And you are dead

And you are dead. When do you die? The medical answer is banal, "DOA" Dead on Arrival. There comes a moment when the cells in the body, deprived of nutrients, fail to perform the tasks that we call "life." And at that moment, it is safe to burn off the remaining cells, or put it six feet under ground and call it a day. After the ceremonies and some real and false tears, life goes on, except for the cells six feet under or those reduced to ashes and polluting some water body. But this death is banal. It has no importance to the one who died. That person doesn’t really give a rat's behind about the death. Once the person is dead. Till that point it can be an excruciating life of pain or a happy life of being in an airplane hit by a missile and you are dead before you hit the ground. And splatter. But the real death happens when you are alive. And I see the dying around me. Death is the end of memories. When you decide that there is nothing more to remember. Rememb

Of Tall Tales

Of Tall Tales and Stupid People. Be warned everything you hear is a story. I have spent the better part of my career working with stories. We academics call it "narratives." And the more I look at the World around me I realize that I have lost the ability to enjoy a story. Because it is always, oh so predictable, and always, oh so false. You see the tall tales and you see the stupid people who believe the stories they are told and walk around in blissful ignorance of the fact that they have just been taken for a ride. It is easy to find the holes in a story - it is just that you have to look for them. And you only look for them when you accept that everything you are hearing is a manufactured tale with some bits of reality and truth to lull you into comfort and the rest is just fabricated. One then asks why? Why do people pepper their stories with the fictional and the fabrication. The unfortunate truth is that people have things to hide. People are in places of vulnerability

And You I Trust

And You I Trust. Really? After about five years of focused research on surveillance and the resulting book, I am doubtful. Trust is a disappearing element in a World that has become self-centered and willing to risk a lot for the thing we want to do that others want to deny us. Trust rests on the assurance that you will not be judged. Trust assumes that you are accepted as you are. That it requires no pretense, it requires no secrets. But we know that is a myth. In reality, the reverse of trust - suspicion - is what often runs our lives. Every action is worthy of doubt. And sometimes rightfully - because things may not be as they appear. The apparent innocence is only the "public face" that the thinker Goffman taught us about. We present the public face. We lie. Blatantly. Because it suits our purpose. Because we hope we will not be found out. Because we know that we are trusted. And we abuse that trust. In our circles of trust we find the comfort of knowing that we can lie,

Money for nothing

Money for nothing and the chicks for free. Remember that song from Dire Straits. They were talking about work, if you follow along with the lyrics, it also says, "That ain't workin', that's the way you do it." And indeed, what is work? I am on my first research leave of my academic career this semester. For those who do not know, academics are offered a few breaks from teaching which are called "sabbaticals." Derived from the old Hebrew word, " shabbāth" the term refers to a point of rest when you rejuvenate and return to work with renewed energy. In the American academic system, a faculty member can become eligible for the sabbatical every 6 to 7 years. In my career, I never asked for rest and finally, it felt it was time. But it is not really rest, it is a time to explore work options that are connected with your profession, and you spend the break from classroom teaching to do work that might have some value outside of the classroom work. Bu

Make Your Own Trip, Please!

Make Your Own Trip. This matter came to my mind after a brief correspondence with a bondhu, and I started to think about my travels and how radically different it has been compared to how many people choose to travel. I have always made my travel arrangements, from the initial research to the final return home. On the other hand, many seem to relinquish the joy of preparing for the travel and submit to companies who do the enjoyable work for them. There are companies that now cater to people who have given up their ability to create their own travels. People who are more interested in the risk-free banality of a controlled existence - where the thrill of getting lost has been traded for the boredom of always being found. This the World of organized vacations. With the return of travel, now that the World has realized that COVID-19 will not be beaten but things will go on as they did, people are starting to travel. This is when companies with names that are variations of the title of th

You are not welcome

You are not welcome. Because you really do not matter. Imagine the moment of hurt when you are told "I am NOT here" when you desperately ask, "Where Art Thou?" And after hearing that, over and over again, you stop asking. It becomes a moment of reckoning specially for people who have spent their lifetime saying, "Here I Am" and suddenly realize that there was no reciprocity; I was with a bondhu recently and I saw the pain. As the person often has said, "there are bruises and there has been blood on the ground." Sitting with a glass of wine we realized that this psychic blood and the bruises leave us strangely stronger rather than weaker. The hours of being there when there was a need, when the call came, unabashedly without any ambiguity you rise up to the challenge. That is when you say, "it doesn’t matter, it needs to be done." And in the same breath you say, "of course I am here and will be right next to you." Most do not w


Secrets. What fun are secrets if you cannot share it with everyone and say, "I am telling you in confidence." We all have secrets. None of us are open books because in the deepest recess of our minds we know there are things we will never share. The fears, the griefs, the aspirations, and the achievements that no one knows about. There are things we have done that no one knows about other than the self. These are moments that are so supremely personal, and they will burn with my body. Yet secrets tempt us - there are moments, over a drink with a bondhu, without realizing, without planning, without strategizing the secret is spilled. A bondhu you trust. Really? With that secret? Can anyone be trusted? As one bondhu once said, "one picture" and it is all over. Moments that need to remain buried, think about it - that moment that was supposed to be a secret - a personal moment - do you want that revealed? To be dragged out in the open that you did that. You did what? S