May 27, 2003

Erugif Og

I could honestly say that I do not know you, I do not know what is it that makes you tick. Do not worry, I could say the same for me seen from your side. In all fairness, it is a tango in conventions. You smile, I assume you are happy, I put on a strange face, you assume something is wrong. You ask why? I give you some reason, sympathy, empathy, platitudes follow. And why not, the night is still very young and so is the tango.

It would just take a single bright yellow Gerbera to light up my room. But it is not there. Instead I have two wilting jasmines protruding awkwardly from the neck of an old wine bottle. A bright orange pen hanging from the window behind the bottle certainly does not add to the ambience and since the bottle is hidden behind the television, on which a cheap black plastic clock stands, even the display is not quite appropriate.

To say the truth, I know how the whole scene looks with the Gerberas in place. In fact, if I keep looking at the wine bottle for long enough, I can imagine them being there. It is nothing special, they are just loud yellow flowers after all. Still, convention and visual pattern matching associates it with cheerfulness, which the invisible ambience might not substantiate. Which is insignificant again, since I am no longer interested in the Gerberas and it is only the tango in the patterns that catch my fancy. My latest vice.

May 13, 2003

Yellow Leaves

The sun had strengthened to grant a threatening enough preview of what was to follow later in the day when I walked out of the office, helmet and a book that a friend had gifted in hand, to the parking lot at eight in the morning. There was no one else in there, save a few cars, two quasi-abandoned motorcycles cloaked in fine dust, an office car and the shed that housed the massive generator, with its snout sticking out from the side.

Considering that it was a routine that i followed six days of the week, I was pretty nonchalant and sleepy-eyed, looking forward to the short ride home and my creaky cot on which I could fling myself after another hard night's work. It then dawned on me that it was quite windy, too windy for a summer's day, unless it was going to rain, which it was not. The skies were clear, there was no smell of rain in the air and then I saw what I failed to notice in the first place.

There were leaves, the size of two or three postage stamps stuck together, flying in the air. I had never seen so many of them, all yellow in colour, running about in the wind, chasing each other. I could have stood there forever, as there was no other sound, other than for the wind forcefully making its way thought the trees. There was no one else in sight, I was alone and had not felt that sense of beauty or that degree of calm in a long long time.

Standing there I could forget for a few moments how much it was disturbing me that no one is willing to listen anymore, everyone was right and everyone was screaming. A good man is a good listener. We are all turning into anything but that. I could forget how shaken I still was from things that happened a a week or so back, how much difficult it was getting to keep moving when sense was still very busy being the elusive, fading flame of a candle, playing truant in a sea of darkness.

We all are traders of reality in the market of life, some trade for the present, some for the future and some hold on to worthless bits from the past. It is an intricate dance, where we at times hold on to what we have or acquire or sell depending on what we make of the conditions. Sometimes we make a killing, only to lose it all in the next gamble and every trader always has a scar or a tale from transactions that he was once part of.

Walking on the edge is, by nature, precocious in its disposition. At stake is either the most exciting view that one can ever get or a fall that would be spectacular for everyone else and anything but that for the fallen. Every faint gust and every dry breeze touches you here in a way that is more severe than what it is on safer grounds. That being a certainty, the pursuit of a mundane existence, joined by time when yellow leaves danced merrily in the air, continues fruitlessly.

May 12, 2003

Child's Play

While watching a BBC documentary on how military schools are becoming increasingly popular in the poor areas of America (It was a report on the program Correspondent, can't find the link to the report anywhere though), I was reminded of something that really shocked me during Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was how most of the privates in the US Army were basically children, aged 18 and thereabouts, fighting a war in an alien country.

I could not understand how it could be possible in a country, where quite a few states consider drinking alcohol below age 21 as a punishable offence, to consider sending children younger than that age to possibly kill someone. I have to assume that the age restriction on alcohol consumption is based on an argument that would probably say they are unable make rational judgements for themselves at that age. If that is the case, then I do not understand the logic behind the thinking that you can decide rationally whom to kill or whom not to when you are quite a bit younger at age 18.

The program showed some really disturbing aspects of how Bush administration is handling education there and one of them was the condition placed on schools to open its gates to at least one recruiter from the military, if they are to be eligible for a significant portion of funding from the government. What was saddening though was the reasoning by most people who support the military schools. They were saying that, considering the impoverished background that most of these children were coming from, these schools offered them a better future by means of instilling a sense of pride and discipline in them (sic). Essentially, this is the deal: You get your college fees taken care of, if you get enlisted.

As far as I know, that is a sick way of dealing with problems, one that runs parallel to the perverts who advocate the need for a military government to straighten out the problems of a country like India. At the best it sounds like a fancy reservation policy and as a rule any kind of reservation, especially at higher age groups, has only one end -- failure. What it actually does is to say that there is no way a person is going to have a chance to rise up the social ladder unless he is given an unfair leg up. The much talked-about women's reservation bill too, sadly, falls into this slot.

Giving a person from a lower caste or a lower rung of the economic ladder or the oppressed sex does not make up for the injustice that they have suffered over time. Not only does it antagonise the rest of the populace, it also consigns them to a lower level of living and image for good. The solution is only education minus reservation. There are not enough schools? We cannot afford to pay for more teachers? Why not? If we can build and maintain a huge army and armaments and even more pathetically keep politicians in power who don't give a hoot for our welfare, why is it not possible to spend outrageously on education?

It is criminal injustice to make education and health care beyond the reach of the common people in a country like ours. There is no accurate way to measure the benefits that a good education guarantees. It is a price worth paying much more than the inevitable and unjust policy of reservation that follows most privatisation efforts at some point in the future. But no, we still have to privatise education and healthcare because it is corrupt and that is how it is done in the west. There will never be an effort made to deal with the corruption, because you stand the risk of being called as socialist or a commie if you argue against privatisation. And that, these days, is an insult far greater than anything else.

On a more serious note, while following the WMD debate on a post by Kevin Drum, I was struck by enlightenment as to where they would find it. Starting next month, the US administration would set up a Department of WMD Searching, headed by Ken Starr to do what the name obviously suggests.

After covering countless miles through many a month, covering air, land and water, they finally find the booty in a backyard. Suddenly, they hear a snarl "Get off my friggin property, you son of a bitch!". As they turn around, they realise that the man they are facing is none other that great GWB Jr. and the place is his Texan ranch. That is how they ultimately found the greatest WMD (Weapon of Massive Daftness) and loose cannon on earth rolled into one. And then the credits roll with Nirvana playing The Man Who Sold The World in the background.

May 07, 2003


You know, just living can be so frustrating at times. As one grows older, the ideal is cut down in size, stage by stage, year by year and even then it easily slips away from the grasp like a bolt with a faulty thread. It will slip at the last turn, irrespective of the number of times you have tried or the effort you put into it. Even when you sacrifice the personal for something much larger, or sacrifice the larger for the personal, there is only so much one can do. What can you do in a situation where the absence of perfect knowledge is a constant that is forcing you back to the drawing board time and again, each time with another set of plans to achieve a qualitatively better level of failure?

The only joy exists in the miniscule improvement in the quality of the failure. That too is annihilated by the effort that goes into getting back to the drawing board all over again. Wish I had known better, wish I could act better, wish I had a perspective that would measure up to at least a fraction of what I want to get done. How does a bigger picture emerge when what you can achieve is microscopic at the best? How do you decide what is right for another person, when you do not know at the best of times what is right for yourself? One has to be extremely delusional to think something like that does not happen and this hypocrisy is what kills me the most. Like I said, all you have are qualitatively better failures and like they say, you live and die by the same sword.

May 04, 2003

Meme Deconstructed

From "Constantly Evolving" in late 2000 to the "Perfect Imbalance" of today, this inconsequential journal has come a long way. In the process it has transgressed many a false termination notice, stages of extreme confusion, depression or a deadly combination of both and the odd brush with elegant-sounding yet hollow entries and a few mindlessly boring flame wars. Still, if there is something that I know for sure, it is that I will keep this going as long as I can help it, because I have to admit, a journal cannot get any more monotonous than what this is right now.

The funny thing with me is that I do all the right things for the wrong reasons and vice versa. At least, most of what I do (anticipatory bail spotted - Ed) end up that way. For a dummy site that was need to test an XML-RPC client, this journal somewhere along the way underwent a very pleasant and surprising transformation into a very satisfying exercise in communication. It has also been an enormous learning experience as far as divulging personal information is concerned.

The singular tone and nature of this journal is mostly by purpose and in part due to a genuine lack of ability to add by means of value to the ever-swelling ranks of excellent blogs that are analytical in nature or ones that act as gateways to interesting links and hard to find information. Whenever I have tried to digress from the only the thing I can write reasonably authoritatively about - me and the things that surround it- it inevitably ended as a damp squib. The funny thing though is that, I am quite happy with what this journal is today and the twenty or so odd people that keep coming back regularly.

Since this journal is a very personal affair, I do not ever want it to be one of those that receive page views in the thousands on a daily basis. Honestly, I would not want to justify or defend what I write to all and sundry. I am very happy to banter with the regular visitors, but that communication is just a bonus. If people feel at least a fraction of what I am writing about, in the way I meant it, it is a definite plus' but the primary objective is to always vent, to press the flush button in the cesspool called as the mind. "This is not a democracy" said the character played by Matthew McConaughey in the movie U-571 and my life certainly ain't one either. I love the hints that I get towards the way I am headed, but I will be the one who always picks the route.

It was not without a significant amount of effort and frustration that the level of what I am allowed to reveal on a private journal was discovered. It works both in the professional and personal sphere of things and it is one of the reasons why I avoid writing much on Indian media, since I am very much a part of it. I consider that my own view and perception of media and the way it all pans out as too limited and backed by too little experience, to claim anything other than a miniscule vision of it. You see, it is one thing (and rather easy) to get worked up and write a critique over an incident that I happened to be part of on the job and quite another to see it in a wider perspective.

On the personal front, what I did divulge had in a few instances led to almost shutting down this journal. It is very difficult to draw the line when you describe things that are personal. Even when you are quite okay about what you can write about yourself, it is an iffy thing to decide where the okay line lies when it comes to describing things that happened, since it involves other people too and how does one write about it without their consent? That is the reason why most of the recent entries that I have made are mostly about the effect with the cause missing.

I know I could get so many other tools like trackbacks and pinging implemented on this journal. But, somehow or the other I am quite wary of getting more visitors and I certainly do not believe in the community thingie when i do not write about things Indian nor do I blog because I am an Indian. I am just an Indian who happens to blog. The only thing I'd ever want to be identified with is that I'd never wanted to be identified with anything. Other than that I am pretty much flattered and amused too to a certain degree to know that anyone would want to read the same handful of things that I keep going on and on about. But, I certainly ain't complaining!

May 01, 2003

Silent Silhouettes

Listening to Jagjit Singh singing Jaag Ke Kaati Saari Raina is too beautiful a way to welcome the first rays of the sun. Still, other than the song I feel restless, irritated, lost and ready to snap at the slightest provocation. I feel like Moses at the Red Sea, the only difference being that I do not have any divine powers to force apart the walls of time past and time to come, so that the present can have an uneventful passage.

Cannot really understand the reasons for such a strong degree of revulsion emanating from me and a new proverbial short leash that often threatens to explode into a fit of rage, the magnitude of which I have not experienced in a long time. There were no surprises in store for me. Whatever is happening is what I knew would happen. Then, why? Why can't I just seem to ignore it and move on and not feel like a toddler at his first day in play school?

Guess I value the little things I have in my life a lot more than what I thought I did. To the extent that it seems unlikely that I would brook any sort of attack or encroachment on it no matter how good the intentions are. Coupled a new approach that is attempting to do away with the unnecessary pleasantries, it is the ideal mixture for explosions internal and external. Aside: You can now blame Calpundit for my prolonged periods of absence from here.