IF I HADN’T RUN OUT OF TIME

People might well ask that in my 21 years on earth what did I stand for and if there had been more sand in the hourglass what would I have done about it. I cannot really say what I would have achieved but I would have definitely done something.

 

Against colour prejudice. That hurtfulness is something I  never understood and it would make me very angry.

My mom had an inherent fear of dark skinned people.She was brought up with a very narrow perspective to life and I worked very hard to open her eyes to accepting all of humanity as equal.I tended to favour the shows by African- Americans ,when she questioned this preference,I told her they were the most talented people on earth,whether in Sports,Music or any other Art.When I was still in doubt of her total acceptance I would tell her “Mom if you continue with this I shall give you dark skinned children”This made my mom feel the pain I was feeling for this prejudice and she understood that skin color is simply a social construct.

 

From the need to see western visuals, as upmarket, to this famous producer and who said that is what the people want, they like to see white women and so, we give them what they want. To quote:

“Everyone wants to be fair and lovely.”

 

Not so long ago in the murky history of the IPL some dark skinned girls were disinvited from jumping up and down on the boundary stage because the spectators (who ostensibly had come to watch cricket) felt cheated. After all, if we wish to see a woman leap about the place let her at least be white.

 

But where this packaging reaches its giddiest limit is in advertising Indian products to Indian buyers through the prejudicial prism of ethnic whitewashing. You would think all babies are white in India. You would also be led to believe that electronics and top of the line transportation were somewhat given an extra octane if there was a blonde and blue eyed babe flung into the mix.

Some well known fashion journalist in India once wrote:For a rickshaw-puller who earns $2 a day, seeing a fair-skinned woman is an escape, a fantasy.”

Just reading it makes one cringe. I cringed big time.

In a country where my grandparents suffered colonization and dismemberment from their home-land,why do we still worship fair skin?From Bollywood movies to job interviews in the real world,to getting a part in the school or college drama,function or any occasion fair skin wins.All for Fair and Lovely.

Identifying with white (you can read fair) people is still a major Indian sport.

 

The youth of India absorb what they are fed. If you keep giving a lion peanuts he will become a monkey. So, if there are enclaves of young men and women in urban India who believe in this myth and spend their lives like bizarre versions of Lady Macbeth wiping out the damn spots of melanin and seeking sanctuary in a future existence enhanced by a lightening of skin tones, then their sad and sorry priorities are nourished by a visual diet that underscores this perception

 

The self-deception by the retail market and the constant assault on individual self respect have created a complex. They have won and thousands of men and women do believe that white is the way to go. The indoctrination is complete. Even intelligent, successful Indians are fully paid subscribers to this cause. Film stars and celebrities sell skin fair gunk without any qualms. They allow their skin tones to be photo-shopped. Camera lighting is positioned to soften their colour’s intensity. Even those dance sequences are shot so that there is one very dark person who acts as a foil to accentuate the ‘fairness’ of the hero or heroine.

 

In the Malls fasion houses  place Indian clothes on white or ivory mannequins by the dozens. They have blue eyes and blonde hair.

 

Just try to observe an average Indian when they see a foreigner.

First would be the constant staring at their skin tone. (Oh my gord! Kitna gora hai wo!)

Second would be the thought of clicking a photo with him/her. (Premium and exotic class of humanity, they are.)

And render space. None of these would be extended to anyone with a dark skin tone.

 

So it goes on endlessly. The cloned Indian editions of world famous magazines fill their pages with white facsimiles. Commercial films have party scenes where the guests are largely white. Indian writers, by and large, spin books out of the semi-rural quaintness  of Indian traditions to intrigue a western audience.

 

Damn it all, white even rhymes with right. The indoctrination is complete.

 

And it made me very angry and I would flail against this even at a relatively young age. I don’t know what sort of crusade I would have conducted or how I would have rallied public opinion in my favour but I would not have sat silent.

 

 Maybe I would have taken my medical background and brought it to bear on public opinion. And I would have certainly thrown away any tube of skinfair cream.

IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GLORY OF FOOD

One of the legacies one leaves behind is food. Oh, I mean that seriously. After me my mother has made my favourite dishes into a citadel of happy memories. She has even gone a step further and created a restaurant in Mumbai’s Goregaon area called MAA incorporating Mohits Corner as a tangible tribute to me and my love for good food. For me it was a benediction and I was a stickler that every dish on the table should have the right amount of spices. To me even at that young age food and its preparations were of the utmost importance. I have always seen it as an art and a science. To me it is the subtlety of the dish, the balance of the ingredients. They must create a symphony and every such entity served with grace and style.I especially loved the Japanese food and taught mom to make some Japanese dishes,soups and appetizers.

 

I have never understood members of the human race who slobber over their food and kill it with spices and oils and what I call the ketchup tribe. Food must be enjoyed, savoured, recalled and given the status it deserves.

 

And it is with the same fervor that I believe in variety. You cannot continue to fall back on the same six staples every time.My mom used to mostly cook Sindhi food,Sindhi curry used to be my all time favouite with Aloo Tikki,every full moon day. I think I drove my mother crazy by insisting that experimentation was the essence of good cooking and one must continue to strive to build one’s ‘library’ of recipes.I would give her Thai recipes,Italian recipes and many other recipes.I love her so much that I always strived to up her skills. Today, she is not just the proud owner of a huge stock of incredible dishes but is adept at making them.

 

The love she gave to me and still gives to me from down there on earth is also ladled into the food she makes. Her education under my tutelage is paying off. I may not be there to taste it and enjoy but but I know that her reputation for making great stuff is being enhanced by the day.

 As for me, I could never eat mass produced food. Bake, roast, baste, marinate, let is stew in its own juices and make it for the individual, that is the secret of great cooking.

 

Let me tell you something. If you see food as a means rather than an end you are missing one of the great experiences of life. It is not something you cut and pour into hot water. That is not food. Food is a journey in which you map your path and then follow it assiduously. It calls for effort and it calls for a special kind of dedication. When you see it in its final stage, the sensation should be like reading a poem that has got all its rhythm right, a musical score where the musical notes fall into place.

 

You never overdo it or undercook it and only practice will give you that ability to judge the famous phrase in culinary discipline: just right.

 

Change your own attitude towards food and see how it changes your life and your values.I always believed Eat less but eat good.

 

Look for unusual condiments, different greens, try combinations you have never tried before, exult in your attempts to get it just right and then sit down and taste it, don’t just swallow it in a rush.

 

MAA will be a hit once it finds its place. It is young yet, like an underdone grill. But gradually, with the magic of ma’s  cooking it will begin to turn succulent and tender…the way life should be.

 

WHEN THEY MESS WITH YOUR BRAIN

One of my mother’s major thrusts has been to convince people the difference between the mind and the brain. They are two mutually exclusive entities and that does not change because most of us don’t see the difference.

For example, when these pills are dispensed on campus they impact on the brain and create chemical changes. They bring about mood swings. The minds resists it as much as it can, but if the brain triumps the mind, it begins to lose ground. The mind is powerful, have no doubts about it, and it can resist a lot of attack, so to speak. If it wasn’t for that defence the brain would have had a much easier time of it.  The mind can control pain, it can control emotions, it can provide that vital check and balance. The mind over matter theory in practice with the brain being the matter. But an incessant assault slows it down, allows the malfunctions in the brain to launch their insidious attacks.

 And when these attacks are initiated by chemically charged hostility on the brain from outside sources thereby changing its composition it is the mind that pays the consequences.

 Take the meds you have that are simply over the counter.No big deal. But they impact on the brain even though we erroneously talk about mind inducing drugs. Those are brain changing drugs that then compel the brain to hurt the mind.

Oh yes there is a common point that causes the two to cross. The brain also fights the foreign invader and wants be on good terms with the mind. It tells the mind well in advance that it is being struck by chemicals and together we must fight it. In the beginning the fight is with a sense of togetherness. The brain and the mind have a common enemy and they fight it shoulder to shoulder, each telling the other to watch out. But gradually, the brain begins to respond and react to this stimuli from outside and starts to let the mind down. The mind feels isolated and betrayed. What is wrong with the brain that it is sending all these wrong signals? Off balance, the mind begins to shun the brain’s impulses. But gradually, they start taking over and, after a while, the mind just gives up.

 

I had no mind to do what I did that Saturday morning. My mind was never wired like that. But when those legally dispensed drugs started messing with my brain (not my mind as we like to say, fooled as we are by nomenclature, like in mess with my mind) there was no fight left. You see the mind is not an organ, the brain is and that is why it is vulnerable to these influences. Your mind can be stable and totally normal but your brain can steer it into disaster. That is what my Mom has been trying to explain to people these past two years. The brain is the target because it can be manipulated and then it impacts on the mind.

William Salt, an MD puts it rather well. Your brain is part of the visible, tangible world of the body. Your mind is part of the invisible, transcendent world of thought, feeling, attitude, belief and imagination. The brain is the physical organ most associated with mind and consciousness, but the mind is not confined to the brain. The intelligence of your mind permeates every cell of your body, not just brain cells. Your mind has tremendous power over all bodily systems.

Right. Until your brain is victimised.

THESE INSIDIOUS STUDY DRUGS ARE THE MENACE

Mohit’s radiant smile

Every morning in America where I studied over 500 students climb aboard the prescription drug bandwagon and begin a regimen of pills ostensibly under the misbegotten belief that these uppers and downers will enhance their performance in studies. Others in larger numbers manage with consummate ease to obtain official documentation so they can begin to imbibe meds legally and become victims of a modern conspiracy that no one takes seriously even though there are more casualties than in a war zone. That is because campus is a war zone and the indiscriminate use of drugs is rampant. We just do not want to see it.

 

According to the Drug Enforcement Agency nearly 12 percent of college students reported using one or more types of prescription drugs (including antidepressants, sedatives, and stimulants) that were not prescribed to them within the last 12 months. College students have a higher likelihood of misusing prescription stimulants, often referred to as “study drugs,” when compared to their non-college peers.

 

What a lovely sound that has: study drugs. Sounds so harmless and pleasant like a tutor holding your hand and taking you to your degree.

 

Well, get this straight. It is a death knell. If it does not kill you prematurely it will scramble your brains more effectively than a chef does his eggs for breakfast.

 

The DEA goes on to alert parents who, for some reason, dig their heads into the sands and do not want to see it. Oh, no, not our child, he or she would never. And we do not tell them because we are afraid to hurt them, afraid of their reactions, their dismay and disappointment, their shock and all that comes with it by way of recriminations. So, instead we go to great lengths to conceal the drama unfolding in our heads, sometimes exploding with the sheer pressure of it. And then, when we have become zombies we end  up hurting them even more because now they cannot understand where it all began to go wrong and it is so difficult to explain that we didn’t tell them to protect them from the fallout. As difficult as it is to explain that we are no longer by then masters of our own minds, having sold it cheaply for a false haven. Now, we are propelled by a malevolent and inner force against which we are helpless. Even our screams for help are silent. How then can anyone hear us.

A person who is suffering from this darkness cannot enable themselves to get help.How can a person who is drowning and so far underwater even call out for help.

 

I did not decide at the tender age of 21 to leap off the mortal coil and end what could have been an exceptionally gratifying life. It was done for me by the goblins created in my mind. How can I explain that I had no say in it. I had been mentally kidnapped under the premise and the promise that this regimen of meds would be salutary and good for me, not scorch my brain and bruise my mind.

 

Which is why I keep going back to the responsibilities of the adults, especially teachers..and also parents. Get out of the sand.

 

This is what the DEA says:

 

Parents – be able to talk knowledgeably about prescription drugs with your children

 

Faculty members and staff – be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of prescription drug misuse, and know the available on- and off-campus resources to refer someone for help

 

Students – learn the facts and talk to your parents or another trusted adult (e.g., professor, coach, friend) about concerns you have about prescription drugs

 

Finally the big one, that underground marketplace: Don’t share your prescription drugs – they were prescribed to you, not someone else. That is bad enough that you are on them.