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.

Diamonds are forever, but not Queen Elizabeth II!

We all thought Diamonds are forever. The Kohinoor she wore, yes; Queen Elizabeth II, no. Not even Her  Majesty’s 007 could save the Queen, even though he could sing God Save the Queen in his sleep. It’s not clear if that other British icon, 007 will wake up again from his sleep too.

The Queen is dead, long live the King! That is to say, the British Queen and British King! Earlier it used to be The King is dead, Long live the King – for continuity! But I guess the Brits are tired of monarchs that reign for so long, that the rain dries up (there is drought this year!) and may like to rein them in. It might be repeated soon, though King Charles III wouldn’t like it said of him, after what is said of him now – Long Live the King! Ironically, it was first said in French, Le roi est mort, Vive le roi! about the accession to the French throne of Charles VII after the death of his father Charles VI in 1422. It was Charles then and it’s Charles again! Next in line is William, I Tell you! He is Apple of the Eye! Not sure if he wears one though, watch, not the fruit. Watch the funeral to find out!

The Queen died soon after anointing Liz Truss as the new British Prime Minister. She was the 15th British PM she did that to! And accepted the resignation on one pretext or another of 14. She did that too! The next one will be anointed, presumably by King Charles III, and no one can say whether it will be sooner rather than later, given the UK’s drought, winter and rising gas prices coming together as one for the ages! Maybe the pressure of the rising cost of living on her household – huge houses, lots of gas required, lots of water too for the lawns, and the fawns – was a factor in her deteriorating health? but then, she had seen worse during her reign!

While she has seen PMs come and go in her own country, she didn’t leave the other countries, especially her commonwealth behind! If you are wondering where that name came from, it is from the wealth of the countries that Great Britain Colonized until the early 1950s: today it’s called merger and acquisition. Then it was Acquisition and Purger! It was also, for brevity’s sake, called Colonization, and not for nothing. Every acquisition followed the principle of the colon – in its function, its aptitude, and its attitude. Britain considered all the wealth it surveyed, as belonging to the House of Commons! primarily because their in-house wealth was not so common, and some wished to live as Lords!

They went around the world in their ships, berthed here and there, gave birth too, and proclaimed the greatness of their Country, which itself became great because of Acquisitions and Purgers! It is not clear why, when they lived in such a great country, they needed to explore other countries and proclaim that greatness there! That conundrum is prevalent in our country today! But that is another debate set for another day.

They called it Great Britain, and the Kings and peoples to whom they told this secret, were either enamoured or enslaved. You couldn’t escape. They gave them their all to make themselves and them Greater. Their wealth became common to a few. But do recall that nursery rhyme we learnt because of McCaulay? ‘Jack and Jill went up the hill to fetch a pail of water, Jack fell down and broke his crown, and Jill came tumbling after.’ Well, it happened. And the commons wealth that they took but did not return, returned in the form of people from the Commonwealth, seeking in it the very greatness they had earlier advertised! Couldn’t turn them back! That would be small-minded for such a great Nation. And indeed, if greatness were to be found, they would find it. For they knew how. Like many Indians have done around the world in Corporates and public service. And the rest? they are finding it, slowly but surely.

Diamonds do last forever, and the Kohinoor certainly will now that 007 has gone to ground. For the moment it lives on in the Crown, which with age, is slowly turning a darker shade of pale! The surface polish is gone, and not to Poland! Just have a look at the latest British Cabinet, its cricket and football teams!

We are part of their Commonwealth true, and a lot of our common’s wealth (besides the Kohinoor) resides in Great Britain, by hook or by crook for a variety of reasons, some known, some unknown. Maybe it’s time to peep through the Johari Window. But we must feel relieved that we need not say Long Live their King because we have our own after we became a Republic. To him, we owe that courtesy!

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica,  “a Republic is a form of government in which representatives of the citizen body rule a state. Modern Republics are founded on the idea that sovereignty rests with the people, though who is included and excluded from the category of the people has varied across history.” And that’s a reading from the Encylopedia Britannica mind you!

In post-modern republics, however, the elected representatives ensure that the sovereignty remains with themselves, denigrating, crushing, or consigning to the wayside all those that disagree with this idea.   They focus on all kinds of duties – do your duty, pay your duty, put your duty before self-etc. They focus on rights too. Your right to do your duty; but to whom? the nation or the Government in power? The line between the two is so blurred today that a cataract operation won’t help with clarity! But you’re right to do your duty. That clarity is available.

Now that the Queen is dead, a lot of countries in the Commonwealth will feel the lack of a common thread, that sewed them together, and the seams may come apart. India Brexited much earlier when it became a Republic, but it was not until recently that it started shaming and naming all that the British initiated, nurtured or cherished except Scotch Whisky! Maybe that too. Its single malts are gradually replacing the Scottish ones! It’s called shedding the colonial mindset. And do recall the definition of colon!

Lots of such moves have eased the colon. From self – attestation of documents (you no longer need to wait for a gazetted officer to attest your documents), to renaming the Rajpath (named after independence from the British era Kingsway to mark the transfer of power!) to Karthavya Path (co-incidentally on the day the Queen Died!) where Kings will hold sway provided you do your duty, the unfurling of the new Navy ensign which eliminated the St. Georges Cross, replacement of the Abide with me Hymn with Aye Mere Watan Ke Logo at the Beating Retreat ceremony of the Armed forces and the renaming of Towns and Cities and even Islands in the Andaman and Nicobar islands with names that are more meaningful to those who use them often or are more reflective of our heritage than someone else’s.

Around 1500 laws from that era have been repealed, save those that serve a purpose – like the Indian Police Act 1861, Indian Evidence Act 1872 and the Indian Penal Code 1860, which have been modified to some extent, but their overall design and purpose remain unaltered. And still, there is Sedition in the current edition! And the Khaki colour! And the White towel on the headrest of Bureaucrat seats of power, the District Administration and overall administrative institutions haven’t changed much, though lateral entries from professionals are now being encouraged and of course the Left- hand drive on Left-leaning roads. There are colons between every sentence, so there is still scope; for the Proctoscope. And Hope!

75 years since we stopped singing God save the Queen, we have surpassed Britain in the World Economic Rankings. We are now 5th, they are 6th. And we dominate the ICC and the MCC! But their per capita income is three times ours. And so, while the stats look good in terms of charts for a game of darts, it’s still quite the grind for those who can’t play the game. It’s all part of the Games People Play! Read the Book by Eric Berne to know more! This is what you can do until next week when I’ll be back again to test your patience and attention span!


This Article is written in a lighter vein with tongue-in-cheek. 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 real-life event or character, rest assured it’s purely coincidental or just a mirage!

Zeroing on who invented Zero and When

PMJDY accounts hit 462.5 mn in eight years, deposits reach Rs. 1.73 trillion – This is according to a mail broadcast from the India Brand Equity foundation on 29 August 2022.

According to the mail, the total accounts opened under the PM Jan Dhan Yojana (PMJDY) have reached 462.5 million (4625 followed by five Zeros) in the eight years after the initiative’s inception. The initiative opened to a great positive reception! Similar to the Loan Mela of 1985! the total deposits in these accounts are Rs. 1.73 trillion (For those who believe in Zeros, it is 1,73 followed by ten Zeros!) as of August 10, 2022. Given these figures, we are already a trillion-dollar economy!

If you average it out, it is an impressive Rs: 3740.54 per account. You may notice that there is just one Zero in that figure compared to the ones in the previous paragraph! And it may throw you off balance. However, the average balance is not important. What is important perhaps is how you balance your life with that average!

It’s also not important that you maintain the balance. In this case, the Zero can either precede or follow an integer. It’s permitted. The Highs of the account are serviced by DBT (Direct Benefit Transfer) and the lows by DEBIT! (Direct Elimination of Benefit Transfer!). A flat line may be symbolic of heart failure, like in an ECG.

This brings me back to the Zero. Like Do Re Mi! Such an important figure in all our financial, political, social, and economic endeavours. Remember the number of Zeros tagged on to the 2G Scam? And what became of it? It started with Zeros, a number of them, and ended with a Zero! That’s how important the digit is.

Without a Zero preceding us or following us, how do we become heroes? That’s a question, not from a math textbook, but from a social sciences textbook. To be a hero, you need to be hero-worshipped. And how does one hero worship another? Well-nigh impossible. So, it must be a Zero that does the worshipping right? That’s logical and mathematical because Zero adds value. Just think about it! But how many Zeros following to make a hero is relative? Not yours. Just relative. Einstein realized this only after he propounded the theory of relativity.

On the other hand, if the Zeros precede the hero, it is comparative. A hero compares himself to all the Zeros (According to Merriam-Webster an insignificant person or thing: NONENTITY!) before and propounds his theory of herovity! That is where the Zero to Hero Concept, the stuff of so many Bollywood hit movies came into being. You start with Zero and change the alphabet that’s at the beginning, at the end. Once you get to the Hero stage, all you have to do is pile on the Zeros! Complicated? Yes. Just like the process! Give it a thought with an open mind – viz. Starting out with emptiness – Zero, (The Merriam-Webster Dictionary definition of Zero is that the arithmetical symbol 0 or 0̸  denotes the absence of all magnitude or quantity) and you will get there!

Interestingly, like Darkness, Zero does not exist. Darkness is the absence of light. Zero is the absence of something, which causes that feeling of emptiness. We need a prop to recognize it! One cup exists. Zero Cups exist only because one cup exists at some point in time.

In maths, Zeros are placeholders! In life too, they are props for all the rest of the item numbers that we enjoy sharing our lives with. Importantly when you subtract a Zero from a number, its value remains unchanged, you remove a Zero preceding a number, the number’s value remains unchanged, you remove a Zero from after a number, its value decreases, and you add a Zero before, nothing changes, you add one after, it increases, but when you multiply a number by a Zero, its value transforms to Zero. It is from this mathematical fact, comes the saying you will be known by the company you keep! And it’s best you keep company men who have a lot of Zeros following them, economically and all lies!

Zeroing on who invented Zero and When

According to “Who invented Zero” (Mathematically that is; existentially it was always known by someone missing something that they had seen or experienced before) “the concept of Zero is relatively new; it fully developed in India around the fifth century A.D., perhaps a couple of centuries earlier. Before then, mathematicians struggled to perform the simplest arithmetic calculations. Today, Zero — both as a symbol (or numeral) and a concept meaning the absence of any quantity — allows us to perform calculus, do complicated equations, and have invented computers.

According to the book “The Crest of the Peacock; Non-European Roots of Mathematics,” by Dr. George Gheverghese Joseph, the concept of Zero first appeared in India around A.D. 458. Joseph suggests that the Sanskrit word for Zero, śūnya, which meant “void” or “empty” and derived from the word for growth, combined with the early definition found in the Rig-veda of “lack” or “deficiency.” The derivative of the two definitions is Śūnyata, a Buddhist doctrine of “emptiness,” or emptying one’s mind from impressions and thoughts. “From this philosophy, we think that a numeral to use in mathematical equations developed,” said van der Hoek. “We are looking for the bridge between Indian philosophy and mathematics.”

If philosophical and cultural factors found in India were important to the development of Zero as a mathematical concept, it would explain why other civilizations did not develop Zero as a mathematical concept, said van der Hoek.”

Now we are clear – we started with nothing, and now are on the way to having everything – name, fame, and a winning game on the world stage. We invented the concept! We also invented the word commission. It has two Zeros in it if you notice. You have to start somewhere to come up in life!

How do you know there is nothing to it?

Andreas Neider, a cognitive scientist from Germany, suggests that there are four psychological steps to understanding Zero, and they progressively get complicated. The first three steps are easy for all animals including humans, but the last one is only for the human animal according to Neider. You will have to start from Zero though.

  1. A simple sensory ability to notice a light flickering on and off. Or a noise turning on and off. You must have your senses about you though!
  2. Recognizing stimulus and reacting to it – A rumbling stomach means Zero food. Then you go search for it. Simple enough!
  3. Finding an empty container in comparison to one that has something in it. Monkeys can do it, and so can you. (it does make the most sound you will notice, and maybe it’s the best way to drive away the Coronavirus!)
  4. Recognising it as a symbol that solves problems, by creating a computer with it!

You are aware I am sure that the computer is made up of the binary of Zeros and Ones? It is the Zero, that allows one to be One! “Zero is in the mind, but not in the sensory world,” Robert Kaplan, a Harvard math professor and an author of a book on Zero, says. The Adult mind is however focused on significant things and not on emptiness. We prefer a full bladder for the sonogram!

Elizabeth Branon, a neuroscientist at Duke University, believes that kids see one as the smallest number until explained otherwise with slips of paper that have none, one and two dots on them! But as you grow into adulthood, Zero becomes the biggest number in your mind, provides it follows, not precedes an integer! And there perhaps lies the heart of our emotional and physical conflict in the real world.

What if we had not invented a use for the Zero? Would things be different? Today an Indian is the third richest in the world, the richest in Asia and will soon overtake the top two. All because we invented the Zero.

I’m not sure if he started from Zero and became the hero that he is; maybe he did. If so it’s a clear demonstrator of the power of zero, but you could start from Zero and think it through until next week!


This Article is written in a lighter vein with tongue-in-cheek. 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 or just a mirage!

Image by Gerd Altmann 

Freedom well depicted, even if reasonably restricted, and @75 we are addicted!

I took a break from Writing over the last two weeks and enjoyed the freedom from imposition – a self-imposition –  and I wondered how much of a drag on freedom, an external imposition can be. Reminded me of school! and the opposite effects of a Laxative and Constipation! It taught me so much about the meaning of freedom. I had the freedom to contemplate freedom (free of domination!) and so I did.

The first thought that came to me, is that when we are born, we are born free – no clothes, no name, no religion, no language, no culture (other than that of  a baby), no nationality. We have an identity. Human being. Then we cry or they make us cry. Just to see if we are normal. The message? You’ve got to cry to be normal. Through your life. Not laugh. That’s why comedians are liked only by a few perhaps, and certainly not governments.

Then everyone’s favourite “reasonable restrictions” are imposed on our freedom. And accepted without murmur. That’s just the beginning! You are given a name, a religion, a culture, a language, a nationality, a framework by which to grow up and survive, or thrive, depending upon your karma. Each one of them is a restriction, albeit a reasonable restriction, one which grows upon you even as you grow into it. Does it not?

What if we had the freedom we had when we were babies? What if, because we were born free, are allowed to stay free? identified only as Human Being? Like Tarzan. Would the world have been a better safer quieter more peaceful place? The identity would have been uniform, but for the shape size and gender!

Too much to imagine? Blame the reasonable restrictions which crowd your mind, your activities, and your growth. Today they are called norms, conventions, traditions, and laws that govern your freedom. Scholars who have read a lot, leaders who talk a lot, Adjudicators who judge a lot say it helps us stay free. It’s the only way they say to maintain order – and sustain their orders! In a nutshell, we need an identity to be free, we need to ignore or subjugate another identity to remain free, and we need laws for both eventualities’ to convince ourselves that we are free!

So much for contemplation. No more because my freedom ends when the deadline approaches for this column. Reasonable Restriction I agree.

Also the countdown to the celebration of our nation’s 75th year of Independence is fast approaching, and it’s time to host the Thiranga – the top band  of Saffron colour, indicating the strength and courage of the country; the white middle band indicating peace and truth with the Dharma Chakra; and the last band green to show the fertility, growth and auspiciousness of our land – at home, at office anywhere where you are with respect.

But there is a fourth colour; Navy Blue – the colour of the Dharma Chakrain the middle of the white band which signifies the “wheel of law” made by the third century BC Mauryan Emperor Ashoka. Let me quote the Wikipedia on this; “The Sanskrit noun dharma ( धर्म ) is a derivation from the root dhṛ ‘to hold, maintain, keep’, and means ‘what is established or firm’ and hence ‘law’. It is derived from the Vedic Sanskrit n-stem dharman- with the meaning “bearer, supporter” in the historical Vedic religion conceived of as an aspect of Ṛta.” This is significant in the context of all that is written above! It’s the law  and our adherence to it that keeps us free!

Your contemplative faculties must now be on edge! Well, I gave you the freedom to think, if not to express, but all reasonable restrictions took over! And 75 years down the line, they have only gotten more reasonable. I mean you have no reason to believe that they are not reasonable, have you? We remain an august people in August primarily because we are reasonable about the reasonable restrictions imposed upon us. It’s a time to be nationalistic, to be patriotic and very important to not know the difference. There is a difference? I don’t know.

Maybe contemplation will help me figure it out. But I have a deadline, a reasonable one – every Tuesday, so I have no freedom to contemplate further! And that’s a conundrum if there was one!

Research tells me that one is loud, arrogant, inconsistent, and insincere in its commitment, but has social media in its powerful grip, to amplify its sound and fury and downplay its downsides. The other is soft spoken, quiet, humble, firm, and sincere in its commitment and social media just does not appreciate it. That happens to humans too!

They are like the two eyes on our face, which don’t see eye to eye, unless there is a medical defect or a medical (narcotic) effect! When they intermingle, they are heady, like a double black! Literally. For some there is overlapping, because it’s easy not to think, for some its easy, because it’s easy to be deliberate rather than deliberate. And doing either is a red label, to those who prefer the black label! Gotta be careful though. Gotabhayya!

Nationalism presumes that the Nation is one, and its nationals are also one! That is why the quest for uniformity. Uniforms, one election, one language, one pass time, one political party etc dominates discourse and action. Patriotism also presumes that the Nation is one, but its nationals are many and varied in the pursuit of their oneness with each other and for a common cause – a strong vibrant nation.

Can you be both, at once, at various times, in different circumstances? Certainly. When you feel threatened; when you are told that you must feel threatened and so you feel threatened; and when you are actually threatened! From without especially, but to begin with, from within! With is the key word!

Nationalism all about Loyalty and Royalty and Loyalty to Royalty. It trumpets the country’s and their own virtues and denies its deficiencies and is contemptuous of the virtues of others – other individuals and other nations. Remember Mohammed Ali’s comment? “I am greatest. I said that even before I knew I was” Nationalism is an ideology based on the premise that an individual’s loyalty and devotion to one’s country should come above the interests and opinions of other citizens or the interests of a certain group of citizens.

Then there is Patriotism. It represents your attachment to your homeland. the love for where an individual is born, brought up, and the nation that place belongs to. These attachments can be related to ethnic, cultural, political, or historical. Patriotism is also being proud of a country’s virtues but with an eagerness and readiness to correct its deficiencies to be better. Patriotism acknowledges the patriotism of citizens of other countries and respects their virtues.

Apples, oranges, Bananas, Mangoes, Passion Fruit, Tomatoes, Lemons. Each different, but unified in giving us nutrition in diverse ways, killing our hunger, not us. Patriotic in their approach to human and animal and in fact their own kind as they regenerate for generations. What if they were just one? Would you even like to imagine? Black Label would have you do just that! Fruits unite, else you will soon become fruit cake!

So, there is a difference? What is the difference then? The difference between patriotism and nationalism is simple – a patriot loves his country and is proud of it for what it does whereas a nationalist loves his country and is proud of his country no matter what it does; the first attitude creates a feeling of responsibility, but the second a feeling of blind arrogance that leads to war.” – Sydney J. Harris

George Orwell put it like this: “By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality.”

On August 15, 1947 did we attain independence or was there simply a transfer of power is another contemplative question for which we don’t have time or the freedom to contemplate. Independence is often interchangeably referred to as the transfer of power in various texts.

In his own words, as quoted in Freedom at Midnight, Mountbatten claimed, “The date I chose came out of the blue. I chose it in reply to a question. I was determined to show I was the master of the whole event. When they asked if we had set a date, I knew it had to be soon. I hadn’t worked it out exactly then — I thought it had to be about August or September, and I then went out to August 15. Why? Because it was the second anniversary of Japan’s surrender”.

And indeed, it is. Many of the old laws remain and the way they are applied is still the same. The objectives are the same – to ensure we stay independent! Royalty remains, though it may change with loyalty, and through it all the citizen-govt equation remains.

I’ve transferred the power to you to think independently. Whether you can express what you think? Well, that would be a reasonable expectation if you are outside the box of reasonable restrictions!

We are born Free, but can we stay free? Gee! that would be nice! But would it be chaos? If so, Tom Peters theory ‘Management by Chaos’ may help!

Contemplate my friends but don’t be intemperate!

Commons questions that are intriguing in their scope!

Boris is still at No.10, drowning street. He has had a good run in several times with so many, including the police, who, after they fined him, for parties he held that they were not invited to, thought, and said, he was fine. Others did too. 60% of them. But he has had to refine that opinion and redefine his future away from the “best job in the world”, as he put it. A google search does not provide that answer though. He took Britain away from the EU and now he has had to take himself away from Britain. Who know if that old maxim is true? What goes around comes around?

But as an ordinary citizen he has a distinct advantage. He can have more people-to-people friendship with India, Indians, and more so British citizens with Indian DNA in the UK; friendships he has nurtured well during his tenure, and one of whom may even replace him in the “best job in the world”. Finally, the East India Company has an opportunity to return to home base! It can even revive itself with the Free trade Agreement – One that we had for 200 years prior to 1947 and one we may yet have in the future, this time, after protecting our interests, if not our interest in, and on Fixed Deposits! That should remind you that Income Tax returns are due to be filed. I don’t know why they call it returns, because rarely anything gets returned!

Anyway, though Boris is a name of Russian – Slavic origin, he was vocal in his opposition to Russia and in his support for Ukraine in the ongoing war, and they will lament losing a friend as will India. Boris was a good friend of India; he even climbed onto  a British Made Bulldozer in India during his visit just to experience perhaps, how it helped democracy survive and grow in a vast diverse country!  He was aiding the friendship, making every effort at making it abiding, unaware perhaps, that the British hymn, was dropped from India’s annual Republic Day celebrations, as part of what the government said is an “ongoing process of decolonising India”. 

Boris is only the latest in the long line of strong democrats to vacate office, or to have been vacated therefrom, from Netanyahu to Trump and Rajapaksa! Strong Democrats? Is that an oxymoron like Exact Estimate? or something more exact than that estimate?

We have always been told that democracy needs strong leaders to succeed. Strong leaders of their parties! (pun intended!) For they are the ones who make democracy come alive, when they demo – nstrate craci – ness! with their individuality and decisive actions. Otherwise, democracy is just like another boring game of bingo – that crazy number game where, when you have 15 boxes ticked or pricked, you’ve won what they call, the full house and the biggest prize on offer!

Howzzat, is a commons question that our neighbours are trying to figure out, each in their own way. Just as we are. In one of them, the President is no longer president, and by all accounts, not even resident! and the benefits of office are now being spread among the commons. It’s truly now the house of Commons! It will soon be uncommon again. Indeed, the true quality of a democracy is determined by its scale of inequality! 

But democracies are truly concerned about their citizens; we must give them that. If they are not, how will their proponents get voted in again? Of course, they could amend the constitution for that purpose, but that is a last resort! They may take the current generation for granted, because they are focussed on the health of the next generation! So now, Single Use Plastic has been banned and Paper is in vogue, like the Vogue Cover. All to ensure that we leave the planet (for mars or the moon, and very soon on a SpaceX flight reported on Twitter) in a reasonable shape for the next generation. We have to unlearn our habits of the last two decades before we learn new ones. Time to Skill Up! Is the ban truly the last straw, and the last supper?  For some, maybe, for others, it is the first straw in the pack!

Speaking of generations, because of the quality of our generators or the decline in the quality of Chinese ones, India is set to become the World’s Most Populous Country; it is set to surpass China by 2023, according to a United Nations Report even as the World Population reaches 8 billion in November this year! The Pandemic may have had something to do with this – there is no data analysis as yet – but democracies need populations to survive! And America, or at least its ageless supreme court, has just told its people, that adding, or subtracting life, is a personal choice!  That is democracy at its best, in which some sentiments are hurt, and some are glorified! And some have no sentiments at all!

All this we read in the newspapers, that are set to make a roaring comeback, beginning July 1, 2022! their circulation is set to increase, not because they have updated their design – from big headline and small story to small headline and big story – but because the newspaper is absolutely required for packing now. The twine industry too is set to grow and tie us in knots. Well, that’s what it is meant for isn’t it? Have you tried unravelling a knot tied by a shop keeper with twine? Before you are done, you would have used a rhyming word, more than once! Twine’s twin!

Now please don’t ask me what that is; go figure it out yourself! because someone somewhere, might experience hurt sentiments. Hurt sentiments can be triggered by anything or anyone including the parental denial of an Apple… not the fruit, but the phone! The fruit too, but that was long ago in the Garden of Eden, and we all know what that led to! So enough of that!

The dictionary view of the word sentiment is that it is  either a view or an opinion that is held or expressed or an exaggerated and self-indulgent feeling of tenderness, sadness, or nostalgia. Exaggerated and Self Indulgent – like enjoying ice cream in hot weather! A truly melting moment! If it melts quicker than we envisaged, we get incensed – even if doesn’t make sense –  at the weather, at the ice cream maker, at everyone and everything, but ourselves! And they too have their own melting moments! It’s a meltdown in the making.

Maybe we are too sentient for our own good? Is that where the sentiment comes from? Maybe our IQ exceeds our EQ? “It is very important to understand that emotional intelligence is not the opposite of intelligence, it is not the triumph of heart over head — it is the unique intersection of both,” says David Caruso. Maybe we miss the intersection because of the potholes near it? Quite common on our intersecting roads!

John Mayer and Peter Salovey are of the opinion that “The emotionally intelligent person is skilled in four areas: identifying emotions, using emotions, understanding emotions, and regulating emotions”; there is a clear case for inclusion in the skill up program!

When sentiments are hurt, there is no visible external injury, that’s what makes it hard to discern and address, which again, if not done, might cause visible external injury to others, which hurts more sentiments; as this vicious cycle pedals away at an even faster pace, one becomes sentimental for the old days of peace and quiet. Whew, I’m feeling sentimental already just writing about it!

One way of handling this pain, currently, is to plant FIR trees, even though they are not suitable for our tropical climes, and given that paper is now our go to packaging, maybe it’s the best solution for our times? Will have to check out the Times on my grocery! You too may be able to check it out.

I’ll leave you to it, until next week, your sentiments notwithstanding! But with one parting thought: a paper package in these wet times, reminds me of dipping a Parle biscuit in tea. A joy not forgotten. Try it. Then parle!


This Article is written in the lighter vein with tongue-in-cheek. 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 or just a mirage!

Photo by Emily Morter on Unsplash

When less is more and more is too much; more or less! 

This week less will be more!

The more you study…The more you know. The more you know, the more you forget, the more you forget, the less you know; So why study? The answer my friends is simple – the quest for more. There is even a Bollywood film by the name – Dil Maange More.

I always wanted to have more of everything. I remember the time when my mum used to bring potato chips from the CITI Bakery (they were the best then) and keep in the snack box at home. In that by-gone era, I was a voracious reader of thriller fiction. Often, that would occupy my time and with the best accompaniment that one could have in those days – A bag of Potato chips from the best bakery that was. I would grab the bag of chips and multitask, read, and munch, and when it was over – I would scrape the bag for more – You can’t eat just one? Well, I no longer wonder if that maxim is true.

When More begets More!

We are all made like that. We all want more of everything. Well, not everything, just the pleasurable bits – when our senses our tickled. Sometimes they are tricked, like when you wear a Dior Perfume, or a corset! But that is not the rule!

Natural I guess; we are born to avoid pain and grab whatever is pleasurable and forbidden – by God, nature, or fellow human beings. When it is forbidden, the pleasure is that much greater is it not? Is that why cheating, fraud, Robbery, is much more of a thrill than the routine and politically correct way of the world for the same outcomes?

Remember the story of Adam and Eve? Adam and Eve were allowed to roam free in the garden of Eden, in their birthday suits – though neither birthdays nor suits were in vogue – but forbidden to eat a fruit of the garden that is today Rs: 200 plus a kilo – the apple. The story goes, that Eve was tempted to eat one – and that’s not an easy feat – and then found a new kind of pleasure, which no human being has been able to resist since then or wanted less of.

It’s a universally acknowledged law of nature that the less you have of something pleasurable, the more you want. Strangely, when its pleasurable, more begets the desire for more – money, love, the other pleasures of the world and even something as abstract as peace of mind. A good example is money. It completely explains this paradox, the more you have, the more you want, but even the less you have the more you want.

There are other simple examples Like Tobacco, whisky, and hair – There is one exception that I see among generation Y! – It’s clothes – where less is more.  But I guess, there is a corollary – the naked eye only enjoys the sight of a half-naked body!  

When even less is too much!

None of us want anything that is painful – injections, fractures, sickness, emotional hurt, poverty, aggression, bullying, rejection or hate. I always wanted less of these. In fact, I wanted none or the barest feasible minimum. With anything that hurts our senses, even less is too much. Like when you have a tooth ache. Its unbearable for two reasons – you are deprived of gastronomic pleasure, and its an unbearable assault on your pain threshold. You really thrash about to hold it in. Then the Dentist tells you, you must do a root canal. Capisce? More pain is coming. But its ok. Because more can mean less. After. And I could return to my gastronomic pleasures. So, for the sake of Pleasure, is more pain acceptable?  Everything is relative. More or less! And a few are close relatives!

More of Life!

The rule of more to applies to life itself. When you have cancer, or a terminal illness that you are aware of, and you know your life is nearing the end, or when you are about to drown, your desire to live is the strongest, and you always want more of it, no matter how hard it is.  The strange paradox is suicide; when people consumed by their own distress can’t take more of life. Some paradoxes cannot be explained at all. Life wants to give you more, but you will have none of it!

So, is better? Or is less good? You may have heard the expression – there is no gain without pain. Everything you desire more of, has a benefit and a consequence. So, while the hope of reaping the pleasurable benefits of your desire may be temporarily paramount, the fear of the consequences of your indulgence will always act as a restraining force – unless you ignore it. These two opposite forces automatically create equilibrium, a balance, between more and less.

A friend and I had been to Manipal recently for a meeting. Fellowship followed the meeting at a cute little restaurant, many of which dot the Manipal landscape. Other friends too were present and some of us were amazed at the order he placed – grilled vegetarian sandwiches with double cheese, a plate of French fries with a liberal sprinkling of salt, an ice cream milk shake. The rest of us were more restrained in our orders, and after we explained our restrained ordering behavior, and the long-term hazards of such a rich order, he rationalized – I only indulge on the weekend – The hope of a benefit weighed more than the fear of a consequence! And he achieved his own weighted (pun intended) balance.

We now even have a supermarket called More. Once you go in, you come out with more… more than you originally envisaged buying! Try it. This is not an advertisement for their wares, but a human experiment!

Take a big bag along. A big one! Plastic Carry Bags have been banned, because there was more of them.

If you have enjoyed reading this and want more, you will have to wait until next week!


This Article is written in the lighter vein with tongue-in-cheek. 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 or just a mirage!