While my work (namely the stuff that I do to bring home the bacon) has involved a fair amount of writing over the years – correspondence, notes, reports, minutes, legalese, academic content, training manuals, and so on – I have written for public consumption only twice or thrice so far. (On one of those occasions I wrote a letter to the editor of a newspaper doing, as I thought, ‘the right thing’. A little later in this post I’ll tell you how that turned out!)
I’ve kept telling myself, though, that I should write a few more times – to put down things that I recall or have arrived at – for those who may find something in my writing that interests them, for those close to me, and for myself. Those close to me will, I hope, feel obligated to read my stuff, and may then marvel at how someone who didn’t have much to say so far (except to students in class) now feels free to write for anyone willing to read.
Well, I guess I’ve reached the age where a foot in the mouth can’t kill me.
Therefore, dear reader, I subject you to this blog.
What will I write about? I’ll ramble. Rambling, I suppose, is what bloggers do, and must be one of the joys of blogging. However, I’ll try not to get into totally mindless rambling, and it’s to remind myself of that resolution that I’ve titled this blog as I have. The title represents the tempering of the somewhat extreme but more common thought – Nothing To Lose. I won’t be going that far, not just yet! (‘Nothing to lose’ is an interesting thought, though, but more on that later!)
So, let’s see…
– Music, musicians, events, stories – rock, jazz, and blues; Western and Indian classical.
– Good reads – the classics, contemporary fiction, essays, poetry, everyday philosophy, history, current events, and opinions that matter.
– Travel – the little I’ve done, what I’ve read about, and day-dreams.
– My Generation – our quirks, our goof-ups, and the bits we got right.
These, and more like these, are the things I intend to write about in future posts. I’ll write when the spirit moves me, and I hope it moves me often!
As the modern cliché goes – Watch This Space !!
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About my letter to the editor
I was, at the time that I wrote this letter, a student at Madras Law College (now DAGLC, Chennai) in the first year of the three-year programme that would (eventually) end in the grant of a degree in LAW.
For those who may not know it, Madras Law College, ever since it was established in 1891, has been a breeding ground for practising lawyers (as distinguished from the graduates who, essentially, killed time there, as I did) and politicians – who’ve gone on to be among the country’s best-known ‘helping hand’ professionals, some brilliant at actually helping others, some absolutely brilliant at helping themselves.
It was the academic year 1974-75, a year in which student unrest was rife, with our college being a hotbed. Classes were held only intermittently. In fact, with a couple of months to go for the end of the academic year, we had had only about sixty working days.
Here’s where I got into my ‘good boy’ act. I wrote a letter to the editor of ‘The Hindu’ proclaiming that, contrary to the impression that the general public had of law students, there were some of us who’d joined college to actually study law. Would the (misguided) elements prolonging the agitation please settle down so that college could reopen and we could get back to our primary purpose (the noble pursuit of legal knowledge)?!
I know what you’re thinking – this guy must’ve had a few things missing in his head! I couldn’t believe it myself, when the letter actually appeared in the newspaper! I could’ve kicked myself – I sounded so.. so.. lily-white!!
Well, as fate would have it, (and certainly not because of my brainless action) college did reopen within a week. The day it reopened I cycled over, my heart in my mouth, hoping that no one had noticed the letter. Well, while I wasn’t famous in college, my cycle was – it was a lady’s cycle that I had tried lending some masculinity to by stripping it down to its absolute essentials, its only adornment being a grey canvas knapsack suspended from the handlebar. The guys in college saw the cycle come in and identified me instantly. It was obvious that the letter hadn’t gone unnoticed, because, in the few minutes that it took me to find space in the cycle stand, a small crowd gathered around me.
If times then were as they are now, I daresay I wouldn’t have left that cycle stand with unbroken legs. However, that was a different era. I was one of them, and in those days, you didn’t hurt your own, no matter what. However, over the next fifteen minutes, I heard abuse (in Tamil and English) that made me feel lower than a worm, twenty or more fountain pens were emptied on my head and face, and my glasses were smeared with dirt and grease.
I was contrite. I acknowledged the error of my ways. I begged their forgiveness. And (as Yoda would say) forgiven I was! Everyone calmed down. Guys from the same lot accompanied me to the garden tap, helped me clean up, and then escorted me to the college canteen where, once I had treated everyone to coffee and vadais, my absolution was complete.
If only all our lessons were learnt as easily !
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Nothing To Lose
We normally use that term to mean, merely, that we run no risk in choosing a course of action, The Enlightened One, however, saw the term very differently. He said that we are bound to earthly life when we desire to hold on to our material possessions and our relationships. His guidance was, therefore, that we should divest ourselves of all these, and only when we have nothing to lose would we be really free (we’d attain Nirvana, He said).
Ever since then, that unique definition of freedom has surfaced frequently, sometimes in different contexts. A modern use that comes to mind almost immediately is Kris Kristofferson’s, in his 1970 song ‘Me and Bobby McGee’: “Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose….”.
Haven’t heard the song? You can catch it on youtube –
But, to return to the original thought – some are confused by it, interpreting it to mean an abdication of all responsibilities. However, the thought should be seen in the light of the Golden Mean – the middle path. We’d then understand the guidance. We should not reach out and seek responsibilities. But we’re not to disown or shun those that are placed on us without our seeking them. These we should bear and deal with, in all sincerity, so that they are met. Once we’ve met those responsibilities, they would cease to be burdensome, and that would be the same as being free of them!
Practical philosophy, you think?