On Religion – A Hypothesis

I have a personal theory, a hypothesis; why so many people believe in organised religion and never seem to question it.

In the vastness of the cosmos and the endless sea of humans, their triumphs and disasters, most ‘ordinary‘ humans may find themselves either lost or overwhelmed. In such times, when one does not have a purpose, a mission, a ‘why’ to look into the future organised religion acts as a nice cushion. It helps people make sense of their existence, gives them a heightened sense of purpose and makes their life worth living and provides some meaning. It makes them believe that their is a higher cause and they should strive to achieve their position. It also helps provide companionship and solidarity in a sea of strangers.

The way I have put it makes organised religion sound like a saviour. Well, it is neither a saviour nor an annihilator. I think it is a tool. And, a tool is only as effective as its wielder and a wielder is only as good as his intentions. So we come back to square one – WHY?

The other reasons for ‘following’ (not believing mind you!) is peer pressure, social acceptance and conformity.

We all have different aspirations, drives, motivators and inhibitors.
None of us would ever voluntarily choose a life of pain and suffering. Strip off all the fluff and at the bare minimum we all want the same things. Good meals, water, clothing, shelter, companionship and entertainment.

For me a religion, an ideology or a school of thought (faith based, scientific, social, political or economic) loses its steam the moment it becomes about “I don’t understand your point of view, so it is f***ing scary”, “I don’t like your point of view, so it is evil”, “Here, listen to my point of view. Don’t like it? Let me shove it down your throat.” and so on.

Now imagine a new religion, a religion (i.e. a system of belief) which solely believes that the true purpose of life is investing in the future. Not the past, the future. Investing in our future selves, our future generations and the future of this planet.

Investing in the future puts the present into perspective. This gives us the opportunity (foresight) to see the world as it should be and could be. This gives us the realism to see the world as it is as well as idealism and imagination to see the world as it could be.

Investing in the future gives a sense of our finite existence and creates a sense of urgency in our actions. It helps us realise that at least in the foreseeable future we are stuck on this piece of rock wrapped around a ball of fire, hurtling to nothingness around another ball of fire and help is not coming, EVER! Only we can save ourselves from ourselves.

Hopefully, investing in the future will help us realise that over consuming resources to satiate our greed (or just because we can) is suffocating the next generation, sharing is the solution not hoarding, avenging a death just creates another cycle of hate, our educational systems are redundant, our economic systems unsustainable and governments broken. It will help us realise that we have over inflated egos and rate negative in tolerance. It will help us realise that humans are not the masters of this planet, hell with being masters of a piece of land or an ideology, we can’t control a heartbeat; who knows the next moment you sneeze and BAAM! It will one day help us realise that we really are an inter connected and highly dependent species and our survival depends on the survival of all other species (flora, fauna and in between). It will finally help us realise that we are in this together or we sink together.

True, we all may not have the same view and opinion of the future but at least we will have the same goal, i.e. preserving our planet, safeguarding our future selves and our future generations. In this selfish pursuit of self preservation I see humanity rise.

Remember, life is fragile and finite. Yet, its will to survive, its ambitions and the future aren’t.

“If we take man as he really is, we make him worse. If we seem to be idealists and are overestimating, overrating man and looking at him that high. Here. Above! You know what happens? We promote him to what he really can be. So we have to be idealists in a way because then we’ll wind up at the true, the real realist.”
-Dr. Victor Frankl ( Finding meaning in difficult times – Dr. Viktor Frankl )

PS: Coming to the question of how to find your ‘why‘ and have very clear intentions (I elaborate on my personal journey in another article). The way I have found mine and help my students find their’s from Physics, Math and 5Whys.

Use the First Principles i.e. get to the core basics and build thereupon. Use the 5Whys to actually get to the true purpose of your actions. Until I write my version of thinking clearly, check out Tim Urban’s here.

PPS: There are certain problems that could arise when being future centric. Reserving that for another post.

Originally posted on my Facebook in November 2016: https://www.facebook.com/msaifq/posts/913728862008224https://www.facebook.com/msaifq/posts/913745455339898

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On Opinions.

The school bell rings indicating the end of the “day”. A student whooooshes pass on a skateboard. Abruptly stops. Lifts the skateboard and walks back towards me.

“Mo! I have a problem. I don’t have opinions about things. Help me.”

I tell him, “You do not have to rush to make opinions for the sake of making one or simply because you can or because others around you are giving “opinions” at the drop of a hat.

What you ought to be doing is informing yourself from all possible sources. Listen, read, watch, observe, ponder and brew. Let the facts, thoughts and emotions brew a little longer. Then, if you really feel the need to express yourself, provide an opinion.

Sometimes you will not have an opinion. Sometimes you may have an opinion but think it is wise not to express it. And, sometimes you may have a well formed opinion but may encounter a fact or undergo an experience which will make you change this opinion or not hold it anymore. All of these are acceptable.

What is not acceptable, is making opinions just because you can or you are being pressured to make one. And, it is worse to have an ill informed opinion in haste.

This does not mean that you must not have opinions. Opinions are essential as they express our stance on things. And, being able to sense, think, feel and express this freely is one key attribute of being human. [This line was added after I read this post and realised I had not included it from the original conversation.]

Just do not be concerned on not having opinions. Right now your concerns should be to expand your body of knowledge by keeping yourself well informed and learning everyday.With this exposure and experience, well rounded opinions will start forming”

“Hmmmmmm…I did not think of that. Thank you!”

He shakes my hand and whizzes away on the blue wheeled skateboard.

“Few people are capable of expressing with equanimity opinions that differ from the prejudices of their social environment. Most people are even incapable of forming such opinions.” -Albert Einstein

EDUCATION

This encounter got me thinking about my high school experience.

For about 2 years I struggled with the above thought. Objective academic assessments made me believe that:

  1. I MUST always have an opinion.
  2. I MUST have an opinion on everything.
  3. The opinion must be acceptable by everyone (at least the adults around me).
  4. If others did not share my opinion I was wrong.
  5. An opinion once formed cannot be changed.
  6. I cannot have two differing opinions at the same time.

During these 2 years I mostly did not take part in discussions. If I did it was either due to academic / peer pressure or to please an adult.

This did not bode too well with me until I read “If—” by Rudyard Kipling.

“If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,”

I suddenly realised I was not speaking the truth and in my rush to have (or not have) opinions I had put myself into a vicious trap. What a fool!

NOTE: I point my finger at objective assessments. This does not mean I not agree with them. They serve a certain purpose and do it well. The obsession by most formal systems of education on having the right answers all the time for almost everything is unsettling.

SOCIETY

 

“When I was young and bold and strong,
Oh, right was right, and wrong was wrong!
My plume on high, my flag unfurled,

I rode away to right the world.

‘Come out, you dogs, and fight!’ said I,

And wept there was but once to die.

But I am old; and good and bad

Are woven in a crazy plaid.

I sit and say the world is so,

And wise is s/he who lets it go”  -Dorothy Parker (originally read this poem here)

This afternoon over lunch I voiced a concern to a colleague – polarisation.

The growing global trend of most media outlets, political leaders, religious leaders, (pseudo?) intellectuals and (pseudo?) rational thinkers of adopting a style of – seemingly informing and educating but actually bombarding with rhetoric with the intention of splitting the consumers of infotainment quickly.

Let me say it again. Most of these “intelligent” conversations quickly resort to using “us” and “them’. Give clear “evidence”. Consult “experts”. Use mockery. Are time bound. And, force the participant to make a quick choice and express it. There is no room left for grey areas and those siding with the grey area / balanced approach are quickly cornered, labelled and disposed.

Black or white. Left or right. Straight or gay. Israel or Palestine. Pink or blue. Paperback or Kindle. Apple or Microsoft. Shia or Sunni. Atheist or believer. Coke or Pepsi. Cat or Dog. India or Pakistan. Tea or Coffee. Diet or exercise. Patriotism or Nationalism. Travel or work. Capitalism or communism. Democracy or dictatorship. Heaven or hell. Human or animal. Terrorist or Patriot. War or peace. Cheese or wine. Uber or Lyft. 6 or 9. Earth or Mars. WTF or WHAT THE FUCK?

Not very different from a Brave New World set in 1984 right?

SHUT THE F*** UP and go back into your hole.

Humans are complex. This planet is complex. It is getting complicated with each passing day.

Just because you express your concern for a particular issue does not mean that you do not care about all the other issues that exist. On the flip side not sharing your concern for something does mean you do not care about it. Similarly, being a part of a larger group by virtue of birth, gender, name, colour or choice does not completely define you. And, claiming (by adopting the vocabulary, colours, clothes, food, etc.) to be a part of a group doesn’t necessarily make you a part of the group.

Just because you shared a Taylor Swift GIF doesn’t mean you don’t care about the Syrian Refugee Crisis. At that time you simply felt the need to share it and chose to do it. Just because you went to a fancy restaurant for dinner doesn’t mean you are a “snooty b****” who doesn’t care about the world’s hungry. You simply wanted a nice warm meal with decent company and could afford it (for which you are grateful).

Can we stop having “opinions” about everything. By the way, in my humble opinion, a statement made instantly, without fact checking, thinking and pondering is a judgement.

Once again, this does not mean that one must not have opinions. It just means that one must not have an opinion on everything.

I would urge that people explore, investigate, think, ponder, learn,unlearn and reflect to develop their own set of personal values. Thinking and forming balanced opinions is difficult, judging is easy. And that is one thing parenting and education should be doing.

Can we for the love of God (Allah) start scratching the surface, knock the walls and dig deeper. Keep going. A little more. Now stay there and get back to what you were originally doing. The stuff that makes you come alive. The stuff that gives you a sense of purpose and direction. The stuff that makes you happy. The stuff that will make our world a better and hopefully less complex place.

Have a bittersweet day.

Mo

 

Originally posted as a Facebook note: http://bit.ly/moopinion

Boys should not be in the kitchen.

For my second post on this blog I had been requested to write on the #roadnottravelled but I had planned to write on empathy and its importance in the upbringing of a child. The news of the rape of a woman in an Uber in New Delhi made me change this and go into introspection mode.

The problem is not with the Delhi Police, Delhi Government, Uber, immigrants from U.P. or Bihar or an inadequate number of CCTVs . The problem is how we are raising our children, especially the boys and the sexist mentality that we have engrained in our society. This is reflected by how we think, which results into the vocabulary we use and then manifests into our actions.

“The problem is how we are raising our children, especially the boys.”

I believe (in India and many parts of the world) there is a basic lack of empathy, etiquettes and kindness, and a severe imposition of what one gender should do and what the other should not. For instance this incident that happened with me a few years ago.

I was back from University of Glasgow for my summer vacations and some family friends had been invited over for lunch. That day I had decided to prepare a few dishes (I have been a foodie since I guess I was born and began cooking when I was 7. My parents have encouraged me tremendously to follow my passions.). When the guests arrived I was in the kitchen, adding a few finishing touches.

This auntie (an old family friend) enters, comes directly to the kitchen and sees me chopping some vegetables for a salad.

“Arrey Beta (Oh son), why are you in the kitchen? Boys should not be in the kitchen. I don’t let my son enter the kitchen, though his sisters assist me with all household work.”

“Arrey Beta, why are you in the kitchen? Boys should not be in the kitchen.”

Tongue tied, in my mind it went “WTF”. I did not know if I should display my contempt or show respect to an ‘elder’. My mum overheard this and said, “In our house everyone contributes to everything. From cooking, to at times washing clothes and dishes, to even cleaning the toilets. Both my children assist in all tasks (I have a younger sister).”

Auntie seemed aghast. She picked a piece of cucumber from the chopping board and walked away.

The solution is not just education. This ‘auntie’ comes from a well healed, higher middle class family. She has a university education and has sent her daughters to university too. She is an NRI. So education in its current framework is not really the solution. And saying that instances like this do not happen in modern, financially wealthy and educated families is a farce.

It is sad that it is women who are instilling this mentality in children but I have experienced this with men too. A few months ago one of my dad’s friend was at our place one Sunday morning. I guess my parents were still sleeping or were getting dressed for the day, so I went into the kitchen, put together some cookies and juices and served it to this uncle. His reaction when he sees me walking with a serving tray in had, “Beta, tum kyu yeh sab kar rahey ho? Tumhari behen ghar pe nahi hai kay? Ya aur koi nahin hai?” (Son, why are you doing this? Isn’t your sister at home? Or someone else to do it?). He was basically implying that a domestic help or a woman should be serving him and I being a boy (and of the ‘superior sex’) should be…well doing something else.

We as a society have created strict categories of tasks for men and women (this segregation exists for different castes, religions and states too) if these tend to interchange it is considered blasphemy.

“Arrey saab, yeh kaam aap kyu kar rahen ho? Aap aaram kijiye, hum inhe saaf kar dengey.”

An instance where this was not gender directed happened in August this year. I was accompanying my dad on an overnight trip dad to Aligarh. In the morning I was sitting in the guest house, polishing my shoes when the cook walks in and says, “Arrey saab, yeh kaam aap kyu kar rahen ho? Aap aaram kijiye, hum inhe saaf kar dengey.” (Sir, why are you doing this work. Please go and rest, I will clean them for you.) I thanked him and said that there is no shame in cleaning one’s own shoes (or for that matter, one’s own mess!) As if it was below my dignity to clean shoes. I have been polishing my shoes (and at times of other family members) since I was in Kindergarten, everyday.

This issue just does not end with eliminating casteism, sexism or with sensitisation. It has to do with the vocabulary we use and how we have over time made the disgusting and unacceptable into the acceptable and at times casually entertaining.

I was shuddering then and as I type I shudder now.

This incident occurred in the interim period between school and university (so well before the Nirbhaya incident). A classmate from school forwarded a SMS (we didn’t have WhatsApp or smartphones then :O) which was supposed to be a joke of the day. It went something like this. (I was shuddering then and as I type I shudder now.)

‘Pappu’ (some random man) sees another man raping a woman and joins him. Upon being asked by the crowd of onlookers why he joined the other man, Pappu responds ‘gang rape = team work’. I shudder to think how as humans we have gone down to such extreme levels of lowness and barbarism that equating gang rape to team work is circulated as a joke via SMS without the batting of an eyelid.

 I replied to this ‘friend’ with a lengthy SMS stating how he should be ashamed of even circulating such a ‘joke’ and should introspect on what he makes of the world and that I do not want to maintain any contact with him. Ever. I went on to delete his humber and the message but the impact of the message has left me scarred and scared. Scared that there are maybe hundreds to thousands of boys like this in India, who have an appetite for such crap and they could be anywhere. And scarred by what we have ended up doing to our society and early education. And it is certainly discomforting to know that he obviously hailed from a well educated, financially wealthy family and studied with me in which is considered a reputable school in New Delhi/NCR – Amity International.

What I overlooked at that point was the text mentioned ‘crowd of onlookers’. A caricature of what actually occurs in India. A crime or act of violence in broad daylight and people turning their gaze away or into their smartphone screens or capturing the crime but not going forward to stop it.

Coming back to the point about everyday sexism we experience in India. I feel it is an utter shame that we have created a generation of boys (and men) who need a woman to serve them a glass of water, or make their bed or polish their shoes or cook them breakfast. This attitude and illusion we have created that it is the duty of a woman to serve and the right of a man to be served has brought this foreseeable doom to our nation.

Just creating strict laws and mechanisms to enforce these laws is not sufficient. Lowering the juvenile justice age is not the only solution. Putting CCTVs all over the city will not magically wipe out crime against women. We need all of this alongwith a robust ecosystem for nurturing young and impressionable minds. Many parents become parents and are at sea on how to guide their little ones, we need a system to assist in doing this.

Throwing money into education will not solve this. Only investing in shiny, expensive technology won’t solve this.  Making more IITs won’t solve this. Making and giving AADHAR cards won’t solve this. Banning companies won’t solve this. And passing the buck certainly is not solving this.

Calling to hang the rapists will not solve this. I am angry, my friends and family are angry and the nation is angry, but guiding our anger into a thirst for vengeance is not the solution.  Our thirst for quick vengeance in the garb of justice is certainly a shame as this article points out. Also the death penalty or life imprisonment is not a long term solution, it may work as a hard hock short term one but never a sustainable one. Adding to the strict laws, with a robust mechanism to enforce them needed with and added layer of support from user centred technology to maintain records, track offenders and never letting them repeat a crime.

“As a nation we have focused too hard and too long on creating more engineers, doctors, lawyers and MBAs but have forgotten on creating humans.”

Also, what will solve this is the acceptance that we have made a mess of our society and our so called ‘culture’ and it has to be rectified;now. The acceptance that as a nation we have focused too hard and too long on creating more engineers, doctors, lawyers and MBAs but have forgotten on creating humans. The non-acceptance to any behaviour or vocabulary that encourages crimes against women (or different castes or religions). And the demand and active effort to reform our school education system from where just academic scores are measured and competed for into an ecosystem where the teachers, parents and institutions work towards the nurturing of a child. Where subjects like home science or vocational education are not looked down up and are not considered the alternative but the acceptable and the mainstream. Where an equal importance is given to emotional intelligence, mental intelligence, academic intelligence, spiritual intelligence, social, moral and political awareness, environmental consciousness,  entrepreneurship, empathy and kindness.

“Men are from Earth, women are from Earth. Deal with it.”       -George Carlin

This may sound like a far fetched, impossible and unachievable dream, because it is. And that is the precise reason we must have the audacity to dream such a dream and charge towards it with a sense of urgency. Tough problems have tougher solutions. We must face this challenge (and numerous others) not because it is easy but because it is hard. In the process I hope it brings out the best in us, irrespective of where we come from, what we believe and where we want to head towards. Only then shall this nation (and humanity) rise, spread its wings and soar.


 

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too.”                     -John F. Kennedy, Rice University, September 12 1962.

My son wants to be a engine driver.

According to my Gmail account records I created this blog on 3rd November 2012 (392 days). And that was it. I was embroiled in a deep conundrum for more than 2 years, “wordpress or tumblr?”, “oh wait, ghost.org looks appealing”, “msqureshi or msaifq?”, “free or paid?”, “I do not like that typeface :-/” and on and on it went.

Until, a few things in the last 4 weeks woke me up. I cleaned my closet and gave away more than half of my belongings, after gentle (angry) requests from my dad I let go of my procrastination and bought the battery for our digital weighing scale and after a lovely afternoon of interesting talks in New Delhi’s Hauz Khas Village I took an Uber ride home.

After cleaning my cupboard the realisation struck (once again) that I had too many unused possessions and I was born with certain privileges. When I finally checked my weight I was stunned; 16kgs of fat added in a year (another proof of the privileges I have been given and of the complacent life I am living). And finally on the evening of Saturday 29th November I met Davinder Singh.

Davinder, a son of a farmer, is from Ludhiana, Punjab. He is in his late 30s and drives a white Suzuki Swfit Dzire with Uber.

Davinder Singh

I had assumed this cab ride to be like any other; I greet the driver, give him my drop off address, have a little conversation about work and if that dies down return to reading something on my phone. But this was different, from the beginning Davinder seemed energetic, jovial and bright. Hence, I naturally assumed I was his first customer for the day (it was 6pm on a Saturday evening). Turned out he was driving since 4am and he had lost count as to what customer number I was.

He had some doubts on using the Uber app and I helped him with it. Then, I asked on an ideal day how much does he make driving the cab; Rs.3,000 – 4,000! He was making a lot more than the majority of Indians, even those with a post graduate qualification and I voiced exactly this. “I too am educated and have a BA from Delhi University”, was his reply. I was surprised and wanted to know more, and he was eager to share his story.

“I too am educated and have a BA from Delhi University”

I had so many burning questions, didn’t know which to ask first. The conversation for the next 30 minutes went something like this (it was in Hindi, I have taken the liberty to translate).

Me: “Which college did you graduate from?”

DS: “Deshbandhu College, Delhi University. My performance in school was good so I was accepted in the regular morning batch. After graduation I was offered a job with APL. My girlfriend at that time was from the same college and was also offered a position at APL. I worked for a week and left, the closed office atmosphere, sitting in front of a computer screen was claustrophobic. I began driving a taxi for a company. I enjoyed automobiles and had previous experience so it was fun.”

Me: “So what about your girlfriend?”

DS: “She was still working at APL. We decided to get married but my father declined, stating she was from Bihar and I should find a Punjabi girl. I then asked her father and was expecting the same response. Surprisingly he agreed but said, “If your family is not open to this marriage, do not go ahead. You will be living in isolation and will be unhappy.” I asked her what to do and we decided to part ways. Now I am happily married to another woman and have 2 kids with her. A son who is in Grade 4 and a daughter who is in Grade 5.”

“The admissions officer saw my residence address and declined to give me a form. Said the people from my locality are not very civilised.”

Me: “Wow this is interesting, yet so typical. Which school do your children attend?”

DS: “I live in Govindpuri, hence wanted to send them to Summefields School, the admissions officer saw my residence address and declined to give me a form. Said the people from my locality are not very civilised. Then I tried for DPS R K Puram, they asked for a donation of Rs. 3,00,000 per child. I could not pay this hefty an amount and had to pull out. Then I was suggested Mata Gujri Public School. They too asked for a donation, since it was Rs. 20,000 per child I accepted and got them admitted. My children are very bright, they now know 3 languages, are fluent in math and science. I plan to buy a laptop soon. For now I give them my smartphone when I return in the evening. They access content and make projects using it.”

Me: “So how did you end up coming to Delhi? What do your parents do?”

DS: “My father used to be a farmer and wanted me to follow his path. I just could not work on the farm and as kid wanted to buy a Royal Enfield Bullet. Someone suggested I come to Delhi. I had just finished school, I got admitted into Delhi University. I also learnt how to drive a car on my own and began working with a cab company after college hours. In a few months I had enough money to purchase the motorcycle, which I did and went back to my hometown. I was still naive and had not figured out that I need to save up for the cost of fuel! Upon realisation I sold the bike and returned to Delhi, but this time I had another urge. I saw a ‘maut ka kuaan'(Well of Death) in a travelling circus and wanted to drive a car in that. I went up to the owner and asked him to teach me, he repeatedly declined stating it takes years’ of practice to master the skill. I was persistent. He finally relented, on the condition that I travel with the entire circus, eat what they eat, sleep where they sleep and follow his instructions. I agreed and within a month had mastered driving inside the well. I was satisfied, and returned to Delhi.”

Me: “This is fantastic. I rarely meet people who are so passionate and have followed their dreams. Do you have specific ambitions for your children?”

DS: “Yes, I want them to do what they want to do. I have told both of them, study till you want to and can study. I will back you financially and won’t let finances ever come in between your aspirations. The day you want to stop studying, tell me and I shall be fine with it but you will have to start working then. Work for someone or start something on your own. Just work.”

“My son wants to be an engine driver. He has this fascination for trains and which is good.”

Me: “This is amazing, I have actually not meant such open minded people. I know your children are very young now but do they have any particular career ambitions? You know how children tend to have multiple of aspirations and dreams at this age, what are theirs’ ?”

DS: “My son wants to be an engine driver. He has this fascination for trains and which is good. I have told him that I will ask him what he wants to do in life when he is 15 and if he still wants to be an engine driver I will do everything in my capabilities to make him one. If he changes his mind to something else, I will help him with that. You know I have already looked up what it takes to be an engine driver, the training didn’t look tough and the salary is very good. (And he went on to explain the process). One more thing, I would personally like him to be a pilot but will enforce that. Do you know how one can become a pilot?”

Me: “Yes, yes. I was going to get just that when I changed my mind and decided to pursue Aeronautical Engineering. I actually have a part license, someday I shall complete it…(then I went on to share the process of getting a pilot’s license).

DS: “So do you work as an engineer?”

“I have learnt that forcing children to do something outside their behaviour or liking is futile. I would prefer that children do what they enjoy.”

Me: “Ummm actually not. I stopped a little past midway. I now teach in schools, work with teachers in helping them doing their jobs better and help make the overall learning experience much better. I basically work with a few friends, we run our own organisation.”

DS: “You know I have learnt that forcing children to do something outside their behaviour or liking is futile. I would prefer that children do what they enjoy, only then will they develop an interest in it and only then would they get good at it. And by the way, my wife failed in Grade 10th, can you imagine she is a teacher now? Cause she is good in her subject and is able to make things fun.”

I am awestruck.

Me: “This is exactly what we believe in and are attempting to do. So what does your wife teach?”

DS: “She takes after school tuitions for Punjabi language. Almost 50 students come to her daily. She makes enough money to run the entire household and pay all bills. So all the money I make is being saved in Fixed Deposits and Savings Accounts in the names of my son and daughter. You see I won’t let money ever be a problem between their dreams. My wife has her own scooter and I taught her to drive, when she goes back to her village she is the one driving this car.”

I have almost reached home. Have many more questions but not sufficient time.

Me: “I forgot to ask, what subject did you graduate in?”

DS: “I did History and Political Science. If nothing else I would have studied History further, it is the most amazing subject.”

We then go onto discuss Indian History, Mughals, Hitler, Dr. Manmohan Singh and Narendra Modi. I have had such a diverse conversation with very few people. 

We have reached outside my house. We talk for 5-10 more minutes, I show him interesting online educational resources he can use. I give him my number, we shake hands and part ways. He is going to add me on Facebook.

I walk away. Awestruck, humbled and inspired.

PS: More facts about Davinder:

  1. He owns a 2 bedroom apartment in Delhi.
  2. He owns the car. We will be completing the loan repayment in a year. After which he plans to buy another car and hire a driver for the old one.
  3. He has life insurance, medical insurance and is car/home insured.
  4. His father does not work any more, his farm is on rent and Davinder also supports him financially.
  5. He is a passionate and ambitious Indian. 
  6. He believes in his children. 
  7. This nation needs more citizens, fathers and husbands like him. 

Do you know more Davinders? Do share their stories.