Tuesday, July 03, 2007

Monsoon in Delhi

It rained in our area today. Monsoon had hit Delhi a few days ago, on 28th June, to be precise. Personnel at the Metereological Department said that it was one day early. But there wasn't even a slight drizzle in our 'labour class area' till yesterday night. Yesterday night there were stars in the sky, vivid and bright. There was cool breeze. And as usual, I slept on the terrace, like many other tenants in the apartment. They are manual labourers who easily adapt to any living conditions. And then, today early morning it rained. I withdrew to my room at the corner of the apartment which has holes, which have width of a brick, on the walls instead of windows. The room reeks with warm vapour always.

Last week one of my friends in JNU, with whom I often spend my weekends, invited me for our routine discussion over a beer. I replied him, "Dosth (friend), I am not free this weekend. Monsoon may hit our 'labour class area' too in a day or two. If that happens, I will sleep for the whole Sunday." Rain has always been associated with good sleep. That is a typical Malayali behaviour, right?

I keep records of my daily expenses now. I have never done that in my life. Life is so cheap in our area. I got a room for just Rs.1000/- plus water charges of Rs.30/- per month in addition to electricity charges. Water is pumped to the storage tank at 5 in the morning. When the motor runs, I store one bucket full of water for bath and a bottle full of drinking water for the day. In summer, collecting water for bath in the morning is very important since the water stored in the tank on the terrace will get terribly hot during the day. It remains to be hot even in the next morning. June 8th and 9th were the hottest days in this summer. The temperature rose upto 44.9o C on one of these days. Hearing that I wake up at 5 in the morning to collect water, one of my friends in JNU quipped: "Every experience is now there with you to write a story."

Rain wreaked havoc in many Indian states this season too. Andhra Pradesh, Kerala, Gujarat and Maharashtra were the most affected. Northeastern states were also flooded, as always. Mumbai Municapal Corporation had taken great precautions to take on the monsoon this season. But water logged roads and floods gave the lensmen a good catch for their daily beats in this season too. Perhaps the only people who are happy about floods are the journalists. We know that everyone loves a good drought.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Abraham from AP

Salvation is now closer home. In political parlance, it's the positive wind of multi-ethnicity which our country eagerly looks forward to in the recent period of religious fanaticism. Linguistically, it's again an attempt to find out the commonality of expression among a group of human beings; the laws that bind them together, the sanity which they ascribe themselves to. Historically, it's yet another truth with an explanation and/of evidence.

Salvation is coming closer home when we discover that Abraham, the forefather of many a Semitic religion, was dark, had a typical south Indian moustache and fed on vada-sambhar and dosa-chatni. Whether he was from Aluru or Gudduru is yet to be found out. But the important point is that he can now be an indigenous legendary icon who can help India's Semitic minorities take major stakes in their bargain with the age-old saffrons. But if the debate goes beyond the place of origin to that of oldness of origin, then there are fewer chances for the Abrahamic brigade to win. Let us, therefore, limit ourselves to space, rather than to time (for the time being) and say, salvation is now closer home.

Based on a news story in The Hindu

Monday, June 18, 2007

Real, image and the imaginary

When US billionaire Samuel Zell, in a recent remark, said, “India's greatest asset today is everyone's imagination,” he was, perhaps, laughing at the state of affairs in this once-mysterious sub continent. That Zell's chief intention was to downplay the recent 'India Poised' media hype is evident to anyone in the first reading itself. But what about the pun in his word 'imagination', which he himself might have failed to capture at that moment?

Ever since, we know that 'imagination' has been a key element for any ailing artist anywhere in this country who wants to hit the media headlines and who won't mind a bit of pampering from cultural celebrities. All that the artist needs to do is to simply draw from his 'imagination' a few female nude pictures and say that the figures hidden under his strokes are goddesses and that representing them in this way is his freedom of expression. Religious fanatics, considering this a real or imaginative threat to their religion, will immediately take necessary measures so as to make sure that the nation's spiritual tradition is secure. On the same note, 'imagination' is also a key element for the leader of a less known religious sect who has to dress himself up like another religious Guru for reasons known for the former alone. Consequently, this 'imaginative' threat to one's religion can be quashed only through protests on the streets in which all the believers have to brandish their swords.

Similarly, a high level of 'imagination,' which flies in the face of media ethics, is required for a newspaper organization to conduct a public survey in which the audience have to answer, 'who will be the political heir (legitimate or otherwise) of the influential artist-legislator, Mr. X?' If the legislator's son 'A' tops the list, then son 'B' will vandalize the newspaper office along with his goons, while nothing less harmful could be expected if the survey had it the opposite.

But Zell's sarcasm failed to notice the assertive mandate of a substantial number of people in a politically vibrant region of the country. 'Imagination' had played a great role in their politics when they thwarted, in the name of caste and partisan politics, every developmental initiative in their State for years. Of late, they have realized that Manuwadis and Mlechas are 'imagined' concepts and the problem of underdevelopment is what is more real and relevant to their day-to-day life. And, as readers, we know that this is true, when newspapers report with glee that the elected members of this State have recently allowed the Governor of the State to complete his speech, without being interrupted, in the assembly for the first time in last 19 years. It is, perhaps, in this context that Zell's fellow country man Bob Dylan once crooned, “How many times must a booth be captured/ Before the EC says, 'friend, this is no jungle raj anymore.'” Which means, many more sectarian clashes are in store for the country, till the time its citizens are mature enough to differentiate between the real and the imaginary.

Postscript: Non-inclusion of keywords within the text is deliberate.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

People Richer Than RBI

You might have read oodles of analyses about the economic growth that India enjoys at present. The country witnesses the highest GDP growth in seven or nine years, reports say. And along with the growth in economy there comes an expected inflation. Economists say that the country need not panic looking at the current inflation rate, on the other hand, some wise moves can bring it under control. Why China, a country which has much higher GDP growth than India is not hit as badly by inflation as it does with India? No one knows. Ironically, some recent measures by Reserve Bank of India, the highest authority which should have a clear vision about the whole situation, underwent widespread criticism by many economy experts. When RBI increased the CRR (Cash Reserve Ratio) it was seen as a childish step to bring inflation under control. Prices of vegetables have seen steady increase in the last few weeks. Growth should not be cutailed in the name of inflation, some experts argue. Government should adopt measures to increase production in agriculture sector in order to freeze the price rise of cereals and vegetables. If economic growth resulted in increased flow the money flow among individuals in the country and investors from abroad, it is not a wise move to reduce the flow by curbing growth, The Economic Times argues. Instead, RBI should try to make productive use of the money increasingly reach the hands of the citizens.

This said, there is a simple method to check whether RBI is the real authority of money and currency that flow in the country. You should have two mutilated 100 rupee currency notes to participate in this simple experiment. Naturally, you will curse that moment during transaction when those currency notes reached your hands. Calm down, like many other unexpected incidents in life which have helped you learn experience for a life time, these unlucky notes will give you deep insight into the nation’s economy. Go to the RBI headquarters in Delhi (I know mutilated notes can be replaced in any of the RBI branches in the country but inorder you receive the right education, I strongly recommend a journey to the headquarters.). After a series of security checks, you will reach the main hall of the bank where you find several counters for business transactions. Contrary to your expectations about a high security zone, you see inside the bank people typically dressed like peddlers, involved in money exchange. Sensing your intentions they will also come to you and ask you if you would mind showing them the mutilated notes you have brought here for getting replaced. The currency numbers are lost, one cannot expect an at par replacement value for the notes. But suddenly the private ‘money exchanger’ offers you an unexpected deal!!

“The bank will give you fifty rupees each. Which means hundred rupees in total. I shall give you hundred and twenty rupees.” You will not believe this. How can a poor peddler like exchanger give an amount more than what the central bank offers? “Check it out from any of the counters, if you are not convinced.” You know that if you are going for a replacement through the bank, you will have to take additional burdens: you have to glue a white paper to the torn out part of the currency which will make it look structurally like a complete note and you have to wait in the long queue before the counter. However, you don’t want to entertain private exchangers. You go to the official at the counter and inquire about the exact situation, come back to the private exchanger and give him the notes right away. You don’t have to repair them, you don’t have to wait in queue and they paid you 20% more than what RBI could have paid. Tucking the notes in your purse and leaving the big hall of the bank, you realize there is nothing surprising about the current economic situation in the country – a highly disproportionate rate of inflation and economic growth. In India there are people richer than RBI!!

Friday, February 09, 2007

In my territory

“In this manner we can make it a collective of like-minded individuals,” the HR Executive concluded the brief conversation she had with me along the verandah wherein she suggested me to rope in more Content Writers to the company from among my contact circle in the city. It was morning, to begin with, and the computer virus which was taking its toll for several days in our office seemed to push that day too into total inactivity. Outdoors, thick fog muffled the buildings to the point of even disallowing them some room to shiver. I went to my seat, wrongly entering the third floor first and then going up to the right one, where I settled myself and started writing something hesitantly but freshly provoked.

Everyone seemed to have settled in their seats and the inertia inside the hall resembled the interior of some passenger vehicle just about to take off.

That song was playing even in the morning: “aaj ki raath hona hai kya.” I listened to it for a while trying to recall the image of a nude fiesta that it entailed. The song continued to play several times during the day – in offices, in public and private vehicles, in restaurants and in all waiting rooms – and by the time it’s night no one heeded to it, and so, nothing of that sort ever happened at night.

An hour later I took a look at what I wrote:

“That like-mindedness does not have an origin interests me a lot. Neither does it stem from the Self nor from the Other. It was already there as something intersubjective. For us, who are only familiar with the binary of objectivity/subjectivity, this concept which focuses on intersubjectivity would be a mediating philosophical position in the field of Business Administration and Management.”

It’s really dull. This is certainly not what I wanted to say, I fretted. Blame it on the cold outside that has crept into our minds transforming aesthetic experiences to philosophical problems!

I looked around; waved at the programmer who was actively leading the antivirus struggle. Any chance to get back net connectivity?

dubhara restart karke dekho,” she said vaguely.

Leg-pulling? I became cautious. How on earth do repeated restarts help to keep the virus at bay? I defended myself for a while but finally did what she said. Perhaps she’s right, I thought, we content writers are over confident in matters of technology -a method to defend ourselves from being taken for a ride by technicians.

The day dragged on. I started feeling myself useless. Everyone else was working silently. Aren’t their systems affected? I made one more attempt to write something more on like-mindedness but soon withdrew from it.

When I went for a smoke in the bathroom, I saw through the window that the fog had backed out a bit. Where did it go? Has it gone up and merged with the clouds? Two stray dogs bounced at a rag picker down the building, barking. A sudden attack!! Dogs barked fiercely, with beastly faces. They stepped sideways and forward when they barked, distancing themselves away from the prey and circling it at safe lengths. The boy in his early teens was not frightened. He turned to them and showered them with some abusive words. The dogs retrieved a bit, slowly. Their loud and discreet barking now toned down to a long growl. Everything happened in the flash of a few seconds. There seemed to exist some mysterious understanding between the two parties which was sometimes unconditionally broken by one party – by the dogs, invariably, because they can go irrational at any time they want – for which they are thoroughly abused. The little crud walked away as if nothing had happened. My eyes hovered around the dogs which were now getting ready for the next drowse, walking around in a circle as if to wipe away even the minutest trace of the event. Has the place of the event become a vacuum after the ambush? Has the air around it become clean and thin allowing a fresh beginning for everything there? At the last puff of my cigarette, the world appeared to me complete and perfectly logical. And along with it, for a moment, I stood face to face with the joyous knowledge which took me to that time when everything in the world redeems; the redemption of all lost sense of beauty, all opportune moments, all insatiable appetite, everything. With my failing senses on that day, I thought, I would enjoy the world to its full. I would have stayed there relishing the taste of tobacco and contemplating long on a fortunate tomorrow had the stink from the toilet not struck me by my head evoking a spontaneous twitch of muscles around my nostrils.

I came back to my seat and over a cup of coffee started transliterating some abusive words of my language into English, asked the person beside me to read them. When he stuttered, both of us laughed; he, out of embarrassment.

During lunch I tried to smile at people. But then one of them asked, “Are you crying?” As soon as he asked this, everyone looked at him and nobody heard what I answered, not even I myself.

But I must admit it, I go to the verge of crying when things make fool of me, when things pester me to make an opinion on their quality. I go mad at this and my wrath sees no limits. One prominent newspaper had concentrated only on pretty faces of mothers who held the demonstration against Nithari killings. One pretty mother with the same lighted candle appeared twice in the same paper. The report said: “While Mallika Sherawat was shaking a shapely leg, luring the New Year in, the cops in Nithari were sniffing the rotten flesh up the back side of Pandher’s house all the way to his personal abattoir.” Why are celebrations so superfluous and grief so deep? I asked myself. And you want to show me and make me believe that things weigh differently in your balance? “I tell you,” I argued with one of my colleagues, “the reporter will make us equally sensuous on both ways.”

“But this is highly cryptic,” the world replies me in the most modest way possible, “you are well aware how things work, and you know how to give a simple account of everything around you. You betray every possible solution by being unhappy; happiness, though appears to be our goal, is instead a prerequisite. But remember, we have people cleverer than you who would always ensure your conformity with our norms, voluntarily or otherwise. Come out of your borough and see the seditious brightness out here. When a person comes up with a workable solution he/she is duly acknowledged, that’s simple logic. That we fail at times to find out the efficacy of solutions is a different question altogether. But that is just a matter of time; how many generations do you think are yet to see the light of the day? Won’t they judge all our doings with clinical precision then? If you have some kind of madness, we have the way to market it. But make sure that you play it well and never give up. It is quite sure that with the passage of time you will also fall in line, though at present you resist everything. After all, who is not afraid of one’s own old age?”

I waited anxiously for something unknown for the rest of the day, looked queerly at familiar faces. In the seat I yawned several times, enjoying the bad breath at the end of each yawn from down the stomach. Closed my eyes and sank into the chair. What joy!! I left the office very late, though. Took a long walk in the evening cold and got drunk heavily.

Early morning I was awakened by a dream, though not a vivid one: I saw a lady colleague, who is a content writer and whom I like, along a thoroughfare in our village. I was riding on a bicycle and going down a road on a slope, while she stood at the other side of the road. Since the downhill road saved me from pedaling I could look long at her while I rode past her. She didn’t seem to have seen me and was busy talking over her mobile phone as if asking the reason why the person she awaits is late to turn up. I was on my way, probably, to pay the electricity bill or was going to the post office which I often did as a boy. I didn’t talk to her, though I was aware that I am a native of the place and she is not. On my way back, pedaling the bicycle uphill, I saw her at the same place, this time at the side along which I was riding. She would see me, I thought, and I was eager to start a conversation. But a few feet to reach her, me still pedaling hard, a car overtook me and stopped beside her. She entered the car and it went forth. At no point of time she was aware of my presence, it seemed. My bicycle virtually stopped at the rear of the car, a few feet away from it. On entering the car she should have turned around in the seat and have definitely looked at me, I concluded, but I could not see anything clearly as the shaded back glass of the car marred the vision of both of us.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Football – My favorite spot

I am proud to say that I love football, a game loved by majority of the populationin the world. I regularly watch the football matches in ESPN and TenSports. Playedin ninety minutes, football has a very unique feature of allotment of extra time andtie-breaker if no team wins in the prescribed time. Different teams across the worldresort to their unique and indigenously developed strategies in this game. While Brazilians form a group of four players when they attack the enemy post giving animpression of an advancing wave to the spectators, Italians play a defensive gametill the seventy fifth minute. Mid-fielders in any team are usually the play makers.Famous names in the football world, Pele, Maradona, Baggio etc. were mid-fielderswho gave some crucial passes to the Strikers and helped them score magnificent goalsfor their team. However, despite the joy and pleasure offered by this game to itsspectators, football players do not hesitate to go violent in their goal attempts.

Ecotourism in India

Ecotourism in India is a long cherished dream which is still to be realized fully.One needs just to look at the pollution level of various tourist spots in order torealize the importance of implementing Ecotourism in this sub-continent. Despite therich cultural, geographic and art heritage that India holds, we are unable to makeuse of it to the maximum for lack of proper planning and vision. Ecotourism in Indiawill not reduce the number of tourists coming to a particular tourist spot. But onthe other hand it will sustain the resources of a region for the future generationsas well. Ecotourism can be successfully experimented in nature tourism in thebeginning and later on the concept can be extended to heritage, cultural andmonumental tourist spots in the country.

The Impact of Internet on our lives

The impact of internet on our daily lives.Before discussing this particular topic one has to define the most important part ofthis sentence ‘our’. Internet in India has not still penetrated to the ruralpopulation and for that reason the impact of internet in cities will be more whencompared to its impact on the rural population. Let’s make our discussion based on asample population in the cities who use internet at least 5 hours a week. With theadvent of internet newspapers, print newspapers have lost their status of beingproviders of timely news. An internet newspaper gets updated every half hour whichhelps its subscribers become highly up to date in current affairs. This would be themost important effect of internet on our day to day lives: we have become more up todate on current affairs. The second effect would be an increase in informationsharing. Free information, authentic and unauthentic, is available in the internetin such an extent that one is bombarded with information overload everyday. Inshort, internet has brought in a sea change in the knowledge scenario of humankind.

Proper names

Hi all,
This is a response to the article "Equally you" which you can read in this page.

Hi Mr. ..........G. ......,
I have read your art-tickle. I liked it in the first place. I think nothing can be as disastrous, to take a leaf from your notebook, as the experience of being chased by the fathers' ghost. Hamlet is chased by the scrupulous ghost of his father and met with no lesser fate than death. The most deleterious combination that could lead a parturition of a miserable individual is the metaphoric 'father,son and the holy ghost'. That
can be one of the reasons why people desert churches these days! I plead you, thus, to free your father from being crammed between two nouns in your name - ......... and ....... Let Mr.G. go back to places he is interested in- why take him to your sad caverns of philosophy? If you say that the 'G....' of your name represents something else, i will be interested to know what. I am sure not the smell of a footbal player, an H.S. teacher, but something or nothing at all 'verum veruthe'.

I think of a more dreaded scene one might face at any time in one's life.think of somebody coming to you from some dark corner of your city or from a cinema hall,telling you that he is your father's youth, claiming that he had been to all these places and had undergone all these phases:"Nambarirakkalle poore njanithokke ethra kandatha, njan thannayado than ho ho ho" (don't play your number here, you asshole. You are me myself, my boy, ho ho ho) . You feel like pulling him to the corner(as you seemed to have done in the former case) you raise your hands to gift him with a nice slap.Unfortunately you end up saying : "nanni pithaji ellam thankalude kripaanugrahangal thanne" (thanks my dear father. all is your blessing). You don't stop there you bend a little bit and manage to touch his feet showing a typical Indian reverence. This activity achieves perfection when you have a feel of blessedness which promotes you to chant:matha pitha gurur daivam...
Think all these Mr. ..... G. ..... May god bless you too.

Namasthubyam (all the best),