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Goodbye ... After 20 Long Years!

Goodbyes are never really easy, especially if they come after a long term association ... so this was and is tough... After a little more than 20 years I am saying good bye to a friend (?)... Yes; we have broken up a few times in the past and they did not last too long though, you always found a way to befriend me or rather let me know how incomplete I was without you... but then this time I know it’s for real ... So mate it was good while it lasted ... but now it’s time part ways... Will miss you ... as a matter of fact, am desperately missing you, as I am typing this ... but I will get over it ... I won’t reach out for you ...

We got close when I was in my first year at college ... I had seen you around for a long time, but was never too sure if I should come forward and get acquainted ... I still remember how it was on the train journey to Ooty, that I first interacted with you and felt your irresistible charm, it was not a smooth association, we did have our adjustment problems, I even remember feeling, how could anyone ever be friends with someone as rough as you.... But then smothering your harshness or taming it, especially in the chilly environs of Ooty gave me a sense of being masculine.... it sort of established who was in control....soon, the warmth and cheer that you spread, the acceptability that you lent me, when I was with you, made me engage with you, again and again!

Back in Chennai, we had a short period where, I tried to ignore you ... but you are not the one to tolerate that, are you... you came back being your seductive best.... I had nothing else to do, but to let you back in to my life ... how could I not do that ... you were the thread that connected me to some of my other newly found friends... you were the one that livened up my dullest moments ... you were as effective when I was at a party having a good time or when I was all alone sulking and struggling or cope up with the demands of life.... You went with me, where ever I went, more than any other friend had ever gone.... I knew you could burn yourself to keep me comforted!!!

I had always known this... this was never meant to be a relationship of equality ... in fact I was always knew that I was manipulating you, for my needs ... that thought often made me feel guilty as well ... like I mentioned earlier, it was my sense of control over you that had laid the foundation for this relationship ... I felt powerful, I felt supreme ... I did wonder if I was abusing you... some even cautioned me about that ... but then you never complained did you? You were this meek, self depreciating, confidante who seemed to only care about what I wanted and never once grumbled!

Unequal as it was, it took me some more time to realise that I was not getting the full picture... It took me quite of bit thinking to realise that what I thought of this relationship was just that - my thoughts, the reality was far removed from it... Yes! This was a relationship about control ... but not my control over you but yours over me ... I was not the manipulator but actually I was the manipulated! Was I abusing you or was it me who was getting abused?? Who was the weaker partner in this arrangement ... like some of those intriguing deductions in the last few pages of the mystery novels, the masks were peeling off, the truth was emerging... statuses were being re-established... You were the one pulling the strings ... I was merely a puppet!!!

I did not want to break away from you just because you are manipulative or I am being manipulated... that would make me a hypocrite wouldn’t it... I would not even blame you for it, for I enjoyed every bit of it.... Like I said, you made me feel much bigger than I am ... you gave me confidence at times when I felt low ... you helped me focus, when I was confused, you help me stay up, when I felt sleepy, you made me feel like an intellectual when I was really being foolish, you were a perfect icebreaker in parties where I did not know anyone, you helped appreciate food and liquor more than I had ever done before.... maybe these were merely my perceptions, my hallucinations... but the fact is, this exactly what I always felt ... I cannot blame you for my perceptions ... for you never ever claimed credit for any of these... I enjoyed your company ... no doubts about that ....I had happily conferred these magical qualities to you!

But ever since I have realised that this is a perception and not reality, I have been trying to part ways with you... not merely because I feel manipulated, but because I want to feel strong ... not out of hatred for you but of love for some others who mean a lot more to me .... No; I am not making a sacrifice for the sake of people that I love ... I am just being nice to myself... I know it’s never worked in the past... I have tried several alternatives, but then you find a way to get back with me... the more I run away the more you haunt me ... the more I try and fail, the more you make me understand my frailty.... but not anymore ... or at least that’s what I have decided ... while we had some of the best times together ... it’s time to say good bye.... I know we will meet soon, I am determined not to let you charm me back, like I have let you to do in the past... When we meet next time around, if I act as if I have never known you ... you know the reason; don’t you... Good Bye Nicotiana Tabacum a.k.a Nicotine ... it was indeed a fantastic ride together...!!!

The Train Ride That Ran Over a Few Tigers

I have travelled by train more than a thousand times, including the Mumbai local, but it’s never been a front page news ... I would not want it be either as only chance for my train travel becoming a news is, if there was something untoward like an accident or bomb blast .... That said, the train ride that was making news or rather breaking news in India a couple of days ago was the one that Rahul Gandhi (RG) made ... you may call it a political statement, but I for one feel that it was a political gimmick that does not add up!

The implied purpose of the ride was to get a feel of the Mumbai local and connect with the average Mumbaiker and the undisclosed agenda seems to have been to send a message to one of the sole proprietary owners (yes there are two firms dealing with this, as on date) of Marathi Asmita! Again not sure if either of them worked. Travelling in a sanitised (security wise ... Yes some commentators have described the move as security unwise though) first class coach of a Mumbai local with more SPG members than travelling public is not the best way to get the real feel of the Mumbai local or connect with the Mumbaiker, so the stated purpose is for sure defeated ... and this train ride in no way is going to change the way the Sena goes through with its brand of politics.

The interesting aside to this train ride was that the Maharashtra government had deployed 10000 policemen for RG’s protection during his visit. Now, that’s pretty skewed ratio ... I mean in a country where the Home Minister at the central government is talking about the police department being understaffed, having 10000 men for the protection of 1 citizen (irrespective of the face value or place value of that citizen) is a huge commitment. What that also means is that if the Maharashtra government feels the need it, can muster up the numbers to ensure law and order. Can this meaning be further extended to mean that the vandalism, chaos and looting that is let loose by the so called MNS and SS workers is something that the state government chooses to ignore or (even more sinister) sponsors as a silent supporter?

You might have guessed by now that I am not the most avid congress supporter, but then I am at times in awe of RG and his efforts to rejuvenate the party. By the look of things he seems to wield the power to overrule not just the Congress party’s “democratically” arrived at decisions, but also his own security advisors at the SPG. But is he using these powers to the best possible end results? The last thing that one expects from the to-be Prime Minister of India and the harbinger of the next generation in Indian politics is to be scoring political brownie points... Let’s look at a couple issues that the country is grappling in the International arena as on date...

Bringing the perpetrators of 26/11 to justice ... we have as in the past, blamed the Pakistani government’s inability to reign in the terror elements in its own soil. We accuse the Pakistani government to be unwilling, incapable, covertly supporting and so on and so forth when it comes to tackling elements that use Pakistani soil to spread terror in India. So much so, that we almost stopped short of waging a war against that country.... but more rationally cut of the dialogue process that existed between the two countries. So what does the central government have to say to the government of Maharashtra? What about the state government going soft on those spreading terror amongst fellow Indians? Is the tough posturing, warning of serious consequences etc applicable only to neighbouring countries and not to Indian States? Why do we doubt Pakistani government when it says it’s doing everything it can and accept the same as genuine statement from Maharashtra government when the results in both cases are identical? Why don’t we sympathise with Pakistani Government, when we know that little monsters that we grow in our backyard, can one day, loom so large that, we end up losing control over it, as that is exactly what the Government in Maharashtra is finding out!!!

Another issue is of racial discrimination against Indians in Australia.... with what standing will the External Affairs Minister of India (who is a member of the same party as RG and the party that rules Maharashtra and Goa) ask the Australian authorities to act against those who attack Indians in their country, when there is not much action being taken against Indians who attack fellow Indians in Mumbai and the Russians who get raped in Goa? Or is it okay if Indians attack Indians or for that matter Indians rape Russians??

Riding a Local Train in Mumbai is according to me not a solution for these issues. An influential leader whose diktat is the gospel truth for his party should rather come down heavily on these governments who are turning inaction into an art by itself. To me lawlessness is a commentary on poor governance than a function of powerful goons ... for proper governance ensures that goons will never have the power... As a leader whom a lot of the younger generation looks up to with expectations, I hope RG will take tougher decisions and more meaningful decisions than this train travel in the times to come ... or will I be wrong and will have read the news which goes ... “RG drives a Taxi in Melbourne and snubs some Kangaroos???”