Aazadiyan:A Look At Life

NOTE:This is guest blog post I wrote for Nelton D’Souza’s blog Just A Minute Here’s the link to the post http://justamin.blogspot.in/2013/01/aazadiyana-look-at-life.html Also,I recommend you read these posts as well : It’s Okay To Be Confused, Debugging Life and Debugging Life(Rebooted)

Something which all of us acknowledge is the presence of the nagging voice in our hearts. It’s the voice which tells us what we really want, what we are or what we have become. It’s that tiny little poke which reminds us how we have somehow screwed up life and we should “un-screw” it. One of the common commands it issues is to break free and change everything. Call it whatever you want, I call it Aazadi.

Don’t mistake me for the colloquial English synonym “freedom”. To me Aazadi expresses much more than freedom. It reflects the pride of achieving our dream, cherishing our passion and our inexpressible joy at doing all of that. Someone finds solace in snapping pictures of animals while someone loves to play the drums. Someone loves writing poems while on the flip side, some find sadistic pleasure in being a critic. My point is that everyone has his or her own forte and guilty pleasures. But not everyone gets to do that. Some bow down to the pressure of economic troubles and some to social ridicule. Some are scared by the magnitude to scale and some have plainly lost hope.Some,like Santiago are still searching for their Alchemist while some are being their own.

It’s a funny thing how many people claim passion to be hokum,dismissing it as lore.I pity them because they don’t know the feeling  of true happiness. I’m on the path of achieving my own dream, and the rush,the feel,the emotions,the passion and the pure unadulterated exhilaration is simply unmatchable.
People ask me with awestruck faces “You’re 17 and you think you know your passion and your dreams?Yeah right!”. I tell them this: Dreams don’t have age,nor does your passion or happiness. As to how I stumbled on to my Philosopher’s stone, it was easy. Just think and ponder over this question: “What would you do if money didn’t matter?” and you’ll find the answer. 
To all those who still believe their thoughts and their dreams are entangled and chained in shackles, I quote my favourite song
Pairon ki bediyan khwabon ko baandhe nahi re, kabhi nahi re
Mitti ki parton ko nanne se ankur bhi cheeray, dheere dheere
Iraade hare hare, jinke seeno mein ghar kare
Woh dil ki sune kare na darre, na darre

Subah ki kirno ko rokein jo salaakhein hai kahan
Jo khayalon pe pehre daale woh aankhein hai kahan
Par khulne ki deri hai parinde udh ke choomenge
Aasman aasman aasman



Dream and dream on friends 🙂

The epitome of freedom

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Section 66A,the mystery of Indian Internet Governance- A QnA with Saikat Datta

The all round criticism and outcry at Indian Online Governance and the controversial Section 66A of the IT Act need no introduction.But, as a blogger, I thought it to be prudent to hear about it from someone who is mainstream and affected by it. Presenting Saikat Datta,Bureau Chief,DNA New Delhi. As an active twitter user(@saikatd) and an important figure in the media, I thought he is the perfect person to talk to about this.Here’s the QnA

1.As a prominent member of the fourth pillar of Democracy, what’s your definition of free speech?What does “freedom of expression” constitute in your dictionary?

Freedom of speech means the freedom to anything is permissible under Indian laws and also tolerance for all views. The lack of any form of censorship, subtle or overt is abominable.

2.The very vaguely worded Section 66A has caused a lot of controversy pertaining to freedom of expression on the Internet.Being an active Twitter user, what are your views on it?

There is no need for such a section. There are adequate laws in force. The Constitution sought to enshrine fundamental rights. Our laws are now creating a situation where we have fundamental restrictions now.

3.In today’s India, where the media,social activists and citizens are leading a revolution, where does freelance blogging figure?

I am not sure there is a “revolution” yet, but there is definitely a greater democratisation of news and information. This will ensure that there is a greater freedom of expression and more accessibility to information and its dissemination.

4.The media, on multiple counts has been accused of being biased or “stooges of political parties”. How do you answer them?

There could be some truth is the media subscribing to some political ideology. Or even the establishment. But this has to be understood in a context. Are the people ready to pay for the news they seek? Unless and until you pay for news, how will news be free from commercial or political pressure?

8.Some advice to budding journalists or media personnel

I would say budding journalists should try and spend time learning and perfecting their craft. This is a fascinating profession where constant learning is a challenge and a source of unending joy. Finally, specialise.

9.Lastly, a word to The Standing Coin readers
Welcome to journalism. It always needs a few good women and men

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The Reality Of The Queer Prejudice-A QnA with Harish Iyer

India is emerging as a nation.But unfortunately,our mentality,our society and the guarantee of freedom and human rights has fallen behind the pace.Although,judicially, the 2010 judgement was a landmark, but our minds have not broken past all of it.In a frank one to one,Harish Iyer, an openly gay person and queer community activist tells us his views.

1.There a lot of misconceptions about the current legal rights of the Queer community. What’s the ground reality?

Section 377 of the indian penal code criminalised carnal intercourse between two individuals that was against the order of nature. This was quite ambiguous as “order of nature” could be interpreted in different ways.

This law was used against homosexuals as they practice oral and anal sex. The view was that sex against the law of nature was prohibited any sex that’s non-procreative could be unnatural. Which is totally untrue.The Delhi high court read down section 377 saying that any sex between two consenting adult individuals in private is not unlawful. The key words are ‘consensual’, ‘private’ and ‘adult’. It basically goes on to say that the state or the law has nothing to do with what two adults willingly do in their bedrooms.
Now the big doubt was – is section 377 only read down in Delhi. Well, since it makes an amend in the IPC, it would be valid throughout india. So if there is a section 377 case in say Bombay, the delhi judgement can be quoted here. 
It was never illegal to love in India. The problem was with making love. 

2.I would be blind if I say the prejudice is over. You constantly receive bigoted emails and tweets. Your take on this?
Some people are curious about my sex life. I think I must be doing something really well at that, that it makes them so curious and jealous 🙂
Well, on a serious note, yes prejudice does exist, and its time to look at people eye-to-eye. Every single person who walks out of the closet, is an inspiration for another.
I feel we like to “excavate” things that are hidden. I have nothing to hide, they have nothing more to dig. 🙂

3.Acceptance in conservative societies,including ours, is next to impossible. Especially in the older generations.How do you spread awareness about homosexuality?

Who said acceptance is impossible. I am in India. I am out to everyone right from my Gangu bai and rickshaw driver to everyone at work. They might not come out in acceptance like a typical Karan Johar flick, but they do have latent acceptance. Or rather have complete disregard for my sexuality, which is good.

4.Beside being an icon to the Queer community,you’re an active social reformer. What’s your current and next project?

LGBTIQ rights is just one of the battles for equal human rights. I don’t know if I am an icon, I am but definitely someone who would not suffer in silence. Or for that matter watch something go wrong and be a silent bystander.
I act from my heart. And I don’t meticulously plan my causes. I erupt whenever there in crises. Presently I am doing my usual sessions with survivors of child sexual abuse.

5.If you were to write a paragraph about yourself, it would read….

The man who Dreams a new dream, for the old one is now a reality”

6.Something you simply can’t say no to

Facebook. (I’m a social media whore)
7.Someone you can’t say no to
Hardly anyone. If I have to say no, I will say no.

8.As an blogger, what role do you think blogs play in current social dynamics?

They help you think. They seed a thought in your mind that no book could. They are personal. And they have a personality. Blogs are thought-influencing. Blogs are humans too.

9.Lastly, an advice to our readers.

Tolerance is the word. You need not like me. But you need to learn to co exist with someone who is different.
Thoughts become things. So keep documenting your thoughts.
Born free – blog free.

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The Pursuit Of HappYness

This is a guest post by Moushmi Mehra .Moushmi Bhabhi is married to one of our guest post writers today,Deepak Mehra.She’s the most recent member of one of the families I love the most,but she,like all of them is simply AWESOME.Beside all other things,I love her for one particular thing.She gifted me one of her favourite books,which has now joined my list as well.The book taught me a lot,change me and made me whatever I am. In fact,it continues to do so.The book was The Fountainhead by Ayn Rand(LINK). So here is an enthralling post by the person who changed my life,simply with a book. Also,here’s his Twitter handle @MoushmiMehra (https://twitter.com/MoushmiMehra)

I recently quit working at a software company. Reason? I fortunately realized that I wasn’t enjoying it as much as I would have wanted to after all. Thought of using the time at hand now to begin a long-postponed quest – answers to my questions about a rather elusive, much hyped topic Happiness! No I don’t wish to emulate Gautam Buddha, Mahavir and the likes.. well just yet.. but have struggled with these questions way too long for my comfort. My priorities so far, albeit mistaken priorities, allowed an at-best half-hearted attempt to find these answers. The result, quite obvious, I struggle to date.

They say, don’t seek a complicated explanation when a simple one exists! How very true! I began my search by looking for books, articles, people.. anything under the sun that would give me even the slightest hint to what happiness really is? Of course I would need a lot of material to really understand the concept of Happiness I thought. And how wrong was I!

I was lucky to stumble upon a series of talks by an organization called ‘Brahmakumaris’. I occasionally listen to them on TV, mainly one Brahmakumari (BK) Sister Shivani who I personally think is a wonderful orator. Lucky for me, this series was by her.

I remember the first time I saw her on TV. Her attire gave me the impression that this is yet another Swamini giving hard to follow talks on morals, ethics.. all those heavy topics I have hated listening to. But hearing her speak just once changed my impression completely. She had me glued to the television and how? By speaking in extremely simple language, yes, but more importantly, talking sense; sharing thoughts and ideas to deal with situations that are extremely easy to digest and seem to be doable by laymen. So anyway.. with a lot of hope I started listening to all the lectures one after the other and boy was I shocked to hear what I did.

Firstly, what is happiness? Happiness, she says, is a state of being stable; not excited, not thrilled, not laughing all the time, not a temporary sense of pleasure; a state of being at peace with oneself; a state dependent only my own internal being; a state completely in one’s own control.

Our happiness is in our control? What really? That is not possible! Personally, I have always felt happy only let’s say when I achieve something.. be it a material possession, the great score on a test, when someone says something nice to me. But I don’t seem to play the central role in any of this; I don’t seen to be the do-er. These are all external events which may, may not happen. I therefore may, may not be happy. Isn’t it? It depends on my luck and fate?

She demystified her statement by saying that it is me who makes my happiness dependent on these events. I create a thought in my head, if event A will happen, then I will be happy. Fortunately if event A does happen, I will be happy. But for how long? This will be a temporary state because very soon I will decide to be happy next only when event B will happen.

Whoa! How very true! I began rushing with the lectures a bit. I was too intrigued by now. More and more questions started popping in my head. Why are we subjecting ourselves to such pockets of happiness? Can we actually be happy always?

This was answered in the very next talk. A very fresh perspective.. I am a happy person already she says; irrespective of the situations coming my way. We just chose otherwise.

For example, many of us have the tendency to blame others for our unhappiness. To this she said, we have no control over what others are doing but our reaction to it is our choice. If we give a person the power to hurt us, upset us then we need to take the responsibility for it because we are letting that person disturb our state of mind. Alternatively, if we decide to accept people around us with their fallacies and decide to not get affected by them, if we decide to be at peace anyway, we would retain complete control over our happiness.

This seemed very very comforting. Easier said than done I thought. But then it occurred to me. What if I repeat this to myself day in and day out.. I am a happy being. My happiness lies only in my hands. Is it possible that it will become part of my system? It is just about changing a deep rooted belief system at the end of the day, isn’t it? If so far we have convinced ourselves that happiness is external, can we spend the rest of our life convincing ourselves that it is in fact internal? I am sure it won’t take so long.. but even if it does, doesn’t the thought of moving in this direction itself contribute to our peace of mind?

I haven’t completed the series yet but picked up some huge pointers and tips already.

To be happy, be in the present moment. When I heard BK Shivani say this I was like.. not again!! To give you a background to this reaction, I have read quite a few self-help books (all in the attempt to find my answers mind you) and they all insist that one must be in the present; in the NOW. I never really understood why. But listening to these lectures I realized that I have convinced myself that I am unhappy in the present moment, well more often than not. A very natural outcome is that I start doing one of the following:

I fleet to the past. I start thinking of happier times when the situation was not like the current one. For some time this takes my mind off the present and gives me a sense of pleasure. But for how long? Very soon I am back seeing the present right in front of me.

Another reaction is to start imagining a future when the situation is not as bad as the current one. Again, for some time this takes my mind off the present and gives me a sense of pleasure. I am thinking of how life will be one day and I begin to feel very very “happy”? But for how long? Very soon I am back seeing the present right in front of me.

Let’s try a brand new outlook. What if I could look at reality right in the face, decide that it will not bog me down and deal with it like a man? Do whatever it takes to set things right NOW and be at peace, be stable, be happy NOW? Just take a moment here and think about this. Is it possible? Can we try and do this for lasting happiness instead of deceiving ourselves into temporary pleasures of the past and future?

I am convinced that this is not simple on the face of it but.. only because it is not a way of life for us yet. But the day it becomes? I think managing to do this even once will give us enough motivation, courage and strength for future trials and tribulations awaiting us. I see it this way, dealing successfully once with a tough situation at hand will build enough mettle in me for the next one down the road, similarly for the next situation and so on and so forth!

This seems like a technique to everlasting happiness to me and it seems too simple! Funny thing, just to be sure, I started second guessing this conclusion; I tried hard to see flaws in these deductions – a common attitude with my generation I guess. But couldn’t find any. Could you?

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My River Shall Always Flow

A Poem About A Revolutionary Proclaiming His Change. People Die, But Their Ideas And Premise Don’t
Belittle me if you can
Slap on me an unwarranted ban.
You can rain your blows
But, my river shall always flow
Suppress me if you will,
My thoughts, no one can kill.
With my arrow loaded in a bow,
My river shall always flow
Call me Satan if you may,
Roark was one too, in his day.
You shall reap as you shall sow,
As for me, my river shall always flow
Even the universe stands still
For a man whom truth instills
The righteous shall win
And the wrong will cry in woe
Because, come what may,
My river shall always flow

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