Showing posts from 2017

Withdrawal symptoms

Ctrl-tab Ctrl-tab... Scroll Scroll Scoll.. Alt-tab Alt-tab... Catch yourself slipping away. Deep  breath.  Close the browser. silence the mobile and turn it away. Open an offline-real-paper diary. Stop your thighs from lolling impatiently. Stay still.  Pick up a pen awkwardly. ahh, the fingers are stiff. It will take a  while for them to get used to holding a pen. Quick finger exercise - open the palm, stretch finger outwards, close into a fist, dig the fingers in. Repeat. Ok now.. about to pick up the pen again, but eyes dart towards the screen. Tempted to check email. Shut up. The last consequential email came two months ago. Nothing of consequence is online.   Pick up the pen. Don't fetishize the object now. Get on with it. Put it on paper, write a word and start it already. If I get to a sentence, perhaps I will get into a flow and won't have to look up from the paper at all.  One sentence later. Ahh. That was good. I am feeling good about myself. The

Exercises for a smarter nation

We, the people, are gullible idiots. C'mon, admit it. We have all been bullied into bad deals by powerful charlatans at some point or another. Governments are no different. The current one is getting away with our personal data and going about distributing our public resources and monies to its favourite cronies.This is no exceptional government. This happens all the time, in all the countries - to varying degrees. The varying part is important. I would much rather be in Norway where the leeway for such giveaways against the interest of public is small, compared to Angola and Nigeria where the oil bonanza instead has become oil curse. One of the important ways for moving towards Norway and away from Nigeria is for the public to become aware and educated about power. Education is a bad word now - what India creates in not educated people, it creates literate minions. By educated, i mean people who can reason, who can think critically, who can see the world from different perspect

Being reasonable

Reasonable people are a rare species. very rare. The world overwhelmingly is unreasonable, always has been. 20th century was a great experiment in trying to institutionalise reasonableness. But alas, we failed in that experiment. and what that messy utopia of rationality has spewed out is a 21st century that is dangerously globalised, unipolar and susceptible to selfishness of a few. If by chance, i meet someone who is, i feel like hugging him/her and somehow ensuring that the person remains a part of my life in some measure through conversations, ideas or projects together.

Impose a worldview and see the world implode

When you look at the history of middle east, you realise one thing - The mess we are in today, is in REACTION to impositions of ideas alien to the natives. For example - 1. King Shah of Iran forced secularism on a people for whom their religiosity was important. The reaction was the cultural revolution that overthrew the monarch and installed in its stead a religious leader at the helm of a nation. 2. Erdogan is turning a secular state into an Islamic state in Turkey with fairly popular support. This is in reaction to Ataturk's imposition of secularism in the first half of 20th century. 3. Saudi Arabia's extremist version of Islam is propelled elsewhere, in part because people feel their religiosity is under threat from western imperialism. And obviously, the Saudi monarchs are well aware of the case of another monarch in Iran being ousted who suppressed religion. So they double down on religious fervour and have weaponised the world view. 4. and ofcourse the whole mess i

Aadhaar and the dictatorship

I strongly urge you to read 'The Dictator's handbook'. It is an excellent book to understand how the world works. A lot of things India's PM is doing is textbook strategy to consolidate and maintain power. The book helps us understand him not as a despot (as understood by the left) and messiah (for right), but a power hungry leader who will stop at nothing to consolidate his fiefdom. The beauty of his strategy is in the fact that he has managed to whip up sentiments of masses that allow him to strip them of their rights and wealth, without them even complaining. That is the best kind of shakedown. The point is - it is not about BJP or congress really. Any one in power would do these things to various degrees. What makes BJP more worrisome is its comfort to use hate to divide the people. Besides its sheer incompetence at planning - look at Aadhar, GST rollout for examples. The point is - no matter who is in power, they have to be seen as the one's in po

I am a salmon

I am a salmon. It's been a decade away from my hometown, and yet my dreams refuse to relocate along with me. When sleep hasn't claimed me yet, but neither am I awake, you may find me in Nasik. My senses fall back into their default states of Nasik when in-between. The space is of my home in Nasik, the sight is of the things around it. I might be hungry and thinking of eating a laddoo and my hands reach out for the steel dabba stacked on an elevated wooden cupboard stuck on the left wall of kitchen. In my mind's eye, I grope for the dabba momentarily as the search yields nothing - poof. the image disintegrates. I am snapped back to reality with a mild jolt. My mind reminds me of the layout in my own kitchen. There is no airborne shelf, there is no steel container, there is no laddoo. It says, go back to sleep. and I do. _____ I shifted 3.5k km for a less polluted and less dangerous city a year ago. And all was good. I get to walk and how I love to walk. I am truly

Saffron vortex of hatred and the man

In the middle of the maelstrom, the saffron vortex of hatred, The man stands battered, by swirling dust of ignorance eyes stinging from all that wide-eyed and yet blind outraging ashamed by his smallness ready to lash out impotently against his own interest against his own people.  ___ Flag bearers must be blind for if they had eyes, they would desert to join the throng at the sidelines screaming to stop the madness. But how can they stop anything without getting sucked into the vicious vortex? unfortunately the only thing the blind understand is the remorseless fist. and the ones with open eyes at the sidelines can't close their palms into fists without succumbing to that old human malady - remorse and guilt. ___ Who with open eyes will take up the challenge of raising and raining fists in-spite of the remorse and the guilt against the hate engineers, the profiteers of commotion, the instigators of dust storms?

Urgent: India needs satire

I laugh at Anthony Scaramucci's exit. I get worried at US's implosion with the well written analyses . I know more about the dialysis infrastructure of US than that of India. I see daily show, last week tonight and Stephen Colbert and see their sharp criticism of their governments and I despair. Not for US. But for India. Even when US has armed militias, its liberals are not silenced. If at all, they are more dogged in their determination to shine light on shady deals, powerful incompetence, racial subjugation, and so many other things that matter to US's citizen. But our continent sized and a multiverse wide nation isn't as sharp in its defense against incompetent tyrant's plans. The liberal media in US is so good that people outside of US also start to see the world from American perspective. Recently I saw a senior professor posting about 'our national security' while the article he was sharing was about US. He didn't even realise that he was pa

To like or not to like

To like a post is to like the person. Or to signal your affection. Or to signal you care. But should it? Should you like something because it matters to the other? One perspective is,  obviously you should. That is what a kind person would do. A low cost act that brings happiness to someone - why not? Another perspective is, obviously you should not - you are validating the other person's addiction to 'likes'. We are all addicted to likes. And we all need intervention. Maybe the kind thing would be to not 'like' the post. The third perspective is, damn - if I like the 10th photo of a baby/ wedding/ travel pics, facebook algorithm will feed me more of it until all that remains of the feed is these pictures of important milestones/ happy moments of others but which are also wholly inconsequential to me. And as my addiction grows, i will be submerged in trivialities and inconsequential projections of others. So choices are - 1. Contribute (or not) to the mo

World War III Bingo


The slowness of digital life

Digital connections = Speed. Instantaneous reactions, Instantaneous gratification, Instantaneous outrage and so on. Everything is instantaneous. Or not? Recently, while  my own phone was getting recharged and I had no option but to look around, I saw a person sitting there, with phone in hand. Waiting with anticipation for a like, a comment or some such. The digital slot machine was not throwing up interesting enough things for him. I went away and came back a while later. The man was still there. exactly there. with exactly the same blank face and wide eyed anticipation. And apparently the same screen.  Nothing had changed. He was still. and he didn't know it. We are all still. and we don't know it. In reality, everything is not instantaneous. Our expectations though, are. In search of dopamine hit, we keep refreshing, checking, rechecking... but real world refuses to move with the speed we want it to move. We prod at it with refreshes. We pull at it by

Serenaded by the pied piper, people are divorcing from their self-interest

I have friends who supports the current majoritarian dispensation in India - the cow-protecting ( killing muslims and scaring poor farmers in the process or as the real motive?), day dreaming (of imagined glories ), women berating (length of skirts and access to phones has again become a topic to deliberate), surveillance instituting ( aadhar is a support to the police state, not to conscientious people), economy breaking ( demonetisation , finance bill, GST mess, deaf to farmer's pleas ) establishment. These friends are film-makers, science educators, bankers etc. And I wonder how these people are supporting a majoritarianism that is killing their own trades, their own careers - Film makers - look what has happened at FTII and with the censor board. Film education is curbed, so is artistic freedom. Censorship is growing to ridiculous levels. It is a direct assault on the very practice of film-making and yet the bhakt film-maker remains blind.   The science educator - So

The cult of happiness :) :|

:) :-| Binary living of the good professionals Advertisements, movies, friends, strangers - all want you to be happy. you show a sign of emotion that is not happiness or nonchalance, and people wonder what is wrong with you. Its a weird binary world we live in these days. For the most part, it is now normal not to 'feel' anything at all - people walk around with straight faces betraying little of their inner turmoil, wonder, confusion, rage... You spend all your time in office. and in that time, you hardly see people betraying any emotion to any meaningful depth. Everything is so light, so latte! this state of being perpetually emotionless is called being professional. Does it any good for the profession? I doubt. But should the 'good for the profession' come in the way of your humanity? The only other emotion allowed is the beatific 'happiness'. Well, life has never been this easy for humans and its good to enjoy it's riches while it lasts. That expl

Beware of what you 'need to believe in'.

Consider these three scenarios 1. A distraught wife - catches cheating husband. Husband outshouts her to the point where she begins questioning her own narrative - maybe she was to blame? She is terrified of ending the relationship. She ' needs to believe that she can trust her husband'. 2. An unemployed graduate who had voted for Modi's promises three years ago - Believed that Modi would usher us in a new world of opportunities and social justice - instead he has remained unemployed and has to prove his nationalist credentials to random hooligans again and again. He  'needs to believe in Modi's acche din promise' .  He is the 'andh bhakt' - the mother of karan and arjun (except for the fact that Karan and Arjun never turn up). 3. Consider a dalit farmer. He 'knows' he is being fleeced by the local strongman/ patil/ landlord... but he can't afford to question him. He is not afforded the freedom to ask questions when the procurement we

How many shots of the girl dancing or laughing aimlessly does it take to establish her as a Manic pixie dream girl?

Learning from bad writing: Meri Pyaru bindu These days I am writing my first story that I intend to complete and publish. So as you can imagine, I am in the writer mode most of the time - anxiously looking for writer's intent, choices, character arcs, alternate story lines etc, while watching any movie or reading any novel. With a well written story, these choices are not that apparent. You have to look hard and yet you might miss out on essential choices that the writer made, to make the film/ novel a great piece of art. It feels as if the story flowed out from the author's mind onto paper with zero loss in translation. For that reason, it is difficult to learn much from good writing. It inspires, yes of course. It helps you get in the mood or get into the right frame of mind. But it can't teach as well as a badly written movie/ novel can. A badly written story makes you aware of your own fallibility. It grounds you. Most importantly, it helps you see the many ways in

The real John Galts of the world

  There was a crazy old lady who mesmerised the capitalist folks back in the era of cold war, with her emotional appeal to their selfish egos. She was successful because, she managed to turn cold selfishness into a virtue. She made usurpation morally palatable. She made individuality that destroys social fabric of communities, a morally superior choice.  While I understand her perspective coming as it was from a immigrant fleeing communist excesses, I don't understand today's people still seeking inspirations in the nonsensical steam-letting of an old woman whose grip on reality was heavily coloured and biased by narrow experiences and perspectives. Her name was Ayn Rand and she legitimised her biases by giving it a name - objectivism. One of Ayn Rand's most famous character is a certain 'John Galt' - a maverick engineer who  organises a strike among the world's smartest, most creative entrepreneur and artists and thereby - "stops the motor of th

Reading India through 'Dictator's handbook'

What's the difference between a democracy and a dictatorship? The book says, not much. India, agrees. Current political dispensation especially agrees vigorously. " Soma " of hindutva and past glory + divided impoverished amnesiac masses + legitimised attack on individual rights + tremendous wealth shared among few = brave new world of oligarchical India. Essentially, democracies/ dictatorships etc., are simply variants of the same power dynamic between the ruler, essentials, influentials and inter-changeables .   Interchangeables are the nominal selectorate - the individual voters who have nominal (or cosmetic) power to choose leader - most of us. Influentials  are the real selectorate - the guys who really choose the leader. In US recently, the electoral college famously went against the popular vote and elected a clown as their president instead. In India, theoretically, the system is a bit better in terms of a wider base of influentials - it could be rel

Reading China through "Dictator's handbook"

Ai Weiwei doing what needs doing, even if it is futile Can China exist as a democracy? Is it even possible? If it can't sustain as a democracy, what makes the single party factory-of-the-world system so special to ensure evolution rather than revolutions? Perhaps the ' dictator's handbook' can answer that question better. Today I was listening to the podcast "Intelligence squared", as I do with every evening walk from my office to home. The motion was that democracy perhaps is not suited for China. I thought that debate is preposterous - say that to an Uighur peasant or a miner dying of lung cancer or an indentured labourer at any of the big electronic companies. He/she will tell you the answer. What I was most interested by was the recurring rhetoric about the economic miracle of China, that this kind of economic growth is unprecedented. That it single-handedly brought 70% of world's out-of-poverty transformations. So on the one hand of the deba

Love/ trust OR power

In any relationship, there are only every two possible operating conditions - Trust/ Love Or Power. You need to have either of these two things in a relationship for your own good. If you have neither, its best to walk away if you can. If not, the second best thing is to gather strength to fight for respect.   Ophelia: "incapable of her own distress" Any relationship is either based on trust based cooperation or competition for power. If you are lucky, your life will get entangled with a person who respects you and has your best interest in mind. The second possibility is that the  relationships turn into a game of power - where there are daily skirmishes to gain a leverage between the parties. But both these types of relationships have some sort of balance between the partners. The first is where the presence of love/ trust creates a nurturing atmosphere for both the parties. The second is where there might not be love, but at least there is give and take - some sor

About concerns

  1500 children have died in Ashram schools in last decade in Maharashtra.  Out of the countless atrocities, 16 brave women came forward to tell harrowing tales of sexual exploitation by state sponsored terrorists. These are two of the news stories that appeared in media yesterday . I got to know of them, because I recently put a Google Alert to 'adivasi'. (Because mainstream media simply does not 'cover' their lives) Otherwise, I would have not known about them as well. What if the 1500 children were not adivasis in remote Maharashtra - what if they were from affluent households in south Mumbai. How big the news event would have been then? We are as primitive in our worldviews, if not more, as our manu time ancestors and their patriarchal power games. We have not evolved one bit. Time in its passing throws up one revolutionary after another - Phule, Ambedkar - but even these giants can't illuminate the apathetic darkness of humanity's soul for long. All

The nature of corruption and the blue pill Mr. Modi offers in return

"Surgical strikes" of Mr. Modi Mr. Modi loves the metaphor of surgical strike - precise, effective, absolute. If surgeries are for flesh-and-bones bodies of living beings, the surgical strikes that Mr. Modi likes to unleash on are bodies of 'terrorism', 'corruption','poverty' etc. In a physical body, a 'surgical strike' can be contained. The target and the weapon is definite and known. The cause-effect are immediately visible. The metaphor loses its meaning when you try to use it on conceptually elastic exchanges such as terrorism and corruption. What I mean by conceptually elastic is - terrorism or corruption are fairly fluid in their meaning and depends on who is defining whom as being a terrorist or corrupt. 'Corruption' or 'Terrorism' is not a thing or a person that we can see, smell, touch. It exists between people as an exchange. Take for example the concept of "Terrorism" State sponsored terrorism is cal

There's an idea in the soap sud

Grooming is magical. I am not talking about hygiene here. I am talking about the fantastic ability of our minds to groom its thoughts while we groom our bodies. It is as if there are switches on our bodies - on the scalp, on tooth, on the skin. As water falls/ razor shears/ tooth brushes on these switches, the mind wakes up an army of little switchboard operators in our heads. These little people get busy connecting all the ideas that lay flaying unconnected, unrecognised so far. And while we stare at ourselves stupidly in mirrors/ at soap suds/ at the objective zero (our own personal abyss our thoughts sometimes gets lost in), a fresh new thought bubbles out of that stupor, like a ray of sun piercing a dark cloud. And it is these thoughts that truly wake you up. They wake you up to a new reality, a new perspective, an obvious truth, a solution to problem that was grinding down our lives and we didn't even know that it was. Eureka! And now you can walk confident in the day, una

the momentum

So here's the thing - writing blogs is atleast ten times easier than writing a cohesive and engaging story. I am writing a series these days. Series because I am still not confident about writing one long novel (or even novella) sized story. I am starting small with small stories that are united by one context. Anyways, the point is, once I thought of the idea, I wrote the first two stories fairly quickly. I was 'in the flow'. I wrote it when I was busy at work and home too. 3-4 projects at work, chores at home and yet I could write these stories fairly quickly. Now I have the idea for the third and fourth (and a complete new set of ideas for another series), but I simply have not written 'anything' in the last two months. I have been less  busy at work in this time, and home chores are now more manageable now that we are settled in a routine. Yet, I struggle. One of the reasons for it taking that long is my lack of confidence in the subject matter. I spent consid

I am a writer

There. said it. This should force me to do it everyday.  Recently, I decided to 'become' a writer. By this I mean, being more committed to write things that build up to something. As against, random posts here and other blogs. (this blog was, among other things, once called 'Repository of random hearts'.) I want to write stories, novels and useful thought-through articles. I want to write because I believe there is a shocking paucity of ' utopias ' and ideas of future of humanity currently in popular imagination. I think I have the imagination and the ability to dream of better futures for us that we can use to then achieve. Action starts with ideas. Unfortunately, most ideas these days are either dystopian (Look at all the hollywood movies these days. The world is forever ending it seems. Or worldwide trends - right wing xenophobia, a sense of overwhelming inevitability of capitalism.) or very narrow minded (Look at tech - of all the things that are possibl