Friday, 29 June 2007

SMS text and the like...

Of late, I am being subjected to some jeers and rebukes from certain people. The reason being that I requested them, without an ounce of force, to write to me in full words. All of them seem to be so busy, that they can't afford to type "you" in place of "u", "are" in place of "r", "great" in place of "gr8" and so on. I just wonder what they are busy at. Busy chatting, eating, sleeping, lazying around (remember we are talking about being busy here!!)??? What are they busy at?? I know a certain thing, Gandhi and Tagore were certainly more busy men and these people corresponded in full words (I have seen their letters, in fact, in a rare collection of letters exchanged between these two great thinkers). Never knew India had so many self-important "busy" men and women, and still she lies in ignominious darkness. How many Nobels, Grammys, Oscars, Olympic Medals, Golden Globes does India win regularly? And we are supposed to be so "busy"!

Somebody said that sms text signifies imformality. Well, Gandhi and Tagore were far closer to each other and informal in their conversation than many orkut friends! Oh, I was forgetting the rebukes. In reply to my message that I had enough time to write complete words in English, because I'm no Einstein or Manmohan Singh, one guy ridiculed me saying that I "maybe no Einstein or Manmohan Singh, but surely a nut". I replied, promptly thanking him: for showing me whom I must NOT BE, in order to be someone different from the ordinary bloke who works in some MNC or cyberslaver (to borrow someone else's vocabulary here!) company. I said that he was helping me in the way Watson helped Holmes: giving all the incorrect solutions to Holmes' cases until he found out the real truth. Having said all this, I'm pretty sure that most readers of this post won't agree with me in principle and will continue to write SMS text, pretending to be "busy" (actually "busy" lazying around).

Before I end, I must quote two people with whom I agree completely on this matter. One, Suvro Sir, who considers writing SMS text synonymous with mutilating a beautiful language, and just short of committing some illegal crime like thievery or murder. Two, Abhirup Da, who (maybe in a certain fit of rage or disgust) said that SMS text is for semi-literate apes!

I am no very literate guy, you see. But at least, I try to be one. In that way, I'm better than the rest. Well, a last line: I am in no way saying that I am great because I write full words, and I'm not even praising myself for this. Because, it's normal to write full words (and therefore one deserves no special admiration to follow that): that's been the rule for centuries. Apparently, this changed with the turn of the millenium. The corollary: it's abnormal and STUPID to do what is not normal. Remember, neither Dickens nor Rowling wrote/writes sms text. And typing "you" in place of "u" doesn't take more than a fraction of a second if you are fast in typing. Learning to be a bit patient and careful about our language is the first step towards being civilized: language is what separates humans from apes after all!

I even expect some ridicule subjected to me here, but then I have the right to moderate comments. And I shall have the last laugh in this matter....

Saturday, 23 June 2007

Forgotten soul: The Mahatma...

I was wondering what article I should post first in my blog- and suddenly I had this idea of writing something on the man whom I idolise. It dismays me to see that few young people treasure history in current times- for forgetting history is synonymous with repeating mistakes that our ancestors did, or staying gleefully unaware of the events that make us who we actually are. Here I am writing about someone who resides in the pages of history, one who is perhaps very unhappy now- because though Indians call him "The Father of the Nation", few understand the ideals he stood for.

Before I actually start something, I must acknowledge that my article is perhaps influenced most by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins' book "Freedom at midnight", closely followed by Richard Attenborough's multi-academy award winning motion picture, "Gandhi". What I love and respect most in Gandhiji is the inherent simplicity of his thoughts and actions, which are applicable as much to national politics as to our own everyday life. Born into a modest Gujarati family, he was an extremely shy man, but grew to be man who could communicate with a single simple gesture with a nation of 400 million people sitting at any corner of the country.

What dismays me most is that people nowadays accuse Gandhiji wrongly of being sympathetic with the Britishers, and delaying the freedom that could have possibly been won by violent methods. I criticise those people fiercely for two reasons- one, their knowledge of history is poor and secondly, they don't know that violence does precious little. We are past the days when the world was at war, and so we don't actually realise the magnitude of what warfare brings with its ugly self. He often used to say- "if we take an eye for an eye, the world would become blind." In a time when dictators all over Europe (and other parts of the world) were brainwashing their subjects leading them to believe that territorial expansion was the only way a nation could achieve greatness, Gandhiji believed that only spiritual awakening was (and is) the way to achieve greatness. But as always, people have seldom learnt from mistakes too easily. Gandhiji's message failed to rouse the Europeans who, even after the terrible aftermath of World War I, continued to follow the mantra of "blood, toil, tears and sweat" which led to the most catastrophic war mankind had ever witnessed in recorded history- World War II. He always maintained that non-violence and non-cooperation needed more steel and valour that firing cannons, for it's easier to kill than heal. When the Axis powers attacked England and France, he asked the people, in vain, to face their enemies with courage and let them take away or destroy their possessions and lives till these people grew tired of killing themselves. It was his cherished dream that Indians should die without raising a gun when the Japanese attacked India, until all the blood and gore had forced the Japanese to retrace.

And yet I do not imply that Gandhiji wasn't wrong at anything at all. He was quite wrong-headed in matters related to sex. His advocacy of celibacy as a solution to India's population explosion was in fact a poor suggestion, because that would eventually mean the end of a country! But I never doubted one thing: Gandhi was himself a strict practitioner of what he followed. Who else would admit that his darkest hour was when he had an erection at 67, decades after he had started preaching sexual continence and bramhacharya. But that doesn't make Gandhiji a whit short of the great soul he is: take my word, had there been three Gandhis in India, India could have easily avoided the terrible human massacre succeeding partition (well maybe, there would be no partition at all!). Remember this: Calcutta, the most violent city in the world of 1940s, was not engulfed in communal passions in the summer of 1947. All Gandhi did was to undergo a fast unto death in Calcutta unless all violence stopped permanently. The soul of Calcutta responded very quickly to Gandhiji's call: the riot-waging hoodlums vowed to spread Gandhi's message of peace!

But whom do I address? Haven't we have confined Gandhi to banknotes, portraits and statues? And politicians and bureaucrats commit the final act of disrespecting Gandhi: taking bribes, unabashedly and ironically under my dear old Gandhiji's portrait. It's time we understand this man's eternal message of love, happiness, simplicity, non-violence and honesty; or be prepared to live a life of unending mediocrity and inch toward WWIII.