Much Ado About Ahmed

At this time, if you Google Ahmed the results that will come flying are only about the teenager who was mistaken for a terrorist by a supposedly over-cautious, over-anxious, overzealous school. But it seems to that there are again, two sides to every story.

Ahmed Mohamed. Who is he? Just a person of color? A teenager? Or an individual from a religion that’s widely misunderstood, reviled and feared? How about we put them all together and add a device to the mix which does look like many bombs I’ve seen in papers or on television and you have a huge faux pas which is trending on social media and making an unlikely celebrity of someone who should be playing ball like other kids his age and not have to shoulder this media circus.

Now this is my personal viewpoint entirely. Was he wronged against. Yes. Undoubtedly. That’s been proven. Was the school too hasty in branding him a terrorist or even thinking of him along those lines? Again. Yes. Were they wrong in thinking what they did? Now that’s the gray area I can’t skate over.

The last few years have seen a devastating rise in school shootings, racial profiling and anti-Islam propaganda in the United States. How do I know this? Well pretty much every source of communication is putting that message out real-time.

Teenage perpetrators of hate crimes, homicides are inexplicably on the rise. So from where I stand, when a child of a religion that some loonies seem to speak for and act as vanguards of; makes a “device” which looks less like what an innocuous clock ought to and more like pictures of bombs left on sidewalks cafes, libraries, parks across the world; it is understandable that his gestures, his actions, and ultimately he and his device will be feared and misunderstood.

I mean didn’t the Commander-in-Chief of the United States attack a country that left thousands dead, on intel that’s yet to be proven accurate, about weapons of mass destruction?! Fear psychosis or just plain old fear of the unknown is a terrible motivating force. Unfortunately, Ahmed became a casualty to it and underwent things he shouldn’t have. But let’s not be in too much of a hurry to condemn those who suspected or misunderstood the boy. They haven’t crossed the point of no-return just yet.

Maybe they should have tried to be the  adults that they are and tried logic, relied on their knowledge and understanding of the kind of person Ahmed is. But the times we live in warp a lot of things even if they are benign and warped they may remain.

When I mentioned my point of view to my husband, he smirked and said I would fit in well in Texas. His minimalistic way of saying that I exhibited trigger-happy, redneck inclinations. See? Stereotypes are alive and kicking every which way we look.

But I still believe that while reparations may not be enough or even possible for Ahmed from the town of Irving or his school, as he grows up he might eventually understand what led them to treat him as public enemy #1. If he doesn’t, he might consider asking his parents to fill him in seeing that they are from Sudan. Even if they might not have lived in the ‘shoot-first-ask-later’ conditions, they will still understand turbulence, in the world and in the human mind.

Lennon Had It Right!

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

I’m not feeling particularly nostalgic or philosophical today so have no fear that this is one of “those” posts.

After a week of particularly fragmented sleep due to a very, very unfortunate incident witnessed, I finally slept good and proper. And it was also due to a long, no-holds barred, candid talk with my father.

It seems to me that while life is something that we are born into; it’s also something that keeps happening around us whether we are consciously in the moment or not. It does go on. Extremely fluidly.

One moment someone is literally surrounded by all that is good and the next moment they are gone. Really, really gone. Because saying they passed on doesn’t seem to do justice to it.

One moment you’re one of a bunch of quasi-serious group of girls studying the human mind, ogling boys, chatting with strangers on the net for the thrill of it and bunking classes to watch Hyderabad Blues (first day-first show) and then you blink and you’re a housewife who buys sheets based on thread count and is quite happy about it as well.

One day you’re the thread that holds together someone’s sanity and the next you’re nowhere in the horizon because life happened and people moved on; and so did you.

One day you were playing hopscotch and counting nickels to see if you had enough for an ice cream sandwich and the next you were just among the multitude of kids who were moving out of home room to go to French or Spanish class.

You make plans. We all do. We plan the hell out of our lives. Even those who don’t have a proper schematic in place and aren’t hopelessly anal about where they’re going and how they want to get there. But things still keep happening around us, we get caught up in them and sometimes they lead someplace good and other times it leads to places we can’t wait to get out of fast enough.

If I look back today on things good and bad, the only thing that consistently occurs to me is that I have enough to go on to look ahead as well. And not just through rose-colored glasses to see the prettiness. To also see things for how they are: a shifting balance of things that test us to the core and those which lift us up to glorious peaks of joy.

And no…this post will not end with an “embrace life now!” or “count your blessings and live each day to the fullest” kind of blather. It’s just an ongoing realization of how we are yet to plumb the depths of all that’s in store for us and how the tip of the iceberg isn’t really a bad place to be when everything else is still ahead of you.

Makes me feel good about the times to come. In a mildly daunted and yet-excited way.

So since I have to end the post on some note, let it be this.

Yet Another Epiphany

I had another Ah-HA! experience this morning while “attempting” to explain to MLM why something is desirable and why something isn’t. People (parenting experts, those whose kids are no longer a pain-in-the-ass and those who are blissfully childless) usually say that it sets a bad example to communicate with a growing child using largely negatives viz “NO”, “NOT”. “DONT” et al. However, given that the vocabulary of most children who aren’t prodigies or savants of some kind are largely rudimentary till the middle school years, it becomes a tough job navigating the world of communicating what you want with what your child can comprehend.

But I have finally realized the biggest challenge I face day in and day out while trying to bring this boy up- I have to be an adult in the face of his childishness. And therein lies the rub. I no longer know how to be a child and he’s not reached that stage where he knows anything else but how to be a child.

Just a few minutes back, I had another locking-horns session with my offspring. Reason? He’s been using a turtle stencil to draw outlines on an otherwise pristine ivory colored wall. Again.

The first time this was noticed and commented upon, he apologized. In a flash. And went off to do whatever it is he does when one road to mischief has been shut down. Today when I noticed the second drawing I called him to ask why he had drawn on the walls again when he knew it wasn’t appreciated at all. He simply replied that he wanted to. No defiance. No attitude. Just a simple statement of fact.

And that in nutshell is how children usually are. While some are more compliant, for reasons known only to them, others are more willful in the sense that they are guided largely by their whims. A state that many older people fall back into in their advanced years.

But try as I might, I couldn’t explain to MLM why I was upset. He finally came up with a solution of wiping it off with water. But the crux of the problem escaped him and it entirely escaped me how to clue him in.

As adults we live with and in cliches. We stay in the lines. It starts by learning to color in them, writing within in, standing in them and also driving in them. We don’t always turn into lab rats or hamsters in their wheels but we become regulated. And can also see the benefits of such a life for its opposite is chaos in some form or the other.

But a child, especially one right out of early childhood is all about seeing his or her environment as a giant canvas, playground or anything without boundaries. They want to color furiously all over the paper. Never mind that the dam fruit they were to color got buried under the strokes. They want to scribble on walls because that’s the largest unending surface that surrounds them everyday. They want to climb higher, use the bed as a trampoline because everything that gives them a sense of freedom, even briefly, is exhilarating. Never mind that you’ll be replacing the mattress or the bed springs will poke through before long. It’s just so much more fun than just calmly lying down somewhere and sleeping.

And this is why I blogged this. Right here and now. So when I’m about to have an aneurysm tomorrow or day after from whatever my son wasn’t supposed to have done but did so anyhow; I can take a quick peek at this post before my head blows up. Hell! I’ll have to clean up that mess too so I might as well read these pearls of wisdom and count to a 1000 and keep telling myself there’s always school and the next summer holidays are a year away.

Amen!

After A Long Break…From Writing

Been visiting my folks back in my hometown. It’s kind of become an annual trip during the brat’s summer holidays. It’s part torture and part relaxation but the fun comes and goes. I say that because the concept of fun not only changes from person to person but sometimes even from day-to-day.

One day locking yourself up in a room and just reading Asterix comics can be bliss where another day going for a trip on a river despite the icky-sticky humidity can be pretty damn good too!

But be as that may I have some blog posts bursting to get out. Haven’t blogged at in the past month. Barring my renewed love for Instagram, I wasn’t doing anything else at all. A break of sorts.

Anyhow one of the things that did catch my eye and then my head was the essay written by Facebook CEO, Sheryl Sandberg, after her husband passed away.

Apart from the utterly heartfelt words that Sandberg wrote, what really caught my attention were her updates on Facebook throughout the entire  time she was in mourning.

She didn’t do any of the silly and utterly without value kind of updates like check-ins into malls or fashionable places or used emojis to describe how she was feeling but she her work updates, things which probably kept her grounded during that indescribably difficult time.

But I have to wonder if uneasy does rest the head wearing the crown. Do you have time to actually grieve, go where your life is taking you or are you beholden to a greater power- your work?

My father, although not in Sandberg’s league, is a pretty well-established person in his own field. And he seldom switches off. While it isn’t as hectic as it was before he retired (for the first time) he hasn’t entirely cut the cord either. And it must be hard to do…if you have done something for most of your adult life, especially when you distinguish yourself at it.

But while there is something to be said for going up the ladder, there are times when being a foot soldier or a cog in the system might be a blessed thing as well.

Here endeth the first one of the pent-up blog posts. More posts to follow. Some on my photo blog. Check it out here.

The Blasphemy of Terror

I’m partial to Websters so I’ll stick with their definition of blasphemy. It goes,”great disrespect shown to God or to something holy

:something said or done that is disrespectful to God or to something holy”.

Now caricature has had its enemies since the first time man realized that satirizing something or someone was in its own way, an insult. It didn’t always have the sting of a slap or a harsh word but it dared to mock something that was of gravity to others if not outright revered.

But a caricature also had at its heart the notion that it was, is and will be ok to take a less than obsessive, somber look at things in the world around us and see its fallacies, foibles and it’s essence as it were. When you make a caricature of an individual who has been in the news or someone who has caught your eye for whatever reasons, it is your humor, sense of cynicism (at times) and your own attempt at making sense of that person and what they stand for. Prominent features are focused on and at times if the person is known for specific things a la Dan Quayle for his spellings or GW for his statements or Manmohan Singh for his silence then certain things in the image are magnified or shrunk to paint the picture the artist or satirist wants to convey. It is their way of not spelling everything out; not crossing all the “t”s and dotting the “i”s. It is simply an expression. It *can* be used to hurt. But then there are those who choose to look only at their point of view and prefer to focus on the negative rather than try to understand that it’s a statement at its core.

And when caricature is deemed as blasphemy, that’s when all hell eventually breaks loose. People worship many Gods. Some visible. Some not. Some tangible. Others ephemeral. But they have their beliefs. And it is MY belief that when believes are pretty much all what people have, then any sort of object which has the ability to inflict even the smallest of dents or nicks in their believes; will face a tremendous backlash.

I don’t doubt that the cartoonists at Charlie Hedbo wanted to and were making a statement they believed in. Why wouldn’t they? They knew they were living under a scanner of those who bitterly opposed what they were saying. They knew the potential and extent of damage that those antagonists could cause but they believed nonetheless. Maybe foolishly but they believed in what they were doing. God only knows few people have had massive successes financially by drawing cartoons. So I guess we’re back to their beliefs. Which ultimately got them killed.

But there are blasphemies of other kinds. Not just against God. There is the blasphemy that’s perpetrated everyday against human life. The blasphemy of rape, of sexual abuse, or deviant behavior towards children.

A charge of religious blasphemy towards a group of individuals who were making statements through their work during a time charged with religious intolerance, political ineptitude and a blatant disregard of human life, seems a very WRONG reason to condemn them to death. Surely the preservers of religious faith ought to believe that their God has a sense of humor at the end of the day?

 

Trouble IS a Friend

I heard this song for the first time on a Grey’s Anatomy episode and apart from it’s rather catchy rhythm and bounce it really appealed to me on a personal level.

I mean when things seem to be on a downslide consistently then it seems like the only constant in your life is trouble or ills.

There are times when it seems there’s no end in sight and you just can’t get a grip on the situation at all.

You’d tear your hair out except the bald look does nothing for you. You’d go and run it off on a treadmill or a kickboxing class but you need to monitor a munchkin who shows all signs of becoming a marathon runner or just running like Forrest Gump!

You listen to music while you pick up the nth wet towel from the bed while managing to notice that your child is sneaking towards the fridge to snag yet another slice of cheese (his 3rd one today).

You see the unplucked brows, the blotchy skin and agree yes..trouble is a friend. Never lets go.