Friday, December 29, 2006

Heads You Win, Tails I Lose

Story 1:

The husband reflects on his married life - a life he and his wife have spent for the past 25 years of. A satisfying fulfilling life, with no complaints and no regrets. The wife is dead today. The husband tries to stitch his life again.

In the event he comes to know that his wife might not have ever loved him, maybe not even in the most sacred of the times, not even in the most passionate of the moments. That she had possibly loved another man all through.

Without being unfaithful.

Story 2:

The woman gets a call, early in the morning. She gets ready, quickly. Takes a cab and on the way reflects on the life she has had. A marriage with the person she loved. A marriage of priceless moments, unbelievable memories which could not sustain itself over time.

Where did it go wrong ? Why has she not quit it ? Even after years and years of contemplation, she could not attribute any reason for this. Something was amiss. Something. Something that she could not put her fingers on.

And all through those 25 years she has had only one support - her friend. Her best friend. And now, her friend is on his death-bed. And he wants to see her. For the last time.

She reaches the hospital. Goes inside to find the wife and is ushered in. The man looks at her and beckons her close to him. She sits down near him, hand-in-hand. The man says: "What would not I have given for this day?" And smiles. The same twinkling, coquettish smile. She smiles back. The man continues: "I just wanted you to know. You are the only one I loved. Ever."

Deep inside the woman, something happens. She comes out of the room, acknowledges the wife with a nod, leaves the hospital and on that very day files for divorce.

Which is more tragic ? Living with someone thinking that you are the one in your partner's life and coming to know later that you never mattered the way you thought or not living with one to whom you mattered more than you thought you did ?

Monday, December 25, 2006

Just A FEW Things

What would I like to change if I were to live my life again - from scratch. What I would want spans across geographies, across chronologies and across every damn conceivable barrier that you and I can think of.

So here goes the list:

1. For starters, I would want to be born in Germany. And if that is not granted, then Barcelona. Ok. Any European country would do.

2. I would want to be a girl. A girl with a sexy figure, brilliant looks and zero intelligence. I would screw around with all and when required would find a suitable billionaire ( NO millionaires please, ONLY billionaires) and settle down. And when I get sufficiently bored with that billionaire, I would again look for greener pastures.

3. In the event I remain a boy, then I would want to look nothing short of George Clooney. (IF I have that, all the women would anyway swoon over me!)

4. I would like to score a century at Perth or Lords against the bowling of Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Dennis Lillee, Chandrashekhar and Imran Khan. The partner at the non-striking end would of course be either Brian Charles or Mohammed Azharuddin.

5. I would write a book - one which would start like Love Story, then move on to be like The House Of Blue Mangoes, as lyrical as The God Of Small Things and end like The Fountainhead.

6. I would want to write a line in that book which would be as profound as "
Teachers get emotional when the topic is close to their heart.. we ought to know where we should stop 'getting' from them and let them explore their fantasy land. By the time they get back we would have reflected upon what we got " (Source: or as heart-wrenching like the last line of Rage Of Angels or Oliver's Story.

7. The film that I would direct would, of course, win a national award and would cast Sidney Poitier and Konkona Sen in a lead role supported by Catherine Hepburn and Naseeruddin Shah. The other pair would be Om Puri and Revathy. The music would obviously be by RD and lyrics by Gulzar or Majrooh. It will be a songless film but there would be a title track and a background score.

8. I would want a house at Nariman Point or overlooking the bay area at Rio De Janiero. As a fallback, Swiss Alps would also be fine.

9. I would like to indulge myself in a 'casual' discussion with either Socrates or Plato about existentialism and general philosophy on a warm sunny evening in front of the Stone Henge.

10. I would still want my friends with me - the same ones. Can't get over them still. Too heady and exciting a time I have spent with them.

Now, don't accuse me of asking for too many things and don't ask for justification. ONLY 10 things is what I am asking for and that too I have given options as well. I always was a reasonable man - I still am.

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Being ONE

This would be one hell of an interesting post from the perspective of a reader. Too spicy and full of speculation - exactly the perfect ingredient of a scandalous potboiler.

Many a time I have felt like sleeping with many a woman. Actually, when I think back and try to count, it gives me a sort of a mixed feeling of guilt and being morally and ethically corrupt even to harbour that kind of a thought. But that does not stop my primal instincts from manifesting itself in my fertile mind (lets for the time being stick to the mind only !)

We all have our opportunities in flirtations and flings to indulge in certain excitable acts designed to give us the highest form of ecstasy. And I have had mine. The opportunities. ONLY opportunities. Its in those times that my own reaction has perplexed me. At those critical times, when the next logical step (whatever that means, in this context) would have led into something, all of my senses except the biological one has always answered in a resounding negative. Somehow, even if I am sexually aroused, I almost invariably felt that something was amiss. Maybe, thats what they call as magic. From this perspective I have never been able to understand the sanctity of a one-night stand. One school of thought is that when you are in the act of having sex, you are not actually having sex but are in effect making love.

If you are an engineer you would ask whats the difference. If however, you are an engineer but not meant to be one - then the difference exists, and in a completely surreal plane. The best partnerships happen in the subconscious. When what you are thinking is understood and reciprocated by the other in a flash. And those experiences are the ones which make it all worthwhile - just to wait, for that moment to come up. Once you have had a taste of water, you will never want sand. Once you know, the heights of ecstasy you can reach by unision of both mind and body, it is difficult to settle for anything less.

One-night stands are brilliant. From a purely male chauvinsitic point of view - ideal. No obligation, nice slam-bang-thank-you-ma'am concept. We get to eat the cake and have it too. No issues whatsoever. But at the end of the day, its just a refined version of a 2nd party masturbation - without any heart, without content, without passion.

The choice is there to be made. Provided, you know which is water and which is sand. And more importantly, whether you know how each tastes.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Do Bigha Zameen 2

Continuation of previous post:

Should agricultural land be used for commercial purposes ?

My answer is NO. I know, there is an alternate opinion on this which says that setting up of a manufacturing plant would result in creation of direct employment which would result in a greater GDP growth resulting finally in more purchasing power at the hand of the deprived.

All of the above are true except the last bit.

The problem is - those who are affected are seldom benefited. Unskilled labour accounts for a very small percentage of the total employment generated by a manufacturing plant and unfortunately almost all agriculturist (aha ! got a 'better-sounding' name for a farmer) in our country fall in that category.

It is also true that a developing country will have a general shift from an agriculture based economy to services based economy but the price that India will have to pay for that will have serious repercussions for India. Since, the choice has been made, we must be prepared to have a more fragmented disparate society. A society, which will be a lot less coherent than what it is now, a lot more fragile and seeped in mistrust and a strange concoction of anarchy and transient peace.

Using agricultural land would most likely render many homeless, jobless. Where would these people land up ? Most likely, they would migrate to the more populous, opportunity-filled cities causing severe strain on the existing infrastructure of the already saturating cities of India. What would they turn to for sustenance ? While it would be too pessimistic to assume that most of them would turn to anti-social means, it would not be too much of a travesty to assume that a fair percentage would. What are the implications of that ? In the context of the basic mistrust that would result from the initial land acquisition fracas and the economic disparity - it would just compound into a more unsafe India.

What in the final analysis it might mount to, is that, the very aspirations of the society that we are trying to fulfil - economic liberation, peace and prosperity for the general mass, by all such means would be destroyed by the process of 'getting there'.

Does it mean that we stop industrialization ? Definitely not. But our growth story has to be inclusive. If we think of the rural India as a burden and something that can be disposed off with - we might be in for a very very rude awakening.

Amartya Sen, in spite of being a socialist, somehow made sense when he highlighted this a lot many years earlier as a possible problem which we will have to face.

Saturday, December 16, 2006

Do Bigha Zameen

By definition, the left is never right. The Chief Minister of West Bengal in his mission to industrialize the state (which they themselves had de-industrialized way back in the 70s and 80s)had committed to the TATAs of handing over 997 acres of land for their new manufacturing plant to be set-up for the 1 lakh car.Everything fine so far. The whole of Bengal rejoiced at this new opportunity which would create a minimum of 12000 jobs in the next year.

So, whats the hitch ?

The problem started when the Government started acquiring land. There are primarily two issues out here.

1. Is land acquisition from farmers against their opposition correct ?

2. Should agricultural land be used for other commercial purposes ?

Two incredibly critical issues - on which opinions would be starkly divided, battlelines drawn between the urban and the rural India, between famers which account for about a sizeable chunk of our population and a new aggressive Indian mindset which believes that compromise and discussion only complicate matters.

Lets look at the first issue in this post and I will take up the second one in the following post.

Consider a hypothetical situation - a purely hypothetical, mind you. You have a home and you are staying there for a minimum of twenty years. You do not have a fixed monthly income. You earn your daily bread and on some days you dont earn anything at all. On others you earn about 50 bucks on an average. You are uneducated and have no skill. You only know how to raise paddy and rice. The beauty of the situation is compounded by the fact that you are also responsible for the life of three other people. So effectively you have to spend a day within 20 bucks.

Now, I come to you and tell you that I need your home. And in return, I PROMISE to give you 10000 bucks which you have to collect from my secretary at office.

What would you do ?

Had I been in your place, I would have GENTLY said "Fuck Off". Mind you, gently - at first. Then if you pester me and come back a fortnight later with 12 strong, well-built, nice muscular men, I would feel a little intimidated but still resist. On some more 'persistence' I would finally come to the negotiating table and give you my consent. The next day, I would go to your office and ask for the PROMISED sum only to be informed by your secretary that after 'his service charge' the payment would be about 2500 bucks.

So what has been done ?

You got my house, my land, the ONLY thing I had, and you don't even give me peanuts for it and if I resist you brand me of ignoring the implicaions of greater societal good and you of all, finally wax eloquence of social responsibility !

How do you expect ME to think of societal benefits when none would accrue to ME when apparently everyone is thinking of mine while in REALITY none is ? It is MY land, my existence, my roots are there - you want societal benefit, please go ahead and do so at your own place.

This is what rural India is saying out - loud and clear.

Are we listening ? More importantly, are we able to appreciate their problem ?