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Meeting with Syed, the Internet Guy

In India we often name people according to their profession. Like someone selling aloo or potatoes becomes aloowala meaning potato guy. Same goes for rickshaw wala (a man who drives rickshaws).

I was having serious issues due to insufficient speed due to a shared connection. It was not the fault of the people sharing it. When the speed is high, the fair usage limit (read miser speed limit) needs to be high. Unfortunately, the download limit was low and so after exhausting it in a couple of days, the rest of the month we would just be sharing a 512KB connection. That is completely inadequate for my needs. Hence, I was forced to order for a new connection.

I called up the local DSL network operator. If you are not familiar with how things work in India - these are small cable operators who buy bandwidth from the ISPs and then themselves rent out small bits at a time. Hence they get them at a bargain. We get them cheaper than other players in the market. The only downside? Support. That is pretty much does not exist. Thank God that it does not even go wrong half as often as the Government owned line I had in my hometown.

I called up the guys and unlike the support team, the new connection team is always up and running - which is also quite normal here. This guy called me up and asked me to meet and get the things done asap. i was more than glad to get the things done.

I met him in front of the temple, situated just beside the mosque. This is peculiar probably only to India. I sat on his bike and came home. The transaction was made. While he signed, I noted the name - Syed. I will be honest - it was a little strange. We sat on my bed and signed the documents. While he was leaving he caught sight of a single bottle of rum lying on my bed. I told him that I was into singing and had some cough and cold problems. It was true. He probably didn't believe it. I didn't care. But then he said, that he doesn't. He never did. "Name is Syed, eh", he said suggestively. I took it. Islam prohibits alcohol. So he abstained from it. He was a simple and decent chap and while he left he apologized saying that disrespecting me was not his intention. I said it was fine. This was true as well.

What struck me as strange was this. I also do not drink alcohol. In fact I hate it. But I don't drink it my faith forbids it. In fact my faith does not forbid it. I don't drink because I don't find it in my interest to spend money on some bitter yeast, ethanol and rotten grapes. I would rather spend half of that and have a Lassi or a mango shake (which I do). This brings to light an interesting question. If Islam did not prohibit drinking alcohol, would Syed have no inhibitions in drinking alcohol? Would he be a drunkard? I don't think so. I do have faith in a man's conscience. Perhaps I saw in him a rejection of a privilege that we have taken for granted. The freedom to choose and then reject. I did drink and then I did not like. That created in me a perception of what alcohol is and how it tastes. So if tomorrow I find that God tells me that if you drink alcohol I will give you a gift (just say), I would certainly refuse saying, "Sorry God, I don't like it. How about some Mango shake?"

When I was a kid I used to try out a lot of new things. Like all kids do. Indeed, if my parents told me not to do something, I would try it out first. I guess Syed in some way has been deprived of the satisfaction of overcoming the curiosity that many like him feel. I just hope that if he is sometime attracted to alcohol somehow, he does not get addicted to it. Bad thing is for faith, his conception of what is good for him and what is not is decided by faith and not him. As long as what is prescribed in faith is in sync with what is good for humanity, faith is going to be good. Otherwise all we can get are Maududis.

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