Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Deconstructing our Everyday Images

This is from a mail written not so long ago.

I have a lot going through my head when I seem to look at my surroundings consciously with all my senses and it is disturbing/surprising too. I feel there are so many things around that pass implicit messages into our heads, that they just pass through without us even noticing or thinking about them consciously. I have been taking notice of certain images and sounds, certain spaces, patterns around, which are not such irregular sights or sounds, the problematic systems and structures are still a part of our conscious world but these!? I have been seeing and listening to them for almost all my life. But nowadays, they have several more meanings hidden that make me feel I have absorbed so much without thinking much, without ever feeling the need to question them. So many contradictions keep surfacing and surprise me. It's like rediscovering the world.

One of those days, on our trip to Tirupati, my mother was reading a book sitting in a waiting room. It had whom we call Goddess Lakshmi on the cover. I had nothing else to do, and the picture caught my attention. I made some observations which I wondered why never occurred to me earlier.



1. The picture is that of a lady
2. A lady with a fair complexion (A popular South Indian goddess never the less) - Fair and lovely cream would have liked to claim the fairness (fair is beautiful, we ask? since when did fair become our idea of beautiful? since when did such images become our gods?)
3. A lady who looked slim (again the popular idea of beautiful?)
4. A lady who wore a silk saree and lots of jewellry (she seemed pretty rich)
5. A lady who wore a crown (seems to match our imagination of a queen? class differences had already entered our imagination when we started praying to this goddess yet we say it is one of the oldest religions since time immemorial. Yet, we 'know' the human race wasn't born with class differences, at least I'd like to believe that from what I have read)
6. She was a goddess and she blessed with gold coins (so currency too was taken for granted as a basic necessity, but we 'know', it's only when property was privatised and trade expanded into vast tracts of the globe that currency in the form of gold coins or now in paper cash has become so widespread)
7. To go on, she was I guess wearing a golden mangal sutra too (a wife, the institution of family, a unit consisting of wife and husband has also been something that started since times immemorial? has it?)

To put it in a perspective that occurred to me then, she seemed to be a rich benevolent upper class woman who people looked up to and probably aspired to be in the next life if not this one. Yet, the religion here or any religion for that matter asks us not to be pompous or indulge in material riches. The point is, many of us pray with this image in mind, an image which makes inequality based on gender, race and class immemorial because the image itself is associated with times immemorial, it gets in deep and settles where we take it as natural and forget to question it. Religion is a different debate but here, I'm just talking about the everyday images around us.

Nowadays, in many cities and some villages close to cities, radio is a media people are well exposed to. The other day, when I was coming back to Khandwa from a village, we were tuned in to the radio and there was an ad, "Oonche log, oonchi pasand, Manikchand!", it asserted! It seemed to add one more meaning to what it means to be big through what we like, our pasand, also makes us big or at least makes us seem like we are big, it would afford us the imagination of being big. It adds to the several meanings that breathe oxygen into inequality and make it live like a monster it has become today.

Why. Just take our roads, which occupy most of our imagery of cities. Who has control over these roads? How do we understand control over these spaces. Who honks to whom, who can get aggressive on the roads and get away with it making others, usually the pedestrians and the people with smaller vehicles, exposed to pollution and honking most of the time?

Coming back to our favourite, organizations! Lets take a group photo of an organization. It seems like a harmless photo. But you see a pattern there too. Who is at the center? Does it become difficult to identify that it is a hierarchical organization? Most of us may also be able to identify who the head of the organization is from the picture.

The body language? Who looks meek? Who looks confident? Is it so natural? What made it that way? Who pays when we stop by for tea but who brings the tea? Does it add up? Doesn't it make the monster live in our heads and add to its image, its immemorial existence?

Friday, November 8, 2013

The Border: A line construct

The arbitrariness of it all couldn't have been more blatantly staring in one’s face than when one stood at the so called border, a gate, a barbed fence, not even close to the seemingly obvious bold line that we see on the maps drawn to scale. Drawing lines on paper is one thing but on land, quite another. So much in contradiction with the simplicity with which it is put on paper, land however does not happen to be a plane in two dimensions with an origin, an x- and y-axis numbered and distributed into cells. One can’t really tame it in real as one does on paper so conveniently.

It was at the same time a surprising and a saddening spectacle when I visited the Attari border gate, yet revealing a tiny space left uncorrupt, uncoloured by flags, a silence in the competing noises on either side eclipsing each other. The first thing that struck me was the symbolism of nation-states. It really set the scene for what feelings were to be produced in the audience around the arena. One could see the Indian flag waving in the hands of visitors on this side of the gate, on their caps, young and old equally enthusiastically marching with the flag on the path facing the arbitrary gate between the two nation-states. It was directed by a person at the microphone announcing instructions on what slogans to take, playing the patriotic songs one could dance to, Bollywood seems to have aided in this and the flag sellers too seemed to labor under no confusion about which flags to sell on which side. The two teams were ready as if for a sport, the cheering crowds knew which side they were on. There were no two ways about it. There was a frame of Gandhi on this side and that of Jinnah on the other. They seemed to be watching over the act.

The crowd cheered on the saddening display of identifying so strongly with these arbitrary divisions of nation-states, I swallowed a lump in my throat. If one shuffled the crowds on either side, one wouldn't be able to tell who is from which side, not unless, there were those state supplied papers on who belongs to which nation.They marched on proudly, the potential martyrs taught to be proud of arriving at their death for the arbitrariness of it all. So were the people taught to hold them in pride, let not their martyrdom go meaningless, encouraging them in playing out their roles. 

Then, I hear, it’s not so bad after all. The marching troops on either side, after displaying their ability for nation (state) driven aggression, shared their meals by the evening, had a drink together. They betrayed their act by the exaggeration of it, much like the wrestlers who entertain the audience seeking to be entertained, a voluntary suspension of reality for the sake of entertainment. When the show came to an end and people on either side were retiring homewards, they did exchange shy smiles, not sure if now that the show is over, they should continue to hold on to their designated identities ordered and bordered by their respective nationhood or let the arbitrariness of it settle and shed the masks. The sun set on a peaceful note on both sides, unaware of its participation in the whole scheme of things, on how it drew a line between war and peace, war for the mornings and peace for the evenings, masks for the mornings and meals for the evenings.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Capitalist Prince as the New Hero of Tollywood

Who says it's the same formulaic movies that Tollywood makes, the very name "Tolly"wood indicates its intention to keep pace with the times. The latest hit of the so called honest, down-to-earth hero with whom all the co-actors and directors claim to be so proud of working with, while keeping pace with the times, tells us, this is our new hero, our aspirational model, the heir of a multinational company, taking great pride in the millions of currency that he commands, the numerous cars that follow him with so many people at his command, whom he can abuse, physically, verbally at his whim, while they remain servile and grateful for his generosity, loyal for just being paid their salaries. Playing the driver of a rich family, he protests for not being respected, not because drivers deserve respect just like any other human being who is an equal but because he's the heir of a multinational. If the driver was any other person, obviously, he wouldn't deserve any more respect. And the women of course remain dolls, to be stared at, teased, admired for their physical beauty like objects of pleasure and daughters to be married away to accomplish their parents' mission in life. So, anyways, not to digress, we now have our latest capitalist hero, who's presented, I have to admit, rather honestly. The power of the big capitalist, to control the government (the centre, not even the state) which is losing its disguise of constituting people's representatives, is presented for what it really is.

And while moving towards capitalism, our Tollywood, doesn't want to upset the feudal lords either. Feudalism, of course has to be respected, not to forget our past, you see. The zamindari system, oh was it abolished for being exploitative? Nevermind, the telugu movies continue to tell us, no, they are not such bad people, they are just like everyone, there are good zamindars and bad zamindars, you just have to be on the right side. No people in the villages protest against them, they just submit to, aspire to loyalty of the highest standards towards their zamindari masters, to be killed when the good and the bad zamindars are fighting with each other, happy to become martyrs.

So, while Tollywood has anyway shed any pretence of having a story, "technically" speaking, it has also become more representative of the rich, be they feudal landlords, or the new capitalists and of male chauvinist, patriarchal perspectives.


Saturday, September 7, 2013

Living in and out of a book

For since I read about May in Ayemenem, I wished every month was May. I lived by Meenachal and grew younger by 17 years, knew exactly the taste of the banana jam of Paradise Pickles and Preserves and could feel my hair tied in a Love in Tokyo wearing an airport fairy frock. By the night, I’d be a lady with polished shoulders, polished with high wax shoulder polish, holding a transistor radio. Another day, I am in a picture looking away, at the river through the elongated windows in my ears. Don’t ask me how it was possible. But it was. So effortlessly possible. And there was more. I called out to Estha Pappy Chachen Kuttapen Peter Mon again and again to no response. I heard the far away man shouting while I coughed alone in the loneliness of my room. I wrote letters about Kohinoor to my dear ones which I sometimes did not send. I felt the grasp of Pappachi’s moth tighten on my heart when I felt helplessly victimized in a situation. I found an abode in Ayemenem to escape when I wanted to, smelling the air thick with the river. I lived several lives and forgot who I was or if there was something like an I. I could even be the history house sometimes whispering into the ears of curious children. I was the boat that grew in the wilderness and was found one day to be taken back to the river. And when I closed the book, I closed my eyes for long to not come back, to keep living there.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

A Whiff of Surveillance

The subtle smell of cream
I don’t know to whom it belonged
I boarded the bus smelling it
Everyday
The smell scanned me and kept a watch on me
 I breathed in the cream smelly fear which settled like a feather inside me
Of being punished
Of being scolded
Of fainting in the morning hot sun in the assembly
Of forgetting to wear some part of the uniform
Of being caught while talking in my mother tongue
Of feeling insulted in front of everyone
Of being slapped or banished out of the classroom
Of being put to shame
Of being asked to run around the playground in the hot sun
Of being tested
Of not living up
Of looking the wrong direction in the class
Every day, waiting for the school bus and boarding it brought the smell
Years later, when the fear was forgotten
When expressions of discomfort became possible meanwhile
A community of equals who could share sentiments
When I got down the stairs for a casual walk passing by the bus stop

A whiff of the smell rushed in so many memories

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Round the Clock

Her alarm woke her up rudely. She didn’t finish her sleep. She woke up anyway.
Her teeth weren’t dirty. She brushed them anyway.
She didn’t feel dirty. She took a bath anyway.
She never liked wearing a bra that was supposed to hold her breasts in place and conceal her nipples. She wore it anyway.
She didn’t feel hungry. She sipped her coffee for an hour staring at nothing in particular.
She was too lazy to work that day. She went to work anyway.
The clock struck 1. It didn’t make her hungry. She ate something anyway.
She was sleepy after eating. She stay awake anyway.
She wanted to talk to a friend whose memory brought a smile. She didn’t call the friend anyway.
She wanted to laugh loudly. She suppressed it anyway.
There was no work to do. She sat there anyway.
It was time to go home. She felt useless all over again. She shrugged it off anyway.

She signed her exit.

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Sweat

The sun won’t set yet
Her arms won’t rest yet
She will wipe off that sweat off her brow with the dust soaked cloth
And strike again at the earth
For those for whom it shall not be enough
Dig and dig and dig and dig
Bring it out
And make more room
More more more
And when the sun sets
The exchange would be complete
A few notes of currency
Parted with cringingly
For all it was worth
A value has been fixed
She walks along
End of the day

Monday, June 24, 2013

A Happy Happy World

Give us entertainment and we shall revel in it. It is no lesser in its capacity for putting us into a delusional world of happiness than any drugs. Drugs play with our unconscious but today's kind of happiness can delude us in our very conscious state. Sorry I said delusion. I know how real it can get! So, happiness has never been as omnipotent as it is today. It is sold to us on the TV, on the roads, on the radio, on the phone. Everywhere. One Big Happiness Factory. Mass produced happiness available at our door step for attractive prices. It comes in all forms, shapes and sizes, it can also be customised to suit us even better. People we've never met want to make us happy. And they say, it's a win-win, we're happy, they're happy. Our happiness is their happiness. And who doesn't want to be happy? Do we? They want to ensure that we're happy and will settle for nothing less. We can't bear to see you sad, they say. All we need is that dispensable income, and in exchange they give us happiness. We are also told all our life to make ourself capable of attaining such happiness and giving it to others too. So that we are paid for offering similar happiness to others, and we spend all our time trying to make it as happy for them as possible, whatever they can afford of course. Those who cannot afford it obviously don't deserve it, right? They're born to be doomed. Our jobs don't excite us? Nothing to worry! Let us party on the weekends and get it out. Just make sure the job pays us well to at least have our happy weekends for ourselves. Then, we can get married also, that too can be made happy and all those who come for our marriage also can be made happy in exciting ways. No, marriage is just not an event, it is an experience you see. And then we go for a honeymoon in a packaged tour. And then have kids, grow them up and they too can have happy weekends with us. Or get that lovely trip across the planet to a developed country with more happiness, stare in awe at their happiness, but pat our backs and say, we are still a developing country, it’s okay, we will also reach those heights of happiness some day. Our next generation will be even more happy than us. Our very reason for existence is to live a happy life, right?

Monday, June 10, 2013

Eluding gender

Whole vocabularies of words failed me.
No, I can't associate the words delicate or slender or slim with myself
Pretty, neat, gentle, feminine are not for me either
Nor do I have any sharp features
Nor do I sound like a nightingale when I speak. I've never heard one anyways.
Nor do I walk like a swan. It always took such a great effort to lift my feet away from the earth, what with all the gravity.
Nor do I have hair that falls straight behind me. It has always been a wild growth. No, not beautiful curls. It would be broken in places and curl up for support, like wild creepers. It's not jet black either.
I do not eat like a bird. I more often than not eat till I blurp and till my stomach bulges a little.
I do have hair in all the places where it grows naturally and I do not feel the need to shave it away or shape it into thin lines. I'd feel henpecked if I had to shave it all away. I mean, seriously, it doesn't feel all that great to remove all the hair and what with all the itching. Aren't girls supposed to itch either?
Many a times, I have felt a compulsive urge to scratch myself in a public space but had to suppress it while males around me would scratch themselves anywhere and everywhere without the slightest hesitation. Seeing them, I felt a confused mix of emotions of disgust and envy.
My nails never grew into those smooth perfectly curving shapes that can be painted nor were my fingers ever so thin and long to go with painted nails. I have used my teeth most efficiently to cut the calcium. And as we can expect from such efficiency, they were never cut so perfectly to not let any dirt enter.
I could never walk wearing those heels or even the thin sandals meant for "girls". My feet could only be accommodated in the largest sized floaters available in the shoe shops, some times the size available only for males. Well, I did try sandals but it is just so uncomfortable to walk around in them.
I would often sweat and stink while I did, living in a coastal area. I never for all my life that I knew, smelt like any flower that I've known unlike the ladies who always smelt like flowers in all those books.
I have pimples in most seasons. I can't apply those talcum powders without feeling whitewashed or even those creams without feeling painted with a thick layer of wall paint, whatever colour they come in.
My skin was never a uniform colour with the sun angrily reacting with it most of the year.
I thought it was only obvious for me to prefer loose clothes in such a weather but they are supposedly meant only for the older generation.
I don't feel the need to bathe every single day, except in real hot summers if I'm dripping with sweat. It makes more sense to me to bathe before sleeping rather than first thing in the morning when we would anyway be going out to sweat it out, while we are pressed for time in the morning with so many things to do like sipping the coffee or having a good breakfast. Doesn't it seem like too much self-importance to waste so much water on oneself for the ritual value of it by bathing every single day? Such a waste! Whatever happened to our concern to Save Water!

Blah!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

The "Man-Ager"

Seems to be a man (usually, it is a man!) who ages consciously, is conscious of the passing time in boredom, oops, sorry, working away efficiently like a machine without wasting time I mean, in staring at numbers locked into cells where they strictly have to get summed or sorted or operated all the time. Excel is the jailer friend who helps in locking up precious important numbers in the same jail every day, creating new jails as and when required but extremely watchful. Our boy manager here randomly visits the jails to redistribute, introduce new prisoners or relieve old ones.

The manager also has some human prisoners whom he has to keep a watch on. Only then will he be paid his precious exchange media with which he can consume a few branded products in the market and keep his conscience at bay while consuming. You don’t obviously have all the time in the world. I myself am pressed for time, says our manager and lives on. Pushes happiness for the weekends. Develops a paunch from the lack of physical activity and stress from all the jailing business. Tries to find time for exercising every morning. Yoga or gym is a choice based on whichever is sold better in the market both to the pocket and the mind.

With the human prisoners and the manager’s own hierarchy of jailers, over time, our manager learns to become a chameleon, “adaptability” or call it “diplomacy”. With the people “above”, he is meek, he even adapts his body language to have a posture which hints at servitude, a voice which is kept at a decent low unquestioning tone, “respectful”, always, “after you, please!” be it sitting at a meeting table, getting up from the table, having food, having tea!, having water!! His prisoners learn to mimic him and give him the same that he gives the people “above” him, his almighties. After all managers are noble beings, they perform the holy act of management! How could you not respect them? They are the leaders! Of thought! Everyone else is so dependent on them! And of course, they are here to get things done and tame any scale and structure to order! Oh yes, they are managers!

Virtues of joblessness

One isn’t engaged in any materialistic pursuit
One is not a passive or active participant in the market involved in reinforcing its problems
One is not commoditized or involved in commoditizing
One can be free to engage in non-materialistic pursuits like loving, thinking, be creative in plenty of leisure which make one happy
One doesn’t attach a fixed value to people or things
One doesn’t participate in the culture of inequality
One can become the recipient of other people’s love as there would be no instrumental purpose for anyone to interact with a jobless person
And finally, one isn't a slave of the clock!
I'm sure there are more, may be I will add later.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Caricaturing Activism

So everyone who speaks out is an armchair activist. "Talking" is not "doing". "Doing" seems to be confined to  acting within the framework of status quoist organizational spaces or the other extreme of militant activism. No other voices have a legitimate space. If you're just being vocal about your views against the state or anything that doesn't appeal to "popular" imagination on social media, you are labelled an armchair activist, you are neither here nor there. The words themselves aren't so bad; maybe they do appropriately describe people who express their views as such but the problem is with the way they are projected derogatorily and using this as an excuse, their views are discounted. It so seems social media can be used to share everything as long as it doesn't question our politics fundamentally. If you dare cross that line, you are being too serious, or taking things too seriously, you have lost all your sense of humour. You fail to entertain. Your sarcasm is not appreciated. You are labelled a cynic. You have too negative a world view. You are unable to appreciate the existing systems. What really intrigues me is how armchairism is prefixed only to activism. Aren't managers armchair managers? Aren't all top decision makers armchair "workers"? Aren't IT professionals armchair workers? But strangely, they are never accused of armchairism. But if writers like Arundhati Roy speak against the political problems on which there is an eerie silence, it is called armchair activism. And anyone who appreciates her views is again derogatorily labelled "the Arundhati Roy wannabes".

Forget armchair activism, today even activism is framed so negatively in popular opinion. If you protest, you are a trouble maker, you don't seem to understand the complexity of the working of a system usually of a large scale, how difficult it is to implement something, you never got your hands into implementation. So, the debate goes back to, if you want to do something, do it through the system, even if it never allowed any space for going against it being within it. There may be a few exceptions. But by and large, unless one climbs one's way up the ladder through the systems that exist today, one's voice is but a feeble whisper, but even in order to climb up, one has to accept the system and reinforce its problems everyday. After all, most problems reproduce themselves by justifying action within a system, the so called whole being larger than its parts subduing dissent from individuals. Activism is made to look out of legitimate meaningful respectful space in today's democracy. The state acts the patriarchal father who stubbornly believes and admonishes the childish citizens that he knows better and tells them in a raised voice, "you don't know what's good for you, let me take care of everything."

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Wide Cheerful Smile Shaped Hole in the Universe


He smiled even in the worst of times to which I stand testimony, those times when I fought with our common counterpart like it was the end of my world, he let it be in patience and maturity, he knew it didn't matter much. He lived every breath making it lighter and joyful, always cheerful. When we were still just new to the campus, he was our fond CC, addressing our computer woes with a smile and a way that he had with the binary coded machine. A true engineer with a capital E! He cooked for us and made the food tastier in company. He taught me how to share when I was too self-centered. He was my partner in those endless lunch table discussions where he would take my side while the others rejected my arguments outright. Those long walks in and around the campus, to the Amul ice cream parlour or a ride to the samosas at the railway station in those unearthly hours or the aam ras at the end of the street. His love for food was contagious. So was his enthusiasm cheering when friends were performing on the stage. His eagerness in shaking a leg or two at the grind, his steps none of us would forget. He believed in the power of cheerfulness no matter what problem it was, not the one to bargain, not the one to let any unpleasantness seep in. He was utterly optimistic about life. A sun beam lent to us too briefly, Sanky has left a wide cheerful smile shaped hole in the universe, to put it in the words of Arundhati Roy. 

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Great Illusion of Choice!

If I had to name the upcoming religion of the 21st century, I would say Choicism. Because, thanks to the ubiquitous market, everyone believes in choice! Everyone seems to be converted to believe that they all have choice. Between NDA and UPA. Among Coke, Pepsi and Thums Up. Between pop corn and sweet corn. The invisible choice, something like the invisible hand. The advertisements are our daily sermons strengthening our belief in choice and telling us that it is ever expanding and increasing. That there's choice in everything, much on the lines of the belief that god is everywhere. God might find lesser prevalence in objects, but the market infuses choice into all that can be bought and sold, it has the ability to convert everything with a wand held by its invisible hand into objects in which you have choice. Choice thus seems to be everywhere though you cannot see it.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Cliched Hot Summer Afternoon

Summers irresistibly make us nostalgic. Especially if one has just recently graduated from the phase of being a student and stepped into the formal world where one is forced to put on several masks and hasn't yet come to terms with it. Some may succeed, I say without being disrespectful, I understand their reasons. Some, who may still see scope for engaging themselves in things that'd probably not require them to wear a mask, are often lost in self doubt. Between taking that strong initiative to leave the road taken by many again and again and then to start off on the road not taken so much. It sure seems romantic to read about and write about and probably even when one starts it off and finally after some long years when we looked back. But. There are these whole lot of familiar people who will not find it romantic and would make every effort to kill your romance.

Getting back. Yes, for recent graduates into the formal sphere, summers remind us of the long lazy hot summer afternoons one might've spent. Some might have taken to learning some quick music or doing some doodling or even painting, going for long walks and talks with friends. Oh yes, I am only talking for introverts like myself and not everyone else, especially not those who are more outdoorsy and play cricket under the hot sun. I am speaking for those who love just sitting alone by the sea looking nowhere into the horizon, some writing randomly, scribbling away with the convenience of a laptop that forgives your mistakes more generously than a paper but makes it feel less personal. It takes away just so much in return for its favour. And yes, those several days that you didn't feel bathing was necessary, you just sat there sipping away endlessly flowing coffee or tea and had your eyes glued to the book in your hands, struggling to find a convenient posture, shifting through the pages of the newspaper to see what movies one can catch on the idiot box if at all any, you know for the suprise it offers to find something on television (the name seems rather exciting, doesn't it, as if you're going to have some vision of something) rather than a downloaded one which makes it seem so so deliberate what with the download speed, as if one was collecting rocks from different countries to build a mountain in your backyard to play on. Too much effort and time for unpromising returns without any surprise!

So, it is with these thoughts that I go on sipping away, after leaving a job which I thought was the best thing possible that came my way an year ago which I have recently quit after much brooding on existential questions and spotting deeper discomfort in the head, with too many disturbing questions that might get pushed into the background if left unanswered. Scary thoughts!

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Broken Spells

A dream ends while another begins. They aren't really sequels. The curtain comes down, the characters change. Clap clap. A new drama begins. The audience aren't shocked. In fact, they wait in eager anticipation. How detached the entertainment is, yet it doesn't fail to entertain. The detachment too is part of the package, the detachment too entertains. Neither does it upset the actors nor the audience. The show blissfully goes on. So does life go on. Or does it? Do the actors brood over their stories, about their audience? Do they project their performances to the stories before and after the play? Does one sometimes wonder whether they are performing or just watching? What an illusion we have all come to accept and enjoy too.  How convenient plays are! Such a joke on life. One would probably sit back and brood over them if one becomes familiar with these illusions in wakeful time, between sunrise and sunset or during the darkness too with more of its wonders. Oh yes, one cannot differentiate much then. Would one still enjoy the show with the same zeal? Would one be entertained with the same detachment? With the only difference of a stage? With performances playing out everyday or sometimes with the characters leaving imprints on you, moving around, in flesh and blood or sometimes, even without, their ghosts. Are the ghosts on the silver screen any match? The two dimensional ones seem to try hard but they seem to be mortal. Aren't we more creative than that? Aren't we capable of making up real ones? The ones which can really scare. Like scare scare. Because, our imagination is capable, like nothing else, to add not just a third dimension but a fourth called fear. The fear of being through it, of living through a nightmare. It can haunt forever. The curtain never seems to come down here. One never knows. How long? An hour? Or two? A day? An year? When will it come down? And it might only take that long to know that one needs to be even more creative to make the curtain come down. Imagine a stage, imagine the show, imagine the audience, the beginning, the end and then, make a curtain appear, a real looking curtain, one which one really can see coming down. Then, make it come down. Make the audience stand up, make them clap and leave. Make them all walk to the exit. Turn off the lights. Shut the door behind you. And open your eyes. Can you see it over? Can you? One can only wait till the next night to check whether the ghosts are dead. Whether the attempts of bringing them alive only to be killed have been successful? Well, isn't it funny? Does it really end with one night?

Friday, March 29, 2013

Between blinks

The Toto of Wordland was sitting at a window being driven down through alleys pinning down words on the speeding away trees, on electric poles,on long wavy lines joining them filling the puzzle, words which some times flew away with the wind, while Toto recreated them behind his glasses, which you could probably see if you looked deep into his eyes. There was Toto's half spirit wandering in a far way Otherland making him live another existence and letting him know that he exists for she too breathes into him.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Poets of few words


There are poets and there are dreamers
There are dreamers who dream of poets and their poems
And rewrite the poems in their dreams
They fill them in colours and breathe into them life
They can’t let go of their creators
They hang on to them in a romantic bond
The poet doesn’t even know, the poet is lost in his muse
The poet is burdened by the attention
Though flattered at times
The poet ignores and moves away
But the dreams keep coming back
For the love of dreams
That become larger than life
The dreamer clings on like a baby to its mother
Is it the dreamer or the poet or the dreams or the poetry?
Or is it just the time of this day?
The sight of birds flying weightlessly
How their existence is less governed by the laws of physics
Or would the scientists disagree?
Didn’t Newton wonder about them sitting under the apple tree?

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hot Words

As I was reading and reading,
some words evaporated off my hot head overloaded with isms
To pin them down,
I gave them a form with the dark blue ink in my old ink pen
which thickly, bluntly, boldly transferred them
and made them sit in neat lines on fresh paper
So, now they have a carbon copy, a dual existence, a double life
If they die in the head, they can still exist on paper

Monday, March 18, 2013

Partha's eyes


Do we wonder how world could look to a 7 year old
How each picture has a story one can create around it
Where world has both dragons and gods
and abundance and insignificance at the same time
With awareness of his attachment to his dear ones, to promise to spend his summer with me
He tells life can mean what you make of it, the story you wish to tell
and he has so many stories and creates so many more as he creates with his hands with the help of some colours
My belief in solving issues through discussion is only strengthened by his when he so patiently explains to his playmate how he is mistaking Partha's marble for his marble which is actually lost
Though Partha's playmate pulls away Partha's marble from his hand, he's not the one to budge nor fight
He keeps talking in all patience and innocence
He makes plans to go to the dragon world which he finds on seeing a map
and he's optimistic about finding their skeletons if not actual dragons
To make us all famous when we find them he says
All that we need is a helicopter and a bomb
And he knows exactly how he would throw the bomb and attack the dragon
He shows with the help of two laughing buddhas, one holding a bomb with both his hands over its head and the other standing in front
Then, I ask him, why we should kill the dragons
And he says, they're all bad
And why so?
Because, they all fought among themselves and killed each other till they were no more
Made me wonder if humans would be branded so by a 7 year old in another time and space when there came a time when humans annihilated themselves?
But I know, it's a redundant question
because there's no way to know
Yet, it doesn't fail to amuse
On being asked how he knew about dragons, after a few times of saying that he just knew it, he tells me he learnt it from the TV
Like he learnt about aliens, other planets and gravity from video games,
Only, his gravity worked the other way round where it pulled you away from planets and into space
So, from aliens, he comes to planets, and how people have to fight with them and among themselves
how they always fought, how kings always existed, who were all men,
how men were smarter than women, and boys are leaders since god made boys born first
How did he know about a male chauvinist god?
Never mind till he just doesn't know it
So, welcome to Partha's world
And there's ever more as long as you want to hear
For he always has more to say


Sunday, March 10, 2013

Social animal or a Greedy pig?

Money is a medium of exchange and is thus justified and even considered necessary. But it hasn't remained just a medium of exchange. Money has become a self-reproducing entity through instruments like profit and interest. In olden days, usury was looked down upon. Somebody who wants to make more money from existing money was considered greedy which was not a desirable trait. Today, no one seems to question it. Greed seems to be a given. Today, the popular image of a human being seems to be a greedy pig. What happens to the larger morality of people when greed is considered a part of life, essential, legitimate and justified? All our economics seems to work with these assumptions.

Emptied

Each thought is taken out, typed into a phone and transmitted
Packed and parcelled off into space to bounce off another phone far far away, unpacked by the touch of a finger

Truth?

A lady was asked to stay at home for her own safety threatened by men outside
She was called a house wife

A girl was raped
They said she lost her honour

A group of people fought against another and occupied some land drawing lines around
They called it a nation

A person didn't have enough exchange media called money
They called her poor

Some who did have plenty of exchange media played with each other
They called it a market

All this was written down on paper
They called it a textbook

Lots of children read it aloud sitting together
They called it a school

One day they said that this was how it always was and they who said it or wrote it ceased to exist
All that was written by them was called the truth

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Mero Gaam…


The meanings of this song seem to be so embedded into the music itself that it never fails to move me from deep inside. Is it just the song? Is it just the words? Is it what it means? But when I listen to the words consciously, I wonder, how much of it is so obvious, how do I go back to the villages as they keep calling me (are they?). What kind of relationship do I seek in the villages? Is it the way I have most recently attempted, working in an NGO? Something seems so problematic with the assumptions. Something inside me knows how problematic these assumptions are, how much discomfort they cause. But something inside me also says, I cannot abandon the villages. There is something, something, very very romantic that I have developed for them. I write this from my heart, less consciously, more deeply, as the song moves me. I am still trying to explore, to shed, to explore, to keep the search alive. Can I ever have an equal relationship? Equal, like we feel it in the heart, not in a rational calculative equal sense?