Plight of an English poet

I was watching this program called dirty jobs on discovery when I started wondering, what could be the most despicable and painful job in the world. It did not take me long to zero-in on the poets who squander their complete lives trying to rhyme those wretched emotions which have this uncanny habit of popping up in any and every line of any and every discussion with words which you will never ever use in a decent, sane discussion but which turn out to be the last straw in this unabashedly rhyme-starved world. These poets lose much of their hair and sanity in the search of this fool's gold. To top it all is the obligation that it all has to make some freaking sense. No, not to everyone for then it will be too easy and mundane. The poem should be screwed-up enough not to be too transparent and logical enough to make sense if a reader having a reasonable I.Q is ready to scratch the bottom of the barrel in search of meanings and interpretations.

The problem is much more acute for an english poet due to some very important factors. For eg. which is the one word that you think represents the most important and recurring emotion in the poetic hyperspace?............ Why, its 'love'. And which are the words which would rhyme with this all pervasive emotion. Now you have started scratching your head. This is the plight I am talking about. The best you can do is probably 'dove' or going to the extreme, 'skies above' and the buck stops there ('shove, glove etc. are termed too dry and it would take a real heartless foolish poet to use them in his poems). Its almost as if the makers of the english language had some personal hatred against the poets of the future. Compare it with the hindi language. The hindi equivalent of love is pyaar which can be conveniently rhymed with zillions of words like ikraar, intezaar, bekaraar, sarkaar etc. (And believe me, all those zillion combination have already been beaten to death in the hindi movies). If you atlast run out of all these combinations, Hindi has provided you with the freedom of making up your own non-sensical words so that even the most talentless poet can rhyme 'pyaar' with 'vyaar' and 'ishq' with 'vishq'. This fact has a very strong impact on the society in general. When a little johnny goes up to his father and says that he wants to be a poet, the father conveniently kills his innocent ambition by the words- "Why johnny. You know how tough a life these poets lead? Even of you are ready to face those hardships, will you ever be able to find rhyming words with love, heart, cry, eyes?" And little johnny reluctantly sees reason in this charade and drops all his plans of becoming a poet and starts concentrating on sports (presumably the easier field). On the other hand when a pappu asks his papa the same question, the papa can only look to pappu's bleak future in dismay as he knows that even pappu, with his limited IQ, can rhyme words in this hopelessly romantic Hindi language. And the Indian sports arena suffers another setback.

I believe that this very important factor has lead to the development of a class of poetry in English which does not have rhyming words as one of its prerequisites. You can basically write a prose on the economic repercussions in socialist russia, punctuate it with a large number of unnecessary commas, colons and semicolons, break it into different lines and submit the final product as a poetry in the International poetry competition and stand a good chance of winning the first prize in this hopelessly rhyme-impaired english world. You cannot do the same in India. Upon doing this, you stand a good chance of being reviled as uncreative, boring and many a times even blasphemous. Why else did you leave the comforts of the discovered territory and venture into the unknown and the wild?

Rang de Basanti

Well I finally saw it. After receiving such good reviews from people about the movie and getting comments like "I" would particularly like the subject and the treatment, I finally saw it tonight. It is 4:24 in the morning and I am writing this blog instead of going to sleep because the movie was based upon a subject which I value very dearly and contrary to expectations, I did find some flaws in the treatment of the movie.

The movie is based upon the transformation which is brought about in the lives of 5 young men after they come to learn about the sacrifices of indian freedom fighters upclose. This transformation then leads them to kill the defence minister as they hold him responsible for the Mig. crashes which have become routine lately.

The first and foremost irony which the movie depicts very successfully is the fact that we as youth of this generation are sadly unconcerned about the idea that India is. Looking at the growth that India has been registering lately (although it effects a small minority), it becomes difficult to decide whether this is not the country which was in the visions of those who died for her independence. On the other hand, the rampant corruption, the disgusting politics along with many other such factors make me believe that surely a Chandrashekhar Azad died for something better. The sad part is that all of this is conveniently ignored for daily chores by all of us today.

The depiction of the lives of Azad, Bhagat Singh, Ram in the movie is more history than innovation and improvisation although its effect on the protagonist is handled pretty efficiently by good direction. The director somehow forgets the fact that India is still a democracy wherein it is just not possible to order a lathi charge on peaceful demonstrators in the glaring presence of today's stifling media. The situation looks more like an autocratic society. Same is the case with the ending of the movie wherein the killing of the young men who had surrendered gives an indication that the director is trying to pull the strings too far in order to get his point through. If not from a moral conscience, the material, and political repercussions alone can dissuade a democratic government from taking such a step.

Finally the most important question. Was the killing of the defence minister justified? I have always believed that such corrupt politicians belong to the social strata which comes way below that of a despicable pig. I have always believed that such people have long lost their right to live and are now only a burden to the society which the societ would do well to throw off. But practicality does not rest on beliefs. Frankly, I don't find anything wrong in the idea of killing those who are guilty of such hienous practices but the justice should be dealt to all and not just one person. The problem with this theory is that even if you identify all those with tainted linens, their number is so huge that killing them may first of all be practically impossible and second may induce a kind of anarchy in the society. Recently I had a very nice discussion with one of my friends on this topic and I was almost led to believe that such a solution although swift and emotionally fulfilling may lead to instability in the society in the long run. I hate to admit the fact but I have come to support this argument in some measure. The solution maybe lies in democratically fighting the disease that is politics. Finally I would like to put forth the following points and conclude this topic:

1. We know that something is terribly screwed up in the Indian society.
2. We know that the most educated section of the society is the one which is most removed from any concerns about the situation.

In such a situation, how practical is the democratic solution? For me the light only comes from the solution potrayed in the movie. As they say: "It sometimes requires a bang to wake up the sleeping"

The only verdict is Vengeance

Remember remember, the fifth of November,
Gunpowder treason and plot,
I know of no reason, why the gunpowder treason,
should ever be forgot

Thus starts the movie which belongs to that rare breed which makes you hate it, love it but most importantly brood upon it. Based upon Alan Moore's 1984 graphic novel titled "V for Vendetta", the movie would have been just another visit to the multiplex if it did not have elements, symbolisms and references pertinent to the present world situation.

The million dollar question here is that where do you draw the line between right and wrong. Between moral and immoral. Between nationalism, jingoism and terrorism. Does an end justify the means or do the means have to be moral? What difference would have been made if India, instead of achieving freedom through Mahatma Gandhi's means, achieved it through Subhash Chandra Bose's path. Should terrorism be seen in black and white?

The movie does not attempt to answer any of these questions. It just throws in some shades of grey in the vastly bichromatic vision of the masses. It really makes you wonder, what would you choose - autocracy or anarchy. The movie or rather the comic book is inspired by a real person named Guy Fawkes who tried to blow up the British parliament on the 5th of November, 1605. Although his attempt failed, the event became famous by the name, the Gunpowder plot.

In addition to the intelligence that the movie displays, it is resplendent with great sets and some really memorable dialogues and action sequences. Hugo Weaving (agent Smith from Matrix) is brilliant and so is Natalie Portman. The only flaw I could find with the direction was the appaling lack of british accent in a movie which is set in the british society.

All in all. A movie not to miss...

The Lazy Confession

Well, the last nail has finally been dug in the coffin. The debatable question was "How lazy am I"? After 20 something years (I don't like to tell my exact age :-)) of self appeasing, elaborate excuses and fabrications, it was answered today...

You know how you tend to make impressions of people you meet. Like when you say that hey, you are a pretty good TT player when you are really wondering whether a dead wall would prove to be a better opponent. Or when you meet a person and think that now you have finally met a gem of a sucker. Some people leave a great impression, some pretty bad ones and some do not strech your imagination at all. And then all of a sudden, along comes a guy, meeting whom, you think, boy, the only reason he qualifies as a homo sapien and not a tortoise is because of the absence of a hard protective shell on his back. Such people define the term "LAZY" in its truest, extremist, oxfordist sense. And when such a person calls you the laziest human being he ever met, you can only look upto the heavens and wonder whether they changed the dictionary without informing you.

Having enough faith in your IQ, I assume that you must have figured out by now that I met with such a reply from such a person today. It has made me look at my life in a different perspective.

To begin with, the only game I am probably decent at is cricket. For starters, cricket is a game which is tailor made for people who flinch at the name of hardwork. Now when I look at it, you almost stand on the ground doing nothing for about 98.2% of the game. Between all the sweat, which doesn't necessarily result from running around but is a natural residue when sunlight falls on skin, you get sufficient number of drink breaks. Added to all this is the fact that my batting talent could only afford me an extended stay at the runner's wicket in most of my matches. And this is not it. I sometimes wonder what is the reason that 90% of the times I got run out. If only piece by piece, the puzzle is getting unravelled.

But you know what. Sometimes it just happens that winners acheive their goals not by working on their shortcoming but by rashly ignoring them. So when I came to U.S., I took up squash. It was never a first choice. I just wanted something to fill up the empty spot left over by the absence of cricket. And as has been proved so many times in history, compromises are often doomed to failure from the start. The one major problem I find with squash is the fact that the makers of the game forgot to put any coefficient of restitution in the ball and everyone following them made no objection at all. I am extremely convinced now that this act should figure in the top 20 heinous crimes against humanity ever. As far as guys like me are concerned, we only go to a squash court to make others feel good about their talents. Personally, when the other guy plays that drop shot against me, I almost feel like the way Poland must have felt against the advancing German armies. Subconsciously aware of my talent of laziness, I almost immediately know the futility of any attempt I might make at returning the shot, but my ego masked in the guise of this self fooling illusion always makes me spend that energy which I value so dearly.

Nevertheless, life goes on and so does squash. Sometimes, I feel guilty of the fact that maybe I enjoy this laziness. Maybe, I am too lazy to counter this view. So it stays very much part of my life. And so does my latest title "The laziest person whom the laziest person ever met".

The Canine Case

In the great debate of national culturedness, the verdict has been drawn. And the irrefutable evidences lie in the social etiquettes of the American poodle and the desi gali ka kutta.

Without making things any harder than they should be, I should go on to introduce the topic of my musings. That my U.S. visit has been nothing short of a cultural shock should come as no surprise to anyone. Considering the fact that I spent the better part of my life in the especially backward regions of a especially backward state of the country, the immaculate cleanliness and orderliness of the U.S. alone should have been enough to send me into coma. To top it all is the all pervasive, almost forced politeness of the average american population. Whereas in India, I would almost swoon over the character and politeness of a Mysore auto driver just because he did not overcharge me heavily for the ride from the station to my home, I have had to adjust my expectations in this country. Every place I go, I am met with a friendly "How is it going?" accompanied with a smile which would almost have indicated the news of a new born child to my Indian counterpart friend. Initially, not experienced in the U.S. ways of salutation and having being posed with such a question, I felt obligated to provide my inquirer with a detailed description of "How was it going with me". In such situations, as my dreary blabbering reached about a minute of callous indifference to mocking glances and amused smiles, the counter person generally used to end my foolish charade with a forced THANK YOU and NEXT IN LINE PLEASE. And after stumbling for uncountable number of times, it dawned upon me that it might all be just a formality. It might just be possible that politeness is just a compulsory overcoat which these Americans by law have to wear. It might just be possible that a question like "How is it going" does not deserve an answer.

All of this brings me to the all important and seminal observation of mine. It was a beautiful sunny day when I, bored with the monotony of daily existence, stumbled upon this brilliant observation which has now proven to be the last link to my theory of cultural culturedness in India and U.S. I never heard a dog bark in the U.S. Can you believe it. Absolutely never. And to compare it, even my own dog back in India although only a few inches in lateral dimension, packs enough barking ammunition to rival the noise of a supersonic jet at close quarters (approximately 120 decibles!!!). And he is supposed to be a pet! I just don't need to present street examples. In India, any dog, unless it is a close acquaintance of yours or is a friend of your dog, is apt to be seen as a potential donor of Rabies virus and a lot of pain. But here in the U.S. all the dogs are almost oblivious of my presence. While passing by, they just seem to acknowledge, with a slight nod of their head, the painful fact that they happen to live in a world which is infested with humans but that nothing can be done about it. There is absolutely no barking. If anything, maybe, there is that smile and probably that unsaid question "How is it going" which after innumerable and inconsiderate repetitions has become mundane enough not to deserve an answer at all...

My Selfishness

How selfish have I become?

During my school days, I had to write essays on brain drain. I gave extempores on the topic. Without understanding the jist of the problem, I could expatiate on the subject at length. Without grasping the lures of a foreign land and the clutches of India, I criticized those who left the shores for good. Without comprehending the reasons behind the lack of opportunities in India, I tried to justify their decisions of not coming back to India. I tried to be diplomatic. I tried to present a balanced view. Due to my lack of knowledge. Due to my lack of experience. Due to the fact that a balanced point of view is always considered good.

And now, here I am. In the U.S. Although never really the country of my dreams, I nevertheless wanted to visit this land of oppurtunities. And it has put me in a really advantageous situation as far as commenting on the issue of brain drain is concerned. I now understand that there is a reason to Indian shackles. That the U.S experience, although materialistically fulfilling, can sometimes leave that gnawing hole in my heart which can only become more sore with time. That the problems of India cannot be reduced to mere statistics. That buried under these problems are those millions who have to work out of their skins just to have food once daily. And what am I concerned about? That I wont get a job which pays a million annually in India... Is it not selfishness. I think so...

Do I deserve all that I have today? Hardwork has something to do with this but is it not dependent upon luck also? Is it not due to the oppurtunities that I got? Which brings me to the point that what about all those who never got these oppurtunities. Doesn't it put me in a situation wherein I owe something to the society where I came from? No one has pressed this issue upon me. Its just that this distance between me and my country has removed that haze which had blurred my vision. I can see things in perspective now. Although I am still level headed enough not to claim that I can feel and understand the problems that the majority faces back in India ( as I don't really), I can atleast say that I empathise with them. Although my future is still uncertain, I can see that light at the end of this tunnel. And that light seems to be coming from India.

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