Saturday, November 17, 2007

Its not OK

It was only this Friday evening that a few friends and me were having our weekly meandering discussion at a local coffee shop, relaxed in anticipation of the weekend to follow. Amongst the great variety of topics that we touched upon from art movies to career ambitions, we also had a brief banter on corruption. Some of my friends professed a tolerance bordering on admiration for people who took pay-offs under the table but got the job done, citing the example of a certain politician from Bihar, his undeniable charm and his recent success at turning around the Ministry under his charge. After all, the pay package in government jobs hardly amounts to anything, they felt!

Corruption is not exactly the murder of men which on the face makes it seem less evil. But the important fact that most people miss out on is that it is the murder of dreams which is as bad if not worse than actual murder. Money meant for a noble purpose, for the education of those school-children in the rural hinterlands, for that much required government hospital revamp, for that metalled road that would have ushered in a new life into the dying village, all reduced to shambles because of the greed in the system. And why pick on only government projects, the passing of a corporate tender with a little help on the side just means that the actual best offer lost out!

Add to that, the countless frustrations and roadblocks that the man really intent on improving his conditions the right way has to face, finally bowing to them broken and stripped of all hope. The rot that sets in with every hand-out is a cancer eating away all sense of honour and morality, making all intelligent but honest men seem like idealistic fools. The unaccounted for money feeding countless vices and evils which seem to have reached unsurmountable levels today. Unfortunately, people bred and fed on that money unable to think beyond their own sorry selves worship the source of that money as if he/she is some magnanimous philanthropist, forgetting that it's money stained with dead dreams and sold honour. Corruption is choking our breath out and the funny thing is that people are mildly tolerant of that fact.

Its not OK that today the line between heroes and criminals is so blurred, and it really surprises me that people are so confused for it is really not so complex. A businessman who makes his pile cheating the government of taxes is lauded as the harbinger of India's economic boom, worshipped as the face of new India! That the means to getting to an end is as important as the end itself should be a self-evident fact. If a person doesn't care for the means to get to his end, he's just a desperate criminal, plain and simple. A true hero is the one who knows that he has to get there only by the right way or not get there at all. Its not OK to hero-worship someone who jumped the queue, broke into the ticket counter and now is virtuously claiming that "Look! I am giving away free tickets!"

First flight

Its late in the evening, nearly an hour past the scheduled time when the plane shudders as it rolls its way on the slightly bumpy surface right in front of the Calcutta Airport terminal. It is a rather awkward being that seems so unwieldy and bulky as it taxis onto the tarmac. Turning its nose to align it with the runway, the long stretch of the runway beckons.

A high-pitched whine of the engines dominates my senses now as it does of all other passengers on board. The unease that this giant machine was feeling with its mass is rapidly disappearing. Outside through the little glass windows I see the runway lights flash past at a rate unlike anything I have experienced before. Two of my friends who are with me on this journey and also on their first flight have faces that tell the story of internal commotion all too clearly. The whine becomes even more intense and a rush caused by the spectacular acceleration kicks in. The runway outside is a blur now and then the sudden feeling of weightlessness, of tons of metal and human cargo turning into nothing, overcoming the force of gravity that I had taken for a certainty all my life. As the steel bird ascends into the sky and banks right towards Delhi hundreds of kilometres away, the lights of Calcutta lie spread below, twinkling and shifting like a glass cupboard filled with fireflies.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007


Whenever I start working on my blog I end up wasting a good couple of hours on something which I am not even sure someone will ever bother reading. Plus its not that fussing over what I write adds to the quality of the output. At the most, a few more grammatical mistakes would be sorted out and thats about it. The flow of the words is spontaneous and either its there or it is not. So this just turns out to be an attempt to turn out a post within a half-hour.

I cannot really determine for sure why do I continue contributing to a rarely visited nook on the vastness that is the Internet . Is it to stifle a sense of guilt for what I really want to do versus what I am actually doing for a living? Or is it that like thousands of other 'secret' authors I am really giving vent to my literary skills knowing fully well that I don't actually want to subject it to public scrutiny. A journal of sorts which gives me the freedom to write what I want to, be it original or cliched without feeling the pain of having it told to my face that its good, but not really special. Hardly confidence boosting, this post is turning out to be. But at least, by winding this up right now, I am assuring myself that I can indeed cook up a quick-fix entry for my blog without losing too much hair over its obvious lack of content!

Monday, November 12, 2007


There are few words in English more evocative of their meaning than the title of this write-up and then its not even English, its German! But the sheer simplicity of the word and the feeling that it captures make it my favourite word. The urge to travel comes on with such an intensity sometimes that its difficult to differentiate it from its more carnal cousin. With every picture I see of an exotic far-off place, a sharp regret stings me. And watching travel programs on every possible channel do not help matters much, only inciting what in Hindi would be called the travel-'keeda' (That's the Hindi equivalent of 'being bitten by the travel bug'). The mere sight of an open road or a packed suitcase is enough to send my mind on a joyride.

The haunting ruins of Machu-Pichu nestled in the lap of the Andes, the mysterious gigantic statues of Easter Island in the middle of nowhere in the Pacific Ocean, the majestic Pyramids of Giza rising incongruously of the desert sands, the technicoloured world of Tokyo's Electronic district, the remnants of the Parthenon atop the hill point blank in the centre of Athens, the glow of the yellow coastal town on the Mediterranean, the lone tree in the African Savannah as the golden sun sets in the background and millions of other images so frequently seen in photographs and documentaries continuously inhabit the back of my mind. And then these are only the well-known ones. So many unique adventures await those who venture out beyond the confines of their drawing room. I try to shake them off as I work on my aquamarine green CAD/CAM models on my computer screen, but am hopelessly unsuccessful! But then that's only because I don't want to. For when a thought grips your imagination so unsparingly, its a crime not to bring that thought to fruition. And I find it a very pleasant thought indeed that even if I am cursed with immortality I'll never run out of things to do! For me, even immortality would not give me time enough to satisfy this craving. After all, what's the fun in visiting Easter Island only once in a lifetime!

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Ho hum.. How humdrum!!

Crib! Crib! Crib! How long will this last I don't know. When I get free time on the job, I complain of how stagnating that feels and when I am overloaded its the work that is taking the juice out of my life. The sheer repetitiveness of the tasks to be performed gets me so depressed and then when I am really down in the dumps I decide again all by myself that it ain't so bad after all!

The machine you see above with all the trash that surrounds it is all it takes to earn a comfortable salary with relative ease and that should for most reasons suffice as reason for happiness. But I frequently find myself riding this Sine wave of happiness and sometimes justified-sometimes unjustified gloom. Its a complicated feeling and so impossible to express appropriately. Its only once in a couple of weeks that I find something interesting to work on and to think that I might have to continue in this vein for the rest of my life fuses my brains. And then faced by the risks and effort involved to break free, I shy away from covering any serious ground in this regard. Indecision has killed a number of dreams yet but I am praying that I don't just add to the numbers.