Thursday, February 15, 2018

An Indian Love Story

They met at a company dinner. He had just finished a hard day at work, and finally had some moments to relax his aching nerves. "Fourty-Five is no age to be working like I used to at twenty," he thought to himself. Indeed, that's what his body screamed, too. Gray had replaced black as the dominant color of his hair and beard (whenever it worked its way through on long weekends) over the past 10 years. Also, he now preferred the comfortable seat of the sofa cushion over the haphazard styles that he could commit to - on any sort of surface - back in his college days. He had become more solitary these days, and luxuries had come to be his new friends.

Without thinking too much into his situation, he listened to the shehnai-walas playing. The music stirred something in him. He felt hungry. A glance towards the feeding end of the hall showed that dinner had not yet been served. Having ruined his stomach over the previous weekend gorging on street delicacies, he didn't want to risk having the snacks offered. Then he noticed a queue forming at the feeding end. He wasted no time, and raced to join the queue, a proud 5th position finish.

As the queue got longer, the buzz in the room increased. Everybody was trying to rush through conversations, with an eye on when the dinner would be served. The queue, meanwhile, swelled in size. He looked back, an felt prouder of his decision to give up a comfortable seat; in his head he patted himself for making good decisions with long-term goals in mind. The 4 others ahead of him accommodated 14 more people - as is the norm with families strategizing their food assault on dinner parties, - which slightly put him off, but not by much as behind him now queued hundreds. He would be the 19th person on the dishes, which meant the best bits in all gravy dishes would still be for the grabs.

Just then, the first tinker of cutlery... somebody lifted a plate off the deck. Then another tinker... a spoon being removed from the stack. Then another one... the lid on first of the dishes being removed. Then the tinkers picked tempo as more lids were removed off the dishes and more people nudged forward and picked up cutlery. The first smells of gravy dishes wafted through the air and grew thicker, a phenomenon that everybody appreciated, as it helped build an appetite for multiple servings, especially after the past coupla hours with snacks.

After the 18th person, came his turn. He was swift in arming himself; age had made him better at least at this, he realized. The first table consisted of salad - several kinds of raw fruits and vegetables and sprouts cut and arranged in tempting shapes, and some covered in attractive colouring, begging to be picked and eaten. But he was no kid to buy into such ruse.. He was here for the big food. He knew that the salads were only meant to distract people from the mains and help with savings for the food contractor.  He ignored the salad trays and headed straight for the main dishes. He wouldn't do with any but the juiciest "chaap" pieces in the mutton stew, which he already knew would be on offer.

Curse the kid who did not realize the things that he did. The kid with the family ahead of him, who hesitated, but then did stop for the salad - the star-shaped watermelons and glacially-arranged sprouts had succeeded. As with kids, this one turned awkwardly, and hunched awkwardly to reach for the fruit. His one leg pulled back to keep his balance. This leg was what came to be our man's undoing.

Cutting across straight for the non-veg counter, he tripped over the kids' leg. His body picked up an unexpected sideways momentum, which his brain had no prior knowledge of, and hence could do nothing to control. The hunger suspended and was replaced by panic, as he felt his body hurtle down towards the dishes. He could see himself heading for either Paneer Pakhtuni or Paneer Lababdaar. Nothing could drive his hate of cottage cheese more, than seeing his head dipped in a vesselful of it. A new realization dawned in that split second... that his life won't be the same in another second.

Then, as if commissioned by God himself, came the hand that gripped him by the shoulder and stopped his fall.

[... to be continued]

Psychopath's Grooming

Reading on "grooming behavior" lends a further approval to the aphorism "nothing in this world free".
Grooming is a manipulation tactic used by most predators to gain the trust of their victims and their caretakers. Within grooming the predator may provide gifts, attention, time, mentoring, special privileges, alcohol, drugs, or companionship. If the abuser is successful, the grooming process will connect positive experiences to the perpetrator within the victim's mind. 

Essentially, what the groomer is saying is: "This is the beginning of a long-winded transaction, at the end of which I'll be the one to profit and maximally so, through my techniques of delayed manipulation. At a later stage when I decide to take advantage of you or abuse you in any way, either you would perceive it as good, or see it as an exception that is outweighed by all other goods I have done (for you), or treat it with ignorance (assent without much deliberation), or in retrospect understand it as something because of your own fault."

How we understand this world is being upfront transactional. We might sometimes lament about this culture of "transactionality", but in most cases, it is laying the foundation for a fair game. There are predators operating under the guise of favors and charity who give benevolent or empathizable behavior a bad name.
The bottom line - grooming is manipulation and demonstrates the predator’s premeditation to later violate their target.
Most of the things that shock us today start with grooming... because abuse is a long road. The longer the chapters take, the more our hearts cry out if we do ever get to know about em. Some last for a lifetime, and are buried as secrets with the abuser and the abused.


Linguistic takeover of terrorism

Radicalism has been bandied about as bad word, and a profile type to avoid/deter, not only out of our lives, but out of our societies. The term attaches bad connotation to a word that could otherwise swing both ways. Just like "kafir", or "heretic" in earlier connotation. Today we celebrate the heretics of the past, and several social/cultural reforms have been attributed to them. Renaissance had a lot of em. Our age of enlightenment, which led to the technologically driven and factually wholesome societies today (which I love more often than loathe) would'nt have come unless there were people who were labeled as outsiders for the most part.

Radical only means "relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough." 
That seems benign by definition. There could be good or bad radicals. 
The bad, malicious, sociopathic radicals are taking over the word in today's world. 
What do the good radicals get? - a  lukewarm word like 'reformer'.