A win without loss! Is that possible?

Last week Petrol and Diesel scored centuries in India, even as the Indian Cricket team barely managed one together at their opening T20 World Cup fixture in Dubai against state actors from across the border! It was a loss without loss! Have to find someone to blame – Maybe the late Ranjitsinjhi?

The pre-match hype was true to type but turned out to be tripe.  The team management wanted a finisher who could not finish an over instead of a bowler who could play carroms on a cricket field – Cricket aficionados will understand this subtlety. But the Mentor, Coach, and the Captain were unfazed by the comprehensive defeat, and went about and went about meeting and greeting their opponents, much to the consternation of nationals watching the desert extravaganza!  A contrast that was highlighted by a disappointed media…. It was something they could write about without pain. Or was there pain there too?

The Mainstream media simply rewrote their copies late in the night and put it on page 11 instead of page 1. Digital News Media had no choice – their sports section was on the home page, and they did what they could to confine the news to it.

The leaders who are quick to praise and draw praise to themselves for every hard-earned win by an Indian achiever had no words of consolation, either by tweet or meet, or an arm around the shoulders.  But that is to be expected. Success has many fathers, Failure finds only its mother by its side.

One could do little else but swipe and swipe hard across the phone in dismay and move on to other things. But everywhere, every chat, every social media platform carried the weight of the massive defeat through memes and mimes! One Meme had it that this is how employees work during notice periods, given that for both the coach and the captain are their final T20 assignment! But according to Media, and former cricketers et al, India is still the favorites to win the World Cup. This is in contrast to the way they played in their first match…

The media silence seemed imposed like it would have been India had lost a war with its neighbour, one they were trying to win in India’s northernmost state which is no longer a state! But it is in a good state, because of the state of play since august 5th 2019 according to claims by those in charge as reported widely in the Media.  We must go by those claims. Counterclaims are unheard of! Except at the Bar… counter. It’s just ice that can provide justice! And it’s available over the counter! But the counter is not of granite and can crumble anytime.

At the academy, anti-narcotics agents are taught (besides seizures on tip-offs) to follow the money trail (basically, study supply-side economics) to find the ultimate beneficiaries of any narcotic delivery stack.  That is easier said than done.  But somebody did. And now there is another contrast from the previous media-generated one of 6 gms vs 3000 kg:  6 gms vs how many gms does Rs: 38 lakhs in cash weigh? No idea, never seen so much let alone weigh it! One conspiracy theory leads to another.  There are marks for the process not for the answer. That is the correct method of paper evaluation, yes? no matter how long it is. But QED? When will that be? much after the exam and re-exam is over I guess…

Even as a political party is trying to galvanize and empower women to legislate by providing them a chance to contest the election and do some justice to their numbers in the census, news came of the abominable rape of a 6-year-old in Delhi.  Can one prevent the other? Or will men feel threatened more than they already are, but not show it in ways that can be addressed? Here Reframing may help, not Renaming!

It was a week of contrasts that made for good reading and entertainment and of course, as always, food for thought.  News stories such as the ones I’ve quoted above have several sources. Each source will provide the same news from a different angle, and provide a different meaning to each sub-event. Each time he reads, the reader will alter his perspective or have it altered for him – without his conscious effort.  That is the power of the Media, Social, asocial or just the plain old-fashioned newspaper. That’s good because then he can’t make up his mind one way or another! Its called an open mind!  It’s the ones who make up their mind and then close it that is more of a concern. Are they the tragedy? Or will they be the cause of a tragedy?

That these contrasts are like the waves of the sea, and will never cease, is expected, and yet we try to prevent them, don’t we? What is life without death? Or light without darkness? Or salt without sugar? Or Police without Robbers, or Leaders without followers? Or Yin without Yang? Yin, Chinese for “female” or “moon,” represents darkness, femininity, passivity, and the earth. Yang (“sun” or “male”) represents light, masculinity, activity, and the heavens… The balance of yin and yang was seen to influence health and order within an individual, society, and the entire universe.

It’s the way the universe was built.  It’s always hanging in the balance, unlike the T20 match the other day.  And all we do is try to alter this balance the way we see fit! We put all our efforts into making it a good place in our book, by ‘”helping” / “ensuring” people think as we do, behave as we expect them to, homogenize them in a way that suits us? It’s called the power of one – oneness, sorry. That’s why we have laws and jails and norms and democracy (you know the principle on which it functions) so on and so forth. They say it prevents anarchy.  What do you say?

But no matter our best efforts in this direction, the opposite tends to happen, even if just a wee bit, just to balance it. Order is restored when those laws are broken, and the like.    There is no way that the sea will not kiss the shore, no matter how many times it rebuffs it. It never gives up.  One is solid, the other liquid – they meet, they drift apart, and return to the kiss they started earlier. One cannot do without the other. Yin and Yang!

It’s the balance in the way the universe functions that gives us our roles here on earth else what would we do? We couldn’t have played cops and robbers or a world cup. Contrast often gets our attention, because it is dramatic; like a black dot on a spotless white floor.

Drama can cause a variety of experiences such as awe, fear, and sometimes shock and awe as the former American President said! That’s what we all thrive on. If there are no contrasts, how do you distinguish good from evil, win from loss? How will gamblers make money?  Coping with contrasts in your life or others’ lives as reported by the media ends up in either engaging in the experience, avoiding it, or overcompensating for it.  For eg.: Let’s say it’s raining heavily continuously – You may play in the rain, avoid it altogether or blame others for the flooding, if not the rain!

But all drama or a complete void is something to be avoided – again the balance is important! You need to have an allrounder in the team – one that can bat and bowl else you may be in for a heavy defeat! A Win Without Loss!

Until next week!


This Article is written in a lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connect with any such real-life event or character, rest assured it’s purely coincidental.

Images by Parveender Lamba & OpenClipart-Vectors

I or We? Fear is the key

I have just read a remarkably interesting story on CNN. According to the story, a man is on the run after allegedly killing two neighbors. “Some in China hope he will never be caught,” says the headline.

The headline attracts – because it is rare that an alleged killer receives public support. It is only state and non-state actors, wherever they may be – and no entity can claim utter innocence in this regard – that are said to support such killings. One uses paperwork, the other tapered work to achieve their ends.

Was it an act of terror or error (that’s terror without the T followed by a cup of coffee in a cafe) or something else? Apparently, it is something else – an error – deliberate or otherwise – that caused the terror. He caused terror after being terrified. This must be inferred from the story and the social media support for the terrifying acts that both preceded and followed.

The story starts like this “Ou Jinzhong has been on the run for more than a week. Accused of killing two neighbors and injuring three others, the 55-year-old villager in China’s southern Fujian province is wanted by police. The local government has also offered cash rewards for clues to his whereabouts — or proof of his death. The manhunt has gripped millions of Chinese people — but not because they want to see him arrested. On the contrary, many are openly hoping he is never caught”. This, the story has gleaned from the chatter on Weibo – China’s Twitter wannabe. The reason? Apparently, he had a dispute with a neighbor over land.

This is the story in a nutshell: Ou Jinzhong had a house in which he lived with his aged mother. Since the house was dilapidated, he applied to rebuild it and was given all the necessary clearances after which he pulled down the old house. He was about to start construction of a new one when the neighbors raised a dispute. He built a tin sheet shack in which he lived for over two years while he tried to get the dispute resolved through talks with the neighbor, rounds of all government offices and politicians – all to no avail.

Then one day during a storm, a part of the sheet flew off and landed in the neighbor’s compound after which an altercation ensued. In the altercation – the facts are still unclear – 2 died and three are injured. The alleged killer – many are calling him the victim of the system – has been on the run for 10 days now, apparently with a tailwind of public sympathy, at least on social media. For the rest they are silent. It is called the silence of the lambs and we know what happened to them! Social Media sympathy may not help him much though, given that the humans of this world are primarily hunter-gatherers and are exceptionally good at it with all kinds of animals – Lots of practice over centuries; they have even refined their tools for their own kind!

This is a tale of one city and two facts – Everybody wants to live and is desperate to do so well by his or her own standards which he raises every day – If you have seen a person drown, or you have almost drowned – it will be evident. But do not try either just to find out – take my word for it.

Second, – and this flows from the first – is that one’s own life is more precious than another’s is because it has a greater purpose! Have you seen run-outs in a game of cricket? Listen to the commentary and you will understand.

The reason is primarily that we fear the unknown – we know what comes before, but what comes after? Will it be better than this, our life on earth?

We ask this question of ourselves every day – And if the answer is a resounding no, great; we go on living and making the best we can out of the deal we have been dealt with; if the answer is yes, we do something about it; often something drastic.

And then there is the maybe, maybe not. Why try to find out what is next? A known devil is better than an unknown devil and the devil always gets his due! Let us meet our expectations here on earth itself. Though we have an inkling that we may never, because they keep changing every minute of every day, the journey is exciting and challenging, provided the walls give way after they are hammered a bit. If they remain firm because of the cement used (Remember that ad for cement not so long ago?) – the cement of our limitations – money, health, ability, and the x-factor – the system, the fear sets in fear is always accompanied by anticipatory anxiety for which there is no provision for anticipatory bail! Remember the reality show? or the story of the ant and the elephant? This is that story.

We become fearful and when we become fearful – it’s only fight or flight that remains. The flight would mean Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 and Fight would mean Malaysia Airlines Flight 17. Either way Fear is the Key.

Alistair Maclean’s 1961 novel and 1972 movie – “Fear is the key” explains this very well. The endgame of the novel provides answers to all the questions raised here; “Talbot then switches off the oxygen and tells Vyland and Royale they will die in six minutes” and that resolves all the conflicts in the novel. Let me not function as a plot spoiler in what is a beautifully written potboiler!

When fear has your ear, there is always a tear. Given that fear is a passkey, it is used by many to open many locks – locks that prevent them from reaching their potential, locks that seem intractable forever. Sadly, the locks change, but this one key can still open them. F

The way to prevent the lock from being unlocked by the unauthorized use of a passkey is to bend the key or remove the sharp edges of the key so as not to hurt the lock’s cylinder! Not with Rust but Trust.

I or We? When fear is the key, trust is a must!

Stay trustworthy, stay trustful, until next week.


This Article is written in a lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connection with any such real-life event or character, rest assured it’s purely coincidental.

Image by สุพัตรา เนตรเสนา

The Nobility of 2021 and their lessons!

By Brian Fernandes

An Informed Public – is that a misnomer? Must be. Like Freedom of Expression (FOE) is an oxymoron. The two are well connected – An Informed public and Freedom of Expression. It is much like a marriage for all seasons, not just for a reason. They are often at logger heads, but really cannot live without each other. Sadly, they end up in geriatric care together too! There is a new transgender in the making too – a mis-informed public!

For long, a long and happy married life was touted by light veiners as the mother of all oxymorons, but that has been replaced by freedom of expression in democracies around the world. FOE is often sacrificed at the altar of FOMO – Fear of losing out! On the benefits of being a minimalist when it comes to asking the right questions!  

And that is why we must celebrate when the Nobel is given for noble work, and it is noble work, much like work done under MNREGA! – Creating public assets at a minimum wage! I quote from the press release of the Nobelprize.org. “The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 to Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov for their efforts to safeguard freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace”. Indeed, their noble work will cause more disquiet than peace, but is expected to create an ambience for lasting peace!

What intrigues the mind are the words – precondition for democracy and lasting peace. Nothing in this world operates on pre-conditions – the universe itself operates in the moment and a pre-condition only cramps its style; it therefore, often, ignores it! It is not the fault of the universe per se, just the people in the universe – who are more unitary than universal in their thinking – no matter what their website and Facebook profile may say about them!

We all are, given the divisions we see on WhatsApp groups these days. It is tough to go beyond the blue tick without being ticked off, one way or another. This is also perhaps, because, despite the efforts of such Nobel souls, it is not they who guide our opinions; in fact, not even our circumstances do; it is our peers and “friends” on social media who do, through an algorithm which operates as though its wired into our brain much like what a pacemaker does for the heart. We do not read, and so in the end we must bleed, or make others to!

According to the press release – we must be thankful they could release it – Ms. Ressa and Mr. Muratov received the Peace Prize for their courageous fight for freedom of expression in the Philippines and Russia. Both are purportedly – according to their systems of election of their governing representatives – democracies. And yet they live without lasting peace. I do not draw parallels because drawing was not my strongest subject at school. You may be able to do that better.

The Press Release goes on to say, “at the same time, they are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions” – So true – just look around you.

Do not worry, you will be fine, if you look around and shut up! It is something we are all learning to do. Luckily for the world, some are slow learners, and it is from them we get our nicknames – informed public! Who said slow learning is a disability? It can win you a Nobel, provided you do noble work.

What this Nobel Prize tells us is that Reporters are never without borders or for that matter, orders from above. And yet some rise above!

What if the 2021 World Press Freedom Index produced by Reporters Without Borders (RSF), a French NGO, has again placed India at 142nd rank out of 180 countries. … In 2016, India’s rank was 133 which has steadily climbed down (another oxymoron) to 142 in 2020. I say so what, because it is a French index, even if they say that they operate without borders. They do not really understand our ethos, our pathos, or our chaos. If you are taught not to question your elders, it is improper to question those who govern; right? And if you do, face the consequences – like you did when you were much younger and questioned your elders!

But there are so many who, content and feeling protected under the umbrella of freedom of repression, say that YOU just CANNOT be allowed to say what YOU want when YOU want, because it might hurt some other’s sentiments, governments included. They get sentimental when you express yourself. But they do not cry; they get angry and that does not bode well for you. So do what is reasonable…. To them. And that’s good advice… free!

This is our reality. Our reality is not limited to Big Boss or Dance pe Dance. At least not our reality, which happens to us every moment of every day. Our lives are waves, not of covid infection, but cause and effect that alters our behavior; at least that is what this year’s Economics Nobel Prize winners have found out through diligent research!

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences awarded the Sveriges Riksbank Prize in Economic Sciences in Memory of Alfred Nobel 2021 with one half to David Card, University of California, Berkeley, USA “for his empirical contributions to labour economics”, and the other half jointly to, Joshua D. Angrist

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, USA, and Guido W. Imbens, Stanford University, USA for “for their methodological contributions to the analysis of causal relationships.” 

What those Tharooristic sentences are really trying to tell us that many of the big questions in the social sciences deal with cause and effect. “How does immigration affect pay and employment levels? How does a longer education affect someone’s future income? These questions are difficult to answer because we have nothing to use as a comparison – except our own! We do not know what would have happened if there had been less immigration or if that person had not continued studying”.

This year’s Laureates have shown that it is possible to answer these and comparable questions using natural experiments. The key is to use situations in which chance events or policy changes result in groups of people being treated differently, in a way that resembles clinical trials in medicine. And believe me, everyone feels they are being treated differently according to their circumstances’!

Hilariously, – and scientifically – you can do these “natural experiments” yourself. Did the lack of oxygen cause death? Did demonetization curb your source of black money? Have the rising fuel prices, created better roads? Has a double dose of vaccination given you immunity from Covid? So many “natural experiments” you can draw upon to come to your own economic and even social conclusions. You can be a self-styled Niti Ayog yourself! This is if you are unemployed!

Indeed, if we examine our own lives, we will find we have plenty of natural experiments to draw upon for inferences to guide future action. This freedom we all have! And we must make use of it. Who knows, one of us might produce some prize-winning conclusions which will ease our finances substantially! And of course, we could issue a press release and actually release it to the Press. Unless we are pressed to do otherwise!

Good luck with all of that until next week!


This Article is written in the lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connect with any such real-life event or character, rest assured its purely coincidental.

Euphoria, Hedonia and Eudemonia on World Mental Health Day

On the occasion of the 152nd Gandhi Jayanti, I was spending time together with a friend at a mocktail bar and was being very tolerant of his constant mocking of my demeanor. The occasion was like that.

There were no cocktails (due to the lack of humidity, it was very dry) or western mocktails on view, only purely ethnic ones like cucumber squish, and Virgin Solicito! After every sip, my friend would, with a smirk, ask me, are you happy?. He seemed to think otherwise.

Unjustly so. It seemed that he was treating his glass like a debt fund with a SIP. And I acted to deny him his Hedonia (Hedonic happiness is derived from pleasure. It is most often associated with doing what feels good, self-care, fulfilling desires, experiencing enjoyment, and feeling a sense of satisfaction) and said with irritation, “yes of course. I am sitting here with you, a good friend, chilling, without a care in the world, save who will pay the mock bar bill; what more can one ask for?.” He then reminded me that I had a long drive home ahead of me and asked if I had tanked up on fuel. That brought another worry line to my forehead, and I presumed I now looked my age – until then those three letters just made up a number – because I was led to believe so by what I saw on TV, not in the mirror!

On the way home I started thinking about tomorrow. Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner, School Fees for online classes, the house rent, “have we booked the gas”? and the ongoing virtual strife at the office as I angled for a promotion but expected no motion on it until I expressed myself – As Virat said to the Boys – Go out there and express yourself! But I was no Indian express! That too troubled me.

Thankfully, I was working from home and would not have to rush to office and the fuel could be used for an evening outing like the one today. My thought process kept getting convoluted by the minute and when I reached home, it took a turn for the worse. I was informed that there was a major illness in the family (a covid case in the ICU with all its intended suffering) and I would have to manage it. That meant juggling finances, time, effort, and the fact that I hated hospitals, mainly because I did not like to see suffering, the ring notwithstanding.

It was not the last straw for me – I was used to drinking directly from the Tender Coconut. But the water ran dry when, and as I tilted at the windmills with increasing intensity, I began to feel I was not good enough to manage the pressure cooker as well as my brother-in-law and neighbour did! I just could not switch off the fire. The knob had got stuck on simmer.

I wanted to reassure myself and I looked in the mirror, not once but four times. Blood shot eyes, stubble on the face, and worry lines on the forehead. What will the morrow bring? This was the picture I got from all angles. Even tried to smile. Ah I could, and I thought I looked good, but not in my head which seemed askance from my eyes. I had not found my mojo yet, though I had had enough of mojito. Ah shove it, I thought, tomorrow is a new day. A new beginning could be made and dropped off to sleep. That was my everyday routine, but it was getting too monotonous. Something had to give!

I dropped off to sleep. Got up on the dot of six in the morning and picked up the newspaper at the front door. the Newspaper boy was just delivering it and he had a smile on his face – he does not read the headlines. As the kettle let out steam when it reached boiling point, I quickly realized I had no such opportunity until I came across the headline “World Mental Health Day” to be celebrated on Oct. 10th. That is day is soon I thought – and I could let out steam (means I could act crazy), even if I had reached boiling point much before. Tragically, as I read the other headlines the lines on my head came closer together. No cursive writing would be possible there.

The Media seemed happy – this I could deduce from the headlines and column space devoted to Ecstasy and Death – Ecstasy on a cruise in Mumbai and Death in Lakhimpur. And then a gift of a Pandora’s Box full of the secrets of happiness, something they get both Hedonia and Eudaimonia from (Eudaimonia is a type of happiness derived from seeking virtue and meaning in whatever you do – unlike Hedonia, its associated with fulfilling responsibilities, investing in long-term goals, concern for the welfare of other people, and living up to personal ideals.) No comments on this one. Big word, small meaning – satisfaction – much like big tree, small fruit!

But, here I was, not getting either – Hedonia or Eudemonia, and I recognised that as the problem. I was not unhappy, unless unhappiness meant nothing more than the absence of happiness, (like Darkness means the absence of light, and not a state of play by itself) a widely used term that denoted a moment of joy, a moment nothing more. Because the next moment could mean a demotion to despair!

Anyway, Mental Health and Happiness is what interested me today because the abyss seemed nearer – as the famous Christian hymn – “Nearer my God to thee” started playing in my head! So, I went into the details. According to the Wikipedia (Not the leaked version, but the sealed transparent one – No Pandora there!) “In the 21st century, euphoria is generally defined as a state of great happiness, well-being, and excitement, which may be normal, or abnormal and inappropriate when associated with psychoactive drugs, manic states, or brain disease or injury”. So, Euphoria is a state of great happiness (not the one on a Cruise Kind) and plain happiness is “an emotional state characterized by feelings of joy, satisfaction, contentment, and fulfilment. It is in the moment that it is derived”. A Prolonged absence of happiness or happy moments then could be a mental health issue? Nothing lasts forever, only diamonds, said James Bond, and Nirav proved that wrong too. So, I read further.

In 2017, the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind asserted that India was “facing a possible mental health epidemic”. But then a pandemic took over and made it worse. A study revealed that in the same year, 14% of India’s population – that is one in seven – suffered from mental health ailments, including 33.8% of all mental disorders suffering from depressive disorders and 20% from anxiety disorders according to the findings of a first comprehensive study done by Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) on disease burden due to mental disorders in India.

Reading these statistics made me anxious – would I soon be a part of these statistics? It did seem that I was well on my way! Other mental Disorders identified in this 14% affected population included schizophrenia, bipolar disorders, idiopathic developmental intellectual disability, conduct disorders, and autism.

Fourteen percent must have become 20% today, given the fact that the virus is still roaming around free, deriving its hedonia from its infection of humans. But this small population cannot account for India’s ranking on the World Happiness Index – 139 out of 149 countries. The World Happiness Report 2021, issued by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network, focuses on the effects of COVID-19 and how people all over the world have fared. Finland remains at the top of the leader board as the world’s happiest country. This year’s ranking was also influenced by elevated levels of trust in the way the COVID-19 pandemic was managed and therein lies our vaccination!

I must make excuses for our low ranking. It is the right thing to do and will give me Eudaimonia for the moment! As individuals, we have little control over the parameters this evaluation has used to come this forlorn conclusion, though as a democracy, every text book in the country says we must possess it –  Gross Domestic Product Per Capita (Purchasing Power Parity) – NRI’s have plenty of it, Social Support – also plenty of it, except when it comes to money, Healthy life expectancy at birth – do form your own opinion after studying the sex ratio, Freedom to make life choices (plenty of it – and anyway even if you have it you can’t park in a no parking zone, or eat whatever you want or wear your feelings on your sleeve!), Generosity – it’s a must when paying your taxes, and Perceptions of corruption – it’s actually nil, if you think otherwise, it is only your perception!  We have also had little control over the evaluation itself, as much as we have over our date of death!

Does this low-ranking mean general state of unhappiness? No, it is just the absence of Happiness and that is not serious, not by our standards.

Having read all of this in the space of 15 minutes, I was feeling better already. I derived pleasure (Hedonia) from the fact I was not yet a statistic among the 14% -or is it 20%?. In fact, I was in Euphoria. A state without boundaries! Euphoria is sharp shooting pain in all the right places very hedonistic in its derivation, while happiness is a dull soothing ache in the same places, which lasts a wee while longer. As the Euphoria dissipated I found myself left with Eudaimonia – the satisfaction that I would not be just another number, like my Aadhar! Unless I allowed myself to be.

Instead, I went to see the new James Bond film, “No Time to Die”

At least not until next week. See you then!      


This Article is fiction and written in the lighter vein. It hopes to bring a smile to your face, and you must not ascribe motives to its contents. There is no connection to events and characters in real life and if perchance you find a connect with any such real-life event or character, rest assured its purely coincidental.