Monday, November 5, 2012

Anna / Arvind: A Split That Hardly Bothers

They have worked together for years and have been a great force behind the introduction of the Right to Information act. They have fought together for months lobbying for a strong bill against corruption. Yet there are many aspects which indicate that the split between Anna Hazare and Arvind Kejriwal was for the good. They have been quite effective individually as they decided to take different paths for achieving their common goal – abolishing corruption.
Both Kejriwal and Hazare are go-getters and have shown a never-die attitude in their field of work so far. However, they exhibit a difference in approach. Anna seems to target the hearts of people and Arvind goes with the brain. While the former comes with inspirational speeches, talks about ideology and tries to touch the emotional chords of people, the latter moves every step forward with strategy, adequate data, defending logic and high-level research.
The positive gesture that Anna and Arvind have given for each other even after splitting shows that both believe in each others’ potential. Where Anna says that he will go and campaign for Arvind if the latter contests an election because the latter’s wrong-doings are not evident, Arvind says that he is missing Anna as a moral support. Joining hands with former Army Chief B K Singh, Anna is on his way to form a new Team Anna. With many members from India against Corruption, Arvind is almost ready to register and announce the name of his political party in November 2012.
The development after the split between Anna and Arvind has answered the question what the need of the split was when both have a common goal. The exposés demonstrated against Robert Vadra, Salman Khurshid and Nitin Gadkari were call of the time and the way the movement against the Delhi power tariff was conducted was phenomenon. When was the last time we had seen a social activist on TV throughout the day? Arvind Kejriwal could make the issue of corruption a conversation toping in the drawing rooms.
Therefore, the split was for choosing the best path suitable for an individual. The split was for standing by what one believes. The split, the biggest question raised against the intention of the fighters against corruption, itself proved how much integrity both of these personalities have. They are not only concerned about achieving their goal but also being particular about the way through which it should be achieved.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Blog! Opine! Share!

It has been almost five years since I started blogging. In the beginning, Blogging, for me, was “giving my opinion”. Initially, I limited myself to reading others’ blogs and giving my comments. Gradually I started to use this platform as a medium of sharing my experiences. As I am writing this 50th article on this blog, let me tell you that the experience is amazing.

To read others’ experiences in life is fun. It’s fun to read the stories written by people who have experienced it themselves. There is no editor involved in the process to correct the language, to improve the flow and to kill the essence. What is written is simply words that come out straight from someone’s heart.

Through these years, I advised many of my friends to start blogging. Some of them started and were exhilarated by the feeling of seeing their own article published on the Internet within a few minutes. What made them happier is that their blog has a global audience. It’s not restricted within the boundaries of any region or country.

One of my friends once asked me why we need to blog. Why will anyone be interested in knowing what we are doing in life? I took the opportunity to explain her that blogging is not only about describing what you are doing in life. It can also be used to give your opinion on different issues and advise people on something you already have experienced. For those who think why anyone will be interested in reading what you are doing in life, I can tell this from experience that every article has an audience. You get 500 people saying what crap you have written and then you get that one reader who appreciates your article and says he/she has the same opinion or experience. You feel like your purpose of blogging is served.

The best thing about blogging, I think, is that it is beyond the time boundaries – ever present on the Internet. You can also use this medium for socializing just like any other social media; however, it has its own class. 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Do We Really Have to Surrender to the Fish of Corruption?

“Baro barsara tapasya sukhua pudare gala”, this is a saying in the Oriya language which means “an effort of years gets spoilt because of a small mistake”.  I grew up listening to this proverb and grew up wondering how come a small mistake drains away a great effort. For a better insight, let's have a look at the below anecdote. 

Have you come across people who turn vegetarian only on auspicious days? I have a friend who follows the same practice. Once what happened is that he swallowed a piece of fish by mistake on such a day. He realized the mistake immediately. Biting his tongue, he hit his forehead with his right palm and said, “uiiiiiii….what a mistake I made!” As he was feeling guilty, to make him comfortable, I said, “No problem. You have not done it knowingly. Now keep it and take another plate of food.” What he said is something to think about. “Now that I have already eaten a piece, let me have it fully.”

This directs us to consider another situation. We may find some people who did not get indulged in corruption for a long time until the first time they did. Then they found it almost impossible to stop the noose of corruption from tightening. If someone who is known to have accepted bribe even once says that some practice is wrong, everyone will tell him “at least you don’t tell this.” This is enough to shut his mouth. The argument that can be given here is that if you have been involved in a wrong practice at some point of your life, this doesn’t take your rights away from you to raise your voice against the other wrong practices. It is never too late to make up for your mistakes.

These days on switching on a news channel, what you find is a story about Fight against Corruption. I was wondering whether these news-stories make it easy to watch for people, who ever became a victim of the system, who could not gather the courage to fight against the wrong-practices, hence surrendered to it. 

Therefore, NOW is the time when we need an example of someone whose conscience has arisen, someone who can come to the front and say, “I have received bribe at some point of my life. This was a wrong thing I did. I promise I will not accept it anymore.” They can comfortably fight hand-in-hand with the front runners for a good cause as it is evident that the common practice is to suppress the whistle-blowers by bringing their wrong-doings to the front. Afterwards, the number of people fighting against corruption will definitely increase manifold. Truly, we do not have to eat the full fish because we have tasted it either knowingly or unknowingly. After all, it’s not for the society but for our own conscience.

So the question that arises here is that whether we should not hate the corrupt. Why should we? The corrupt are like patients of the disease called Corruption which in turn is created by a virus called Bad System or Bad Morale. We would need to make the patients free from the disease and help them live in the society with respect, with dignity. One more thing - let's spread awareness about the virus and hope to get some vaccine ready. 

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

It is just a name, isn't it?

A child took birth. People started suggesting names for the baby boy. Father said “Sumit”. Mother said, “Amit”. And many other people unanimously said, “Rudra”. Without any consideration, the name “Rudra” was rejected. Just as the other proposers of the name, I questioned the rejection. And all of us got amused by the answer – a notorious person in the locality had named his son “Rudra”. We thought, "What the hell? That fellow's surname was different. And as it is, how does it matter?"

Yes, how does it matter if someone has the same name as mine? Does it make me the same person? No. But still, a majority of us would refrain from sharing the first name of a person known for wrong reasons. What about the last name? Well, we can’t help but accept it. I would like to cite some interesting facts here. Pran is one of the best known supporting actors in the Hindi film industry, mostly known for playing characters with negative shades. Let us only concentrate on the name. Pran means life. There is another name – Jeevan, which also means life. Ranjeet means the one who wins battles. Gulshan means a garden of flowers. However, very rarely we will find a person with one of these names, reason being people who played negative roles in the films had these names. There is one name, I must say, has scored over the notion. You may find many people named Prem though Prem Chopra is the name of the famous actor who played many negative roles. Maybe it is because of the nice and sweet characters created by the films of Rajshri productions. However, you may not find a single person whose first name is Prem and last name is Chopra though.

Let me analyze my name as well. It’s Ganesh – my mother says it is because I was born on a Ganesh Chaturthi. But whenever I mention my name, people don’t ask me if I was born on a Ganesh Chaturthi. They say, “Oh, you don’t have a belly like Lord Ganesh” or “Oh, then you must be intelligent”. Though it can be taken as just a joke, the expectation from the name cannot be denied. Though it depends on people, some would think, “So what if his name is Ganesh. I know one Ganesh who is no way close to being called intelligent.” Why someone would be named Ganesh? He must have posed some characteristics of Lord Ganesh – maybe a huge belly, or a broken teeth, or a longer nose, or a craving for Laddoos, or an interest for books, or affection for rats. Believe me or not, I have seen people searching for these characteristics in me when they get my name. I find they sometimes give credit to my name for my intelligence and sometimes when I act stupidly, they ask me, “who the hell named you Ganesh? You don’t deserve it.”

So does a name create expectations or impact one’s personality? A research article by BBC says, “People walk around with stereotypes in their heads that can influence all sorts of decisions, yet don't even realize it”.

As we say - everything matters in life, is it a name that matters more than everything or doesn’t matter at all? You didn’t have a choice but accept the name that is given to you, but think about it when you name your children. If they are proud of their name, they will definitely be proud of you.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

The Topic Least Written about

Every day of my life, like numerous others, gets started with the news channels on TV. So what comprises a general news bulletin is not at all a difficult question. One crime story, one story related to corruption, a story about a protest against the government, one take on what happened in the parliament, some inputs from the entertainment industry, etc. Some days when I miss catching up with the news channels in the morning, I don’t forget to take a glance of the newspapers. And what I find – the front page of every news paper consists of one crime story, one story related to corruption, a story about a protest against the government, one take on what happened in the parliament, some inputs from the entertainment industry, etc. After so many days of routine, I have developed a curiosity about the topic least written about. Obviously, none of the above topics that we find in a news bulletin or a front page qualify to be listed in this category.  And what else we cannot include in this list – all the subjects being taught in schools or colleges.

These days we don’t find topics related to dowry system in the newspapers. However, it can be concluded that people who proudly take part in this practice are no more proud enough to be known as the follower. And somewhere in the mid pages, we get to know about any crime occurred due to this practice in our society. Be it this system or any other social norm, it’s being reported and written time and again as and when there is an update.

Topics about women, if they are not covered in the newspapers, we have many magazines dedicated for them. The case is same for men. We write about forest, mines, mountains, ocean, rivers, sky, stars, satellites, etc. We also write about every single profession like doctors, actors, engineers, teachers, laborers, etc. We find articles of liquor, cigarettes, tobacco, etc. So what is being left out? Human nature, animal behavior, global warming, floods, cyclones, volcano, earthquakes, de-icing of glaciers, tsunamis, or anything else?

It may differ to person from person but one topic I always keep looking for in a news bulletin, in a newspaper, in the book stall and in the internet is Writing. And I hardly get satisfied with the quantity and quality. All the topics that I mentioned above and many more can be brought to us by more people with more accuracy and in a more interesting manner, if the topic of writing had had its presence broader, higher and clearer.

We won’t get an appropriate overview of Gandhiji’s lifestyle and ideology without going through his write-ups and of course his autobiography My Experiments withTruth. The constitution of our country couldn’t be so effective without the contribution of its comprehensive writing. All the arguments that social activist Arvind Kejriwal gave through interviews about India’s current political scenario wouldn’t have been that effective without his book Swaraj.

With a hope of getting more inputs on writing and more of writing….

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Every Journey is an Experience to Relish

In a recent interview Veeru Devgan (a former technician in Hindi film industry) said that he came to Mumbai to become an actor but ended up being an action director. He was happy for his son Ajay Devgan who could become a successful actor. That reminds me of my father (professionally a driver) who once told me that he wanted a desk job which would require him to do some paper work. And then, when he came to know about computers, he changed his mind and told me that doing something with computers in an air conditioned office would be a great job. It was too late for him to get that opportunity and further, he was no more till the time I started doing such a job.

Many-a-times, we think we have done something that our previous generations couldn’t. This thought process can also take the reverse direction. We hear our previous generation telling us things that they did and we would never get to do. I am not talking about technology revolution, which has changed things and will keep changing things time and again. And of course, we would definitely not like to go back to the letter press age from digital printing. But I wish some things could continue. Something, very ethnic!

One such example that tops my wish-list of revisiting is something my late grandmother had expertise, my mother knows moderately, and I or my wife won’t be required to learn. I was very fascinated to observe the way my grandmother used to separate husk from rice with a winnow. It might be sounding easy, but one would take months to learn that art and still might not perfect it. Even my mother is able to do that. But every time I asked her to do in a different style, she would disappoint me saying that it was something my grandmother could do. I would also like to mention that my notion is same for some old recipes.

In Oriya calender, there is a month called “Margasira”. Women out there worship Goddess Lakshmi on all the Thursdays in that month. So, on every Wednesday, someone would produce a white paste by rubbing a white stone against a rock. The paste would be used to create a piece of art on a red-colored circle or square – a mixture of red soil and water produces the red color. It’s a fine art piece on the floor, which is made of two earthen elements – stone and soil. Now-a-days, we get some models and some powder. The powder is sprinkled on the model and the rangoli is ready.

When I was in my hometown, I used to visit all the theaters on my bicycle on Thursday evenings. Theaters would get new hand-painted postures and put a garland on the bigger star’s image. I also used to run behind the auto-rickshaws that carried the large size images and an announcer sitting inside the rickshaw used to describe some information about the movie and timings of exhibition. At that time, the announcer’s job was my favorite. He was someone people used to run after. Anyway, it was fun to try to recognize the stars from the postures. Lately I removed this appointment from my calendar when I started finding the digital postures at every nook and corner of the city and also there in the theaters.   

Once I got a chance to cook some dish on a firewood oven. I was required to blow air through an iron pipe to intensify the fire. Though I initially thought it was a very easy act, I failed miserably. Instead of intensifying the fire, I contributed to extinguishing it. I will hardly get any more opportunity to do it the right way. These days, I just press and turn a knob to intensify the fire for cooking.     

These are just the few things I wanted to mention of my experience. There are many more like this which you might have loved to perform or observe while being performed. It will be stupid to say that the practices should have continued. However, I would definitely like to say that the journey through these practices was a wonderful experience. I feel nostalgic whenever I revisit the memories and will relish it throughout my life.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

English! Keep it simple, silly!

Have you, just like me, come across people who think smoking adds to their “cool” factor? You may also find a bunch of people who have a similar type of notion about the usage of the word “fuck” while speaking English. I don’t know how much it contributes to the effectiveness of their communication and what impression they leave on others, but one thing I can say is that general variations definitely keep the new learners from being confident, accurate, and universally accepted. 

In my childhood, I was super-excited when I stepped into the 4th standard in school. The only reason of this excitement was that I would get to learn English language, something that I waited for 3 years. Just as it happens to everyone, my formal English education started with the alphabets A to Z. I was really happy. I thought English was an easier language compared to my mother tongue as the earlier has only 26 alphabets whereas Oriya has 56 of them.

When I could write A to Z properly without any error, my teacher told me that I needed to learn writing one more style of the same letters – a, b, c, d, etc. Once that was done, I was made to learn a third type followed by a fourth type, huh! I was so bewildered, if someone asked me to write something, I would ask innocently, “in which letter – 1st, 2nd, 3rd, or 4th?”

Some years passed till I got a hang of the language, being able to write and speak. Once that was done, I faced a new challenge. It was when I was in an interview and the interviewer asked, “In which language, you used to write in your previous organization?” I said, “English, sir”, with an obvious look. He was not entertained at all. He said, “No, I mean, American English or British?” To fake, I said, “British, it’s British.” I assume one of the two possibilities is responsible for me getting rejected in that interview - either the interviewer didn’t like my accent or he could make out that I had no idea about the difference between American and British English and was simply faking. Anyway, he said, “Let’s see how it goes. We will let you know about the result later.” I thought, this might be the British way of saying “You are rejected.” Because I had heard that Americans are supposed to be straight forward. Later when I researched about the difference between the two languages or rather the two forms of the same language, I discovered that it was not about the set of words with which you convey your message but about spelling differences, about some variations in grammar and pronunciation, and also about using different words to explain the same meaning. And before I could rest, I discovered another shade of the language – Canadian English (phew!).

The strange outcomes of my tryst with English language didn’t stop here. Because "speaking" is used in communication far more than "writing", the spoken English has gone far away from the written language. In short, more confusion is taking place. Now, if you say someone that what he/she wrote was wrong English, don’t get surprised if you get an answer saying “I have heard it somewhere” which leaves no room for an argument.

I assume, a time will come when acronyms of certain word groups will be added to the dictionary, for example: - EOD for ‘end of day’, ASAP for ‘as soon as possible’, BRB for ‘be right back’, BTW for ‘by the way’, etc. These acronyms are so extensively used in today’s time in emails and SMSes that they lose their essence in their real form (when spelled out). And of course, if I had taken the trouble of writing ‘electronic mails’ and ‘short message services’, you might have said “WTF”? So, doesn’t the use of acronyms add another variation to the language?

English doesn’t come naturally to people like me who do not get their formal education with this language as the medium of instruction. They rely more on books and advises from every nook and corner to improve proficiency. That reminds me of one of my friends, who once advised me to use “you know” and “I mean” frequently while speaking. I didn’t bother to do so, unless there was a literal requirement. Recently I watched one of the shows of Russel Peter (a Canadian stand-up comedian) who made fun of the frequent usage of these phrases in speaking. He says, people who forget words use these phrases to make up for the dead air in communication. Now, some of us can even manage to fill in the gaps without using these phrases. We make some sounds like ummm.. and aannn.. (no, I don’t want to say that it is quite similar to an orgasmic sound). Another variation, definitely!      

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Let’s Retain the Cheapness in Us

Some months ago, I went to a multiplex to watch the Hindi movie ‘Singham’. Though there were many emotion shifts in the film, I watched it with a stern face and so as everyone in that theatre. When the movie ended, the family on my back row got up to leave. One lady amongst them said to her husband, “I liked the movie very much. What about you?” I wondered whether she really liked the movie. Throughout the screening, she didn’t laugh once, didn’t clap once, nor did she whistle any time. On my front row, there was a couple. The boy was analyzing one scene of the film. He liked it but was giving his expert views on how it could have been improved. The girl kept nodding in response while maintaining a look of acceptance.

The next day, I got a call from my friends in my hometown. They said that they all watched Singham and the public in the theatre went mad during the screening. I thought to myself, “I didn’t enjoy the movie as much as they could. It’s not that I didn’t like the movie. I like such kind of drama. Then, what’s the reason. Is it because I watched it alone? But that is something I do always!” Concluding that I might not have enjoyed the movie because I watched the late night show, I chose to give it another chance and this time it was an evening show in the same multiplex. Result was also the same. I liked the movie, but the enjoyment quotient can hardly be equal to even 1% of what my childhood friends had experienced.

My curiosity increased. I wanted to discover what change I brought to myself in the recent years. “Is this what they say ‘hormonal change’? Am I going through depression?” My brain was bombarded with questions. After one week, one of my friends wished to meet me in Vashi. I knew there was a single screen theatre nearby. So I planned to watch Singham again in that theatre which was, in all respect, different from the multiplex I normally visit. After meeting my friend, I went to the theatre. The ticket price was half of what I had paid for the earlier visits to the same movie. Screening started. I had no excitement as by that time, I had all the dialogues by heart.  There was a lull for 5 minutes in the theatre and the rest is history. People started whistling, shouting, soon after the hero was introduced and continued this energy till the end. I was thrilled. This time, when I came out of the theatre, I felt I liked it and I enjoyed it thoroughly.

This made me realize that watching cinema in a theatre is an art. Somewhere we miss the essence of an entertaining movie by judging it critically and just by showing off that we belong to the intelligent class. Many a times I feel we should deliberately retain the rawness in us. It’s not fun if we dance like Michael Jackson during Ganapati Visharjan – we need our street dance on the beats of ta ta tain, ta ta tain, ta ta tain, ta ta ta ta tain. It’s not fun observing Holi at home with lots of sweets – we need to color our bhabhis, jijus, and their sisters who hide somewhere in the corner of their bed to prevent us from coloring them with gulal.