Friday, September 25, 2009

Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love you tomorrow

Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today…so goes the old saying. Well, my maxim is ‘never do today what you can do tomorrow’. Sigh! I know, I know, I’ve read enough and more on the pitfalls of procrastination…but I just put off changing myself till…tomorrow! And…tomorrow never comes.
It’s a familiar pattern that has become a part and parcel of my very being…the last minute adrenalin. Whether it was studying for exams in school or doing my holiday home work (I remember weeping copious tears towards the end of every holiday as I gazed at the foreboding pile of work that I had to do) or completing assignments, the story was always the same. Mounting panic followed by hours of doing useless stuff followed by burning the midnight oil.
And have I learnt a lesson now? Hmmm…no! These days, as the panic sets in and as the deadlines draw closer and closer, I draw succour from Facebook Scrabble, Spider Solitaire and the books around me. As midnight draws closer, like Dracula, I rise, inspired! Between cups of coffee and cigarettes, the work doesn’t seem so insurmountable or forbidding anymore. In any case, if I don’t finish I can always wake up early the next day, right? After all, tomorrow is another day!

Monday, September 21, 2009

Take your booty!

If it’s free I want it! If I can gatecrash your party I will! If I can keep going for parties and never have to invite people over or even take something along, I will! If I can come out for lunch with you without paying I will! If I have a party to go to and I don’t have clothes I shall borrow! If I need onions, potatoes, eggs or whatever and I am too lazy to go shopping (or too stingy?), I shall borrow from my neighbour time and again!
Freeloaders! How do we get them off our backs? This is one species of humanity who are absolutely brazen and shameless, who are always on the lookout to prey on other human beings. They are the takers, very rarely the givers. Giving is usually only when they have to and is most often done very reluctantly.
A few of us were discussing this phenomenon the other day; after all, most of us have at least one freeloader in our gang. And, most of us professed helplessness. How do you tackle someone who freeloads? A couple of my friends were very clear – saying they would just speak out. But for many of us, speaking out becomes delicate. After all the first time someone crashes your party uninvited, you would possibly welcome them out of politeness. Or the first time someone borrows, you are unaware that they are going to make a habit of it. But as time passes, freeloaders, I’ve discovered become more and more blatant. Give them an inch, and they’ll gallop away with the proverbial yard!

So, how do you recognise a freeloader? Here are some tips!!! (Remember, freeloaders are very, very friendly souls!)
Ø Never take their car out when they go shopping with you. You put the petrol…always.
Ø The same goes with autos – you pay!
Ø Very rarely carry their purse with them. If they do, they invariably profess to have no money.
Ø Invite themselves over to your place or gatecrash your parties time and again but never return the favour.
Ø Shamelessly go for every party they are invited to and rarely reciprocate.
Ø At any ‘going Dutch’ meal, they invariably say they will pay later…and never do.
Ø They will borrow anything – from vegetables to money to clothes to jewellery to your car to CDs to your shoes to …to…to…well just about anything except your husband maybe!
Ø Rarely if ever give gifts to their hosts
Ø Receive expensive gifts and reciprocate with cheap stuff.

Well, freeloading is a way of life for this species and unless they are told, they continue to take you and everyone else for granted. Cheapskates…that’s what they are. The solution…hmmm that’s tough. Maybe we should start freeloading on them!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Façade of Devoutness

I recently finished reading ‘Amen’, the true story of a nun in Kerala, and I must say it was quite horrifying to know what actually goes on behind the cloistered existence of a convent – petty politics, ego issues, even illicit sex. Her description of Catholic priests and nuns is bare and raw – they are stripped of their holy, pious exteriors and revealed to be not only all too human, but truth be told, worse human beings than most lay people because they hide behind the façade of piety and the power their robes give them and the church invests in them.
What surprises me is, even after so many sex scandals about Catholic priests erupting around the world, they still command so much power thanks to the blind faith of followers who have been indoctrinated from childhood to believe that nuns and priests, just because they have taken the vows of poverty, obedience and chastity (which is laughable when you read the book) are truly holier than thou art. And, priests especially seem to get intoxicated on that power and abuse it again and again.
When I studied in a convent during college, it was my first real encounter with nuns. Apart from one or two, most came across as frustrated, unhappy and decidedly ungodly. Basic human sentiments of compassion and kindness were sorely missing; it was all arrogance, narrow-mindedness and a blind adherence to outdated rules. Godliness – well, it was difficult to glimpse that! Sure they pay lip service to it all the time but actually seeing godliness in action was next to impossible.
Where the Catholic priests are concerned, repeatedly when I have encountered them I’ve found them smack full of arrogance – puffed up with power and delusions that they are superior to the laity they serve.
My question: when a Catholic confesses in church, he/she is confessing to a priest. What happens if that priest is a paedophile or engages in illicit sexual relationships or is himself a much worse ‘sinner’ than most people? Is he equipped to give absolution? How can a man who lies, misuses power and preys on innocent people’s sentiments, who instils fear and bigotry in people, give absolution? It makes no sense at all but people blindly follow their faith and continue to confess their sins and get ‘absolution’ from these corrupt and nasty priests. Is it the ritual that is comforting – ‘I’ve sinned but chanting a few Hail Mary’s will make that sin go away since the priest has absolved me’? False comfort, because at the end of the day, it is another human being, as flawed (maybe more) than you who is supposedly absolving you. This blind adherence to ritual is disturbing because the priests, very often are playing their congregation for fools. But they and their followers seem to forget one thing - God is not a fool!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Rail Roko!

The Indian Railways never cease to amaze! God old Lallu may have done his bit in the past to enhance services but…Yes, there’s always a but and a big one at that! Take the AC two tier for instance. On a recent trip to Kerala, I was unfortunate enough to get the side berth. As I settled down with my book, looking forward to an enjoyable and relaxed read curled up under the blanket, I realised that the reading light is not positioned behind but on the side. Which idiot designed that?!? In order to read, you have to lie on your right side, slide down the berth and manoeuvre yourself into a position where the light falls on the book (which means that your legs have to be curled up since there is no space) and then, with yourself curled awkwardly into a ball, stay in that uncomfortable position and read. If you move, the book is plunged into darkness; if you stay in that position for too long you end up with a crick in your neck. It’s a Hobson’s choice. After five minutes of absolute discomfort, I gave up on reading and decided to sleep. I drew the curtains and thought I’d snuggle in for a peaceful sleep. Next surprise. The curtain rod ends a couple of inches before the berth on either side so when I lay down to sleep, the night light shone with its disturbingly eerie glow, right onto my face. Which joker dreamed up these plans to enhance a traveller’s comfort? And the huge picture windows, through which one can look out and enjoy the scenery, were all fogged up. So come morning, and one waits in anticipation of soaking in the view of Kerala’s emerald-hued landscape. Alas! That was not to be. Thanks to the filthy windows, one could catch glimpses of the beauty of the landscape but looking out too often only gave me a headache thanks to the strain of peering and peeping!
On the way back, I was in the AC three tier. The coaches were painted a depressing and yucky yellow with equally dismal brown berths. Talk about downers…this was the ultimate. And the windowsills were painted some bilious shade, which was a mix of an awful pink with yellow. To make matters worse, I was stuck in the last seat right next to the door so I suffered the constant banging of the door which can be quite shattering on the nerves! And, since no one has thought of considerately putting a curtain on the door, light shines in from the passage outside. Anyway, the reading I had looked forward to materialised this time thanks to the bright light shining in from outside, I couldn’t sleep…and well, I had no choice but to read!