What do you recollect about your loved ones when they are not around? Would it be what they did exactly as you wished or what they did behind your back because you did not approve of it?
The beauty of being “human” entitles you to be what you are; allows you to be imperfect and still be loved as a complete being – flaws and blemishes all included. These flaws make you complete; gives a human touch to your being; makes you warmer and lovable; more approachable; more forgiving and free. Though people fantasize about the “perfect man” or the “perfect woman” in their lives, those lucky ones who have found their true love have understood that perfection is not real; perfection is at times cold and un-humanly.
What you fondly remember about your grandmother is not the fact that she neatly folded her clothes and kept it arranged in her wardrobe; it is her naughty smile when she would get caught stealing sweets which she is not allowed to eat as part of her diet. What you recollect about your grandfather is not the way he reprimanded everyone at home for being disorganized but the way he would squeal and lift up his dhoti and run at the sight of a house rat!
The way your husband throws his wet towel carelessly on the bed; the way he gorges on food at midnight and feigns innocence when confronted; the way he leaves his coffee-mug stains everywhere in the bedroom; the way he leaves the book in the toilet – these nagging habits that would leave you irritated in the beginning start becoming part of life, you start anticipating them and smilingly accept these flaws as you live together for a long time.
And these are what haunt you when they are no longer around – when you go to the toilet and find it spic and span with no books precariously hanging on the flush tank; when you do not see your wife’s hair on the bathroom floor or when you do not find all the wiring messed up (because she was “cleaning”) or when you no longer find her bindis stuck all over the mirror – this is when you start missing her. The loneliness creeps from the inside and you yearn to feel her presence around, hoping to hear her voice nagging voice from the next room, when you realize that all that surrounds you is silence.
Wars are fought to establish power and re-instantiate supremacy. During times of uncertainty, a sense of insecurity descends on the people caused due to anarchy or due to perceived depletion of resources. This results in sudden upsurge of rebellion against the “enemy”. It gives way to two or more opposing sides. Once the tension mounts among these sides, a small trigger point, sometimes totally irrelevant to either of the sides gives rise to a full-fledge war.
When the war involves a large number of people and is widespread across vast geographies, it is designated as a World War. So far we have survived two wretched world wars.
There are a lot of prophecies being written on occurrence of a third world war. Each has its own version of the war in terms of how it would be fought or which countries would be involved on which side.
As we live in the fear of eventuality, carefully looking out for any serious tension between two countries and keeping track of every movement of arch rivals, there is a silent movement going on all around us. If we do not pay attention, we might miss it entirely or might underestimate its strength or dismiss it altogether as a passing phase.
This is the silent revolt of the poor against the rich; of the have-nots against the have-alls. With the population of the world rising to an unfathomable number, with the majority of this population struggling to survive due shortage of basic resources on one hand and with the supreme control of resources being handled by a handful of people, with the enormous amount of wealth being enjoyed by a few on the other hand, we have already created an un-bridgeable divide between these two sides.
This is not very different from how the world has been ruled so far. In the past too there have been power-thirsty emperors who have amassed wealth at the cost of their subjects; there have been countries greedy for resources invading their neighbours. However, this time the equations are slightly different. The entire humanity of “Common men” is up against major power houses called “Corporates”. The very corporates whom they had invited whole heartedly into their lives, to whom they had been loyal all their lives have broken their faith. The people are feeling “let down” and “betrayed”.
The corporates have surpassed their boundaries within which they used to operate and are now beginning to control Government policies. They are fast expanding and are controlling every move of the Government and are turning it against its own people.
The anger is all around us to see. The gathering at New York Times Square was a clear warning of the impending war. And this time, it is not localized to any geography or race of people. It is world-wide and there are only two sides – the minority population of ultra-rich and the vast majority of the not-so-rich.
The rebellion has already started. Every regular man is targeting his richer next door neighbor who has been zipping in his expensive fleet of cars while the regular man worked overtime to meet his basic needs. The same regular man who has been looking up to the rich neighbor so far and hoping he would be there one day has different emotions now when he looks at his neighbor. The emotions are getting bolder each day as he starts realizing the futility of his dreams. He starts connecting his lost job to his neighbor’s new chopper; he starts connecting his failed marriage to his neighbor’s flawless botox-ed looks. He silently plots for his revenge.
There is no clear demarcation of good and the bad or the righteous and the evil in this war. This is purely driven by deep, ingrained disparity and bottled-up human vices – that of envy, jealousy, anger, resentment. All this gives rise to intolerance leading to frustration.
We already see the death of tolerance, love and peace in this world. The grossly rich have no empathy towards the poorer countrymen and have no shame in displaying their vanity. The not-so-rich have lost patience and tolerance they had for their fellow countrymen. They have started taking their frustration out against any richer person they come across. This is clearly evident in the recent news of a Belgian man vandalizing expensive cars in his city, not because of any political motive but only out of sheer resentment.
Of course, the rich have power, though small in number, they have control of resources and this can easily curb the rebellion. But the not-so-rich have numbers on their side; they are currently the majority in terms of sheer numbers. Imagine if they all decide to join hands and organize themselves in a war, the effects can be catastrophic.
What do you do when you have a fixed set of goals and you end up achieving all of them? Like in case of an athlete whose only goal in life was to win gold at the Olympics and after chasing this dream for 25 years, it comes true. Do you set new goals or do you retire? Can life be confined to a limited set of tasks or “things to do”?
Aren’t the things always evolving just like the universe which is always expanding; or like our own lives that are also constantly evolving? What might have looked like utopia a few years ago might be obscure now. What might have sounded like a safe career earlier might be a joke now. Of course, you can constantly revise your goals. But what if your goals are not matching or nowhere near the ones you listed earlier each time you revisit them?
Is a mind that wavers considered “risky” and “unstable” or do we call it free and uncontained? What others consider “settled” can be suffocating at times? You have one life and one life only but there are unlimited set of things to do – you cannot do all but you should do all that you can do and all that you wish to do, not limiting to a set of choices or topics. It might put you at the risk of ending up a fool; a jack of all trades of sorts. But what are you trying to prove? Whom are you trying to please? Whose master do you prefer to be – of trades or of yourself?
Wake up in the morning to the sound of hungry baby birds who are waiting for their surrogate mother to bring them food, preparing plates of food meticulously for each inmate knowing their nutritional needs and likings, disinfect and clean all the cages thoroughly to ensure there is no contamination, start the treatment and medication for each animal as per schedules and charts, in between rush to rescue an injured snake and in the process educate the people about snakes, reinforce the walls to ensure the cages are safe during rain, clean up some weeds to help local species grow better, finally relax next to the pond constructed stone by stone with own hands listening to the sound of frogs and the satisfaction of having restored a ecosystem. All in a day’s work for Saleem, who has been tirelessly working towards rehabilitating displaced and injured animals in and around Bangalore. For a man who has dedicated everything he has towards rehabilitation and securing a better future for the various species, life outside of rehab is unfamiliar. His love for animals is just an extension of a deep rooted passion towards life itself – all things living with their flaws and irregularities included.
In recent times, as the entire humanity is progressing towards its own downfall, conservation has become a high profile term, with the nature crusaders turned into glorified celebrities. The entire world seems to have been fixated on the color-of-the-hour “Green” and every corporate scurrying to get their share of green-time in the process. In a time when nature “researchers” or “conservationists” are making best use of their new found fame, a handful of them still go about their duties silently, as they have been doing over the years and will continue to do so till they have a hold of their senses. Saleem is undoubtedly one such wonderful human being who consciously and tactfully avoids any remote chance of getting into limelight. But to anyone who has got the chance to meet him, he comes across as a warm, loving human being with a generous dose of quick wit and humor. It might be his caring heart or his adventurous streak or his enormous repertoire of knowledge and experience he carries about animals or his readiness to provide a friendly advice anytime – it is hard to say exactly why someone would get attracted to Saleem, but he has managed to touch the lives of everyone he has met in a way that would not have been possible otherwise.
Rehabilitation has an 80-20 chance for success, it is notorious for its highly inefficient turnarounds in terms of occupation. It involves a deep understanding of the species, its natural behavior and surroundings, its adaptation to artificial circumstances and finally its chances of survival after release. Nurturing a baby bird, for instance, involves round the clock feeding it nutritional mix through syringes, keeping them dry and warm with the aid of heating pads, ensuring that they do not contract any infection or get injured in the artificial nests, knowing their changes in food habits and modifying the feeding frequency and type of food as they grow up and ensuring that all this is done with utmost care not to imprint them. There is almost zero margin for errors, a small mistake might cost a precious life. It requires immense patience to go through the routine activities over days at length. In the end, to recognize their readiness to fly and return to their natural surrounding, to make sure that they are fully equipped to face the outside, harsh world without the safety net of cozy beds and caring mothers. In many cases, this results in a happy ending where the bird confidently soars and returns to its habitat, this is when a rehabilitator is in his most elated state of happiness. But in some cases, it all comes crashing down when the bird fails to fly away and just trots back to its basket or might get killed in the first day of its freedom itself. It is emotionally a highly stressful journey for the rehabilitator to go through all the highs and lows during this process. In case of an injured animal which requires medical attention, it is extremely important to understand its problem, diagnose it accurately and deliver the right treatment. And in case of grave injuries, it is important to take a call on the animal – the most difficult part – to play “God”. This is the part that separates the real, passionate animal lovers from the show off, cuddly types. It takes immense guts and mental strength to decide whether the animal will continue to lead a normal, good quality life after the recovery or would end up being easy food for its predators. Because, nature is not kind. Only the fittest survive, this is the unwritten law of nature. To release an animal that is incapable of surviving is worse than euthanizing it; however harsh that might sound, it is not far from truth.
Saleem has lived this tough life for years. He has spent sleepless nights looking over baby animals to ensure they are not bitten by ants. He has sat for hours together crouching over feeding small squirrels and lorises and almost broken his back in the process. He has experienced near-death situations many times having been accidently bitten by venomous cobras while handling them. He has sat in rain, protecting the animals and keeping them warm. He can be completely stressed out after a day’s work and yet would not show any signs of slack while handling another animal. He could be collapsing due to tiredness, sometimes working through day and night and yet gets excited when he hears that an injured bird has started to eat normally. He is always on time when it comes to attending to the animals and never misses the food and medicine schedules. There are times when he realizes that he is unable to save an animal and it is getting closer to losing it, but he never gives up, never misses a chance to try all possible ways to save it. This kind of life requires complete dedication, this means, there is no life outside rehab. There is no time for family, friends, socializing, sometimes there is no time for even basic necessities like eating or sleep. Saleem has scarified everything just for this one purpose, to save the lives of animals.
He could have chosen to live in forests and work on a studying habitat of some species or conserving large animals like tiger or elephants that would procure huge grants and bring recognition. But what he chose was something that is so rare that you can count such rehabilitators with the fingers in one hand – he chose urban rehabilitation. In the hierarchy of conservationists, if there is one such, this can be counted on one of the lower most rungs, not because it is less important, more so because it is less appealing or may I say less glamorous. It is also most painful because you know that that animals that you are working with are the result of human greed in the name of “development”, it is our own making. This means, he had to live with the fact that he was born and brought up in a city which is built at the cost of thousands of displaced creatures and the only way to save them is to continue to live in the city and rehabilitate them. It is a very complex cycle where the animals that live in cities, in the small holes of buildings, in the few trees that are still surviving, in the highly polluted lakes have evolved to live in the proximity of human beings and cannot be relocated elsewhere. The city is their home too, but it is not a very safe home for them, if its not predators that would kill or injure them, it is the high speeding vehicles, the high rise glass buildings or the huge earth turning JCBs that are their nemesis.
Saleem, the artist
Be it photography, illustrations or sketches, Saleem’s creativity flows in every task he undertakes. This is not limited to arts, you can see his intricate designs even in the cages that he builds for the birds and the delicate job he does with the sutures during surgery. He is a born artist and has a keen eye to recognize art in all forms in almost anything. He has been a top notch photographer almost all his life, shooting a wide range of subjects which of course includes his most passionate ones – that of animals, insects, birds and nature. He spends his free time sketching illustrations of wildlife and nature that bring forth the minutest of details. His deep understanding of the anatomy of the animals, plants are evident in his sketches, he ensures that all his drawings are as close as possible to real life. The drawings tell a story, it is amusing to see how people can spend several minutes lost in amazement staring at Saleem’s illustration of a withered leaf; something that they would not even care to look at in its real form if they happened to find in their garden.
Saleem’s life has always been an inspiration to many who have known him and understood his philosophy. For others, who happened to only see only a single dimension of him, without understanding his other sides have always returned disappointed. For, Saleem is a philosopher, a dreamer, a poet, a musician, an animal lover, an artist, a rehabilitator and above all, a loving human being who has nothing but infinite love even for the his greatest foes. It is interesting to see how much he has squeezed in his life, having given the same time as all others around. It is rare that you come across people who have always lived their life to the fullest, spent most of their time living on the edge. It is hard to find people who have filled their lives with so much passion and an inner fire that it has engulfed and burned them inside out and yet they do not wither and dry, the fire only makes them burn brighter and in turn ignite other lives around.
Generous strokes of blue, layered with pale green, both blending together to form the indescribable color of the ocean; the monotony of these colors broken by the deep brown rocks which force the water to transform into a misty white; A dash of green of the trees thrown in along the white sandy coast and you have a perfect painting. And this is exactly what some of the artistically inclined visitors were attempting to capture at the Pebble Beach. Some of us, lesser endowed or in some cases, lesser patient ones could only stare at their artwork in amazement. However, the 12’’ by 15’’ canvas stood no chance in comparison against the vast expansive, larger than life canvas that wrapped us.
The poor camera almost cried in revolt for pitting it against the most wonderful lens, which is the human eye. My eyes could see up till the horizon, capturing subtle colors, movement alternating between a panoramic view and a powerful zoom almost effortlessly while the brain tried to process all this at a high speed sometimes missing a few details that went unregistered. Where the eye was challenged, the mind made up by filling in some details with imagination; and this even the most advanced of the cameras cannot attempt to match. Nevertheless for the benefit of our family, who were eager to see the landscape through our eyes; who were unable to experience all this in person, the photos we captured through our tiny camera would be priceless.
As we drove our cars into the 17 mile drive, the excitement of having caught a glimpse of the ocean made us follow the dotted lines on the map right up to a place called the Bird Rock. The drive through the woods interspersed with photogenic guest houses and private properties was invigorating. I rolled down our windows and opened up the sunroof to let in the sweet smell and sounds of the woods. The moderately tall cypress trees filtering the sunlight and the very tall redwood (sequoia) trees that formed a canopy were the ones we could identify with our limited knowledge of flora of this place. Innumerable and indistinguishable sounds of birds and insects resounded in the woods, their privacy well protected by the thick woods with only their sound let out. Exploring this place on a cycle would have been more enriching if you were prepared to brave the chill winds and this is what we found groups of cyclists had taken to.
Our trails are dictated by the wildlife we spot and this is exactly what happened as we got out of the car and started walking towards the beach. I caught sight of a whitish raptor sitting majestically on a branch of a large tree. I started walking in the direction of the tree to get a closer look. It turned out that there was a walking / jogging trail carved out amidst the bushes that permitted me to get closer to this raptor that was probably resting as it had no intention of taking off. It looked like the black shouldered kite, which is a species we are familiar with back home. However, being unsure, I noted down some of the characteristics of the bird. Ratheesh, who had till now plans to walk along the road, joined me in my excitement. Walking along the same trail led us down to the beach. The white sand cushioned our soles as we walked towards the water. I missed the freedom of running barefoot in the soft sand as I had my boots on due to the cold weather. Any thoughts of baring my sole evaporated as I touched the water with my fingertips; it was ice cold even as the sun shone brightly above us.
Although I had expected the bird rock to be a huge rock amidst the water where the birds roosted, which it turned out to be, however, in comparison to the vast expanse of water, this rock appeared quite small. Never before had I seen such a vast expanse of water as the Pacific and it was extremely emotional and overwhelming to experience this magnanimity. It made everything around it feel small, the boats, the whales, the rocks and the ever-pervasive human ego. I just stood there frozen in time, just amazed by the ocean with my numbness broken down occasionally by the beauty of this scenery. The water looked copper-sulphate blue overall with a greenish-blue border along the coast where it met the shallow floor lined with algae. I sat there, on the white shores watching the huge waves forming and breaking. The warm Californian sun ensured I sat there without having to worry about cold. It was the perfect weather to be at the sea, even though, I would agree that we lose out on the fun of running into the water in our bathing suits. But if you want to just soak in the sights peacefully, without having to bump into a lot of noisy people, it was the perfect season as the crowd was minimal and the views were extremely clear. Without a sign of clouds or fog, I could see the clear blue sky meeting the blue waters as long as my eyes could stretch.
Photographs have an interesting quality; they can mesmerize you with visuals creating a sense of happiness that is often accompanied by warmth. What they fail to convey is the chill winds that would be blowing at the time the photo was taken. When I look at the photographs of this place, I could see a bright sun shining above cool clear blue water creating a perfect setting for settling down in your swimwear with a book in your hand. However, here were two people dressed like eskimos as if they were photo-shopped into this setting from a far-away cold land.
Although the 17-mile drive promised a lot more view spots, I was content watching the far away seals and sea lions and enjoying the breathtaking scenery at the bird rock. The rock was cohabited by sea-lions, seals, pelicans, cormorants and a few other bird species. The sea-lions, with their paddle legs crawled on the rock busy feeding their young ones. It was interesting to watch such a huge animal dragging on its modified legs, it looked as though it was too heavy to lift itself up and walk. But the same body structure worked extremely well for them under water. The seals were smaller in size and were showing off their shiny fur, basking in the sun. The pelicans were busy feeding and occasionally a large group would take to the sky in perfectly synchronized formations and enhance the beauty of the clear blue sky. Sitting here, watching these magnificent creatures in the company of seagulls was one of the most cherished moments.
As an icing to the cake, we could also spot the grey whales very far away through our binoculars. It was first the spout my eyes caught and then my heart started racing, I knew what it was. My eyes started following the trail and then I could see a part of its body come above the surface only for a second and again vanish below the water. But this was enough to get me excited.
“The lone Cypress”, a medium sized cypress tree which enjoys special attention due to its picture postcard looks as it stands at the edge of the island with the vast sea in the background, was our next destination. The tree, although attracts a lot of visitors for its visual treat, is a great example of how cypress trees can adapt to harsh climate, hard, rocky ground and stand strong for centuries. We clicked the customary clichéd shots of this tree and proceeded to our next destination.
Of the other places we visited on the way, a significant one was a beach at the end of our 17-mile journey – Carmel by the Sea.
The temperature drop was drastic as we drove through a narrow winding road. The road would take us to Pudhiya Edam; where we intended to stay for a day. It had been long since Saleem had invited us to come over to this place located almost at the edge of human inhabitation.
Our landmark was the Muneeshwaran Temple, the gate after which we looked out for a curving, ascending, non-tarmac stretch that posed a challenge to our car but sent our adrenaline shooting through the roof. We bid the car goodbye at a turn where only the human body could go further. Carrying our luggage we reached our destination by noon. Starting early from Bangalore, it took us hardly a day.
With a stream running alongside that befriended you with a musical welcome and promise of constant company; with dense sholas that surrounded the huts you will be caught surprised that such paradise exists just round the corner from where you parked your car. The ambience of the place immediately got us hooked.
We spent an hour or two just sitting at the dining area and talking. Interruptions when one of us spotted a bird here or an insect there were very frequent. In fact hardly a minute goes by without the Ghats exploding into some kind of activity.
Saleem suggested a walk up the hill all the way to Muneeshwaran temple and beyond. We readily agreed. In an hour we were walking up a non-existent pathway through absolute wilderness following Saleem into what we expected would be a spectacular culmination. And was it not?
Once right on top we could spot hills far, far away. And being a beautiful day when god woke up on the right side of the bed, the sky was a painting in itself. We spent a good amount of time up there before racing against the sun while descending. With Saleem to trust we almost believed that all roads would lead to our hut.
The hut was the ideal living conditions and complemented the surroundings. Made of earth, thatched roof and a floor polished with naturally available material you would be caught standing outside the door admiring the creators. Incidentally we never actually slept inside.
Come night and we spread some warm bedding outside the hut and moved from one dream to another, the transition, almost unnoticeable. Such was the beauty of the land.
Situated a few hours from where we lived, just a few kilometers from Talapuzha in Wayanad, Pudhiya Edam was definitely something we would have terribly missed if we had not made the effort.
While we go about our lives attending to tasks that domestication brings with it, a seemingly inconspicuous monster grows in our living room, feeding on our curiosity to peek into the outside world. For most of us, reading newspaper or tuning into one of the news channels has become a routine ritual; for some others, it has become the single source of truth. A quick tour of one of our daily newspapers reveals that some of these “news” items can unravel a lot of hidden truths.
About unstable secretions:
“Latest studies show that over 40% of the women are affected by Thyroid imbalances. Hyper-thyroid and Hypo-thyroid are rampant among the urban population especially women lately.” There are several scientific reports appearing in newspapers indicating that Thyroid has become the most common ailment plaguing people, next only to Diabetes. Beside this, an advertisement for Thyroid diagnosis and treatment center that announces special discounts for women appears. So if you are underweight or overweight, it is recommended to get a complete checkup of your Thyroid levels (and start taking the drugs which claim to regulate Thyroid levels). This would mean almost 80% of our population needs to be checked for Thyroid, considering only a minority of people watch their weights closely.
Until very recently, most of us were not concerned about our Thyroid levels, in fact, most of us were not even conscious of any such substance in our body. We did not have doctors or advertisements pressing us to have our thyroids checked and coincidentally none of us suffered from any ill effects of thyroid imbalances. But suddenly we hear that our close friends, our neighbours, their relatives – all complaining about their Thyroid problem. If you happened to suffer from tiredness and felt you need to see a doctor, rest assured you would be diagnosed with thyroid deficiency and if you are very unlucky and end up in a hospital, you would also have to undergo some expensive tests – again to prove that you suffer from thyroid.
And these tests record just a marginal discrepancy, a discrepancy nevertheless and should be a cause for concern. A common brand of drug is prescribed for prolonged periods of time after which follow-up checkup is recommended.
Another news item that made it to the front page was that Aamir Khan had a baby created in the lab artificially with help of surrogacy. Does this have to be a front page news item? Undoubtedly, he is one of the most celebrated actors in our country (not sure about country, but for most, Indian cinema means “Bollywood”). But a closer look at the Advertisements that accompany this article in the same newspaper unfolds the agenda – clinics that specialize in IVF, Ads that calls the “normal” people who can be like their star too and have a baby through IVF.
For some of us interested in social and culture news, there is enough to tickle our interests. Salman Khan has an extended family that consists of a large population of odd-looking, hardly-related people who come from various cultures, religions and geographies. We never had to bother about this or wonder about their compatibility. But this year, it created a full page article with a very “loving” family photo of everyone wearing his brand of T-shirts and describing how they celebrate festivals and rejoice national integration. Does it matter? No! Not to a reader who is reading his morning paper. But yes, to the producers of his latest flick that was released in time for Eid which required this “news” item.
And then, there was an unlikely news article which carried a story about Amitabh Bacchan being visited by the Kannada actors Shiva Raj Kumar and Puneet Raj Kumar at his residence. They presented him with a book written by Puneet about his legendary father Dr. Raj Kumar. And very soon, we saw an Ad of a jewelry store on television that showed a very “caring” relation between Amitabh Bacchan and Shiva Raj Kumar.
Politics cannot be left behind. Some of us do not even know which party is ruling in some states. But now, thanks to newspapers that enlightened us, we know that Sunny Leone (If you are wondering who this is, you might have just arrived from Mars and would need to catch up) was invited to a party hosted by the state Govt. officials which created quite a controversy as the same Govt. had earlier ordered posters of Sunny Leone to be removed from buses. This was a major news topic for around a week in leading newspapers. You guessed it! Just in time for creating buzz about Jism-2.
These are what people are fed with in the name of “news”. If you want to know how the coal mafia has contributed to the vanishing forest covers of our country or how many prompt officers were “transferred” because they uncovered some truths or how our country’s relation with our neighbours are, you might be disappointed. Of course on days when you are lucky, you might chance upon a one-column article on these burning topics. But it is largely considered anti-publicity material and frowned upon by newspapers mindful of their reader bases.
Media is a persistent salesman:
We are being bombarded with information we do not need for the benefit of a few. We are being sold items for which we do not have use for to generate profits for a few. We are forced to form opinions about people, organizations or countries that we do not know of or care about. We are supporting “philanthropic” causes and are made to feel for strangers. We have started worrying about the health of organs we didn’t even know existed in our body.
All this while, we are feeling that our country is progressing; our media is doing a great job of bringing out even the most remote news to us instantly. We feel we are the privileged people and all our needs are taken care of. Above all, we get a false sense of security.
And while the common man is thinking that he is benefited by this great service offered by the media unaware of the fact that the actual benefactors are the corporates; they are the few rich and the famous that have started governing us and our lives. Of course, it is unbelievable; it does not make sense at all – how would these seemingly harmless Ads and news items have a hidden agenda (after all, it helped us a lot; we have access to limitless information now)? For the majority who believe in the news and Ads feel that they are empowered like never before. They are the masters of everything around them, most importantly they feel they are now in control – they have the ultimate authority to choose – to make decisions.
But what choices have we got? What decisions have we taken? Does choosing one brand over another make us more empowered? What we are choosing is “whole-wheat” biscuits over the normal ones (because we were told they are better?). We are now able to choose among 99 colors for our two-wheelers (amazing isn’t it? why settle for boring black and plain whites?). What we are able to choose is eco-friendly greenhouses over the conventional (non-green?) houses. Do these choices matter? Why are we made to choose among A, B or C. What about the other choices? What about the choices whether we need a house or not in the first place? What about whether we need to eat cereal or not? What about whether we require the commodity or not? No! There is no such question asked. The commodity is already “sold”. It is assumed and beaten into our heads that we cannot live without a particular product. The “news” articles have taken care of that part. Now that we are enlightened, we are being offered a range of products so we can kindly pick our choice.
What benefit does the news item hold for us? If we think deeply, does knowing about the seemingly “secret” lives of our celebrities make us feel more enabled? In what way would you be helped by knowing about an alcoholic problem of a dead film star? Wouldn’t it be rather beneficial to know about the drought conditions in our state and to know whether there would be shortage of food supplies in the near future? Wouldn’t it be good to be aware of any impending financial problems of our country or even the world so we are better prepared to face a crisis? Wouldn’t it be nice to know how our Govt. is prepared on avoiding a natural calamity, say for e.g. in flood prone areas? Or to know what are the advantages and disadvantages of constructing a dam over a river so we can influence a decision? Or to know how the rich evergreen forests are being destroyed and how this would affect us or how is this destruction related to our water problems?
But these decisions have already been taken. It did not seem necessary to consult us or even discuss these issues with us. After all, we are “common” men and women. We have entrusted the decision making to a few nominated candidates (who supposedly represent us). These are also considered “boring” or “un-sensational” to be published. The greatest decisions that affect us the most are taken for us by a few powerful people while we are busy choosing the color of our new car. While we are being convinced that we need the car, we are kept away from key decisions like the increase in fuel prices.
Do we feel better after sending an SMS to save the tiger? After all, it was Amitabh Bacchan who asked us to; he could not be wrong. Now we can be assured that the tigers are in safe hands. And we have done our bit to save them “you need to be proud of your SMS“. Things are better again; we can now get back to other topics like our thyroid problem.
Thou shalt get what thee seeks:
Think about it. We are being taken through this “tube” (someone aptly called the television a tube) which creates a world for us to see, to experience. It creates a barrier which cleverly sifts the news that matters from those which are harmful or useless (Swami Nigamanand went on a hunger strike to save Ganga and died after 73 days, but who cares?). It creates a world of illusion where you are the Kings and Queens; the world revolves around you. YOU are the most important person in the world. You and your loved ones need to be protected from the harmful surroundings; you deserve to be pampered and taken care of. The tube has no openings or windows to the world outside; it is not necessary. All that matters is whether you are steered towards the commodities; whether you are being a “responsible” consumer. And this can be a never ending tube; the products are limitless fueled by our “needs”.
All this could not have been achieved if not for our ever-obliging consumerism. As long as they have a market, the corporates will make every effort to sell, after all profit is what they aim at. We are only being fed what we like to be fed (at least the majority of us). Like a chimp which is given puzzles to solve that leads it to a trophy, we are being led, step by step in a programmed mesh that involves the Corporates, Government and Media. The lone crusaders who stand up against this setup are crushed and discarded; the corporates do not like to be contested. And while this happens, the rest of us are blissfully unaware of any such incidents as we sit in our beautiful web woven exclusively for us. We feel like a queen spider in the center of this mesh but too indulged in ourselves to realize that the web is a trap.