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.

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Bollywood: A Cynical Deconstruction :)

Western philosophy has often used architectonic terms—metaphors of base and superstructure, foundations and edifices, and founding moments and founding fathers…

– Of Grammatology, Derrida

Bollywood: Successfully Selling Shit For Almost 100 Years!

The last Bollywood movie I saw was called Sarkar Raj. I saw this in the month of July, and it was a forgettable experience. I broke a self-imposed rule of Bollywood abstinence and watched the movie, shelling out an unbelievable amount of money for the night show. Over time, Bollywood has churned out crap after stinking crap, and I find it amusing (and slightly disturbing) that the industry still exists and is dubbed as the richest film industry in the world.

A few years ago, there was a sudden increase in “item numbers” in Bollywood, a low-budget version of underground soft porn, and this revolution kicked off probably the biggest number of flops ever recorded in any film history. Of course, I wonder where the directors and producers find the time to make these movies while battling plagiarism suits from Hollywood.

“Bollywood’ – the very name is somewhat of a joke. What the fuck does it mean anyway? Dictionary.com told me that “boll” meant the pod of a cotton plant. Apt, don’t you think so? Add to this the miserable Lollywood of South India, and we have a lousy bunch of losers who want to make movies under the garb of originality, creativity and hope! 😀

Coming back to the interesting point of plagiarism, I’m sure one in every three movies have been lifted from their Hollywood counterparts. Isn’t there such a thing like a copyright anymore? I think not. The films themselves are comparable in quality to the dirt in our belly buttons, and very rarely is a movie made that can be watched without cringing. And what’s the deal with the bad spelling, anyway? Kkkkkcompany? Singh is Kinnnng?? Gimme a break! 😀

Put together a bunch of washed-out actors and directors, throw in a round or two of tequila shots, make them believe that they’re Mankind’s last hope and what they come up with is a screenplay like Padmashree Laloo Prasad Yadav! This 3-hour load of fragrant shit was a sensation among the less-sophisticated audience.  😀

Whatever’s been said and done, I know for a fact that it’s going to take something really sensational to make me watch a Bollywood movie again. I’ve had enough of second-rate droll to last me a lifetime. Hollywood has it’s misgivings too. I’ll save my rantings about the world’s second lousiest film industry for a later post. Yeah, I’m not a big movie fan. I like books and plays better! 😀

Image Courtesy: Cartoonsunder30seconds.com

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Errata: Lollywood is the Pakistani film industry, and not a South Indian one. I sincerely apologize for the mistake.
Kollywood, however, refers to the Kannada film industry in Karnataka! Holy Shit! 😀

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Hippie For A Weekend!

Perhaps the best weekend of my life so far. The title of this post is in appreciation of Bina‘s wonderful retirement plans (she plans to retire as a hippie in Goa at the age of 25!), which inspired me to do something similar, if only for a weekend.

In Gokarna, I was a hippie for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with nothing to do except lounge around on the beach, lie down on the sand in the heavy rain, waiting for the waves to come crashing into me, a bottle of cold beer by my side and a packet of cigarettes handy. We left Bangalore at 9 pm on Friday night and the first sign that this was going to be pleasant journey was that the bus was a sleeper AC coach, with long beds where I could stretch my 6’1″ frame comfortably and plug in my music and go to sleep. 🙂

A clear, blue sky with a spectacular sun gave way to dark clouds that bore ominous signs of a wet weekend. And wet it was – the skies opened up a few hours after I entered Gokarna, and didn’t let up for the three days. It rained intermittently and heavily and at one time, it rained for half a day continuously. This was perhaps the best part of the whole trip. Waves six feet high crashing on to the rocks made a spectacular view.

Imagine this: you’re sitting on a piece of rock that doubles as a chair in a beach-side restaurant, you have a cup of piping hot tea next to you, you’re sitting under an asbestos sheet that barely covers your outstretched legs, the sound of the rain thumping down on the roof is deafening, this sound has been masked by the crashing of the waves right in front of you, waves that rise to astronomical heights, spraying you with a fine, cold mist of salty sea water every time it does, you sit there from morning till evening watching the tide ebb and rise, and at the highest tide, the waves almost come up to the rock on which you’re sitting, instilling in you a faint fear of being washed away, but sitting there with the confidence that the place has been built there to withstand the highest tides, struggling to light your cigarette because the wind is blowing with all its fury, adding to the harmonic noise, and finally, just when the ancient clock in the café strikes six and the tiny lights go on, you see similar lights turning on all along the beach, hundred yards away from each other, and throwing a magnificent view of the entire beach in twilight, corresponding to the distant lighthouse and the small specks of light on the horizon among the waves.

I made friends with a nice, cute dog there, who had a striking resemblance to Balto, and I christened him Murthy. This was because he had only three front teeth, and I couldn’t think of any better name for him. I was having a conversation about existentialism with him and I asked him, “Do you believe if the whole concept of existentialism holds water, no puns intended?” He gave me the most logical answer I’ve ever heard on this topic: he scratched his head, sniffed his balls and trotted away. 😀

Gokarna town is a rustic village, located twenty minutes away from Om Beach, and is famous for its historical temples. There’s one very famous Mahabaleshwar temple here and legend has it that Lord Ganesha tricked the demon Ravana into leaving behind a Shivalinga here. In spite of the might exerted by Ravana (Maha Bala), the Shivalinga stayed fixed, hence the name Mahabaleshwar. The pull exerted by Ravana, is said to have caused the Shivalinga to resemble the shape of a cow’s ear and hence the name Gokarnam (literally means “cow’s ears” in Sanskrit). I had a nice time at the temple with the crowd of people thronging there, braving the rain to offer their prayers.

I started reading Roland Barthes during the journey, a French thinker who had been on my list for a long time. His book Mythologies is quite fascinating, and most of his essays are really intriguing. A good read for any occasion. But the most excitement came in the form of Italo Calvino.

I fell in love with this book called If on a winter’s night a traveler, which is perhaps THE best book I’ve ever read in my life! Thanks Anushree for getting the book for me!! I could not put the book down and once I finished it, started kissing the book all over until it was sloppy. I really suggest this book. I love Italo Calvino! You have to, have to read it!! 😀

Caught the bus back on Sunday night and reached this morning, thus bringing to a close one of the most beautiful journeys in my life. As I said earlier, if anyone hasn’t been to Gokarna, please do. It’s one of the most breathtaking places you can ever go.

Getting there is not much trouble – buses leave from Bangalore every night at 9 pm, and the tickets cost around 500 bucks. I don’t know about buses from other places, but I’m sure it’s well connected. Any bus going to Goa stops at Gokarna. From Gokarna town, catch an auto to Om Beach for 120 bucks and stay there at Namaste Café, at 150 bucks a night! That simple! 😀

Part of me wants to go back there and part of me knows that it’ll not happen again for at least a few more months. I guess I can wait! 🙂