Thursday, June 30, 2016

On old people

I had a very weird weekend. Old people are weird, you guys. And not just because of Brexit. Or the conversations from a couple of months ago.

I was out for dinner with a friend Saturday evening, and suddenly a doddering old man, who had been sitting at the table across from us with his entire family, stopped by as he was leaving, to say to me, "you have the prettiest eyes I've ever seen!"

I responded with an "aww, that's so sweet of you!" as his daughter (or daughter-in-law, maybe?) visibly cringed with mortification as she waited to help him out of the restaurant. And four days later I still can't decide if it was actually sweet, amusing, plain creepy, or all of the above.

And then Sunday morning I was on a flight, doing what I usually do on flights, playing Candy Crush on my tablet. And I was playing it for a fairly long time, because I had managed to unlock infinite lives for a two hour period. The old man sitting next to me woke up from his nap, and started watching me play. After ten minutes of watching, he finally decided to ask me about the game. He asked why I play it, how I play it, how long I've been playing it, and what's the point of playing it at all. And if the fact that I've been playing it for three years means I have a lot of time. And couldn't I find any better games to play?

He then, a propos of nothing, asked if I believed in ESP. "Sometimes," I said. "Ok, let's play a game to see if it's real." "Umm, okay?" He then proceeded to ask me a series of ridiculous math questions, and ended by asking me to name the first vegetable I could think of. He was genuinely disappointed when I said peas, because apparently 80% of people say carrots.

I don't even.

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

On democracy

A conversation at lunch, a few weeks ago. Three Indians, one American.

Indian #1: What are you people doing? Trump actually became the nominee!

American: Yeah, I don't know what people are doing!

Indian #1: You need to get it together.

American: I have it together. Politically, that is. My personal life is a bit of a mess. My point is, I'm voting the other way!

Indian #2: But, there has to be some safeguard, right? Don't you people have some safeguards? To prevent such a crazy person actually winning?

American: You would think.

Indian #2: I mean, what if a mass murderer decided to suddenly run for President? Would you let him?

Indians #1 and #3 turn to Indian #2.

Indian #3: You do realize...

Indian #2: Yeah, I just realized what I said. Okay, never mind.
Indian #3: Because this is democracy.


Here's my thing, okay? When general elections in India happened in 2014, I was vocally, and consistently, against the BJP. We all knew they would be coming to power, and Modi would end up Prime Minister, but a part of me held out hope that it wouldn't happen, and wanted to bash my head against the wall when it did.

But my thing? Is this. I could see why people supported the BJP, and voted them to power. Because the alternative sucked. I didn't agree with it, because even though the alternatives sucked, I didn't think voting the BJP to power was a good idea. Two years later, my opinion hasn't changed much. I still don't see a viable alternative, but I still don't see the BJP as a good idea. But I see why others do, or did.

They seemed less corrupt. They talked of "achhe din" and all the progress they would bring. The social side of them, which is the scary as hell side of them, was ignored for the idea of all the economic development that people thought would come. And since social stands are more important to me than economic stands, very obviously I was in the minority (not that I was able to vote, but still).

So here's my thing. I don't get the Presidential election campaign going on in the US right now. I haven't got it for the past year. I don't see how, or why, the Republican primaries have gone the way they did. I don't see how this country can choose the Presidential candidate they have.

Again, in my view, if you are a Republican, your choices were, granted, all horryifying to me. But not to you, surely? So the fact that Trump is the candidate they went with, out of the 11 options (or more?) they started out with, is something I am not able to fathom. At all.

I'm so very terrified for November.

Monday, June 13, 2016

On how the news hits you

One of the continuing arguments I have with my mother is that she refuses to stop worrying about her children. When the brother and I travel, and now the sister-in-law too, she wants to know when we take off and we land. I'm very sure she has news alerts set up for whatever city or country we're in at any given time, because she usually finds out about any shooting or tornado warning or any possible type of calamity within, I don't know, a 1000 miles of me before I do.

Case in point, this Sunday morning. I received a text asking how bad the shooting in Orlando was. I had no idea, because between getting up late, realizing I had to wash my hair, and rushing out of the apartment to meet people on time, I hadn't really glanced at the news, twitter, or Facebook. But just as I typed that text back, saying I hadn't seen the news yet, I caught sight of a TV screen playing CNN. And stopped dead in my tracks.

I could go on and on about how the news these days makes me feel sick to my stomach. The Stanford rape case, the Orlando shooting, the US Presidential elections - none of it is pretty. And I can't blame my mother for worrying about me when I've written in the past about going crazy with irrational worry when anything happens back in India.

A few weeks ago, after yet another exasperatingly frantic call asking about my safety, I had snapped at her, "do you realize, if something had happened to me, calling or texting me would be useless, because I wouldn't exactly be able to respond if I was dead?" After a second of pin drop silence, I was witheringly told never to say anything like that ever again. The fact that I was already feeling the pangs of guilt for having snapped didn't count.

This afternoon, one of the tweets making the rounds about the Orlando massacre that hit a little too close to home was this screen grab of someone's post:

"as investigators are inside the nightclub, where many of the bodies are still where they fell, they have to tune out the nightmarish sound of all of the deceased phones' ringing constantly as loved ones try to reach them."

Shudder, indeed.