Game Changer II!


GameChanger is an event, idea, or procedure that effects a significant shift in the current way of doing or thinking about something. I need not explain the title- the first game-changer was COVID 19 and the second is the murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis in the US. Two game-changers in six months is something unprecedented. The world would have been happy if the first event, the COVID 19 pandemic, had not happened, or it was just a bad dream. But the second event was long overdue, but it took the death of a person to start the chain reactions.

George Perry Floyd Jr. (October 14, 1973 – May 25, 2020) was an African-American man who was killed by police during an arrest in Minneapolis on May 25, 2020. Protests in response to both Floyd’s death, and more broadly to police violence against black people, quickly spread across the United States and internationally.


On May 25, 2020, Floyd was arrested on a charge of passing a counterfeit $20 bill at a grocery store in the Powderhorn Park neighbourhood of Minneapolis. According to the store clerk, the note was an obvious fake and Floyd had refused to return the purchased cigarettes when challenged.

He died after Derek Chauvin, a white police officer, pressed his knee to Floyd’s neck for eight minutes and 46 seconds during the arrest. Floyd was handcuffed face down in the street, while two other officers further restrained Floyd and a fourth prevented onlookers from intervening. For the last three of those minutes Floyd was motionless and had no pulse, but officers made no attempt to revive him. Chauvin kept his knee on Floyd’s neck as arriving emergency medical technicians attempted to treat him.

The blog would not be complete without the comprehensive video about the event. It is a nine-minute long video and contains violent, disturbing scenes. I had to watch it to understand the facts. The nonchalant way in which the white Police Officer acts is to be seen to be believed. From the information that came out, Floyd never resisted the arrest. So, why was he thrown on the ground? White superiority complex? After Floyd was cuffed, Chauvin the officer, pressed his knee on Floyd’s neck. It resulted in to choking and finally the death. Floyd all the time was saying, “I am facing breathing difficulty.” But Chauvin simply ignored him

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vksEJR9EPQ8&has_verified=1&bpctr=1592085699

The video was taken by a 17-year-old girl, a passerby. She never knew that she was filming a game-changer event! The trauma she must be going through is unimaginable. I hope she can overcome the shock over a period.

Southern States in the US had been the strong proponents of using African Americans as slaves for more than 100 years. In fact, the American civil war took place as the Northern States in the US were against slavery.

What does all this really mean, and why does this event look a game-changer? What is the background?

Discrimination due to caste, creed and colour is not new to this world. It has been happening all through the history of mankind. In our mythological stories, God- the good always has a fair colour, and the demons are still dark in any depiction. The Indian language word for this fair colour is GORA!

Disclaimer- I am going to mention a few things from human history, a subject in which my knowledge is minimal. I am using this knowledge to understand the basics of how the dark colour was looked in a bad light.

The society from olden times is depicted below in terms of four Varnas- they were Savarnas. Those who did not conform to these four Varnas were Avarna.

  • Shudras: labourers and service providers.
  • Vaishyas: agriculturalists and merchants.
  • Kshatriyas: rulers, warriors and administrators.
  • Brahmins: priests, scholars and teachers.

Then there was the concept of purity and impurity. The society changed the meaning of the idea of purity and impurity to suit its acts. The thought process initially discussed moral issues. Those who followed the then correct ethical issues were pure, and others were impure. But over a period, those with fair skins were described as pure and superior; people with dark skins were considered impure and inferior.

The colour of our skin is dependent on melanin produced by skin cells when we are exposed to the Sun. The more the sun exposure, the more melanin is produced. It is a clear scientific explanation, but humans chose to ignore this information.

It is too simplistic an explanation to explain why Goras are considered a superior race. But this happens all over the world.

In Hinduism Lord Ram and Lord Krishna are shown in blue colour along with Lord Shiva. How do you explain this? The blue colour indicates HIS all-pervasive nature, blue being the colour of the infinite sky as well as the endless ocean on which he resides. The colour blue, therefore, symbolises the infinite and Vishnu is represented as an immense force. It is also symbolising his vastness as deep as the heavens.

If we consider human history, the explorer Christopher Columbus made four trips across the Atlantic Ocean from Spain: in 1492, 1493, 1498 and 1502. He was determined to find a direct water route west from Europe to Asia, but he never did. Instead, Columbus stumbled upon the Americas. He and his team were European Goras. The Europeans were excellent seafarers and were not afraid to take risks. Since they were always involved in wars, they had better weapons than others. After they reached the Americas, the sequence was simple. They overcame the physical resistance by better weapons. Natives of the lands where they reached would always think that they were Gods, due to their skin colour. The Europeans developed the lighter skin colour due to cold weather which restricted their outdoor activity in the Sun. The exposure to the Sun was less due to geography. These European were “Gods” all the dark natives were treated as demons. For centuries, the thought process was embedded in the human mind. The dark-skinned people, who were conquered, were used as manual bonded labour. Goras were treated as owners of the dark labour force.

But mind you, very similar thought process had developed in India too, and the concept of land-owners or Zamindars has been prevalent for a long time.

Is Floyd event going to try and reverse the history for last thousand years? There is no question that the dark-skinned humans have been treated shabbily all through the past. But a trend to take down statues of various people including that of Columbus in Boston and many other cities looks a bit far fetched. Was Columbus famous for capturing of bonded labour or he was the person who discovered the Americas? A statue of a person in Bristol was also dumped in the sea. The person was a slave trader, more than one thousand years back. He used to bring slaves from Africa. The statue from day one was controversial. The person was directly involved in the slave trade.

Those persons like Columbus who “found” the new landmasses (they existed, but we did not know about them.) People like him and then the Britishers, Dutch became colonisers. There was Chengis Khan who wanted to expand his empire! These people “overcame” the “natives”! The act was about expanding the horizons of the realms. They conquered the land. Even if the people in those wars had been Goras, they would have expanded; so it was not about the colour of the skin. (Second world war- Germany vs France and Britain was not about slaves.)

I feel that we should be looking after the interest of people, the freedom for people and respect for people should be given irrespective of the skin colour. When the dark people are smart, they overcome these hurdles easily. But when one “Gora” and the other dark-skinned average persons are pitted against each other, people go into a stereotyping mode. The Gora is assumed to be smarter, but that is not the case. Unless such thinking changes, the clashes of civilisation will continue!

 

How well do we travel?

 

Journey2Travelling is life’s most celebrated Guru! Travelling gives us many lessons, teaches us many things about life; it gives us new experiences, allows us to see new people and places, new cultures, historical places. What you get from travel is what you absorb during the journey. We travel for various reasons like a holiday, pilgrimage, work, visits to relatives; each person’s reason for travel is different.

We have travelled extensively in India and abroad. I am talking mainly about travel for the holidays. While on holiday, you go with a group of friends, or you travel with family. During honeymoon travel, only the newly married couple moves together, and they are in their world.

I am sharing some of my experiences and my observations made during travel. Years back, in the year 1984, we had travelled to Mussoorie, the hill station in Northern India. We went there just before the peak season started and enjoyed Mussoorie as it was not crowded. We did the usual things like walks to different locations, enjoyed the Himalayan fresh air. Our hotel was almost empty; hence, the owner told us to order whatever food we preferred; the only condition was, we had to inform them a couple of hours before our food time. We enjoyed superb North Indian hilly area cuisine. We enjoyed the street food too. We travelled back to Delhi by bus. On the bus stop, we met a family from Maharashtra. We chatted a bit, and I asked them, “How was your stay here?”. He said, “Everything was perfect, but we could not get Maharashtrian food anywhere!” Unfortunately, this family was not open to enjoy the local cuisine. Enjoy the local food when you travel, is my first dictum.

In this experience, I will not share the involved people’s state. I leave it to you to guess. Surprisingly we heard similar comments about this community at three different places. We were taking Delhi-Agra-Bharatpur-Jaipur holiday. When we reached Agra, we went to our hotel. We had booked through a travel agency, the hotel was ok, but we were somehow not happy with it. We decided to forego the reservation. We told our guide to take us to Hilton, which was nearby. As we sat in the car, the guide asked me a question. “Sir, you are from Maharashtra, is it not?” I asked him, “Why are you asking me this question?” He said, “ In the previous hotel people from xxx state live!” I asked him about the meaning of his statement. He said, “You don’t look their type!” I left it at that. It looked like these people don’t travel well.

The second experience was in the Bharatpur bird sanctuary. No vehicles are allowed inside. We hired two cycle rickshaws for three people, as I had a fever. Jaya and Priya were in one rickshaw, and I was in the second. We crossed a group of people from the same xxx state, we could guess from the language. I know a couple of sentences from that language, so does Priya. I called Priya and asked her in the xxx language, “How are you?” When we stopped at a lake to watch some birds, the rickshaw driver asked me the same question. “Are you from the xxx state?” I said, “No, I just know a sentence or two from that language.” He said, “Groups from the xxx state are complicated to handle. Ladies from these groups keep on talking loudly. Birds around fly away when they hear their  cacophony.” He said, “I tried to explain to them that they may not be able to see the rare birds if voice level is not reduced. The ladies shouted at me to mind my own business.” You may draw your conclusions.

The third experience I heard during the same journey was while visiting Amer Mahal in Jaipur. The Mahal is exquisite, and its architecture is superb. We had hired a guide here too. He showed us around. There was a Kali Mata Mandir. I generally pass going inside the Mandir. I was sitting outside, the guide and I were chatting. He said people from the xxx state are tough to deal with as they are unpredictable. I asked him, “Why are you saying so”? He said, “I was a guide to a group of about 15 people, and I was explaining to them, historical aspects of the Mahal complex. Suddenly one lady came forward.” She asked him, “Are you our guide? Are we not paying you for services?” With folded hands, the guide said, “Yes, Madam!” She asked him, “Why are you walking in front of us? You go to the backside; we will walk in the front. Then explain whatever you want to say.” He said, “This is the first some group had given me such an instruction. I, of course, followed it.”

Three different locations, three various service providers but all of them had the same opinion about the community. Why is it so? Why people have some peculiar habits? How are such habits formed? Do they behave in the same fashion as all such service providers at home too? Zamindars? Is it a superiority complex?

Taking my Mussoorie experience forward, last year Jaya and I took a holiday in Manali. Now, we are both around seventy years of age. But we continued with our tradition of enjoying the local food, within our medical limitations. Sweet Lassi and Gulab Jamun are now out of bounds for us! But Paranthas, Alu Subji for breakfast was a treat from God’s while enjoying the snow-capped mountains. Foodstuff was followed by piping hot tea!

Low cost, budget travel has its fun. We had travelled during our engineering course days to visiting different manufacturing plants in India. We had hired one full bogie of the train. We moved all over India for twenty-odd days. We would go to various places, visit the cities and come back to sleep in the train bogie! Was it fun? I remember those journeys sitting with the compartment door open and sitting there, chatting with friends!

We had travelled by bus from Dehradun to Mussoorie. We met a person while having tea in a hotel in Dehradun. He offered us a place to live at the princely sum of Rs.5/day per person. There was a single room and had a bath. We grabbed the opportunity as we were on the cost-saving mode all the time. Mussoorie was very cold as we were there at the end of December. We had already planned our battle with the cold, and each one of us had kept a quarter bottle of brandy in our pockets. We would take a swig of the drink when we got bone chilled.

Journey1

As I look back, we have enjoyed where ever we went for a holiday and whatever we did. Our budgets have been meagre to moderate to good. Our recent journeys to Europe and an Alaska cruise were expensive. But the common thing in all the trips has been to see and meet different people, eat different local foods, have local wine in Italy!  Last but not least, we will never know how others live their lives unless we travel!

Sometimes some minor things can wrong during travels, but if we learn to take everything in stride, we can really enjoy the journey, the experiences. We realise how different things are the world over. We have also understood that all humans are the same, where ever we go; their language and customs could be different. But don’t forget a couple of things, don’t shout in the bird sanctuaries and let your guide walk ahead of you!  Bon, voyage!