Attack Tonight

(That which worries you)

Night and day,

follow each other,

without fail.

Life has a rhythm

the blurry regularity of seasons

At the scale of hours and days

rain is unpredictable

even in the season of rains

living in the realm of the uncertain

yet bound by certainty of physical laws

Did I miss something?

the signs that were there

for us to observe

and act upon?

watch your mind

see where it goes

let it not skid

on the slippery slope

of thought

When the eyes and the mind are open

the tightrope of life

is like a highway.

Seal the breaches in your defense

It will calm you down.

Planning tonight’s attack is exhilarating.

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Only the faceless shall speak the truth

Because anyone with a face needs to save it, her words are burdened by that need.

There are faceless fiends, trolls and snake oil sellers.

The faceless may have an agenda, not to be revealed. A profile without a face can inspire distrust.

The leaders, the celebrated, have faces that are well known. Yet, they too have their agenda.

A person behind a well known face can only tweet filtered, palatable, politically correct, sweetened, pale shadows of analyzed and summarized facts with or without purpose.

The truth shall spew forth only from the faceless. They don’t need to defend, explain or resolve it.

Low Blows

In the first round, the kickboxer, in track pants, totally dominated the Thai boxer who wore dark shorts. There were two knockdowns in three minutes and it also appeared logical as the kickboxer looked stronger and perhaps more stylish.

In the second round, the diminutive Thai stubbornly continued the fight that he appeared to have lost already. He raised his right leg and tapped the kickboxer on his calf, who, in irritation, swung a massive fist that hit the smaller man’s raised gloves.

The kickboxer had a variety of attacks that included front or side thrusting or rotating kicks, elbows and jabs. He aimed at the head or the body.

The Thai attack was repetitive; The low kicks were hardly spectacular as he hit the kickboxer’s calf and thigh again and again while absorbing deadly blows on his gloves.

The low kicks had the cumulative effect of wearing down the kickboxer who just didn’t know how to block or prevent a low attack. He was a champion kickboxer, the best in his style. But he was up against something new.

The tap on his left leg just couldn’t be blocked. He had never faced such attacks and even when he had seen it on television, it just didn’t appear significant or something to be impressed with.

The kickboxer didn’t manage another knockdown in the second round, in fact he kept trying to save his leg from getting hammered. The kicks on his shin and thigh became more and more vicious and he was swept off his feet time and again before the match was stopped.

What do we do when faced with a situation like the kickboxer faced? Starting out confident in our ability to face the world, what do we do when we first experience the unexpected low kicks in life?

Can we cry foul and go on fighting the same way? If you do that, you’re not learning from experience.

First, the acceptance, then the learning.

Before we can learn from the experience, we need to overcome ill will that a loss may generate. Our opponents are only human, as are our teachers.

One thing that we lose when we are first hit by the low kicks in life, is a sense of innocent infallibility.

With an open mind we can quit stubbornly clinging to disproved hypotheses.

We can accept that there are other ways to defend and attack.

Sometimes the incessant tapping that is hurting us is too innocuous on the outside. Maybe we don’t even realize that it’s an attack.

We need to identify any attacks to stop blaming the pain on providence.

Having experienced, identified, survived and accepted low kicks, and myriad other blows, we can step out and go beyond the known, with increasing confidence.

And perhaps we shall someday decide to grab a biting toe with one hand and smash a shin with the other.

Doesn’t everyone use or eat another to live?

You may or may not eat hen, frog or chicken, you may not eat a goat, but surely you must use a cow for milk, no?

Even robbers or designated gangsters may have families that they just might dote upon.

You need the other not just to preserve your existence, but also to prove it, no?

It’s like, I like the outdoors, unlike all the lazy bums who want to laze about indoors all their boring lives; or

those poor, homeless folk out on the road don’t let some mongrels bother them; or

the problem with people who never studied the arts is, you know, they just can’t appreciate the finest things;

You bring yourself in sharp relief by identifying others’ flaws, idiosyncrasies, limitations.

Once you have defined the boundaries between yourself and the others, your path is set. You have rules for others that are not the same as they are for you, or your own group.

Isn’t that how everything works, not just chain gangs. You can swindle or lie to (the gullible, suckers); rob (the weak); kill (the infidels) or eat (the soft, the voiceless).

People of the World

People of the world, with the same count of limbs, rarely missing one or two.

With hearts beating quietly and steadily or loud and violent.

The Earth is full of bodies rested or aching and of hearts hopeful or in despair.

Living in communities, respecting laws; sick of rules.

Quietly bearing situations and rarely rebelling.

Guided by stories, in the news, in the books; forming opinions from that of their parents’.

Singing songs together about God, saints, legends, heroes, battles.

Yoked to community expectations.

Earning, eating, saving. Desires never ending.

People proliferate, they dwell on living space.

Moved by love, disturbed by tragedy. Warlike when community expects and demands it.

Often communities demand people to remove love from their hearts; prepare to go to battle; to kill others who are like themselves.

The will to kill is easily accessible even in people nurtured by love who peacefully lived through struggles.

Quick as a chameleon the colors will change. Friends will prepare the weapons for killing.

People who arranged poetry recitals; now feel insecure and wish to destroy those who were guests at the party with music.

Christian, infidel, kaffir, musulman, drawn by destiny’s noose around their necks, they arise from the same elements and there return. In the interim, they have choice.

Between the breath, out and in, we have choice.

Will China Rule the World?

It would appear so. No other nation appears as efficient, as well coordinated or as resourceful. None comes close to matching its growth rates. Yet those reasons do not suffice. We believe that China may well rule the World in the not very distant future because it shows aggressive intent with that aim.

Perhaps the aggression resulted from the lessons that the rulers of China learnt from history.

Chinese economy has been growing rather quickly for the last three decades, but the transition of that nation, from a seemingly benign power with a long history and ancient culture, into a bully that encroaches on smaller neighbors while challenging the sole superpower on Earth, has happened almost undetected, as if everyone else was sleeping.

Coming to the question in the title, let us make an attempt to find the force that may stop China from ruling the World. But before that, if the reader considers such an idea too far fetched, I remind her of history; of events that led to Great Britain losing the greatest empire ever. I remind the reader of military technologies that the best forces in the World were not ready for; remember the blitzkrieg. Of course, in the 1940s, Britain could seek the aid of the new World; but now, China is the new World.

Today’s sole superpower doesn’t have a very powerful ally to enlist even as it is a power in decline and to some extent, in disarray. In fact the President of the United States has never missed an opportunity to pick on the oldest allies that nation has. The EU has been careful not to blindly follow the US, at least since l’affaire General Soleimani and the subsequent posturing against Iran. Besides, this has pushed Iran into the arms of the Chinese. The United Kingdom has been a more faithful ally to the US, but it is not easy. China has made huge investments there that may make it difficult for Britain to take a tough stance.

Nations in the neighborhood of China; Japan, India, Philippines and Vietnam, Nepal and Myanmar are normally careful in their own actions not to challenge the dragon, even as they desperately desire deliverance from encroachments. India has bravely tried to stand up to the PLA, even at substantial cost. The quad grouping of US, Japan, India and Australia is aimed at the only tormentor in the neighborhood.

But any grouping needs direction and trust. Only a consistent, trustworthy and energetic leadership from the most powerful nation on Earth can unite the World and contain an aggressive China. Otherwise que sera sera.

The Anarchy Celebrated in ‘The Joker’ Reflects Real Aspirations

‘The Joker’ strikes a chord with more of us, than would condone the behavior of the protagonist.

Most times, we like some other ‘Joker’ to do the dirty work which would lead to the results we may subconsciously desire.

Most of us don’t like authority since our time in school. The rest of us choose to go across and aspire to authority. Few of us become authority figures long after school but even in school, there are bullies.

A breakdown of order results from a cathartic release of emotion from people who may have been bullied by authority; by teachers, bosses, cops or others.

It is an unloved and uncared for people who express themselves by looting and burning. They would like to destroy all symbols of authority but also the symbols of progress which justifies all authority.

Overkill

Shall we look at the psychology behind common happenings? While we are at it, can we also list the impact of such occurrences? Possibly we may uncover a few insights into our own mental states. If it is alright, let us look at the very wide variety of events that can be described as overkill.

I feel most of you would agree with me that the atomic bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki in August -1945 was an overkill in any sense of the word, but definitely in the sense that the destructive power used far exceeded the amount that was necessary. We shall not go into the impact of that one as you are already quite aware of it. So can we try and imagine the kind of thinking that went into the decision to bomb? How it was justified, not to the world at large, because words can be found to justify anything, but to oneself, by the person/s with whom the buck truly stopped?

By the way, I remembered something else, please don’t mind me asking, but do you ever keep multiple copies of the same file? Do some of them become obsolete with time?

This may seem totally unrelated but can you envision what the wandering member of a hunter-gatherer band think when she first saw agriculturists bending down to work?

Finally, let me ask for your opinion about the large earnings some friends are making, by continuing in the same high pressure job, when they don’t really need anything close to survive?

The examples are disparate but the common theme is the desire to ensure an outcome. To make sure of subjugating a very difficult enemy; to guarantee availability of an important file, or food and other stuff.

The desire to ensure an outcome may perhaps exist in an equanimous mind, but more likely, dear friend, it coexists with a fear of the unthinkable. The real or paranoid fear of torture, hurt or slavery may lead us to act violently; the horror of losing ones identity or title to property is unthinkable; a possible move to the slums is dreadful; even a thought of major changes in a lavish lifestyle is inconceivable.

Can we agree that the human society has evolved in the way it has because of a real or paranoid fear of something that may eat or enslave us, while at the same time ensuring to dominate everything on Earth and to go on this path perennially because it may never be safe to pause? Can we also agree that there are reactions, corollaries and aftermaths to all the overkill, be it an extended chokehold or the second amendment?

Dear friend, I ask myself in your presence. Shall I, during my lifetime, continue to rush on the same highway or will I ever chose the alternative, the path of moderation shown long ago, by Siddharth, Gautam?

This Monkey on my back

My shoulders hurt with the dull pain that has been there for awhile. I know it is because of the monkey.

Many of you probably can’t imagine the kind of society that I live in, so a little explanation is in order. You see, I survive in a society that respects people who go around with monkeys on their backs. In order to be a person of substance, you are supposed to wear a serious countenance, and the obligatory monkey either nestling in your lap, draped around your shoulders or perched on top of your head like a crown.

People here flaunt monkeys of different sizes, shapes and colors. Most common are the ordinary rhesus macaques placidly riding on their minders. Often you see a gray langur grimacing as it passes by on top of the strong individual carrying it. There are all varieties, the Gibbons, capuchins and the pygmy marmosets, and in any given week you may come across, if you keep your eyes open, at least three kinds. Only the other day I saw a gorilla in an Audi that went past. The beast had a heavy paw on the shoulder of the poor man who drove the vehicle.

I have a gray langur to look after. It is a rather large animal, which sleeps as I write this scoop for you. It smells faintly of gasoline and everytime I look at it, I am reminded of things to take care of. Sometimes I am just uncomfortable about and fearful of payback for the things that I have already done, right or wrong. It was such a challenge to put it to sleep, it always is and anytime now it will wake up and start talking. When it does wake up and sees me relaxed, it immediately reminds me of something that I am supposed to be doing. Often it shouts very loudly demanding this and that. Trouble is, even after having had the same monkey for all my adult life, nothing about it feels familiar and predictable. There’s very little regular routine with it around. Once the gray bundle of fur smelling of gasoline wakes up and starts moving, I won’t be calm anymore. I will rush about to make calls and to arrange all matters to the satisfaction of the monkey.

All day I carry it about and all the while it keeps pointing its finger showing me where to go next. Even as I am eating, the monkey has its palm holding onto my arm, just to underline my obligation to it. At night when I fall down sleep, it sits on my chest. At least that’s the last thing I remember at night. But when I am asleep, I know the monkey has rolled off my chest.

In the mornings, I want so much to wake up like a child. I want to forget everything and be totally free. Like this friday morning, there was a cool breeze and the smell of wet earth. I had a song on my lips as I sat up in bed. Then without any warning, my dream came down crashing. I mean my langur grabbed my forehead with its cold fingers and then it climbed on my shoulders.

You may well ask as to why we, I mean those of us in my society, chose to live with monkeys. Let me admit to you we don’t like it. We are expected to start carrying monkeys only when we are old enough but once it begins, then that’s the only reality that we know. We are supposed to carry monkeys because of the fruits they bless us with and the heights they help us climb. But I am not convinced.

I am carrying mine around because it’s so unusual not to be carrying one. I might lose respect in the eyes of my own family, were I to take the monkey out in the car and leave it on the side of the road. I know that would be best for both of us. The woods off the road are lovely. I wouldn’t have a single thought about the monkey once I close the car door and return. I can resume my walk, my games and my sleep without the weight on my shoulders and without the smell of gasoline.

I wonder how it is for the others. Do you have to carry anything like that? Then write in and let me know.

The Great Lockdown

The biggest lock-down in the world began in India from 00:00 hours of March 25th 2020. It is expected to last for a full 21 days. The lock-down includes the majority of people staying at home while the most essential workers including doctors, nurses and paramedical personnel; police and paramilitary go to work, all the while taking care to try and keep each other at more than an arm’s length.

On television, there are images of people being assaulted by the police, because they could not give an adequate explanation of why they were outside. I myself thought to go out for some essentials even as the PM spoke. It was 8:30 pm and it appeared a good idea to pick up some milk in tetra paks, the kind that will not go bad for some time.

Going towards the Big Bazaar, I noticed that the ring road was largely deserted except for a police vehicle at the edge of the road. I decided to use the service lane and as I passed I noticed that a group of perhaps 15 people sat down at the side of the road, near where the police vehicle was parked. They had children with them and looked tired as they sat, while the officer spoke on his phone. Further down the road I saw another group sitting all alone on the isolated road.

The Big Bazaar was closed so I decided to look elsewhere. At a small local market, the grocery store was tightly packed with people and I was careful enough not to enter. At an Amul Milk parlor, there was a queue of 20 people that was going very slow. The first time I had seen a queue at that shop. At several other shops that were open, there were people milling about, without any thought of maintaining a social distance.

Someone brushed me as they went past and I turned and realized that it was someone I know. He hadn’t even noticed that he had touched me and quickly went towards the store selling groceries, where I noticed that another acquaintance was picking up a heavy bag as he elbowed his way out of the store. I left immediately without buying milk.

Migrant workers throughout India are suddenly without jobs due to the shut-down to prevent spread of the virus borne disease. Workers are returning from the larger cities such as Delhi, Mumbai, Ahmedabad and as the public transport including trains are halted, the workers are hitch-hiking their way home to their villages through out rural India, but often UP, Bihar and Rajasthan.

The government has just announced a 1.7 lakh crore stimulus package to help the poor during the tough time.

A positive impact of the lock-down, in terms of preventing the spread of SARS-COV-2 is dependent on us keeping our distance from each other.

Wash It Off

Viruses have weaknesses, so do humans.

Viruses are strands of RNA or DNA enveloped and packaged inside a coat of protein which may be further protected by an envelope of fatty substance. Viruses, by themselves, cannot reproduce or even metabolize food into energy. They can do these things when they are latched onto host cells, like human or animal cells.

When we (a) touch a surface on which virus particles were sitting, these virus particles easily transfer onto the hand. and when we (b) touch our nose or mouth with the same hand, the virus can enter the body. Between steps (a) and (b), if we wash our hands well with soap we can effectively destroy the fatty casing of the virus and destroy the genetic code that the virus hoped to unleash within our bodies.

It may not always be possible to prevent a virus infection. In this case, the antibodies present inside the infected person rush to destroy the virus and possibly rid the body of the virus; though there may be flu like symptoms for a few days. Here is a MedicalNewsToday.com reported case study of a patient who caught SAR-COV-2 in Wuhan, China but recovered soon after returning to Australia. The case study was published in the journal Nature Medicine by researchers from the University of Melbourne at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity in Australia.