Dirty Business

There is a significant philosophical difference between making money and doing business. Only a few would understand it in a whole lot of perspectives and become successful in their endeavours.

I was reading a book on how the TATA empire rose to become a gigantic group it is today. TATAs are the most reputed and respected industry house in India, for their role in building modern India with their vast sectors of industries. But very few know that TATAs started to build this magnificent empire by trading opium and cotton.

When TATAs started their business, opium usage changed from medicinal purpose into addictive drugs, and it was still legal. It was during opium trade wars in China and its necessity to the British in opium ban, TATAs seized the opportunity to supply opium to China by striking a deal with the British, albeit in a legal way.

Similarly, it was in the 1860s, during the American Civil War, TATAs captured the cotton business from America to supply cotton to British factories. Many decades later, India’s Swadeshi movement against the British rule, which inspired Indians to ditch British goods and take up Swadeshi ones, also helped the cotton mills of TATAs to see huge profits.

These two businesses sowed the seeds for the TATA empire. I feel that the success of these businesses was born out of the sufferings of men at a distant place in this world. I couldn’t argue if it was moral or ethical whether TATAs foundation was laid upon the sufferings of thousands of men, but that was a very critical thinking and strategic decisions taken by TATAs.

Just seize the opportunity at any cost, for it never comes again.

In today’s competitive world, it was sad to read about the demise of VG Siddhartha, the founder of Café Coffee day last week. His business style involved terrible strategies in the form of multiple mishandling of loans. But is taking disproportionate loans to run a business a good idea? There are several unknown truths in his life, but as of today, the rise and fall of his fame serve an excellent case study for modern entrepreneurs who are dreaming big. It is highly confusing to investigate whether today’s young entrepreneurs are aiming to earn money or to establish a business.

Another opportunity was created by the revocation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, which opened for external investments and businesses hereafter. After this news broke, there were many discussions among my peers that apple prices would come down, tourism growth would explode in Kashmir, and more interestingly, about the possibility of buying a retirement home before the exponential hike in the real estate prices. A distressed state no one dared to venture into until yesterday has become the talk of the town in business circles. The concern was more about the potential opportunities they want to seize rather than the welfare of J&K citizens and national security.

There are hotels which serve bananas for Rs.442 and also the generous ones which serve complimentary bananas at the end of the meal.
There are hotels which serve bananas for Rs.442 and also the generous ones which serve complimentary bananas at the end of the meal. Image by RyanMcGuire

Being an employee living on monthly paychecks, I confess that I am not yet clear in my understanding of the difference between making money and doing business. Both of them are complementary to each other, but we need to identify where to draw the line of priority between them. The more I think about it, and many cases like above I come across, there have been different perspectives I needed to ponder upon without any satisfactory answers.

Another new correlation I found in this quest for truth is the significance of investment. We build wealth with the help of EMIs and loans and consider them as an investment. We fail to live in the present moment by sacrificing the time instead, and everything valuable in possession to build a fortune that we are not going to experience in any way, and few sometimes succumbing to peer pressure by stupid decisions.

For every penny we spend, we are not enjoying its value, but living in a false dream that we would enjoy it in the future. It is like the foolish and highly misleading dubious advise given by our uncles and aunties while I was in school.

If you study hard now and get good marks in 10th std, you can enjoy for the rest of your life.

These people should be thrown in jail. This kind of motivation, manipulation and radicalization to study hard in the name of a bright future is more dangerous than the radicalization of terrorists in the name of religion.

It isn’t an evil plan to save or invest; after all, everything we do is to safeguard our future and to lead a comfortable life. Doing business is one of the livelihood options many of us venture. In the process of doing so, we are striving to accumulate more money, rather than creating or gaining value for what we do and for what we spend.

The greedy and selfish attitude of the current generation is the byproduct of the way our ancestors conducted business, and it is deteriorating every day.


Images by Steve Buissinne and Tumisu from Pixabay.

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What’s there in a movie?

The human mind is effortless to manipulate, and we have been victims of that manipulation since ages. I would scratch my head often when I hear our elders saying that today’s younger generation are getting spoiled and choosing wrong paths because of movies.

Feminism, toxic masculinity, misogyny, inequality, violence, terrorism, mafia, porn, adult, drugs are the topics and areas in movies which, according to our elder’s intellectual analysis, are impacting the younger generation. Movies never portray reality, but we believe in them and try to emulate the characters in our lives, which is partially true, but how far the impact is on the character and ideals of innocent believers is a question to ponder over.

The latest movie which sparked many discussions and drew focus from critics and audience alike was Arjun Reddy, and its Hindi version Kabir Singh. I haven’t watched the movie but heard about a lot of scenes and dialogues from my friends, both men and women.

There is no rule written anywhere, nor do the moviemakers have an obligation to make a message-oriented and pleasant to watch with family kind of movies. We cannot censor a person’s thoughts even if we try to stop his actions. Movies, like any literature or sculpture, are pieces of art that should be consumed in a very different way, but not in a literal manner. There are movies which would have impacted or motivated us, and changed our perception towards a few things or people, or helped us to become a better person. Few movies stir the emotions in our hearts, and they make us laugh, cry and scream with whistles.

As accused by our elders, if movies are the only reason for our outrageous behaviour and uncultured thoughts, our society would have collapsed by now. Abusive relationships, love failures, drug addiction, are quite common in society, but they are not what we all of us seek to have in our lives.

However, the audience too conducts with double standards in perceiving the content of the film. Arjun Reddy/Kabir Singh was portrayed by Vijay Devarakonda and Shahid Kapoor, the smart and handsome heroes of their respective fields. The hero’s story was received well in spite of his brutality and dominating behaviour with his love. That was accepted and appreciated as a happy and honest love story.

If any artist with darker shades like Nawazuddin Siddique or Prakash Raj portrayed the same Arjun Reddy character, every one of us would have labelled the story and the characters of Arjun and Kabir as a misogynist, torturous, and a sexually harassing medical psycho. We are obsessed with fairness, and always fail to see the real faces beneath the fair mask. We need to be wise enough to take home the real face, that is the quality and depth of the relationships among people, and the essence of a life and the strength to move on, rather than taking in the seductive coating of the characters’ actions on the movie, like the typical characteristic mannerisms of Arjun Reddy, his conduct and his obnoxious behaviour.

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Every piece of art has a great story behind it. Why can’t we watch a movie by looking closely and listening to the deeper voices, and relate to the culture and society we live today?

Few of my colleagues and friends (women) with whom I discussed Arjun Reddy honestly agreed that it was a good movie, but were not willing or even dreaming of living in an abusive and submissive relationship like what was portrayed in the movie. This honest stance of young women needs to be appreciated, especially at the time when the elders are too much concerned about our discipline and career.

Another piece of annoying nonsense we are unfortunate to bear is that of movie reviews and critics who dictate the moral and social terms of what a typical movie genre should consist of. An honest critique with logical explanation and reasoning is always appreciated, but the double standard in this process is discouraging. Kabir Singh received much flak from critics and few sections of intellectual audience for showing toxic masculinity and abusive relationship by the lead character. However, I don’t understand where these social justice warriors were hiding when there were much such offensive, indirect portrayals and objectification of women in Bollywood all these years, in the name of love.

I stumbled upon a cult classic Tamil movie Apporva Raagangal (1975), which introduced Rajinikanth to the world and showed the innate capabilities of Kamal Haasan. This movie daringly dealt with the relationships between people with wide age gaps. It was controversial and received criticism when it was released, but today we all hail it as the revolutionary movie with the great visionary behind it in the name of K.Balachander. Who knows? Arjun Reddy/Kabir Singh might turn into such a kind of classic after four decades.

It is time we understood that every piece of art made by the current generation turns into a lesson or a reference for future generation reflecting our culture and standards of living. If kids today are taught and brought up with enough maturity to understand the difference between the reel and real, sex and love, habit and addiction, we would no longer need any moral policing upon us, thereby enjoying every piece of art with a broader sense of mind.


Photo by Una Laurencic from Pexels and Feature Photo by Henry & Co. from Pexels

The cradle of life

How does it feel when the entire world surrounded by us is entirely dark with random voices confusing an innocent mind?

Last week, I was visiting my cousin’s place to meet the newborn baby. I was feeling tired by the time I reached there, and straight away landed on the bed to sleep. Adjacent to me was the baby sleeping peacefully, not worrying about any of the happenings in this chaotic, beautiful world around him. What intrigued me a lot was the old cotton saree of his grandmother which was hung from the top and tied so that it forms a stiff cradle or swing for him to sleep in it, also generally referred as a baby hammock.

Indian saree isn’t just a piece of cloth of six yards; a life of eternity is woven in its tangled threads. It is incredibly hypothetical to understand the obsession of ladies of yesterday’s generation for sarees. They preserve their sarees like a forbidden treasure. But, when it comes to any of the shirts belonging to me or my father, it is forced to retire voluntarily and thrown into the kitchen to spend its retirement life. A kid gets scolded very severely by mom if the school uniform gets dirty, but the same white dress is made dirty by the same mom in the kitchen; Unsurmountable hypocrisy by the queens of the Indian homes. It’s a difficult thing to understand Indian moms.

Camille Pissarro - The Complete Works - The interior of a hut with a hammock and an Indian mother with her two children, Galipan - camille-pissarro.org

Pondering over the superiority and partiality the saree derives and demands, among other attires from Indians, that was the moment where the two toddlers of my cousins, opened the Pandora box of sarees. If we need a long piece of cloth to make the baby sleep peacefully, why is it always the saree which is preferred to make a hammock, but not a dhoti or lungi?

A baby would have spent months in the mother’s womb. Naturally, it must be the warmth of the saree of his mom or grandmom, which makes the baby more comfortable rather than the dirty dhoti/lungi, which we men drag across the streets.

 


Image taken from humanheed.com

Sell one’s suffering to destroy another’s dignity

Empathy and compassion are found in abundant quantities all over the virtual places. Back when my mind started learning about the happenings around us when I was a teenager, this empathy and compassion affected me a lot and my thought process. It is easy to mould a hollow and innocent mind into any shape, and my mind, like any other teenagers, was so vulnerable for manipulation.

Newspapers, movies, politicians, social activists, teachers and parents have been preaching, discussing and empathizing about farmers cause in our country. The distress of farmers in the form of bad loans, failed crops, suicides were bombarding my brain all the time. Every politician talks about farmers and every political party rallies behind farmers. As a result, I developed empathy and compassion towards farmers more than what the millennial generation had towards them.

Farmers are in distress. I agree. Indian economy and the majority of India’s livelihood is heavily reliant on agriculture even today. However, that has been a significant concern since Independence, for the past 70 years. Why does the problem still exist? If agriculture has been under distress for this long, with new challenges cropping up every year, the problem is not with monsoons or banks or landlords, but with our decision making and spineless policymakers.

I am not going to deal with agriculture, farmers, economy and public policy here. I want to talk about a highly misunderstood and heavily assaulted characteristic of a human — the dignity of a job.

The constant bashing and ridicule I have seen in recent times are against the jobs and the employees in MNCs. Movies and social media are to blame for developing this phenomenon. The protagonist or a character in the film leaves agriculture to join an MNC in a metro city, and there will be another character in another movie, who, after lots of motivation and enlightenment, leaves his boring and spineless MNC job to do agriculture. The narration is developed on this premise, and the common thing in both the stories is, every idiot lectures about agriculture and farmers, and downplays the current job he is in right then.

I have a severe problem with this kind of ideas. It seriously hurts the dignity of a job. It is becoming more offensive against urban employees.

Farmers are shown as Gods in distress. I agree with that. But, MNC employees are treated as hopeless people. I do not see it this way. Every one of us had made our choice. Working as an employee in an organization was a decision we made out of many options we had, whereas few people opted to do farming in spite of many hurdles on their way, and I deeply respect them.

There is dignity in every job. Street sweepers, municipal workers, drivers, doctors, engineers, technicians, mechanics, police and CEOs are entitled to the dignity of a job. We do what we are doing to feed our families. There is nothing offensive in that.

I was in a movie theatre yesterday watching a stupid scene (in Suriya’s NGK) where the protagonist explains(ridicules) the typical characteristics(sufferings) of a corporate job, which mostly involves just sitting before a computer for hours, to justify his choice for opting organic farming as a career. With mild scorn on my face, I looked around at the audience anticipating claps and cheers, and they did. The same MNC employees whose jobs are being ridiculed in the movie in favour of agriculture were enjoying the assault and the degradation of their dignity at a swanky multiplex in the IT Corridor of Chennai. There are many movies and social media posts before NGK, where an MNC job is looked down cheaply.

I am not from an agriculture background, and my parents didn’t involve themselves much in this sector, and I was brought up in an academic environment. So, I didn’t get the groove of farming and didn’t experience the atmosphere in a farmer’s house. However, I never insulted any farmer, and many of my friends and colleagues are from farming families, and I respect them a lot. They show lots of love to me every time I visit their house. Honestly, they are wealthier than my family.

Today’s social media and movies are talking too much about agriculture and ignoring the actual ground level links each sector has among them. There is suffering in every economic sector, including services and industries. We bring only agriculture suffering into the core narrative point in our movie, a social media post, and a news debate to earn crores in revenue and gain popularity. Exploiting the suffering has become a business in the form of entertainment. Unfortunately, we created a price for suffering, and we want it not to go away, lest we might lose the value created by it. So, farmers are still suffering only to be exploited by us to our gains, at the cost of the personal dignity of urban jobs.

If we decide to leave farming and go for a job in urban areas, there is nothing wrong with it. It signifies our intent to care about our life and family. Any job we do to feed our family is good, and it is always dignified. If we ridicule, laugh and comment about the jobs in the urban area to claim that being a farmer is the supreme job, it shows immaturity and complete lack of wisdom, if not arrogance.

A farmer and a corporate employee, both of them deserve dignity. Any country needs both of them.

The Winter that never came

Spoilers ahead for Game of Thrones.

My thoughts went too far to comprehend whenever anyone said ‘Winter is coming’. I waited for eight years for that Winter in humid weather of Chennai, but that Winter never came.

Game of Thrones has carved the mightiest fan base ever for any TV show from the charisma of its fascinating characters. First five seasons were blockbuster, the next two were average, and the final one proved to be a damp squib devoid of any jaw-dropping moments.

The conclusion given to the most excellent TV show ever is disliked by many of the audience. Several plot holes and the abrupt end of many important characters without a convincing narration pissed off many fans. Many of us are blaming the writers, David Benioff and DB Weiss, for the lacklustre ending of the show. But, I feel that they did the best what they could, in the limit of everything HBO gave them. They ran out of reliable content after season 5, and it was not surprising to see them fail in reaching the grandeur of storytelling, which was the highlight in the first five seasons.

According to Scientific American’s blog post on why fans hated the last season of Game of Thrones, the sociological and psychological aspects of the show’s storytelling impacted the experience of the audience, and divergence from the narration based on these two critical factors killed the show in the end. The major pulling factor for the audience interest towards Game of Thrones was the unexpected killing of its important characters. None would have expected the fate of Ned Stark and no one liked his death either, but the show moved on because there were several other characters which provided us with what we needed from the show.

Each character from the Lannister and Stark family was developed so meticulously from the beginning only to squeeze them and throw away in the final season. Danareys Targeriyan’s character arc reached the highest levels of stupidity when she destroyed the Kings Landing. Her anger for the loss of friend and children, and her desire for power can support her barbarous act, but the events that led to this episode is not a characteristic feature of excellent writing, and this is the reason why GoT fans were unable to digest what she did.

Ned Stark’s beheading showed the audience that GoT is not going to be a regular fantasy drama. The Red Wedding spoiled my sleep the night I watched it. I was very eager to know what Winter meant in this show.

The evolution of Jamie Lannister’s character into the seasons intrigued me a lot and taught many budding writers how to develop a great character and ruin it at one go. Why did Jamie travel to Winterfell and why the hell did he go back to Kings Landing later? To give the knighthood to Brienne or to do something else with her virginity?

Tyrion Lannister was loved by many, and he proved himself dumb in the end by failing many times, and this is not a great way to conclude his character, which gave Peter Dinklage two Emmys for his portrayal of Tyrion.

Cersei Lannister’s death was the most anticipated one in the final season, and in spite of all the sins she committed, many rooted for her. Every character has a reason for what they become eventually. Her love for her children and the Walk of Atonement made her what she has become at the end. Her incestuous relationship made her the villain, but very few acknowledged how poorly her husband Robert Baratheon, treated her. She gave more importance to her children than anyone else, yet she lost every one of them. She was a cruel woman and exacted revenge whenever she wanted. And finally, she gets killed by bricks. Hmm.

‘You know nothing, Jon Snow’. I can’t say anything more about the bastard. The Night Watch has become the Andaman Jail of Westeros.

Arya Stark can go to the Olympics. How did she jump from nowhere to stab the Night King? Her list is longer than the monthly grocery list my mom gives me and both the lists never got fulfilled. What happened to her many faces in the final season? She travels to explore the West of Westeros. Oh God! Someone should tell her that the earth is round and she would reach the same place where she started. Did she take that horse along with her to explore the West, which she found amidst the rumbles of Kings Landing?

Sansa Stark is a brilliant woman who searches for logic, but a slow learner. The most interesting character ever endured many blows and was crowned as the queen. Happy ending. However, there was a moment where the audience was given a hint in the final season that she might reconcile with Tyrion, her former husband. What happened to that relationship?

Bran Stark is the luckiest person I have ever come across in fiction and reality. ‘Who has got a great story among us other than Bran Stark?’ Bran, the broken, broke the souls of many GoT fans with his poor story.

Arya went West, Sansa went North, Jon went deep North, Bran went South, and finally, the fame of GoT went deep South. The final season deviated from the narrative path which was typical for Game of Thrones. Game of Thrones popularity rested on their characters and their evolution for the past seven seasons. The writers strived hard to give an epic conclusion to the show, but never cared about the conclusion of the characters, which is what all of us had anticipated.

If there was any person who deserves to sit on the Iron Throne, it is Ramin Djawadi, the music composer for the entire show. His music got better with every episode. Title music at the beginning of every episode just silenced our minds to concentrate on what followed. The Rains of Castamere chilled the bones of Lannister enemies at the Red Wedding, The Winds of Winter gave us goosebumps, the keys of the piano in The Light of Seven when Cersei blasts the Sept of High Sparrow sounded the fierceness of perfect revenge.

The final season’s Long Night battle still rings in my ears, especially during the Night King’s approach towards Bran. The montage of music in the last episode is the only saving grace for the mediocre conclusion.

However, it was the Jenney of Old Stones, that struck my heart, which never wanted to leave the Winter that never came.

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