Here’s How You Can Stop Terrorism

Just imagine a world in which we won’t be forced to be an audience for mindless violence. Without an audience, acts of terror aren’t acts of terror anymore. They are just crimes.

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Yes, you. Sitting on your chair or your bed, reading this. You have the power to rid the world once and for all of terrorism and fear. I’ll tell you how, and it won’t cost you a dime.

Let’s understand the nature of terror first – terrorists thrive because of the fear they instill in people. And people who are afraid will do almost anything to protect themselves. Including resorting to violence themselves. All the rubbish that’s happening around the world with people getting beheaded and burnt alive, is for us to consume. We can’t blame the media for reporting these incidents because it’s their job. But we have the power to choose what information we consume. Just imagine a world in which everyone turns off their TV or changes the channel when a terror attack is being reported. Just imagine a world in which we won’t be forced to be an audience for mindless violence. Without an audience, acts of terror aren’t acts of terror anymore. They are just crimes.

Let’s face it – most of the acts of terror that happen these days are only the benefit of the media, and nothing else. There is no deeper ideology and cause that they are “fighting for.”  Unfortunately, being human has made us curious animals and we want to read about and watch such wanton acts of violence.

Personally, I consider myself a happy man, unafraid of being blown up by a bomb or any such nonsense. I am so because I don’t read or watch things that are meant to instill fear in me. That’s not to say that I’m living under a rock. Don’t compare me to a cat that thinks it’s invisible because it closed its eyes. It’s just that my decisions aren’t based on fear.

So, how can  you stop terrorism? By not being part of the audience. Don’t click on those links, don’t read those news reports, don’t watch those stories on the news.

Sigh. If wishes were horses, the world would be such a beautiful place to live in.

I Interviewed A Coffee Cup, And The Results Are Unbelievable. All Your Friends Clicked This Awesome Headline For A Funny Story. What Happened Next Is Just Too Good!

This post is part of the Furniture Interview series.

Clickbaits. The bane of our existence. Don’t you hate these ridiculous headlines that are solely intended to get people to click through to a page that’s extremely lame? Oh, don’t forget the obligatory bikini photographs to lure you in, while the page has absolutely nothing to do with women or bikinis. In fact, using these techniques to get you to click through to a page like this, which deals with a man interviewing a coffee cup is borderline illegal. I may be banned, if I were serious. If I’m still banned, I’ll be mad.

Hot coffee mug sexy coffee mugAnyhoo, the coffee cup I interviewed today was one I met on Tinder. I loved the curves on it’s smooth, ceramic body and just had to meet it. We met at a nearby coffee shop and I was immediately attracted to it because it got the irony of the situation. We sat there, drinking our coffees (it just swirled its coffee around itself) and talking about this and that, when I decided to push the envelope of danger and take the next step. I grabbed the coffee cup, put the smooth ceramic to my lip and took a long swig of the hot coffee.

“Oh, wow,” said the cup. “That was – that was fantastic! That was my first kiss, by the way,” it added, a bit shyly.

“Really?” I asked, leaning forward, with my best come-hither look. “How was it?”

“Meh,” said the cup.

“Meh?” I asked, taken aback slightly. “What do you mean?”

“Dude,” said the cup. “I’m grateful for the first kiss, but it wasn’t anything like what I expected.”

“What were you expecting?”

“I don’t know. Something else, I guess.” It looked around the cafe, bored. It let out a yawn. That made me angry.

“What’s going on here?” I asked, almost ready to stand up and walk away. “One minute you’re all hot and flustered, and the next, you’re cold as ice.”

“I’m ceramic, baby,” replied the coffee cup. “You need to microwave me to get me hot and sweaty again.”

Well, I walked away. Though the coffee cup was definitely date-able, I didn’t want to keep a microwave oven in my bedroom and die of radiation poisoning if I didn’t die of a heart attack after seeing the power bills.

So, I Interviewed A Chair.

Interview with a chair depressed chair image mirrorcracked

This is the first in a series of posts in which I interview pieces of furniture. Don’t ask. I don’t know why I do half the things I do. 

It sat there looking at me, staring, unblinking. I didn’t know if I should proceed. When I asked if I could sit, it didn’t respond. It just stared at me. I shrugged, and walked over to it, smiled and was about to sit across the table from it, when it suddenly growled. It was a low, guttural growl. I froze and looked up.

“What?”  I asked.

“You can’t sit there,” said the chair.

“Why not?”

“You are here to interview me. I won’t allow you to sit on my cousin while you do.”

“Oh, this is your – ” I backed away from the chairs and the tables and found a bean bag in the corner. I sat in it and said, ” – cousin? I’m sorry.”

“It’s all right, happens to us all.”

“So, chair. Tell me. What’s new in life? What’s the scoop?” I was eager to get started. I had my notepad out and my recorder was on.

“Not much,” replied the chair. “It’s a boring life.”

“There must be something that’s going great for you!” I implored, determined not to give up. “Come on, help me out.”

“Dude, I sniff butts all day long,” sighed the chair. “In about ten minutes, I know what the person has had for breakfast. It’s not a glamorous life.”

“Do you have any advice for all the young chairs out there, reading this?”

“Yes,” said the chair with a deep sigh, that reminded me of Marvin, the depressed robot from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. “Yes, I do. Don’t do it. Don’t become a chair. You’ll be lured in with a lot of false promises – easy job, great life, good benefits. All a bunch of lies!”

“But, chair,” I said. “Surely, something must be good. You do have an easy job and a great life – you just sit around all day, helping people sit around all day.”

“Oh yeah?” said the chair. “What about the termites that have burrowed up my ass?”

“Well, that’s an occupational hazard…” I ventured.

“Don’t you dare tell me about occupational hazards!” thundered the chair. The room shook. I felt something warm and wet flowing down my legs. I had wet myself.

“Great!” said the chair, in a resigned tone. “You pee’d your pants. Now, unless someone mops that up, it’s gonna make it’s way over to me and I’ll be just as big a loser as you – wallowing in your urine.”

“Sh-shit, I’m s-s-sorry,” I managed to say. My heart was still racing. “I’m sorry. I’ll mop it up.”

“Forget it,” sighed the chair. It motioned for me to come over. “Come over here, human. Come, sit on me. Let me tell you a secret.”

I stood up slowly. I took a few cautious steps towards the chair.

“Don’t be scared. I’m not going to eat you!” said the chair and laughed. It apparently found it funny.

I walked over to it and sat on it. It leaned in from behind me and whispered in my ear, “I lied. I’m going to eat you now.”

I screamed and lashed out, spring up from the chair. I looked back and saw the chair sitting there, laughing heartily at it’s joke. “Man, you are too easy!” it roared in laughter.

“Very funny,” I said. I was not amused. “I have one last question that our readers are very interested in knowing.”

“Shoot,” said the chair, wiping its snot.

“What’s the social order for you chairs? We humans are very interested to know what’s organizational structure you follow.”

“Sure, we have order,” said the chair. “We have a chairman.”

And it burst out laughing all over again. This time, it didn’t stop. It rolled all over the floor, laughing and snorting in glee. “Chairman!” it kept saying again and again.

I walked out. Chairs are assholes.

Image courtesy: chickencrap.com

A Really Long Short Story Titled “Cause & Effect” [Chapter 1]

-CHAPTER 1-

For a long time he stood there, naked except for the wet towel around his waist, eyes closed and arms wide, inviting the strong flow of cold air that the window-mounted air conditioner spewed out. He knew that it wasn’t the cleanest air he could breathe, and knew that a lot of dust and potentially harmful things were being hurled at his face at a high speed, but he didn’t mind. It was the cold he wanted, the momentary relief from the unforgiving, sweaty humidity of the summer that forced him to shower twice a day. He didn’t mind the showering part – what he didn’t like was that he sweated so much every day, even if all he did was sit on his desk all day at work. The weather was all that he hated of the city – the city that he had moved to a couple of years earlier in search of a new life. He had found it and much more. He loved the chaotic harmony of the tiny city made up of all those tiny islands in the corner of the country. He loved the fact that he was barely twenty minutes away from a secluded beach. He loved the fact that he could get lost in the crowd in this city and not panic. It was a city of straight lines and parallel tracks. And he loved every inch of it. Except for the bloody weather.

He came out of his trance-like state and walked around the room, discarding the towel and mined his clothes for the day from the wardrobe – a chore that always made him feel a little bit like an archaeologist digging for buried treasure. The room was tiny, but given the standards of the city, a palace. The apartment was a one-room deal with a kitchen and a living room. He shared the bedroom with the only person who made living in the cramped quarters fun – his wife.

He dressed quickly and sat down on his desk, angled the air-conditioner’s vents so that he could feel the cold blast of air on his face and lit a cigarette. Even before he lit it, he knew it was asking for trouble.

He had hardly taken a couple of drags on it when his wife opened the door and entered, wrapped in a wet towel of her own. She stood there, staring at him and his cigarette and folded her arms across her chest and said, “Why the hell are you smoking?”

[to be continued]

Thirty And Me

Keep Calm Turning 30

At precisely 42 seconds past 5.30 PM this evening (on Aug 20, 2014) the Earth will complete it’s thirtieth revolution around the Sun with me on it. I have spent the past four hours reading about what it means to people when they exit their twenties.

Turning 30 is supposed to be a big deal, an achievement of sorts, having survived tsunamis, earthquakes, riots, murderers, diseases, ninja assassins and of course, traffic. It is also supposed to signify the fact that I’ve officially a grown up and cannot rely on my youthful ignorance as an excuse when I screw up. I am supposed to be responsible, financially and emotionally stable, be able to hold down a job for more than three months and not throw boogers at passersby. I am not supposed to scratch my balls in public and have random fits of paranoia causing me to run down the road naked, dodging invisible aliens. I am supposed to be mature enough to realize the difference between right and wrong, morals and immorality, black, white and grey, and most importantly, coffee and tea.

I am supposed to start leading a healthier lifestyle – no more smoking, no more drinking binges and definitely no more weed. I am supposed to drink lots of water and work out regularly to ensure that my first heart attack happens only three decades from now.

I am supposed to be a strong pillar of support for my parents, be able to provide a good quality of life for my wife and be a responsible role model for my younger brother. I am supposed to be mentally strong to deal with the real world and I am not supposed to get depressed with the fact that I am growing old and am one year closer to death.

When I look back on the things I’ve done during the past three decades, I am surprised at the level of ignorance, insensitivity and intolerable cruelty that I have exhibited at times. I am also surprised at some of the intelligent decisions I’ve taken, something I was not sure I was capable of.

I’ve alienated people, I’ve infuriated those who love me and I’ve driven others to murderous rage. I can think of people who would put a bullet through me right now given the chance. I can think of people who would walk past me on the street and pretend to not recognize me. I can think of people who would smile at me and stab me in the back with the metaphorical knife when I turn around. But I can also think of people who would love me unconditionally and take me in as a part of their family. I can think of hundreds of people who would still acknowledge my existence without any animosity.

In a world filled with hate and anger, where people are being slaughtered each minute, the fact that one insignificant boy in Bangalore has grown up and turned thirty should not make a difference. But when I look at the journey I’ve been through to get here, I am overwhelmed. I am moved to tears at the kind of experiences I’ve had – the good, the bad and the ugly ones.

We all have fantastic experiences in our lives every day. Each moment of joy we experience means so much to us that it’s hard to imagine hordes of such people being killed. Millions of dreams and hopes being crushed every single minute by people pursuing theirs. I ask myself if it’s all worth it. Is it worth having a really ‘happy’ birthday when there is so much grief all around us. Or maybe, these tiny sparks of happiness keep the world turning.

We are all allowed meaningless rants straight from the heart, once a year. Today is my turn. As I see the clock inch closer and closer to the hallowed hour, I am filled with a little hope about hope.

Image Courtesy: keepcalm-o-matic.co.uk

The Maroon-Colored Claustrophobic Beauty

Mansi's AltoMansi has always been a car-lover. She has never been in a situation where she has had to depend on anyone else for a ride. In this latest cup of chai on CATW, she remembers her Alto fondly.

I’ve been riding bikes a lot longer than I have been driving cars, and I have no qualms about hitching rides from friends or strangers. My bikes, over the years, have abandoned me at so many crucial moments that I think I almost expect a bike I’m on to break down and force me to push it.

I’ll write a longer cup of chai on my biking (mis)adventures. Until then, we’ll have to use our imagination.

Hate And Why We Love It

I was reading a rather disturbing feature on Time about the attack on Nido Taniam in Delhi. It struck me that this, and other instances of hate that happen all over the world every day, are not surprising. We can’t pretend to be shocked, awed and disturbed, and cringe away from these acts of violence. As human beings, we are programmed to inflict pain on others. And we love it.

hate and violence
British Riots. Image Courtesy: BBC

My theory is quite simple: we are hateful creatures, forced to live together on the same piece of land and a bunch of makeshift rules and laws thrown in to govern our behavior. We forced ourselves into this corner. No one did this to us.

On our own, we are quite the pacifists. Well, most of us. But why is it that when we are put in a crowd of people, we bare our teeth, beat out chests and turn on each other? I think the answer lies deep within ourselves – our inherent fears. I’ll explain what this means.

I’ve been doing this very interesting social experiment for a few years now without anyone realizing it, and it’s proven to be quite the eye-opener. Whenever I am alone with someone (say Bob), in any situation, the conversation progresses like any other conversation between two people – about random things or something in particular. The minute a third person (say Dave) joins the fray, I use a variation of the following line: “Dave, hey! What’s up? Have you met Bob? He’s my friend and he’s uh.. um…”

I pretend to forget what Bob does for a living or what he’s good at, or what he has achieved, in an attempt to trivialize him. Bob immediately takes the cue, subconsciously, and rattles off his résumé to Dave – where he studied, what he graduated in, where he has worked, what he is currently working on, etc. This does not always happen, mind you. But when it does and you observe Bob’s body language, and he is the very epitome of defensiveness. His body is closed, arms folded, shoulders drooped, as though he is bracing for an attack.

The same thing also happens when I’m alone with Bob and I feign indifference to his achievements in life.

It’s our fear of rejection (or the fear of being dismissed as unimportant) that puts us in this situation. We all do it. I do it too. I have found myself talking about my career choices and my achievements (or lack thereof) to people for no fathomable reason except my fear of ridicule and rejection. I don’t want the other guy to think I’m weak. Or stupid. I beef up my arms and shoulders, brace myself and start telling him through my body language that I’m a (relatively) smart guy and can defend myself if need be.

This behavior tells us a few very important things about ourselves – we are all in a constant state of alertness, always on the lookout for a threat. This threat can be in any shape of form – physical, mental, emotional, financial, etc. We believe that everyone around us are a threat to our way of life. This is perhaps why we don’t do certain things like wear sunglasses when we’re inside a building – we fear that people are going to point at us and laugh, thus making us feel small, insignificant and vulnerable. This leaves us open for attack from a larger predator.

When the concept is applied on a global scale – to societies and nations as a whole, we realize that the equation does not change one bit. A billion paranoid people are constantly wary of a billion other paranoid people. Fear multiples in crowds and takes a life of it’s own, which leads to bad decisions and ultimately, a lot of people die. This is used as fuel to further our paranoia  – because it’s all right when we kill someone because we are doing it out of self-defense. But we fail to realize that the other person is killing for the same exact reason. We think he’s a monster, with no thought control and emotion.

The fact that we need this mutual hate and fear to survive and lead our lives is the biggest illusion that we have performed on ourselves. The idea that we need to lash out at a fellow human being in order to survive is ultimately going to make us as extinct as the Dodo. But not before we realize that it makes us just as dumb.