October 8, 2016
September 24, 2016
Modern food: unreal (Processed, packaged, ready to eat)
Modern wind: unreal (Fan, AC, Central AC)
Modern medicine: unreal (Allopathy)
Modern entertainment: unreal (When was the last time you say a life performance?)
Modern relations: unreal (Facebook, instagram, linkedin)
In modern times, we really have proved that world is unreal (maya)🙂
Bodies move in a steely frame of concrete and metal.
Confident that this is their world.
Nary a sweat needs to be shed to grow a grain.
Food boxes overflow within an arms reach.
Juices and water found in brilliant bottles.
The wind always blows cold and comfortable.
Not a germ in sight, every cough and fever cured.
Lest we worry, there is jest a-plenty.
Switch the tube, switch again, titillate your brain.
And to speak of friends, we have very many.
Everyone within a link, no risk of infamy.
We know beyond these walls lurks another.
Where hard work involves sweat and dirt.
Food grows, and not everything is available all year.
Where wind blows cold, hot and truthfully is all over.
No medicines just leave and roots.
Germs are everywhere, eating us sometimes but mostly eating each other.
You have to work to even laugh or cry.
It involves real labor, not a room or box
Friends you have, but enemies you have too.
Links are a few, but they have to be near you.
Yes, this concrete and metal is not real.
But, we are already born within.
Yes, this concrete and metal is temporary.
But, it is so easy to stay within.
Yes, the truth may be better.
But, we know only to stay within.
August 9, 2016
We pushed a bar through her stomach,
And rejoiced as we broke her outer skin.
We continued till she profusely bled,
And were swept away by a mad glee.
A hole we had already pierced in her.
Many holes we were planning to make.
To survive we dug into her.
To live, we are digging into her.
To enjoy, we are digging into her.
Mother earth, how long will you bear?
This weight of our joy, pleasure and sorrow.
Mother earth, the life-giver who continues to care.
For a children who take the precious from you,
And spit at you their unwanted share.
This is the third instance in this year that I have
directly or indirectly been responsible for a borewell.
A mother feeds a baby willingly, but what if the child asked for more? Much more than what she could give of her own accord. Would the mother still give? My guess is that we are asking for too much.
In any case, this is an academic exercise. I will not stop the construction. But I can say a few words that look nice on facebook.
April 27, 2016
Three politicians got into a fast local as it was pulling out of Kalyan headed towards CST: Left, right, and Congressi.
Stop 1. Kalyan: Hardly any people sitting on the seats, mostly empty train.
Left: This is an abomination. In the name of development, the Govt has stolen land from farmers to build useless trains.
Right: Can we sell the empty seats to Reliance?
Congressi: All hail Indira. The train should stop at minority railway stations like Thakurli, Diwa etc.
Common man: Will this train reach on time?
Stop 2. Thane: All seats had been taken.
Left: What about the poor farmers outside Bombay? These trains have never created any benefit for the poor people outside Bombay.
Right: Can we sell the standing place to Reliance?
Congressi: All hail Rajeev. What do you mean the train is fast? How do the other stations develop?
Common man: Will this train reach on time?
Stop 3. Ghatkopar: There are four people sitting on each bench that is meant for three. More than 50% of the standing space has been taken up.
Left: This is a class struggle !!! How can the trains have seats for only three people when clearly the public demand is for four seats.
Right: Can we remove the seats completely, and sell them to Adani?
Congressi: All hail Sonia. We have to protect the interests of minorities in Ghatkopar. They rarely get a window seat. There must be reservation and special law for all stations after Thane.
Common man: Will this train reach on time?
Stop4. Kurla: All the standing space is taken up.
Left: This is clearly the time for revolution !!! Farmers and villagers have spilled their blood for the train, now they have no space left.
Right: This train is not serving the purpose. Let us invite consultants from private sector to build a new train.
Congressi: All hail Rahul. Rahul baba will come to supervise the conditions of trains. He will connect with the youth and the marginalized.
Common man: Will this train reach on time?
Stop 5. Dadar: There is no place in the compartment. People hanging for dear life from outside the train.
Left: We have to open the eyes of the world to see this oppression !!! We will write editorials and documentaries about the unjust Indian society, culture and history that has lead to this sad state of affiars.
Right: We will build a bullet train from Kalyan to CST, covering this distance in 10 minutes. There will be no crowds, and it will not stop at any of the pesky stations on the way. It will cost 6000 crores which will be repaid over the next 50 years.
Congressi: We have convened a national convention that has recommended common minimum seat demand. Accordingly, we will have a high power commission that will commission separate trains for each station. There will be reservations for each station on each train. There will be separate ticket collectors for passengers from each station.
Common man: Will this train reach on time?
Last stop. Between Dadar and CST: There is a blast in one of the compartment.
Left: This violence is the expression of people supressed by fascist, regressive policies. We stand in solidarity.
Right: Attack Pakistan. Enter Burma.
Congressi: We realize your pain. Gandhi family also made a huge sacrifice for the nation.
Common man: Will I get to work and return to my family after work? Can someone please kill these three politicians?
Distance between Kalyan and CST is about 70 Kms. There are about 25 stations between Kalyan and CST. The fast local trains in Bombay stop at about 6 of them. Slow trains stop at all stations. People from all religions and walks of life travel in complete peace and harmony. A banker rubs shoulders with a dabbawala, and a student all in the same compartment. There are rarely any fights, and certainly not for seats.
Kanhaiya Kumar spoke about “fights” for seats in the local trains of Bombay. I grew up in the lovely city, went to school and college. I travelled in these trains and BEST buses for a major part. Politicians like Kanhaiya can only fabricate divisive issues. It is a sad state of affairs that the common man gets crushed between these selfish interests.The media routinely replay words from these politicians. Who will replay the true emotions of people?
April 16, 2015
December 12, 2014
The Govt is planning to start a CEBI – Conversions and Exchanges Board of India. This board will be along the lines of the world famous SEBI and be responsible for catching all the Harshad Mehta’s of the conversion world. Given the potential growth of this market in recent years, several unscrupulous players have entered the market . Regulation and control of this area has assumed significant importance.
The initial mandate of this board would be:
- Arrive at a comprehensive vocabulary: Terms like “conversion”, “religion”, “religiousness”, “coercion” are getting thrown about in this area without any recourse to exact definitions. For instance, If someone is converted for a few hours or a few days, does that count? What would happen if someone wants to pray in institutions belonging to two different divinities? Can religiousness be measured in decimal scale (Can someone be 0.25 Christian, 0.45 Hindu, and 0.3 Parsi for example)? Exact specifications for all these would be arrived at to allow for bureaucratic and legal uniformity.
- A religion-line: Just like poverty line, a religion line shall be defined. All households which are above this religion-line would be allowed to practice any religion they wish to practice. Ergo, They can change religions as many times as possible, or belong to many religions at any one point of time. Naturally, this will be based to a large extent on economic power. In any case, the poor do not have lives or decision making capacity of their own. They can be easy swayed like cattle, and hence have to be shepherded. They have to be organized, measured and guided. They also need to be controlled, for they may suddenly choose to exercise independent thought.
- Recommend Laws: Laws like the “Orissa Freedom of Religion Act” shall be strengthened. More of them shall be created to add teeth to the legal system. Fast track courts shall be established to expedite processing of these cases. Of course, these laws have to pass through the parliament. Each state may also choose to alter the law as it may suitably deem for its purposes.
The above is a hoax post, a joke, satire.
October 27, 2014
My family knows I do not agree with how education happens. I have not yet done anything concrete about it, other than visit several schools that support alternative modes of teaching. I have learnt about some of these techniques. Often, I have doubted my own observations, tending to ask myself: “Even though these systems exist, majority are not following them. They must be doing something right.” But honestly, my belief is not that they are doing right. I am scared to experiment, play with something as fundamental as schooling. I have seen too much proof that the current education system needs to be modified in some form. A few links:
Why children should move. Main article here:
Ironically, many children are walking around with an underdeveloped vestibular (balance) system today–due to restricted movement. In order to develop a strong balance system, children need to move their body in all directions, for hours at a time. Just like with exercising, they need to do this more than just once-a-week in order to reap the benefits. Therefore, having soccer practice once or twice a week is likely not enough movement for the child to develop a strong sensory system.
Children are going to class with bodies that are less prepared to learn than ever before. With sensory systems not quite working right, they are asked to sit and pay attention. Children naturally start fidgeting in order to get the movement their body so desperately needs and is not getting enough of to “turn their brain on.” What happens when the children start fidgeting? We ask them to sit still and pay attention; therefore, their brain goes back to “sleep.”
This lack of movement and having to sit through the day effects grown up children as well. A UK teacher attended classes being taken by two students in class 10 and 12. She found out how tiresome it was to sit around only absorbing the classes. (Original article here, parts of article posted here:
I could not believe how tired I was after the first day. I literally sat down the entire day, except for walking to and from classes. We forget as teachers, because we are on our feet a lot – in front of the board, pacing as we speak, circling around the room to check on student work, sitting, standing, kneeling down to chat with a student as she works through a difficult problem…we move a lot.
But students move almost never. And never is exhausting. In every class for four long blocks, the expectation was for us to come in, take our seats, and sit down for the duration of the time. By the end of the day, I could not stop yawning and I was desperate to move or stretch. I couldn’t believe how alert my host student was, because it took a lot of conscious effort for me not to get up and start doing jumping jacks in the middle of Science just to keep my mind and body from slipping into oblivion after so many hours of sitting passively.
In addition, there was a good deal of sarcasm and snark directed at students and I recognized, uncomfortably, how much I myself have engaged in this kind of communication. I would become near apoplectic last year whenever a very challenging class of mine would take a test, and without fail, several students in a row would ask the same question about the test. Each time I would stop the class and address it so everyone could hear it. Nevertheless, a few minutes later a student who had clearly been working his way through the test and not attentive to my announcement would ask the same question again. A few students would laugh along as I made a big show of rolling my eyes and drily stating, “OK, once again, let me explain…”
Of course it feels ridiculous to have to explain the same thing five times, but suddenly, when I was the one taking the tests, I was stressed. I was anxious. I had questions. And if the person teaching answered those questions by rolling their eyes at me, I would never want to ask another question again. I feel a great deal more empathy for students after shadowing, and I realize that sarcasm, impatience, and annoyance are a way of creating a barrier between me and them. They do not help learning.
Ah yes, there is this nice Ted Video from Ken Robinson about how education kills creativity. Link to article here, excerpts from his talk below:
But something strikes you when you move to America and when you travel around the world: Every education system on earth has the same hierarchy of subjects. Every one. Doesn’t matter where you go. You’d think it would be otherwise, but it isn’t. At the top are mathematics and languages, then the humanities, and the bottom are the arts. Everywhere on Earth. And in pretty much every system too, there’s a hierarchy within the arts. Art and music are normally given a higher status in schools than drama and dance. There isn’t an education system on the planet that teaches dance everyday to children the way we teach them mathematics. Why? Why not? I think this is rather important. I think math is very important, but so is dance. Children dance all the time if they’re allowed to, we all do. We all have bodies, don’t we?
Now our education system is predicated on the idea of academic ability. And there’s a reason. The whole system was invented — around the world, there were no public systems of education, really, before the 19th century. They all came into being to meet the needs of industrialism. So the hierarchy is rooted on two ideas. Number one, that the most useful subjects for work are at the top. So you were probably steered benignly away from things at school when you were a kid, things you liked, on the grounds that you would never get a job doing that. Is that right? Don’t do music, you’re not going to be a musician; don’t do art, you won’t be an artist. Benign advice — now, profoundly mistaken. The whole world is engulfed in a revolution. And the second is academic ability, which has really come to dominate our view of intelligence, because the universities designed the system in their image. If you think of it, the whole system of public education around the world is a protracted process of university entrance. And the consequence is that many highly talented, brilliant, creative people think they’re not, because the thing they were good at at school wasn’t valued, or was actually stigmatized. And I think we can’t afford to go on that way.
When I was a student, if you had a degree, you had a job. If you didn’t have a job it’s because you didn’t want one. And I didn’t want one, frankly. (Laughter) But now kids with degrees are often heading home to carry on playing video games, because you need an MA where the previous job required a BA, and now you need a PhD for the other. It’s a process of academic inflation. And it indicates the whole structure of education is shifting beneath our feet. We need to radically rethink our view of intelligence.
It’s really prompted by a conversation I had with a wonderful woman who maybe most people have never heard of; she’s called Gillian Lynne — have you heard of her? Some have. She’s a choreographer and everybody knows her work. She did “Cats” and “Phantom of the Opera.” She’s wonderful. I used to be on the board of the Royal Ballet in England, as you can see. Anyway, Gillian and I had lunch one day and I said, “Gillian, how’d you get to be a dancer?” And she said it was interesting; when she was at school, she was really hopeless. And the school, in the ’30s, wrote to her parents and said, “We think Gillian has a learning disorder.” She couldn’t concentrate; she was fidgeting. I think now they’d say she had ADHD. Wouldn’t you? But this was the 1930s, and ADHD hadn’t been invented at this point.
Anyway, she went to see this specialist. So, this oak-paneled room, and she was there with her mother, and she was led and sat on this chair at the end, and she sat on her hands for 20 minutes while this man talked to her mother about all the problems Gillian was having at school. And at the end of it — because she was disturbing people; her homework was always late; and so on, little kid of eight — in the end, the doctor went and sat next to Gillian and said, “Gillian, I’ve listened to all these things that your mother’s told me, and I need to speak to her privately.” He said, “Wait here. We’ll be back; we won’t be very long,” and they went and left her. But as they went out the room, he turned on the radio that was sitting on his desk. And when they got out the room, he said to her mother, “Just stand and watch her.” And the minute they left the room, she said, she was on her feet, moving to the music. And they watched for a few minutes and he turned to her mother and said, “Mrs. Lynne, Gillian isn’t sick; she’s a dancer. Take her to a dance school.”
She was eventually auditioned for the Royal Ballet School; she became a soloist; she had a wonderful career at the Royal Ballet. She eventually graduated from the Royal Ballet School and founded her own company — the Gillian Lynne Dance Company — met Andrew Lloyd Weber. She’s been responsible for some of the most successful musical theater productions in history; she’s given pleasure to millions; and she’s a multi-millionaire. Somebody else might have put her on medication and told her to calm down.
September 22, 2014
It is a great day of joy for me and for everyone around. My own joy at having reached the annual timeline is shadowed only by the excitement of my family. My parents have organized a great party. It is fully paid for by my grandparents. That is how it seems to work out here. Some of my friends say that it is insurance policy to ensure support in a more difficult, elderly future. A rather expensive insurance, if I may say.
There are at least 200 guests. Most of my friends are all here: Sahitya didi, Abhi, Siddhu, Kiran, Sameera, Mitesh, Sudhakar. Even Ritesh, the brat from ground floor is running around. I hope he behaves himself on this day. Last time around, he tasted Abhi’s cake even before it was cut. The watchman of our colony was represented by his wife and kids. He could not get leave, and probably would have come if this were organized in the colony function hall. My Grandparents however wanted a full event, and therefore a mid-sized “garden” was hired a couple of months ago. I expected myself to have a good run around session with my friends. But not much running around can happen in the attire that my parents have draped over me. I am wearing a nice two piece suit, quite the armani for kids around here. There is also a bracelet on my right wrist, a new watch on my left wrist and a heavy chain around my neck. Everything is 22 carat gold, of course (Grandparents: Of course !!!). I dare not go prancing in the garden with these on. The Surf excel ad looks good on TV only. Real life has much worse consequences for the kid who soils his clothes. The armani and apparel require me to be a composed individual for today. While my seven friends and the brat run around till like it is no tomorrow, I will be trying to figure out the identities of the approximately 192 remaining folks who will come one by one on the stage.
The queue has just began. I was familiar with this process during wedding receptions. I often heard mom complain to her friends that in her marriage, the “reception” part took all of 2.5 hours. Mom and dad had not even gotten the time to eat anything and hated the whole experience. I wonder why they are repeating it again for me. I did not have a girl next to me, but I had 192 people walking past in groups of 1 to 4. They would pause on the stage, in which time a gift would be handed over and introductions made. Dad would say: “My son, and my wife” to people who were from “Dad’s side”. Mom would say “My son, and my husband” for people from “Her Side”. Grandparents would have their own introductions from “Their side”. These many years, and they still have “her side” and “his side”. I wondered if it would be nicer to call just the common people from “Our side”; the line may have been shorter. The designated photographer in the meantime clicked a photo. The camera is really big and the lights that flashed with each picture are even bigger. The photographer is weird: He flashes a big light and then expects me to keep my eyes open. And if I do not do as he commands, the process is repeated till I get it right.
Of course after a few introductions, I wanted to get off the stage into the more comfortable environs that were being enjoyed by my gang of 7. All the parents were holding great conversations. The event manager was dealing with the kiddie playing, coordinating, and occasional bullying. The event manager was doing an OK job, but I felt that my friends were being relentlessly pursued by the brat during each game. I should be with them instead of the adult introductions. My buddies probably needed all the help they could get. However, this party was in my honor and I could not also ignore my armani and apparel.
People who made it through the reception queue started snaking their way to the buffet dinner. Starters included veg manchuria, fruit punch (with no fruit and full flavor), and pop-corn that was served by turban clad kids a few years older than me. For the main course, we had veg, non-veg, and alcohol. Yes – you heard that right; alcohol for all the grown up friends of my parents & grand parents. Strange part is that the alcohol was served in a separate part of the dining hall, separated by a large curtain. None of the aunties could get to any of the madeira. And yes, non-tipple people could not even see how, what, and how much alcohol was consumed either. My elders believe that all the very good and very bad things must be kept hidden from view.
The event was being showered with appropriate music from leading lights like Honey Singh, and movies like Businessman. Of course, this is all in good fun. I was not to pay any attention to the lyrics which ask us, in successive order to: booze our way to get into the zone, notice the behinds of girls to have fun, and grope them for even more excitement. Of course, honey gaaru believes that these acts should be done on TV only under strict adult supervision. Thankfully, the movies have a censor board and are more explicit in this matter. The movies do carry disclaimers that the events on screen are fictional; they also possibly say that some of them are not suitable for children of my age. It is likely that the songs do not count though. And if the songs lead to inappropriate behavior on my part (like harassing a girl), I am sure my parents and grand parents will correct it at a later stage.
Abrupt interruption of conscience during diary writing.
I am 1. I get it that you need to celebrate in this scale to show your love for me. Events like these are excellent training centers for me and my buddies. They tell us how we should behave in future and also tell us what the appropriate meaning of “fun” is. BTW, I have been crying my throat out for the last hour. I understand that you need to train me. But I am really tired and need to sleep. Crying is the best way in which I can express my anguish. And you think I need a pacifier and a bigger gift. Maybe after a few years, not now.
June 4, 2014
As the night slowly opened up to the calm morning sun, Malini woke up to see her husband peering into the laptop. “Since when are you awake, it is not even six. Sleep for some more time.” she said. Vijay replied: “Good morning, I just woke up. I have to leave early for work. When did the kids sleep last night? Sorry, I just could not stay awake beyond 9:30.” Malini said: “They fooled around till 11:30 last night. They just have one more week. School starts and I shall tighten their schedule. Both will have to wake up at 6:00.”. Vijay responded: “Yes, that would be nice. I can take them on a nice long walk while you get the tiffin ready. Munde is dead, BTW”. “Which Munde?”, asked Malini.
As Malini took the laptop from him, Vijay got up from the bed, stretching away the laziness from his bones. He quickly grabbed a shirt: “The minister, he died in a road accident.”. Malini was asking something, but he left the room in a hurry. “Good morning amma, good morning daddy”. His father was occupying the bathroom. Vijay hated using the bathroom in his master bedroom. He preferred to squat while completing his morning affairs. And the only Indian toilet would be captured by his father. There was a daily competition of sorts between the two. At least one of them had the uncomfortable pleasure of sampling the gastronomical smells left behind by the other.
Vijay reached out for his toothbrush, and found the usually white bristles shaded blue and orange. He remembered that Priya had used his tooth brush to color her dolls. Vijay walked to the garden and got a nice neem tweed for himself. As he continued brushing, he remembered the question asked by Malini. He went back to the bedroom and said – “Munde was the newly appointed rural development minister under Modi. He died in a car crash.” Malini took a few seconds to realize that he was continuing a long forgotten thread and said – “Oh, so sad.”.
Malini decided it was enough time trying to ascertain the meaning of the shlokas she was learning. After her reading, a good half an hour got sucked into ablutions and cursory chats with her Mother in Law. Her MIL, Vijaya was busy preparing pickles to be packed into porcelain jars. Her in-laws split time between two suburbs of Hyderabad; staying for three months at the IT hub of Gachibolwi with Malini and Vijay, and the following three months at their ancestral home near Alwal, where their Daughter was living with her family. Each quarterly transition was marked with frenetic preparations. Preparations, that changed with the prevailing season. Being June, the season of the sun God, the making of pickles and home-made appadams was in progress.
“VijayaLakshmi, I am going on my morning walk, you want to come or sit there with your children”, shouted Mr Murthy. Vijaya muttered to her DIL: “40 years of marriage, and he never calls me Vijaya or Lakshmi, he always has to use the long name. We will go for our walking OK, I will be back in half an hour.”.
Malini smiled at her, and started off for the kitchen; Vijay would need to leave soon for office. She also had to get ready for her Sanskrit class. She saw Vijay and asked him: “What are you looking for?”. “Nothing, I just wanted to make Ragi malt.”. As she looked about the kitchen, her expression changed. “What is all this? How many times have I to clean this mess. Day in and day out all the vessels are used up for making some or the achaar. I am fed up with this aavakaaya and appadam making. Look at this – VijayaLakshmi garu used up all the vessels, and there is not even a vessel to boil milk now.”. As she walked over to the sink to clean a vessel, Vijay said: “Look, they do not mean anything bad, if they did not leave a vessel, we can clean it naa. Let me clean it for you.”. “No !!! it is not just about the vessel. They are not at all dependable. Leaving for this place and that place every few months. They do not follow a schedule. Every three months, they disappear. The first month and the last get spent in a massive cooking fest. At the same time they nag me that I should go for a job and they will take care of the children.” .
Vijay replied: “We should take these things with a pinch of salt. Look, when we visit your parents, your mom troubles me with all her odd customs, and your father – oh he is unbearable. But I do not fret. We have to laugh these things away.”. This statement fired up a powder keg: “How many times do we go to my place? Once or twice a month at max. In any case, this is not about parents, it is about cooking. If you are a daughter in law, you will know how difficult it is. I cannot tell them anything.”. Vijay replied: “Look, no one is asking you to behave in a certain way. I never tell you to make my breakfast, or do the bed. I do everything myself.” Malini retorts: “Does that make you a saint? All good husbands must do that, there is nothing special in it.” Vijay replied: “That is it. You do not have to make the ragi malt or anything, I am leaving for office.”. He then corrected himself, came back and said: “I even suggested that we should buy a flat. You never agreed.”. Malini, with even more fire retorted: “You make it sound like I hate them. I like staying with them. I just, do not like this travel and cooking business. Look at the kids, they are so happy now. Priya will nag me for three months for her grandmother. The children always ask me why they have to go. And I cannot stop them from going.”.
In the meantime, there was a loud hissing sound. The milk boiled over. Malini and Vijay looked at each other. And smiled.
June 2, 2014
My mother was refused a seat in the APSRTC city bus today for being from Andhra. She was traveling home from a local bus depot called Mehdipatnam. The driver said – you people from Andhra should not board buses in Telangana. Go back to your place. He made her stand 12 Kms all the way till the destination. She is 59, and while it was physically uncomfortable, it was mentally much more upsetting.
I guess this is how differences are sown. I feel sad, and a bit helpless. The shrill rhetoric of politicians is accompanied by boisterous and thankfully, scarce mobs on the ground. The former was asking Andhra people to vacate apparently “important positions” and return to their “native” after June 2nd. The latter were salivating at the prospect of grabbing easy resources, or maybe they were genuinely happy. One can never know for sure.
I honestly wish people of all regions the best. But I also have a bigger wish:
Can I dare to dream for a day when there will be no Telangana or Andhra?
A day when we forget who was Marathi or Bihari,
A day when there will be no Madrasi or Hindi.
A day when Buffalo ceases to fight with Bangalore,
For jobs, visas, permits, and corporate galore,
A day when borders vanish and differences cease.
A day when we meet eye to eye,
And see just humans,
Not yellow, black, brown or white.
A day when we find empathy,
Not just as man and woman,
But as co-habitors of a common domain.
A day when we think not as a species on a food chain,
But as part of common nature,
United, unbroken, and endless.
A day when we cherish our life,
Not for its own obscure survival,
But for the strength of co-existence.
Maybe this is easy for me to say while sitting in an air-conditioned office. Someday, I shall get out of this office permanently and try to find answers to this and other questions.