and cracking jokes, he had the skill of using sarcasm as an effective tool for humor. I remember the day there was a general murmur in class as to why Dhavinder had not shown up for class for the past few days and it turns out he had Jaundice. Okay, that should be something he will get over soon and we will be back to seeing him around. But then came the news that he had passed away. How does a 20 something kid die of Jaundice. Standing in that dirty looking symmetry I wondered how one finds himself standing in such places. It was again something that seemed like an out of body experience to me. I did not know Dhavinder well but it seemed rather callous of me to be examining my own existence when the real victim lay in a pyre.

Daphne was a cheerful, small built girl who I would occasionally come across at work. She was one person who was willing to get lunch in the cafeteria with anyone who was willing to come along. My closest interaction with her came when our kids started going to the same pre-school and we watched them flutter around in class over the cameras that were setup to observe them at work. Without really saying much to each other, there was a common bond of concern for our kids that kept us connected. I lost touch with her as I moved on to other teams until that rather uneventful day when I got a message on on internal chat program that she had passed away. Passed away? She has a 3 year old kid. What do you mean she passed away? Turns out she had a terminal for of cancer that showed up late and she fought it was about a year and finally succumbed. What about her kid? What about her husband. All good questions that would need to find its own answers I guess.

Damayanthi was the maternal figure in the gang of five. We were all away from home for the first time in our adult life in a foreign land trying to not mess up too much. We were all looking for some place to throw our anchors and feel like we belonged. It was in a small dingy little apartment across the street from college campus that we found that place. She was always willing to host and sometimes I felt she did the hosting just so that she felt the maternal need to look after somebody. She had a challenging couple of years at school tackling some health issues and some squabbles among friends, but at the end of it all, she never wavered from being a gracious hostess. I woke up this morning to a message on my phone saying that she had passed away. Again, she has a small kid. What do you mean she passed away? She is in her prime!!

The fallacy in that argument is that mortality has nothing to do with who you are and what your current state of affairs are. It lives among us looking for the next one to walk away with. As unbelievable as it may seem to me, the fact is that we are all living on borrowed time. There is nothing we can do about it except to look away and enjoy the moments we have in the present.

Bon Voyage my friends, I hope you all continue to smile wherever you are.

Friday, November 18, 2016

You have been Trumped!

The phenomenon that is Trump is for all to see. Everybody waited with baited breath on that cold Tuesday night, each with their own small prayer. As the night grew darker some sobbed while some cheered and that is how Democracy works. Like the words of the fake president in "The American President" - "You gotta really want it".

Democracy is a very humbling experience. It is the great equalizer between the high tower elites to the small man on main street. At the end of it all, it is the power of the voters that speak. You may or may not agree with it, but the power of democracy is in its ability to reshape history as dictated by the masses and not necessarily by conventional wisdom.

Conventional wisdom states that Trump should have been out of the race about 16 months ago. For every atrocious thing that he has said, there are several examples of people who have fallen on the wayside for having said or done way less. But then conventional wisdom and Trump do not get framed in the same sentence very often.

So how did this come to pass. Obama claims that he is not to blame for the rise of Trump. But as a early supporter, I say to you Mr.President, you need to take a fair share of the responsibility for the rise of Trump. Not that I would lay the greatest blame on you, but for you to shirk responsibility for the greatest upset in modern American politics would be rather irresponsible. After all Trump is going to be sitting that that office that you have adorned for 8 years now.

My disappointment is not in the policies that Obama worked on, or the things that he has said and done. As a matter of fact as I watch him in his last days as president I come to the sad realization that I am really going to miss one of the coolest political leaders I have seen and admired. No, my disappointment comes from the things he has not done.

As liberal as I think I am, I wish Obama had not left half the country feeling like the liberal agenda was being pushed down their throat. I wish the House and the Senate were a little more cordial to the President, but you play the cards yo are dealt. Mr. President, you should have gone to each Republicans and dismantled their resistance with some middle ground. You have the personality unlike any seen in presidential politics before and that was your weapon you bring people together. Not the democratic party. You could have done it. Republicans were fractured from within, you had the chance to bring them over to the center. It could have been a more moderate form of politics and you probably would not have got everything you wanted, but then I assume politics is all about give and take, right?

But you chose to tell everybody what the right thing to do was and as much as I agree with almost everything you stood for, I doubt you made any friends beyond your core base with that stance. While I know it is idealistic to stand by what you believe no matter what and you want to negotiate from a place of strength, a wounded foe will always see that as oppression rather than righteousness. I suspect that took the two parties further apart even though there was no unity within the other party.

That left all the people in the middle with a bad taste in their mouth. Now here we are, hoping upon hope that the ominous responsibility of leading the most powerful nation in the world will make Trump do the right thing, beyond his words.

No Mr.President you do not get to walk away blameless here. We all have our role to play in getting ourselves Trumped.