Inclusive design

hey people,
its been a while since I last shared my thoughts with you. I know, I know its been a very long time…
In that time I have completed a doctorate, gotten married and have a wonderful wife to share my thoughts with.

So here goes. Today is international women’s day and incidentally we were speaking about equal rights for women in today context.

Well my argument goes as follows.
Since any society is dominated by a counterpart of they human sex, it is matriarchal or patriarchal. any design for this society is constituted of instruments whether for cooking or killing or working with are centered around psyche of the sex in question i.e. the gender counterpart who made it. Unless the opinions of the opposite sex are taken into consideration the society is designed based on those primary design considerations. The society moves forward in accordance with those as the basis for work. And, hence a patriarchal or matriarchal system of doing things. In doing so patriarchy persisted by power or force to preserve its designs in evolutionary context to preserve .  Like the car for e.g. Do companies really ask male and female users alike as to what should and shoule not be included in the design of a car. Its basically here is the car go learn to manage and drive. Patriarchy has now evolved to preserve itself rather than nurture society. Women have had to learn this design and try to squeeze their way to the top.  My question was that for any society to move forward there has to be a cross talk between all fractions of the society who will use the defined space to interact, and they in turn must have a say in the final design of the instruments that run society.

My wife’s take on this
Women have been suppressed in society by the male breadwinner, and to this day this occurs very obviously, with women having little or no right to pursue their points of view. They are restricted to the household and with taking care of children. This psyche has been carried forward for centuries, albeit in male dominated societies. A change in a few people will not constitute a change, it will rather be just a local voice in the wilderness. The change that has to occur has to happen from within the hearts of people. This change will then trickle down to institutional change.

e.g. Maternal leave vs Paternal leave.
With so much technology available to us as of today , why isn’t maternal and paternal leave equal. why does it have to be that women have to take an extended leave of absence to take care of their child while the men work, at a larger risk to their careers. equally speaking both spans of leave must be equal so if the mother gets 3 months leave now, they should get 1.5 months and the father should get 1.5 months, which could be left to the parents discretion to take as and when they need to . This does not leave the burden of care entirely on the women and further the risk of loss of career prospects with an extended leave of absence.

In speaking for the same it would much rather benefit society if all fractions of society especially male and female get on board to contribute to the design of its instruments, equating leave for starters…

Voice of reason

Documented philosophical observation has been present throughout history, in scripture, to roman and greek philosophers. Scholars travelled to seats of wisdom to discuss and debate schools of thought, to find reason for our existence. “Wise men speak because they have something to say; fools because they have to say something.” by Plato  is apt in this discussion of how the idea of reason in society is a need of every and all hours. Their thoughts have maintained societal groundedness. 

  In this difficult time of the corona virus lockdown, we have found leaders and voices of reason.  I must thank and keep in mind all of those who are putting their lives at risk to make possible the lockdown, here in the United States as well as all over the world. May it be law enforcement, delivery personnel, grocery staff, clinicians, nurses, hospital staff etc. They are listening to their inner voice of reason to work for the community and allow us to remain where they can do our job. I am sure some of them have the option to stay at home yet, have ventured in harms way to give use the breathing space to tackle the pandemic. 

Importantly Dr Fauci, Bill Gates, Governer Cuamo, Mamata Banerjee, Prime minister Modi of India are some of the names that come to mind. These people have come out and have quelled the anxiety of large sections of people who are following the unraveling of the pandemic, and the uncertainty of it. Dr Fauci here in the United states has become the voice of reason in bringing the cold hard facts about the underlying current that the virus is causing. 

  But I am intrigued by the unlikely voices of reason, that some 20-30 year olds have become for their parents, in using their knowledge and presence of mind to prevent their parents from harm’s way, and some have been otherwise selfish in their enjoyment of life. Having said that, it is surprising how differently various socio-political  and religious inclinations have played a major role in people’s response to this outbreak. I myself was of the opinion that since the outbreak would eventually hit everyone and be characterized a seasonal endemic, it would be better to work. My wife stood to be my voice of reason, explaining that my one month old would be left without anyone to care for her if either of us was tested positive, let alone would require emergency care in the event of infection. 

With this I realize that as life events change, people take on unexpected roles, in being the voices of reason for everyone. That could be parents, kids, loved ones, leaders, and any person who sheds light on the truth. It is just the trust in these voices that will allow us to tide through situations like the one we have been facing for the last couple of months. 

What is that thing that grounds us and makes us realize that we are not alone, our actions shouldn’t be due to the fear of the unknown. If history has taught us anything, It is that catastrophes, like seasons , come and go. They have a finite capacity for ruin. Unnerving as it may seem a dire situation, the cause for reason is to know that there always is light after darkness. For me as a Catholic, its Psalm 46, and the knowledge that come what may, its my job to have a  clean heart, so even if I have to leave, I leave without fear and full of confidence. 



         Its been a long time since i penned something. With the wife ill , now weak and convalescing, I am reminded about a discussion we had about a day ago. The appetite is gaining ground from a point, where there nothing reached her mouth, to now where food finds its way in every form and texture to her stomach. She coughs next to me, while we enjoy a Shahrukh Khan (‘she is his fan’) hosted televised series. The famous indian superstar with fans all over the world.
The anxiety began the day the rash appeared and we debated  a week before what the symptoms are an indication of. There was nausea, loss of appetite and weakness, but not the slightest signs of a fever. There was rash that Sunday, but we all thought it to be an allergic reaction to something she had eaten. But appetite was rare and eating was even rarer. It baffled me to know when and where and what was happening.
The day came when she returned from work with a fever of a 102°F. It was a fight against time to decide whether to hurry to emergency or to fight to bring down the fever. I chose on the latter. It was just me with a napkin and salt water on her forehead waiting for the the analgesic to kick-in. The fever was a tough animal to wrestle with, it took about 2 hours to come to a reasonable 101°F. The fight was not over, I realized, nor did I know whether it was still over. But a battle was won. It took an entire night for the rash to travel the length of her body to her toes, making her face look like a melon and eyes as red cherries .

       The rash confirmed our worst fears, we decided  the virus should have a name  and the symptoms along with the rash allowed us to christian it as Measles. The rash looked familiar, one that I had experienced when I was about 10. Nausea, vomiting and a high fever  rash,  where my mum found it difficult to get me to retain medication. A day later was the doctor’s appointment , and I had to keep her fever below a 100°F with the weapons  we had in our arsanel. This virus had built a sequence of events and had kept our anxiety high with the suspense. All too familiar was the rash that manifested with fever, which allowed us to decide how to begin controling the symptoms. The fever remained below 100°F the next day. Nausea continued unabated.  We did fear that the friends who had been close to my wife, taking care of her during the fever would be affected.
Measles has two names, and each has an identity of its own. We reached the doctors at the appointed time.  After the preliminary work up with a baffled med student, who remained in shock the entire time she took the temperature and vital stats, while I explained all the symptoms, building a very morbid profile of the virus. The doctor jumped in a while later and wasn’t convinced that the character sketch of the virus was enough to name it Measles. We left with more questions than when we came with.
Every contagion has an identity of its own, and to explain, they need personification. Take for e.g. Chicken pox, when it decides to infect an immune system (a person), it enters a space and looks for vulnerabilities.  Just like a thief in the night in case it finds our defenses weak. It decides to introduce itself with pain, body ache and culminates with a high fever . But its pièce de résistance, it the disfiguring pustules it creates to live and take shape to become contagious . And just as the it allows the unsuspecting person to think that he/she is fine, at the end of its stay , it hatches its plan to release into the environment, while shedding drying pustules.
What’s fascinating is the common flu virus is highly fashion conscious and a master of disguises. It recently decided to change into something, that has rendered this year’s vaccine with only 15% chance against last years of >60%. It survives year after year with a changes in its outer coat, evading our existing defenses, and allowing it to infect and wreak havoc. This year it has taken 75 lives and is yet to take a break.
What virologists study , the world over, is the ever changing nature of viruses. Hoping against a day, when peoples worst fears could come true. Our only defense is vaccination, at birth that gives kids and adults a fighting chance. It’s a constant fight that the scientific community has to engage with in coming to terms with infections.

Walking along the streets of the city

Cool breeze  wraps and caresses me and the sweet kiss rain drops on my face dispel 

I look to empty stares in screens, reflections of loneliness I see in them, they are lost in conversation 

A mother and child in the corner I remember, wrapt in the childs murmur is the mother, eyes closed

An umbrella  her head supports as she chimes to the child

Oh! what bliss the peace in each others company 

Colours, shapes and movement, impart the nature of life

In colour our eyes distinguish the angst of a generation

They want to be heard, seen and met with fulfillment, voices in the din

Oh ! but the attention has drifted, each in their own element with their device

Unsettling the rampant cacophony of banter, drowns those voices

That wonder lost to make believe relics and wonders of modern

Enslaved to chains of glory and charm, albeit are asunder in title redeemed

What then is this pursuit worth, a badge of honor futile, the homeless tread proud



(The conversation was between an auto rickshaw driver an me on the way to the train station, i noticed that he was distributing copies of a court judgement to certain people and asked him what the papers were all about, this led to the conversation that I narrate to you here)

Auto driver( to someone on the street): Please take these papers. I thought it best to dispense with them to the most relevant of people

Me: Curiously” what papers are you distributing?”

D: Do you know so and so organization

M:  Didn’t quite get that could you please repeat

D: So and so organization

M: Haven’t heard of it

D: Are you from out of the state

M: No I am of this state

D: OH! The organization is famous not just in India, its famous throughout the world.

D: Do you belong to any caste

M:  I belong to the general category

D: How can that be, taking the name of a famous Maratha ruler, he said you must at least belong to that community

M: I said no, I belong to the open category (Indians would understand that the open category stands for people who do not belong to any oppressed section of society (caste) to avail of reservations, for jobs, etc.)

The driver was clueless for a long time, so I asked him

M: Why are you surprised that I dint belong to any caste

D: It just cannot be

I had to let him go since I had just enough money to pay him. But before I left I did say this..

M: The leader of your organization converted to a different religion at the fag and of his career and life in order to get away from caste and castist oppression of the society at the time.

We are so bogged down by the expression of our faith and belief that at times we ourselves fail to see and understand in depth what the idols we follow tried to tell us when they were here with us. What remains in us and with us are fragments of information that we choose to keep and regurgitate at convenience when it suites us best. The most prominent example are the words of a prominent speaker on one of catholic religions formost beliefs, which the followers of Prostantinism do not accept. Recently we have our own PM do it for us in a a very eloquent way.

Black lives matter

How many more bodies will it take for you to call it a genocide



Kya boss kya kar rahe ho, he looks at me , turns and says sorry. A while later he passes my by on his bike and looks back and says again “sorry boss”.

This happened on my way to the main building, a motor bike vala crossed me and slowed down in front of me , because se spotted someone he knew and slowed down right in front of me. I almost bumped into him.

I use to like the word sorry. But a sumptuous serving of it every time I was hit by someone’s elbow in a foreign land led me to believe that sorry was the only word in their dictionary. What brought me to this conversation about sorry is the video which was show in the back drop of Swach Bharat. Individuals were interviewed and asked what it meant to have clean streets. What it meant to have a clean surrounding and what was their expectation about it? Everyone was unanimous about the fact that there should be some level of cleanliness and it was good that the government was taking such a step. Later they were shown a video of themselves while one was peeing at a street corner in the open, other were littering in public or spitting. Their immediate response to the reporter was “sorry”, later complimenting the reporter for showing them their mistake and that they would never repeat it again.

To what end is that sorry of any plausible value that too uttered to a reporter documenting the phenomenon. Or to a pedestrian on the road if a vehicle breaks the rules. Damages have been done, lines crossed and moments pass.

What the ultimate point of a “sorry” is, beats me!

A Little More Sauce

The phrase “white privilege” is one that rubs a lot of white people the wrong way. It can trigger something in them that shuts down conversation or at least makes them very defensive. (Especially those who grew up relatively less privileged than other folks around them). And I’ve seen more than once where this happens and the next move in the conversation is for the person who brought up white privilege to say, “The reason you’re getting defensive is because you’re feeling the discomfort of having your privilege exposed.”

I’m sure that’s true sometimes. And I’m sure there are a lot of people, white and otherwise, who can attest to a kind of a-ha moment or paradigm shift where they “got” what privilege means and they did realize they had been getting defensive because they were uncomfortable at having their privilege exposed. But I would guess that more often than…

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resume racism

Resume racism, kinda interesting how the commercial world works!

Colour Brave

Mellody Hobson,  talks about numbers and the unconsciously perpetrated habit of colour blindness around us. We tend to be consciously colour blind and feel that being around a diversity of people is odd and being around people of the same colour is normal.

Citing the example of the small pox vaccine, she drives home the point that we as a diverse race and nation we must include this diversity to envisage solutions to our day to day problems.Numbers don’t lie, here is  story about racial discrimination.

It reminds me of our own problem, where people within our country are ill informed about their own. Calling north easterners Chinese, Phillipino etc.  Recently when I introduced Mellisa to our group, one among the group literally said” Is she a Filipino”. I had to correct him in that.  I guess race is not just about colour, its about being.