Thursday, February 20, 2014

The word love

I think the most overrated word in this world is the word "love". Ninety percent of everybody's life is spent on things surrounding love. Heartbreaks, depressions are caused by lack of love. But I always wondered why do we think so much about it? The other day my friend told me about a line from Stephen Covey's book about love being a verb and not a noun. That line had a profound impact on me and I wondered how would the world be if only people "showed" love instead of pining over the noun "love". The three words which the whole world dies to hear is "I love you". But I wonder if this is how it should be . If only people loved instead of saying "I love you". On Valentine's day people want cards and chocolates not because they love cards and chocolates  but because they believe that the person has taken an effort to buy me these things which in turn shows that he "loves" her.  This belief is quiet debatable. But instead of concentrating on special days like Birthdays,Valentines day  if we all worked hard to love rest of the years there would be fewer problems and more happiness all around. 

So how can we show love? Cards,cake,flowers  are just embellishments in front of the real "love" gestures. Before I go ahead let me clarify that for me love is not just between couple. It can talk about any relation mother-daughter, father-daughter,mother-son,grandparents-grandchildren,two friends,siblings anybody. 

Love is when we are ready to give up on a thing wholeheartedly so that your loved one is happy. Love is when your loved one is sick and you nurse them  praying everyday that he gets better. It is when your loved one accepts you the way you are and  works himself around it. It is acceptance of the whole fact that we may fight and argue but that doesn't mean we are ready to give up on each other for ever. Love is the only thing which enables us to get over grudges and arguments and become normal self again . Small gestures  alone build love.

Having said the above things I also believe that a normal .sane person with a good character(as in personality) is capable of loving anybody. It need not be anyone specific. And those people are loved back in return as well.But we must remember to "love" first and then returns are automatic :). So dont wait for the cards,valentine day flowers but show your "love" gestures and that should take care of everything else.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

What kind of Leader does India need?

There are two kinds of leaders.One who leads by example and other who motivates others to  set examples. India as a country has seen many such leaders. Gandhi was probably the only leader who fell in both categories. He showed his resistance against foreign rule himself first and then motivated others to join him. But that is indeed rare. People like APJ Abdul Kalam , Sachin Tendulkar, ANR(actor) have led by example. They have shown ordinary people how dedication, determination and talent can make us shine. People like AB Vajpayee, Subhash Chandra Bose have motivated, inspired others to set an example. 

So what kind of leader does India need now? I believe that Indian youth have more or less realized the importance of good life and a country with good governance. What India needs now are leaders who can lead by example. We do not need any more motivational speakers screaming in every rally asking us to wake up. The time has come for the leaders of the country to step up and set an good example by showing their skills in administration,governance, economics and science. Instead of talking about big dreams and asking the country to vote for them let them show us some meat. We want the leaders to show us the detailed plan they have for each of constituencies.  We want to know the list they have in hand containing all the problems we as people are facing.  We want to know how competent their team of ministers are in governance and administration. We want to know what their plans are in controlling the spiraling population, what is their "big picture" plan to improve the literacy rate of India. We want to know  what they are doing about the rising gas prices and power hikes.  Only then we will vote for them. We do not want any more leaders talking about RTI, empowerment and employment as if they were empty words and nothing else. We dont care about anybody's oratory skills or whether they wear khadi bandgalas.  Let them wear shirt and pant but PLEASE first show us that you are competent enough to do the job. For every job  we apply, our qualifications right from tenth standard are needed. We need to have experience and on top of it we need to go thru five rounds of interviews and only then we get the job. You leaders must show us also, that you deserve to get this job of leading us and making decisions for us!  They are setting a bad example by giving tickets to murders, rapists, criminal( I dont care if their cases are still "on trial") . We dont need such bad examples. They need to select competent people to stand for their people and show us they are indeed leaders who have the ability to judge who is good and who is bad.

The big question is does India have any such leaders? Kejriwal to some extent has tried to be one but how long will it last? Anybody else?  I am still thinking.....

Wednesday, February 05, 2014

Persuasion Jane Austen

This book is probably the most underrated book of Austen  and yet it is the best of the seven novels she has written.  The thought and maturity with which she wrote this book reflects in her characters and the scintillating dialogues.   The book begins with Sir Walter Elliot reading from his family book describing the family history and himself.   It is the only book he ever reads!  Austen brings out Sir Walter Elliot’s vanity in a sentence!  Such gems are spread throughout the book  and will make you fall in love with the book again and again.
The story  is about Anne ,the second daughter of Walter Elliot. Austen has written the book from Anne’s perspective  and we know about the rest of the characters either through their dialogues or Anne’s thoughts about them.  Anne falls in love with Captain Frederick Wentworth at a young age of nineteen.  At the time Wentworth has no fortune to talk about.  When Wentworth proposes to Anne, she is persuaded by her Godmother to give up the match.  Anne’s Godmother is Lady Russell who belives that the match will be an imprudent one. Anne is heartbroken and yet she refuses Wentoworth. Wentworth is heartbroken ( “When you broke my heart in pieces”)  and is determined to make a mark for himself . Time moves on and it is seven years later that he returns once more to Uppercross  village because his sister and brother-in-law(Mrs and Mr Croft) have rented Kellynch hall.  Anne and Wentworth meet again.  The silent looks  , Wentworth’s resentment towards Anne, Anne’s jealousy of Wentworth  everything is shown so subtely and yet it  reaches the reader like fresh air. You can feel it but can’t see it or describe it.  Reader’s heart secretly prays that they unite again .  Austen makes sure that this wish is fulfilled only at the end (sigh). 
The story is very simple one so what stands out in this beautiful love story is the journey through with Anne and Wentworth realise their frailties and embrace what should have been theirs from the beginning.  Austen makes the first separation worthwhile for both the protagonist. If Anne had rebelled and married Wentworth would he have gone on to become a naval officer or taken up dead ship like Asp (which would have sank many times) and make a fortune out of it?  Would have Anne have realised that firmness of character is the most important of all for a solid foundation of a relationship? The answer would be no to both I believe.  A particular incident involving Louisa Musgrove changes their lives once again. Wentworth realises that firmness of character is not a permanent trait and that one can be persuaded to do something against our character. This key incident is the turning point of the book. Both Anne and Wentworth re-unite with complete acceptance of their past behaviour  and look forward to a golden future.

The other characters which appear in the novel add to the drama and bring Anne and Wentworth closer.  The delightful Mrs Croft has a fantastic character and  has some of the best quotes of the book. When Wentworth says he doesn’t like women on ship , she immediately  snubs Wentworth(who is her brother of course)  saying  “I hate to hear you talk about all women as if they were fine ladies instead of rational creatures. None of us want to be in calm waters all our lives.”   I fell in love with her character soon after this.   Anne’s siblings are nothing but vain and stupid so there is nothing much to say there .  Lady Russell is the one who persuades Anne to reject Wentworth the first time but second time she fails but Austen  makes sure that reader doesn’t feel any animosity towards the Lady Russell. All in all they make a great family with delightful incidents.
Austen’s narration is through Anne.  Austen probably did this because Anne is reticent by nature and the only way Anne could tell the reader how she felt was if she herself narrated the story .  This proved to be the best part of the book. Anne describes everything so well that we hardly need anybody else’s thoughts in it. 
There is another reason why the book may captivate many. Because of numerous quotes (you can say gems) throughout the book.  The best one is this
My idea of good the company of clever, well-informed people, who have a great deal of conversation;that is what I call good company.’
‘You are mistaken,’ said he gently ,’that is not good company that is the best.”
There are many more gems . The letter Wentworth writes to Anne at the end is the best love letter any man could possibly write.  We must read the book just for this.  There is one more quote which also reflects the age to Austen belongs. But somehow it is relevant even to this day .
“Men have had every advantage of us in telling their own story. Education has been theirs in so much higher a degree; the pen has been in their hands. I will not allow books to prove anything.” 
This quote shows Austen’s opinion about women’s role in society.  She depicted/described women’s role in Victorian era so well that we probably don’t have to look into history books for it.
We all know what a genius Austen was/is (through Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility) but this book affirms it thousand times more with her mature and wiser writing. Writing which reflects the fact that she had understood the world better and most importantly what love meant.