Thoughts and other trivia...

Sunday, August 13, 2006

Really, Brutus is an honourable man!

This morning, I was reading an article about Natwar Singh, who is caught up in the ongoing oil-for-food scam. The piece is written by Vir Sanghvi, who I consider to be one of the best journalists in India today. I’m not sure what parameters are usually applied to make such an assessment but, really, I couldn’t care less. What makes him the best for me is the fact that he is eminently readable. He doesn’t talk down to the readers and, unlike most other pretentious big-name writers, doesn’t try to be the scholar that he is not. Besides, he doesn’t try and bury the readers under copious but meaningless facts and figures. Perhaps the single greatest reason why I like to read his articles is because I can identify with his approach to the given issue and the way in which he views a ‘story’. So unlike this other big shot, also known as motor mouth, that I’ll be working with very closely in the near future. But, as usual, I digress. Singing hosannas to this journalist I like is hardly what this post is about.

Somewhere towards the end of this article I’ve mentioned above, the writer wonders if it’s alright to remember Natwar Singh by the single misdeed he has committed. He says, “...it would be wrong and unjust to judge him on the basis of his behaviour during this period.” Because, the writer insists, the ex-minister is essentially an honourable man. I don’t wish to start a debate about the writer’s contention not only because I believe him but primarily because, again, that is not the point of this post. It’s the writer’s statement that I’m interested in.

The moment I read that, it started a chain of thoughts in my head. At once, my mind went back to something similar I have mentioned in my book on cricket. (Incidentally, only the binding work remains and the long-delayed book should be out by the end of the coming week.) I had said that Greg Chappell, the current coach of the Indian cricket team, should not be judged only by the underarm bowling controversy that he was caught in during his playing days. There can be no two ways about it: it was a stupid and unsportsman-like thing to do. Technically, it didn’t break any laws of the game then but was rightfully seen as a shameful violation of the spirit in which cricket is expected to be played. But should the man be judged by that one silly act he committed in his zeal to win? Then, there is the recent Dean Jones story. An ex-Australian cricketer and a popular television commentator, he referred to Hashim Amla, a player of Indian origin and a South African cricketer, as a terrorist while on air, during a South Africa-Sri Lanka Test match. For those who may not know, Amla is a devout Muslim and sports a traditional beard. What Jones said is unforgivable and, rightly so, the TV channel has fired him from the assignment. Now, I’m no Jones fan and have never been, certainly not of his style of commentary, which, I think, borders on the sensational. But, again, should the man be judged only by that one incident? Sure, all three men must be criticised and, where necessary, suitably punished by law for what they’ve done but, my point is, is that all there is to them?

I don’t know any of these men personally and, therefore, cannot comment knowledgably about their essential goodness or otherwise. For all I know, they maybe the worst boors in the history of mankind. Or, not. In a sad sort of way, what makes it all very interesting for me, and binds all three by one common thread, is that I find some resonance of all this in my life as well. Without meaning, or even trying, to equate myself with them, either in the eminence they enjoy/ed in their respective fields or in the magnitude of what they’ve been guilty of, I can empathise with the frustration of being judged by a single deed or a careless statement.

Of course, my experience was on a much smaller and personal level. The ramifications, if you ask me, have been just as severe and damaging as the consequences of events I’ve mentioned above. An off-the-cuff and, I admit, careless remark was taken completely out of context and misunderstood. And, I fear, I was judged for that one remark and punished. I was never allowed to explain the remark that, without meaning to sound dramatic, went on to change quite a few lives. And, unfortunately, not for the better.

Those words come back to haunt me even today and, I know, I’ll never be able to live them down. Not because they were insulting or offensive or abusive but because of what happened as a consequence of those words. Yes, I regret them and wish I had never uttered them but, most certainly, they didn’t warrant the reaction they elicited. In a different time, a different mood, a different setting, the very same words wouldn’t sting one bit, I know. However, they were spoken in the time, mood and setting they were and that can’t be changed but nor can ever I stop myself from wondering whether they were such harsh words. Or, if they should have brought about the consequences they did. Or, if I should’ve been judged solely by those words.

Months ago, I had written a post about regrets and how I feel amazed that, when asked, people can say they have no regrets in life. Maybe I’m odd but I have plenty of regrets in life and what I have described here is, perhaps, one of the deepest. And, ironically, I’m writing about it on a day that holds one of my sweetest memories.

27 Comments:

Blogger km said...

A very thought-provoking post!

"My one regret in life is that I am not someone else" - Woody Allen

10:22 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

KM: Hmm, maybe that's why Woody Allen's wife left him for another woman :-)

12:42 pm  
Blogger km said...

My dear man, the great Woody left Mia for his adopted daughter.

This comment-thread will soon devolve into a gossip column filled with old, tawdry news :)

9:38 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

KM: I was only kidding...that bit about his wife leaving him for another woman is a dialogue from his film Manhattan :-)

Looks like I got you good there :-)

10:47 pm  
Blogger Szerelem said...

nice post. don't we always wish we could relive some moments in our life? Even some small detail that doesn't really matter? No matter how perfect everything else is?
Side note: The way Natwar Singh has gone off though is ridiculous. He obviously hasnt stopped to think about what hes been saying in a long time. Talk about a motor mouth.

10:53 pm  
Blogger km said...

Ghost, yes sir, you got me gooder than good :)

11:24 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Szerelem: Absolutely. Which is why I find it odd that people say they have no regrets in life...how can there not be? Like you say, there're so many things that, in hindsight, we wish we'd done differently.

About Natwar Singh, I think he seems to have lost it a bit. His behaviour etc is making it quite clear that he is guilty...I just wish he'd behave with a little more dignity.


KM: :-)

9:26 am  
Blogger Enemy of the Republic said...

I have heard of that journalist, but I have nothing intelligent to say about him.

Your last paragraph is very moving. I too, have regrets, yet I am grateful for them as well. Does that sound strange? They helped me learn on my journey. And I think it is on those days of sweetness that we can truly bear our regrets without self-incrimination.

6:51 pm  
Blogger Shivangi said...

I read that column by Vir Sanghvi. I completely agree with your views on how he writes. I have never, as long as humanly impossible, missed his Sunday edits...
About Natwar... He's a man who is probably towards the end of his political career given his age. the outburst was justified and extremely entertaining at that. The man was cornered! What is he to do? Said what came to his old mind. Two entirely different statements within 8 hours is BIG! However, I do agree that the media has a tendency to look at particular statements without the context, which makes any situation seem worse. I am not suggesting that that was the case with Natwar though...

1:39 am  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Enemy of the Republic: Oh, he's a good guy, that journalist.

I guess, you're right about being grateful for one's mistakes and the regret that follows because one gets to learn from them. But, it'd be so much nicer if one could avoid making some mistakes and having some regrets. Beacause I find that, sometimes, the cost of the lesson one learns is too high and, at times, not even worth the price one has to pay.



Shivangi: Well, I'm not so devoted to his writing that I wouldn't miss it :-) but, yes, even I like to read his stuff.

About Natwar Singh...I just wish he'd quietly accepted his role in it and faded from the scene. I have little doubt that it's basically his rogue son's doing but, being the father, I think, Natwar Sigh thought it was his responsibility to, first, help him and then to shield Jagat Singh. Either way, I think he just made a silly spectacle of himself.

10:46 am  
Blogger Shivangi said...

Couldn't agree more

7:49 pm  
Anonymous chandni said...

good stuff this!!

With Natwar Singh...I just think its unfair to be too hard on him....he was probably just taking responsibility for his idiotic son and then for Jagat Singh as well....

And then he's old and all of that...

It was more silly than anythign else...

11:46 am  
Blogger sattva said...

enjoyed yr 'wedding belles' very much.

and regrets, oh loads :)

3:15 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Shivangi: :-)


Chandni: I'm not sure it's unfair on Natwar. After all, he has misused his position, hasn't he?



Satvva: I feel so relieved that there is another human being who, like me, has regrets :-)

7:24 pm  
Blogger MockTurtle said...

I don't know if it's fair to judge people by the one bad thing that they do, but that's just the way society works, right? Everyone loves a car wreck. It's great to watch a lofty celebrity come crashing down to our level when he or she screws up.
Remember the speech from Shakespeare? - "The evil that men do lives after them;The good is oft interred with their bones.
"

2:13 am  
Blogger Sonia said...

someone calling anyone a terrorist cos he has a beard and is a muslim is just plain wrong.it shows their prejudice against a religion or a person solely cos of what? facial hair? and if this person is on TV and has been on TV for quite a while, chances are that there are other people who like the guy and actually will take heed to what he says. i feel it was right on the tv channel to fire the guy who is ignorant and biased, which is definitely not the kind of image any TV channel will want to have. but being juged for life by one single act is sad. and if he grows to be a better person, realises his mistake,he shouldn't be judged on that one act. Shouldn't. in a perfect world maybe.

and as for you whatever you said, some things are just meant to be you know. if you had said it at some other point of time, it would've been diff na? so then? don't beat yourself up about it. some things are just meant to be.

3:22 pm  
Blogger Cocaine Jesus said...

its a big world with too many small minded people. my son has a beard. therefore does that make him a muslim terrorist or just lazy?
screw those stupid enough to make such rash judgements.

peace.

4:13 am  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Mock Turtle: That's exactly it...I wanted to mention that Shakespeare quote but, unfortunately, couldn't remember the exact words :-) Thanks.


Sonia: That's the whole point...what I said wasn't said at a different point in time and I was still judged for those words. My question is whether I should've been.


Cocaine Jesus: I think I agree with your observation about there being too many narrow-minded people in the world. And, if someone makes the kind of stupid and rash statement that I've mentioned, I agree that the person should be suitably punished. But does that one statement make him a bad person?

11:32 am  
Blogger Sonia said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

6:23 pm  
Blogger Sonia said...

nahi re, you shouldn't be judged. but if you are, it cannot be helped. it's not fair, i know. but life is anything but fair.

look at you now, look at your latest post. how cynical are you! why though? how many people in life have disappointed you to be SO cynical about everyone and everything? what did the rest do to deserve it? you're hiding from any hurt you think you might be susceptible to by giving a chance to anyone or anything. but you're only fooling yourself, cos the disappointment will always be there. esp since you never give anyone a chance.

6:28 pm  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Sonia: Oh, the list of disappointments is verrry long :-) But, if you've been in my position, and as often as I've been, you'd probably know what I mean. One does what one can to ensure that one doesn't get tripped over and over. It's not so much about giving someone or something a chance...it's more about making sure that it doesn't happen again.

11:04 am  
Blogger footnotz said...

The process of letting go of the past is as easy and simple as letting go of a hand that's holding you (or, a hand you're holding)! A simple of act is complicated by the multitude of thoughts that hover in the head. It happens with everyone. Someone who says that s/he has no regrets, probably later regretted the statement!

And, how do I post 'Temple of the King' for ur download? I'll try and get help from my friends. Unfortunately also, I use a dial-up (the country I'm living in as yet doesn't have a broadband that can reach me inexpensively).

8:40 am  
Blogger GhostOfTomJoad said...

Footnotz: You're right, most of our problems are in the head. But, I don't know if that makes it any easier for us to deal with them.

Don't worry about the song...do it only as and when it's easy or convenient. Thanks a lot for even considering it :-)

9:41 am  
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