We have learned that even though we have the hardware of democracy — institutions, elections — our software is not good. We are too attuned to status, too willing to submit to authority.
Tomorrow I’m heading to India. A 12 day trip, all of it planned to be spent in Karnal. No plans, yet, of travelling, meeting friends, or spending any nights away from home.
Feeling a bit weird. It’s been a while since I did this, since I spent time there.
In 6 years since we moved to the UK, I’ve made a total of 5 visits home – once when grand dad passed away, then one to see F&F, next after our wedding, then for my sister’s wedding, and last for R’s sister’s wedding.
It’s almost 5 years since I visited to meet family outside of an occasion.
It’s been way longer since I stayed in Karnal for anything over a week.1
Boxer shorts (also known as loose boxers or as simply boxers) are a type of undergarment typically worn by men.
The term has been used in English since 1944 for all-around-elastic shorts, so named after the shorts worn by boxers, for whom unhindered leg movement (“footwork”) is very important.
I know they’re called shorts, but they’re really underwear – something you wear under your shorts / trousers / jeans …
This confusing nomenclature seems to have confused a load of people in India.
Had a friend over few weekends ago. After a long day walking out, we all changed into comfortable home clothes, and he came out of his room wearing a tee and … boxer shorts. I queried him, and he confirmed that he was wearing ‘underwear’ under them. I explained to him (hopefully not too rudely) that they were underwear, and not really shorts.
This wasn’t the first time either.
A couple of years ago, at home in India, the whole joint family had gathered for a wedding. A cousin emerged from the shared bathroom, walking through the living room where all the relatives were gathered, in his …. boxer shorts. Again, wearing an underwear under it.
Back in my B-school hostel too, a lot of batchmates used to roam around in their boxer shorts. It may have been them just walking around in their underwear in a men-only hostel. Or maybe they too were wearing underwear under their boxer shorts.
Ideally, Jockey (who first popularised boxers in India), should’ve done a customer education campaign to inform buyers that the shorts were meant to be underwear, and not regular shorts. However, driven by profit motive, and seeing a large proportion of their customers using boxers as outwear shorts, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them actively promote the boxers as … shorts :)
The day began well, with me polishing off a few long-pending long posts in my Pocket. The walk got delayed, due to reasons coming below, but was a brisk, happy one when it came.
Thank you for the music
One of those rare days when I felt like listening to music on the walk. Not sure about what to play, just asked Google to play a random playlist of songs I like. It was fun!
- Vangelis’ Chariots of fire theme,
- Rolling in the deep, by Adele,
- The man, by Aloe Blacc,
- Hello, by Adele,
- All cried out, by Blonde,
- Peace on Earth, by Bing Crosby & David Bowie,
- Khalbali, from Rang de basanti
- Rumour has it, by Adele
- Eko ile, by Fela Kuti & the Africa 70,
- Feel, by Bombay bicycle club,
- Kandisa, by Indian Ocean
Charlie (a young Vizsla), and Monty (a forever young Jack Russel) wrestling each other to get more attention from me, halfway through the walk, just added to the delight.
Rarely have I returned from a hot weather, brisk walk so energised. (The brisk bit, and the protein smoothie may have helped too)
Warm, dry, dull days of my youth
The region of India I grew up in has a long, dry and hot summer. 2 decades of living there have trained my brain to expect (imagine) things when the weather turns warm and dry. Like today.
Thoughts of watermelon, cool water dips in tube wells & canals, hanging with friends from undergrad, cycling around with the only friend from my first school, smell of the earth.
Beautiful, torturous memories :)
Warm, boiled eggs, salt and pepper sprinkled on top.
Taste just as good in cool and wet autumnal England, as in cold and foggy winters in northern India.
Taste just as good at 36, as they did at 10, and at 19.
Taste just as good sharing with wife and dog, as they did with mom, dad and sister, and later with friends and wingies in hostel.
Some things, thankfully, are just the same everywhere :)
Diasporas are always conservative. It’s a small provincial community, the people who had enough money to move to America, and they’re cut off from the rest of India. They circle their wagons, hold onto a few old ideas and don’t let go.
My cab driver yesterday was South Asian, and we’d been conversing in our mother tongues – a mix of Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi.
As is the custom amongst fellow desis, once we were a bit comfortable, he asked me where in India I came from. I gave him the usual answer.
I asked him whether he was from India or Pakistan. He replied, nonchalantly, Kashmir.
Those familiar with South Asian geopolitics will understand, that this statement of origin says a lot.
In Netherlands, crowned-for-life monarchs step down when they feel new blood is required.
In UK, monarchs serve for life but politicians retire when it’s time for new blood.
In India, politicians rule their fiefs (states, parties, constituencies) like monarchs. They rule for life, long after they’ve become prehistoric relics and a drag on their own legacies. And when they finally go, they pass on their fiefs to their frequently inept heirs, biological or ideological.
Been finding it interesting (more so intriguing) to note that after encountering efficient, non corrupt processes in countries like UK, the solutions for India from Indians here are still mostly on lines of:
- ‘Shoot all the leaders’,
- ‘Congress is corrupt, BJP will bring ram rajya’,
- ‘Anna Hazare is the saviour’,
- ‘we need a dictatorship’ (which, both the above options might easily deliver), my etc.
No one, not even the most intelligent, insightful IIT/IIM educated folk I’ve met or read, suggest what I find to be the obvious: ‘strong, independent government institutions’.
The strength of western democracies isn’t derived from non-corrupt leaders (they are corrupt here too, just not in such an open manner), or from being led by a god anointed party or leader (highly religious states in EU seem to have higher corruption), or from a great leader(!) who has lead them into a shining future.
The strength of western democracy, IMO, is derived from its strong institutions which deliver what they are responsible for, irrespective of – government of the day, mood of the populace and mood of the boss. More importantly, institutions which, while consistently delivering their responsibilities, rarely over reach.
About time that we stopped thinking in terms of individuals and personalities, and started thinking in terms of institutions, organisations, structures and processes. Yes, it’s boring, it doesn’t let you (or anyone) be a hero. But, it delivers. Time, after time.