Burn Notice


It’s illumination as my friend says. Given that our eyes are open and we see what we see, there’s light all around us. Un-synchronous psychedelic lights on the neighbour’s window, mis-aligned strings of Chinese-made button-controlled lights, because we apparently prefer cost over quality. “We” are Indians. You cannot look out of the typical flat (apartment, for Americans) without getting hit by the disco of the Chinese chip in its cheer.

This post will traverse a long distance and span, in a non-linear way. I thrust upon you, the responsibility to make sense of this post. You’ve appreciated non-linear movies – there is no reason, why you cannot appreciate this post. Buckle-up, ignore it, or add it to your Instapaper or equivalent.

Hello, Twitter: becoming meaningless to me because of (some of the) people I follow. I still value the network effect of Twitter and will continue to use it for professional purposes. I cannot, for my life, appreciate that folks use the same Twitter ID to: (a) outrage, (b) rant, (c) send funny tweets, (d) send useful information. Twitter ID’s are free – so I wish folks would segregate their tweets with different accounts. There is no value in the outrage tweets. Enough said, personally, I am off Twitter next year onwards. (with a few tweets here and there, of course – and importantly when there are conversations) 

One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor. (I’ll come back to that)

Hello, Facebook: The new algorithms of Facebook have made Facebook USELESS. When I tell Facebook, that here’s a person who is a close friend and I’d like to see everything that my close friend does on Facebook, and Facebook independently decides what I see and what I do not – why do I need Facebook? Dear Facebook, I will defend to my death your right to be profitable (high time now, and me being a capitalist and such jazz) and I completely agree your ‘paid promote post’ on Facebook pages – but if you want me to promote a simple status message to my friends – watch me – see my status updates and uploads getting lesser and lesser. (I suggest you increase the cost of promoted posts on pages, coz, no one is going to promote profile posts; definitely not me.) You, I believe got confused between the producer and the consumer. Ah, well. 

It’s Diwali.

We celebrate this one festival together (even if we have different reasons and philosophies regarding why we celebrate it.) Long ago, in an undocumented past certain things occurred. We have chosen to accept this as the purpose of celebrating this time. I am not demeaning it. I do not say that we are blindly celebrating that which has been handed down to us. I ask, if we have been blind, that is all. Mythology is worth celebrating – the vanquishing of a demon – e.g, because it has the power to remind us to conquer our own personal demons.

But have we made a divinity of the metaphor? And completely discarded the philosophy?

This festival, which has become a commercial orgy of discounts and exchange offers, was designed for something else. We inserted a God figure, a demon figure and an event between them. While we do not exactly know what happened in that conflict, we are here, happy celebrating the defeat of the bad by the good. Which begets the question – what is good?

One man’s ceiling is another man’s floor. (I’ll come back to that)

On my social media timeline – I have seen many a cry and call against firecrackers – especially because they affect pets. Not so much because they affect asthmatic humans or senior humans. Pets. In a tweet, one person went to the extent of abusing me if I used fire crackers, because he/she was babysitting a pet. In the place I live, I saw young men playing with their cracker guns, there was happiness around, and watching them, brought back childhood memories. In the late-70s we used to do that, and I say this with sincere apologies, we weren’t concerned about your pets. Six, or a maximum of ten days that the crackers would go off. What are you really concerned about? The amount of electricity we use during this festival? No! That this city sucks all the available power from other districts in the state – just because this is Bombay? No!

This world has become over-sensitive. Everything matters yet nothing matters. We are leaders and online-armchair activists of a microcosm. The mother who posted on Facebook asking everybody on her timeline not to ‘fire’ crackers is more than happy to jay-walk the rest of the year – break all other rules (because, hey – whether I break the rules or not – others will anyway. Or an equivalent justification)

Er, yes, I am talking of a specific person. I know how she breaks common traffic rules every day, and when convenient becomes an activist. 

What IS this festival? Do you even know WHY you are celebrating it? Forget the philosophy – that will come much later – do you even know the basic tenets of this festival? We have corrupted this festival to no end into an orgy of spending and commercialisation. Does this festival; does any festival have any meaning beyond shopping and making merry? You don’t need a festival for that, do you? You can do that all year long.

This “light” concept of this festival was to encourage you to search within yourself – a guiding light that would take you to your destination. Don’t bother Googling it – I doubt if it’s there in the interwebs. It never, however, described how you would do it. You could light and fire illegal-decibel firecrackers. You could switch on all the lights in your house. Or you could sit in a dark room and know yourself; reflect. Illuminate, like my friend said, it is a beautiful word. It means much more than just light.

You may, if you see that, “light” realise that no festival belongs to any religion. Festivals are designed for people to celebrate lives; celebrate living, for their shortcomings, for their achievements, and for their yearnings. We celebrate not just what was, but also that, that can be. And in the light (of that fire) we are called to burn everything that we no longer need. Burn those things that we have outlived. Burn that which drags us and slows us down – the baggage. Burn the past. Burn and let go of ‘them’. 

I dropped the convention in that bonfire. It was difficult to let go – I had known it for many years. It was a sack – that convention. A heavy one. And in that sack, I let all of you go. All of you. Almost.

Because either you could not be with me, or I could not carry you with me, or, I did not want to carry you with me. 





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