Dear People,

I’m puzzled. What does being free mean to you?

Doesn’t it mean the right to express yourself freely and frankly? Maybe, irreverently? Maybe out of curiosity? A desire to understand? To know more? 49adef0b54d19c26fbdf2847f4234e4a

Reject? Question? Debate?

What if this right were taken away? You’d be fine with it, right? Because. I. Don’t. Hear. You. Ask. Why. WHY?

Why is it ok for our money to not be in our control?
Why is it ok for banks to lower the interest rate on FDs, charge us for every transaction, levy whimsical penalties?
Why is it ok for restaurants to fleece us?
Why is it ok for our green cover to be tampered with, taken away and replaced by more concrete in the name of development?
Why is it ok for a saffron bearing yogi to unleash uncool squads in the name of women protection?
Why is it acceptable for our history books to be rewritten in ways that make our past a sham?
Why is it ok for people in power to remain unaccountable?
Why is it ok for privileged and powerful government servants to slap and beat up professionals? Why is it ok for them to get a token tap on the wrist instead of being severely punished?
Why is it ok to allow someone to tell you what you can or cannot eat?
Why is it ok to be fed propaganda instead of news?
Why is it ok for you to feel smug and watch injustice play out around you?
Why is it ok for you to pretend that slowly and at a distance from you … the reins are being pulled in?

Why do you not see? Why are you choosing to be blind?

Because, once you have been silenced, there will be no coming back. Your hands would have been tied. Your impulse to fight back completely destroyed. Your right to question will be forgotten and very soon you will not know the difference between being free and being a conscientious tax paying, aadhaar number. Puppet. On. A. String.

It will be too late.

Yours, if you want me
Your Right to Freedom

Dear Friendship,

We learn cuss words. The best ones. From friends. We speak freely without censure and judgement. Come to think of it … almost anything and everything is without judgement.

The pranks. The madness. The wild cackle of laughter. The passionate debates. The lunacy. The impulsive travel. The movie marathons. The whirling dervishes we transform into. The gluttony. The wisdom and the sage advice. The falling over and picking each other up. The celebration and the tears. The sharing of fears.

The circle is tight.

High Five!

Member of the tribe

Dear 2017,

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Hope is the word that drenches every new year wish. Desperate, urgent, heartfelt hope that the world will be a better place, all lunacy aside.

These are 10 hopeful, anxious requests to the year 2017.

1. May we never again have to deal with whimsical people hijacking our hard earned money only to dole it out to us in rationed amounts.

2. May we find the voice to counter fiction with fact … it’s that little detail that checks out consistently across time and documents.

3. For the love of God, may the Air Traffic Control at airports get their spatial assessment right … each and every time.

4. May news channels discover a conscience and give the people a fight worth cheering for, a truth worth aspiring to and an idealism that inspires the nation.

5. May the underprivileged stand up and demand their rights, leave fatalism to the past and broker a brand new future for themselves.

6. May we, the citizens of India, not have to pay for silly statues and the lavish lifestyles of our illiterate … uhh … hard working netas … until each and every citizen gets to experience the basic human dignity of living.

7. May we acquire special powers that can stop the flow of stupidity from the mouth of leaders.

8. May we find the cure to chronic ailments so that hospitals are no longer the sought after destination hubs.

9. May people allow themselves to be better, more compassionate, kinder and more generous souls.

10. May new item numbers flood the market and fill the world with joie de vivre. The nation needs to be inspired to sing and dance and laugh and love.

Yours hopefully,

A speck in the vast humanity

Dear ‘Dangal’

Some key lessons that were beautifully interwoven in your narrative :

 

 

Relationships based on respect and trust rest on a foundation of deep love.
Arrogance and complacency gets you only this far and no further.
There is no joy in humiliating and defeating your mentor.
Perseverance, focus and hard work are the best route to success and fulfilment.
To teach and have any impact you need to inspire.
Choices define the direction your life takes but course correction is always possible.
Keep it simple.
Patriotism is potent and powerful stuff.
Be independent because at the most crucial juncture of your life you may find yourself alone.

To convey all of this and more without being sanctimonious is remarkable.

You are not just a good film. You are a warm, heartfelt and inspirational story of courage.

An appreciative filmgoer

Dear Veggies,

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I’m torn between two choices. Should I pick you up from the vegetable vendor who has still not transitioned to cashless but needs the business and the cash to survive another day

OR

Should i order you online to be part of the self-congratulatory, cashless tribe?

Yours affectionately,

Confused but wanting to do the right thing

 

Code word, BLACK

Dear evasive 2k,

You double dholki, you! You’re clean and yet, you’re also black. You are the embodiment of social transformation, economic reform and the lighthouse of controversial change.

And yet, you are also dirty and found in numbers so huge that lone cars and hidden vaults are unable to contain you.

You were introduced so that terror would slink away with its tail between its legs.

You were revealed to the adulatory public as whitewash … washing black money and making it white, leaving a trace of pink behind.

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But, you magically became black. The one thing you were meant to curb has now become a dirty river in full flow.

Not only has the earlier black become plywood. The current black, sorry pink, has become the most elusive little thing. The hottest. In demand. Ticket to survival. For the poor. What a fine reputation you’ve earned for yourself in 34 days.

You are the symbol of a ‘little inconvenience’ but an alchemic, gilt edged distant future.

The problem is this new black stain. It’s refusing to wash away.

Sincerely,

An unimpressed user

Dear Celebrity Obituaries,

I’m trying to choose the right outlet to express my loss for a beloved celebrity. On a social networking site.

R.I.P, the most often used, pithy and safe expression … it’s non-committal, on the fence and looking into the park with binoculars. No one sees you or notices you. You, however, notice it all with a token hands up in the air. A part of the tribe that wants to be part of the larger tribe. The Hail Mary #I’mwithit #IknowmyGK bandwagon. An apologetic meow.

Then, there are the quotable quotes. One step further towards committing to a stand. A neutral quote that allows you to wet your toe without getting into a provocative debate.

The forwarded article comes next. This one is a bit dicey. Is it safe enough to put your name to? Will it get the likes and will it position you as smart and up to date? Or will it give away your political ideology, your state of mind, your carefully cultivated personality type or upset friends and family? While you’ve wet your ankle by now, it still keeps you at the water’s edge. You are using someone’s views to position your own. The trolls are still distant.

Then there are the news clips and the documentaries and the audio-visual clips to share. The commentary may simper, be obsequious, surprisingly factual or just downright fake but there’s a choice to be made again. Will you associate with the genteel, intellectual, smart and factual or the frenzied, over the top and volatile editorials? Deep thought.

Then come the Originals. Downright direct, undiluted opinions. Fearless or foolish. Open to bouquets and brickbats. Expressing like or dislike of the person who has passed … may god rest his/her soul. Anything and everything is fair game to this opinionated soul. Measured, contradictory, rabid, dramatic, emotional, ridiculous, loving, angry, soulful, all embracing …. endless genres of expression. Loud roar.

So many choices. So much to weigh. My image is at stake. Definitely, my sanity. To be a fence sitter, observer, water temperature tester, ass licker, skinny dipper or just plain cussed … what will it be? Wary that the beasts on the social net whacking sites could troll. The cops could break down my door. Some jail time. Public apologies. Haters. Worshippers. Nothingness. Safe anonymity. What do I choose?

Worriedly,

A mourner.

Seriously, it’s not about me.