Friday, September 17, 2010

Ownership - Do we, Don't we..

Here's a thought - "Every man [and woman] . . . lives by exchanging, or becomes in some measure a merchant, and the society itself grows to be what is properly a commercial society."

This is not easily bought, but it's an awesome thought - it was first quoted by Adam Smith long way back, but the essence is still as fresh as new. Ownership does pervade our lives and, in a strange way, shapes many of the things we do.

Much of our life story can be told by describing the ebb and flow of our particular possessions — what we get and what we give up. We buy clothes and food, automobiles and homes, for instance. And we sell things as well — homes and cars, and in the course of our careers, our time.

Since so much of our lives is dedicated to ownership, how great would that be to know exactly how much we would enjoy a new home, a new car, a different sofa, so that we could make accurate decisions about owning them? Unfortunately, this is rarely the case. We are mostly fumbling around in the dark.

Ownership is not limited to material things. It can also apply to points of view. Once we take ownership of an idea — whether it's about politics or sports or love — what do we do? We love it perhaps more than we should. And most frequently, we have trouble letting go of it because we can't stand the idea of its loss. What are we left with then? An ideology — rigid and unyielding.

Reasons - here they are.

1. We fall in love with what we have. Nature has this innate ability to make us instantly attached to what we have.
2. We focus on what we may lose, rather than what we may gain. Our aversion to loss is a strong emotion, one that sometimes causes us to make our decisions. As soon as we begin thinking about giving up our valued possessions, we are already mourning the loss.
3. We assume other people will see it from the same perspective as we do. It is just difficult for us to imagine that the person on the other side of the arrangement is not seeing the world as we see it.

And we begin to feel ownership even before we own something. This is what is not fair. And this is where we falter. We start thinking something to be our own, while it was only in our mind that it did. Call it "virtual ownership".

So the crux of the matter is - you own it if you own it. You don't, if you don't.

Thursday, September 09, 2010


Intermittent rains in Delhi have been a nightmare for last few weeks, and one never knows when the rain gods will blast our souls.

Unaware of wishes of the rain gods, I picked up my bags as the clock struck 6. The weather was awesome, with petrichor all around. But no rains at that instant. Through the day, I was standing by the window, watching the dark clouds engulf the city. However, they hardly burst. As if they were waiting for something to happen.

So I step out, take my car out and start driving. A few hundred metres, and I realize that I have driven over a bump that got me a flat tire. I stop on the side, thinking whether I should look for a mechanic, or some other help. With clouds still holding back, and no help in sight, I decided to do the honors myself. My mood was somehow blue, and I wasn't too keen on doing it myself, but something pressed me to go on.

I step out of the car, and start the process. And as soon as I am midway, I feel droplets of water tripping over my shoulders. Instantly, I feel better. Everyone is running for cover, but I turn into my own renewed energetic self. I empty my pockets in the car, and roam around. Just like old days, when you care for nothing. For 10 minutes I stand there, looking at people trying to run for cover, and birds trying to find a set of leaves to hold them safe. And when you notice plants and trees, it seems as if flowers and fruits are trying to embrace the drops, spreading their aroma, as if trying to let others know of their presence.

Maybe that's why, there is lots of aromatic material that the moisture and impact of rain can stir up, and the moist atmosphere following a downpour is particularly good at carrying these particles through the air.

By the time it stopped raining, I was dripping from head to toe. Reluctantly, I changed the tire, and moved on, with "Khudi ko kar buland itna" by Junoon playing on the ipod. Sweet.

I am glad I got drenched. Best thing to happen to me today!

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

A Crib

Cribbing is good. You know why?

Because it helps initiate a discussion. It breaks the ice. Any one can do it. It doesn't need to even conclude. Mostly, you leave it hanging - that's the whole point.

And here, one doesn't need to provide any solution. You just have to keep talking about stuff. Finding loopholes. That's what we have come to believe in. Give "Problem Statement", not the way forward.

I somehow find it strange that typical mentality is to crib, and leave it at that. The other day, I was talking to someone who mentioned how these Commonwealth Games have created havoc for Delhi; how so much corruption in the system has eaten away our hard earned tax money.

I do understand that there is corruption prevalent in the system, but if we choose to not act against it, it makes no point to crib about it. I read somewhere that from ~40,000 Crores that has been spent on CWG, about 28,000 Crores was for Metro Services, and roads, and flyovers, and underpasses, and better infrastructure for the city. This development anyways had to happen. So why do we choose to put a spotlight on these numbers, and try to malign the development of the city.

Yes, the traffic is a monster for everyone in Delhi, agreed. But only CWG work is not responsible for it. And how conveniently we choose to ignore the blessings of staying in a city like Delhi, where infra is developing at much faster pace than its population, or else we would not have survived the population growth in last 10-15 years.

I remember, about 15 years back, I used to think Gurgaon was on a different planet, because to reach there, you had to cross Dhaula Kuan. With no flyovers, all trucks blocking the way, I used to conveniently finish my sleep sitting in the comforts of my car, going from Delhi to Gurgaon. And now, at a good time, CP to Gurgaon would take 30 mins tops. When the ferrari swooshes at 150 on these roads, you feel the heat.

True that there are numbers attached to CWG. 900,000 bucks for a treadmill, which actually costs just a fraction of that amount! The scale of money made would have been what - a couple hundreds crores, tops! Compare that to any other scam, and you know what relative figures mean. (Infact, I did write a post on relative numbers - here it is!) I just opened TV in my room to pick some figures related to scams, and here is one I picked up - there is a scam going on, in which land worth roughly 12 lakh crores has been "given" to a religious board for developmental activities related to that community. Now look at the figure - 12 lakh crores. I wonder what Indian GDP is!

Leave that aside. Want to make a difference - join administrative services. Or politics.

Oh wait - want to crib - earn a right to.