Pat(riot)ism

I work. I work and I earn. I earn enough and pay taxes. Lots of taxes. I employ people. I develop skills. I pay them. They progress. And pay taxes. Taxes that are for the development of my country. I pay for rent. I pay for equipment, I pay for services. I pay more taxes. I earn shitloads of money and make an equal load of positive changes. Yet, I am forced to stand up for the National Anthem, every time I watch a movie (also, taxed) to prove that I am a ‘patriot’.

If the National Anthem is not played during the movie, it will not make me less of a patriot, just as when it is being played, it doesn’t make more of it anyway! The point here is not about me having to delay taking my recliner seat up because I need to stand-up for the National Anthem (actually, that too), but it is more about me having to prove that I am a Patriot with these silly laws cropping up every now and then. The whole attitude around these laws undermines everything else that I may be doing for my country.

When did patriotism come down to obeying and/or agreeing with the government? If you adhere to their views, their vision and support their prophecy, you are a ‘true patriot’, otherwise a downright anti-national! Frankly, the most patriotic thing people are doing today is talking about their mothers and sisters, followed by a word which I’d rather not mention here, on twitter and feeling immensely ‘nationalist’ about it. Bravo!

It doesn’t matter if you are bringing laurels to your country, or fighting for your country, or working hard for your country – suddenly all that matters is whether are you standing in the ATM queues without cribbing or not! Soldiers should not complain about the food they are getting, students should not protest against the injustice they are facing, people should not complain about the hardships caused by new laws being passed – because you do all or any of these mentioned things: “Go to Pakistan!” comes the quick reply.

6a00d83477d44a69e20167666d0650970b-600wiJust as an after-thought, I would like to question the whole concept of patriotism here. While ‘patriotism’ is generally seen as a uniting emotion, I personally find it rather dividing! If patriotism is one side of a coin, xenophobia is the other. I don’t think we can talk about ‘World Peace’ at various conferences all over the world, while also promoting, encouraging and forcing ‘Patriotism’ at the same time

I think Leo Wiener, in his article titled ‘Patriotism or Peace?’ sums up my point better, and says: “Patriotism cannot be good. What produces war is the desire for an exclusive good for one’s own nation – that is called patriotism. And so to abolish war, it is necessary to abolish patriotism and to abolish patriotism, it is necessary first to become convinced that it is an evil”.

PS: it’s the ‘Republic Day’ week, and my patriotism-level may look as low as the number on the thermometer, but: East or West, India is the Best. There, I said it. I am not an anti-national.

Suitcase-d

Well well well!

What a great ride last one month has been! Right from surreal Spiti Valley to absolutely magnificent United Kingdom, from sky-high mountains to soaring sky-scrapers, from the heart of nature to the magic of mankind! Wow, the contrast is just uncanny!

Rudyard Kipling famously quotes, “It is a world within a world, the place where Gods live.”, referring to Spiti Valley. I couldn’t agree more. Spiti valley is, by far, the most breath-taking place I have ever been to! Literally. The oxygen percentage was so less, that even the thought of doing a little work was tiring enough to make me pant! Phew. Hats off to people living there, sprinting from one point to other, one peak to other in no time! No wonder Kipling indicates it as a place where Gods reside, hinting the extremely difficult conditions for humans to live there!

Opened very recently to tourism, the place is not exploited, infested with tourists, honking cars and tons of garbage! They still could maintain the traditional way of their lifestyle, and are being able to balance the incoming tourist crowd, and their routine activities beautifully! Except for the bigger towns of Kaza and Tabo, all other towns have homestays, and even traditional pit-toilets, which, by the way, are way more hygienic than the clay tiles public toilets found in cities!

Staying with a local family, in the local clay houses, and getting a hand-on experience of their routine life, is one of the reasons why I opted for the volunteering program offered by Ecosphere- an organisation working for upbringing the life of these villages! And this experience of working in the farm, or making a drain (yeah, we did) while being surrounded by almost unreal, photoshop-ed view on all sides was the best thing ever! Just when I though I could never get enough of these mountains, the Spiti night-sky shows up! Oh my! It truly, indisputably was a blanket of stars! So many, just so many!

After my stint with these gorgeous mountains, biking through the twisted roads, alluring chandratal, glittering night-sky, serene monasteries, adventurous mountain roads, no network, hiking between villages, peaceful life, what more could I ask for? The immediately following trip to UK wasn’t so exciting as it should have been – only till I reached the airport!

And then gears shifted, excitement back, and I could really ask for more after-all! Contrasting to Spiti Valley, this was a very comfortable trip! Road-trip in Scotland, world cuisines to try, from highlands to beaches, an evening listening to ABBA while watching the super fun Broadway Mama Mia, chilling at Hyde-park, it couldn’t have gotten better! Get up – dress up – show up was the only mantra, so that we could click-click-click-click all through the day! Like they say, London is always a great idea!

This last one month has taught me to appreciate diverse contradicting situations! Everything has its own charm, if only we are in the frame of mind to accept it!

Besides, I am absolutely loving my life, living out of a suitcase!