Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Leh Trip - The Weight

Heart patients are told to take it easy, and indulge in only recreational activities. So guess with plently of time in hands, following is my rendition of a song called 'The Weight' performed by 'The Band (1968)'; - used as a road song basically.

So, Sunandan, Pankaj and Chandra - three friends since teenhoods, took their bikes to Leh, i.e. upcountry north to explore a little bit of their India and themselves; and boy, it has been six months now and the trip is still sinking in - which all will agree. Following is the album dedicated to same.

Original by 'The Band' following is a youtube to the song. If you haven't read the lyrics, maybe you are missing something!

Friday, 25 December 2009

East versus West – Some Lessons from the heart

Look at the ‘east versus west’ debate, where one accuses the other. One refers to the other as ‘the third world’ and in return gets a name called ‘industrialized’ in the today’s times of global warming concern. The intellectual topic - ‘east versus west’ starts turning trite as - to quote famous Paul Friedman – the globe turns flatter.

Look at these examples from the author’s case of his heart attack – one from the emergency medication facility available at that instant, and second from the long term recovery. Make notice from the contrast.

Angioplasty invented in California and/or Switzerland saved my life because I was cautious enough to land up at the emergency doors of a hospital in India. And, I am not sure I would have used the emergency facilities if, for example, I was living in the foreign lands of Europe. I am an easterner, and in comparison almos a same age but a westerner and a celebrity, Brittany Murphy, unfortunately, wasn’t as lucky as me.

Plavix is one of the important few medicines the doctor prescribes. Plavix in India is available in two types- One ‘imported’, and other ‘desi’ (Made In India). Just like shampoos and hair conditioners. The apparent difference is in the prices of the both. While a leaf of fourteen tablets cost around 1500 Rupees, the Indian version is cheaper by ten times. Now, the prescription is for the imported one for a few initial months, and later I could shift to the desi type. Though people (of east or of west) would sight that this difference in prices is because of manufacturing cost, plain patent costs, or some other reason, I would only adduce that my doctor is only concerned about the quality of my medicine since I can afford it, unlike some.

Some fun I had here comparing ‘east and west’!


Post.P.S. Merry X-mas

Monday, 21 December 2009

Slow down, read a book

One of the after effects of surviving a heart-stroke is that it slows one down. Doctors tell to do so - and no matter what, you don’t have a choice. And one of the results, positive, is that one would pick up books to read. Books which are slow, or books which are insightful, books which are shit, or books which heal, and so on so to let the time pass by.

Tortilla Flat’ by legendary Steinbeck became an unintentional efficacious companion. The period of recovery changed into gestation, for there were new things to learn. To me, more than the Arthurian connection or a beautiful community of Paisanos in the book, it was – to quote Thomas Fensch, the introducer to this edition (ed. year 1997)–

Above the bay, and in Caramel and elsewhere, the shacks and shanties of the paisanos are gone now too, bulldozed for tract houses, shopping centers, and roads. But through Steinbeck’s eyes, we see them still, talking and laughing under the golden warmth of the sun, in those idyllic days of the Great Depression, when friendship and wine meant more than money.

Thomas Fensch talks of the year 1935, when ‘Tortilla Flat’ was published. That is, in between the famous big wars of the west - evidently, bad economic and financial times.
And this fact apart, somewhere in chapter XIV in the book there is an important healing advice-

They did not awaken quickly, nor fling about nor shock their systems with any sudden movement. No, they arose from slumber as gently as a soap bubble floats out from its pipe. Down into the gulch they trudged, still only half awake. … Life took shape about them, the shape of yesterday, and of tomorrow.

Friday, 20 November 2009

Today I had a dream

I don’t mean to misquote the beautiful quote above we all know about. Just contemplating here. The following two quick successive incidents affected me such that I felt so helpless I may choose to slowly forget about them. Or share it?

One is about the dream this morning. It wasn’t really a pleasant one. In a new city I was travelling to with my bag pack, when I got thirsty I buyed a one liter mineral water bottle, I was still thirsty and soon bought the second one. I struggled doing this buying and drinking on the hustle bustle road that as soon I was about to open the cap of the bottle it flew off. Thumping the ground it rolled and the water spilled. I ran after it and as soon as got hold of the bottle, saw the cap rolling too. I ran after the cap but couldn’t pick it since it stopped on top of some human or dog excreta – yellow or brownish yellow it was. I looked around and there was some more material too – some older, some fresher. And, also some other refuse too – such as vegetable refuse, refuse I couldn’t identify, discarded water bottles, and more plastic.

Soon, the newspaper I was having with my tea told me something about the human condition in the very city I live in (More here). The country – mostly urban part of it employs more than 1Million reported people to clean our daily shit. Give them a full bottle of rum and ask them to take a holy dip. Because we cannot think better, leave alone dream better.

Living here, cannot avoid either, neither the dream nor the newspaper. Both are shit cheap, and yes, what a shit coincidence early this morning.

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Auto Strike

Somewhere around Sixty thousand Auto-Rickshaws of the Ahmedabad city went off the road yesterday. For a day they striked against a two-rupee a kilo increase in the gas prices. A policy level need maybe, threats of further strikes have also been conveyed.

Otherwise, on the road, people like me who commute in cars were a happier lot because the roads looked different and driving suddenly became a more pleasurable thing to do. Regular bus commuters were happier too, because no auto-rickshaw would cut across the lane and the bus won’t jerk of sudden brakes. But angrily they complained it took them a two hour longer waiting for the same buses - the buses wouldn’t stop as they were full of people. Some even took to pedaled commercial cycle carts. Rest, fifty percent weren’t affected at all, because they own bicycles and many don’t even need one.

Hah, some way to play politics, or play stupid, for the already cheap these affordable rickshaws in the city.

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

A Swine Flu lesson from a Chief

This incident makes me think in detail of a microorganism easily making his way through the VIP immigration gate of a country without being checked at all.

For some, it might mean an act of God, and for some even irony, but for me, reminds me that in these swine flu times I should be doubly sure of the source of my food - for example if the cook is not going to dip a meat curry ladle in a simple curry dish. And, oh! I should always wash my hands before my meal.

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Beaten up, beaten down

Bret Lee throws a bouncer every ball because Bhajji irritates him. This is because, Bhajji earlier had a verbal argument with Bret’s friend Andrew. Andrew is an aborigin by origin. Andrew complains that Bhajji called him Monkey – a racial slur – while Bhajji insisted he was misinterpreted. He only called Andrew as ‘Maa-ki’ (means ‘Mother’s…’ - An Indian slur, not racial, something like ‘son-of-a-….’). Now Bhajji is really scared of Bret because he has to face another bouncer which may break his head.

Well, these fighting people, even if they don’t want to, have to face each other. Their encounters fetch all some good money. They travel to each other’s countries, play cricket and are loved by people in both. They are their stars.

We know Bhajji, like Bret or Andrew on the other side, loves his motherland. So he stays where he belongs. But his friends are not as successful or famous like him. Although the friend belongs to a well-to-do and an ambitious society, he exercises his option to travel to migrate to countries where he can earn more, and live better. One such place Australia, he meets Bret’s and Andrews friends. Some are unemployed, and have to go to job-centers to look for work. Bhajjis migrant friend may have to go there too. Plus, they meet at many other places, like marketplace, pubs, streets and so on. Most are unable to make good friends, because their different upbringing and thereupon, the culture makes them different people. Similar to Bangladeshis and Africans, who come to Bhajji’s country looking for work. Oh, how can I forget, Bhajji’s own country has its own internal migrants too.

There are small skirmishes and fist fights between these culturally different people. Some fights flare up as big ones, some bigger ones into protests.

And, critics and writers get some material to write.

Monday, 5 October 2009

Panchayati Raj and PIM

Dear reader, perhaps you would like to throw some light to this cloudy question of mine - especially the ones in the water sector. The questions relates to the governance and water sector in India.

We all know Panchayati Raj was formalized in the country in 1992, famously known as the 73rd constitutional amendment. This made mandatory for the villages to have their committees, known as Gram Sabha Panchayats. The reason of this change was to empower villages with self governance so these Gram Sabhas could make independent decisions for their villages. Now, this is big. Change certainly won’t come fast and the government is supposed to play a role of hand holder to this process.

But the water resources sector which basically thrusts on agriculture (95% of its schemes) has an important lowest level grouping, popularly known as Water Users Associations (WUA). For example, when a new canal or its minor supplies water, the beneficiary farmers will form a WUA . Technically, WUA’s are a simple farmer participation method incited in almost every part of the world as a decentralized method of management. But in India this all is done in the pretext of Panchayati Raj. While WUA’s cut across political boundaries of Panchayats they have nothing to do with these Panchayats. The latter are nowhere in the picture. Naturally because of the specialized task like the crop yield expected from these WUA’s, there is still top down approach to the way these WUA’s are managed, if I say the least.
Also, such an approach takes thrust away from addressing issues such as equity, ecology, sanitation and so on.
Now, isn’t this also a slight deviance from the constitution as well?

I will look forward to your comments.

Tuesday, 15 September 2009

Dying because of …

Hey, in my recent post on Beat of India did I mention that the folk music is dying? Because the people who sing it are starving! Or, is it because of this urban air now today?
The answer my friend may blow in the wind, and that’s why Bobji sings an important line in the last para of his "let me die in my footsteps"- Go out in your country where land meets the sun

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

Going digital

Man wanted to draw, so he drawed on the dusty ground. The scribbles didn’t stay for long, also he wanted to colour them. So, he started to draw on the rocks or caves walls. Then lots of time passed, and he found himself drawing on the paper, or on the cloth. He devised better colouring pens too. The paper became an ultimate medium and was transportable. Now comes the time, when he can draw on a digital tablet. It is water proof, has colours aplenty, there’s additional glow and the pictures need only a few seconds to make a full circle of the globe. The only hitch, he has no time to draw.

Friday, 4 September 2009

Beat of India

Personally, for the music I like I either have to look faraway, or if it was not for this website http://beatofindia.com/, I would have been terribly bored.

Earlier as a child growing, the popular music in India and the music from Bollywood had disappointed me, and now it is the various talent exposition TV shows. Though in someways I do get what people can appreciate from someone talented singing popular songs, but I seriously do not get why these shows are bent upon destroying the confidences of some otherwise talented and ambitious people. A sound unique to someone, potentially superb is rejected because it does not exist within the popular culture’s dictionary of good sur (melody).

Beat of India is a life saviour; atleast for me. What they do is record an album of a local unknown artiste, whether rich or poor, and who has traditional groundings in his music. These singers or their songs are not fabricated for mass listening, so there are no unnecessary instruments or sophistication. They stick to the natural sound exemplifying either the struggle or the surroundings. Unlike the mainstream, there is aptly what is required - the artist, the accompanying instrument, and perhaps a few listeners like me.

Friday, 21 August 2009

the domesticated fowls

Three in the night (or you may call it morning) is the least crowded time on Amdavad’s roads. You rarely hear any reckless horning and the city dogs take over. There is no formula to get them quiet, except for getting rid of them, or adopt a more humane option- pray for their gangs to go to sleep.

For you all who used to, but now don’t live in Amdavad anymore, and are occasionally self- reminded of this chai sutta ka galla ‘Geerish’ at this hour, allow me to also remind you of this unnamed fowl, who loves to announce a new morning every morning. Right from this hour at three, he always gets confused, and can be heard, because of the bright sodium lamp he tries to sleep under. The owner tells that a fowl would live as long as 30-35 years. And, on the compound wall now, there not only sits one but three. All similar looking and collectively, on the kesaria-hanuman temple’s compound wall, colouring this quiet night under the bright sodium lamp.
p.s. Kesaria: Hindi language word transliterated, is an adjective for ‘Saffron’ colour.

Tuesday, 18 August 2009

Some entertainment

Saturday- a couple of young American cops on regular patrol fucked up a little, for they didn’t know who Bob Dylan was, and took Mr. Zimmerman to his hotel until he could prove himself as someone genuine. Sunday - it was Sarukh Khan’s turn. He could not fare better.

US government agency, USCIRF has announced India on its watch and monitor list because the latter fails to protect its religious minorities.

<USCIRF link 1 : Indian Flag – For enchanced knowledge, one can click further on the flag>
<USCIRF link 2 : Newpaper references on this issue>

Along with the editorial writers and journos in number of Indian newspapers, brown man will now borrow black man’s lines and sing in a bluesy tone– “before you accuse me ... take a look at your self”.

Perhaps, American government now needs to establish an another agency which it may call - USCENCECA (United States Commission for Entertainment Needs of its Cops and Elimination of Confusion if he is an Artist).

Monday, 10 August 2009

Travel to Leh

Biking to Leh (Ladakh) is told (or sold) as a dream trip to heaven by the people who have done it in the past. Recently, I joined the club too, for along with old pals Pankaj and Sunnu, each one of us on our bikes, totalled around 2500 kilometers within two weeks. The route from Delhi to Manali making it to Leh, and then back route through Kargil Srinagar Jammu, provides a good snapshot of today’s India.

The trip made me realise how nice people we Indians are as well as the worst assholes. The free India I experienced on its bumpy roads and rare landscape was the best fine and beautiful when my head was tilted up a little. With this tilted-up view, the mountains and valleys on my right or left or the horizon, and the unspoilt skies were simply breathtaking. But yes, watch out not to lower down your eyes, otherwise the environmental and human unconcern gets stuck in the corner. Rest was the usual India - simultaneously in motion and static, caring and uncaring, spoilt and unspoilt.

Thursday, 16 July 2009

One evening in a pub

While they both were having their pints and I having mine.
You say – I will be alright – say – yeah – everyone else – you know what I mean….... text …. I mean ..… no reply ….. no answer ……. duck duck duck ….. many times ….. rhythm in ……. duck duck din duck duck din ….. (this pause lasts for say five minutes) … no man …….. after chattering for 5 – 10 minutes, they have been silent for more than 15 minutes …… the woman goes to loo, the man sits here alone - and I think I should help him, look at his face and oh, he doesn’t looks pitiable at all. Plus he is thumping his leg to the music, some stoopid pop song of which I can make out only one word and that is beautiful, which she just keeps repeating….. asshole takes out his cell phone – oh, I should take out mine too …. ok let’s leave it to them and stop. and look outside the window and try to feel as if I don’t care. Oh no, feel.. hey that guy went out to loo but the woman looks sentimental, angry, …... lets leave it here, and try concentrating back to the window. Concentrate? What the fuck……. Just be yourself, calm down, put your phone on the table, expect your phone call from Cervantes, and most important enjoy – what if you got only a window.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Little flowers

In my neighbourhood, the name of schools Rachna (Creation) or Prakash (Light or Radiance) sound just brilliant. When someone calls a school, a sector-two school or Sola school, then also it is fine because they are purely named after the places they are located in. Or, similar are the ones named after saints or freedom fighters. But what, when, in these times of rapid development, when starting and running a school is shit easy, and you see names coming up, such as - Asia English, or Ahmedabad International, or (one so absurd that I cant even recall it and prompted me to write this blog), or democracy school?

Sunday, 5 July 2009

The Indian I.D.

Why suddenly I don’t hear about it in the newses anymore? Is the project scrapped or the money vanished? Nilekani (Yes, the chief of Infosys) out of work or he is keeping quiet? No, there is nothing like that, because the thing has existed since sometime (wikip). This issue as news headlines recently, only informed and brought forward that the tax coffers are coughing out precious Five hundred billion rupees on this. Because the need for an individual identity for e-governance is too important to outweigh the much debated privacy issues [try google]. Well, should I say I am not worried, because my name, again like in my passport, pan-card, driver’s license and election card, would be something different again.

If the task takes ten years, the project is asking for 5,00,000 correct entries daily and smoothly done for all ten years. Thus, can’t it be argued that this money and energies is better spent on something more useful? For example – provide ‘City Civic Centers with their own dustbins?'

The other day, the customer service kid repeatedly communicated to me that it will take forty-five days for the mobile phone company (in my case WhaTheFone ) to stop sending unsolicited promotional type messages. Receiving such messages, a minimum of five a day, like other users, err… I mean sufferers; I have convinced myself to enjoy reading what all I receive. The only pain is deleting them. Love, Chat, Dosti, UK-Girls are being offered to remotest tribals across the country too, who, if they don’t own a mobile phone have to worry about their regular daily meal and firewood again.

Wonder what impact this has on everybody’s chillen too?

Sunday, 21 June 2009

My muse for Lalgadh

Hey, I am from left, and know you are from right,
I got my gun, and you might have your might.
I warn, I will kill you, maybe blow you,
for my freedom and right,
even if you are my childhood friend, mite.

A few will take the risk of trust,
for their tongues or pens are stronger than any guns, or guts.
Others, a billion behind, they watch but most don’t say a thing,
they prefer yoga, they like to be confined,
evening walks gives them peace.

O’ Mao aao,
Come to my land instead, have some sasta vadapao,
if you got some extra cash have some coke too,
forget those tribals through,
let them stray left to right and right to left,
busy they are to understand, any –isms.

And, if you want to understand,
why I call myself left and assert I am right,
come to my land, live with me, for a while borrow my sight,
See my state and then see the state of my state,
land fertile or barren, together we will grow a million cars,
and the real estate.

Wednesday, 17 June 2009

The poor poor-man

Country ‘A’ has many types of people – hindus, harijans, rich, middle class, gujaratis etc.. As far as I know, ‘B’ has caucasians, aborigines and new settlers. ‘C’ has rich, pashtuns and others. ‘D’ has locals, rich-migrants and slaves.

Recently, A is in conflict with B, because the not-so-poor of A got into a bad sustaining brawl with the poor of B in the latter’s backyard. The poor of B, they complained, “hey, you took away our jobs, mate!” and also used some nanchas and knives. So, the not-so-poor from A, but living poor in B take to the streets and protest before their rich, also hoping to attract attention of their rich in A as well. In response because of some responsibility, the rich representatives of A take the earliest flight to talk to their not-so-poor and also the government of B. Both the governments of A and B when asked, say they are monitoring the situation and are trying their best to get it under control.

The same A is also in some senseless conflict with C which doesn't has any true basis. And also avoids discussing its true relationship with D. So, these rich representatives of A return back from B and get into a more time consuming work of organising high level peace talks with the rich of C, or organising protocol events for the guest from D who loves the exodus of poor from A so he can turn them into local slaves when they move to D.

All these variables, from 'A' to 'D' are interrelated in some form or other. Everything is about the poor man, but it seems the cause is just lost somewhere, somewhere in rhetoric.

Monday, 8 June 2009


Who cares about the quality, but, has anybody said this before?

To do something big, you just need that spark you know you can manage. Rest is collecting hay.

Sunday, 7 June 2009

Dispensable expenses and lal-batti


A cause can be common in two quite different cultures, but the reasoning of the cause would never be.

The exposé by a British newspaper on the issue of public money misuse by their parliamentarians as extravagant personal expenses has sparked off an interest amongst the intellectuals here in India as well.

With this cue, they lament the same issue applicable to an Indian mantri. Hardly realising that he* is the most important man, elected by the aam admi or gaon wala, who doesn’t really cares to know why not their elected leaders should live lavishly. Maybe, he wants him to actually enjoy his victory of next five years. The elected is an important man, therefore has the dispensable Lal-batti on his car; whether the road is crowded or not.

*author's apologies for use of masculine

Tuesday, 2 June 2009

Australia – the destination

Actually, I don’t feel like writing about this at all. But, will have to. Because? Probably, because, the voices talking about the issue, either of critics or observers, are a little off tangent.
So, I join too.
To an Indian from India, racism hurts, not because he is at the receiving end of it, but because he is not used to it at all. When we don’t communicate by talking, it is only the eyes that see. Colour becomes visible. And this Indian doesn’t take the issue of colour seriously. He is used to other form of discrimination in his own country, much unnoticed- such as religion, region, caste, and sex. Therefore, when the situation, coupled by individual incidents and persistent institutional prejudice, goes out of control and comprehension, mass protests show up.
I don’t agree with a few who say that it is the fault of very Indians who chose to go to Australia after all. First of all let us accept that migration is a normal human activity and the man has moved places to places since he evolved. Australia calls itself a multi-racial country, but is far away from proving it. Towards this, Australia is now thinking about effecting a 'hate law', which itself can be seen as a manifestation of hate. It is well known that the law only impacts the lowest in the society. But this is what ‘subjection’ offers. And, Indians, Aborigines, Caucasians - after all, they all come from somewhere! They must be tamed.
Western countries do fear Indians taking over internally, and like it or not, most don’t like it. Conversely, think, why is Sonia Gandhi regularly dubbed a foreigner?
So, like an infant, with the genes of a great civilization, India is again destined to be in the forefront. In no doubts I will assert that the Indian government is now only recently learning to protect the rights of its own people in different countries, who are like everywhere on the globe. Remember Amit and how he was treated? It will be interesting to see what India (Government and people alike) do to protect the humanity. So far no strong statements is a good sign. But again, at whose cost?

Sunday, 31 May 2009

PM (Politics and Media)

Sometimes to see clearly, one should allow time for the dust to clear out. And as the dust settles, you will see again the same respected blue turban man appear who you had been seeing for last five years. Zoom close to chachaji’s face – it is not smiling but looks like a smiley, and his two finger ‘v’ sign, looks more like Churchill’s than his own.

A month before, before the dust had cleared, or even had begun to gather, the Indian media was trying its best speculating every other visible politics practitioner as the next PM, except the most obvious man - man the mohan ... One assumption that comes out discussing this in evening with company and suttas is that by publicizing about all the gimcracks in the fray, India’s beneficent media is all out with blazing guns to destroy each. Or, may be it has taken up the task on to itself to find the one, the real one, to run (or represent) the country.

Whoever, ideally, more productive would have been constructive discussions of the manifestoes and visions between the turbaned and the rival baldy, and the others (remember it is multiparty); or their respective parties. Then, even if quality of news we see everyday doesn’t improves, at least the politics would.

Tuesday, 19 May 2009

Prabhakaran is dead

Of the eight elite (the english channels on my sky-tata) this afternoon four were constantly showing the dead body of the man-eater from the National Jaffna park reserve. On all these channels, dead Prabhakaran looked more alive than dead, at least for some moment. Laid on a stretcher, lips upwards, his eyes were open with eyeballs trying to look up, only making half-way because the bullet that had pierced his head was much faster.

Again, the sensationalisation by media persists more on the encounter, the war, the evil, the bad or the good, leaving a much lesser room to observe or talk to the average 5 feet Sri Lankan or Tamil , whatever you want to call them.

Then, comes to mind Kateri Akiwenzie Damn’s last liner in the TOI Ahmedabad edition - "We belong to our land. The land does not belong to us."

Wednesday, 13 May 2009

Three meals a day in Ahmedabad

Having his breakfast omelette a man calls up Radhe builders for a new flat they built in Ahmedabad. The builder responds to the mobile call which he had missed, and to the man's enquiry asks -

"Sir, what’s your caste?"
"you guess from my name I just told you? "
"Are you Gujarati?"
"But you sound Punjabi."
"Yes I am a Punjabi too, a French as well, even an Indian."
"Oh that’s fine."
"Do you eat non veg?"
not expecting a wrong line to a restaurant -"Oh! am I really speaking to Radhe Builders?"
"Yes, you are."
"Oh! If I am a muslim and a vegan too, then?"
"It is my right to sell."
"Well dude, you are selling your property to public."
Click! - the man cuts the phone line, thinking - what's the point speaking to a few, who are like the few fishes who spoil the whole pond. Nothing new, Phew!

The man lets the lunch pass because it was too hot.

Evening for dinner in a completely outdoor cafĂ© at the Hussain Doshi gufa – a symbol of liberty and freedom where elites from the city sit and chat in the evening. Mellow fusion music resonates and trees blow with nice wind. There is an arty board, which reads, ‘No smoking’. The man and his friends light up their cigarettes. Since last ten years they have always smoked their fags at the same spot. The waiter returns with the change.
"You stubb your cigarette. "
"Why? "
"No smoking here."
"Who says."
"It’s written there."
"Who wrote it there?"
"Well that’s the rule."
"This is not an indoor restraunt. We are leaving anyways. "
The man and his friends finish their fags, and smoke another one outside the gate.

And here I present India, a land where three meals a day is a custom! Wasn't each one exciting, and full of moral policing the peoples need ?

Friday, 8 May 2009

A tribute to Indian Folklore

India, it lives in its villages,
romantics say in a quirky tone.
No! it dies in its villages,
realists sigh and moan.

If both could be right,
then who would be wrong.
Maybe the truth lies with,
the villager and his own folk song.

ladies and jantlemen, I present to you "Bhola Rajak. From Hariraha village in Madhepura district, Bihar, India.
In the video (Courtesy and thanks to Kamal for the capture and the angle within) - see the typical country rock style in showcase.

The other is an audio file – a ballad on the famous and unfortunate 2008 river Koshi floods in Bihar. I will title it as 'char bhavani' It’s a big task to pen the lyrics but in the nutshell -

The Koshi dam breaks – four sisters find themselves on a bamboo raft – below is flood waters on which the raft sails, on top is a snake - Further down stream, looters are looting the stuff that flows with water - They see the girls and now want to balatkar (rape) them – The girls are scared because cornered now they have no-where to go – The snake bites the goons – This snake is an incarnation of Lourd Krishna.

If you would like to promote this one amazing performer let me know, I will contact Bhola Rajak. I am not sure how he would react.

Thursday, 7 May 2009

The Tamil cause

Native to Indian part of Himalayas I can argue why Tamils should matter to me when the cause of Tibet or Nepal doesn’t concern my South Indian brothers. I remind myself, that as a responsible citizen of a responsible democracy we would belong to the bourgeois and so it is our duty to worry about our countrymen’s stakes, beliefs and relations across the borders in an ethnically similar country. Actually, somewhat in same ways as G.W.Bush ascribed for Iraq and then what is happening there.

The concerned English speaking Indian news channels, show the concerned Karuna-nidhi (the name implies wealth of compassion) fasting and lying sideways, probably sleeping along with meditating, the under navel portion of his white kurta waved expressing the peacefulness of the air he enjoys in India. Opposition is not in same peace and so the others, average height five feet, in groups of many, lying sideways in the makeshift, one can argue relief camps.

All probably silently singing, the answer my friend, is blowing in the wind…

Or, probably the bourgeois amongst likes of Tibetans, or as far as Anglicans, or perhaps Sinhalese singing that they could be the the best ones to decide the fate of Tamils who could not sort this out for themselves.

Just for some feel, see two distinctive points of views [POV 1], [POV 2] . And it becomes apparent how another confused Indian foreign policy legacy continues. For bad than for the worst.

For the average five feeters trapped within the war zone, flying bullets and shells, whichever directions it comes from is fatal. After this war is over, they will have simply apparent choices. To be either refugees, or tigers transmogrified into guerrillas. The obvious bourgeois message will soon be - after you have been helped, don’t degrade yourself as a guerrilla because you were a tiger for so many years. Become a refugee in India or Sri Lanka to work as landless labourers, and contribute to this great South Asian poverty.

Friday, 1 May 2009

Paradox that is Indian elections

Rahim: So, did you vote?

Ram: What is the point? Is there anyone worth to whote for?

Rahim: Ha ha … well, that is exactly the challenge in voting in Indian elections!… heh heh

Narrator: Therefore - since in these elections the challenge is not to the candidates, but to the voter purely, therefore, true democracy exists.

Thursday, 30 April 2009

One day when you are truly alone

Today is day off in Ahmedabad for voting of the third of the four phases of Lok Sabha elections. The air is positive here, but not one candidate or party is fully convincing. Not one talks truly for understanding the culture, development needs or economics of the country, but the righteous media blare for everyone to go out and vote – either for change or for preserving values. They instigate to go and vote for political parties who are clearly speaking their own undertones. For a voter left alone in this democracy for a while, he doesn’t has a choice, except, ‘to vote’ or ‘not to vote’.
In my view, to vote means one hopes at least for either of the following –
  • To get some monkeys to represent and run the society
  • The new elected may be better than the last
  • To reduce the vote margin of a contestant one thinks truly sucks

Not to vote means the individual either –

  • Doesn’t cares, or
  • Doesn’t know who to vote for, or
  • Protests on the quality of contesting candidates and parties

If any of the bullets I listed above imply to you, so as to not to be alone I suggest you better communicate your stand clear when you either vote or you don’t vote. Its your choice, its your democracy. There is no silver bullet (pun).

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Through Sartre’s Nausea

One of the book I had found tough to read in grey surrounds of England is Sartre’s “Nausea”, which I finally completed in Ahmedabad recently; perhaps because it was still brighter in my close confined room here than the gardens of Surrey. The rounded rectangular orange-whitish ticket for London underground used as bookmark indicated the date as 25th Oct 07, and so I realise it had been some time since I started with this book. Through this book, many times I felt Nausea too, but in my head. The humanist constantly battered by the realist is an interesting thing to look here.

Sartre's maiden published work, looked very personal to me and led me closer to understand why he must have declined accepting 1964 Nobel prize in literature, with the argument that he has every moral reason to do so.

Make sure you have enough brightness around before you pick up this book.

Sunday, 12 April 2009

Kaddu v/s Tomatoes

A two kilo kaddu costs fifty paisa in an Eastern Bihari village where it grows. Fifty kilometres off, not so much a well off place but a district town centre, the same thing costs 10 rupee. In the same town, tomatoes cost ten rupees a kilo and most people cannot easily afford either. Overnight distance across in Uttaranchal where the same tomatoes come from, the farmer will give you the tomatoes for free because they are going to rot anyways. So, people in both places eat most of what they grow, they keep their habits intact, and therefore build a cultural culture. However, inside them also builds up desires for mobile phones, cars, electricity and so on. In London, the very next day the same tomatoes and kaddus sell for 100 -200 rupees, but, from somewhere else. And, while all this happens, people queue up in government offices (note: 50 kms from the same villages) and wait for the relief of meagre 2000 rupees for the floods that happened last year.

So what the main cause of this problem ? Lack of access and infrastructure clearly one reason. But then whose job is it to build the simplest thing - the road?

People (waiting at the government office): Whose? The government’s! It’s their Road and building department (RnB) who is supposed to make roads.

Sir, you are an executive engineer from the RnB – why are the rural roads in such bad condition?

Answer: Hmm, but the rural roads specifically are taken care by another department called ‘rural roads depeartment’.

But sir, what about the conditions of your roads?

Answer: No! they are fine. We get instructions and we build them. I know from Patna, we are low on budgets.

Me thinking – If the peoples get better roads, although it will be much easier to visit back, the migration will become easier. They can come back home more frequently. Usually from Punjab, where they can work as farm labourers growing wheat and Makka we Indians are proud of.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Throw some light here as well, please

My last post day-before could well have been a rant. But, last night I spent in a village which hasn’t seen its own electricity ever, except a community solar lamp defunct since last 2 months. Villagers charge their mobile phones from the neighbouring village shop 3 kilometers away, to which they usually walk, because cycles are a little expensive, or not needed.

Today 50 kilometers away, here in Saharsa there was no electricity for most of the day, and also the night.
And all over the world, they are switching off their lights for an hour to bring awareness about climate change.

Here. I am only asking for a small change.

Because, atleast blog readers are more understanding human beings, and I hope they didn’t keep their laptops on while their house lights were switched off. I think, bloggers are better people than the sarkari officials because aleast I can reach to them! The latter I know are bad with computers, busy with elections, conducting inter exams peacefully, and are signing, signing and just signing...

Thursday, 26 March 2009

POWER POLICY – jugglery of words

No, nothing about the Indian elexions this april here, but this bijli ki samasya in this country. The UPS box behind me wheezes with a half 100 volt power supplies, while the lightning crackles with the same rhythm, every five minutes left or right I see cracks in the sky.

In the UK, where 'the energy' is critical to their functioning and they say is under continuous threat from Russia, and sustainability concerns now in the market, I remember a newspaper advocating shift in the way energy is consumed there; said- “New generation power plants in the country”.
Here I had just read in today’s newspaper- “New power generation plants in the country”.
Just a swap of words I guess.

Saturday, 21 March 2009

Ahmedabad to Saharsa again

Unlike last time this time I made it on time; yes! from Gujarat to a Bihari town called Saharsa in exactly 18 hours (plus minus 30 minutes). Especially, it is always exciting when you catch your flight running, and they give the chauffeur driven bus all to yourself in the nice airport in Ahmedabad. But, whether the spicejet or IA, your neighbour has turned into an individualist, he is not interested in talking to you. And for you, the same individualist, richer guy, want to know how the trains are cleaned? Either it’s a teenager with both fixed legs inutile so he crawls, or a navel exposing kid because the lowermost button of his shirt is not important, or the shirt’s a couple of sizes small. Compassion or pity, they live on your tips dear passenger, dear citizen.

In Bihar platform no. 1, the train has its one destination written in Gujarati, saying Amdavad. It comes into attention because for a moment the brain is not able to connect something written in Gujarati in a Hindi spoken part of the world (or for that matter Maithili or Bhojpuri).

Makkhis are in plenty. Closer look tells that they live in groups, with 20 to 50 in one, and each group a couple of feet away from each other. In the amidst it feels home no matter strangers pushing onto you when walking, and leaning onto you when sitting waiting for time to pass. The conversations though start up don’t go beyond a point, because it needs at least one of the two to sustain a conversation.

Newspapers are shouting for change, probably not knowing but envisioning what this change means. I share a few brittania cakes with the newspaper selling kid.

In the train, the five newspapers you have bought from different vendors are not yours because you can read only one at a time. You must give it to your surrounding neighbours who will casually ask you for one. You can treat him with chai too and then all his love and travel food is yours. Littees are a must have in Bihar, preferably homemade ones if you can lay your hands on a few by just being nice.

Thursday, 12 March 2009

This land is your land – let it flood.

Land, other than atmosphere and water, is arguably the most obvious physical entity that connects heavily to the universe. Eventually it belongs to no-one, or inversely, everyone, and probably though its ownership is never affirmative stays with the affirmative.

I recall Bihar, then the Indian history, and now these recent contemporary times that it is the holding of this land that can be blamed as the root cause of all the conflicts; within the guise of being a thankful source of pride and food. This want to call the land his own has given the man a tendency to divide, and for which he even won’t hesitate the third time to kill, even within his family too. Some people will make use of the second chance to agree and then to migrate.

So, if a flood comes and submerges this land, isn’t it helping solve the problem in a way? The setback is that this water eventually drains to the sea.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

A cup of tea in Madhepura

Today I saw a man,
sitting next to me,
I was having tea,
so too he.

Just a thick dark skin,
between atmosphere and him,
hollow eyes and naked feet crackin’,

don’t know the surface sad or smilin’.

Beside him me a triple chin,
shrinking fatter while he grows thin,
him me and me him shall I pity him,
or rather me myself my frien’.

For armpit

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

E street shuffle at Bihar

Bihar is unique, because when Mihir says, everyone here literary lives on the roads, he is true. I confirm his observation, because whichever road that runs in this state of India is not more than a street wide. Therefore, the roads here are not roads but streets everywhere and most people have their houses or shops fixed just next to them. At first it may nakedly appear that the oppressed is used to being oppressed here, but it is somewhat true, because the truth is everyone gives way to a little arrogant. This could be because, the local land is so fertile and natural and traditional systems so strongly established, that it gives the local folker much much more than whatever material or psychological these babus, politicians, landlords and their cronies can rob from them.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Entry in Bihar

Flying by domestic air plane so can work on sustainable bamboo construction. Doesn’t seem right, right? Spice jet serves packed sandwiches but no tea or coffee. Them could actually stand up to their name by letting a common hawker setup a small chai shop inside the plane itself. Then will actually call it a no frills airline. Don’t I say right? Indian Airlines plane starts late by an hour, the train drops late by an hour. Things don’t change fast, right? Patna, where every man, a stranger, we talked to tells us to take care of ourselves and not talk to strangers. Is it right? Big crowds with green flags filling up the road, with red flags filling up the platforms, is it right? At night Saharsa station is crowded with a minimum five thousand laying or sleeping. Can't say wrong or right. The lazy caretaker after an hour of honking at the hotel gate tells all rooms are occupied by executives, and it is 12’ midnight – what if you have booked a room, is it any time to come? Not right.

Monday, 9 February 2009

Dispersion within Amdavad

Smoking is useful. Because, it makes you aware about things you otherwise won’t know.

If you are not a smoker, you may still stop opposite the Torrent power station at Sabarmati, and take pictures of the cooling tower that had collapsed ten days ago or so. Dear non-smokers don't mind my saying so, but chances are less that you will befriend an unknown regular Galla owner with one choti gold-flake. He would tell you to take snaps of the other two standing towers as well, because they will collapse soon too. The shopkeeper will claim that the design of the cooling tower was cool because all rubble fell inside the structure. No life loss, only three injured, and that’s why there’s not any big uproar.

The conversation will then extend to the Galla owner’s brother, who hanging around, will ask you if you would know someone in the Municipal Corporation to look at their society’s ever leaking drains and water supply. The whole place in real mess. The brother will also mention that despite running around, even the newspapers aren’t much interested in their cause. Banjara-ni-Chaali with forty-five families is now desperately looking for a builder who offers a better price because the last one was of One Crore Rupees. The request will change - to finding a builder rather than a municipal engineer.

Now, this is one example in Ahmedabad city where development (Vikaas) is undoubtedly happening. People are more aware and richer, and are seeking a better quality of life. Slowly, from a community they are turning into individual property seekers - dispersing into different directions looking for newer or better homes. Not only because of modernity, but because of the lack of provisoning of a decent basic infrastructure.

Anyways, after this dispersion, the people will merge together into a newer housing society expecting a so called better lifestyle, which would be individualistic and a little more modern, just a little. And, an older city eventually giving way to a newer one.

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Morning twilight

Today, I made a brief visit to some people left behind in this recent process of development and democratasization (technically). No, I didn’t meet or talked to any, rather just had a smoke squatting on the newly built curb of a brand new footpath. Under the super glow of ultra powerful halogen lights it shined whitish grey and still smelt of fresh cement. While, I looked at the smooth six lane road in front of me, a BRTS lane in between, my back was facing a hundred, maybe two-hundred people; some sleeping in the shacks, some in open air. The lights wasn’t reaching them, and the air was passive and breezy. But it won’t be long when the municipal sweeper will wake up everyone with the scraping of his broom, making the front view in dawn dusty, the first few horns of the new day traffic will remind the hustle-bustle and struggle which all of them must face in another few hours.

This reminds me as well to link this blog to my
previous entry

Monday, 19 January 2009

Waters for two

An old thought that I had written a couple of years back but never posted. This was on my dilemma on the usage of word water, which is singular in almost all languages. The thought was on …

…my conversation with a Dutch air host serving on the plane from Amsterdam to Liverpool made me realise this. It started when my request for 2 bottles of water must have been a little inaudible, so he brings his ears close to me and I repeat - two water? In confirmation he utters “two waters!” and then he goes down deep inside somewhere in his trolley to magically appear back with a couple of bottles of still mineral water. Meanwhile, I have already gotten into a thought process re-interrogating the usage of word ‘water’ in my head. I had learnt in school that water is neither singular nor plural, therefore is just referred as Water, and when in abundance becomes a plural form. Similarly, like the word expanses for expanse. However his calling ‘two waters’ rather than ‘two water’ did make sense. This is because we have been able to divide water by putting it (maybe them) into bottles.

Thursday, 15 January 2009

Jaago Graahak Jaago - Elections have come

Damn! six months to go for next lok sabha elections, and any decent idea who the next Indian prime minister could be?

So, is it going to be another last minute huccle scuffle once again? After the elections, when one party comes into a strong position to form a coalition, then will come the prime question again- who is the next main man? Here, a common man, I am totally puzzled or probably uninformed, with the exceptions of a few names we all know. So, is it going to be same old horse to continue, or a new seventy-eighty year old, or some socialist who is private sector’s apple of the eye, or one under the job training to change a democracy into a dynastocracy? Or is it some one from minority just because we need a sort of Obama for ourselves?

With the so called largest republic in the world -60% coming out and voting usually, probably the fact is that most are busy with their struggle to live daily, or maybe many are trying their level best to keep abreast with the available news or pieces of information, just trying to interpret things behind the lines of the complicated political scene in India.

Jaago Graahak Jaago – Indian polity hasn’t got anything fresh in the market to offer.

Saturday, 10 January 2009

A Junkie’s freedom and his belongings

Comparing the governance of people in two countries sometimes provides an interesting insight. At least it did to me.

The reference here is a typical Junkie in the UAE of Middle East. ‘Junkie’ - is a term I have coined for a typical Indian male who I saw here in plenty, roaming on or on the sides of the roads, doing either errands or probably looking for work. His typical dress is a collared shirt which is dirty or perhaps paled because of regular washing. Similar scene is with the trousers he wears. The footwear ranges from chappals to operational shoes. He has crossed the mighty gentle Arabian ocean to work for a year, has agreed to abide with the law of the land, and has a pre-decided salary. When his term ends, the visa is easily renewable. However, he is not allowed to bring along his wife or family. Because otherwise, he will procreate and generate stakeholders who will claim their rights to the place. Only colleagues, somewhat friends, are around.

Prima facie - the situation’s not much different in the homeland India too. He migrates nearly the same distance, mostly doe’s physical work under similar conditions - generally sunny, dusty, and sweaty. In most cases he lives away from his family. He could bring them along, but due to lack of certainty of the type of life in a new place doesn’t. Living in a democracy, free to choose, now alone he is left free to fend for himself. The colleagues again, are somewhat friends.

I have a converse example too – about him and his family migrating together, temporary or permanent. He has rented a six by four feet hand-cart on which he has fresh vegetables to sell. Underneath the shade of the cart is a hammock styled cradle made of cloth suspended. Wife and others in the family are distributed somewhere nearby around - mingled or working in the dusty and buzzing streets as aayas or on somebody else’s errands. Evenings they meet up again, living together happily, in a cluster of shacks we call slums. Thankfully, he is allowed to procreate and generate stakeholders who will earn their rights to the place.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Welcome Happy New year

Gandhinagar-Ahmedabad highway, three lanes clearly demarcated with rural villages still existing on both sides. Urban development body’s extent extended - people accepting compensation and relocation, terms they have no problems with, so their houses brought down. In the day time, one place next to the highway with people in traditional clothes, some walking around, some sitting on wooden and rope cots, their buffaloes next, and broken rubble around; putting them all in a two dimensional frame reminding exactly of an earthquake scene. In the night the highways and the city is lively, reminding first January new year is a few hours away. When at twelve’ O clock the clock clocks, people in my group wish each other a happy new year, they laugh, kiss or hug. Now going home after an hour, the drive though the city even more livelier. Every hundred meters a new group of hundred CC bikers with pillion at back either whiz across or they are overtaken. A minimum four and a maximum ten Mukesh, Ramesh , Wiral and similar, their legs spread, their bikes lesser in number than their group's numbers; something new - all sporting handkerchiefs covering their faces, and are hooligan-loud; louder than their bike horns. While they scream or celebrate on top of their voices while driving, their bikes dance and sway, away and closer to each other, and although it seems they may they don’t collide, and they drive further slowly and loudly. They are beating air-pollution smog but are quite loud about it. Cops stop a few, but how many can they actually can? The new year has come to Ahmedabad, (and now more people know about it), with promises of greater expansion, wider roads, more motorcycles, higher dust, louder honking and introduction of Closed Circuit TV’s…

Welcome Happy New year.