Sunday, March 14, 2010

Can I smoke?

Dr R K Rudhran
Smoking is injurious to health- no, I am not issuing the ’statutory warning’, it is a fact. Having learnt of the black swan from Taleb, I am not saying this simply because the statistics declare the morbid association between smoking and ill health; I am merely against the dependence and the myths that every mind propagates to make illusory comforts essential. Smoking is not going to reduce anxiety, nor will it be soothing in depression. It will not spur creativity, and it will never make somebody believe you are superior or stylish- ofcourse it is not a sign of intellectual preoccupation. It is a habit and it is a bad habit in the sense that it is at the most harmful to health and at the least a waste of money. Yet, I wonder if I can smoke now!

I learnt smoking when I was fifteen years old, primarily to show off, and now I cannot show off that I smoke! But smoking is not the issue- I wanted to think aloud about politics that worked on the smoke screen called policy! What good would it do other than giving an impression that i am hallucinating- there are no ears to listen!

India is a strange no-smoking zone now! Many smoke on the roads, some even in hospital compounds, but the elite and the socialite circle do not smoke anymore in pubs and restaurants. They shrug and move to non-descript rooms to inhale and exhale on fellow smokers. In a funny way, the rich and the affordable, who have hitherto not cared to follow many of rules that have been framed (for the country?) by the country, adhere to the non-smoking rule! Five star hotels are strict! It is just the poor and the middle class who still decide to light and puff a cigarette at odd places which are supposed to be non-smoking (not smoke-free) zones! But then, it is again the poor and middle class who think that a vote is going to matter, and they ‘elect’ a government which would ‘look after’ them! In my experience, the government always looks ‘after’ they have voted! By the way, I am just curious to know how many of the manicured nails are going to be smeared with the ink that shows you have voted- it is too late to count the number in the last election, but it is possible to attempt now!

Why am I writing now instead of just taking my charminar and lighting it? Simply because I foresee a scenario when I may walk into one of the Taj hotels (even the one which made the socialites weep more than the socially conscious), and smoke on the table where I had just finished my dinner. times have changed! The man who so zealously advocated the no-smoking ban is no more in the ruling alliance. A shameless spokesperson of a party insults all of us by saying there could be post-poll alliances/agreements/adjustments! If in a rare chance the alumnus of my fraternity makes it to the same ministry again, I have to perhaps still hide my lighter and the cigarette pack? This is what my naïve mind thinks! Since it is the policy of the present government invariably the next one will not care much about it. But then, the son of the third(?) big party in tamilnadu could still retain the portfolio- it does not matter whether the congress or the BJP win. Slowly some rules may get relaxed as some lobbies become lucrative! If one decides to fight against someone who had till a few days ago been a partner-in-whatever, what big deal would it be if he decides to not fight against some public activity which had been his passionate obsession a few months ago?

So, can I smoke in public now? As a law-abiding and duty-conscious citizen I should not- in public, therefore I shall not light a cigarette in a forbidden zone. In the same law-abiding and duty-conscious mode I believe I should vote! Just as how some who make laws would smirk when they see me struggling to resist the urge to light a cigarette in some places, so would they, seeing me stand in a queue (and I had better be early else someone else may appear with ‘my’ identity card)!

My vote is rather inconsequential. The afore mentioned minister did not ask for anybody’s vote last time, nor will he this time. He will be nominated, along with the other such ‘born-with-a-political-spoon’ kids!

I have been one of the many who thought that a token protest, very selfishly not causing any discomfort for me, by way of registering my displeasure at the political choices before me in the election, was enough. I argued with confused poll officers, made them create a temporary page in whatever book they had, and registered my decision to not vote under section 49 (O). In fact, I took pains to check with my friendly journalist Gnani, on what exactly to do on the morning of that election, as he was one of the most vociferous advocates of this form of protest. At the end of the game, one of the many who did not meet ‘my’ criteria for a good candidate, won. There were votes polled for and against. In the past elections, there were also a certain number of votes declared as invalid! But nowhere was there, in the last election, any mention about the number of people who decided to register their protest by refusing to vote for one of the candidates. I felt invalid! I perhaps am!

Now I have another chance! I can again go and torture those poor uninformed poll ‘officers’ and sign a register and walk out with ink on my finger. And then? Somebody is going to win. Some losers and some winners are going to come together to save the country, while I will be wailing in my own little blog!

A friend of mine told me just a couple of weeks back that there was a statement in Quran that those who can do something to the society, and still do not do anything but keep talking, are the worst kind of people. I have not read such a thing in Quran, but even if it is not there in the holy book, it makes sense. So? I decide I should do something.

What do I do? Can I smoke?

Source :
Can I smoke?

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