From a young age I had a natural flair for perception that entailed an intimate understanding of phenomena beyond self-consciousness. Artistic simplifications, such as marrying multiple and totally unrelated colours, made complete sense to me though others found it confusing. Even now, when I paint, if my paintbrush touches a colour I never baulk at using it regardless of its relationship to adjacent colours. Eventually the colour palette looks satisfactory; and albeit that it may seem strange, it appeals.
Similarly, quantum consciousness is an omnivorously transcendent yet simplistic entity. However, to the ordinarywallahs it is like a swaggering revolution, laced with panoramic blandness.
In the England of my childhood – a hard, unforgiving, intolerant, rude, obnoxious society – I chose to wear unshorn hair proudly. Then, upon entering the secondary school system, aged eleven or so, I chose to wear a full adult turban. The turban made me stand out, ofcourse. However, no one ever made a demeaning or derogatory remark that I ever heard regarding my turban, in school or outside of it.
At a personal level, growing up, I greeted some people with humour, and kept others at a distance, since by now my ESP gave me insight into their nasty minds, and so I kept them at arm’s length. Humour and mischief were my natural traits. The combination would get me into trouble, and just as often get me out of many a tight situation.
When I took the first steps in a career that I chose rather than the one chosen for me, I found it irritating to have to wear a suit, boot and tie. The regimented dress felt like being back at school. But what my chosen career environment allowed me to do was to use my intuitive ability against the tax regime, and to suggest appropriate legal vehicles for lowering or mitigating death duty, now called inheritance tax. I was good. I read endlessly, especially the older tax regulations, and I always found an overlooked or forgotten law or rule to resuscitate that would help lower tax liabilities. The joy was not the income I derived from such work, but the intellectual sharpness I engaged to manoeuvre the tax regime in my favour. In fact, I found the taxman (they were all men at that time) very friendly and accommodating, and not in the least overbearing or threatening. They were there to complete a remit given by the government of the day. And they did that very well. I was there to see a way around the government’s latest methods to raid more of one’s income, saving or inheritance.
An accountant’s job is to tell you how much tax you have to pay. A tax planner’s duty is to locate a legal framework to lower the same. They are two very different disciplines. The most telling aspect of my personality was my strict adherence to the fact that tax had to be paid, and that foul means would not be entertained in order to circumvent this. Coupled with this was my ability to see an investment opportunity in the financial or property market. I worked mostly on a limited part-time basis, and only to assist the select few, and increasingly I refused to accept any monetary payment in return. My job satisfaction was derived from being able to find a method to lower tax liability which others from the same discipline were unable to find or hadn’t even considered. Money never motivated me. A sense of accomplishment enthused and sustained me then, as it does to this day.
One day, when I was visiting a colleague to advise his team of financial advisors, his boss invited me for a chat in his office. He offered me a job with a very handsome remuneration package. I asked if he was a practicing Christian and also a stickler for office discipline. His answer to both was affirmative. In response, I suggested that he appoint somebody else since I would have to decline his generous offer. He was dumbfounded and sought an explanation. As a Sikh, I told him, I refuse to wear the insignia confirming my adherence to Christianity and which underscores Jesus Christ of Nazareth as my god-conduit. The man was taken aback, but he composed himself and offered to exempt me from having to wear a tie. I thanked him, before pointing out that office discipline was vital for productivity, and that others would follow my lead and request various laxities and relaxations around the office, which would in turn affect the functioning of the office.
About twenty-five years after this incident, and while I was at a Gujarati curry-café (what the hell is a curry house?) someone called out my name; the face looked familiar. We greeted each other warmly and the man insisted that I meet his family, who were dining at the same place. Gathering his large extended family together, he pointed to me and said, “You know I am always telling you about a very proud Sardarji [Sardarji is the title for a turban-wearing Sikh], with very strong principles, who would not sell out his faith for any amount of money? Well, this is that gentleman.” Duly impressed, the family returned to their seats, and I turned to ask what on earth was he on about. The man reminded me about the job offer that had been made me all those years ago, recounted to me my reasons for turning it down, and relayed to me how impressed the company’s entire staff – of whom he was one – had been with my integrity for not selling out my strong beliefs in return for a very handsome financial package. “As a matter of interest, how much does that position pay now?” I enquired. “With someone of your ability, well over a six figure sum plus bonuses”. “Wow”, I thought to myself, “I turned it down, I must have been mad.” Yet, the reality is that even today I would refuse to accept that offer if it meant I had to wear a tie.
All my shirts are collarless. And I have always worn an amended version of the traditional Indian jacket/coat over the shirt. And, yes, I look very handsome in that outfit.
Since my early adulthood, I have been sharing why non-Christians need not wear a tie, as it signifies being a Christian. The tie stands for both the cross, and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ of Nazareth. However, the fear of not getting a job, or even of losing one, exerts enormous blackmail-style pressure on individuals to wear a tie. It is a very sad and indeed narrow mindset that makes the European world insist that everyone dress like them, or else you will not get a job, or land the much-needed business deal. What do the Europeans fear?
Is the race-European any less moronic than the Islamist who insists women wear the face veil and be covered from head to toe?
It seems you can paint your house any colour, as long as it is bland.
Someone is suffering from a lack of self-esteem, and in doing so they are the mirror image of the “fanatical Islamist”.
To the Sikhs who appear on England-based television stations I appeal: please have the dignity to not wear the Christian tie under your long beards. You are not Christians, nor are you emotional cowards. Your confused dress gives out an equally confusing subliminal message to the viewers. It says: be a Sikh, but put a higher value on yourself by dressing like a Christian.
I do not want Christians, Jews or Muslims to dress like me, a Sikh.
You call only your mother “mother”, and I call only my mother, “mother”. Why do you insist that I have to call your mother and not my own, “mother”?
Please, grow up, and enjoy cultural diversity.
We in England are very lucky to have a fantastic and fascinating global community, culture, diet, and integration. Yes, we are integrated. And no, we do not want or need to mimic the European cultural-ethnic style to indicate integration, for that is insulting to both the host migrants and the new migrants. We need to value diversity, and not crucify it into blandness like the indigenous migrants demand.
And always remember that the people now called Indians were the ones who vacated the land that came subsequently to be occupied by Caucasians, and that now is called Europe.
Humans have always been and will always remain migrants.
Another truth humans cannot escape is that we are guardian-tenants of a land, we are never its owners.
Something to reflect on.