Death and The Maiden

Death and The Maiden
Balance
 “Tonight’s happy song, kinda like a walk in the park ..the sun coming through the window in the morning on a beautiful day… and you have nothing better to do than commit Harakiri, so…is this? Alright. This is called..Estranged..”
– Axl Rose, at a GnR Live Concert 

Last morning I woke up to the news of young starlet Jiah Khan’s suicide. Possibilities and reasons were many. But whichever way you looked at it, the 25-year old hanging herself came as a shocker to most of us.

Now, to be honest, I have probably watched her in 1-2 movies, and even though she acted well and was very beautiful, I wasn’t exactly a fan.

But news of her death triggered a discussion with a close friend of mine, about what drives people to commit suicide. My friend was of the view that suicide is a cowardly way to go, irrespective of the magnitude of the battles one fights.

I used to be of that exact view until a few years ago. But along the way I realized I was wrong. Reading about similar suicides generated a curiosity. Questions like what factors could result in someone even considering suicide, can it be avoided, and what leads someone to intentionally race toward an eventuality that even the bravest of us fear and dread. Death.

“People fear death even more than pain. It’s strange that they fear death. Life hurts a lot more than death. At the point of death, the pain is over. Yeah, I guess it is a friend.”
– Jim Morrison

While I was in college, my mom bought me a t-shirt that read ‘Life’s tough..but I haven’t hit the Panic button yet.!’

In light of why I’m writing this post, that line on the tee somehow doesn’t seem as amusing as it used to. Anyway, I boiled my thoughts down to 5 factors that I believe influence a mental imbalance, which in turn results in somebody ‘hitting the Panic button’ (here’s my definition of it, and let’s just call it ‘Panic’ for simplicity. And if you’re wondering, yeah you too can make definitions of your own).

Panic: a reaction to a combination of the 5 internal and external factors that could manifest itself either in a

  • defensive way (nervous breakdowns, depression, suicidal tendencies, etc.), or offensive way (bursts of anger and rage, attacking people, etc.). Signs for both need to be identified and avoided.

Now here are the 5 internal & external factors which cause someone to ‘lose it’:

  • the situation or circumstance: tough boss, harassment, etc.
  • importance given to the situation: whether a situation or person affects you strongly, or you are indifferent to it
  • duration of the situation:
  • the strength or resilience: how much of a situation can you handle before you throw in the towel
  • a balancing factor(s): someone or something that helps you cope with a difficult situation (family, friends, pets, hobbies or work)

And the math for these factors works something like this.

On the left, you have three negative factors, and two positive factors on the right.

Picture1

That seesaw is mental stability. As you’re looking at it right now, the objective is to always keep the seesaw tilted to the right (where things go between well and manageable). The moment it levels off or tilts left, you’ve got a problem.

So whether it is you, or someone close to you, you have to be observant and aware of how strong you or that person are, how much they can take, and where you or they might need someone to step in (a balancing factor) to keep the seesaw tilted right. There are some problems one can overcome alone. For others, you have the option of facing it with a balancing factor, or of getting out of the situation (quitting a job, getting out of a strained relationship, escalating a matter at work, etc.) But whatever the factor, you need to understand what the problem is, how you are holding up, and what you need or might need to do if it continues. But you have to do something about it. And let’s not lose any more people to the swinging of the seesaw.

“I am troubled, immeasurably
 by your eyes.
 I am struck by the feather
 of your soft reply.
 The sound of glass
 speaks quick, disdain
 and conceals
 what your eyes fight
 to explain.”
 - Jim Morrison

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Why…Not…Serious.??

Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.” Even if the plan is horrifying! Look at what’s happened in India over the past two decades. We’ve had bomb blasts ripping through cities, over and over again.
The news channels have ‘field days’. Give it a few days, and everyone has put the incident into some low priority folder in their heads, and gone about with their routine like it never happened.
Now while resilience is a good thing, everyone’s missing the bigger point. Why can’t the security forces, the police, the intelligence agencies, and even the common man become more responsible.

Why…Not…Serious.??

The Dark Knight is by far the most outstanding Batman movie ever, but what’s even more spectacular, is the Joker.

The Joker, not only inspired horror, but what he said could run shivers down your spine.

Whyyy so seriouss..??

What I liked most about the Joker was the fact that most of what he said, like it or not, is absolutely true in the world today.

I’m still hopeful. Just like Batman was when the two ferries were rigged, with the remotes kept in the other barge. But when you look at the state of things around, the Joker’s words tend to cross your mind…

Hmmm? You know… You know what I’ve noticed? Nobody panics when things go “according to plan.” Even if the plan is horrifying! If, tomorrow, I tell the press that, like, a gang banger will get shot, or a truckload of soldiers will be blown up, nobody panics, because it’s all “part of the plan.” But when I say that one little old mayor will die, well then everyone loses their minds! Introduce a little anarchy. Upset the established order, and everything becomes chaos.

Source: link

Look at what’s happened in India over the past two decades. We’ve had bomb blasts ripping through cities, over and over again. People are horrified, shaken, paranoid even. The news channels have ‘field days’. Give it a few days, and everyone has put the incident into some low priority folder in their heads, and gone about with their routine like it never happened.

Now while resilience is a good thing, everyone’s missing the bigger point. Can’t the security forces, the police, the intelligence agencies, and even the common man become more responsible. Why aren’t we, as Viper in Top Gun puts it, ‘compelled to evaluate what’s happened, so that he can apply what he’s learnt’? And why do we always go back to being our usual  irresponsible selves?

The another blast. And then another. So many innocent people who just didn’t deserve to die, lost their lives in the most gruesome of ways. And still, the intelligence agencies, the security forces and the police expected that if the bad guys are gonna ever attack again, they might do it the same way, so lets keep a watch out for bombs.

How can you just assume everything. The terrorists have been successful so far because of our ignorance. We checked random taxis, buses and trains for explosives or suspicious looking objects, but left such a damn big coastline unguarded.

And, once again, on Nov. 28, 2008, Mumbai (India) was hit in a manner least expected. And for what felt like a lifetime. Like the Joker said, the bad guys here too just introduced a little anarchy, a lot in fact. And that upset the established order. Nobody saw terror come in that form. And then, everything was chaos. And we, with all the security, and all the intelligence, were sitting ducks.

If not as back as 1993, at least by 2003, or for that matter 2006 all the way to the Mumbai terrorist attack, couldn’t the security and intelligence agencies have sat and thought like the terrorists, and prepared themselves accordingly.

There’s this Bollywood movie called Border, which is one of my all-time favourites. It is based on the 1971 war fought between India and Pakistan, where Pakistan decided to forcefully enter India and capture whatever area it could.

Now, whatever I’ve mentioned say here is based on what I’ve read, and parts from the film.

But well, here’s what happened. Expecting a Pakistani attack by Pakistan, a small regiment of the Indian army at Rajasthan was given a choice. Of holding the Longewala post in Rajasthan till reinforcements arrived, or to flee the post. Another strategic post, Sadhewala, had a much larger Indian battalion posted there. The Pakistanis had planned to attack the Longewala post with a much larger tank battalion. The Major heading the small regiment questions his commanding officer before leaving for the post. He asks ‘how can he assume that just because the Pakistani’s attacked the Sadhewala post in the previous war, that they would do the same this time’? Or ‘whether he thinks the enemy is expected to ask them where to attack’.

The 1971 war makes for one of the most amazing war stories, and one that fills me with pride for my country. And rightly so. This war is significant in the history of wars. To date, remains one of the few wars where a highly outnumbered army emerged victorious. Let’s put that in perspective. 120-130 Indian army soldiers guarding an outpost, were attacked by a 2800+ Pakistani tank regiment. At night. Indian fighter planes at the time were not equipped for night flight. They therefore had to wait till dawn to rescue the army regiment. This small Indian army regiment inflicted heavy casualties on the 2800+ enemy soldiers and tanks mostly due to a favourable terrain, accompanied by the soldiers, who courageously held off the enemies till morning, when the air force came and wrapped things up in our favour.

But to think about it; while we sure won that war, we sure beat the crazy odds, and we did what under most circumstances, given the odds, would’ve been nearly impossible otherwise, but; did it have to be that way.

Could we have perhaps had both locations reasonably well guarded. Or if troops could’ve been mobilized to either location at the earliest. We would have beat the enemy much faster. Or better still, looking at the strong army, the enemy probably wouldn’t have attacked in the first place.

A famous quote goes something like this – “It’s better to sweat in peace, than to bleed in war.”

Simply put, that means, if we plan well, if we anticipate things, if we do our homework in a proper manner, it would save us a hell of a lot of damage when things go bad. In fact, in matters of national security, I feel, if we do our homework, if we are more prepared on a continuous basis, there wouldn’t even be situations like that in Mumbai, or for that matter, all the attacks in the past few years across the country, or even in other countries abroad. Is human life so cheap, that people just take national security so lightly.

And if that was not enough, we made a joke of ourselves at the hands of Pakistan. When we kept providing them information linking the terrorists to their country. And they repeatedly deny it, making a joke of the entire thing.

Imagine the families of all those who lost someone to the attacks, or to the blasts. This would’ve just made them feel like a foreigner in their own country.

Now sure like any other guy, I’m crazy about first-person shooter video/ pc games; and absolutely crazy about recon games. And like most of us chaps, I’d love some action, etc. But it’s a totally different thing watching your fellow Indians bleed for absolutely no fault of theirs.

And while we are inherently a peace-loving country, over the years, why have we become so laid-back and meek? While I don’t suggest an Israel-style retaliation to attacks, though, believe me, Israeli’s absolutely rock at it. And while they sure do have a lot of crazy attacks happening there, at least their average citizen knows that their country doesn’t take things lying down.

We on the other hand, on that particular occasion after the Mumbai attack, made it appear as if we were at the mercy of the Pakistani verdict, which was absolutely ridiculous.

Lets think…

Be more prepared and pro-active…

Lets be alert…

And open to ideas. To logical reasoning…

Lets protect our country…

They say “The night is darkest just before the dawn.”

So why not stand together, and do our part in this fight against terrorism; to bring in that new dawn.

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