Tag Archives: Crib

Of eagles and men

Why does the eagle like being up in the sky all alone? How does he manage to cope with the loneliness? And how come humans don’t really embrace or even tolerate solitude?

I think the worst kind of loneliness that a person can feel is not having someone to ask you how your day went.
But wait for it.. it is a little more complicated than that. There may be people who will ask just for the sake of asking, and just when I stumble in front of them just by chance… They don’t count, as I really don’t wanna tell them how my day went, because I don’t care if they care.
You just cannot be friends with a person just because that person thinks highly of you.. the respect should be mutual. As Aristotle once said, “We should behave to friends as we would wish friends to behave to us.” Doesn’t always work; lemme tell you that!

The question is… do I deserve to suffer in this purdah, this state of forlorn desolation, because I am biased? I am selective in that there are only a handful of people who I consider my real friends, i.e. with whom I would share thoughts which I wouldn’t otherwise. And despite whatever they say… I keep wondering what they think of me. I mean I’m not sure if I’m expecting something from them which they cannot offer. As far as I can figure out, I demand only one thing from them.. talking to me. And they are not giving me the chance. This is not something I want in the friendship, but it is something I need.

They only thing I need to be considered worthy of.. is being worthy of talking to. I hope the people, whom this is meant for, understand what I’m trying to convey. Because they are not giving me a chance to convey this to them directly.

I hate being an eagle! I just want genuine people around me!

C’est La Vie

I got a topic to blog about (Finally, after more than a month!)
And quite obviously, it is about another round of troubles. For some reason, I often find myself in trouble through the most bizarre ways.

It all started when I went to HDFC Bank to pay the fee for a US Visa Interview (VI). I filled up my name as it should have been (and I thought it was, until 5 seconds later!) in the passport. But the snake eyes of the clerk, who matched it with my passport, found out that I had written my name wrong. According to my passport, I had no Given Name. My entire name was my surname. So I was wrong about my name all along. He told me that if I don’t fill up my name as in passport, there will be a problem in my VI. It was all weird since I have once traveled to USA with this passport, and by giving my name as it should have been. Evidently enough, my B1 visa had my name correct. The Given Name field indeed was Deepak here. It was funny that nobody had noticed that till now. I failed to notice the discrepancy for a whole 9 years.
The clerk suggested that I write my name like in passport in all matters henceforth. I didn’t think so. I didn’t want strangers to call me Mr. Deepak Ranganathan, and my friends to call me “” (I don’t know how to pronounce a nullity of characters)

I told him I’m not paying the fee. He asked me the quintessential question of modern day bankers, “Why Sir?”

Like in
Telephone caller: Hello sir, we are offering an excellent personal loan for you.
Me: Not interested
Caller: Why Sir?

“I’d rather change my name in the passport before scheduling the VI”, I replied.

So I was here in Palakkad, for a vacation of 10 days, one of my mission objectives being the change I have to make in my passport. The lesser objective was to be a couch potato at home, which would have succeeded, if not for the constant power cuts which made sure that I moved around so that I didn’t sweat.

On Tuesday, I set off on my crusade to the passport office – a grueling journey of 3 hours in shaky buses with little padding on the seats and not enough room for your legs. It was close to 10am by the time I reached there. The queue was already a gargantuan slithering python. Slowly it moved until there were about 10 people ahead of me. It was 1pm. Closing time already. We pleaded and cried to the lady at the counter. It was just a matter of 12 more people. She was ruthless when she asked us to come back the next day. After having so many trysts with trouble, I should have seen this coming. I start to wonder if a little optimism is a dangerous thing. It seems like that to me. Murphy’s law is a fundamental principle around which the world revolves.

The next day, I caught the 5am bus, so that I will be in the forefront in the queue. Luckily enough, I was about 20th (!) in the queue at 8 am. The counter opened at 9am, I filed my application by about 10, and I was told I could collect my passport back at 3.30pm. I had to kill time till then. ( Wandering aimlessly in Malappuram was better than a bus journey to and fro) I had my breakfast, then went to an autowallah and asked him to take me to any cinema where a good movie was running. Unfortunately (again!), there was only one where a morning show was there. The movie was “Malabar Wedding”. I hadn’t even heard of it until then. As my luck would always have it, the movie was a bore, except for a few scenes which were humorous. There were like 10 people in the entire theater.

It was about 2pm now. I went back and waited in the passport office. By 4, I was back in the return bus. Later that day, I couldn’t sleep on my back, nor could I stand up. My buttocks hurt because of 12 hours of journey in the last two days. My feet hurt because of hours of standing in the queue. But, as a consolation, I got my passport corrected.

I’m not frustrated by the whole incident. I think I have found an equilibrium with the whole trouble-seeking phenomena. Nowadays, I just blog about the trouble I faced, with an air of a connoisseur carelessly using French terms to philosophize. Sigh! That’s life!

Chuck it out, India!

Disclaimer:
1. I am not trying to be patriotic here.
2. I am not trying to preach here.
3. All I’m trying to do here is to be honest.

I saw “Chak De India” yesterday. Too late to write about a movie which was released almost a month ago, you may say. But who said I’m going to write only about the movie? This post is about some of my musings after watching the movie.

The movie kept intruding into my thoughts for quite some time after I finished watching it, not allowing me to think clearly about anything else. This has happened so many times before, whenever I watched a movie which was educating or expressing. Entertaining movies, even when its storyline remains in memory, won’t haunt me like the other two. Haunt…it is literally the word which best expresses my feeling after watching the movie.

“Chak de” is the typical sports movie which is completely predictable, has several moments of adrelanin rush and where underdogs come out big. But more than that, it mentions (sometimes highlighting, sometimes as passing comments) several shortcomings of the wonder that is India, starting from the suppression of women, to the tepid acceptance of the people from peninsular India and the North East, to the media playing the devil and ruining one man’s life.

Two initial scenes struck a chord for me:
1. The scene where the North-Eastern girls, Mary and Molly ask “Does it ever feel good to live as guests in one’s own country?”
2. The scene where the guy comments that Tamil and Telugu are the same.

(RNI) RESIDENT NON-INDIANS
Now, feeling alienated in a place where you have spent your entire life, is not new to me. I am an Iyer, a person of Tamil ethnicity, but nevertheless a Keralite.
We are a small community of Tamil-speaking people who have been in Kerala for generations. (Like… from my great-great-great-great-great grandfather.)
We have been in Kerala our entire life, we have learnt Malayalam, we follow the culture of Kerala. We are in most rights Malayalees, with some added culture and customs of Tamil.
Yet we are neither accepted as Keralites in Kerala, nor as Tamilians in Tamil Nadu.
My Malayalee “friend” (or is he, really?) calls us “Paandi” (A not-so-nice term for a Tamilian), and say we don’t belong there. I can speak and write better Malayalam than him. I’ve often found it amusing when a shopkeeper tries to communicate with us in half-Tamil, even if we talk to him in fluent Malayalam, as if we didn’t know that language well.
Tamilians often make fun of the corrupted Tamil which we speak at home.
Some dudes/dudettes from our community call themselves KBCT (“Kerala Born Confused Tamilian” after “American Born Confused Desi”) just to show off that they are cool. (Or is it “kewl”?)

LIKE PEAS AND CARROTS
About the ignorance of North Indians about anything south, I guess the ignorance is mutual. We too don’t know much about North, except perhaps from the history books. But knowledge is not the factor here. You can get the knowledge any time. Many North Indians look at us with a kind of fascination as if we are some exotic people. I think this mostly is a resultant of the difficulty of South Indians to talk Hindi properly, which prevents a Northie and a Southie from mingling as much as two Northies do.

The casual questions that my colleagues ask me mostly pertain to:
1. How Kerala has a lot of Christian population
2. How come I don’t eat meat. They thought all Keralites were non-vegetarians.
3. A fascinated musing on the high literacy rate of Kerala.
4. Making fun of the heavily accented English of most Mallus.
5. Whether I know how to climb coconut trees (Duh!)

I myself have asked questions to Northies which might have sounded really stupid to them. I’m not blaming anyone here. I’m just wondering, and marveling at the sheer complexity of the Indian society. Like peas and carrots, as Forrest Gump says. They really go together well, but not quite.

I learned the what and why of “Unity in diversity” in India in my history lessons. But I still don’t know the answer to the How! That’s why India is a miracle to me. All Indians are bonded in the eyes of an outsider, albeit being a very loose one, but inside, it’s just a mob.

PATRIOTIC PEOPLE
Few comments I heard from some friends and the media about the movie, almost made me laugh. The media and the vast majority of youngsters are just as predictable as the movie. For some, it was a movie that every patriotic Indian should watch. But for others, it was a movie made with the exact ingredients of a money-making movie. There was little or no third opinion.
These are the same people who have debates about India over a cup of coffee.
They can be broadly classified into two. One group, where people feel immensely proud to be an Indian, and show that only by sending SMS/Forwards which ask you to forward this to 10 people if you are a “true” Indian, blogging and proclaiming that you should watch this movie if you are a “true” Indian. I was one among them, posting once about a youtube video right here in this blog. I have moved on realizing that knowing your India is not enough, you should move your India forward.

The other group, think that India is going to the gutters, and there is no way they can stop it. So they should also live their life in the little time India has left to stay out of the gutters. Who the hell cares about India? They care only about themselves. I don’t even want to talk about this group. The reason is not their selfishness, but rather their pessimism about India.

Still, I wonder whether a patriot is someone who watches/reads about and relishes some patriotic deed done by characters in a movie.
I read a review which said that Chak de is a must watch for every patriotic Indian. What the hell does that exactly mean? How does a binary deed, that either you watched a movie or didn’t, dictate your Indianness?
While I completely agree that Chak de, or Rang De Basanti for that matter, will invigorate the love for your country in you, be honest in telling me how long does that vigor stand? One month? Or maybe two… Then after a hiatus, someone else again makes another movie, and again another round of discussions, blogs etc. go on babbling about how proud they are to be Indian.
I’m not blaming their pride. I’m blaming the ephemeral nature of their pride, which stays only in their words, and not their deeds.

People will now counter saying that this is as patriotic as a civilian can get. We can never be as good a fighter as those great people who took beatings and those who died for our country. But I’m not talking about fighting against corruption, black money and blah blah here. Those are strenuous territories to tackle. Rather, do something at the grassroots. There are much easier things that you…me…we can do, and be patriotic. A patriot (and this is not a wordweb definition) is someone who does something good for the country, or his society. And sending SMS/Forwards is not doing any good.

We can keep our surroundings, if not our city, clean. Even if it is not clean, don’t mess it up further, uttering that old engineer guy’s seemingly bright phrase, “infinity plus one is still infinity”. You can be the lone good guy in traffic without breaking traffic rules, even if it means you are taking more time to travel. A single person army cannot improve things by following rules. But do you know what it does? It will give you a sense of satisfaction that even if you’re not doing something great, you’re not worsening the situation. Does it do any good? Yes it does. Humans have this amazing nature of imitating others. After all, we were evolved from monkeys. What you do, your friends (whatever meager fraction it is) may start doing tomorrow, their friends on the day after that.

People who do these and more, are the everyday patriots. We have a fire inside us. We just have to sustain it with splinters. I can also say that you will get occasional fuel from movies.
All I wanted to convey here is that remember, talk your talk, and work your work in your India every day, instead of remembering only when “patriotic” films are released.
Now for the title. Apart from being a pun, I meant that we should chuck out our bullshitting, our bland talks and do something worthwhile, for our country. However minuscule it is, doesn’t matter. And if you got it inside you, go for better deeds.

JUST DO IT, INDIA

PS: Oh, and the movie… It’s good. Go watch it.