November 7, 2014

Ships on stormy seas

Dear Arvind Kejriwal,

I know that you are asking us to vote for you only because you mean well. It doesn’t quite work that way in the real world. Meaning well is to be contrasted with doing well, something you didn’t  convincingly demonstrate, the last time you caught a break. What remains invisible in the misty cloud of your agitations and restless anxiety is the true nature of what you are trying to accomplish with this complex cocoon of perceptibly false humility, self righteous citizenship and unending laments that you have woven, and now live in. Maybe that is some kind of wisdom that hasn’t yet visited us. Or, maybe you are out of your mind. Who knows, right?

I want to say this. I want to say “cheers.” You are a square peg in a round hole. I thank you for tolerating our selfish, hypocritical schmucky ways, and trying to change our alien rules. Cheers to your unfettered existence, disentangled from such earthly constraints as going to work, earning a living and making sense.

The last thing on my mind when I see a guy on a ledge contemplating a leap is to join to him in a death bound spiral out of some morbid fascination for adventure. But I can see the ethereal purity in your being; the misty pure white wispiness of your soul. There is something shamanic about your detachment from crude principles of economics and finance as you dispense free power and water. You’re just out there, floating; an untainted vision of chaotic, insouciant purity. 

Truth be told, I’m flattered by the attention you pay us. That you should even deign to ask us, mere mortals, to vote for you suggests that we may, after all, be cool in our own ways and that sometimes even you may need others to further your cause. Cheers. I beseech you to not abandon your path. Sometimes, things get away. That’s the way of life. Forgive us for we are but mere bundles of cells constantly regenerating themselves every twenty odd days, struggling to comprehend the incomprehensible. We are wobbling ships on stormy seas. We still have roads to traverse, and mountains to climb before we may claim to be worthy of you.

And, that is why you are not going to get our votes. 


What Ho!

October 28, 2014

Why I Stand With Sagarika

I’ll come right out and say it. I cannot be more supportive of Sagarika Ghose and her valiant attempt to reform those incorrigible internet Hindus and restore freedom of speech to this great nation called India.

I believe that the people of India must immediately bury their differences and come together to find common ground. This is a crucial moment in the country’s history. I cannot think of how better we can elevate ourselves into the strata of developed nations than to engage in an inane and superficial examination of the issue of free speech.

If there was ever a time for inanity, it is now.

Recent elections have polarized and their results are slowly destroying the nation. Fascists roam freely in our midst, dressed in myriad hues of saffron. If we are to ever to progress into a golden era of freedom and prosperity, we must, with all our hearts, encourage on a national scale, second-standard-level conversations about the troublesome issues that plague this country.

Like it or not, India urgently needs a dumbed down conversation on the importance of freedom of expression. Critically, it needs this dialogue to be led by smug, self-righteous Oxford educated liberals, like Sagarika, who have no appreciation for how little their self serving, one-dimensional approach brings to the table.

We all bear the solemn duty to set aside our own ill-begotten opinions, and instead focus on the first idea that comes to the refined mind of Ms. Sagarika Ghose. Is that asking for too much?

We may have voted in our wisdom, and brought to the helm a mere chai-wallah who governs with confidence and promises a better future. But, our work is not done yet. The time has come to start saying and doing foolish things once again.

It has been far too long since we shared long-discredited arguments about Gujarat in 2002. Terms like “encounters” and “moral compass” should be put back in the spotlight. And, while we’re being open and honest, why not trot out that elephant in the room and talk about the insensitivity of those who clamor for a uniform civil code? We have strayed from the path of righteousness, and now must allow ourselves to be skillfully guided back to it.

I beseech intellectuals to step forward and hold forth on the importance of maintaining a “secular fabric,” without ever pausing to examine its innards. It is my fond hope that Sagarika will, some day, part the Red Sea of bigotry that divides us, and lead us into a promised land where free speech blossoms and flowers, undeterred by internet Hindu Nazis.

To rightists and leftists alike, I say this: Remember that there is a reason as to why the Internet exists. It exists for Sagarika. And equally importantly, it doesn’t exist for Hindus. If only we allowed ourselves take appropriate advantage of this incredible technology, we could, in theory, empower brave men and women like Sagarika to lead the way and initiate embarrassingly simple-minded dialogues on the “right to dissent.” Their discourses will be greeted with warmth by other like-minded liberal intellectuals, who have never experienced the temptation of thinking about an issue beyond their presumptions. Sagarika will thus be encouraged, nay even reinvigorated, to write hundreds of blogs, all saying one or another of two to three unsubstantial viewpoints on a wide variety of nuanced cultural issues.

Let’s face it. Since independence, a flawed penal system muzzling citizens’ rights to free speech has long been our nation’s dirty little secret, an ugly reality carefully swept under the rug of polite discourse, emerging only in occasional, angry rants about rapes, police brutality and Happy New Year. We must bring this issue out into the open. And, as they lead this national conversation, I pray that our liberal intelligentsia take great care to not lose their self-assured witlessness as they pontificate to those who struggle to appreciate those truths that they so effortlessly see.

Only by keeping alive a shallow, one- dimensional dialogue can we ensure that we, as a nation, never get down to deeper issues that may some day tear us apart.

Dare to imagine it. Dare to stand with Sagarika. The nation will be the better for it.

ps: If you have no idea what I’m talking about, read Sagarika’s eloquently well done “Letter to India’s Right: All critics aren’t leftists or deshdrohis” If you have no idea what she’s talking about, I’m afraid that I can’t help you there, mate.

October 6, 2014

The NRI and the Indian


I grew up in India in the 70’s and 80’s. I went to school and college in Chennai, during which time I grew accustomed to the prevailing notion that if you meant to accomplish anything meaningful, India was not a place which accommodated such aspirations. I didn’t question this notion with the intensity it probably deserved and left for America in the late 80’s. I then found my way to Silicon Valley by the 90’s.

In hindsight, I couldn’t have done things better. California was the place to be in the 90’s, where a world changing internet revolution was afoot. Those were heady and character building days, and I feel privileged to have been a part of it.

In the meanwhile, a revolution of a different kind was under way in India. In the early 90’s, with its back against the wall, the Indian government was forced to shed its cyclopean view and began opening doors to foreign investment. More than fifty years of Nehruvian socialism marked by a blinding “government knows best” inertia and institutionalized corruption had begun to yield to a new order. As one thing led to another, a new sun began to rise over India. In a decade, India had acquired some of the essential ingredients of a potent economy and spawned phrases like ‘flat world’ and ‘demographic dividend.’

Little did I, or anyone who grew up in pre-liberalization India, anticipate that such great matters would come to pass, in such short order. The wheel had begun to turn within a few years of my departure. And, I would return to India to work, play and live, 13 years after making what I had considered a definitive exit. My decade of life in India, much like the revolutionary days in Silicon Valley in the nineties, was heady and character building. And, I feel privileged to have been part of an early stage in the building of a new India, and in having witnessed a confident nation rise up, in front of my eyes. And now, I’ve returned to California, where I live.

I feel like I possess a somewhat unique perspective and can comment with some balance on the NRI in America and the Indian in India, having lived equal parts of my adult life in the two countries. Since this is an anecdotal, narrow and biased view of one person (me, moi and myself only), it should, naturally, not be misconstrued as a sweeping generalization applicable across complex and diverse groups of Indians who live on both sides of the pond. No, I don’t speak for all NRIs or all Indians, a thing which is impossible to do and foolish to attempt. I speak for myself.

The unmistakeable Indian-ness of the being.

I have to come to believe that each of us carries a deep seated fear of losing what we may call a ‘sense of self.’ This fear manifests as caution. It tugs the reins ever so often as we go in search of new opportunities. We cling to memories of a world that once was, for it was in that world that we came to gain our behaviors and learnings which qualified us to conquer new ones. Once sensory stimulations from new adventures satiate and then ebb, as they do inevitably, they are replaced by a singular “Is this really me?” query, especially as one grows older, enters matrimony and has children.

This is as true for the NRI as it is for the Punjabi who transports himself to Chennai for economic advancement. Every individual who embraces change simultaneously grapples with existential enquiries into the nature and identity of the self. What is it that defines me? How can I be more of myself? There are no answers to such questions. Even a city, in which we choose to spend an entire life, changes inexorably over time, leaving it a pale resemblance of what it was in our youthful years. But absence of answers has never impeded humans from going in search of them.

It surprised me when I first discovered find that the ‘Indian-ness’ in me was a sticky thing. By sticky, I mean something that cannot be shaken off or shed easily. It didn’t alarm me. Nor was I elated. It didn’t change things in any way. It just surprised me. I don’t know why this is the case. I wouldn’t be able to explain it any better than I would be able to explain why I grew to be exactly six feet two inches tall. I don’t recall getting up in the morning as a boy and setting out to be an Indian. Nor did any one indoctrinate me on a regular basis. I sang no more than my share of the national anthem, flew more than my share of kites, celebrated festivals, watched movies and played cricket on the grounds. I have no reason to believe that I ever made a sincere or conscious attempt to safeguard my Indian identity. And yet, here it is, over two decades later: an unmistakable Indiatva of my being.

The fault lies in not in our …

An NRI’s (or an Indian-American’s) perspective of India is typically distorted by either an often unconscious embrace of his Indiatva or a struggle to reject it. Many perpetually swing between various points of this spectrum, and such oscillations are typically triggered by the most recent brush with the motherland. As he grows wiser, the NRI realizes that the choice has been poorly framed as a tactical and binary one. That choices are not wholesale, and cannot always be cleanly partitioned into acceptance and rejection. That the beliefs we take comfort in, cannot always be neatly organized into compartments, and made congruent to one other. That, comfort ultimately comes not from beliefs in of themselves, but from an ability to embrace incompatibility and conflict. That he may simultaneously be Indian and American, live in the land of his choice and yet retain affection for the land of his birth, without being at odds with himself or the world. It has been the essence of Indiatva to embrace diversity and ambiguity in identities. Indeed, that is one of the great contrasts between India and America. The latter is a great melting pot which emphasizes few familiar patterns of individuality in an ocean of homogeneity. The former is a great big happy family, an intricate mosaic, a land where patterns change every 100 miles, and a culture which has always made space for yet another starkly different piece to fit in and belong effortlessly.

There is a certain beauty and even joy in a morphing identity, which is often misunderstood and hard to explain. This is as true for the Indian as it is for the non resident Indian or any one for that matter. Without exception, we are all better identified by the values we hold to be true, and by what we do unto others, than by the cities and lands of our birth, home addresses or by the countries which issue our passports.

What role do concepts such as patriotism and loyalty play in such a dichotomous existence? What qualifies as loyalty or patriotism, in the first place? In an increasingly inter-connected world filled with possibilities, aren’t such notions antiquated and more divisive than unifying, more stifling than expansive? Aren’t geographic delineations simplistic and stunted? What do the Indian and the NRI share, beyond an abstract affinity for the motherland and some cultural mooring? There is much left to be said. To be continued.

October 4, 2014

Your Inner Drone

Is it me or is it getting warm around here?

In Greek mythology, Daedalus is a master craftsman who designs and builds the infamous Labyrinth on the island of Crete for King Minos, who needs it to imprison the Minotaur, a half bull, half human creature. Minos imprisons both Daedalus and his son, Icarus in a tower inside the Labyrinth to prevent the world from knowing his dark secret. To escape, Daedalus fashions wings of wax and feathers for his son and himself. Before they take flight, he cautions his son to fly neither too low nor too high. Icarus ignores the advice, and soars into the skies in hubris. Wings of wax are melted by the sun. Icarus falls and drowns in the sea. It is a tale of ambition aborted by arrogance.

The human race may be set to repeat that tale on a grander scale in the decades to come, according to Nicholas Carr, the author of “The Glass Cage.”

The science-fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke once asked, “Can the synthesis of man and machine ever be stable, or will the purely organic component become such a hindrance that it has to be discarded?” In the business world at least, no stability in the division of work between human and computer seems in the offing. The prevailing methods of computerized communication and coordination pretty much ensure that the role of people will go on shrinking.

We’ve designed a system that will discard us eventually.

> An excerpt from Carr’s new book, “The Glass Cage.”

Bad Ass Bankers

It’s no secret that banks have tightened credit after the Great Recession of 2008. Just how hard have they made it to get a loan? Pretty hard because former Federal Reserve Chairman, Ben Bernanke recently divulged that he was unable to refinance his home loan. Bernanke was the Fed Chairman until January 2014 when he stepped down. And in the fully automated world of mortgage finance, having recently changed jobs makes you a steeper credit risk. Yes, there it is again. The A word. Automation.

> New York Times explains why Bernanke can’t get a loan.

Wait, Whaa? Is Pluto a planet again?

Pluto, as you may recall, was unceremoniously booted out of the solar system fraternity and relegated to a ‘dwarf planet’ status, just a couple of notches above the position Manmohan Singh occupied as Prime Minister during UPA’s tenure. Eight years later, some say that Pluto got a raw deal and should be reinstated, which is more than what we can say for Manmohan.  So, what can Pluto expect? Not much. The powerful, anti-Pluto lobby in the International Astronomers Union is not interested.

Listen up.

An analysis of the 25 most popular relationship books reveals that they have much in common in terms of the advice they offer. The most commonly recurring piece of wisdom across all these books? Learn how to really listen.

Talk funny to me.

Chances are someone, somewhere, thinks that you talk funny. Losing an accent is hard because we learn languages by picking up sounds and imitating our parents as babies and this skill tapers off as we approach puberty.

What’s up with that? Why it’s so hard to lose an accent.

A rose by another name.

The next time someone grinds your gears, you should throw down a clever insult like “swaggering rascal.” That’s some serious barbed stuff from the Bard himself.

> BBC envisions what If Shakespearean insults were used today.

Yes, we can.. do yoga.

Barack Obama is impressed with Narendra Modi for all kinds of reasons, not the least of which is the ‘energy and vigor’ displayed by Modi on a diet of warm water. Obama is so impressed that he’s planning to take up yoga. Looking at how little the Prez has managed to get done in his second term, we all may have to resort to warm water and yoga ourselves soon.

E for Ebola.

Ebola is here in America. From the sound of it, the media wants us to first panic and then calm down. The virus does not transmit by air or water. It transmits through blood and body fluids. So it’s not contagious in a viral sense. Keep calm and err …drink lots of warm water and do yoga.

October 1, 2014

Which deaths matter?

Which deaths matter?

Are all deaths equal? Or, are some more important than others? The US media appears to have its own formula when it comes to weighting deaths. In the last few months, we have seen untold misery to millions and thousands of deaths from wars and calamities around the world. Gaza, Syria, Ukraine, MH 370, MH17, Ebola deaths in Africa. The list goes on interminably.


Prior to the gruesome beheadings of James Foley and Steven Sotloff (both US citizens), ISIS had murdered thousands in Syria and Iraq. But, it was these two executions which caught the attention of the US media which then turned public opinion and galvanized the Obama administration into action against ISIS. When it comes to deaths, there seems to be a notion of ‘worthy’ and ‘unworthy’ in the US media, as The Atlantic points out.

[ The Atlantic: How the media covers the people behind today’s grim statistics ]

The Big Pharma Disorder

There’s a new disease in town. It’s called Sluggish Cognitive Tempo. You and I might call a child a day dreamer, but there are some who are seeking approval to describe the condition as a disease. Indeed, day dreaming is one of the symptoms of SCT. Others are lethargy and slow mental processing. As comical as this might appear, there is ongoing scientific debate on this ‘disease,’ which has spilled into the pages of New York Times.

[ New York Times: Idea of New Attention Disorder Spurs Research, and Debate ]

Remember ADHD? More than six million American children have been diagnosed with and treated for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder till date. There is now widespread concern that the condition may have been significantly misdiagnosed and over treated with prescription medications.


The champion for SCT to be treated as a medical disorder is a psychologist, who is on the payroll of Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical giant which coincidentally has a drug waiting in the wings that might be used to treat SCT. Another sordid tale unfolds of disease mongering by big pharma, targeting children for mass drugging in their pursuit of mammon. Stay tuned. And be very careful.

This week in history

In June 1994, the butchered bodies of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman were found on the front walkway of Simpson’s condominium in Brentwood, an upscale neighborhood in Los Angeles. Within days, Brown’s ex-husband, O.J. Simpson, was considered the prime suspect in the murder of both. The year that followed was legendary in its cast of characters and legal drama. The N-word. “If it does not fit, you must acquit.” The dog howling in the night. Then, finally, the verdict. It came this week in 1995.

F. Lee bailey, O.J. Simpson, Johnny Cochran

[Pic: OJ Simpson in the middle, flanked by his lawyers Johnny Cochran and F Lee Bailey, on his left and right respectively. ]

The country stopped to watch for a few minutes when the verdict was read. An estimated 100 million people tuned in. Most remember where they were when they heard it. I was at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh that afternoon, with a large group of fellow students. We had gathered in front of the television in the lobby. There were audible gasps and outraged shouts when the (now known to be flawed) ‘not guilty’ verdict was announced. Simpson’s drive down Interstate 405 as he held a gun to his temple and threatened suicide – covered live for hours – and the subsequent televised court proceedings marked an inflection point in American television when news devolved into entertainment and set a precedent for reality television that has become commonplace today. Johnny Cochran, Simpson’s lawyer, put on such a terrific show for the cameras that even Simpson may have been tempted to believe that he was not guilty.

September 28, 2014

The News As I See It

Sep 27, 2014.

The world we live in always has something scary at any point in time.

We have an unmanageable Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, a terrorist movement flexing muscles in Iraq and Syria and presumably thirsting to wreak destruction on the world at large.

Ebola is spreading faster than expected. 2,800 people have died so far. African countries reeling from the aftermath of civil wars and sheer lack of resources and discipline are struggling to contain it.

And we have another frightening scourge in Vinod Mehta whose incoherent rant on the US, Modi and NRIs displayed his fine ability to hide lack of cognition and introspective thinking beneath a cloak of drunken stupor.

[Vinod Mehta asks “India loves the people of US. But is the reverse also true?”]

Notwithstanding these Damoclean swords hanging over its vulnerable head, the world saw a week filled with events considered improbable not too long back.

President Obama assembled an impressive coalition of world forces to counter ISIS. There are fifty countries in the alliance although it remains to be seen how many will put troops on the ground for the cause. China and Russia unsurprisingly continue to stand aloof.

Speaking of Russia, Vladimir Putin displayed admirable restraint in the last couple of weeks in not invading a neighbor.

Narendra Modi landed in America to a rockstar’s welcome. It’s been a long journey from being denied a US visa to a State Dinner, proving that lion hearted Gujaratis will do anything, including winning elections and becoming Prime Minister, in order to get a visa to the land of milk and honey. The satisfaction of having a Prime Minister who is in charge and takes the world stage with aplomb and assurance is immeasurable.

The likable and self-avowed lifelong bachelor George Clooney married Amal Amaluddin in Venice. Let’s hope that he enjoys a long and happy married life, for he’s just an all round great guy and deserves it as much as or perhaps even more than any of us.


There was more to cheer about. Apple began selling iPhone 6. Consumers voted with their wallets and Apple sold 10 million phones worth $6 billion on the first weekend alone. Apple amply demonstrated its mojo and ability to win in the post-Jobs world.

Emma Watson gave an outstanding speech on gender rights at the UN and caught the attention of the world. As someone remarked, the only regrettable aspect of Watson’s speech was that it is even required in 2014. As she points out, “There isn’t yet a country in the world which can claim to provide equal rights to men and women.”

[ Emma Watson speaks about her HeForShe campaign and gender equality at the UN]

Indian Space Research Organization pulled off a magnificent feat by putting an unmanned probe into Mars orbit on its first attempt. ISRO’s probe, called Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), weighs about 3000 lbs (slightly more than a Honda Civic) and travelled for about 300 days before entering the orbit. Kudos to ISRO for bringing us a truly memorable and celebration worthy moment in India’s history.


[Pic: The second photo from Mars Orbiter Mission (MOM), ISRO’s unmanned probe to Mars. Source: ISRO]

Considering that MOM travelled nearly 780 million kilometers, its cost works out to less than Rs 8 per kilometer, which makes ISRO staggeringly less expensive than an average auto rickshaw in Bangalore on any given day.


What makes this even more of a spectacular achievement is that ISRO’s Mars mission cost $74 million, a tenth of what it cost Americans to put Maven, their own probe, into the Martian orbit. How was this possible? A couple of factors: ISRO engineers make between a tenth to a fifth of the salaries made by their counterparts at NASA. Another contributing factor is that MOM carries 30 pounds of equipment and material and is designed for a much shorter term life than Maven, which is carrying over 150 pounds of equipment. It’s not a competition. It’s a noteworthy accomplishment by India which bodes well for attempts to deepen our understanding of the red planet.

Have a good weekend, folks. And this is my version of news as I see it.

August 16, 2014

Things I Believe In

I wrote this in November 2011. Inspired by a TED lecture, I jotted down a list of things that I believe in, or to put it in another way, the way I look at things. I’ve revisited it several times over the years and now am comfortable with sharing. This has been on the What Ho! page but I haven’t drawn specific attention to it until now.

I’d recommend this exercise to everyone. Writing is not just therapeutic. It forces one to continuously examine the meaning of statements. It helps us understand the source of our deepest desires and fears – both of which are connected to each other, and in the process, I hope, will bring lasting joy to you.

Naturally, this ‘list’ continues to be work in progress.

Things I believe in.

1.  Everything is connected. There is an omnipresent, all pervasive spirit that binds the destiny of things, in this universe and any other universes that may exist. I call this spirit Para Brahman or simply ‘the Spirit.’

2.  My existence is a manifestation of a larger purpose that is being fulfilled, both with and without my consent and knowledge. My life is a piece of a bigger picture, which I am unable to see in its fullness at the moment. The purpose of my life is to remove that which is unnecessary so as to be able to get a direct glimpse of this richness. I call that which is unnecessary as Maya.

3.  Everything – animate and inanimate – possesses a singular ability to sense the connection to the larger picture. This springs from an indestructible essence of its being, that which I call the Atman or the Soul.

4.  I believe in the continuous exercise and introspection of the mind and its free will – so I can rid myself of both of them. I value opinions the way I value tents on a cold wintry night on a mountainside. They provide us protection against the elements so we can stay warm for a little while and get blood coursing through our veins. But, we should dare to and inevitably must venture out into the snowstorms so we can scale the peaks. I believe in accumulating wings and legs and that which will help me move in any way, but not in setting up camps and staying rooted inside tents.

5.  I have affinity for neither good nor bad, neither gods created by men nor men, neither virtuous nor evil, neither mine nor another, neither attachment nor detachment, or for any quality that has an opposite. Everything is relative. I will do my best to be good or bad, virtuous or evil, attached or detached and behave in ways – depending on what the situation calls for. I would like to practice disinterested observation in such matters for the purpose for comprehending what is not necessary, and for sensing the connection to the things around me. This practice I call Yoga.

6.  I have no expectations. Anything I or others do or anything that happens to me or other things keeps me moving, forward or backward or sideways, in the quest. I view this ‘anything I or others do or anything that happens to me or other things’ as the continuous flow of energy or Karma. It is the way of things. I accept it to be true.

7.  I do not desire ‘understanding’. Understanding gets in the way of experience. I am in search of experience and am willing to be led by where experience takes me and remain open to letting ‘understanding’ settle where it might.

8.  I have a yearning to see ‘the bigger picture’ in all its richness and glory. I can sense its presence behind the curtain. I know that I will see it. Only I do not know when. I believe that – as long as I have the yearning – I will not see it. But this yearning is what fuels my journey. I do not know how to resolve this conundrum. Perhaps I need to give up my quest in order to fulfill it.

9.  There is no life. There is no death. There is no time, nor will it run out. There is no race. There are no winners. There are no losers. There is no cause. There is no effect. There is only Karma – the continuous flow of energy. Everything changes from time to time as a result of Karma. Indeed, time is an illusion created by Karma. If there was no change, there would be no need to keep track of and measure ‘time’. At the ‘end’ when all Karma has ceased, we will all find ourselves united in the same place called whatever you may call it – heaven, hell or nothingness. And things will start all over again. That is the only destiny that I believe to be true, inevitable and unavoidable and one that fills me with wonder and awe. In this belief lies the true source of happiness or sat-chit-ananda.

10.  I believe in the universal well being of all things and will do what I can towards that end. I cannot change the world because I don’t know much about it. I don’t believe in morals. There are no moral absolutes which transcend space and time. While I may profess sympathy, my goal is empathy and to be able to look at the things around us from another’s perspective. I do not wish for powers to change another’s life or this world. I wish to divest myself of all powers, prejudices and agendas, so I can remove the curtain and see. To this end, I will construct and destroy my own situational moral compasses. I will neither judge nor foist my morphing and ephemeral moral standards on another.

11.  I do not have material evidence, the powers of persuasion, the intensity of purpose and the desire to convince another of my beliefs.  I am open to the possibility that all or some of my beliefs are wrong, and will remain open to influence.  I will do my utmost to exercise reason and intuition so I can sense the difference between what is expansive, profound and unknowable and that which is merely sophisticated, confining and complex. I call this sense my ‘consciousness’ or my ‘spiritual conscience’. This is the way I can deal with conflicts created in the mind.

If you’d like to stay in touch, you can join me on Twitter Follow @waatho

July 23, 2014

Love for God

book3-crop small“Love for God is the greatest of our romances. As we grow older, the more we struggle with belief, scarred by knowledge and embittered by experience. Faith is lost in faith itself. Romance itself becomes unloved.

Bliss lies inexorably intertwined with the romantic spirit of this great universe. It is indeed a universe filled with beauty and pregnant with possibilities, and held in place by its impersonal and misunderstood laws.  There are some who choose to call this God.”

An excerpt from “3 Lives, in search of bliss.”

I’m happy to announce that you can now download 3 Lives free at Smashwords.

India – Cut and Dried takes artistic liberty in chronicling real experiences during my life in India between 2002 and 2014.

The Indians invented zero, built the Taj Mahal, threw the towel in and called it a day. Historians were told to take the next several hundred years off. Deep within the Indian psyche once lay an adventurous spirit which sought to understand the best of things. Now it asks, “‘What’s the worst that can happen?

A couple of years back, I went to see a doctor in Bangalore. As luck would have it, he was one of those wizened, cynical men who have seen it all. The man waved me to a chair as he fiddled with a phone. He made no attempt to establish eye contact. As he fiddled, his sub-conscious voice rang out, “I’ve been in this profession for 40 years. I’ve seen it all. The Hippocratic Oath be damned. It’s not worth saving you people. You can wait until this app finishes downloading on my pathetic 2G connection. Feel free to leave anytime. What’s the worst that can happen?

I took in the windowless room. The man had shut himself out from the rest of the world. And here I was, an unwelcome intrusion.

I’ve been to doctors in America. The startling thing about them is that they communicate. Rather fluently as a matter of fact. They use sentences with more than two words. They wear clean shirts. And shoes.

“You think I’ll make it, doc? The faint rash on the lower thigh looks fatal, doesn’t it?”

The doctor always resisted the temptation to slap me across the face. Instead he’d put his notepad down, look me in the eyeballs and explain why I wasn’t about to tragically die young.

As my thoughts wandered, the doctor in Bangalore continued to fiddle. After five minutes, he looked up and made fleeting eye contact through a mirror on the wall as though I was Medusa and he was Perseus.

Then I heard him speak. Hallelujah!

“So what’s your problem?”

“Umm.. we met last week.. ”

This caused him to lose any interest he might have had in me at this point. His eyes lowered and he reverted to Neroesque fiddling as I sat likely dying of an incurable ailment.

I waited in uncertainty. Sensing a rapidly losing cause, I spoke again.

“I have a ringing noise in my ears. You told me to get hearing tests done. I have brought the results.”

He looked up.

“Yes, I remember you. Why is it not ringing?”

I stared, wondering which of us had a hearing problem.

 “I said that MY ears are ringing.”

“I know. I meant my phone.”

Foxed by his cryptic words, I stayed tuned in for further updates.

 “I just bought a new phone. It’s not ringing. What could be wrong?”

He handed me a brand new Samsung Galaxy 2.

“Maybe if my phone rang and your ears didn’t, we could call it a win-win, no?”

He laughed. It was a good one. But it failed to move me. Resentful, I turned the volume of the phone up.

“Here you go.”

I handed the phone to him. His facial expression continued to indicate that interest in my welfare had not made an appearance yet.

“How about I give you my phone number and you call me?”

I like to think of myself as a Zen kind of guy, with an inner Buddha chanting Tat Tvam Asi and the works. I believe that anger resides only in the bosom of fools. I have let go. And I’ve been happy ever since. I even wrote a book on all of this. Yet I felt a rising tide of anger.

“You want me to leave now and call you later?”

He looked at me, his eyes crinkling as though they were staring at the sun.

“No, not like that. Can you call me so I can hear the phone ring?”

My inner Buddha struggled to process this request. Glumly I acceded. It made him distinctly happier.

“Let’s see your results.”

He opened the envelope and began reading. His next question was a wicked doosra.

“Have you ever stood in front of a large speaker?”

“No. Why?”

“Because you have lost 50% of your hearing at higher frequencies.”

I waited for more. I was pleasantly surprised to hear him continue.

“Your hearing is normal enough to hear humans speak. Isn’t that good enough?”

My inner Buddha fought valiantly to contain my inner Hercules from slaying the man with a machete in one fluid motion. Outwardly calm, I responded.

“You said that I’ve lost half my hearing at a higher frequency. Is this normal? How did this happen?”

“I told you already. You must have stood in front of a large speaker.”

“But I have not stood in front of a large speaker. I once watched Nitin Gadkari speak on TV. That doesn’t count, does it?,” I protested.

“You must have. Unless you are 60 years old. Anyway, how does it matter?”

His inner Buddha had stumped mine. I resorted to another line of attack.

“Can you make the ringing noise go away?”


“Depends on what?”

“Are you willing to wear a hearing aid? Some people think they look weird.”

“If you put it that way, no.”

“Then I can’t make the ringing noise go away.”

“But I got your phone to ring. That was our deal.”

My plea fell on deaf ears. Pun intended.

“Sorry. There is nothing I can do.”

“Wait. Is this a symptom of something else which could be serious?”

“Like what?”

“You are the doctor. You tell me. Please.”

“Probably not. I don’t think so. Unlikely.”

“Probably? You don’t think so? You are not sure? Don’t you want to look inside my ears or something?”


“Come on, doc. I say we check for something.”

“Like what?”

I was licked. I let go.

“Fine. Let me understand what happened just now. I fixed your phone. And then you told me that you can’t fix my hearing. That I have to live with a ringing noise in my ears. That we should not bother because I am PROBABLY not dying of something serious right now. Is that correct?”

“Correct. Look at it another way. What’s the worst that can happen? You’ll just lose all your hearing in another 10 or 20 years. Speaking of bad things, do you think I should get a screen protector for my phone?”

At this juncture, I did as any normal Indian would. I threw in the towel and called it a day.

July 13, 2014

The Cosmic Calendar

If you watched the first episode of “Cosmos” [hosted by Neil DeGrasse Tyson on the National Geographic channel], then you will be familiar with the cosmic calendar which highlights the immensity of the cosmic time scale. Our universe was formed 13.8 billion years ago. If we shrank that down to fit one year, we get the cosmic calendar.

1 day in the cosmic calendar = approximately 40 million years. 1 month = 1 billion+ years.

If the Big Bang happened on the first day (January 1), then:

The universe expanded and cooled over the next 200 million years ( ~5 days).

It was dark until gravitational forces pulled together critical masses of hot gases to form the first stars.

Light flashed into being as the first stars began forming on January 10.

Stars began clustering to form galaxies, small and large.

Our galaxy, the Milky Way, was born on March 15. About eleven billion years ago.

Earth was born around September. Life on earth started around the same time.

Humans did not arise until December 31, the last day of the year.

Modern civilization has been around for only the last 14 seconds of the year.

Jesus Christ was born 5 seconds ago.

Columbus arrived in America 1 second ago.

India got her Independence from the British 0.145 second ago.

I was born 0.099 second ago and will likely will live for just another 0.065 second, give or take 0.005 second.

Every human we know of, who is part of documented history, lived in the last 14 seconds.

I can’t think of a more significant piece of information that shows our insignificance in the grand scheme of things.

Mind blowing perspective as we ponder our earthly problems.


[Reference: Cosmic Calendar on National Geographic]

Zenlighten Up is about interestingness. I try to raise interesting questions about our lives and the world around us and the connection that may or not exist between the two.

Yesterday, What Ho! received this letter from God which I feel obliged to share.

Dear Dr. What Ho!,

It has come to my attention that there is a falsehood circulating and an impression being created that I have been answering human prayers. I’d be grateful if you could publicize this letter far and wide as I’m anxious to dispel such a patent lie.

First, let me start by explaining how [what you call] the ‘system’ works. There are many systems. They are filled with things I had not even fathomed when I embarked on this journey. Speaking about this system of yours, there are black holes, galaxies, stars, planets and moons to name a few. And then there is the Earth. Based on what I am hearing from you guys, your system is 13.8 billion years old and you’ve been around for the last few million, give or take. There have been other things which have been around long before you came along. Like volcanos, mountains, oceans, fishes, dinosaurs and birds, to name a few. I find it intriguing that none of them prayed. Indeed, the volume of pleas from Earth has spiked from near zero to a ginormous number only after you guys showed up.


I like to think of your system as having an amorphous and invisible ‘central brain’ which regulates itself and constantly attempts to re-establish equilibrium within itself and with other systems. What is fascinating to me is that you guys appear to have developed some sort of a sixth sense as you call it. A “local human brain” if you will, which is incessantly attempting to disrupt the global equilibrium with its self-centered attempts to establish local equilibrium. In other words, your pleas, while they are an area of curious interest for me, are unlikely to be met with either prompt or favorable responses. I’m disappointed that you would even think of me, a Supreme Being, as a puppet to be wielded by your strings of prayers.

Second, I feel that I must explain my job responsibilities. My job title, which I’m convinced has to be made more self-explanatory, is God. It is weird to be called something which means nothing to anyone but you humans. My surveys have established that quarks, leptons, gluons and the Higgs Boson have not heard of or ‘experienced’ God before. I suspect that’s true for galaxies, stars and planets and everything else but you. And I haven’t even broached this with all those multiverses out there. I suggest we you look into an alternative nomenclature for my job title. Possibilities are “A Higher Order,” “The Observer” or “The Spirit.” The last is a nod to the Indians from both the eastern and western hemispheres of Earth. I like it the best.

As for my job responsibilities, I have none. I understand that you regard me as the Original Cause. But that does not automatically impose any moral or other responsibilities on me. I bear no obligation to anything that has arisen and will arise as the arrow of Time speeds forward. I owe you nothing. In fact, no one owes anyone anything. Such is the nature of things.

This leads me to the question of ‘What the heck do I do every day?’

I spend my time observing things. It’s like watching television. You may have your opinions on what goes on out there. You get the sinking feeling that you may have contributed to the problem. Every so often, you feel the urge to tweet about it. And on occasion, you want to wreck the TV screen with a baseball bat. I resist the temptation to do any of the above.

A lot of things fascinate me. They are usually at levels which are a couple of notches and degrees higher and separated from where you are. For example, the question, ‘why are you guys even there in the first place?’ fascinates me. Why is anything there at all? Why am I not alone here by myself? Have you ever seen a massive star collapse into a giant black hole? That never gets old. I could go on. I hope that you understand that your lives are not in an immediate zone of my consideration. I don’t concern myself with earthquakes in Haiti. I don’t pay attention to Kim Kardashian’s wardrobe or lack of it. I wouldn’t know what to do if two futbol fans, one Brazilian and another German, prayed and asked for their teams to win. I haven’t read the Pope’s tweets yet. I smile when Stephen Hawking denies my existence. I could go on.

There is a massive misunderstanding that surrounds my existence and responsibilities. You guys have made a rather fantastic assumption that I have to prove my existence in order to exist. There was a government in India which existed for ten years and did absolutely nothing. And yet no one disputed its existence. Think of me the same way. Think of me as an impassioned observer, curious but unwilling to play a role in your unimaginative and dreary lives as your universe marches to its yet unfulfilled destiny. Would you gaze upon a new born child with an agenda? No. You simply see the beauty in her, marvel at her existence and accept that she will grow up to be whoever she wants to be. Such is the nature of things.

There are those who believe that I don’t exist because they don’t have a role for me. There are those who believe in me so they can create a role for me. Why are we always trying to change others to be more like ourselves? Why can’t we all just get along? I’m here. I speak nothing. I do nothing. Hey, that’s me. If someone has a problem with this, I suggest they have a short chat with Dr. Manmohan Singh. He knows what I’m talking about.

Don’t get me wrong. I don’t mean to be negative. If praying provides solace, I don’t see the harm in it. There are no false beliefs. There are only beliefs which have advantages and beliefs which are costly. I’d rather have you pick your own poison. I’d rather have you simply try to connect with me without an agenda. I’d rather have you meet me as an equal, as a fellow traveler who’s willing to share his beer with me as we marvel at the vistas together.

I am sorry. I know that you need to see me as the ultimate go-to guy in a world filled with pain, injustice, violence and disappointment. The easiest life is one of deluded ignorance. But it is one which alternates between intoxicating pleasure and incomprehensible pain. So, the curious and the disillusioned among you go in search of the truth. I’ve been gazing on universes for a long time. All I’ve learnt so far is that the only truth is that there are no eternal truths which hold across space, distance and time.  So I suggest a little circumspection and a lot of preparation when you go in search because truth is the last thing you will want to encounter if you have not prepared yourself for it.

I am sorry. I know that someday you will die. And that, deep within you lurks a fear of death and oblivion. Of being nothing and irrelevant. There is nothing I can do about it. That is the beauty of this design; that things go on. Beauty lies in a cycle of creation and destruction of things and not in this in-between state called living, which you must look upon merely as an opportunity to behold this beauty. Life is no more and no less than a set of experiences. The larger this set is, the easier it becomes to understand this description of life. Everything moves on. I wish I could tell you that you’re special. The thing is you’re just a tiny lump of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen on an obscure planet in a limitless set of universes. When you die, everyone and everything else will move on. So, clearly this is not about you. This is not even about the things which are dearest to you like your family and friends and objects of desire. I once saw a man who had devoted his whole life to making himself a better person. What a waste of a life it is when it’s all about yourself. There is something much larger at play. Respect it and we’ll all be fine, I assure you. Don’t be depressed. When you get depressed, do what I do. Gaze at the stars. They have borne mute witness to the best and the worst of all things.

I know that this will leave you feeling lonely. I’ve traveled the lonely road for eons. I’m afraid so must you. There is really no other way. But I do wish upon you my kind of bliss. The one you can find in solitude. Go forth and do what you must do. Just in case you’re interested in joining me, I have a seat right next to me with your name on it, which has the best view in town.

The Spirit.

Why are there things? Why is there a universe? Why are there stars, planets, earth, moon, human beings, frogs and flowers? Why are there scientific laws? Why are there abstract things like time, space and distance? Why is there anything? Of all the possibilities, isn’t the simplest that of nothing?

This question of why there is anything at all has baffled scientists and philosophers for a long while. There have been those who have dismissed this as either not important or unanswerable, saying that since we are already in the field of something, it is not possible to step outside of this field to view the answer. Philosophers, who Plato described as “friends of God, standing on the outside and looking in” disagree saying that the answers may lead us to understand the primordial nature of things and to the original cause itself.

There have been several attempts to pursue this simple yet deep mystery. From what I’ve read, all lines of approach start with asking ‘what in this universe is necessary or fundamental by nature? In other words, what came first without a necessity to exist and thus became the foundational reason(s) for everything else to be created and exist? These are defined as ‘necessary’ and ‘contingent’ entities.

The Scientific School of Thought

The atheistic or rather the scientific school of thought answers by postulating that the laws of the universe have always existed and are the reason that the universe manifested itself in the way it did. What are these laws? There are many laws of science we’re taught in school and college. There is the Ohm’s law. There are the Newton’s laws. And the laws of thermodynamics. Of all the laws, the most fundamental ones pertaining to matter are that of Standard Model, a set of equations which describe how quantum fields manifest themselves as fundamental particles such as quarks, gluons, leptons and the Higgs boson which interact to form matter as we know it. Why is the Standard Model the way it is? No one knows yet. Why is there just one Standard Model? Why is there even a Standard Model? We have now returned to our original question.

Truth be told, it is an extraordinary accomplishment of scientists that we even know that we have laws of nature. They have helped us peel a layer or two of the onion, if you will, in understanding the nature of things. What is more remarkable is that it is only in the recent past that we have accepted that there are such things as laws of nature. Not too long back, in the 13th century, an Islamic scholar, Al Ghazali, considered by historians to be the second most influential Muslim after Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) rejected the notion that there could be such things as natural laws because they would then “put God in chains.” The Christians in the Dark Ages were no different in their rejection of science.

To come back to the question, science holds forth that scientific laws came first and thus precipitated the formation of everything else.

The Judaeo-Christian-Islamic School of Thought

The Judeo-Christian-Islamic theological position supposes the ‘existence of God’ as necessary. That God is the original cause. That there is no logic that underlies the existence of God. For if such a logic were to exist, then such logic would then be superior to God himself. The religious argument insists that the existence of a Supreme Being with unlimited powers is non-negotiable and goes on to build their case from there onwards.

The Neo Platonists

The Greeks led by the Neo Platonists steered clear of science and religion in their explanation. They put forth the doctrine of “the Good” or “the One” which is beyond being. For Neo Platonists, the first principle of reality is an utterly simple and unknowable Quality of Things, a notion derived from the Republic, where Plato famously says that “the Good is beyond being in power and dignity.”

The Vedantic Approach

The “Hindus” of the Vedic era took the position that it is the abstract thought that is the reason to believe that there is something. Vedanta says that the world exists merely as a perception of the senses and made to appear real by thought processes of the mind. The origin of everything is explained as a single thought that arose in the mind of the Brahma who sustains his own existence and everything else by his thoughts and then expires as his thoughts subside into nothingness.

The Mathematician’s Approach

There is also the mathematical school of thought which says that the nature of probability dictates that all possibilities must exist. Which implies that there must be infinite variations of the universe including a version with nothing in it. And that the probability of finding ourselves in a universe with nothing in it is not just an oxymoron but also a near impossibility since one divided by a large number is a very tiny number approaching zero.

Thoughts to Ponder

Could there really be nothing? Even in the extreme case where we had this vast void or a gigantic vacuum if you will, there would be still be abstract notions like the distance between two points in that vacuum. Assuming, of course, abstract notions can exist in the absence of a mind which could create them in the first place. And if we took the position that everything is contingent and not necessary, it would be impossible to answer the question since the solution will require something that is necessary to formulate it. Which in turn makes the case that there indeed must have been an original cause; a necessity that precipitated all other things. Or maybe the question is simply meaningless, as some say it is. Or maybe it’s not.

We may never know the answer. Even if we did, it may not save us from death or assuage the griefs or heighten the joys of our day to day lives. Even so, we must view favorably these words of Einstein which he wrote in “The world as I know it.

The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science. Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man. I am satisfied with the mystery of life’s eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence – as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.”

[Reference: An excellent video series on The Mystery of Existence]

July 9, 2014

The Kingdom of Heaven

Mohandas K. Gandhi never professed to be a saint. But he is considered one by many. He never professed to being flawless. But many consider him flawed. Gandhi the husband and father was probably flawed. Gandhi the politician was not a saint. And then there’s Gandhi the pacifist who inspires awe. His courage was extraordinary, reflected in the circumspect manner with which he bore blows and eventually in the way he died. As George Orwell described in a largely unflattering essay, “His character was an extraordinarily mixed one. I believe that even Gandhi’s worst enemies would admit that he was an interesting and unusual man who enriched the world simply by being alive.”

Every time I hear of a conflict, I feel just a little more awe for the man who took violence off the table as an option and demonstrated the alternative. Here he describes how Satyagraha (commitment to Truth) is difficult.

“How are we to train individuals or communities in this difficult art of nonviolence? There is no royal road, except through living the creed in your life which must be a living sermon. Of course, the expression in one’s own life presupposes great study, tremendous perseverance, and thorough cleansing of one’s self of all the impurities. If for mastering of the physical sciences you have to devote a whole lifetime, how many lifetimes may be needed for mastering the greatest spiritual force that humanity has known? But why worry even if it means several lifetimes? For, if this is the only permanent thing in life, if this is the only thing that counts, then whatever effort you bestow on mastering it is well spent. Seek ye first the Kingdom of Heaven and everything else shall be added upon you. The Kingdom of Heaven is nonviolence.”

I honestly can’t decide which is more fascinating: Robert Pirsig’s personality or his book “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.”

First about Pirsig. He was judged to have an IQ of 170 at age nine. He went to study at the University of Minneapolis at 15, but then dropped out to join the US army in 1946. He served in Korea before returning to the university to study philosophy. In later years, he said that he studied at Benares in India. There are many Pirsigs. The 15 year old who tried to connect with his college mates and failed. The Pirsig who was drawn to Buddhism in Korea and Vedantic thought in Benares. The manic professor who taught college freshmen ‘Metaphysics of Quality’ at University of Montana. The homicidal Pirsig who was confined to a mental institution and subjected to electric shock therapy. And the father who tried to bond with his son on a motorcycle trek and then had his heart broken by the “casual murder” of his son in San Francisco. Pirsig said that he was trying to live in truth when he wrote ZMM.

By the time ZMM came out in 1974, it had been edited down from 800,000 words and rejected by over 100 publishers. At the heart of it is the narration of a father trying to bond with his son Chris. According to Pirsig, it was a tragic book in many ways. In 1979, Chris was stabbed and killed in a mugging incident as he came out of the Zen Center in San Francisco. A later edition of ZMM carried a moving foreword by Pirsig about his son, “‘I think about him, have dreams about him, miss him still,’ he says. ‘He wasn’t a perfect kid, he did a lot of things wrong, but he was my son …”

ZMM is a strange book. And yet it is a wonderful book. One feels deprived of the 800,000 word original version by a worldly and uncomprehending editor. The book keeps you off balance and struggling to regain your poise as much as riding a motorcycle on a treacherous curve on a mountainous road would. It is a legendary search for an identity; of a soul in obsessive search of salvation.

Here are a few of ZMM and Pirsig quotes.

The truth knocks on the door and you say, “Go away, I’m looking for the truth,” and so it goes away. Puzzling.”

You are never dedicated to something you have complete confidence in. No one is fanatically shouting that the sun is going to rise tomorrow. They know it’s going to rise tomorrow. When people are fanatically dedicated to political or religious faiths or any other kinds of dogmas or goals, it’s always because these dogmas or goals are in doubt.”

For every fact there is an infinity of hypotheses.”

The real purpose of the scientific method is to make sure nature hasn’t misled you into thinking you know something you actually don’t know.”

We have artists with no scientific knowledge and scientists with no artistic knowledge and both with no spiritual sense of gravity at all, and the result is not just bad, it is ghastly.”

Traditional scientific method has always been, at the very best, 20-20 hindsight. It’s good for seeing where you’ve been. It’s good for testing the truth of what you think you know, but it can’t tell you where you ought to go.”

June 30, 2014

Love Liberates

Maya Angelou, Author. Poet. Dancer. Singer. Actress. Pulitzer nominee.

A moving description of the last moments with her mother.

“She released me. She freed me to see that I may have something in me of value. Maybe not just to me. You see.. That’s love. I remembered her liberating me. And I said, I hope I’ll be able to liberate her. She deserved that from me. I told her.. You see, in their last days, some people need permission to go. As I understand it, you may have done what God put you here to do. If you need permission to go, I liberate you. Because love liberates.”

Carolyn Porco

“At the heart of every scientific inquiry is a deep spiritual quest – to grasp, to know, to feel connected through an understanding of the secrets of the natural world, to have a sense of one’s part in the greater whole. It is this inchoate desire for connection to something greater and immortal, the need for elucidation of the meaning of the ‘self’, that motivates the religious to belief in a higher ‘intelligence’. It is the allure of a bigger agency – outside the self but also involving, protecting, and celebrating the purpose of the self – that is the great attractor.

DR. CAROLYN PORCO. Planetary Scientist; Cassini Imaging Team Leader; Director, CICLOPS, Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colorado.

Reproduced from What’s Your Dangerous Idea? on

VARANASI June 19, 2014.

According to What Ho! sources, a group of die-hard Narendra Modi bhakts has formed a think tank, which will spend a significant part of the next five years coming up with minor issues on which they plan to mildly criticize Modi. According to Siddharth Dhoomey the Third, an Ivy League educated consultant who helps clients set up think tanks, “This kinda makes sense. Modi bhakts are presently seen as unbalanced and temperamentally unsound. By being seen to carefully and mildly  criticizing him on issues of relative insignificance, they can gradually build a perception of being more politically balanced and astute, a-la liberals. A lot of bhakts, especially in the last couple of years leading up to the elections, have noticed significant degradation in their ability to process negative information about Modi or to view him in a critical light. By setting up think tanks and support groups, a few are starting to take baby steps in that direction.”

A newly launched Facebook page for the think tank has interestingly attracted more enthusiastic suggestions from Aam Aadmi Party trolls than Modi bhakts, a large majority of whom continue to remain skeptical about Modi’s ability to make policy blunders or in general to make any mistakes whatsoever. Said Bharat “HDL” Shah, a Modi bhakt, “I don’t get this need for balance. I mean, you pick a horse and ride it all the way to a fiery finish, right? Why indulge in negative behaviors like introspection, doubt and curiosity? Blind loyalty is my mantra. By God, Modiji said that he cares for India more than anyone else. And by God, he does. Modiji is Batman. Are you aware that he works at night when we are sleeping? I plan to keep playing video games over the next five years and silently support Modiji in whatever he does. No questions should be asked. And I swear in the name of the mighty Heaven and the Gods who live in it, I will kick their ass if anyone does.” An AAP troll agreed saying, “I agree with everything if you change Modi to Arvind Kejriwal.”

In the meanwhile, the Think Tank has struggled to build consensus on any issue on which to take a critical stance of Modi. An insider said, “We looked at his Bhutan trip. Hello? The country is being ravaged by inflation and it didn’t seem like the right time to be gallivanting around tiny Himalayan kingdoms. But then a fellow think tanker rightfully objected saying that Bhutan could provide critical military might in our war against China when that day comes. We also looked at the situation where Modi has asked government officials to write and tweet in Hindi. None of us had any objections since we are all north Indian think tankers. We could have perhaps run with the fact that after nearly a month, the new government is yet to articulate any directional guidance on how it plans to combat inflation. But we ruled it out as it’s not a minor issue. The last thing we want in this pursuit of a balanced political viewpoint is to actually achieve it.”

In other news, PM Narendra Modi unveiled his plan for world dominance which involves building a massive coalition of hundreds of tiny countries. “There are close to 200 countries in this world, a huge majority of which are ignored on a daily basis. This must stop. Modiji has decided to build the largest coalition of really tiny countries, including some which may yet be discovered by man, in our slow but steady march to combat Chinese dominance. His trip to Bhutan, we hope, has driven that message home. We’re now in receipt of hundreds of emails from inconsequential, obscure countries which are now keen to receive our commitment of strategic cooperation with them. This ought to keep Sushma Swaraj-ji busy for the foreseeable future,” said a PMO spokesperson.

4 out of 5 dentists recommend the What Ho! report. The What Ho! Report is a collection of satire and fake news. We read the Times of India so you are not forced to. 


Dear Dr. What Ho!

I’m a student in a CBSE school in Delhi. I’ve just entered this torture chamber that they call Std XII. I think people should be happy that we go to school at all. It’s not like we’re getting paid for it. Putting such annoyances aside, I’ve been a hard working kid all through school. I’ve done all right on my grades, barring the occasional goof-ups. I’ve always done my homework barring the few times I haven’t. I’m not at the top of the class. But then again, I’m not a slacker either. Interestingly, it turns out that in this insane world in which we live, that just might not be good enough for Delhi University. And I ask why? It’s not like they are Google or something. It’s not a place where I can go and do something that transforms the lives of people. It’s just a bloody three or four year college program, for heaven’s sake. Why is it so hard to get in? Can you give me sage advice on how I can pull off what appears to be an incredible stunt?

Depressed in Dwarka.

Dear Depressed, 

Well said. We live in interesting times. These days, kids work hard in school so they can grow up to be whoever DU wants them to be. But I admire your irreverence for institutions. I have a feeling that you’ll be fine regardless of what you do.

Since you asked, here’s my guess on what could land you a seat at DU. Something tells me that you have a boring last name. Else you wouldn’t be writing letters to strangers asking for advice. Drop the boring last name. Like right now. And replace it with something grand and dynastic like Gandhi. Or Scindia. Second, I hope you’re aware of all the tests you’ll have to undergo. Keep the results handy when applying, especially the stool sample test. I’m hoping that you’re not a ‘general admissions quota’ candidate. If you indeed are one, have you ever considered the merits of running away from home and becoming a nomadic gypsy? If you’re not, you must write your caste name in BIG BOLD LETTERS at the top of the application. Another tactic that is known to have borne fruit in the past is getting a recommendation letter from Pranab Mukherjee, the President of India. Remember, he’s YOUR president. And of all the things he owes you, the least is a letter. Last but not the least, I suggest that you play it safe and get 100 percent in Std 12 finals.

Good luck and God bless you, kid.

Dr. What Ho!

Just three weeks into Modi sarkar, supporters of Prime Minister Narendra Modi have reportedly sunk into a massive depression of epidemic proportions. According to reports which are still coming in, NaMo fans have been left high and dry with absolutely nothing to talk about after BJP’s resounding victory in the recent elections. Dr. Viru Sahasrabuddhi, a practicing psychotherapist at NIMHANS in Bangalore explained. “This is perfectly understandable. Euphoria is often accompanied by depression. For months and years, thousands and even millions of Modi’s fans have been raising hell and devoted every waking moment to spreading his message and helping his campaign. After his victory, they are waking up to the gloomy and harsh reality that they now have nothing left in their otherwise empty lives.”

Meet Chandan Kishwar, 28, who spent the last two years digging up unflattering photographs of Rahul Gandhi and incessantly tweeting laudatory articles about Modi under the handle @ProudAndRabidNationalistHindu, often skipping lunch and dinner. This morning, he was discovered comatose and unresponsive to light or sound by a neighbor. “This is really sad. Until a few weeks back, I was ready to poison him for his obnoxious obsession with Modi. Now I’d give my right arm to get my rabidly nationalistic, Congi hating, Hindutva zealot friend back,” said a friend of Kishwar, YVSSR Raju, 27, who’s been fighting his own silent battle against depression after successfully lobbying on Twitter for Telangana.

The epidemic is ringing alarm bells around the nation. An estimated 67 percent of India’s workforce has been laid low in the aftermath of Modi fever, a situation which threatens an economy already ravaged by inflation. “There seems to be a strange belief among Modi fans that their work is complete now that he has been elected. In fact, they are convinced that they don’t have to work for anything anymore. In extreme cases, some are even refusing to accept the reality that the campaign is over. It’s like they are living in a fantasy of their own and continuing to post over-the-top messages on Facebook hailing their Messiah and adamantly refusing to process any negative information about Modi. The situation is so dire that these people are now transfixed, waiting for India to instantly and magically transform into an economic superpower at the snap of Modi’s fingers. This is cause for concern,” added Dr. Sahasrabuddhi in a very helpful tone.

In other news, Smriti Irani, responding to criticism that she lacks the experience to manage the HRD ministry, has enrolled herself in an online internship program run by the University of Phoenix. While the HRD ministry refused to comment, a spokesman for the University of Phoenix had this to say, “We’re pleased to confirm that Ms. Irani has enrolled in our world class internship program. The 3 week online, self-guided program has been thoughtfully crafted for those who might not normally be considered qualified for the jobs they’ve been hired for. During the course of three weeks, Ms. Irani will learn to configure Google alerts for news headlines related to education and to write catchy tweets and hashtags, areas she has specifically expressed interest in. I’d like to add that our program is over a hundred years old. In fact, the one of the first graduates of this historic program was the guy who captained the Titanic.”

The What Ho! Report is a collection of satire and fake news. We read the Times of India so you are not forced to. 4 out of 5 dentists recommend the What Ho! report.


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