Sunday, August 23, 2009

Good Samaritans

If a Martian were to pick up a copy of one of our newspapers or magazines, it would be perfectly understandable for him to dismiss Earthlings as a bunch of maladaptive miscreants who have nothing better to do with their time other than rob, rape, murder, or wage war against their own kind. This in addition to being purveyors of homemade pornographic material and destroyers of the ecosystem. Atleast we won't have to worry about a large - scale alien attack! Anyways my point is news material these days is one of the leading causes of indigestion given the content that is covered. Which is why it was a refreshing change to read (in The Week) about some good samaritans who have been harbingers of positive change in a beleaguered society.

Two of the good samaritans - George Abraham and Dhruv Lakra, made a deep impression on me. George Abraham is credited with being the creator of blind cricket in India. Being visually impaired himself, he refused to allow his handicap to stop him from following his dreams. Today he works in the advertising industry and is always looking for ways to brighten up the dark world of the blind. Whether it is playing cricket or honing their innate abilities, George Abraham is there to help his brethren lead useful, fulfilling lives.

Dhruv Lakra is the founder of Mirakle Couriers where the mail is sorted and delivered by deaf adults. The 28 year old started small with only one employee but today the organization boasts of 15 corporate clients and 30 deaf employees! I loved the fact that Dhruv made it possible for the deaf in his charge to find a way to contribute to society while enhancing their own sense of self - worth and making good money while they are at it.

So Mr. Martian we are not all bad eggs. Sure, we behave like arses on occasion but you can't deny that sometimes we are adorable.We may wage wars but we also fight for peace and for every jackass there is a good samaritan. And yeah we made a hole in the ozone layer but I bet there is a genius somewhere who is on the cusp of a major breakthrough in the plugging up of atmospheric holes with discarded socks no less. So there, humankind rocks!!!

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

What Lies Beyond?

What happens after we die? What can we expect in that great beyond? Most religions talk about heaven and hell, but I never really bought that concept. Heaven is supposedly the place where everything is beautiful and clean and everyone is deliriously happy cavorting with chubby cherubs. Yeah, sort of like at a dentist's place sans the aesthetics where there is enough happy gas to go around. Hell, on the other hand is where you burn for your sins and are treated to a firsthand experience of torture devices used over the ages. Sounds like Sivadump to me :)

Hindus believe in rebirth. I am not sure about it, but I must confess that whenever my latent penis envy condition starts acting up, I promise myself that in my next life, I'll be a man. (You'll have a similar condition too, if in your family the boys are allowed to study in co - ed institutions and sent off abroad to round out their education while the girls are sent to all - girls boarding schools and then married off without further ado). And people I have no reason to be fond of will be cockroaches. Its a pleasant enough daydream but I am not sure it will ever amount to anything more.

My favorite explanation can be found in Harry Potter. In the immortal words of the great Albus Dumbledore, "To the well -ordered mind, death is but the next great adventure" . Well I am always game for a new adventure and besides it sounds a lot more fun than the "perpetual happy - hour" place and "eternal exile to Sivadump" place.

And for those who are wondering about my sudden morbidity, there is a simple explanation - pickles and ice cream for lunch coupled with a terrible case of morning sickness. Pregnancy is such a magical time. Be warned.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

To Suffer or Die?

Sir Edward Downes, the former conductor of Britain's Royal Opera made a sucide pact with his wife, a former ballerina who had been diagnosed with terminal liver and pancreatic cancer. They decided that life without each other would be unbearable and decided to end it together in a manner of their choosing. Strict British laws on assisted suicide prompted them to fly to the more lenient climes of Switzerland. They went to clinic in Zurich by the name of Dignitas, where for a fee of $7000 the group arranges for death by barbiturate. The couple paid the fee and took their lives. Nice and easy and supposedly civilized. I am sure a lot of people would find this romantic but I thought it was creepy as hell.

Ordinarily I am pro - choice but there is something about the idea of assisted suicide or euthanasia or whatchamacallit that really freaks me out. Sure the idea is to put a dog or a horse out of its misery when it is past help but it will be a bleak day for human beings when it is declared that they deserve nothing more or less than animals (Some day the Blue Cross is gonna get me).

Yeah, yeah there are many arguments for euthanasia - sometimes people wanna die with dignity, the staggering medical costs will bankrupt their families etc. etc. But the moral boundaries become increasingly blurred when we walk down this road. When I was in college, I used to take the train to get home. And I have lost track about the number of oldies who cribbed to me about how callous and materialistic their children have become. One fella refused to come for his mother's funeral because he was too miserly to cough up the money for flight tickets from the U. S. of A. Imagine that! What about those who are in a hurry to come into their inheritance without blowing it up on medical fees? I shudder to think of what would would happen if such people were given the power to decide if their ageing folks were to live or die!

If we relax the laws on euthanasia, I am sure there will be a time when we decide to abandon old folks on the inhospitable slopes of the Himalayas or Mount Fuji or whichever geographical terrain than can serve as a dumping ground for the aged. It is too bad that are fear of growing old and dying should manifest itself in such inhuman ways. A slow and painful death brought on by old age is hardly the best way to go but I am not sure a cup of barbiturate is the answer. Dylan Thomas may not agree but perhaps it is best to go gently into that good night. Without any assistance, thank you.