Random musings…
The ones that got written down.

what does it mean to be truly free?!

We were recently in Georgia, for the summer vacations. One thing that hit me the moment we landed at the airport was the smell of cigarette smoke in the air. That stayed for the duration of the stay. Everyone smokes, freely and without guilt. The second thing I noticed driving through the city from the airport and then all through our stay in the country, multiple cities, was dogs. The country is overrun by dogs. All dogs on the street that are not pets have yellow colored tabs on their ears signifying that they are vaccinated and safe. The dogs and smokers are everywhere. In fact we were at the famous fish market at Batumi and a family comes in to sit on the table next to ours, three dogs, a lab and two chihuahuas. You’d think that all that smell of salmon, squid, crab, murrel, prawns being grilled in the open would set these off on zoomies all over the place and drive them absolutely nuts. Nope, even the servers were unmindful of the presence of dogs. The owners on the other hand were busy smoking away to glory.

On the drive back from Batumi I asked our guide “how is it that people smoke so freely over here”. I needed to communicate complex stuff via google translate due to the language gap so it took me some time to get the question through to him… besides he was driving (oh yes that was another confusing thing… so in Georgia you need to drive on the right side of the road, so you’d think that the cars would have the steering on the left side… nope it’s a mix… as Giorji said in his typical lilt feeftee-feeftee… some cars have the steering on the left and some on the right… and no one washes their cars every single day)… Anyway back to the smoking question I asked Giorji how can people smoke with such impunity even at the airport, the ministry of defense, restaurants, streets etc. etc.? Once the question got translated (remember we’re driving so it takes time to speak into the phone, translate, read back the translation, think with non driving part of brain and respond…)…. almost instantly he replies “In Goergia we have democraati! People are free to live the way they want to live”… Just that one statement.

Smoking kills, but so does driving or even staying around a populated area, having a home in an area with an average PM2.5 AQI value of 150(yes Gachibowli), or just living long enough as well (life is a terminal disease and nobody got out alive). There was a time not too long back when it was okay to smoke on airplanes. I wonder why we all collectively became so woke that we stopped smoking only to replace it with smoking sitting at home, offices, cars, trains everywhere essentially. At the risk of sounding like an advocate for smoking let me say, leave the smokers alone… for all we know the guy lighting up next to you could be working out the next theory of relativity equations or imagining the story for the next pather panchali (yeah both Einstien and Satyajit Ray were chain smokers). As for the passive smoke, here you can make a noise so you make a noise however if you are in an area, any area even your own house, with average AQI (PM2.5) 151(which is the case with Gachibowli in general) you are anyway smoking the equivalent of 2.5 cigarettes a day!

Then onto the topic of dogs, Till 20 days back I used to be the person who used to think “how can a dog parent walk the dog in the filth outside the society and then let him run around freely with those dirty paws all over the house”… now, thanks to our elder daughter we have a dog in the house. Like all teenage daughters she had no clue about the amount of work required to do anything worthwhile just that she wanted it done regardless. So now the task of making sure that the poor 3 month old has had his walk, pooped, has had his poop picked up and disposed off, had his breakfast and been generally exercised a fair bit before madam even wakes up is all mine… I don’t mind it because as it is I’ve raised two kids and I can do it all all over again for this adopted mutt as well. However the important part to understand is that dogs are not feral beasts and cleaning their paws after a walk is just a matter of using a fancy device, or just holding them down under a running tap and washing the paws, also giving them a bath as and when required… just like you do for your kids. They don’t bite once you’ve trained them, they do bark which can scare a few people but then so can honking cars and the barking is usually a response to stimuli. If people around them are feeling hostile towards them, dogs pick that up, and start howling… much like kids… so whatever you do never feel irritated about a dog in your personal space. They do poop and pee but then usually their human does the cleaning up and mostly it is outside by the side of the streets where it turns to nitrogen rich compost unlike the bottles of coke you throw all over the place that turns to poison for you and yours… besides did you know the cooks knead the dough for your bread that you eat so zestily with their bare feet all over the place (have personally seen it happen at multiple local station at Mumbai ngl it is not a wholesome sight)… so yeah tune up your sensibilities, hygiene isn’t what you think it is…

Anyway message to all, we are the worlds largest democrati we can choose to live and let live. People when treated with respect and confidence, when you treat adults as adults they take grown up decisions. They stop at the stop line if you explain to them that pedestrians need to be given right of way, they smoke at a bus bay after the school buses have left and there are no children around. They walk the dogs not on the benches and sit-outs meant for people to sit upon but on the streets and they pick up/dispose of of the poop that the dog leaves in case an accident does happen. Treat people like adults understand they will not do anything just to spite you because tomorrow they too would need to bring their grand-kids to the same bus-bay and smokers smoking up the place would be an unsavory sight (not unhealthy because the poor kid is anyway smoking 2.5 ciggis a day given AQI levels thanks to the greed of builders and profit hungry IT coolies turned “investors”)… similarly dog walkers wont specifically make the dog poop at the busbay or refuse to clean up after the dog has an accident because lets face it first off it does not work that way, dogs do not poop on command (much as you wish they would) and besides who wants to be seen as the guy holding the leash on a pooping kid/dog… I mean that association is hard to shake off (oh yeh woh uncle hai he was, sorry his dog was, pooping at the bus bay when we were going to school… ughhh no)…

Tolerance, specially for something you are not comfortable with, goes a long way in shaping your stress posture. How you process external factors and how you react to them determines how you feel in life in general. A person who is always irritated about what the other person is doing is, in general, always irritated. So yes be more “democratic” improve our rankings on the happiness index… Georgia is 109 we in India are 126. Make a small start by being more tolerant of the other by repeating this mantra 24×7 “you, do you”.

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