Today, I get my degree (in absentia). Interestingly, I get a degree that certifies me to having learnt something that I havn't really learnt (well, thats not completely true, I guess) and I do not get a degree for what I really learnt over there. :(
Such is unfairness of the world of degrees. *deep sigh*
The day will pass every other day and in a few days, hopefully, I will get my degree by mail.
Tuesday, May 31, 2005
Today, I get my degree (in absentia). Interestingly, I get a degree that certifies me to having learnt something that I havn't really learnt (well, thats not completely true, I guess) and I do not get a degree for what I really learnt over there. :(
Monday, May 23, 2005
I take off my shoes as it is difficult to walk with them on. The sun is at its noon-high and my feet feel the heat that has been so greedily absorbed by the sand. I dance a little in the same place trying to acquaint my soles to the heat with each step. The fine silica grains gush in between my toes every time I lay my feet thus increasing the surface of skin in contact with the sand. A few steps have proved me wrong. It is more difficult to walk barefoot as the discomfort due to the burning sensation in my soles. I try to run but in the absence of a solid ground, it is a slow and tedious task. The beach seems a long way away and I stop on a mound of sand with some grass growing on it. It is cooler here and I rest here for a few minutes before making the final leg of the journey to the cool spray of the sea.
Standing on the beach, I eye the sea respectfully. She keeps spewing up these huge waves displacing tremendous amounts of water that by the time they get to where I stand have petered out to meek stream. I stand there admiring the vast empty expanse and am reminded of what Newton said. "I am but a little boy collecting pebbles on the beach while the vast ocean of knowledge lies undiscovered before me." Though he was speaking metaphorically, I understand the full import of those words only now. Human mind is incapable of imagining vast amounts and you never know how big the ocean is until you stand on the beach and all you see is water till the sea meets the sky. I am reminded of the frog in the well from the famous fable and I smile at the thought that I was the frog until now. And yet, I do not see the complete stretch of the sea.
While I was peering at the horizon, the sea and the sand have conspired together to root me right there. There is sand all around my feet which are almost buried in the wet, slippery surface. A roar and a wave goes crashing down into the water and comes to slish-sloshing with the joy akin to one who has just stepped off the ferris-wheel at the amusement park. There the water receded as its energy ebbs and it returns for another ride, and my feet have sunk deeper into the sand.
Just like that, I have been anchored. No questions asked. No introductions, no discrimination. The sea accepts all who come to her beach equally and provides the same, unfiltered joy that enthralls everyone regardless of age, sex, religion, or race. Once I was a little boy, free of all worries and troubles of the world; ignorant but curious; and filled with optimism and in active grip of unadulterated happiness. But here I am, shoes hanging by side held by two fingers of my left hand, lower part of my pants wet and sticking to my calves, knowing that I will have to return back to the drill of the real world tomorrow but still currently in a state of complete bliss under the Sun God who is right above me and with the Sea God at my feet.
Do we know each other? Slish-slosh, slish-slosh.
What time is it anyway? Slish-slosh, slish-slosh.
What is this place? Slish-slosh, slish-slosh.
Is this heaven? Slish-slosh, slish-slosh.
Is this where I...? Slish-slosh, slish-slosh.
Lost. It's murky here, or is it misty? I cannot tell. Am I a part of the murk? I cannot say. Just a vague, formless matter surrounds me. Free, floating, am I? Am I still or am I moving? How can I tell in this place which looks the same in all directions? Relativity, you say? Time? It does not seem to matter here.
A distant sound. There! I hear it again. Is that... laughter? Sounds like a distant thunder. I cannot see who. Or fathom why.
A child's laugh! It is getting closer. A form pops up to my right. I recoil a little, startled. It smiles and I see the face of child with naughty eyes and a refreshing smile. What is it in a child's face that makes us forget everything? Is it the blessed ignorance that allows them to experience a world as full of wondrous things or is it the attentive and sponge-like nature of their inquisitive minds that is slowly tempered by society into passive inactivity?
Follow me, his eyes say. Where? In an instant, he is gone. I grope furtively in the mist, trying to find him. Where did you go! Come back! He is gone and I have been left alone. I feel myself thrashing around in the murk trying to scoop it out and make it possible for me to find where he went. In a few minutes, I am tired and have given up.
Just when I thought I had lost the one possible clue to the mystery of the situation, he returns with impatient eyes and a tight expression on his face.
Why didn’t you follow me?
How could I? How could anyone see anything in this dense fog?
Fog? he says as if the word was something new to him.
Yes! Don't you see it? It is all around us. So dense that I cannot find myself in it.
He laughs again and says with mysterious eyes, It is as clear as water. There is no fog. Maybe your vision is clouded.
I stare at him amazed at this revelation. I do not believe him. Yet I rub my eyes with my hands. Perhaps, I am going blind. Cataract? Oh! I never thought I had gotten so old. Fear of the loss of my eyesight seizes me and it is terrifying. I shiver at the thought being made to live this life without eyesight.
Looking at my anxious actions, he laughs again, a loud, ringing laugh.
Why do you laugh?
At you! Your foolishness is amusing to watch.
I am much too distressed to reply.
There is nothing wrong with your eyes.
And he is gone. Just like that! Leaving me to ponder over what he had just said. I do not understand. I close my eyes and it is much the same. See, he said but see what? A thousand questions rage through my mind and in the whirlpool of this storm, there is no answers. Where do I seek these answers? Whom do I ask? Why doesn't He answer me? 'See', he says!
I open my eyes and I see myself on the beach, rooted into the sand and with the waves higher and reaching more and more inland. I pull my legs out of the sticky sand and I walk along the beach for a little while. The sun would go to sleep in a few minutes and while he remained, I see his golden rays forking their way across the ocean and the play of light is hard to turn away from. I watch the sun go down into the vast expanse of the ocean and hand over the realm of the sky to the moon.
As the night deepens and the stars come out to play, I am still on the beach wondering where I would go at this time. Whose door to knock on and where to sleep. Sitting on the beach there with sand all around me, I realized that I had already knocked on a door and been granted admittance. It has been a long and tiring day, both physically and mentally. I lie down right there and shut my eyes for a few minutes.
B... BLI... BLINK...... BLINK...... BLIIIIINK.... BLIIIIIIIIINK......... BLIIIIIIIIIINNNNNNNNNNNKKKKKKKKKK......... BLLLLLIIIIIIIII but I do not finish that blink as I feel something hard bury itself in the side of my stomach. I get up fearing some large animal has taken a fancy to me when I notice that the object that has disturbed me is a leather shoe worn by a constable's foot.
"Oye! Who are you and what are you doing on the beach at this time of the night?" His accent is hard to follow and I understand the meaning of his question by a couple of words and his gestures.
Before I could answer his question, he notices that I am a tourist and asks instead, "Where do you come from?"
I tell him and he rudely tells me something that I take to mean that I am not welcome to stay at the beach. I argue with him for a while trying to explain that I just a harmless tourist but he does not seem to understand me or is too stubborn and he shakes his head to everything that I say. It quickly deteriorates to a futile effort. I get up wearily, and a little sad as these would be the last few moments I spend on the beach as I have to take the early bus home if I am to get to my work on time.
I collect my shoes that were lying nearby and I turn around to leave.
See! His words come back to me. But see what?
I look at the constable and what do I see? A uniformed enforcer of the law of the land who seems to be doing what his duty commands him to do? Laws of the land? No, more like laws of the society! Which seem to be quite out of the sync with the land that it is supposed to represent. A society whose laws seem to restrict some of its own members to do something quite harmless as sleeping on the beach; laws made by a few and enforced by a few and obeyed by all for fear of punishment by those in power just because that they have a gun or a post.
What do I really see? The disparity between reality and the actual? The difference between nature and man-made monstrosities. Yes, mankind has constructed a lot of things – material, philosophical, knowledge. Some call it creation but destruction always goes hand-in-hand with creation, does it not? Arnt the Nuclear bombs a direct application of the quantum theory and Einstein's E=mc^2? So, can we really create a better world without destroying?
Is there no hope at all?
Yes! The voice says. But you have to see with unclouded eyes.
Posted by Madhat at 5/23/2005 10:59:00 AM
Saturday, May 14, 2005
He squeezed his car in the space between two Maruti 800s in the cramped parking lot after spending the last fifteen minutes trying to find a suitable place to park his car. He never liked parking his expensive car in Indian markets as he was paranoid of getting a dent from one of the thousands of nincompoop drivers who had bribed their way to a driving license. He sighed and opened his car door which hit something metallic within a few inches of its movement. The movement of the car door was blocked by the adjacent car, leaving no room for him to get out. He cursed and moved over to the passenger side and tried the door there. Again the door was hindered in its motion but here it opened a significant bit more than its counterpart on the other side and he managed to squeeze out of the car. Locking his car was not a problem as he had the latest remote-controlled locking system that allowed him to secure the car at the press of a button.
He knew that the shop was going to be filled with people shopping for the coming festive season, which was exactly what he was here for. Usually in this season, the shop would be teeming with women and their husbands trying to get the attention of the over-worked and overwhelmed salespersons. The hustle and bustle of the shop never ceased to scare him and he always wondered why people would forego a little comfort over long waits in endless lines in an oxygen-scant environment to save a little money but then having been born with a silver spoon, he had never experienced the everyday financial pressures of a typical Indian middle-class family.
He walked the mile from his parked car to the shop, every step heightened his anxiety that he would miss the window of time during which his friend in the jewellery shop took his break. An old college friend of his, who had after graduation followed his father’s footsteps into the jewellery business by becoming his father’s replacement in the shop, working as one the store’s several helpers had told him that if he could come during his break he could help him but that he would not be able to go show him variety or give him much time to choose. At least, this way he could circumvent the crowd and finish his chore without wasting a lot of his precious time.
Nearer the store, there is always this horde of beggars who badgered the shoppers into giving them the alms that would feed their hungry children. They particularly targeted the upper middle-class men and he was no exception. With his designer suit, swiss watch, and RayBan sunglasses, he was the perfect target for them. He always gave alms generously as the sight of the improvised and their misfortune was unbearable to his eyes.
He stopped to look at the shabbily dressed woman with her child clutched in her arm. Her clothes were so filthy that it seemed that dirt from the entire world had claimed residence on her worn-out old clothes. The semi-naked child was as dirty as herself and there was no evidence of a chance to take a clean bath for weeks. It was sights like these that made him stop and wonder at the contradictory nature of the uparwala, the almighty who giveth and taketh. He dropped a ten-rupee note into her tiny cup and disappeared into the crowd that thronged the shop before she could realize what he had done and thank him for his generosity as he would have been embarrassed by the undeserved gratitude that she would have expressed.
The store was an old, famous enterprise that had built up its reputation as a trusted shop where the products could be reliably bought. It was a store that his mother would occasionally visit tagging him along with her when he was a child. Those days it was a smaller building and it was never crowded. All his sisters had got their wedding jewels made in this shop. He remembered being fascinated with the care with which the ornaments were passed around, with sighs of wonder as it passed from one female member of the family to another. Sometimes, he would be made to offer his neck as a model for the piece of gold. The joy of wearing jewellery was stayed with him for a long time and he was renowned in college for being the only guy around who could be found wearing multiple forms of gold at any point of time.
After the death of his father, his mother had to stop wearing jewellery in accordance with the norms that a widow had to follow and it had been a long time since she had visited the shop, much less bought an ornament for herself. So much had changed about the shop since then including the responsibility of the business passing to a new generation and a new entrance gate which he noticed was flashier than the one he remembered from his childhood days. The old doors were made of rosewood and were huge, giving the formidable impression of a fortress, unlike the small glass doors that opened into the shop now. As he walked inside, he noticed the interiors had changed too in quite the same way as the doors. He came out his reverie when somebody pushed from behind and without uttering a word of apology, the interloper moved on. He quickly glanced at the time and realizing that he had only had a few more minutes, he forged ahead.
Dressed in his designer suit and expensive sunglasses, he looked the part of an imposing picture of a son of a rich industrialist with a lot of connections, both political and financial. People rarely resisted such a person jumping the line and would make way for him when he had the words, excuse me, on his lips. Occasionally, he would have to explain that he was not there for some other business when he met with the occasional stern looks from a person who indicated towards the line. They usually bought his story as he did not look the part of a person who needed to save money.
As he trudged on through the milling crowd, his senses were swamped with a lot of sensory data. The extreme proximity from all sides, the nauseating smell of sweat mingled with the stale air-conditioned air of the environment, the loud conversations of different people, all combined over-worked his senses. Yet, amidst the entire mental disturbance all these different sensory activity was causing him, his brain sub-consciously noticed something familiar. He would never know what it was that caught his attention. He would forever think that it was providence that played a role in this chance happening. Whatever it was that caught his attention, it drove everything else out of his mind.
The tapping on her shoulders made her whirl around suddenly and look at the person beside her. She let out a short gasp followed by a swift movement of her hand to the open mouth as her mind recognized the person who had disturbed her, “you!!”
He looked at her mutely, struggling to find a word to express his surprise at finding her in such an unexpected place. She was wearing a cotton chiffon saree, the kind that was ideal for this situation, which had a nice pink design on it. Her hair was bunched up and her sparse jewellery consisted of the a pair of gold bangles, a ring on the ring finger of her left hand, a chain around her neck that was mostly hidden under her saree and a pair of studs in each of her earlobes.
The moment of recognition had passed but still the excitement of having met someone from the past remained, albeit a shade lesser in intensity compared to the initial shock.
“I thought you had gone forever and that I would never see you again.” And then she felt the anger surge through her and she said testily, “you did not even have the courtesy to answer to my letters!” It was much like the anger she had felt when a long time ago she had a punched a young cock-sure kid had mocked her in a playground. She had been playing with her friends when this new kid came to play with them. Wearing branded T-shirt, shorts and new shoes, he clearly different from the rest of them who were mostly attired in old clothes and chappals. It was a game of street cricket that they were playing and they let him join in the middle of the game. He had considered himself to be good at the game but when his bowling was taken apart and that too by a girl, a sense of shame and subsequently anger filled him, and he started calling her names. The argument became more heated but was brought to an abrupt end when he found himself on the ground after a fist had filled his field of view. It had been such a long time ago but it also had been the start of a remarkable friendship that had lasted a very long time but they had drifted apart some years ago. She smiled as she recalled the look of extreme fear on the face of her harasser as he looked up her with his bleeding nose. The smile squelched the ire she had felt earlier and she said, “Do you remember the first time we met?”
Relieved, he replied, “Of course I do. For a moment there I thought that there was going to be a dramatic re-enactment of that scene for the benefit of all these people.”
“Well, you always had the ability to vex me.”
He was about to note that it was not his fault that her temper flared for the most insignificant thing when he noticed that she was not alone. Listening to their conversation with an interest that could hardly be that of an eavesdropper was a man who could have been only one specific person.
“So, this must be your husband”, he said to her.
Reminded of his presence, she responded, “Yes, he is. Of course you wouldn’t know. You didn’t even respond to my wedding invitation. Not even the customary congratulatory message of an individual who hadn’t been able to attend it...”
Then she introduced them to each other. Her husband turned out to be an engineer in a construction company.
“Oh, you are the one who got the bloody nose! I have heard all about you!”
“In my defense, I did not know that she was taking Karate lessons. If I had, I would not have taunted her.” He continued,” After that, I befriended her in the hope that she would protect me but instead I had to suffer the bruises her punches gave me for years. I bet you are a victim of a little domestic violence.”
They all laughed at that. He noticed that her laughter was subdued now; it was more of a smile than a laugh. Her laugh had been legendary. She used to have a loud, neighing kind of laughter that carried a long distance which was embarrassing for her parents. They had had tried to discipline her laugh but had never succeeded before. It was that laugh that had rung out in the middle of a college play, at a moment that had not written or played out with an intention to make the audience laugh. The memory of that day was very clear in his mind as it had been very embarrassing for him; embarrassing because he had just made his entry and had spoken his first dialogue of the play on stage. It was a play they had worked on for weeks and he had been particularly proud of his part in the play and had enthusiastically gone about working on different aspect of it. He had procured the costumes, translated the dialogues from English and had taken gotten the props specially made. His enthusiasm had made her come to watch him, in spite of the fact that she had her mid-terms the next day. The play was A Streetcar Named Desire and he was playing the part that his idol Marlon Brando had played in the movie version of the 1950s. It would have two of him taped together to have looked like Brando from the movie and so, when he came out dressed as a sailor and spoke his first dialogue with the lisp of the Godfather, she had been unable to contain herself and had burst out laughing. It was much later, viewing at the photographs of the play and imagining his scene on the stage, when he realized how ridiculous he had been playing Stanley. Her laughter had showed him what he had tried to depict was quite contrary to what he was in reality. That laughter that had disappeared into the annals of human memory leaving nothing but a trace of its former effervescence in the years that had intervened between that day on stage and today where all she could produce was a little air. Yes, she had changed. Time was like the wind in the desert, always making, destroying or shifting the dunes of sand.
“I see that your fingers are bare. I take that as a sign of your bachelordom, am I right?”
Her husband’s question startled her and she grabbed his right hand and then his left. She looked at him with an unspoken question in her eyes and he immediately knew the reason for her puzzlement. But what could he say? The truth was that he had just lost his interest. Over the years, his passion for the one thing he really loved had declined and he had not noticed till it was too late and by then, he had become indifferent to it. He answered her with a barely noticeable shrug that was more expressed through his eyes than his shoulders.
“Perhaps it is with the intention of ending that freedom that you are here?” he continued in the same tone. He was completely oblivious of the silent exchange between the two old friends whose language could hardly be expected to be interpreted by a person out of the ring of the friendship.
“No, not really. I am here to buy a present for my mother and my sisters.” He was glad for the diversion. It gave him the chance to avoid the awkward moment that her husband’s observation had created. He went on about his mother’s love for the Mizhakadi style and how she still liked to peruse through her ornaments though wearing them was a taboo she strictly observed. On being asked about the Mizhakadi style, he started an elaborate lecture on the origins, features, virtues and beauty of the style, and how it has been on the decline on the popularity measure over the past century, and how he had trouble finding shops that made jewellery in that style and even if they did, there was a great paucity in the variety and number of designs allocated to it. He went on and on without realizing that he had long lost the attention of his audience. In part it was an attempt to circumvent the sticky query in her eyes and in part, it was a lost passion that had suddenly been given wings to let itself be expressed.
He had always been passionate about the theatre and had at one time wanted to be a theatre actor. It usually took him about a week to change his intended profession but the ambition of becoming a theatre personality lasted for far more than that. He took acting classes and voice modulation lessons, and she had to admit that he had become quite adroit at pitching his voice the most effective way for every situation. Hearing him speak on his pet topic now made her recall the heady days when his mother disapproved of his every career plans. As a concerned mother, she wanted him to be successful and she chastised him for wasting his time on what she considered to be frivolous activities. They would regularly have heated arguments over the matter, which usually ended with him walking out in a fury. It seemed like only yesterday that he had left his home in a huff, packing his bags and with hopes of a success in the theatre world. Yet, it wasn’t the same person who stood in front of her now. He did not seem to have the restless energy that characterized him in their more youthful days.
Looking back at those long lost times with nostalgia, she wondered she would be able to reconcile with her past self the emptiness that she had willfully surrounded herself with in the present. There were times of great ambitions and great rebellious behaviour, and somewhere along the way they had petered out… Lost in the myriad alleys of the past, she did not realize that he had stopped his monologue and was looking enquiringly at her. She smiled in an attempt to hide her unhappiness that was evident in her demeanour.
What was she thinking so deeply about?, he wondered. Is it just nostalgia or something more?
Seeing her had reminded him of the times of their youth when time seemed endless and they were eager to become independent. They had dreamed together of a life free of all obligations and expectations.
As it always happens when in crowds, they were pushed so close together that they could feel the hot air of the others’ breath.
They used to think alike in the old days and they instinctively knew the others’ state of mind. It had not changed much in spite of the gap in friendship all these years. A gesture was enough to get into the skin of the other. They say old habits die hard.
They also say that your eyes are the windows to your soul. One could peep into them and look right into your heart. Perhaps, that is only true among old friends…
It was like the years that had separated them had not managed to separate them actually and in an instant, they knew what the years had done to them. She knew why he had given up his dreams and followed the conventional path that leads to success as society defines it. And he understood why she had entered wedlock in accordance with the wishes of her parents and entered the household of another patriarch with whom she was expected to live out the rest of her life.
In that instant when they peeped into eachother’s lives, they sensed a mutual feeling of loneliness, a loneliness which breaks the walls of resistance of the toughest human being, a loneliness that grows in intensity rather than lessens in the company of human beings, a loneliness that can only be shared, understood and alleviated by old friends. You could do nothing about this loneliness as it so overwhelming that everything seems futile and you accept the changes in your life that you resisted against with great fervour before.
Inevitable, the world had changed around them and they too had with it. The flow of time had slowly eroded their identities. He was now known as the son of so and so, and she, the wife of so and so. Their lives were not their own anymore and it saddened them deeply to find the other in the same state as themselves.
The crowd jostled them violently and the spell of their private moment was broken.
Posted by Madhat at 5/14/2005 11:51:00 AM
Thursday, May 12, 2005
Ok, I finally get around to doing this. In my defense, I have had a pretty full week so far and there are still one and half days left of it (well, three and half if you count the weekends). I still have to type in my second story that has been lying around in my notebook for some time now and publish it and start on my third story (perhaps even work on the story I started in delhi).
But all that later and let me tell you what I did the last time I got a couple of days off, ie, last weekend.
I got off early friday evening as the call (which sucks the evenings of my life) was cancelled! Yippee! I could take an easly bus to get to Honnemardu. Before you start wondering why that particular place, let me answer it for you. It is all because of this doctor in Bangalore who took this picture and this one. The picures as you can see are simply great. Well, he does take great pics. Anyway, I loved the pics so much that I decided to go there. Plus, I got to know that to get there, you might have to walk 14 kms (or take a taxi). I wanted to go trekking anyway and the result was that I packed my bag super-fast and was at Majestic by 7.30 PM.
Honnemardu is near Shimoga town and the more famous Jog Falls. It is also a place which is very near the place, Ambikanagar, where we (me and my sis) spent some summers at my doddappa'a home. That place was a small settlement in he jungle and my doddappa worked as an engineer in the dam nearby. I have some pleasant memories of that place and some unpleasant ones too. I did not go as far Ambikanagar(that I reserve for another day) but I did get to Talaguppa at 4.30 AM saturday morning after a comfortable eight and a half four journey from Bangalore.
Talaguppa is a small village some 90 kilometers from Shimoga and 19 kms from Sagar. It is from here that you start walking to Honnemarudu. And walk, I did.
It was 4.30 AM and I was a little apprehensive as I was in a alien village with noone in sight. Which direction was I supposed to take? I could hardly pick one and start walking because that had a possibility of not leading me where I wanted to go! I walked a few paces and there was someone about. Asked him. "Go straight and then take a left at the next circle and then take another left at a sign which says Hiremane." I thank my Dad for his Kannada lessons which enable me to read kannada signs. Ok. I go straight but I come to a fork in the road. Hmmm.. which one is "straight"? I feel like the nameless Samurai in Yojimbo, played exceptionally by the legendary Toshiro Mifune, who in the beginning of the movie encounters a fork in the road and decides on the path pointed to by the stick he throws up in the air. I was not aimless and though I very much wanted to emulate him, I could not have done that. :( So, here I waited for a while for another good samitarian to pass by to whom I could I ask the question. Presently, I get my wish and I move on...
Thanks to my kannada skills, I manage to find the turn that I am supposed to take and from here it is apparently 10 Kms away. Well, I was of course aided my the sign in English which read "Indian Institute of Adventure Applications, Honnemarudu" with an arrow that helpfully pointed out the way. Finally, I find an umambiguous sign that tells me where to go in this thinly populated place (or at least a place of late risers). I take it as a sign from God. Oh! I forgot! I do not believe in Him.
The road is a tar road and some of the scenes I saw are this, this, and this. It soon gives way to a mud road protected from the rain by stones embedded in it which finally gives way to a simple dust track.
The soil was red and was a delight to the eyes in the morning light. There were many beautiful sights along the way and I have tried to capture some of them, especially this beautiful flower that I saw along the way. I was shooting at f/5.6, 15 and I was afraid for the outcome on two counts - one because shooting at 15 increases the chance of a camera shake and two because f/5.6 means a very short dof which means that if I do not focus perfectly, the flower would be out of focus. I had to wait till I got the prints to see how it came out (damn you! DSLR-owners!).
Beautiful flowers, lovely sights, interesting villagers, etc, etc, later I finally get a view that stunned me when I first saw it. When I saw this, I instantly knew that I would love this place (not that I was not already in love with the place but this view promised the 'paradise' that Moses promised the Hebrews and made them walk around in the desert for 40 years and well, I had walked for like four hours). It was with this shot that my roll ended and from this point on I used a BW film (pro film that costed me Rs. 238) that is still in development, which means that you fine folks (my adorable readers) will have to wait till tomorrow to see the pictures of the rest of the place tomorrow!
As I continued walking, I was keeping an eye out for the IIAA (with whom you were acquainted earlier) base camp that is supposed to be around here. I nearly missed it but for the alertness of its inhabitants. They asked all sorts of questions and offered me tea. Here in this serene atmosphere where the temperature does not seem to rise above 35 degrees and where there is always a cool breeze emanaing from the lake, I think I found an idea of the place I want to live in. There is no use for electricity or for mosquito coils. Life as a farmer is hard work and not a very rewarding at that too. I do not plan to farm but I do plan to live in such a place one day. In the company of unbridled nature, it is a paradise unfathomable to the city-lovers.
One of the kids brought a twig that had a big, beautiful butterfly stuck on it. For a while, I thought that it was dead but it looked like an about-to-burst over-pregnant mother that was stuck on the twig in the hope that it would be an ideal place to lay its eggs. Got a couple of pics of the insect. Wow! I have been here for a few minutes and I was already discovering new things!
They offered food and said that the first boat ride was free. I denied the boat ride as I am very apprehensive of these small boats but then the water was very calm and it did not look like a dangerous thing to do to go out in a boat. After talking to them for a few minutes, I went outdoors to the rim of the lake. It was a beautiful sight. Since it was May, the water had receded but that was a good thing as a lot of interesting, otherwise submerged things were visible (wait for the pictures).
I walked along the banks which was made difficult by the rocky terrain and slippery sands. I got around to a some rocks that were shaded from the sun by the branches of some trees. Tired from the four hour walk, I slept for a couple of hours here.
Yawn! Lovely place to sleep. Now the Sun beckons me out of my sleep and enjoy the afternoon. It is always best to shoot pictures in the evening or morning light. so, I wait by the banks for the sun to wear out and go to sleep. It is a lazy afternoon dotted by occasional raids of my bag for a bit of the chocolate cake.
Got to know Mohan, the little kid that brought the butterfly around. asked me a lot of questions about my tripod. Pretty smart kid! He told me not to litter the place! I was like, "Wow!" gave him the rest of my chocolate cake and he brought be some pakodas!
A lot of people came and went. A group of college-guys came and made a lot of noise. I was a little pissed at them for breaking the tranquility of the place. But 'Boys would be boys', I suppose.
The evening came and I clicked more pictures. It was just so beautiful and I kinda rued the fact that I loaded a BW roll in the camera. Perhaps, it would have been better if I had used a colour film. Only tomorrow will tell.
The light quickly fades after the sun sets and I am left groping in the dark for a good place to sleep. The wind it quite brisk and I struggle to find a place that will shade me from the chilly breeze. Having found one, I spread my bedsheet and sleep on the earth (which was what I had planned). After a few hours of tossing and turning and dreaming of alien abductions and sadistic, nocturnal creatures rising out of the lake, I fall asleep because I am too tired to walk back to Talguppa at this time of the night.
Contrary to my expectations, I slept very well and when I woke up, it was 6 AM. Took a few more pictures and started back. Wanted to reach Talguppa before the sun came up and it became hot.
I made it back to Taluguppa in two and half hours! Perhaps, The lesser walk time was because of the fact that I did not take frequent breaks to photograph the surroundings like I did on the day before and the fact that I knew the way back without any assistance from passer-bys.
Then took a bus back to Bangalore.
Wednesday, May 11, 2005
Tuesday, May 10, 2005
Your name alone strikes fear into others; but maybe, just maybe, there's a little vulnerability and weakness beneath that stoic, fierce exterior of yours.
Take the What Pulp Fiction Character Are You? quiz.
Posted by Madhat at 5/10/2005 04:07:00 PM
Wednesday, May 04, 2005
At first, I read this article on Nanda's blog where he is talking purely about ragging in IITK in early 21st century and not ragging in general. It is in response to this article where the author tells us about his experiences with ragging in IITD in the late 80s. I refrained from speaking much about it as I have changed my views on ragging in the past few months. Then Jayajhi (have to give her respect or else...) came up with her opinion on the issue where she expresses her solid disapproval of ragging of any form... Finally I came across this article on the net.
I have been trying to keep my peace with this issue as I have also tried to point out some of the opinions in my short story. But it is a serious issue and I suppose I need to present my views on it more firmly in the form of a non-fiction piece. This is not to express my views but also to concretise my opinion on this much discussed issue.
I have had my experince of ragging as most people did in my early days in IITK. I had come with an impression that ragging would be as severe as I had heard in other colleges. So, some may argue that I was already prepared for the worst. Well, I wasnt. A shy guy coming from an protected family environment is never prepared for ragging of any form. Even though the ragging was nowhere what I had imagined from the horror stories I was told, I still was extremely uncomfortable with it. There were a few people whom I met who did not rag me in any way. They chatted with me and when they saw that I had similar interests, they questioned me about it and one senior told me that I had a 'good reading habit'. He was against ragging and I am not sure if he remembers it (It was Faiz). I really liked him because he did not talk down to me or make me feel small which most seniors seems to want to do. I never made friends with those seniors who were mean to me. I mean, how could you? Out of the all the seniors I met, there were really relatively few who genuinely wanted to know you and get a senior-junior bonding going. But poor me did not notice these facts at that time. I just took it as it is and later in my second year, we ragged a few juniors. It is not real fun to rag juniors, well at least not for me.
In the years that followed, the ragging rules got stricter and we could not rag the juniors even if we wanted to. In our final year, the rules were so strict that juniors were not to be allowed into hall one... We (a-mid) caught a few second years one day and ragged them. Nothing much. Just a little joshing. When one of them started crying, we let him go. The other guys were quite cool about it (we think). We did not think we did anything wrong as we felt that as these second yearites had not ragged enough. It was done more out of a rebellious nature than to extract fun out of ragging as I know that most of the guys are not avid raggers. Our disdain for rules, in general, and the admin (symbolised by Dhande and the DOSA), in particular.
It was a newsgroup discussion on why IITians are so rude and an argument with a junior (I forget who) that I seriously started re-hinking about my views on ragging. The crux of the argument was whether the galis we learn during ragging are really needed/make us stronger/give us the confidence to face the world... Does fluency in profanity equip us better for the big, bad world?
I have never used galis before I came to IITk and never used them outside the boys hostel. So, how dis they help, I thought... Well, it did not in any way. And that was what set me about thinking about ragging in general.
Ragging has made no better and perhaps, it has gone further and made me worser. Well, I learnt new galis and learnt the art of demeaning my juniors. None of my juniors who are my friends now are people I have ever ragged. Obviously, why would they like to talk to a person who ridiculed them??? So, ragging has actually distanced me from my juniors!!! There goes your theory that it promotes senior-junior interaction (which I was a supporter of)! I do not deny the fact that people have managed to make friends with their juniors during ragging but it is just not true for most people. Somehow, we forget what a torrid time we had when we were the 'freshies'.
I got to know my juniors by working with them in some event or other where there was no shadow of the ragging-period and we were equals in our discussion. I am still in contact with quite a few of them and I dont think there is anybody amongst them whom I have ragged.
So, am I in support of ragging or not? NO! I am not! It is just not a good practise and all the arguments given in favour of it is really not ture in general. Plus there is the matter of choice. The junior does not have the choice to not participate in the ragging process and it IS mental harassment for most people. Maybe, it is not for Nanda who faced worser ragging in his school but thats the whole point. Most people have come from the safe environment of home and are just not prepared for the harassment they face.
I am opposed to ragging as it demeans a person's dignity for the entertainment of a group of people. Just because you really do not mean what you say and 'it is all in jest' does not take away the fact that it may not be 'all in jest' for the other guy, and is a tiring and depressing scenario to be in.
What about senior-junior interaction, you ask? I think there are better ways of making friends with your juniors than ragging. Personally, I am friends with all my juniors I have worked with in SPIC MACAY or plays or ELS and I think that this manner of increasing interaction is mutally beneficial to both the senior and the junior and also for the cultural/sporting/etc aspects of the institute.
Adios and please stop ragging...
Posted by Madhat at 5/04/2005 10:04:00 PM
Tuesday, May 03, 2005
I went to Nandi hills this sunday for the sole aim to photogaph the "picturesque" environment of the place. I was sorely disappointed.. :(
It is around 60 kms from Bangalore city and it takes 2.5 hours to get there! The last eight kilometers took an hour and I was dreading that the bus was going to give up on the way as the climb was very steep indeed. On getting on top of the hill, I was in for a surprise. The place is too small and too hot to be a hill station. I was able to explore the entire area in under an hour! It was swarming with people and their extremely noisy kids that I could barely got a moment of rest in that place. what did I expect from it, you ask? Something that lives up to its reputation, thats all. Is it really a hill station? Um, NO!
There was only one thing that I thought was something new that I experienced. For the first time, I felt that I was on a giant ball!!! The other times I have went to hills have always been hills completely surrounded by other hills and you never get the 'on-a-giant-ball' feeling at all (Of course, they were far more cooler that this hot spot!). Here though there are other hills around, they do not surround it and you get a view of huge plain in front of it. I have captured a scetion of it in this photograph. I also tried my hand at creating a panaroma but that roll is still in my camera. So, you will have to wait for that one.
I remained there till evening in the hope that the light would perhaps improve the depressing place. well, it did in a way and that roll is still in camera. By the time I reached the bus stand, it was 7.15 Pm and apparently , the bus that was supposed to come at 6.30 PM had not come yet and after waiting for sometime, I decided to take a lift. Well, I got one at my first attempt. It was an empty mini-lorry that took me all the way to Bangalore. I think I am getting the hang of this travelling thingie. :)
Posted by Madhat at 5/03/2005 09:38:00 PM
I got a mail from a group about this interesting group called ambientTV.net whose motives I have not yet understood but what they do is sure is interesting.
This is what their website says ---
ambientTV.NET is a crucible for independent, interdisciplinary practice ranging from installation and performance, through documentary, dance, and gastronomy, to sound and video composition and real-time manipulation.
What they do is a mix of technology and art. They introduced us to the network they have created in London. For a comp geek, it is very interesting as they have established a virtual network using Wi-Fi protocol, PVC tubes, used computer parts, etc, etc. Thus, they have enabled people on the network to access a high bandwidth system and share stuff (what, dont ask me! I personally think it is just about anythng they create)! this was something very interesting as it enables people to easily share their creations using a cheap(/free) bandwidth with others and is apt in this age of internet revolution. Somehow, I got to talking with Manu Luksch (Co-Director of ambientTV.net)and she suggested that "maybe I am the person" to start this network in bangalore. I was like, "Uh?" Bandwidth being at its expensive high right now that it is virtually impossible to create this network right now... Are there other possibilities? Is it really possible to create a high bandwidth network in Bangalore with support of, I dont know, the Government?
Plus she also asked the people gathered there to come to Yelahanka where her students have created something today. But I am still held up at work. :( Also, Yelahanka is painfully far off and conveyance to that place and back would be a major headache...
There are a few other things that she showed us that day. One was a modern-day adaptation of a Italo Calvino story called "The King Listens". It was very interesting idea and I liked it.
Another was on the Akha tribe that lives on the borders of five nations in South-East Asia. We were shown like five minutes of the documentary that shows how radio stations are used to pass on messages and later when I talked to her, I got to know that there was a lot more (of course, it is 90 minute documentary and we saw like 5 minutes of it). For example, she talked about how Akha people in different countries were picking up words from that countries languages for new concepts and items. For example, the Akha language does no have the work 'aeroplane' in its vocbulary and Akha people in China have picked up the mandarin term for it and Akha people in Thai have picked up the thai term for it and so on... What this would lead to over a period of time is creation of different dialects and Akha people from different countries would no longer be able to understand eachother. The Radio stations which beam between countries is too few and inadequate to bridge this gap. Also, there is a rich oral tradition and an effort is on to document the oral knowledge.
In Latvia, the ertwhile USSR had installed a spy dish that eavesdropped on signals in the L band which is basically the band of frquencies that the communication satellites used. It was highly sensitive instrument which was a technical marvel. After the fall the Soviet Union, the Russians presented the dish antenna to the Latvians as a parting gift but with a catch. They destroyed it but pouring acid into the works!!! The Latvians repaired it after much effort but the place has very poor facilities and thus has been abandoned by astrophysicists. Some people used it and this is the result of that experiment! Check it out!
Faceless is a Sci-fi film being created exclusively with video captured by surveillance cameras without any special effects added. The story and idea behind it is very interesting. Apparently in London, there are far too many CCTVs and according to a statistics that she quoted, you would be videotaped at least 200 times if you move from one district to another in London. The Government has created a law there that if an individual can get all the vidoetapes of him/her by sending a request along with a picture of yourselves. But to protect the privacy of other people in the video, their faces would be blacked out when you get the video! So the idea of Faceless stems from these videos and is that in the future people have lost their faces! I asked her why she wanted to make a sci-fi film set in the future. She answered that she did not want the film to be political which is very good thinking, I think...
well, it was an evening well spent. Got to know somethign interesting and now I am informing you fine people, my readers :)
Posted by Madhat at 5/03/2005 09:21:00 PM