The Grateful Dead, Saintly Spirits and Solkadi!

The Days of the Dead in the Christian Calendar are upon us. They are active days for those alive full of spirit on one day and full of the grateful dead the next. In between, it’s also about Saints and saintliness.

Those of you familiar with Christian traditions, and that is perhaps just a few (for the rest, enjoy the education) know Halloween is celebrated on 31 October on the eve of All Saints day which falls on 1 November, and the day before All souls day on 2 November. The latter two are the Days of the Dead in the Christian Calendar celebrated with flowers, candles, and prayers in that order, by those alive, those barely alive, and those not wanting to be alive for a variety of reasons, hoping for benevolent connect to the nether world! Is that perhaps why we honour our dead grandly and dishonour those alive modestly? Hard to fathom because to each his own!

A saintly look at Halloween!

But before the mourning on 2 November, and All Saints Day on 1 November, on 31 October, it is time for the Halloween celebration – a celebration and thanksgiving for what the Saints have done for us – fighting evil spirits on our behalf by example, not by costume. We can’t, so on that day, we wear costumes and imbibe the spirit in more ways than one. We carve pumpkins, make them akin to the evil spirits and bash them up. According to Cydney Grannan in the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the jack-o’-lantern has a long history with Halloween, although our favourite demonic faces haven’t always been carved out of pumpkins.

Their origin comes from an Irish myth about Stingy Jack, who tricked the Devil for his monetary gain. When Jack died, God didn’t allow him into heaven, and the Devil didn’t let him into hell, (what an impasse! – happens to so many of us here on earth that is why we sometimes call it hell on earth. It happens when we play both ends against the middle!), so Jack was sentenced to roam the earth for eternity.

In Ireland, people started to carve demonic faces out of turnips to frighten away Jack’s wandering soul. When Irish immigrants moved to the U.S., they began carving jack-o’-lanterns from pumpkins, as these were native to the region. They are called Jack’s lanterns because after they are carved, they are lit so that they may see as they roam around in the dark like evil spirits are supposed to do. These days we find these evil spirits aka Jack Daniels in the daytime too – at the liquor vend.

But how did jack-o’-lanterns become associated with Halloween? Well, Halloween is based on the Celtic festival Samhain, a celebration in ancient Britain and Ireland that marked the end of summer and the beginning of the new year on November 1. It was believed that during Samhain the souls of those who had died that year travelled to the otherworld and other souls who had died previously would return to visit their homes. It is this fear that drove people to dress in costumes witches, ghosts, goblins, and light bonfires to ward off spirits! But why would they want to do so? After all, they were loved ones, (must be because they are called the dear departed!).

Maybe that’s why we get scared, but also excited. What if we meet them in places other than the cemetery or the urn? Will the love rekindle, or will the fear? Good question for those who delivered fantabulous eulogies, obituaries, and tombstones, but did not express the same sentiments when the soul was present in the body that now has no presence, and no presents to give!

In the 8th century CE, the Roman Catholic Church moved All Saints’ Day, a day celebrating the church’s saints, to November 1. This meant that All Hallows’ Eve (or Halloween) fell on October 31. Traditions from Samhain remained, such as wearing disguises (costumes that make you look evil or saintly) to hide from the souls wandering around your home – but you can’t, especially if you have treated them badly.

The folklore about Stingy Jack was quickly incorporated into Halloween, and we’ve been carving pumpkins—or turnips—ever since, and of course wearing costumes and masks – which we wear every day anyway to mask who and what we really are! Prime examples can be found at prime time! Prime is the keyword!

Like Diwali, Halloween is the battle between good and evil spirits – often with a lot of spirit – not necessarily evil in itself, but could be the source of evil, if uncontrolled. Lack of control itself is often attributed to the spirit working within! These spirits can also help you become saintly. You tend to fall asleep under the influence and therefore no sin! Saint. QED.

Halloween is also a celebration of the saints (not the ones described above) for the life, they lived in the service of others, to service to their spirituality. A life we must be inspired to live but often are not! Especially in the modern age.

So, this a time to celebrate, to mourn and to moan in anticipation of the souls that have gone before, saying howdy to yours! They long for your earthly company (not sure why – when it’s a free for all without a free fall up above), even as you long for the spirits. Then why do we drive them away with our costumes and our pumpkins? After all, they are kin! It is a case of Spirits being imbibed or being chased away – The latter is unlikely! A good fight does require a certain spirit after all.

Are you a saint?

It’s easier perhaps to be a saint in the afterlife or the nether life. Being a saint in real life is difficult because it means being a very virtuous, kind, or patient person. You also have to have a special type of relationship with the holy, a relationship that is not automatically obtained by other religious or lay personages through their performance of religious duties or offices. The significance of saintly personages is generally based on words, deeds and supernatural qualities that became apparent during their lifetimes because of the mentoring they receive from above. They continue to exert influence after their deaths, precisely because of what they did while on earth!

Basically, they live here while not living here. And when they go there, they live here, and we derive the benefit of a direct connection with the One above. Something like how the vast majority of the Indian Media believes that a certain Rishi (Sunak) will be their connection with the British Crown, at least so far as the Kohinoor Diamond is concerned! When he was here, he was there, and when he is there, he is here!

Without the spiritual connection, being a Saint while on earth is difficult because here on earth, one man’s virtue is another man’s vice. So, none (not even Nun) has a vice-like grip on what virtue is! It’s easier to wear a costume and a mask. But real saints have to suffer that persona here on earth and hope to be celebrated whilst in heaven. Where perhaps they may be the opposite of saints! They too seek relief from the cares of the world! Who knows? Certainly, not those of us left here on earth.

But one thing’s for sure. A lot of them have considerable influence. They can get things done for you (those you desire and pray for) if you put in at least 50% of the effort required to get them done. That is, be virtuous, kind, patient, and of course hard working. They will handle the destiny/luck/fate part. So, keeping them in your contact book – it’s easy these days, with mobiles, and it is key to a hopeful future for your soul here on earth. Afterwards, it is difficult to say; your eulogy will tell you otherwise but don’t get fooled.

Solkadi – Soup for the Soul

Having celebrated the saints with spirits, it’s time for a rendezvous with souls, the next day. The souls of the dear departed. But what is the soul? it’s not solkadi, a beverage that is an important part of Goan, Konkan and Malvani cuisine made from kokum or Garcinia Indica or the fruit of the Goa Butter Tree! Solkadi though, has the Soul’s properties – cooling and digestive properties, making it a perfect counter to the heavily spiced dishes of the Western Coastal Indian cuisines. But does the soul derive its properties from the solkadi or is it the other way around?

The Soul according to what I’ve (my soul really) read and understood, has three parts – the mind, the self and divinity. It’s your body’s shadowy doppelganger, which is separate from you but resides within you (sometimes has a tough life, sometimes an easy life) – giving life to your thoughts, personality to your presence, and is your connection with the Almighty which you often ignore. Like water. it takes your shape, no matter how out of shape you might be, mingles with your thoughts, guiding them, mentoring them, and weaving them into your personality. Like Solkadi, it has cooling and digestive properties, but it all depends on how much you imbibe and when!

Most cultures believe the soul is a non-paying guest and moves on to better things (like we do – filling a vacancy in the organizational hierarchy!) once you die. It does come back to visit though on All Souls Day 2 November for a reunion – if it is comfortable. And you prepare for it as though you are a Saint. With flowers, candles, and prayers in that order, worried that it may haunt you, hurt you, or bless you. We long for the latter, long after the soul has left us, but did we do enough when it was in our proximity? That is the key to this last day  (today)  in the Days of the Dead in the Christian Calendar.

I’m feeling deadbeat right now, and my soul tells me to stop – the mind part of it! So, before it leaves me for better prospects, let me wish you a good week – until next week!

Photo by Kenny Eliason on Unsplash


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 connection with any such real-life event or character, rest assured it’s purely coincidental.

It’s the time for the fire to burn within, without a sound!

It was a blockbuster Diwali. For The Australian Indian Crowds, Sandalwood, the British People, the White Goods Retailers, Car manufacturers and so many others! Then there were clay Diya lamp makers and their cart retailers. They too made it a grand Diwali. Everyone but the firecracker makers had a great Diwali ostensibly because of the Air pollution they would cause; The irony is that those who banned their use, employed Cars bought at discounted rates during the festival. And used them throughout the year causing more pollution than a day’s use of firecrackers would! The State and the Central Government too made a killing on these vehicles. Literally, not just figuratively! It is the triumph of ignorance over knowledge. But that’s common! Ignorance is bliss.

Of course, there is the matter of sound caused by the Firecrackers – some of them. Animals get petrified, even as humans are esterified. But the joy is in the light, not just the sound and fury of a Firecracker because of its significance, and we are just learning that – by compulsion. And though a new wave of Covid brought more death and a need for more light, this time on the pyre, it was truly a celebration of Light over darkness – for those alive.

At the start of the Diwali week, our life was lit by a humdinger of a Cricket Match, the India-Pakistan Super 12 Clash in ICC’s T20 World Cup at the Melbourne Cricket Ground. Everyone who watched, played, organised, and adjudicated it deserved a hamburger after. That’s how jampacked the Melbourne Cricket Ground was. 90,000 Indian and Pakistani fans – not clear how many of each, (also Australians of either origin, who may sometime in the future, become the Prime Minister of Australia and we can take credit for that) cheering in calm alternation, right till the very end and singing and dancing to the hit track Pasoori in unison after the match. A sight to see, to feel to experience as did 1.4 Crore people through their TV sets as the match reached its climax. For the unaware, Pasoori is a hit track from Coke Studio’s season 14, sung by Pakistani singers Ali Sethi and Shae Gill and that made it even steven. A parallel in India or Pakistan or even Leicester in Great Britain may never be seen. Because Britain is no longer Great, but just a United Kingdom that is falling apart? We will come to that matchbox later.

India won due to a little bit of luck that comes with the blessings of Gods and Goddesses on this auspicious occasion, but also the skill, self-belief, and presence of mind of individuals in a team game and the team itself. Virat went Viral after the match. He was also viral before the match but in a more Covid/morbid way. By his own admission at the end of the game, he had been under pressure. The last two years were lean. He gave up captaincy just before a forgettable World Cup campaign in Dubai and no sooner had he done that than his position in the T20 team came under siege.

As he said post-match with a bit of sarcasm, naturally – Thank you for the support guys when things were not gelling! It paid off today! You are the greatest! Those who did not support him in his most vulnerable moments were cowering in their seats, but luckily for them, the cameras were focused on his excitement about the win. Heartening too was seeing India’s Cricket legends, now in their 70’s prancing in joy. They get a high five on the Yo-Yo test score. Yo Bro! that’s the way to go! More than the Stadium’s lights, it was their smiles that lit up their faces, this Diwali.

But that’s what elation can do to you. It elevates you. Defeat on the other hand deflates you. But if you treat both the imposters just the same as Rudyard Kipling says in his famous poem If, then “ours is the Earth and everything that’s in it, And — which is more — you’ll be a Man, my son!” And Virat was, certainly that day.

Life has its ups and downs, and the important thing is when it’s down, that’s when you must try to stay up, work hard and take whatever help you can get from the unseen above you! All three will come together someday – the staying up, blessings, and hard work. But you must believe every day is the day when it will even though Diwali comes once a year! Just light your lamp every day! But check the oil in the Diya the previous night.

Diwali is the time to reel it in! Catch the big fish! And Sandalwood did just that. They used a surreal reel, to reel it in. Just before Diwali, the Kannada Film industry also known as Sandalwood had lost its perfumed existence, before and after KGF-Chapter 2. But Tulunadu Hero Rishab Shetty came up with Kantara. Released on 30 September, it celebrated Good over Evil just in time for Diwali. The good was seen in its box office collection which has made it the second highest-grossing film of all time in Sandalwood, outstripping KGF Chapter 2. It also received critical appreciation from stars, celebrities, and the public across the country – taking Sandalwood to the rest of the country and helping them understand that Kannada is also a language to reckon with, not just Hindi, which was just as well, given the “prescribed” rhetoric these days. The evil was crushed by excellent direction, special effects, storyline and of course acting. It doesn’t get a chance to peep even! That’s how good the film is.

Back to Britain; not Great Britain. Can’t say it’s Great Britain anymore. Can we? And why should we? India’s economy has surpassed it at USD 3.83 Trillion, and its inflation is double India’s; Its population of 68 million is 5% of India’s and Indians form 2.5% of that population! Its per capita income is much more, and it’s the British-Indian population that contributes a lot to that figure.

Traditionally the Queen, sorry the King, (it’s easy to get confused between the King and his mother because for a long time, he was his mother!) don’t celebrate Diwali, but they well might from now on, for a Brit who is a vicariously “Indian” by religion, tradition, eating habits, long ago descent, by in law, is now the Prime Minister by law – their law. And he will make Britain Great again. He will take Britain past India again in terms of the Economy and will hopefully send all the defaulters and Diamonds of Indian Origin Back! And hopefully, keep the legitimate immigrants who want to leave India for England permanently – But will there be any? the reasons they have for migrating are gone, aren’t they? Because politically now it’s all the same! And he can’t be de-faulted for that!

For sure, there won’t be any Booze Parties at No 10 Browning Street, but be sure to control your impulses to taste those leftover Diwali Sweets if you are visiting. What happens to Ukraine, U cran wait and see! But Brits of all origins will surely be able to light their heaters this winter, because of their Diwali Gift from India! That is the power of Diwali.

What we must be glad about, however, is that the East India Company has become the West India Company, returned to Britain, and conquered it. Coming up is a Free Trade Agreement, different from what the East India Company Signed! One of the Memes doing the rounds is that we now have a sequel to the hit movie Amar Akbar Antony with the current triumvirate of the Prime Minister, the Mayor of London, and the King! And why not? It is this capacity to integrate diversity in its politics and society that makes Britain Great, not its wealth, looted or otherwise earned! Remember that song? Oh! to be in England? That was in April, We are now in October and it’s still valid!

Diwali is the time when our good sense is discounted by white goods (mostly household electrical appliances) retailers and Car Manufacturers. Both are thrilled with their prosperity, while consumers are thrilled by their perspicacity! And before you know it you have a new car and a washing machine at home. But when you bring it home, it’s a long drive in winding traffic and returning the car, if not the washing machine does cross your mind. With time on your hands (besides the steering wheel) you will realize that While you can park the washing machine at home, you will have no place to park the car! And the washing machine, every time you use it, it cleans your wallet too. But you don’t mind. You will work harder outside the home instead of at home. Same difference. And the Washing Machine never gets old! or does it? you’ll know by next Diwali!

The lights of Diwali arrayed in their Clay Diya’s light our homes and dispel the darkness until the sun rises the following day, but sometimes I wonder if they lift the shroud of darkness in our minds and our hearts. The abuse of all types that makes headlines every day is a reminder, that the fire must burn within, not only without and without a sound. We must replenish the oil that keeps it going with positivity, and love and not extinguish it with hate and negativity. We must let the Sweets sweeten our mood forever, not just for a while, for then the sourness returns.

Let’s all do that, have a happy Diwali, and look forward to a wonderful year ahead.

Photo by Guido Jansen on Unsplash

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 it’s purely coincidental.

How on earth did we get our poverty lines crossed?

Yesterday, 17 Oct 2022, was world Poverty Eradication Day! celebrated by all countries that are a part of the UN because every country that is a part of the UN has poor people or is steeped in the culture of poverty, some more, some less.

According to the World Bank and The Brookings Institution, nearly 10% of the world’s population lives in extreme poverty; 70% of the world’s poorest people live in Africa. And 79% of the world’s poor live in rural areas.

It’s not clear why this is. Does it flow from the policies of the UN, the World Bank or the IMF or does it flow from the policies of the governments of these nations back to the UN?

Either way, they, nor their members have been able to eliminate poverty, just the poor! And that’s no achievement, given that the dice are stacked against the poor in straight lines called poverty lines. In war, they are called enemy lines! But as in war, you have to look after your own behind these lines – because you sent them there! Right? That is why the World Poverty Eradication Day!

The 2022 Theme: Dignity For All in Practice (keyword for SEO) – The commitments we make together for social justice, peace, and the planet. Read the headlines to find out more about how the world puts into practice each of these commitments: from gender exploitation to financial exclusion, to racism, to casteism, to communalism, to war, and the emissions we let go, not just from behind, but in front of our committed eyes ostensibly because we have to lift people out of poverty; We give them a lift, but not the ride!

Those above these poverty lines drawn in the sands of inflation, by heritage, hard work, or happenstance, revise their lines before going to the theatre and they use them well! They help those below cross over no doubt and then leave them to fend for themselves. “Well, we helped you over, but if you slip back under, we will help you again! Not otherwise!”

Somewhere in the future, the points are plotted at conferences in 5-star hotels – The World Poverty Eradication Day is a good day to meet, eat, bleat, and plot those points – and a parallel line is drawn on a higher plane – there is a point to poverty geometry after all! But poverty remains with an added dimension – the poverty of hope!

Economists revel in these exercises as it helps them stay well above the lines they draw – like hovercraft! Be that as it may if you know your lines you can benefit from them! As many do. If they know your lines, they too can benefit! The only difference – is you can’t choose your lines! They can!

People line up to get over the line, not knowing what lies there. The tragedy is that once you cross the line, you are in no man’s land – neither rich nor poor – with no lines to guide you – it’s like the unspoilt Amazon (is it still unspoilt?) And you get the benefit of neither. The feeling is that of the Veggies in a subway sandwich. Crunchy at first, and soggy for the rest of your life as the mayo is dribbled all over you!

As the international community embarks on the Third Decade for the Eradication of Poverty (The inference is that until 30 years ago, nobody cared if you are poor, but soon found out that they constitute a sizeable chunk of the voting population, especially in developing countries), an estimated 783 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day in 2013, compared with 1.867 billion people in 1990. That’s half. It should have come down to half of that in 2022.

But it hasn’t because the dollar has strengthened, although the rupee hasn’t weakened as many allege, and while the poor have not become poorer, the rich have become richer!

The icing on the cake was Corona! The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to have pushed between 143 and 163 million people into poverty in 2021. Current estimates are that 1.3 billion people are steeped in poverty – and I use the word deliberately.

It’s a fascinating culture by itself – it gives you the ability, if not the strength to survive, sometimes even to thrive, to aspire, and even to perspire while doing so, something we have all forgotten how to do; All this if we do not believe the lie of poverty – that it is perpetual. When we cross the line, we imbibe a whole new culture – we prefer the relaxation of a commode to the strain of an Indian WC forgetting for a moment what is good for us!

But as in war and natural calamity statistics, all these are numbers, and matter little until you experience real poverty – when you can’t get medical attention, can’t send your child to school, or for that matter can’t get, let alone access the justice system. It is then that poverty transforms into the poverty of hope. And we are the poorer for that!

Some would say that Poverty does not exist; it’s just the absence of money! Like Darkness does not exist. It’s just the absence of light. And absence does make the heart grow fonder! We all know that! And so many scholars have said that Money is the root of all evil, either from experience or from studying others’ experiences.

But let’s just find out how those who have enough of it (is there such a thing as enough?) define it! According to Oxford Dictionary, Poverty is a state of being extremely poor. And that’s understating it!

Synonyms include penury, destitution, indigence, pennilessness, privation, deprivation, impoverishment, neediness, need, want, hardship, impecuniousness, impecuniosity, hand-to-mouth existence, beggary, pauperism, straitened circumstances, bankruptcy, insolvency, primary poverty, pauperdom. There is no poverty of synonyms is there?

The synonyms give you a complete understanding of what it entails – until you experience it and hopefully, you won’t! Its antonym is wealth! Some would say the wealth of health, and happiness. But if that were true, then it would have been difficult to draw poverty lines, wouldn’t it?

There is another definition – the state of being inferior in quality or insufficient in amount. For eg. “the poverty of his / her imagination”

The UN has woken up to this second definition, where the poor are poor in everything that matters to the rich! Money for sure, then health, education, and standard of Living! They call it multi-dimensional poverty, and according to this new standard of determining which side of the line you fall on it  India is 62 among 107 countries on this global multidimensional poverty index,. The headcount ratios reveal that nearly one-fourth (24.8%) of Indians are multidimensionally poor.

The key to this whole index is comparison. Once you start comparing yourself with your neighbour, then you take poverty to a whole new level on your own, and sometimes theirs. But you don’t adopt a multi-dimensional approach when you do that, do you? You just look at their material possessions! their selfies and their smiles!

Poverty entails that you have nothing to fall back on, no nest egg, no safety net, but your back! It’s a tough life. But it must be lived. And it can be! Suicide is not an option – as you must not take the life that someone has given you!

Governments the world over are trying to eradicate the phenomenon, but are they really trying? and if they are, are they really up to it? For, if it were eradicated, then the reason for their existence will disappear, and they will become dispensable – their battle cries, their schemes, their scheming, all will become redundant.

The earth is oval, its orbit is elliptical – nothing is even or equal by the very nature of its creation – why so? That’s for another day. There are the strong and the weak – among flora and fauna even, the rich and the poor, the dark-skinned and light-skinned, the brilliant and the dumb, the yin and the yang. One must be absent for the other to exist. When existence itself is based on the comparison how can one be eliminated?

If wealth has to have some meaning, there has to be poverty – right? So why will the world even want to get rid of it? They will continue to lift the poor up, true, but others will take their place on the continuum of wealth until we develop a Culture that does not accommodate poverty or prevents it from taking root. This is the multi-dimensional approach we must take! This is the key to eradication of poverty, not just scheming!

Have a great weekend; use the lift to find a ride!

Photo by Ben Richardson on Unsplash


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.

When you Quietly Quit, You Can Quietly Sit in the Moonlight!

Don’t Quietly Quit on me. I have not done that to you yet. Because I am engaged, with you, not to you! I still want to bring a smile to your face, but it is getting increasingly difficult as attention spans drop, tension spans increase, and plans do not pan out as they did. But rest assured, I haven’t quit, even quietly quit trying to produce a weak smile, sorry, a weekly smile on your face. Oh, has that produced one? A weak one? Well, this is week four of the month, so naturally!

But quiet quitting is quite the rage among employees and employers (unalike though) these days, as the nights get longer and more conducive for moonlighting! Even the Russian soldiers in Ukraine are indulging in it – resting for the Ukrainians at night, while the Russians figure out what to do. They are as confused as are HR Managers everywhere! In some European Countries, it is called daylight Saving hours!

But they think they do. They have resorted to quiet hiring at home or trying to, starting with those they kept in reserve, but can’t find today. Because they couldn’t preserve it! And those in the reserve, feel they don’t deserve what is on offer – death! So, they searched google for a googly – how to break an arm!

Many have already quietly quit in many sectors of the World Economy, and the HR Profession is as non-plussed as before – they were never very good at Math anyway. They know not what to do, not that they know otherwise! Some of them have quietly quit themselves! They generally go with the flow (Flow is generally from Top to Bottom unless a pump is attached!) or deal a telling blow. Like when kids are growing up, and parents are confronted by their apathy or antipathy. But it does not solve the problem of Engagement (Sometimes not even marriage does, it only makes it worse!) which is the main reason for quietly quitting! It happens outside work too and in marriage too!

But what is this Quietly Quitting? Doesn’t make any sense! Quietly spitting I understand, we are pros at it, but this is new!

According to Wikipedia, Quiet quitting is an application of work-to-rule within the originally defined work hours, and upto the original expectations of the employer, by an employee, not the employer. It’s not really against the employer; it’s the employee’s way of providing for work-life balance for himself, so essential to avoid burning out according to life coaches.

But the Employer tends to view practitioners of this method of Work-Life Balance as work roaches! They are more interested in the Employee’s journey into the beyond! (not that beyond my friend, but that day too will come) – beyond the original job description, workday, and expectations! These are fences that the employee is expected to climb over and keep running! But Bud’s getting wiser.

He quietly quits. No fuss, no noise. Nothing exceptional, nothing unexceptional. He stays but quits the job. He does it, yet he doesn’t do it. Wikipedia calls it “acting your wage! doing precisely what the job requires.” Nothing more, nothing less. Follow the rules by the alphabet, not in their spirit – because the spirit has left the body by that time! This is why it is called Quiet quitting. He does it silently. Like in the classroom when the teacher is teaching, and you are already at the beach! And even an exam written from the beach gets you above the red line! easily!

But Quiet Quitting is nothing new! It was always around. Employers called them slackers; Employees called themselves packers! Pack it up before it overflows! In the past, they would have been loudly fired as an example, but today they are quietly fired – They are put in a corner, their wages reduced, and allowed to read columns like this one, because they are not given any real responsible work. And once they finish reading, they have to take a call to either Quietly quit or loudly quit! The former is more popular than the latter, putting the Management in a quandary about whether they have to do the laundry or not and how! But as Ben Granger, chief workplace psychologist at survey firm Qualtrics said, “Leaders at large and well-known companies in finance, tech and health care are very concerned. A lot of leaders in major organizations would rarely bring this up to us within as short of a time as this has been talked about in the media,” he said. “I don’t see that a lot.”

To quote the article at, “Especially scary for leaders is the “invisible” nature of the trend, according to Granger. In a remote or hybrid environment, the classic signs that an employee is checked out, like tardiness and absenteeism, can be harder to spot. While their first reaction is often to blame quiet quitting on laziness, Granger said many come to realize that it’s a management problem. There’s even an artificial intelligence startup that claims to offer a solution, analysing emails and Slack messages to detect engagement, burnout, and turnover risk among employees”. Tech tracking techies!

So, you stick with them, and they stick with you, if not by you? Ah, that’s a tough call to make, even in these 5G times. Lots of Connectivity issues. But once you quietly quit, and you find that there is a worklife imbalance (as distinct from work-life balance), you tend to look upwards at the moon and holler, “I need to engage myself, to make ends meet!” for if nothing goes in at one end, nothing comes out at the other end! And I work better in the moonlight than in the sunlight! I’m more engaged – and given my double income, can get married sooner rather than later! – more productive and I go well into the beyond into the moonlight! Indeed, the final, critical landing phase of the Apollo 11 mission began at 20:05 GMT on 20 July 1969. Just under 13 minutes later, at 20:17 GMT, the Eagle lunar module landed on the Moon. In the Moonlight!

And then came the news, Wipro has sacked around 300 employees for ‘moonlighting’ as the IT services firm toughened its stand against staffers taking a second job after work hours – in the moonlight!

Well, most domestic workers do that. They work in multiple homes to make up a single day’s wage. Security Guards do it. Doctors do it – practising their craft in the evenings if not at night, privately. Nurses and Physiotherapists do it. Teachers even – at tutorials, teach the same thing to the same kids they taught them in school, but more engagingly, personal attention, and all. Even parents do it. Work at their day job away from home but do all the homework after sunset! And so do I, when I have to go well beyond time to finish what I started, including this column! But it’s all done in the open and permission is granted (or demanded) as a retention strategy – The employer gets at least a part of them if not all! Which part is a hoot question! but it’s considered a win-win situation for everyone when it’s in the daylight. That’s called sunlighting!

But in the moonlight, well that’s a shady business or so they say. From a new moon, it soon becomes a full moon, and the employee may (may not) go crazy! Employers though, surely will! There is no law against it, but there is a flaw, more than one in fact. Trade secrets, Tech secrets, Competitive edge, Loyalty when there is something extra to offer, Tax, PF, Welfare benefits, the strain on the brain, couching, vouching, and of course slouching – everything is at stake. So, companies are spending more on stakeouts than on takeouts! Trust has rusted and as a consequence, employees have been rusticated!

Wipro’s chairman Rishad Premji said the company has no place for any employee who chooses to work directly with rivals while being on Wipro’s payroll. Wipro is not the only company that has raised concerns against ‘moonlighting’, a few days ago, even IBM warned against the latest trend. Moonlighting is a “complete violation of integrity in its deepest form,” he said. “The reality is that there are people today working for Wipro and working directly for one of our competitors and we have discovered 300 people in the last few months who are doing exactly that,” Premji said. Later when quizzed about action taken against the 300 employees, he said services have been terminated in those specific instances of violation.

Meanwhile, Tech Mahindra CEO CP Gurnani said he could be open to the practice if it helps employees make extra money. “If you look at the definition of moonlighting, it is having a second job secretively I’m all about transparency. As a part of transparency, individuals in organisations can have very candid conversations,” Premji said at an event, reiterating that current employees working for rival firms are a “complete violation of integrity in its deepest form”.

Mohandas Pai also disagrees with Premji on the issue. The former director of Infosys does not consider moonlighting “cheating.” “Employment is a contract between an employer who pays me for working for them for ‘n’ number of hours a day. Now what I do after that time is my freedom, I can do what I want,” Business Today quoted him as saying. Surely!

It does appear from the agreements and disagreements in the daylight about moonlight, that Quiet Quitting and Moonlighting go hand in hand (The clock’s hands that is!) And this is not second-hand!

This column must be up and published before EOD, or else I’ll be moonlighting in an LED! So, until next week…keep your light burning bright!


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.

Photo by Johnny Cohen on Unsplash /  Photo by Ganapathy Kumar on Unsplash

Understand my silence, and you will understand my words!

At the outset let me say that this week’s column is abnormally long because it deals with abnormality. Normally you might skip it, but I think your normality will make you curious – because it’s about abnormality! Rest assured, that’s normal!

‘Perfection is boring; it is the flaws that make you human’: Alia Bhatt. “We knowingly or unknowingly think that to be liked and loved we have to be completely devoid of fault,” says Alia Bhatt. “I am terrible at spelling, but I know what to say to someone who feels low, my general knowledge is terrible, but my emotional intelligence is something that I have worked hard to cultivate,” she said. She continued, “I tend to be hard on myself, my weight, my appearance but I never say no to a French fry.”

So many messages for us from Bollywood’s most bankable Diva, Alia Bhatt on World Mental Health Day, 10 October 2022 – if we can understand them or at least look between the lines and not see the emptiness there and feel empty ourselves. But if we do, we need to empty ourselves to someone we can trust – with the confidence that comes with confidentiality and a non-judicial attitude.

Empty Vessels make the Least Sound!

True, empty vessels make the most sound, as we realized when we tried to drive Corona away in March 2020; but when the brain becomes an empty vessel, it goes very quiet, even if nudged to make a sound. There are tears behind the eyes and a smile on the face, not from reading this column, but to hide the dryness in the throat. It’s a different kind of empty, nothing can fill it. Because it wants to be empty? Because it has to be? Because someone emptied it? Or all of the three? Who knows. It doesn’t say, can’t say or it’s too empty to bother to find out. Or no one wants to hear!

There is perhaps one element in this world that can help find out and fill it and it is not listed in the periodic table – that’s because it’s not periodic enough! Love. It is a four-letter word that is less used or misused as often as its antonym – another four-letter word – hate. But it is capable of recognising the difference between who you are and who you were! Of interpreting your silences. It’s important to note the words of Elbert Hubbard: “He who does not understand your silence will probably not understand what your words”

As emptiness fills him, he says silently: Walk in my shoes, feel the way they bite, and you say, they don’t fit, they are of abnormal size – you are loose, they are tight! And then he is just one step away from just throwing the shoes away, not even thinking of getting a new pair, but of walking on hot coals barefoot. A thought that normality does not entertain. It’s a crucial point of a journey into nothing (not the phone and the earbuds).

The ticket is punched, and the bus is about to depart and will do so if there is no roadblock ahead! And the roadblock can be you! But do you want to be a roadblock? Do you know how? And first, you must understand the silences, and then the words. Some are lucky to have people like that around, like Deepika! Deepika Padukone, another Bollywood Diva, as she explained yesterday “Had My Mother Not Identified My Symptoms…” I don’t know what state I would be in today,” she said.  And this is true of all of us.

Of course, love is around; but it does not abound, and as always, some are luckier than others in this respect. Indeed, many in India have felt that way since the onset of the pandemic in January 2020. If it was not the pandemic that killed them, it is thoughts of what the pandemic can do to them – kill them physically, economically, and socially that made the emptiness seem full!

Killing me softly, without his words!

Under the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the third goal aims to ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all ages. As per Target 3.4 of this goal, countries must work to reduce premature mortality by promoting mental health and well-being, and the suicide rate — the number of suicides per one lakh people — forms a key indicator.

Unfortunately, the trend in India has remained contrary to this expectation in recent years. The NCRB divides the data on suicide into nine occupational categories, and among them, the maximum number of suicides in 2021 was recorded among daily-wage workers, self-employed, unemployed, and homemakers.

As per the NCRB data, suicide rates showed a decreasing trend from 2010 until 2017 but have been on the rise ever since. The suicide rate was a record 12 in 2021, which is the highest for any year the data has been available since 1967. The pandemic made things worse. For until then, it was maybe about emotional desolation and isolation – are they the same?

Then came job drought, and inflation which is living upto its name in more ways than one, and the two combined to devastate those who were able to see into the bleak future. Also, as many as 50 people in India commit suicide every week due to career or workplace problems, according to recent data from NCRB. A record 2,593 people died of suicide due to such reasons in 2020 — a whopping 41% higher than the previous year.

Well, when your right to life was in someone else’s hands till you were born, it is now your own and you want to give it up! But you must not. True, it’s a right that can be taken away, by war, imprisonment, and murder, but why should YOU give it up? Because it serves no purpose? Maybe not to you, because you have not found a way to find it. But to so many around you, who can help you find it?

How do you escape emptiness when there is no place to go but one, that you know of? Like when you want to go on a holiday but don’t know where? Somebody has to help you. A travel agent or Google! Somebody who knows how! Or perhaps think they know how! And those too abound – for a price! Because Health is now more mental than physical. Like batting in a cricket match!

And there are so many disorders of the mind, and they have been put in order by the ICD – International Classification of Diseases! Version 11 is doing the rounds right now, and as more abnormalities are discovered – the list will grow longer, and stronger! Normal though is not classified. It’s what we believe we are, but if you see the rate at which normal people do abnormal things, and say abnormal things, then normality must also find a place in the ICD – don’t you think? There are more than 50 shades of normality out there! But their hands are tied!

An Act to enable action!

On March 27, 2017, Lok Sabha in a unanimous decision passed the Mental Healthcare Act 2017 (everybody thought it was necessary!). It was passed in the Rajya Sabha in August 2016 and got approval from the Honourable President of India in April 2017. If that didn’t happen, it would be in the ICD perhaps. The new act defines “mental illness” as a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation, or memory that grossly impairs judgment or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life, mental conditions associated with the abuse of alcohol and drugs.” Most disorders are now put in order! Because that’s the only way we could understand them – the number, classification, and progression!

What this new law on an old problem does is, it provides them with the right to access mental healthcare services. “Such services should be of good quality, convenient, affordable, and accessible. This act further seeks to protect such persons from inhuman treatment, to gain access to free legal services and their medical records and have the right to complain in the event of deficiencies in provisions”. If he is in a position to complain that is! More often he is not!

There is something new though – a person who believes he may get/has a mental disorder is entitled to an Advance Directive: “This empowers a mentally ill person to have the right to make an advance directive toward the way she/he wants to be treated for the requisite illness and who her/his nominated representative shall be. This directive has to be vetted by a medical practitioner”.

And most important of all – it is trying to eliminate self-styled practitioners of empathetic counselling, in the most empathetic way! The government has to set up the Central Mental Health Authority at the national level and State Mental Health Authority in every state. All mental health practitioners (clinical psychologists, mental health nurses, and psychiatric social workers) and every mental health institute will have to be registered with this authority who will supervise and monitor them!

This is truly empathetic on the part of the Parliament, given that everyone seems to be an expert these days! Some with a six-month course, some with a one-year course, some with an online degree, and some with some vague certificates that say they can put in order what is not!

Now the abnormal (as we define them) are in better hands and can hope to be treated normally. Though Hope is the keyword. Always has been! Emptiness is only felt when there is no hope!

Wabi Sabi!

Maybe to find hope in emptiness, it is best to follow one rule – believe or at least be made to believe – certainly not make believe – that there is beauty in imperfection as the Japanese do through a concept called Wabi Sabi!

Just have a look in the Mirror – I did today, and all I could see were the greys shining through the black, the stubble that missed the razor, the pimple below my eye, My packed abs, and the shadows below my eyes. I was disappointed. At home too, I often see imperfections every day, a fingerprint-stained wall, a scrappy sofa that has seen our life’s ups and downs, peeling paint in some locations, a little dampness in the corner of the roof and the like.

I find my own missing tiles in what others have and I don’t. All of these lead to unhappiness. If you are unable to see the beauty in imperfection.

The result – I am generally upset and unhappy, as would you!

The concept of Wabi Sabu has its roots in the traditional Japanese tea ceremony and is sometimes explained by using the example of a well-loved teacup, made by an artist’s hands, cracked, or chipped by use. Such traces remind the observer that nothing is permanent — even fixed objects are subject to change.

The Japanese philosophy celebrates beauty in what’s natural, flaws and all. The antique bowls above are prized because of (not despite) their drips and cracks. What if we learned to prize the drips and cracks in our messy lives?

The classical Greek ideal of beauty, which underpins much of the Western physical aesthetic, celebrates smooth, symmetrical perfection. Wabi Sabi prizes authenticity. And there lies the difference and importance.

It’s time to strive for perfection but eliminate Atelophobia – the fear of being imperfect. On the contrary, it is time to find beauty in imperfection. If we do that perhaps we can expect the NCRB’s statistics to reflect it next year and a disease called normality to take centre stage!

But let me leave you with a poem I found on the internet  and I quote

If you don’t understand my silence, you won’t understand my words

“It’s yesterday that I cry

the past, the fragile droplet

that slithers down my cheek.

A tear, not clear

but red and grey and blue,

with blood and shadows and bruises –

a hardened rock

straight from the heart.

It’s the product of silence

and caught up words

in a tangled web of fear.

A silent war without swords

but guns loaded with shards

of a death cloaked heart

that forgot how to beat.

It’s a cloud of unknown

where even crows don’t fly

but their cackles ring throughout.

A lonely place

of dark and dampened mist

that drapes over you

but inside your head,

and it fills your brain

where no one else can see.

It’s a puppet show

with white faced dolls

and fake red smiles.

A false reality

with plastic masks

and unseen controlling strings,

from which you can’t just escape

as they become your soul.

It’s the dark secret of my heart.

It’s the curse of my mind.

It’s the strain on my soul.

It’s the tear in my eye.

But it’s why I am who I am,

It’s why I know I’ll never understand.”

© 9 years ago, Emma Marriott

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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.