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!