Friday, March 26, 2010


Kant speaks about the self incurred immaturity of man that prevents his enlightenment. What I want to speak about is 'self incurred blindness' which is not all that different. Now, what is my inspiration? Would you be surprised if I told you that it was my hostel mess. But yeah, it is. I mean, something that happened in the mess the other day.
Before I proceed, I want you to know that I am a connoisseur of good food - a foodie in unpolished terms. I like eating and I feel at the end of the day it is what all of us live for. We need to eat something - be it food or love (Don't ask me how can you eat love.... metaphorically you can, cant you?). So in short I think 'to eat' is the most important verb in human life. Ah ! I think I have started to deviate from the topic. Coming back to the point, so there i was, in the mess, not-so happily eating whatever they serve, when I saw something black in my Dahi (curd). On a closer look I spotted a martyred cockroach ruthlessly killed by the inconsiderate hands of the mess staff and served on my plate.

I am no vegetarian, but cockroach is definitely not a favourite delicacy of mine. And this one was pretty big I must say. Black, with its tentacles clearly visible. It boosted my appetite so much that I felt I would throw up (I had just taken a spoon of that cockroach flavored Dahi ). I took it and kept it aside , waiting for the mess manager to show up ( half wishing I could throw up on him and teach them a lesson for once and all ). Then a couple of friends came and sat by me ( with bowls of dahi sitting unsuspiciously on their plates). I told them and the people who were sitting in the next table not to have the Dahi 'cause I had found a cockroach in it. To my utter surprise one of my friends snapped , " Why did you have to tell me, I would have happily had my Dahi, I love it and now I cant have it". What an utterly irresponsible way to react!! I mean, look at it. I just saved her from something that is unhygienic for sure and may be potentially poisonous. I was taken aback and surprised. I didn't reply instead chose to take that cockroach to the mess guy ( who clearly had no intention of coming to my table). I really wanted to scream at him ( the spoon of dahi still swirled in my tummy) but he was an old man and seeing his face I couldnt really do it. So I politely presented him with the cockroach and walked back to my room.

I was reflecting all the while. Not on the mess issue but on the way my dear friend reacted to it. Where was the youth of my country proceeding to? How can we, at this peek age of our life, be so stoic and non passionate? Where has the boiling blood drained to? I cant get it. I see future citizens who would say , " Hey, why do you speak about corruption, I was happily minding my own business." " What do I care if that Minister stole from the treasury, I get my salary on time ". '' People get murdered. So what? They are not my relatives"." " I cant protest. I vote. My role in a democracy end there". " A kid got raped? It is not mine, so never mind." '' Human trafficking? Tell me if you can do something about the traffic jam in front of my appartment. I care no further."

WHAT IS THIS????.....What the f**k is this freaking attitude??....IF NOT US THEN WHO? Tell me. If we dont react, if we dont care, if we dont bother to atleast try to make a difference who would? If the youth, that is me and you- if we are so cold, then from where will the world get its warmth from?

It is easy to sit back and criticize everything that it is around you. What is difficult is to try to make a difference about it. It is important to react. To respond. That's what makes us different from inanimate objects. The ability to think, to rationalise, to be aware of who and why- it all matters. If we cant use these abilities that god has so kindly endowed us with, then we aren't all that different from the monkeys that jump around trees. A tie, or shoes, or shorts or mini skirts are not what define civilisation or what is 'civilised'. Just because we look in the mirror and find our features similar to that of the homo sapien species found in a science text book, we cant essentially call our selves human beings. Unless, unless we react. We respond.

So all I am saying is- please release yourself from your self incurred blindness, if you are suffering from it. If you arent, then react. React at every single opportunity you get. It matters. You matter. What you think matters. An ocean needs its every single drop. So dont hesitate- Raise your voice. NOW!!!


  1. well the emotion is well-placed ... no doubt about that. i myself have blogged about it. but there are 2 things - (1) are we ready to act even if the issue hasnt hit us yet? are we ready to take on the sub-contractor building our hostels if his canteen is serving cockroach-infested food to its labourers? tht takes real conviction and character. (2)even if we worry only abt the things that concern us and strive to improve even that, things are bound to improve. forget abt the govt, if u try to get ur driving license made without the aid of an agent, u have made a start in the right direction.
    food for thought ....

  2. We should react to injustice, discrimination ,corruption etc.etc. Certainly an ocean needs its every single drop!!! But if it is an already polluted ocean why should I (pure single drop???) go and join that? However Your mess experience is out of context. Definitely it is a fortuitous mistake.Not to be blamed

  3. @ Parijat : I totally agree with you. We must react to injustice - whether or not we are directly affected by it. But it takes an extraordinary amount of empathy and will to strive for someone else, to identify onself with their cause. In other words to make their cause ours. The challenge is to put aside our individual differences and gains and strive as a unit, even when we ourselves arent directly benefited from it. About your second point, I agree again. The problem with human race is its extreme affinity to short cuts. Once everyone decides to stick with the right course of doing things, and justice, this place would be a paradise. But then again, Sadly, it is utopic. Man is innately selfish. One must accept it.

  4. @ catch me : Yes the ocean today is greatly polluted. Want to know who is responsible? It is me and you. It is pure drops who refuse to join the ocean that motivates its pollution. When all the polluted drops join hands and work together as a team, why cant we? And when the quantity of pure water is large enough, it will over power the dirt and cleanse the ocean. You have no right to blame the system unless you are ready to plunge into it, keep yourself clean, and make a difference.
    About my mess experience. May be it is a fortuitous mistake. I agree. Even I dont think ( sarcasm apart) that they would take a personal grudge and serve me cockroach. No. But the question is about responsibility. THEY ARE PAID FOR GIVING US DECENT FOOD. Not cockroach infested shit. Besides mine was not an isolated individual experience. It happens all the time. Cockroach in dahi, in rasam, in sambhar, worms in bindi...what is this?? but utter irresponsibility !!! They dont give us food for charity. If they take money they should do their job properly. Fortuitous mistakes is no excuse.

  5. I don't intend to argue here. Just an observation. The application of your friend's response, to the general observations that follow about youth's responsibility - i think it was faulty. Drawing too much big a conclusion from an apparently innocent reference by your friend. I think one should be more careful when generalizing particulars.

  6. Reactions are justified. But let it be suttle as long as mistakes for fortuitous and not repeated..

  7. @arun : i didn exactly get what u meant by 'such a big conclusion'. Therefore cant give you my take on your doubt or comment or opinion or whatever. :)

    @anon : fortuitous mistakes can be forgiven once or twice but not always. btw do subtle reactions hit the mark? i doubt it.

  8. Defenitely suttle reactions are some times more effective..recalling Gandhiji and Subhash chandra bose and thier approaches during freedom struggle..and in the incident refered, ur reaction was more effective when u kept the bowl b4 the mess controller and returned, than having abused him in front of others...

  9. I think what arun meant was,the enormity of the kind of implication you drew like "where is the youth going to?" is a little too huge from such a trivial remark of your friends.

    And I quite agree.Though it is true that attitudes begin small,you needn't apply the logic of this reaction to the rest of the bigger issues at hand.

    Also,it is quite normal for a person in this "peek age of life" to react thus actually:)

  10. @ oviya : i dont think it is quite natural. I find it irresponsible. When you see a mistake you should take steps to rectify it. Ideally, i mean. Whether or not you do it is upto you. If one refuses to react or reacts the way my friend did to even a small issue in mess, we cannot logically expect them to put their interests or life at bait and work for the common good.

    Besides after reading the article if you felt that i drew that conclusion only because of the mess incident, i would take it as the limitation of the writer in me. That was not the point. :)

    @ anon : subash chandra bose was a revolutionary. He was not a passive resister. And as far as gandhi is concerned, i see him as a shrewd politician who got much more fame and respect than he deserved. Honestly, he is not my favourite person in history. Btw, i did that only becos that guy was old. I respected his age. I dont beleive in subtle protests.

  11. The failure to react to such an incident is, indeed, negligence to your responsibility as a consumer. One of the principal assumptions of the market system is the enlightened and responsible consumer.

    @arun: The author did not conclude something new from a sporadic event. She was using the incident to demonstrate something which is already in the public consciousness for a long time. So it is from the universal to the particular and not vice versa.

    @Desert Rose: Mahatma Gandhi was, undoubtedly, a brave man. Just watch the scene of the document-burning protest in the film 'Gandhi' for a demonstration of his method. Resistance avoiding arms, and only arms, was his method. But, his failure was in recognising the need for violence at some points. It is incorrect to label anything, including violence, a taboo. He'd have been left behind, had the British not been weakened by the Second World War.

  12. It is nice to see debate on the issue is still going on. Undoubtedly timely reactions are inevitable for the society. Advantage for Mahatma Gandhi was there was a common issue of independence which could unite most of the indians togeteher. Of course nowadays no body is feeling such a common issue as all of us are already divided by region, religion, language and what not. But I do hope time will come and another leader will be chosen as a necessity and most of us will be united with him /her to fight agaist the evils.
    You deserve the credit for bringing an interesting discussion on a universal issue reminding me that in history only very few milestones of reactions we can see which are obviously the contributions of very few philanthropists ('particular individuals ') of that point of time.

  13. Your views about the non-caring attitude are right, that attitude completely sucks. But your friend's response was not one of not caring, she more likely meant that she would have been perfectly at peace eating the curd had she not known this fact (like the many others in the mess who did not know it), I came across a story thats very related to this incident discussing the ethics of allowing someone to eat a "bad" sandwich.