Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Certain moral, ethical and natural-gas related dilemmas...

Dearest Readers and other people who often flame this blog,

Yesterday I was travelling between Parel and Andheri, running from one prospective employer appointment to the other in a cab. The traffic was average to bad and I sat back and began to ponder many thoughts. Amidst the trip the cab-wallah stopped at a CNG pump to top up his car. The rain, which arrived briefly and then departed not unlike Mohammad Kaif, remained merely an intermittent dark streak on the smoking roads.

So here are some moral dilemmas (dilemmae?) that river-danced in my head for several intriguing moments.

Dilemma Number One: Is there, at a very basic level, any difference between a religious zealot who is prepared to kill and die for his religion and a member of the armed forces? Both have picked up causes they were born into with little choice. (You normally don't choose your country and also accept the religion you were born into. Both with little question.)

Both possibly consider their respective causes essential to their safe existence. (And in several places in this country people of a religion stay together because the law simply cannot protect them.) They follow orders blindly even if they know they are protecting or fighting for a country/religion which may be committing moral/humanitarian evils. (Nazi soldiers for instance. But one must still obey if one is a soldier.)

So then why is one portrayed so heroically while the other is a heinous criminal?

Dilemma Number Two: Why are there so many anonymous commenters who leave single-line terse messages that are invariably critical. For example: "You are a stupid blogger". "This blog sucks." "Why don' t you put your d!@# in a mad dog's mouth and hope he does a favour to you." and of course the all too common comment: "You are a North Indian bigot who is trying to slander South Indians and get away with it."

These are actual examples of correspondence I have shared with diligent feedback-givers out there. Why would they do something like that? What actually runs through their minds when they do this?

Is this online graffiti? If you are an anonymous "mad dog sex life advocate" please enlighten me.

Dilemma Number Three: Why do they make passengers step out of the cab when they are filling it with CNG at one of those pumps? Is it because the car might, in a sudden fit of gassy emotion, blow up? This makes little sense as, after getting out, I am still standing very very near the bloody death machine. I would be indistinguishable from the upholstery, Pierre Balmain brass fittings and electric blue tube light shards if something were to happen.

Or is it because a load in the back could tilt the taxi ever so slightly so that it does not fill up properly? But then this means our taxi cabs are perfectly suspended on springs otherwise. To which I would say: HAHAHAHA.

So then why? I need to know this.

Dilemma Number Four: Does that guy called Pirlo who plays for Italy looks surprisingly like that Razak Khan fellow? He is the actor from Kya Kool Hai Hum. Yes the tailor fellow. (Admit it. You laughed.) I once saw Razak Khan at that Mocha on Hill Road. He was wearing a pair of woollen pyjamas and dragging on a hookah. This was sometime in May.

This dilemma, you will admit, was much shallower than the other ones. But it did intrigue me.

Four dilemmas will do for now.

In other news this blog is undergoing a little bit of housekeeping. You will notice three new categories of links on the right side. The first one called "Links" (duh) leads you off to interesting places with many nice things to read. The second called "Must Reads" are interesting articles of lasting significance you might want to peruse. The third one is "Recently Noted". This is a dynamic list of things I have been reading recently and found worth a reco.

And finally there is "Miscellaneous FatCat". A collection of non-blog yet online writing from yours truly. Me.

Also I have ported all my 'Bloglet' email subscribers to 'Feedblitz'. Excuse the hassles of confirmation emails. But FB is muchos better and more stable. There is also a slightly more comprehensive means to get the XML feed for this blog right at the bottom of the sidebar. Subscribe with glee I always say.

And to close proceedings a little exercise for all of you who have read my dilemmas and are fascinated by them and want to do something more dilemma-related. Say the words "D'mello's Dilemmas" very fast repeatedly for several minutes. Do this in your office loudly while standing up. Spread the joy.

Adios people. And yes I need enlightenment on all those issues. Comment away!


satyajit said...

Yes there are differences between a religious zealot and a soldier. For one, a soldier knows who he's fighting against while a zealot doesn't know where his next enemy is going to come from.

And i dont agree that both were born into these causes with very little choices. By solely our birth we do not become soldiers of a country just as practising a religion doesnt make one a zealot.

The safety you're talking is way more complicated and different to be talked about in the same vein. A soldier never fights because he fights imminent danger to his existence while zealots do have this need to carve out a space for themselves in society. But even this barely explains why zealots of a majority community are insecure and liable to acts of violence.

Members of both groups, though, consider orders sacrosanct. Perhaps they've been indoctrinated against questioning orders. Its the rule of their business.

The motives behind their actions are vastly different and so is the nature of their actions. The comparison doesnt hold much weight.

alex said...

Would I enjoy my dinner, if I had someone sitting on my stomach...?

Perhaps, this not so intelligent question, can throw some light on the CNG dilemma.

Clearly the driver cares abt his baby.

AJITH said...

this comparison between a religious zealot and army man brings my memory back to a quote about second world war.. "Hitler killed people in the name of race.Stalin killed people in the name of political philosophy.In the end,both were genocides.And world was forced to choose one among the evils -- and humanity was lost" ..Can't quite give a strong counter argument at at this point to the zealot vs armyman question , though i feel an answer is there.

Nikhil said...

I think at a higher level a zealot is the same as a soldier. I also think that at a certain level, religion and country are equivlent. In most cases you are born into them, and brainwashed subconsciously into believing in them.

And I think given the fact that world is shrinking at an exponential rate, we could very well do away with these two concepts. Sorry for the shameless plug, but I have a post on my blog about this:

wolverine said...

i don wanna go into tht stupid arguement... u knew very well tht u were puttin fart wen u wrote it in the first place...
anyways do keep bloggin man... at least 2 blogs per day!!...ure blog simply rocks..

wolverine said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
wolverine said...

hmm.. actually u hav made me think man... there r some siilarities between a zealot and a soldier!!!...

but i maybe able to answer why one is celebrated and the other is not... while a zealot is fighting in the name of an ideology, a soldier fights for the safety of his country men.... though both r pretty much forced to do wat they r doin, the reasons why they do it differ.... guess thts the reason...

shashwat said...

I guess the greatest difference, ideologically, is this:

A soldier fights other soldiers from another nation/cause. He fights armed combatants (hence the ancient idea of not attacking an unarmed opponent) on what is a fairly level playing field, if one can call it that. Hence, the ideas of valour, honour and respect are readily associated with his cause.

On the other hand a religious zealot fights a society, either his own or another, either of which threaten him. His enemies are helpless, unarmed, and unaware. His means are normally "terrorism" (much abused and bandied about) simply means spreading terror, incitement of riots, issuances of murder orders, and the like. Understandably condemned.

Ofcourse, that difference is idealogical. In the world today, the lines are blurred. The Marines massacre women and children in Iraq and certainly there are 'zealots' that do not advocate terrorism.


Bharat Jhurani said...

Dude.. thts the beauty of life... Its so complicatde... V just mess around wid lesser things...
BTW, whts this CNG thing?? Is the bus actually emptied b4 refillin??...

Dreamer said...


A member of the armed forces uses force only when whatever he is protecting is faced with mortal/physical danger. A soldier doesn't gun you down because you hurt his patriotic sentiments,or when you bad mouth his country, or when you maintain relations with a country he is at war with. Yet you see a religious zealot take down lives,even when there is a threat to his beliefs and principles. The difference is in the tangibility of what their causes are- protecting human lives or protecting religious principles.

For that matter what is the difference between a patriot and a religious fanatic? Why does a man who gets incensed by insults to his nation seem more reasonable than a man who gets incensed by insults to his religion? What is wrong with a man who feels attachment to his religion just as another who feels attachment to his nation?

Ghost Particle said...

You are a North Indian bigot who is trying to slander South Indians and get away with it!!! Damn...i must remove u from list immediatly! HAHAHAHHAHAHA....

(1) The soldier thing has no answer.

(2) Mad commenters are attracted to good blogs because they cant create a blog with good readership. Tuff world.

(3) The car can actually burn! Ofcourse turning of the engine is a good thing before filling petrol. While the station doesnt blow up coz the new pumps has somekind of no-return valve, the passengers can become BBQ.

(4) Im a south indian who isnt born in india who doesnt watch Hindi movies because I hate them bollywood dudes. And Italy sucks.

and...(5) How much do I need to pay to get into ur link list?

Amit Pandey said...

Vow !! You certainly succeeded in doing a Cyrus Broacha on Existentialism.

Epiphany said...

1) Suketu Mehta's Maximum city has a section of the author's conversations with some Hitmen and Encounter specialist...Instead of us rationalizing it their point of view will be more interesting.

2) M not anony so can't help you there, but a post consisting of these comments would be interesting

3) and 4) Well out side off stump...left alone :)

5) Same as ghost particles :)

Indian said...

Its kind of sad to see the comparison of a soldier to a zealot. Let us compare their actions. A zealot blows himself up in a temple. A zealot blows himself up in a crowded marketplace. Remember both these places are filled with unarmed, innocent people.
Does a soldier do that? Does a soldier fight when there is no war? Does our army go and kill citizens of another country, merely because they are citizens of another country (Which is why the zealot kills you, because you belong to another religion)?

I dont know what you are trying to do. If the dilemma is only to get comments, perhaps fine. But I shudder to think if you really mean that dilemma any more than that.

Last point, what is realisticall, a threat? A soldier of your country or any neighbouring country with whom you are not into a war? Or a zealot who is perhaps sitting right next to you in a bus waiting to blow himself up and you are not into a war with him either?

Laji said...

Indeed a good thought..

Religion is a process or a framework where "good" habits or life style to be inculcated. Being in a country also influence in terms of “culture”, so u belong to a country also. But when we go to moon we are humans, dont forget that. What I want to say is ..its all relative. Nothin is part of self. Religious extremists takes religion as part of self, but soldiers(not all) do not. When soldiers takes country as part of self and fight not for the "self protection" but for the fullfilment self domination, religious extremism and patriotism converges..

Hope I have put across my thoughts in a readable way :-)

Sneha said...

About dilemma no. 1: Religion was meant to be a way with which an individual interacts with God and realizes his/her true self. According to me, there can't be a "prepared to kill and die" situation for religion. Although, now the word religion has a totally new meaning and is just another parameter to divide people. I wonder if spirituality figures anywhere at all. And in today's world there is no difference between the two. Just one thought abt the lack of choice we have abt country and religion. Agreed, we dont have the choice of birth, but we sure have a mind, that can think independently, that can assess situations. If I am born in a given religion, need not necessarily mean that I believe in everything that is synonymous with that religion.

About dilemma no. 2: Dont tell me you didnt know that a large number of people visiting your blog (and other blogs) are usually looking for an little break from boring routine work or are velas like me. Add to it the freedom that anonymity provides and the cheap thrill that one gets from writing nonsense without getting caught.

About dilemma no. 3: I didnt know the cabbies *make* you step out of the cab during the process. Probably coz I volunteer to step out. I am scared of the cab bursting during the refill. Ya ya I know that standing 2 feet away wont make any different, but it does to my psycology. My psycology is foolish and gullible. :)

About dilemma no. 4: I have no clue..

Mahesh said...

The victors write the history. If the zealots win the war repeatedly, a day will come when we they may be eulogized!

Gamma said...

I think the big difference between soldier and zealot is professionalism. The soldier (I hope) fights for money, coz that's his job, and he takes pride in doing it well. God save us from zealots!

The CNG - ah. It's like this. Heating and cooling are unavoidable parts of the compression and decompression of gases (although not necessarily always in that order). When the gas is inflammable, and compression and subsequent decompression is being done, I guess it makes sense to stay away. CNG does not have huge flame speed, so even a short distance away is quite OK. cheers.

usg said...

THE MAD DOG THING was really hilarious!! (no offense but gotta give it to the guy/gal. was pretty original)..

one: You raise a very good point about the two things not being too different. As a third person, not many would agree with this perspective you have given, cause its more of a point one gets due to empathy, which quite frankly modern man is incapable of. Correct or not correct our survival depends on their extermination. So as they say, end of discussion.

two: Peevishness begets the F words.

three: am not sure may be something to do with the smell or noise that comes when the cylinders filling..actually i dont believe yuo didnt actually ask the guy this?? did u or did u not?

four: I hated that movie (and anyone even remotely connected to it). So no clue :(

qwerty said...

It appears that everyone took your Zealot vs Soldier bait, heh heh.

Good luck.

sunnyvijay said...


Dilemma Number One:
At the very basic level we have lot of differences, seems you didnt get the fundamentals,
the religious zealot fights/kills/dies for the beleif/love he has for that religion. But the
Armed forces person is not doing the same for his belief/love for arms or ammunitions.

Dilemma Number Two:
By protecting their identify, they are avoiding any return-gift. hmm, what runs in their
mind ? a happy feeling that they wont get anything in return.

Dilemma Number Three:
Why step out ?? If required run baby run.

Dilemma Number Four:
Dont know

Anonymous said...

You are a stupid blogger
hee hee

Anonymous said...

well its something on the lines that in every yug there would be a RAM and a RAVAN.
so considering the very-so-comfortable inevtitability I am forced to conclude that a soldier is RAM and a religious zealot is RAVAN.

CNG is nothing but Compressed - Nude - Gas... hence only its keeper is legally allowed to witness the filling .. while an outsider is prohibited from the heavenly pleasures.. its pervert and its against indian laws.

am done now.


Anonymous said...

hello brotheren,
i have been reading all ur blogs avidly for quite some time now. but somehow, never felt the urge to comment. u r a class in urself.

These dilemmas did make me laugh,ponder.. and yes, post a comment.

here a a few of mine:
"if i kill my clone, will be murder of suicide?"

"if a sardar kid was acientaly transferred out of his pram when he was in hospital, would he still crack sardar jokes?"

your writing is like a samurai practising his moves man... smooth!

Sunil Krishnan

Shah Navas said...

Sidin is Great as ever....

Jo said...

It leaves me surprised tht so many people read ur blog and leave rational!!! looks like u pretty famous in the bloggers community..and abt the confused...they so trivial tht i have never quiet thought abt them.
Nice work...

dazedandconfused said...

what do you mean, meeting prospective employers? No more of a freelancer life already?

Yours Truly said...

Are these 4 delimmas going to be your 4 noble truths?...who knows if you're on your path to Nirvana already :)

Rish G said...

A religious zealot is misled into believing that anyone that does not follow his ideals is a heathen, hence an enemy and has to be killed. Zealots are pro-active; they ATTACK in the name of religion/beliefs.
Soldiers on the other hand DEFEND when attacked. I think that is the primary difference. Soldiers of this era dont go about attacking different regions/nations trying to impose their rule. Zealots do.

Anonymous said...

you are a lemon head blogger without the juice...hehehehehe

Anonymous said...

Talking about lookalikes... Pirlo is not the only one.. check this:

Saurabh said...

The soldier is fighting other soliders. Almost always. or atleast that is what a soldier is supposed to do.
He is fighting the enemy.
Shias and Sunnis, harming each other and any other civilian in a market or a queue is slightly strange to be explained, don't you think?

Jinguchakka said...

A Dilemma is one where you have two options and both of them are bad.
Your questions/paradoxes/ironies can't be called dilemmas. Can they?

Anupam Mathur said...

Excellent post! In many ways, I do agree that country and religion are much the same - and that is in line with what we observe in the real world as well! Amazing funda! gets us closer to one world theory.

CNG, well, I have no clue - will google and see if I can find something on that.

Shankar Iyer said...

I have empathy with ur dilemma no 2, I had a comment on my blog(without name) of course....slandering my views....What goes thru their mind is a question?...I had indeed a bog comment!!

JuiceMeUp said...

well dilemma no. 2 sucks, and voila your anonymous guy has again posted that you are a stupid blogger, i wonder why he frequents your blog if he finds you stupid. aint that stupid, anonymous?

Get drunk and all your dilemmas will vanish.


You can disable the anonymous postings, but then again you would be disabling freedom of expression.

Which takes us back to,


Anonymous said...

I think there are differences between a religious fanatic and a soldier. Religion is supposed to keep man in the right path which does not involve killing someone else. A soldier chooses to fight for his country to defend his home against a real threat. What about a religious fanatic? I agree with satyajit in the fact the safety that you were talking about are not of the same origin.
Leaders are born wherever there is a group of people getting together for a certain purpose. Its in interest to the groups involved to be led by someone since chaos would be the result of mob thinking.

I tried to create an account but got tired of trying to make up an account name.


Anonymous said...

Hehe...the other dillemas are a tad commonplace,the Razak Khan one had me perturbed(and yes it did make me smile!).
Nice Blog.Stumbled on somehow.
I'm studying in Rec Trichy and I know your younger bro Sed pretty well.
Blog on!

harry said...

u north indian??that shud have been the most comical allegation u have got..after the tag of the famous mallu blogger how cud anyone call u a beats me !!

Anonymous said...

y did u stop blogging? no posts since looong?

30in2005 said...

I think anonymous bloggers leaving rude comments should be banned. If you to say something rude atleast have teh guts to put your name to it.

But if it weren't for random anon bloggers I would never get any comments as I an am a largely unread blogger - so even the rude ones will just have to do!!!??

Manish said...

Abstract but making sense.

Anonymous said...

dilemma 1 : majority consensus - a sympathetic public opinion makes a soldier out of a zealot

dilemma 2 : bzzzt
dilemma 3 : psssft
dilemma 4 : frrrt

- trivialmonk

Anonymous said...

1. I really dont care! And you have n number of answers to choose from
2.1.1 Anonymous is probably the easiest way of commenting on a blog(I just realised). The blogger and other options have 3 fields to fill in in contrast to anonymous that has just 1.
2.1.2 For some people (like me), it is easier to comment than write a post in their own space - so creating an account is seldom of any use.
2.2.1 Why abuse - as someone said they probably cant write as well as you.
2.2.2 It is easier (again for some people since I belong to this category - i can say) to critise than to appreciate.
And some comments like lemon headed idiot with no juice r super cool and really amusing - not becuase it relates to you but that sentence itself is entertaining. I liked that comment better than you blog.
2.2.3 Posts like cocunut oil and south indian women hair are so trite and they probably provoke abuses.
3. The driver needs to go out and stand in the heat/cold/rain while filling gas - probably he wants the customer too to share some of his pain and he can alwasy give some vague logical reasons for doing so.
4. No clue! So what anyways - i dont think there is any dilemma there!

Anonymous said...

Dont you reply to your comments ? Well not for the 'your blog is rocking' or 'head full of juice' comments but ..

Well - a stupid and completely worthless question I guess... if you dont reply !

Debauchee of Dew said...

Flamed your blog to use your own words and first off it's dilemmas.

Now to tackle them individually (sorry but I had to do it one by one; am anal retentive)

1. There's little diff between the two, which is why the armed forces have just as bad a reputation in certain places (Assam, Kashmir to cite local examples)

2. One-line comments? My philosophy, the shorter the comment the smaller the percentage of grey cells exercised.

3. The cab... hmm... that one foxes me too, but I like alex's explanation

4. About Pirlo and Razak Khan, I haven't seen the latter so I can't tell

Now that I have unburdened myself of my precious two-bit, I can rest in peace.

Oh, before I sign off, a bit of unrelated comment: I really liked your rhymes. A bit like the Amul hoardings, I thought

wacky-weird-woman said...

Loved your column in Hindu about the resume!

Gina said...

Dilemma #1: Yes, there is a difference, but I'm much too brainless after 9pm to discuss...

Dilemma #2: Because they're mindless, and because they can...

...Just wanted to stop in and say hello! I found you via "India Uncut" and really enjoy your stuff. :-)

Madhavan said...

interesting thought, the first and the CNG dilemmae(?)...
Well, a zealot does not necessarily need a provocation to fight, and might harm another person just because he doesnt agree with his ideology (religion.). But a soldier attacks only when provoked (we're considering a soldier guarding a nation, rather than ones interested in conquering another)...

We have LPG pumps in Bangalore, and they never make us stand outside when they fill the auto up, so i am not sure on that one!!..

But i guess u knew the answer to the first one even while u wrote it, and are still pondering the CNG one...
Sorry to be so serious on a blog like this..
U rock!!

unni said...

was gonna comment on zealots and all but i guess its been discussed like crazy .
Hey Pirlo definitely looks like Razak khan man.. (u did make me smile) I also feel Buffon looks like Al Pacino whatsay,...
Guess what the word verification blogger threw the word "suckuu" at me!!!

unni said...

Hi Sidin
A dilemma of my own which could be posted in your blog. Can a person follow a religion and still be an athiest. I was arguing with my brother -in-law who is supposed to be a Buddhist-Athiest about this paradox

anya said...

Are these even dilemmas? Doesnt a dilemma have to involve a (difficult) choice?? (Like whether to do A or B and both choices are equally dis/appealing)

MyNameIsNeo said...

Whatever be the differences or similarities, killing innocent people to prove a point (if there is one?) is simply wrong. And no amount of intellectual crap can justify that.

American Pi said...

They ask you to step out of the car so that you are able to discharge the static electricity that has built up - by grounding it. That way, there is no possibility of a stray spark that can ignite the gasoline fumes.

Manu said...

hi sidin, read your blog once in a while and think you are pretty funny. i think you gained a lot of popularity from your 'cricket greats' post a few months back. i hope you know what i am talking about.
your dilemma one is well addressed by satyajit in the first comment for this post. i think the opinions we have about zealots/soldiers are directly influenced by the organizations that lead them. while zealots are often guided by hardliners who don't normally believe in dialogue. soldiers by definition are guided by decisions made by governments which believe in diplomacy and resort to war as a last option. i might be splitting this into black and white while in reality there might be some grey areas but i suppose you get what i mean.
to some extent it is about the numbers you can garner in your favor: if people who matter think you are right, then you are. but i would like to believe that such decisions, about right and wrong, are made with no ulterior motives in mind (like business prospects).

hope this helps. i hate people who cause you to wonder about #2, don't know why things you describe in #3 are done and #4 is way outside my bandwidth:).

Sayesha said...

Sidin, my two cents on Dilemma #2. Such anonymous commentators are spineless jealous buggers who can't stand the popularity of your blog. There is no real reason than the ones stated in the previous sentence that explains why they do what they do. You should not even bother wasting time on replying to their comments.