Saturday, May 19, 2007

Never Been Spanked

I am scared. Really. And this is what I am scared of.

I read this post on the ibnlive website under a section called blogs. Now, I quite like the channel. It is a refreshing and practical change from the self-righteous, “cricket means sports and vice versa”, “entertainment is partying” NDTV.

The writer, who it seems is a reporter with the channel, says that he is scared of the Mayawatis and the Laloos. And is petrified that he runs the risk of living in a country which is run by one of them. Now I do not know this gentleman’s background or area of expertise but I would’ve expected better.

I considered for a while whether I should post a comment on his blog, and realized that he didn’t deserve it. But then one can’t ignore mainstream media. One may not like it, may crib, but can definitely not ignore it.

To be fair to the guy he admits that he is not vote bank, not even close. But then he goes on to say some things are so divergent that I just cannot help pondering. Consider this:

“Why does a Raja Bhaiya, renowned for throwing bodies of his opponents in a croc-infested pond, so violent and corrupt that he is called Kunda Ka Goonda, win elections? Why does Amar Mani Tripathi, accused of murder, get votes? Because their electorate vote for one of their own.”

But in the same post he goes on to say

“Actually, you know, if you ask many like me, we are happy to be with the Gandhis and their Family-Is-All-ness than the Mayawatis and the Mulayams of the world. The Gandhis speak our langauge, they, we hope have our concerns, and they, we hope express it, in our words."
And I wonder, if so then how different is he from the people who vote for a Raja Bhaiya, because he is one of their own?

And consider this:

“But if you go by pure instinct, Rahul and Priyanka, and Sheila Dikshit, and Salman Khurshid and Mani Shankar A. beat the Amar Singhs of the world anyday.”

Whose “pure instinct” may I ask? And on what basis are the names of the Gandhi siblings put alongside that of Sheila Dikshit? Oh, I forgot… instinct!!!

Now I am not really worried about the Mayawatis of the world becoming CM PM or whatever. Her previous stints have been riddled with controversy and dubious deals. But I do believe that sooner or later most leaders of mass following, elected through a democratic process do promote a development agenda. It took 20 years in West Bengal, and I am sure it will come around in UP and Bihar at some point of time. Someone will cut through the red tape. Somebody will ensure that these states pull their own weight, and that their people are empowered to dream and achieve those dreams. It will not come out of some vague philanthropic urge, but as a calculated outcome of ambition. Mayawati presumably wants higher things- and to have any hope of getting there she'll have to prove herself and her state. This time around she has no excuse. I read that Nitish Kumar is already doing some good stuff in Bihar, and so is the media’s favourite Laloo with the railways.

But every system has its rotten apples. I mean the US has George Bush but there is no place for such a concept in the media. Since polity is a numbers game, it is important that mainstream media is aware, enlightened and eloquent to capture and propagate the message. That issues are identified, escalated and brought to focus. People in mainstream media have an extra-ordinary responsibility, which is why we have seen the emergence of some really phenomenal observers in the past. I mean I have respect for Rajdeep Sardesai, for Pronoy Roy, and Cho Ramaswamy… and so on, but this article (and its author) disturbs me.

I am scared that the current crop probably doesn’t have it in them, and holds India and its polity in such poor esteem. There is nothing worse than an opinionated media.

But the bit in the post, which takes the cake, is this, and which made me write my first meaningful (only to me) post in months is this:

“I am aware that were a Lalu or a Mayawati were ever to become PM, I would have to choose to leave the country.”

And the closing line is a killer (I can almost see the guy beaming as he would have penned it)
“And that, as sophistication deserts our politics, means perhaps one day I will have to leave.”

It is not the business of politicians to be sophisticated. As long as they do their job, I do not think its anybody’s business. If Mr. Reporter feels that something like this would force him to leave the country I ask: Leave the country? Why the fuck? How much worse can they be from an emergency imposing Mrs. Gandhi?

But a statement like that also makes me wonder what is a nation? What makes our country worth living in? Is Manmohan Singh the reason why you choose to live here. No. We live here because we like it here. Because we have certain advantages of domicile which would disappear the minute we went abroad. Because moving abroad means starting from scratch. And most importantly because in our individual scheme of opportunities, we are best off where we are or decide to be.

A nation is not about who rules it. It is about the people who make it, the people who we meet everyday, our family, our friends. The people we work with. The opportunities it provides us- and no one can say that there is any dearth of opportunity in our land today.

Aristotle said, the worst form of inequality is to try to make unequal things equal. I am conscious of a great divide in our country. I realize that one cannot begin judging people, because everyone has a different story to tell. The trick is to recognize, or ignore, but not to even out the differences. Its impossible. There is not one, not two, but many, many Indias. To pull together, someone has to override these divide and make it work. Which is exactly what Mayawati has done very successfully this time around. I am all for individualism, and defiantly against uniformity. According to me the worst form of democracy is a dumbed down one.

Lastly, I think, to get along in life, you need to believe in something. Believe. You can choose to believe in yourself, and then it doesn’t matter where you are, because you are going to strike that balance anyway. Or you can choose to believe in the System. I choose to believe in myself. I believe that I will make things work for me. And then the System doesn’t upset me. However, believing in the System is just as good. It simplifies things. You just have to choose the system that’s right for you. If you believe in nothing- you’re screwed.

In the meantime, I shall go back to my weekend, with a little suggestion for our “Journo-Blogger”. After this UP election, I think Mayawati (or her type) becoming a PM in the future is a distinct possibility. It is advisable that you pack your bags and scoot and leave us to deal with the mess. Goodnight and good luck!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Paris, je t'aime (2006)

X Listen. Listen. There are times when life calls out for a change. A transition. Like the seasons. Our spring was wonderful, but summer is over now and we missed out on autumn. And now all of a sudden, it's cold, so cold that everything is freezing over. Our love fell asleep, and the snow took it by surprise. But if you fall asleep in the snow, you don't feel death coming. Take care.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

fabulously flawed... much like the hope diamond

"What's so great about the truth? The truth hurts people - try lying for a change. It's the currency of the world."

Closer, stage version.

Had seen this long back, and this line struck a chord. But of late I have developed this unhealthy streak of truthfulness. Completely unecessary and extremely inconvenient. And have realized how bad the truth can be.

In my current state of hightened dissonance, professional and otherwise, truthfulness can be very very dangerous. If one must lie, it has to be in states like this. Well, never mind (that cure for all evils)!

My respect for Ken Kesey overflows whenever I come across absolutely anything he's written. Couple of days back, when I logged into my Bloomberg terminal at work, there he was saying: “Take what you can use and let the rest go by”. And it struck me that there lay the key to happiness.

I have realized that I spend my life between states of extreme. About 95% of the time I do nothing. Nothing at all. Not just nothing of any consequence. Simply nothing. I frustrate people around me, but I think they love me, partly for that (though they might complain that with me there never ever is any hope of "closure"). I keep listening to the same music, reading that book, writing that book (yes RV, THAT book). In that same house, in with that same car, which I will never drive. That house whose walls now talk back to me in those rabbit-shaped peels.

I am aware I am missing a few things- swank apartment, fancy car, hot dates that IK keeps lusting after. And oh yes all those gadgets that the money in the bank can buy, that fancy new club...

And then all of a sudden something happens (for instance the week before my parents land up). And I want to pack everything, all experiences, into a day or two. I then want everything- a night of binging downtown, of movies, that holiday in Ladakh, of fancy cars, of big bonuses and blowing it up instantly- oh yeah!

And some things are managed. Others not. Stuff how hard I might, it just doesn't fit. It can be frustrating... sigh!

But I do realize something. The moments I really relish in my life, the memories I cherish, are from that 95% when I have accomplished nothing on paper.

~ Like walking from Mt Mary to Bandstand and Back... uphill-downhill with AK and CDC. in the middle of the night, all of us alone, with only the shimmer of the moon on the creased sea for company

~ Like noticing how your skin creased around the corner of your lips. How the follicles near your ear stood up each time you exhaled, and the incandescence of them in my dimly lit bedroom.

~ Like having tea from that flask, in between, sips of Old Monk, and writing stuff like this
~ Like that walk in the first rain... so many questions on my mind and so few answers. And that one that just refused to go away.
~ Like those numerous debates on things- like love, like youth, like relationships - things that are unlikely to be relevant for me ever again, but once were.
~ And things that do concern me, enormously.
~Like inspiration that needs to work, but alas won't
~ Like discovering the Johnny Cash rendition of Bono's ONE. That brilliant baritone voice, and those beautiful words: "act like never had love, and want me to go without" And movies... ah movies. Falling in love with such things is so easy. Why isn't it the same with people?
~Like discovering Calcutta, while roaming iaround in a cab driven by an Osama-bin-Laden look-a-like
~Like doing that little bit of ego massage and some humour in the process
But then how can I ever forget that the only meaningful thing I have written was the product of the other 5%

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

From Any Given Sunday

I made every wrong choice a middle-aged man can make. I, uh, I pissed away all my money, believe it or not. I chased off anyone who’s ever loved me. And lately, I can’t even stand the face I see in the mirror.

You know, when you get old in life things get taken from you. I mean that's...part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out life’s this game of inches. So is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small -- I mean one-half a step too late, or too early, and you don’t quite make it. One-half second too slow, too fast, you don’t quite catch it.

The inches we need are everywhere around us.