Shuntoo…STAREcases

It is not normal, I tell you, not one bit. You step out of your house, and all you see around you are starecases. No, I did not spell that wrong, that’s what you see, STAREcases. Whether you are on foot or in your car, you notice so many people staring at you that it is enough to give you the creeps. At first I thought that it was just me, and I learned to live with it. I thought that a six and a half foot beauty on a wheelchair must be worth a stare or two, so why not enjoy it. But this is the pseudo-philosophical comment I got when I mentioned it to Shuntoo.

“Ha! You wish bachhay. It is not your beauty or attraction; we are a nation of starers. We love to stare. We stare at everyone, man or woman, pretty or ugly, interesting or boring, everyone. We stare with the most moronic expressions on our faces and a look in our eyes that shows that we have absolutely no purpose, in the staring, or in our lives. We just have too much time, nothing to do. When we are in public we stare, when we are in private we complain. But no matter where we are, we just cannot do anything that means anything. No thinking, no action, no innovation, no nothing. We just stare in the hope of seeing something unusual that we can concoct into an interesting story to gain some cheap popularity and silly leverage among our peers who are just as farigh as we are. We just cannot mind our own business, because we appear to lack both, a mind and a business.”

Pseudo-philosophical, but…….I wonder.

Shuntoo on Optimism

Like almost all other concepts, we don’t seem to understand optimism at all. Optimism does not mean that you completely ignore the negative side of things; such an attitude would be denial. You’ll be much better off understanding both the positives and the negatives of a situation and then analyzing it to find the best way forward. People who try to convince themselves there is nothing evil or wrong with the world are likely to keep trying or go crazy. Let me tell you a story bacchay! There was a man who always looked at the bright side of things, even though this habit gave him frequent headaches, he did not give up. He believed that such an approach somehow made him a better person. Gradually, he went a step further and started choosing the brightest side out of the many bright sides. Eventually……..he went blind. But he looked at the bright side of that too. At least he did not have to look at bright sides anymore.

Shuntoo..random conversation

Here’s a small part of a conversation I had with Shuntoo the other day. I don’t feel I have the energy to write the full conversation, but I just have to share a part of it.

Me: If you are hungry, I have a delicious cake in my fridge.

Shuntoo: And what if I am not hungry?

M: Well, then don’t eat it.

S: But would you still have the cake in your fridge?

M: Of course, what kind of a silly question is that?

S: Well, you said that IF I am hungry, you have a delicious cake in your fridge. I think that logically means that if I am not hungry, you don’t have it.

I felt like throwing the cake at his face. But he went on to explain why I, and not he, was being silly. And as I said earlier, I don’t feel I have the energy to write the whole conversation.

Shuntoo on Greatness

“People might not realize this for a long long time, but I see you as one of the great philosophers of our time,” said the fan.

The fan was a guy who was meeting Shuntoo for the second time and was an ardent reader of my blogs about him. In the process, he had fallen in love with Shuntoo and his way of looking at things.

I couldn’t help smiling at his comment and became interested in what Shuntoo had to say about it. The son of a bitch responded in his customary irritating fashion, and scoffed. He scoffed, without even taking his eyes off the book he was looking at.

Undeterred by Shuntoo’s reaction, or the lack of it, the fan persisted. “No sir, I mean it. Your brain is an amazing piece of work and you certainly possess one the greatest minds produced by this country.” Shuntoo gave a little “huh!” and seemed to ignore him.

“Shuntoo! Don’t be so arrogant. At least thank the guy for such a huge compliment.” I said, feeling an obligation to make Shuntoo act decently.

When Shuntoo closed the book and lit a Marlboro, I knew we were in trouble. The fan, however, looked at him expectantly, no doubt sensing another philosophical treatise.

“Why thank you kid!” Shuntoo said, “Thank you for showing me that you are no different from the rest of the pathetic lot around.”

“What?” I exclaimed. “You can’t be serious Shuntoo.”

“On the contrary, bachhay, I am as serious as I always am. You have become a pathetic bunch of people. So desperate for greatness that you want to imagine it into mere mortals who are mostly as pathetic as you are. You have spent all your lives waiting for great people and messiahs to put you out of all your self-created troubles and now instead of realizing your folly, you try to forcibly make people great by calling them so.”

“Shuntoo, I….” I tried to intervene but to no avail.

“You see a Maulana claiming to receive messages from the heavens to rid you of your troubles and you begin to follow him like a herd of cattle. You see a judge take a so-called stand and you ignore everything else and take to the streets imagining yourself to be fighting for a messiah. You see a novice politician make promises to large gatherings in jalsa-cum-concerts and you throng to vote for him without taking a moment to realize his weaknesses and the slimness of any possibility that he could fulfill his promises. And I don’t even want to get started on how our history books exaggerate the achievements of anyone that we want to prove great.”

“What’s wrong with that? You…..” the bastard didn’t let me finish, as usual.

“Everything is wrong with that. You look at all these people who you have decided are great with so much admiration and end up believing that these greats are from another world, that they are something else. You need to stop this nonsense and start using your minds. Stop waiting for greatness to descend from other places, find it in yourself.”

The fan looked extremely impressed by this ‘philosophy’. “That is a great ……” was all he could say.

“You are hopeless kid,” Shuntoo continued. “This is nothing great. I am nothing great. And if I had any illusion that I was, it would have vanished after hearing you say it. Will you people never start living and thinking and working? Will you always wait for greatness, create artificial greats and thrust greatness upon idiot.”

“Wow!” the fan said.

“Hopeless!” Shuntoo said opening his book again, “Just hopeless.”

I couldn’t help smiling.

Shuntoo on Knowledge

“I know.” I said.

“That’s an arrogant statement bacchay! I think you people either have a really high opinion of yourselves or you don’t know what knowledge means.” Shuntoo said.

“Enlighten me then, O Master!” I said sarcastically. “Please define the concept for me.”

“Not my job. That is not a very difficult task. Find out the meaning of words you so conveniently use. Or are you too lethargic for that?”

“But at least give me a clue.” I persisted.

“Well, I will say this much for your benefit. Knowledge is a fact that is true and you believe it to be true and your belief is not based on what you heard on Geo, Dunya or some other channel and your belief will not change even if somebody posts on facebook that it is wrong.” He said and before I could reply, he got up, lit a cigarette and left.

Shuntoo on doing enough in our lives

“We want the consolation that we are doing enough with our lives. And since we know damn well that we are not doing even close to anything that can be mistaken by a blind man to be enough, we want others to reassure us. We want to exaggerate every hardship, anything that remotely resembles a difficulty when viewed from the most pessimistic angle possible. We want to go on and on about how the world is unfair to us. What a crappy thing to say, as if the world or nature or God owes us anything at all. As if we deserved a single thing we actually got.”

“And by proving that we have been dealt a bad hand, we want our audience to tell us that under the conditions that we live in, our mere existence is enough. That whatever shit we are doing in the world is an act of supreme courage. That we are heroes, we do not need to do anything else. Donkeys! If you can’t get off your asses, if you can’t face the world for whatever little stupid reason, at least admit that you are not great and live happily. If we are too meek to attempt greatness, why can’t we find solace in our meekness? Why insist that for us the rules change, and meekness become greatness?”

“And then to be pathetic enough to feel that if a few other people assure us of this, the thing will be final. Vying for second hand greatness through weak and crying arguments. What can be more miserable, man!”

Okay, maybe some people are like what you said. But, instead of ignoring them, shouldn’t you listen and help them. And what if some of them are actually in trouble and not ……….” he cut me short in the middle of my sentence.

“I am not here to help or teach. Those who want to learn find teachers. And what you always forget is …… I don’t give a damn about other people.”~Shuntoo

Shuntoo’s encounter with Tableeghi Jamaat

A couple of months ago, some members of the Tableeghi Jamaat found Shuntoo walking on a street and decided, may God bless them, to try and put some hidayat into him, but they surely got a taste of what jihad actually means.

Here is a part of the conversation between the head of the Jamaat and my dear obnoxious Shuntoo.

Head: Son can we talk to you for a minute?

Shuntoo: I don’t believe I am your son, sir. And I am even surer of the fact that if I say yes, you’ll talk for much more than a minute. You seem like a nice man, why lie twice in such a small sentence, less than ten words. Doesn’t it bother you?

H (taken aback): I am sorry. Mister, can I talk to you for a while?

S: Sure. How can I help you?

H: Our success lies in following the path of God. That is our aim in this life.

S: Sorry, but why are you telling me your aim in life. What makes you think I’ll be interested in knowing?

H: By our, I meant yours and ours. It is your aim too.

S (smiling): And what makes you think you know what my aim is? You hardly know me.

H (a little irritated): Don’t make fun of religion, son! God has said that that is the aim of all humans.

S: So God talks to you? Wow!

H (very irritated now): Do you even believe in God, son?

S (smiling even more): Okay, for the last time, I am not your son, sir. Anyway, what is God? Tell me and I can respond to your question.

H: God created the universe and all of us.

S: I didn’t ask what He did and did not do. I asked who He was.

H: He is the Sustainer of all the worlds, son! The Ever Living.

S: You’re still telling me what He does, Dad! At least have an idea who you are asking people to believe in.

H(extremely annoyed now): Forget it. I just wanted to invite you to the Mosque for evening prayers. We’ll have a talk on how to get to the straight path.

S: Straight path to where?

H: To Jannah.

S: You mean you have found that path. A path on which, all the different sects can agree. Hurray!

H: I don’t care about all sects. We talk about fundamentals of Islam and try to convince brothers like you to join us in spreading the message.

S: So you’re a fundamentalist then?

H: NO!

S: Strange! Anyway, why would you want me to spread the message when I don’t know the message myself?

H: You’ll learn too.

S: So I’ll learn the message and even before I have learnt, I’ll be spreading it. Ok I get it. I’ll be roaming around with you, convincing my brothers to join us in spreading the message.

H: Absolutely.

S: So what is your target? You felt that the Muslims had strayed from the path. So you decided to gather all the strayed Muslims and ask them to guide the other strayed Muslims. Wonderful! And do you aim to achieve a state of affairs where all the Muslims of the world are spreading the message and hardly any of them knows the message. Sounds twisted to me!

H: May Allah guide you son! You are under the influence of the Devil.

S: Some cool strategy for guiding me huh? If I don’t agree in five minutes, start giving pathetic excuses. Ok I have a few questions. Answer and I’ll come to the evening prayers. One, why do we end our fast with the Maghrib prayers when the Quran clearly asks us to fast till night?

H: Stop. Allah save the world from people like you. You misguide people from the Quran.

S: So no point in convincing me to join you, right?

H: Bye son! May Allah bless you.

S: Amen! And you too, Dad!

When Shuntoo told me about this incident, I was shocked. I had always thought he had a religious bone in him and when I asked him why he was so opposed to tableegh, he simply said,

“Opposed? Not at all, they are really sincere people. I just wish they spent some energy in learning what they want to propagate. But, they are great people, God must like them. Such simple beliefs.”

And then he started laughing.

Shuntoo on ‘Black Friday sale’ vs. feeding the hungry

“The money spent on this Black Friday weekend could feed all the hungry children in the world.” I read

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” Shuntoo looked up from his magazine and asked.

“Nothing,” I explained. “Just reading a fact a friend posted on facebook. But if it is true, it is tragic isn’t it?” I knew I was stepping into dangerous territory but sometimes one feels like taking risks. Uttering such words in Shuntoo’s presence is bound to get you some adventure.

“Yes, it is tragic.” Shuntoo said with a smile. And I was taken aback. Had he agreed with me? More importantly, had he agreed with a facebook status? If that was true, this was a historic occasion.

“Really, you think so?” I had to make sure.

“Of course, it is. And at so many levels.”

“Will you explain?” I had to……..had to be sure

“Only because you ask. It is tragic that someone has posted this as a status for all the world to read without any knowledge of how many hungry children there are in the world, or how much exactly was spent on this Black Friday or what exact amount of money is needed to feed all those children. I mean, educated people saying such things is tragic.”

“How do you know? Maybe he knows the exact…….”

“Even if he does,” he didn’t let me complete, as usual, “and that is one of the biggest Ifs I have ever known, it is still tragic that he has either not realized, or chosen to ignore the fact that whereas one can easily spend money on Black Friday, there are a lot of complications if you decide to feed all the hungry children of the world. It is tragic that he was probably thinking about giving just one meal to all those children from this money, a huge task with all the logistics and stuff required; stuff that would cost many times more than the food.”

“Hmmmmm! But…..”

“And what about after that. Feeding all the children once and then letting them go hungry again…..till the next Black Friday?”

“I am sure he meant….” I couldn’t finish again
“He meant to write something that would generate responses like Ohhhhh and Ahhhhh and how sad and how terrible we are. Response from people who would then sign out and go have a dinner that costs thousands of rupees while hungry children roam outside their homes. It is tragic that we use such comments to enjoy the likes and responses. Whatever you do with your money or time, bacchay, there will always be someone telling you there was a better use for it. And they would be right. The time I have spent talking to you here could have been spent reading, or researching, or even praying. Does that mean that I should stop talking to you?”

“So, you think we should…..”

“I think if we are so concerned about the hungry children of the world, we should form an organization to help them or join one of the many organizations that already exist. Then we spend our time and money on it. We ask people for donations. And I am sure they will give, maybe even more than what they spent on Black Friday.”

“But……”

“That’s enough bacchay. At least one hungry child could have been fed in the time we wasted here, or the time people spent putting up crap on facebook or commenting on it or discussing it.”
I wonder

Shuntoo on Indifference

“We have to put an end to this indifferent attitude. This attitude of indifference towards the actual problems within ourselves. This habit of making embarrassingly silly attempts to pose as great supporters of a revolution to change the circumstances for the better. This ignorance of ignorance. This attitude of denial. Denial to accept that we that we don’t know crap about what our current situation is or what exactly is meant by change for the better. We have to stop repeating ideas we heard or read somewhere without comprehending anything about them. We have to stop trying to impress morons even when we are succeeding. We have to improve ourselves. We have to realize that it is only ourselves that are in our control and what we do with ourselves is the clearest indication of how well we are equipped to bring about a change in whatever we will control. Yes sir, we have to change our mindsets.”~Shuntoo

Shuntoo on Self-esteem

“Meaning that I do not have self-esteem issues and I do not enjoy a false sense of social acceptance if I get a lot a ‘likes’ on my statuses, pictures or comments. Meaning that I do not fulfill my needs of love and belonging from the number of pictures or posts that I am tagged in. Meaning that I do not want to see how happy and smoochie couples are in the illusion of their relationship that they have created on this site. Meaning that I am not a big fan of viewing others’ profiles to see what is going on in their lives, especially when those profiles don’t actually give that information anyway but are instead filled with either an exaggeration of how good a time they are having in an effort to make others envious or an exaggeration of how miserable their lives are in an effort to get sympathies. You don’t have to justify yourself. I have nothing against you having fun on facebook. Of course you have some issues that need solutions from social networking sites. And obviously you are not put off by all the hearts and muuaaahs and awwwws and fake concerns etc. You also might have a thing for all the fake quotes and sayings of prophets that end up impressing people despite being misquoted.”~Shuntoo