This is again something a lot of us don’t usually think about a lot, so I decided to put it down in black and white.

Last night, after simply wandering all over downtown Constablerwache just for a heck of it and having an amazing dinner, I curled up in my easy chair with a steaming cup warming my hands watching reruns of Die Hard. And I realized, God, I have a good life!

Actually just yesterday, I was watching a special on CNN on how Congo’s “Tin soldiers” slave through the nation’s mines, barely clothed, digging with their bare hands and carrying sacks of the ore through a dense forest…just for food.
Yup, you read right, these guys don’t even get paid – they literally work in return for food. The only other option is to go hungry.

And when you connect the two sides together, it doesn’t even seem to make sense anymore. I mean, on one hand you have us guys cribbin about how work’s so lousy, the boss so mean, and not getting paid enough when we have enough money to…well not needing to care about going hungry for even one meal!!
On the other hand you have people like the ones you see on tv, working maybe ten times as hard as you or me and still having to wonder where lunch is gonna come from.

Unfortunately a lot of us don’t realize it but we are a very fortunate lot. And being so, means social obligations to people around us. Help for a needy, food for the poor, clothing for the less fortunate.

We have a lot to be thankful for.

T is for Torture

Let’s suspend the fun stuff for a bit and talk something serious.
I guess most of us don’t think about stuff like this quite often and I’ll have to admit, what really got me going was while I was reading Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows and got to the part where Hermione gets crucioed by Bellatrix. That kind of spooked the daylights out of me, so I started to wonder on the real-life implications and applications of torture and brutal interrogation techniques.

I didn’t have to look too far.
All you have to do is spell it out on Google, YouTube or any major portal and there you have it: hundreds of thousands of first-person accounts, pictures and videos of people – in many cases innocent civilians – being tortured on the pretext of accusations; and in many cases confessing to a crime they did not commit.
And if you think I’m stretching this issue, check it out for yourself. A UN report once openly claimed that almost as many as 2 % of the entire population on earth has at one point been a victim of torture.

What really hits me hard is that several governments accept this as a form of maintaining security. The now famous Taser (which was in the news recently) is one such device United States law enforcement would swear by, maintaining that they wouldn’t have been able to capture a lot of crooks without it.

And you don’t even have to imagine what goes on inside war-zones.
While Israel approved of using ‘mild pressure’ on detainees, more infamous places like Guantanamo Bay have CIA approved ‘techniques’ to interrogate POW – many of whom have been detained without specific reason. Without going into the specifics of the horrors recounted by them and others like the fortunate ones to make out of Abu Ghraib, I’d just like to mention: this isn’t just about them.

This is about every single one of us. Every one of us rational, free thinking, citizen needs to stand up and shout it out loud…coz it might not be long before we wake up one morning and find a guy pointing a wand at you and say “Cruicio”.

Happy New Year?

A few years back, former first lady of the United States , Hillary Rodham Clinton signed off her greetings with a “Happy New Year?” and for once, I’d like to agree with her.
Yes, it is a whole year that has gone by and all that, but formalities aside, what’s so happy about the new year anyway?

People in Iraq don’t have much to celebrate; just more bombs and killings to follow..
Come to think of it, people in Lebanon , Palestine , Somalia , Kashmir and lots of other places don’t have much to celebrate either.
So why celebrate a new year anyway?

Astronomically it doesn’t make much sense; its just the earth making a revolution of the sun (from where, there are no markers in space!)…
Job-wise it makes little sense; we’ll still be stuck with the same problems at office in spite of the greetings you get…
Theologically it makes no sense; most major religions of the world happen to have their own calendars and festivals (none of which fall on Jan 1st)…
Academically it makes no sense; the new ‘Academic’ year starts somewhere in April…
Financially it makes no sense; the new ‘Financial’ year starts on 1st May…

So who’s New Year is this anyway?
The only people for whom this makes sense is the marketers who promote their products with a New Year tag, discounts and gifts – and with good reason too. New Year purchases increase revenue by over 200% in the 2-3 weeks that precede it. That’s some sale!

For the rest of us, New Year is just an excuse to go empty our pockets.