Having hit a fifty and feeling not too old, I have to go on. Taking resolutions to cast away vices seem to be the in-thing with youngsters. But, resolutions do not seem my cup of tea.
I was born a vegetarian and I dazzled with non-vegetarianism in my early youth. Later, I found it abominable enough and turned myself into a lacto-vegetarian.
The renowned writer, Kamala Das once wrote: “We cut the dead body of an animal, keep it in the freezer and take it out to eat when we are hungry. A piece of the dead body is again cut, and minced with spices we fry it and eat and again the rest of the cadaver goes back to the freezer”. This action is repeated like Ksheerabala (a fortified Ayurvedic medicine) and after filling our stomach with all these toxins we claim ourselves to be refined and want to be seated on a higher platform in the ladder of evolution.
Buddha taught that we don’t have the right to take away a life when we cannot give one. In a civil society, the call for the ban of capital punishment seems to stem from this principle.
These thoughts were enough to keep me completely away from eating non vegetarian food whatsoever. My wife Sindhu of course was an influencing presence.
In Malawi, in Southern Africa, where I worked for a couple of years, people seemed quite unaware of the practice of vegetarianism. The Director General of Television Malawi, who happened to be a friend, once asked me to give a talk on the subject of vegetarianism for the benefit of the viewers. In a country where fried insects are a delicacy, vegetarianism indeed is a casualty.
Returning home in Malawi on an evening after the first showers of the season, I was amused to find my cook, gardener and the security guard busy catching the flies. I thought that it was a good teamwork ensured by them to keep me away from the disturbance of the flies. But, the real reason lay elsewhere. They were after the exotic food which they used to make by frying these flies!
While in Malawi, I used to enjoy, a round of golf, my pint of beer (Outside Denmark, Carlsberg has its only factory in Malawi) and my Dunhill cigarettes. The climate in Malawi was always good for all these indulgences. In 2005, I had to leave the country rather in a hurry and off went my habits, save the beer.
Though I don’t smoke these days, as my young scientist brother says, it is a relaxing thought to have a good fag after a hearty meal.
I have not left my occasional ‘spirits’’ as these are often the instruments to break the ice in business meetings. I hope, my esteemed friend Shankar Reddy who is a teetotaler and an exemplary human being and who heads the State Beverages Corporation in Kerala , will permit this occasional indulgence though with a pinch of salt because it is his official duty to increase the business volumes.
That brings to me to the remaining vices if any I have to leave behind for the New Year. I don’t think I have any serious issues here except for my simple behavioural problems like restlessness, hurried responses and the occasional irritability.
As a simple person with malice towards none and charity for all my prayers are for all my dear ones, friends, colleagues, relatives and the world at large.
“O, God! Bestow on you the Best Treasures,
The Efficient Mind and the Spiritual Luster,
The Increase of Wealth, the Health of Bodies,
The Sweetness of Speech and the Fairness of Days” – Rig-Veda
Dubai, 30th December 2007.