Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The After Life of Pi (Warning: This is not a Happy Post)

I do like to end/begin every year with some aggregated thinking/big thoughts but its been tough finding my usual voice in light of the tragic, gut wrenching, spirit crushing events in Delhi and Connecticut. A week before the Delhi gang rape, a female colleague and I took a regular taxi to a Hauz Khas Village restaurant around 9:30pm in New Delhi. The day of the Connecticut elementary school shooting I happen to accompany my best friend to drop off her 2 kids to kindergarden in Greenwich, Connecticut, just a few miles away from Sandy Hook. You don't want to say it out loud because it sounds selfish but here it is. It could have been me.

People joked that the December 2012 "End of the World" Mayan prophecy didn't realize. I think it did. I've witnessed war (I grew up in the Middle East during the first Gulf War), terrorism (was working in New York City when 9/11 happened). They were unsettling on a good day and nerve wrecking on a bad day. But these recent incidents hit too close to home. If this is not the stuff end of the world is made of, I don't know what is.

I just finished the "The Life of Pi". I've always believed there is a reason for everything. Perhaps the reason this was the book I chose for my holiday reading was to help me cope with the December events. There are two versions of the story he tells. In the end he asks the question: "Which is the better story, the story with animals or the story without animals?" For those of you who have read the book may remember how you felt as you read both stories and you know which you preferred to believe. As "civilized" people we like to draw the distinction between animal and man. It messes with our sense of right and wrong to think that man can turn on man, no matter how desperate the situation. So we resort to incredulous stories to cope.

Here is an idea for publishers and producers. Since this is the first month post the "end of the world" world. we need to kick it off with an incredible story with animals to explain what happened in Delhi and Connecticut. Because the raw, real version is too hard, too painful to comprehend or accept. They can call it "After Life of Pi". Then they can make it into a movie for the masses and and illustrated book for kids. But this story must be told for generations to come. If it stays as news, it will die in the archives. It must be made a story. A story from whose ashes must resurrect a new world.  

P.S. To my regular DesiCMO blog readers, thank you for indulging this very personal post. It is a rare but much needed catharsis. In return, I do feel obliged to share some Smarter Marketing gyaan. Luckily the New Year post I wrote a year ago is evergreen gyan (and quite good, if I do say so myself) and so I don't feel bad recycling it.


  1. When I read your post earlier on the phone it reminded me of a poem by Patrick Kavanagh and the idea that all history is local. That these things must become stories that we retell and learn from rather than remaining news to be archived and forgotten is a wonderful thought. I hope it is a thought that is embraced by someone with the words and the heart to bring it to fruition.

    In the meantime all I can offer is Kavanagh's "Epic".


    I have lived in important places, times
    When great events were decided : who owned
    That half a rood of rock, a no-man's land
    Surrounded by our pitchfork-armed claims.

    I heard the Duffys shouting "Damn your soul"
    And old McCabe stripped to the waist, seen
    Step the plot defying blue cast-steel -
    "Here is the march along these iron stones."

    That was the year of the Munich bother. Which
    Was most important ? I inclined
    To lose my faith in Ballyrush and Gortin
    Till Homer's ghost came whispering to my mind.
    He said : I made the Iliad from such
    A local row. Gods make their own importance.

    1. Thanks for sharing this Tom. It really struck me that the best poetry and tales came from real hardships and human struggle. I grew up on Aesop's Fables. I wonder what stories we will be able to tell our kids to make then better world citizens.

  2. Interesting thoughts Virginia, though i wonder if narrating the story from animals perspective would be a disservice to the animals themselves, especially considering the sheer brutality and extremely heinous of both incidents. That is something which only humans are unfortunately capable of.
    Telling the stories, as it is, in a censored format, to grown up children with a moral in the end might be more useful to sensitize them about evils in our society and help them become informed citizens.
    Just my 2 cents on it.

  3. It's so good to finally read some new posts. I read Life of Pi in the year of release and I liked the animal story although if a person told me that story for real I'd believe he was hallucinating due to dehydration in the middle of the ocean. That said, I always wonder why we end up comparing rapists, terrorists and gunmen to animals. See a tiger in the wild, see it hunt and bring down its prey - it's majestic and lives up to its nature. Those rapists were humans, bad bad humans.