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I’ve sort of moved… March 8, 2011

Posted by K in Uncategorized.
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Damn it’s good to visit once in a while 🙂 I have nothing but the fondest memories for this yellow sporadic blog. This is where I cut my teeth and this is where I grew up, both in the blogosphere (even as I remained forever a sporadicblogger) and in the world of life, politics and falana. College happened, literature happened and I guess even post-graduation happened. And then my words dried up. Perhaps it was a crisis of self reflecting a crisis of words. I tried to find again the joy and satisfaction of blogging on other blogs, most of which never let me let them take off.

Anyhow, thanks for reading. I now sort of blog (even more sporadically) at http://paagolhawa.blogspot.com/.

The crisis of self and the mad search for adult purpose in the working world shall affect the words there, but I hope it will one day become as spontaneous as this one was.

Judgement Day May 3, 2010

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We all knew it was coming. No surprises there.

It is sick the way the media is ‘reporting’ this. It is sick the way the panellists are gloating. It is sick, this bloodthirst. It is sad the way a little girl recites (is coached into?) a wish for a hanging.

‘Reaffirming faith in the Indian judicial system.’

‘We know the details of the plot hatched in Pakistan’.
Really?

May 2, 2010

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‘CRPF Men Held For Supplying Arms
To Naxals’
Read that again.
The bullets that pierced the seventy five,
Were funded by the State;
In this war against the ‘extremists’
In this ‘law and order situation’
Giving a whole new meaning to
‘Of the people, by the people and for the people’,
Indeed.

Yet another nod
By you
to
Just another savage war,
Just a flick of the wrist,
The game plan of the rich
Pitting the poor against the poor.
(But see how they say fuck you
To your schemes?)

This Seat is Reserved April 24, 2010

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GIVE!
Your seat
To that man in front of you!
He is old and wobbly.
What
Is your excuse?

And while you sit there,
Let us talk about the ‘ladiej’.
Every time you claim it,
Do you let it
Hijack, divert, distract,
From your fragrant, enticing, dangerous,
Chamber of living death,
(Hi. I am only 22.39% oppressed. And you?)
Golden bird, middle class,
In that proverbial cage?

When does your vagina
Entitle you to a seat?
Never when you are face to face
With a wobbly old man on his feet.

‘We, Will not be, Washed away’ April 21, 2010

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Today I think I was in a train
Full of a fraction of the
25 (2.5) lakh right-wing, orange coloured,
Trishul flavoured, Hindutva brigade,
That marched to the temple of democracy
(The Indian Parliament House)
To condemn price rise.

As I stood, back against the wall,
Wondering whether I over-imagined
The unnatural crowd at an unnatural hour,
A bhajan rings, the phone jarring my tense nerves.
A tabeez on an arm, an open file
(A checklist of his brigade?)
And I thought
What if I were Muslim?
Would my fear multiply and my
Nerves be keen to hide not just
Listening to Grasshoppers
(half-read in my bag)?

Were I Muslim,
Would they demand to check my penis,
And chop my limbs one by one,
And scatter them on the tracks?

Or, since I am not,
Like a hot iron rod,
Pierce one another,
Through my corrupt (by default)Hindu mind?
To neutralise the ‘infection’
That swells the belly of my thoughts?

The more I scream, the cleaner the purge?
Like the hot, iron rods
That pierced the distended bellies
Of mal-nutritioned, adivasi children
In Jharkhand?

(Trust you read yesterday’s Hindustan Times,
Mr. Minister, Home Minister, every Minister)

Like Operations Greenhunt, AFSPA,
Liberalisation-Privatisation-Globalisation…
That continue to pierce the flesh of India?

Oh that barbaric, primitive, deceptive rod!
Like passing the parcel,
UPA I held it by night
And UPA II
(And the NDA)
by day.

Unbroken cycles, conjugated
With rallies of twenty five
(two point five?) lakh
Against price rise.

Conjugated,
With love from,
The Tatas, Ambanis, Birlas…
And a kiss from
That shiny, sparkly, new superpower
India.

My dinner tonight… February 1, 2010

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1) Mutton biryani
2) Chicken Shawarma
3) 2 Porottas
4) One plate chicken 65
5) Two oranges

Yes, all in one sitting. And no, it is not recommended…

January 31, 2010

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I have tried twice to start a new blog. I’ve even registered the damn things, but the words simply freeze when I attempt to write there. So until I manage to inaugerate them, I shall continue with the sporadic posts in here.

I’m in Chennai, for my data collection. What an ugly, statistical word: what I am doing is in effect trying to meet people and having conversations with them, although because of my tight schedule, the conversations resemble interviews more than they do anything else.

I’ve been in Chennai for a little over a week, and I have felt linguistically disabled. The last time I was here, I managed the three weeks with English and a smattering of Tamil words (sapta, solenge, wanga…yes, that basic). This time, maybe because I actually NEED the language comprehension, I’ve been feeling left out, and strangely enough, missing Hindi. I should put this in context- I might have grown up in Delhi, but I have never been a fan of the language. Suffice to say, we were forced into a working relationship through tuitions in the 8th standard.

I was very relieved when the fruitseller I bought oranges from switched to Hindi the minute I asked him how much they cost, in English. He was the second person. The first was a sanitation worker last week.

The counter-question I have been dreading the most-how is what you are doing, going to help us-has largely not been shot my way. The one time it was addressed to me, was in an almost casual way, and my translator, who is much more at ease with words and conversation, took care of it very well. I remember the episode in Delhi, when I attempted to speak to the male workers of a garment factory, and how the second or third thing they threw my way was that.

Why have I not been asked that, actually? Is it because my visits have been by appointment through common aquaintances? Is it because they are genial women as opposed to aggressive North Indian males?

I have realised the middle class construction of my questions now. I have an extensive questionnaire that aimed to find out what women garment workers felt about their work, and if working in a moneyed economy had transformed their social and psychological selves in any way. Most of the women I have spoken to, and I have spoken to about nine now, didn’t have the time to wonder about such things. Work is simply the way of earning a living, and their waking thoughts revolve around how to earn more money.

Which is fine, I had expected that. Whatever studies I have read on garment workers, focus on their terrible working conditions, terrible wages, terribly tough lives. Yes they are indeed terrible, and yes it very important to focus on these aspects, and not get caught up in personal stories. Yes it is important to focus on the women as workers, and it is important to view and construct the female worker as a worker first and foremost. But I was a little tired of the victim stories. I wanted to see the empowerment that the work had led to, and I wanted to see the people behind the workers.

Most of the women laugh when I ask them, as one of my concluding questions, what they would choose to write about, if they were to put down the story of their lives. This is not as inane as it might sound, or atleast the idea behind it is not. In conversation with a pretty remarkable woman, and while reading an awesome compilation on literature relating to work, I realised that the working class, or even workers, don’t have literatures. There is no working class equivalent of Dalit literature. And when workers have written about themselves, they have chosen to focus on non-working aspects of their lives.

Remember Baby Haldar’s autobiography? What she achieved was remarkable. I want to read her again.

Writing is so important. It is also cathartic, but that is not the point. Written words are a powerful medium to portray experiences, sustain anger, and mobilise around ideas.

So while most of the women laughed when asked to define ‘free time’ (sorry, person with middle class hopes of empowering work), and their hobbies, I am not sorry I asked the questions. The daily concern (which continues till the time comes for the eternal horizontal, in most cases) might be about the 9-to-6 and the money it earns them, but it is important to not forget they are individuals with imaginations, desires and dreams,right? Right?

This study is, I think, more for me, than for anybody else. I doubt I will come up with earth-shattering findings. It will earn my my M.A. degree, and that will be the end of its usefullness, if I were to be utilitarian about it. But perhaps, it will play a more important part-maybe it will encourage me to dig deeper, and follow this angle of thought. I guess I imagine a world where the working class, and more specifically the female working class, will organise, and negotiate/militate for wages that are actually Decent/Living wages, and work timings that actually leave them the time to be human beings.

Industrial labour is good, people. It gets women out of their homes, and with cash in their hands. Can you think of a better way to attack the issue of gender empowerment?

December 25, 2009

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It’s Christmas! And I visit my blog again.

A short update: I have been too busy to really blog in the longest time. That sounds fairly pompous, doesn’t it? 🙂 It is actually less simple- I just haven’t had anything to write in here. I think I’ve out grown this blog. It needs a makeover.

Talking of which…I finally took a wee step towards baldness. I have blogged before about a compulsive need to shave off my hair, it was one of my Things To Do for when I turned 20. I am now 22, still un-bald, but I did finally just step into a hairdressers and ask them to chop off my hair to less than an inch of its existence. The good lady hesitated, asked me several times whether I was sure (and whether I was trying to be a boy) and I came out with less than an inch of hair on my head. I felt elated, it’s very easy living without much hair. Ofcourse, it took me several days to look in the mirror without seeing a weird face staring back at me, but I am very pleased with the effect now, and intend to keep it.

A few weeks back, on 28th November, actually, I discovered NaNoWriMo, which is the the National Novel Writing Month, an annual event in November. The idea is that you write a novel in a month- you hit 50,000 words in 30 days and feel like super woman because you did! It kind of brings a primal sort of pleasure back into writing- you can weave the silliest story, and feel important while you’re all busy fitting in 1667 words a day!

I’ve also discovered a great way to beat writer’s block or what hits me more frequently these days- writer’s unimagination- free writing sessions! You sit by a notebook or computer for ten minutes every day and lets the day flow out of your fingers. Anything that caught your imagination stays on the paper, and you weave it into storylines. It’s worked brilliantly so far, even though I only did about a week of it. *Makes note to start again tomorrow* I’m very determined to do NaNoWriMo next year, and use my silly plot 🙂

I’m done with my internship, and I miss it. Anything I will say will under-represent the experience, so I will just say I have come back redder than before and very excited about it. The world makes a little more sense and my scrambled thoughts have stopped zipping around like blind mice on alcohol.

End of update. Christmas cheer to all.

PPP: Pre-Puja Post September 22, 2009

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You see, I will not be home this Puja. I will be in Chennai. I am already in Chennai. And I hate trains. And depressing hostel rooms.

Puja has sadly become an intrinsic part of me. I will miss it if I do not indulge in it, and moreover, it will be the first time in years, if not my entire life, that I will be doing NOTHING for puja. Last year I was in Bombay (and hence missed the Delhi Puja), but the BARC colony had a pandal full of Bangalis and lots of Bangali bhojan. This year I am in Chennai. I have no doubt the migratory bongs will put up a show here and there, and I shall begin the pre-puja hunt for Bengali ghettos. Just kidding, that’s CR Park ;P
I had no intention of abandoning my dinner of curd, chips, and apple and grappo fizz to write a puja post. However, there was a comment by somebody on an old puja post (circa 2006 ;P), objecting to my use of ‘weepy’ for Rabindra Sangeet. And words to the effect that I didn’t know ‘the culture’.

‘The culture’ will soon become a favourite phrase of mine, quite like ‘for the people and buy the people’. The former because of its immense weight and the latter because, well, some rediff message board commentator just plain hit the nail on the head, however accidentally 😛

Talking of rediff message boards, I was quite surprised to see the reader comments on the Jet Pilots agitation stories. I was expecting the tone to be pro-management, going by earlier responses to labour unrest, but there were pro-labour sentiments being articulated quite intelligently. It was fascinating to see this, because of the changing attitude to labour rights in these daaa-stardly times. The Indian middle class has been anti-union since the boom time.

I must say the Pilots did their job well. And Capt. Sam Thomas cut quite a dashing figure, too 😉 I would seriously urge those interested to dig out the CNN-IBN interview by Karan Thapar of Capt. Sam Thomas and the gentleman from the Jet Management (Dutt?). It is a fine piece of work.

And now *I* am off to work. More updates during Puja if I manage to locate local festivities.

August 20, 2009

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I’ve been out of commission for a week without really having a proper reason for being out of commission. An external malady having an internal expression. Rather than the other way around.

Some weeks ago I came across articles damning bloggers who damn people. And how you can be prosecuted for starting ‘I hate my President’ or even ‘I hate the RSS’ clubs online (on ORKUT for heaven’s sake!). And that poor fellow who criticised Barkha Dutt’s style of journalism and nearly got taken to the cleaners- that was the most shocking (hit me for a link if google is not behaving itself). So essentially, you have to limit your expression, and even more so if yours is a well-read blog. How chinese of us*.

I’ve been hit with a sudden craving for creative writing courses. I’ve been looking for interesting programmes both within India and abroad. I’ve had limited results so far. (If anybody reading this knows of anything that is potentially exciting, do leave me a link 🙂 )

And that will be all folks. (The Art mela at Pragati Mela looks to be exciting, by the way.)

This blog will be re-structured soon. Less of the casual flippancy and more of Writing. Training the mind and all that. I give myself a deadline of end August. Goodbye till then.

*Gagging of online expression. Ofcourse, it isn’t only China that monitors online content.