Posts filed under ‘To reflect’
“ India scarcely has ammunition to last one full week in case of a war” scream the newspaper headlines while umpteen television talks and expert debates ceaselessly point out the dismal state of the country’s military preparedness. The air-power is ineffective, the night-vision equipments are faulty, the seas are unguarded and there is an acute paucity of officers at all levels- goes the list of alarming facts supported with chilling statistics which is designed to grip the people with a deep sense of insecurity. From obsolete weaponry to ill-trained soldiers to the faulty machines, the experts would want us to believe that the entire defence establishment is more like a fossilized version of a mammoth troop fit more for march-pasts than a cohesive fighting force capable of protecting the territorial integrity of the nation. The overwhelming verdict of these defence analysts is that the nation’s security is in grave peril.
And when it is a question of national security, you cannot afford to be rationale and ask sensible questions, lest you be branded at the best, as insensitive or at worse, as unpatriotic. So you better sit quite and remain a mute spectator to the bizarre clamour for much more increased defence spending for a nation which is already the largest importer of arms and ammunition in the world. Who cares if half the nation’s children are grossly undernourished and as long as it is willing to go on a shopping spree around the world picking up the latest and most fanciful war toys, you bet it is safely placed in the comity of advanced countries. War against poverty, disease and child mortality are indeed small battles which can be fought some other day in the distant future while at present, we are busy stock piling enough in the barracks to ably fight imagined wars and also win them many times over. The nation could be drained of trillions of dollars in this essential purchase but that is too little a price to pay to instil a sense of security amongst the people many of whom are deprived of life’s essential supplies.
But this clamour for more weapons and other defence equipments is not just a simple case of demand and supply as it is made out to be. It seems , in fact, to be part of a well orchestrated campaign where individual greed, political one-upmanship and entrenched interests of the arms industry converge to build a bogey of threat and defence inadequacy and intimidate the powers-that-be towards higher defence spending. These combined forces have little qualms to use any trick from the book, from manipulating the media to aggressive PR exercises and even influencing research findings, to push their no-so-hidden agenda. And when nations get sucked into this well laid trap and indulge in the catching-up act for defence parity, an unending spiral of weapon acquisition is unleashed. What is good for Paul is not good enough for Peter and this leads to a virtual arms race among neighbouring countries. Sitting over these arms pile, they lecture to each other to do away with their weapons, all for the sake of peace. It is as foolish as a man asking others to hold on to the branch tightly as he runs the blade to cut it down!
Peace, as history would teach us, is seldom achieved through military sophistication and whenever armed might overruled human reason and compassion, the result had been all-round catastrophe, including that for the perpetuator. But when compassion and non-violence were deployed as essential ingredient of statecraft, nations have forged victories over the hearts and minds of the people which in turn ensured abiding peace and tranquillity for centuries over vast lands. One illustrious example of this alternate approach to peace has been the achievements of King Ashoka the Great. Ashoka, in the zenith of his military victory, relinquished arms and became a missionary of peace and built on that edifice an empire so vast and prosperous that it is still considered the golden era in the annals of Indian history. He focused on fostering the humanness of his subjects, created structures and institutions for the flowering of the human spirit and instilled a deep sense of joy and contentment among them. The noble thoughts that his edicts and inscriptions promulgate continue to inspire generations and one of them, The Wheel of Dharma, became the national emblem as Ashoka Chakra, decorating the national flag. Another apostle, the Mahatma Gandhi, freed a vast country from the clutches of the most powerful nation of the time through the method of non-violence which became the tried and tested model for many liberation movements across the world. These great men have lived in the very soil which is now accused of not doing enough to strengthen its armed might!
The doctrine of nuclear deterrence propounds that nuclear weapons would make the world more safer place as nations will eschew wars for fear of a nuclear holocaust. But with all the nukes, nations do spend huge money to build military hardware and still fight many wars. The only deterrence that we need is not Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) but the Wisdom of the Mahatmas to uphold Dharma.
” We must work to change the hearts of men so that we remove the causes of war”
My Dear fellow Delhiite,
What prompted me to write this is this , (http://raagshahana.blogspot.com/2011/09/open-letter-to-delhi-boy.html) . If you have not already read it, I strongly recommend that you desist from doing it. Because, through a cocktail of half-lies, myopic and prejudiced opinions, mud-slinging salvos and plain innuendos that make the choicest abuses sound like hosannas, the blogger unleashes a hate tirade against you with the nefarious intent to cause disquiet and hence should be completely ignored. But when the coloured rant gets nearly a million hits, thousands of comments and assumes the status of a great literary piece in the internet space, it becomes my binding duty to stand by you, my dear Delhi brethren, to call the bluff and snub the racial rumblings.
The blogger names her site by the Raag Sahana and that is most hilarious. If there is a booker price for christening a write-up most inappropriately and in contrast, it should go to this blog title. Raag Sahana, with its enchanting notes and enthralling melody calms, sooths and uplifts the spirit of the listener whereas blog raagshahana causes anger and rage amongst its readers. When Raag Sahana is that eternal love tune that transports one to the pinnacle of musical pleasure and ecstasy, raagshahana is that jarring hate note that plunges the reader into a quagmire of painful turmoil that stirs up vengeful emotions. Raag Sahana and raagshahana are poles apart for the impact they respectively leave on the listener and the reader.
But you, the ever jovial Delhi guy, is not the one to get perturbed by these incoherent cacophony and your famed sense of humour and light-heartedness is guarantee enough to neutralize the venom the writer injects into her piece. And your ability to see the positive and the brighter side of any situation that life presents itself and the guts to turn it around is your singular asset and you are envied for it, no end. You are the one who could laugh at yourself and make others too laugh with you and that is a trait most contagious. And when you break into that scintillating and rhythmic dance moves with electrifying effect and spread cheer all around, you are a delight to watch. And there isn’t a counterpart anywhere who could enliven a gathering as marvellously as you can! You indeed are a great charmer!
And to talk about the vastness of your entrepreneurship in this space would be like an attempt to measure the ocean with a glass tumbler. You are from that linage of enterprising men who start off their career selling second-hand books on the foot path and, all in a matter of few years, rise to become international publishers with turnovers in millions and an assured livelihood to hundreds. You could, through your dint of hard work, turn around a road-side Dabba into a chain of seven-star hotels that the rich and the powerful frequent and also transform their interiors as the backdrops where stunning beauties pose to appear on the covers of the Elle magazine. And with your ingenuity and creative genius, you could transform a worn-out car into an ultra-modern multi-purpose vehicle and put to use a washing machine to churn out Lassi in quintals and come out with a million such novelties. Some dull-heads might dismiss your lateral thinking skills as “Juggad”, but it is this quality of the head that ensure affordable products to most of our countrymen. There isn’t still a competition for you anywhere to this essential Punjabi trait; Balle, Balle!
And as much as the nature has bestowed you with unparalleled qualities of the head, you are equally an emperor of the heart. Your sense of community and charity, of sharing and caring is a study in the art of philanthropy, worthy of emulation anywhere in the world. Coming as it is in from the great tradition of a common brotherhood, you lavish the choosiest food and warmest clothes on all and sundry across temples and gurudwaras and there is never a “NO” to a stretched hand which is most heart-warming. The langers (free community kitchens) you spread are vast human crucibles where man-made barriers tumble to merge into the oneness of humanity and you are the blessed one to bring in this transformation. How I wish I had these qualities of the heart myself!
These sterling qualities of head and heart are only enhanced by the physical charm of an average Punjabi Delhiite. With chiselled facial features and a golden complexion to go with it, you easily are the most handsome guy a girl could cast her eyes on and it is no accident that the Bollywood is crowded with Punjabi boys and girls as actors and actresses. And what is Bollywood music without the Punjabi folk tunes that instantaneously puts our feet to rhythmic taps? Along with being a charmer, you are also an eternal entertainer.
With such a repertoire of talent and skills, is it any surprise that you become the target of such envious jabber? But you have the head to know this and a heart to forgive it.
By the way, here is a hearty wish for a very Happy Gurupurab, the birthday of Guru Nanakji who gave us the message of the unity of all creations, Ek Omkar!
A grateful Madrasi & fellow countryman
( Posted on Guru Purab day)
Indian government, in all its wisdom, has recently discovered that an earning of Rs. 32 per day is all that it takes for a person to be above the poverty line, the great economic divider below which about half of the country’s population perpetually belong. With 32 rupees, the country’s top-most policy makers tell us , a person can have three nutritious meals a day, can adequately cover his physical frame with a sufficiently long piece of cloth, travel to his place of work, meet his medical expenses, if any, and also can ensure a roof over his head! This counsel of wise men asserts that Rs.32 has all the power of purchase and to deliver these minimum essentials required to classify a person above poverty. And these are wise men entrusted with the divine responsibility to chalk out the collective destiny of over 1.2 billion people, so they just cannot be wrong. It is another matter that even a street lumpen would display more realism in his estimates but an official figure culled out after a rigorous process of data sampling, price analysis, study of inflationary pressures and statistical modelling can scarcely be faulted. Statistics would have been clubbed together with white and black lies, but this Rs. 32 per day formula of the state has, for a fact, accomplished a stupendous task of effectively pulling out at least 32 crore (320 million) people out of poverty- on paper, that is.
But 32 is no ordinary number that it does not have the power to achieve this herculean task. Look at it mathematically, for instance. It is the number that displays few astonishing properties that qualifies it to be bestowed with amazing capabilities. Along with being a number that can be represented as an exponential of 2, which is 25=32, the number can also be expressed as the sum of three different numbers raised to the power of the number itself, that is 11 + 22 + 33 = 32. And that is just not all about this number. 32 is also the sum of two different numbers, each raised to the power of the other, that is, 24 + 42 = 32. And 32 is also the smallest two-digit number whose square is a four digit number (32 x 32 = 1024 where as 31 x 31 is 961, which is only a three-digit number). It is for its mathematical qualities that 32 figures as an important “byte”, an information storage unit in computers.
The uniqueness of number 32, though very significant in mathematics, is not limited to it but extends to many other fields as well. When the number of pieces in a game of chess is 32, the number of squares, both of white and black in a chessboard is also 32 each. The spokes in a bicycle wheel is usually 32 and the number of pages in a comic magazine is essentially 32 or multiples thereof. In the human anatomy, while the count of vertebrae in the spine that keeps the human body erect is 32, the total tally of teeth that is found in an adult mouth is again 32. In music, a 32 count refers to the number of beats or pulses that go in one phrase, an extremely useful unit in dance choreography; a 32 stringed guitar is an amazing piece of art as well as a versatile musical instrument. In Indian tradition, there are 32 types of Shiva lingams, each bestowing specific boon to the faithful worshipper while Gautama Buddha is regarded to have had “32 signs of a great man” the references to which is found throughout the Buddhist texts. And that’s not all, some of the greatest men in history seemed to have just lived for about 32 years but accomplished Himalayan tasks that would take ordinary mortals millions of years to achieve and one of them is Adi Sankara, the great exponent of Advaitic philosophy. Another extolled soul, Jesus Christ is said to have lived just around that age. Maybe these are good enough reasons why the mandarins of power chose this number to segregate the haves from the have-nots.
But the market dynamics work on cold additions of numbers than on the special features of any of them. With Rs. 32 you can possibly buy half a loaf of bread along with half a litre of milk and eat and drink them raw throughout the day, because you wouldn’t be left with any money either to warm the milk or to toast the bread. Or else, with Rs. 32, you can eat thrice and live on a few pieces of chapatti, a morsel of rice to the accompaniment of few vegetable crumbs and a pinch of salt. And if you feel these does not come anywhere near the daily calorie need of 1200 to survive, you could eat an egg but then would have to forgo a meal in return. In the event you succeed to keep the body and soul together with these bare intakes, you will have zero money either to cover the body thus preserved or to protect it under a shelter. Whatever are the features of the number 32, Rs.32 proves to be truly a pittance which can just keep you breathing but ask our policy makers and they would tell you that if you are surviving you indeed are not poor. Because in their scheme of things, poor has no right to survive!
This numerical pegging is the highest insult that a country can inflict on to their deprived masses and when such a humiliation is administered by the democratically elected polity, it betrays an utter lack of sensitivity to the plight of the poor and an appalling state of denial to the sub-human level of their existence. And to brand those who manage to eke out a few mouthfuls a day as sufficiently endowed with the wherewithal for a decent living is to make a mockery of their impoverishment and a blatant stripping of their human dignity. This callousness is symbolic of a deeper malady of a society where people living in patches of prosperity are totally oblivious to the indignation of people spread out in vast swamps of land around them – a sure recipe for disaster.
It is indeed a pity that even after 64 (2 x 32) years of independence, India still grapples with issue of poverty in such myopic way and one would only wish that it does not take another exponential years of 32 to finally eradicate the malaise in its truest sense.
P.S. For those western readers of this blog, Rs. 32 would roughly convert to about 65 US cents.
In his eternal quest for truth, bliss and for inner peace, man set on foot to many a pilgrimage that stretched from the tranquil mountain peaks to placid river banks, from silent sylvan forests to the barren hill tops and then on to the serene expanse of the choicest ocean shores. And in those pristine spots where mother earth spreads a majestic panorama of beauty and calmness, where nature remain untouched by the exploits of human adventures, many a wise men sat and contemplated on the deeper mysteries of life and gave expressions to profound philosophical thoughts. On to these glorious lineage belonged a Adi Sankara and a Gutama Buddha, a Vyasa and a Valmiki and umpteen number of saints and sages who, from time to time, nourished and nurtured the eternal springs of spiritual wisdom for humanity to draw joy and sustenance from. In these venerated places came up temples and monasteries, ashrams and viharas that beckoned seekers of truth far and wide and enveloped them with an aura of divine benedictions. Along with being powerful searchlights for spiritual knowledge, many of them soon developed as centres of educational excellence where finer subjects of human interest, ranging from empirical sciences to abstract arts, were studied and taught and the contribution of these portals of learning towards the evolution of human mind has remained unsurpassed.
Of these extolled locations, Kasi and Rameswaram stand out as twin brothers and a visit to one of them remains incomplete without a visit to the other. While Kasi, or Banaras as it is otherwise called, is situated on the banks of the Ganges river flowing rapidly with the mingled waters of the Yamuna and the mystical Saraswati, Rameswaram stands quietly as an eternal witness to the turbulent waves of the Bay of Bengal. When a dip in the Ganges at Banaras is considered to wash off the accumulated sins of many births, a plunge in the sea waters at Rameswaram is said to have the most purifying effect to the soul. And when an unending stream of elevated souls find fulfilment in the ablution of Kasi Vishwanath, it is the Lord himself, as Rama, who paid obeisance to the deity at Rameswaram. But both personify the universal formless aspect of divinity symbolised by Shiva in the Linga form and both assure a sincere seeker, liberation from the illusionary world of bondages. They attract devotees in their millions and figure prominently in the list of our ancient and sacred cities.
And it is in that wonderful city of Banaras that I met Rohit Kumar, a teenaged, thin framed but a very jovial boy who works as a sales person in a shop that sells the famed silk sarees of Banaras. Rohit Kumar, when he is not unfolding and folding sarees, also doubles as a city guide for the visitors to the shop and he gladly lent his services of taking me along with my family around Kasi. “This is Hanuman Temple” and “Here Kedar ghat” Rohit would insist on giving his city counsel in ragtag English and we enjoyed every bit of his conversation. “Morning here no food, evening food” Rohit advises me on the availability of street foods in Banaras only in the evenings. “The price of silk Rs.800 last year, same Rs.1600 this year” laments Rohit on the doubling of the silk prices in just one year affecting the saree business in the city.
As I got curious of Rohit’s obsession to speak in English even to a person who understands and responds in the native tongue and asked him the reason for this passion, I was narrated a most heinous story of how the aspiration of a budding school kid could be mercilessly plucked, crushed and destroyed by the insensitiveness of a school teacher. Rohit would go to school with his English Grammar work complete but his teacher would thrash him for doing them all wrong. With illiterates as his parents, Rohit had no way to check his answers at home but had the fire to learn well and the willingness to put in effort. But the teacher, instead of correcting and teaching him right, would continue to humiliate the young boy in front of the whole class with whipping canes and abusive words. With this regular ill treatment, Rohit’s will to continue in the school reached a breaking point and one day he decided to leave the school, for good. “One day hitting, two day hitting, three day hitting and…” continued Rohit in a voice filled with deep anguish”and I decided no more school”. Rohit ended up as an unskilled helper in a saree shop, earning Rs.50/- a day with no scope for any further education and a promising future in sight. But he still carries a fire in the belly to learn and to grow.
But in the other city of Rameswaram, there was another teacher and another boy, and this boy had a totally different story to tell. The teacher, Mr. Siva Subramania Iyer, would lovingly explain to the children the concepts of science and also give practical demonstrations and make them understand those concepts. One day Mr. Siva Subramania Iyer explained to his class children the science behind the bird’s flight. He drew pictures of birds flying on the board, explained how birds created lift and thus could fly and why birds flew in formations and other intricate details of flight. Many of the students did not understand but Siva Subramania Iyer is the one who would ensure that his children learn and learn well. He took them to the sea shores of Rameswaram, made them observe the birds in motion, make note of their formations, the way they flap their wings to fly and how they bend their bodies to change direction. This demonstration kindled a fire in one of the boys to learn more about flights as his life mission. The boy studied hard and well, got into a prestigious engineering college and took up Aeronautical Engineering. He later went on to head the country’s space mission, won many laurels, got the highest civilian award of the land, the Bharat Ratna, and ultimately became the president of the country. That boy was APJ Abdul Kalam.
Oh what a contrast! One teacher made a gem of a person out of an inquisitive boy and another extinguished the fire to learn in a curious child through abusive behaviour.
As the historical city of Banaras silently gazes the incessant flow of the Ganges below, it still awaits for its Siva Subramania iyer to light the lamp of hope in its children.
The wind that blows out a candle flame also fans a forest fire!”
The crowning hair swinging gently with the wafting breeze strokes a divine romance in the heart’s deepest recess as the pair of exquisite velvet feet, peeping out alternatively of the sweeping silken gown, ignites an innocent longing to caress and to kiss them. The bewitching smile playing on the vermilion lips dissolves a million woes while the gesturing hand suggests to hold the entire cosmos in its palm. And as the lord glides his way to the midst of his darling children; the gods above and the denizens below stood transfixed by that ethereal beauty which could have but only descended direct from the heavens. Clasping their hands in the highest veneration for their beloved master, the beaming faces of the beatified thousands reflect an inner state that’s swimming in an ocean of bliss. The stretched hand that lovingly accepts the penned prayers and petitions, the gentle nod which reveals an all pervading omniscience, the tender cajole that transcends the cumulative affections of a zillion mothers, the soft whisper that instantaneously dissolves the stratified ignorance of many aeons- The regal pageantry of such supreme benedictions is a sight fit only for the Angels!
If the physical charm of the avatar captivates the outer senses, the nectarine words that emanate from the depth of truth prompts an inner vision that beholds the manifested beauty within. Cascading rapids of musical verses and poetic eloquence, punctuated with scintillating tales and subtle humour, the Lord presents the highest spiritual wisdom in the simplest dialect so that mankind could marvel at the authority of its source, ruminate on the profundity of the words and rejoice in the truth of the message. Gently awakening the slumbering humanity, the celestial voice reminds the glory of man’s true lineage and beacons to proclaim it as its rightful heirs. His words herald the extolled goal to be reached and the royal path to be traversed and instil a firm resolve to embark upon a journey that is sublime and yet so thrilling. And as the aspirant takes the few infant steps, the Lord looks on with motherly pride, showering the child with gifts of love and words of encouragement. Such is the grandeur of the Lord who walked upon the face of this earth.
And when such an Avatar chooses to shed the mortal coil and establish itself in its formless essence, the multitudes despaired inconsolably in the thought that the anchor sheet of their lives is now forever snapped and the guiding light of their existence, ebbed out. Caught in the tempest of the grief, they fervently wished to feast their eyes with the beauty of that form just one more time and sought to make amends for their lapses, assuming it to be the reason for the master’s abrupt exit. They vowed to tread the royal road with renewed diligence, all for the sake to bring him back in their midst. But when the Lord decides to bring down the curtains to his earthly sojourn, the feverish laments of countless millions are too timid a force to change his will which shall prevail at all times and in all circumstances. But the physical attachment to the form made them feel orphaned as they reeled in the agony of his separation.
This separation is but an outward void that compelled his children to look for him deep within and as they did it, Alas! they found their master shining there in all his glory, drenching their very being in love and bliss! Just as the sun cannot be separated from its light, as the sugar cannot be devoid of its sweetness; the Lord and his creations are so inseparably interwoven that one has no existence without the other. For hasn’t he not reminded us that “I and you are one” and when that reality dawns on us we rejoice in his resurrection in our very hearts – for he is Truth, Bliss and Beauty- Sathyam, Shivam Sundaram!
Japan, a group of many islands in the Pacific Rim, is the land of the most enterprising, hard-working and disciplined people belonging to the Nipponese tribe. Short in physical stature, the contributions of the Japanese towards the progress of human race are nevertheless gigantic and touch all endeavours of human activity- from science to spirituality, from music to martial arts. The nation, often threatened by natural calamities and once ravaged by a nuclear holocaust, is also the birthplace for the most fertile and creative minds. The ideas and ideals emanating from here have often transformed human thoughts and fuelled human progress and there isn’t a civilization that has remained immune to its defining influences. The small Japanese cars are a rage the world over, its electronic and digital goods are house-hold essentials and its engineering expertise has created architectural marvels in far-off cities across the globe. While an Ikebana is signature statement for a connoisseur in fine living, Kaizen today is a technique employed the world over for constant plan, process and product refinements, all originating from the land of the rising sun.
Such colossal achievements have naturally given the Japanese a very firm grip on global markets, economies and politics. We thus have today more Japanese multinational companies in the world than any other nation, have trillions of Yen invested in all major economies and Japan play a very crucial role in the geopolitics of our world. And by virtue of these commending positions, it occupied a pride of place in the comity of nations until that fateful March afternoon when the earth beneath it shook violently and altered its topography and with it, its destiny, beyond recognition.
The advanced technology of the Japanese ensured that the buildings the quake shook stood erect but the churning of the oceanic waters spelt catastrophe to the nation that is often complimented for it high level of disaster preparedness. And soon the monstrous waves breached their natural boundaries and engulfed vast swamps of land, bringing down and sweeping away in the fury all that came in their way- people, houses, vehicles, bridges, farms, ships and even aircrafts! Finally when the waves retreated, what were left behind are huge masses of rubble with undistinguishable human bodies stuck beneath them, flames leaping across from a hundred blazing fires and the threat of many impending nuclear accidents. As the nation face multitudes of human tragedy, a thick dark cloud of despondency hangs over the country.
But Japanese are no ordinary people to wallow in desperation and lament over the untold cruelty that the nature has inflicted on them. They are the descendents of the “Samurai” who would face the gravest situation with undaunted courage and fight till their last breathe, not for their selfish ends but for the well-being of the society and of the nation. They are cowed down neither by the severity of the crisis nor by the enormity of the tasks ahead. They are the warriors who are duty-bound to safe-guard the nation and uphold its honour and self-sacrifice is a natural instinct of every Japanese to achieve this goal.
This trait of the “Samurai” is in amble display as the nation struggles to find a grip of its multifaceted problems in the aftermath of the Tsunami. Scores of engineers and technicians, with utter disregard to their own personal safety, are battling it out at the various nuclear plants to minimise radiation levels and to re-start their operations. Thousands of volunteers are on the streets in biting cold, looking for survivors and providing succour to millions, again putting behind their own safely and the need for minimum personal comfort. Many of these people are themselves shattered by the calamity and herein comes to fore the innate quality of putting the interest of the nation and its people first and foremost – the true characteristics of a “Samurai”.
Neither the earthquake of magnitude “9” on the Richter was powerful enough to shake or even to jolt the fundamental character of stealthy resolve of the Japanese nor the 33 feet high tsunami forceful enough to wash away the very distinctive spirit of communion and comradely among them. Again, the subsequent multitude infernos that blazed off and reduced to ashes all that it touched was not thermal enough even to bruise the mighty towers of national pride and purpose nor was the lethal radiation that spewed out of the ravaged nuclear plants penetrative enough to mutate the essential DNA of courage and industry of its people.
In the midst of all-round destruction and the prospect of a grim and hard life that lay ahead, it is the extraordinary sense of discipline and self-restraint of average Japanese that evokes awe and admiration the world around. He might be the one who lost all his dearest ones, whose home and belongings are turned to a heap of soaked rubble and the one to whom future stares blank – but he holds within himself the sorrows of grave personal loss and patiently waits in unending queues for his turn to get essential supplies. These are qualities not seen in lesser men and are a product of generations of idealism and again it is these qualities that erase any doubt in the minds of the world community on the capacity of the Japanese people to emerge out of this crisis. This sentiment of faith in its people is loudly echoed in the fast regaining values of the Japanese stocks the world over.
The world is truly humbled by the valour of this exceptional human race.
The man at the cash counter extending his hand asked “Can I have your plastic please?” I had just made a few essential household purchases from the neighbourhood grocery shop and was waiting to make the payment. The plastic carry bag, which had the stuff picked up from the store, is already in front of him and I was, for a moment, lost to figure out the other plastic he was alluding to. “I mean your credit card, sir” his voice was demanding. “No. I am making the payment by cash” I indicated the mode of payment and counted out a few currency notes from my wallet and gave it to him. He gave me a glance that are most appropriately reserved for curious and near extinct animals in the zoo and bang opened the cash box to search for the various denominations of currency notes and few coins that he has to return to me as balance. As I hastily collected the strewn notes from the table and the small metal coins that dropped on to the floor raising tinkles, I wished I had used the credit card instead! I could have done the job without a whisper, even if I had dropped the plastic on to the floor!
The credit card is truly plastic not only by the material that it is made of, but by the way you can mould, mend and modify your payment options as you continuously indulge in unabashed purchases. You don’t have to have money to buy anything nor is it essential that you will have it later… as long as you have the plastic; you can live your life by the moment and on your own terms. Fitting effortlessly in our pockets, it frees those who have the money, from carrying cumbersome bundles of currencies and from the associate risk of losing them and bestows an aura of élan on the card holder. And for those who have got not even a nickel in their pocket, the card would never let them be wanting or inadequate. While it could be charismatic to flash the stylish card in swanky places, at times of emergency, the little thin plastic could be your saviour, bailing you out of awkward situations and conferring you peace, albeit temporarily, from financial worries. The card, for the various avatars it enacts, has come to occupy a place of predominance, both in our wallets and in our lives.
The digital world understands only the language of the plastic and with online business burgeoning, the usefulness of the card has only grown and grown exponentially. With it, you can instantaneously buy your travel tickets online, pay your utility bills, transfer monies to anybody across the globe, order that delicious pizza and download your favourite book in the e-format. The plastic is thus your gateway to the world of online mercantile and if you don’t possess one, you are effectively and comprehensively out of the expanding world of e-commerce that promises to be the single largest medium of business transactions in the immediate future. And it is in this virtual space that the card has made its transition from a luxury that one can conveniently do away with to an absolute necessity that one cannot do without.
But the very convenience of the card could easily turn out to be a dreadful nightmare when its use is not judiciously tempered and instead seen as a tool to satiate one’s impulsive instincts. And this is the trap that the credit card entices one to walk into without actually realising it and as many would have found out, one never really comes out of this debt trap without pulling up all the resources and the mental resolute to be out of it. Devoid of caution, one is bound to be in perpetual debt, paying off the partial bill, month after month, without ever really clearing it off in full. This is the price one pays when desires are let loose to maul without restraint and when happiness is sought to be achieved through materialistic possessions.
I am going to pay my mobile bill using my plastic. This time around it is my debit card.