Saturday, May 19, 2007

Ghosts

It was so easy. I asked my 18 year old brother if he has been reading my blogs and what he thought about the writing style. He easily said that he liked my writing style and it showed that I have been reading for a long time, that I have. My curled eyebrows shot back at all I have read and all I have written. Was I writing with my ghosts?

A slab of the finest Cadbury’s chocolate and some leftover Thai pasta is appointed to my table so I can prepare for the second paragraph. Robert Pirsig defines ghosts in a better way than what I am about to attempt. I am being torn between two worlds: One of rituals, customs and traditions and the other of logic and science. Maybe not torn but my mind ponders a lot. We all live with a lot of ghosts, some good and some bad. These ghosts accumulate through all the countless interactions and incidents that we have experienced since kids. These ghosts make us do crazy things like respect lifeless objects and defy logic. Then again, mathematics and logic are our biggest ghosts.

A day of Ganpati utsav in my colony flashes back. As hordes of people gather around the arati, head bowed in submission and bodies swaying in a trance, kids eye the sweets waiting to be distributed while their moms discipline them. Do the kids need to be disciplined because their lack of attention is an insult to the prayers? They are just being innocent kids. The real answer is that the moms are being persuaded by their ghosts. The ghosts are ruthless dictators that make people of all ages speak and write what they want to say and be written. Families that maintain age old customs, rituals and faiths do just that. They maintain them like a night watchman at a forgotten museum. They do it to preserve the culture. What about evolution then? Shouldn’t culture evolve and change? I can see some people jumping off their seats,”Sacrilege! You can’t change culture! Culture is our identity.” It is their ghost speaking for them while they allow culture to become their very own fantastic bottleneck. The whole galaxy is evolving as we speak except our ghosts. Ghosts don’t evolve. They merely maintain the exact form and shape of what they looked like when they truly existed.

The caste system is the biggest most evident ghost of all। Is it a good ghost or a bad ghost? Both. The caste system died the day when automated flush tanks were invented. Then, a बृह्मण (Brahmin, the highest strata in the Indian caste system) became an instant अछूत (untouchable, the lowest strata in the Indian caste system) while he flushed his toilet. The caste system created groups of people with similar job descriptions and hence similar intellect. Some were good at research and education, some at war and some at creativity. It gave a much needed structure to the society. Carry that forward and most families of the same caste have similar traits, habits and behaviours but not all. People of the upper caste prefer to feed the ghost as they get to say that they are superior while people of the lower caste feed their ghosts so they can get those nifty reservations. I don’t care who you are but if you have ever taken a reward, award, position, promotion or admission based on your caste, high caste or low caste, you are guilty in my court. I won’t hate you but I won’t agree with your actions.

I am living with my own set of ghosts. Some make me respect everyone like they were God; some make me respect the physical paper and coin money and some make me respect all elders no matter what. I am trying to break away from the bad ghosts and keep the good ones. If I respect someone abusive by not retorting back, then I am disrespecting myself and that is wrong. I should not have the right to disrespect anybody, be it me or my abusive ‘someone’. I should rather respect the use of money than its physical form. I should spare my elders the dignity by not dragging them into this 2 cent blog.

My brother lives with my ghost. I met him after over two and a half years. He was visiting me on his way to summer school in California. Spending the week with him made me realize that he still sees me as the brother he knew three years back. He lets my ghost translate and then hears everything I say and sees everything I do as my ghost would three years back. Three years back, I was 21 and just like any other 21 year old, I was stubborn, had my own ideas about the general functioning of the world and was a ruling elder brother. Three years have changed me to a hopefully more socially acceptable stubborn person and a friendly elder brother to my now 18 year old sibling. I still have my own views about the general functioning of the world and that is what these blogs are about. It is just as important for him to fight my ghost as it is for me to fight my own ghost.

5 comments:

The_Girl_From_Ipanema said...

your posts are heavy. :-)
It is interesting how we see some of our past in our siblings images of us.

Neihal said...

haan, heavy to hai!
:P

except this...
"The caste system died the day when automated flush tanks were invented"

hahahahahahaha.

Amit said...

nice, much more "readable" now. but, bland. seeing as how you've accepted my advice, here's an offer (yes, i have much free time on my hands these days. :D) pick any of the designs from www.csszengarden.com, i'll convert it into a template for you. :)

about ghosts. made me think a bit. :) its like at every moment, you're making a decision. uptil that moment, your life has been 'defined' by the sum total of these ghosts. you choose to either go along with that definition of 'you', or create yourself anew. and again, you create a new ghost. i guess it gets pretty hard to get rid of these ghosts as they start accumulating, no?

dunno if that made any sense. :P

cheers!

Shek said...

@Ipanema Girl
we change gradually but our siblings see that as a sudden change when they see us after a long time. We just have to deal with the learning curve

@Neihal
I try to drop in a line here and there to make my dry posts a little bearable. Glad you found it funny.

@Amit
Thanks a ton for the offer. I emailed you and I owe you big time. I am a minimalistic kind of guy, hence the blandness, but I am also up for a change. You see, the ghosts that affect us are not ours all the time. They are the customs, traditions and 'family values' that influence our decisions. But you doing something today will probably create a ghost for someone else. Scary?

bong's blog said...

If only all of us could acknowledge our ghost... most of us dont see any existance.