Wednesday, November 26, 2008

A guide on being thankful in the 21st century

A while back I decided to stop blogging because somehow, the endless outpouring of self-justified edification and quirky observations created a bitter taste: existential word verif. combinations jeered the very notion that anything other than self-pleasure was going on.

The past couple of years, months, days and hours have been working hard at changing that decision.

Desperate times, desperate measures and such.

Ergo, while the U.S. spends the next 12 or more hours giving into a celebration of tradition and excess, dipping into nostalgia as a salute to the times of unchecked spending now gone by, with a clenched-jaw energy intent on creating les bon temps in the midst of a great winter of malcontent, I now proffer a guide to giving thanks. This is for those of us who will continue the day un-turkeyed, albeit glazed over, hyper-caffeinated and searching every news source for the latest developments re: the attacks last night.

A Guide to Being Thankful in the 21st Century [OR] PJ's List of 8 Mental Health Tips

1. Ignore CNN, Fox and related "sister" networks. For real news, find the blogs and RSS feeds of bloggers of Mumbai and from Mumbai, and give praise to your individual gods for their energy, intelligence and intensity.

2. Avoid chaos theories proposed on aforementioned networks. For actual facts on how international affairs/foreign policy works, visit foreign policy magazine online, or the Brookings Institute. Celebrate the fact that non-partisan, collaborative discussion is still supported the world over.

3. Pursue and enjoy self-preservation. Citizen reporting is one thing, but in a situation where there are guns and bombs going off in several locations, with the ATS, Army and police trying to control chaos and shut down the baddies, you standing there sending MMS/SMS updates and capturing the scene with your camera-phone is only making things worse. Being a by-stander is only allowed at parades, not killing zones.

4. If you're part of a country that consists of multiple communities, religions, languages, income levels, political leanings, religious holidays and calendars, hold hands and dance! Who you are and where you are makes it that much more difficult for politicians and business people to sell you gung-ho, black and white [or red, white and blue, or saffron-hued/Indian green] patriotism. Rejoice that there are no easy answers, no one bad guy, no one bad country.

5. Respect your luck. If you made it in the nick of time, or avoided an ill-fated train, road, or restaurant, silently salute karma. No more, no less.

6. Give praise for the inherent power in the mute and on/off buttons on your remote and radio. It is your one mode of control over the mass hysteria fanned by media channels in order to boost their TRP ratings.

7. Light candles for your cities, both attacked and as yet, non- targeted. If said cities are in a country as described in no. 6 on this list, it is only by a strange, whimsical grace that nothing worse has happened... yet.

8. Send love to folk like Google, who have made it possible to check on loved ones in cities under fire. All named and accounted for, over IMs, offliners, emails, blogs and twitter. Technology also meant following the attacks from the moment they happened, and not having to wait on second-hand news.


N.B-- a) what I find curious and disturbing is how in the past few years, horrible events have coincided with calendar holidays. Christmas for me will always carry memories of the 2004 Tsunami, even tho it did happen on boxing day. Today, there is talk of feasts against the background of repeated footage of a city I haven't visited since I was a child, but which is home to a large number of people I love, respect and cherish. Somethings get harder to stomach as I get older. Wonder who else feels the same.

b) It's time for Bombay to implement the kind of security measures other major metropolitan cities in the world have. It will change things forever-- but haven't the events of last night already done that? It means more check-posts, more CCtvs, more cameras, stricter i.d. requirements and those "see something, say something" signs. Metal detectors and sniffer dogs aren't enough, any more. It's not just about national politics and separatist movements, any more. Wake up. Stand up. Don't let them sell you packaged hatreds and suspicions. Protect your own.


abc said...

Enjoyed your style. I’ve been also blogging on & off with similar self-doubts.

Still, i'd say, All the reasons in your list for being grateful in the 21st century are equally valid.. True, there is little reason for “free” blogging except for one’s own self-gratification. But, self-gratification is no less imp. Perhaps that’s all we need to go on.