Sunday, December 27, 2009

same difference

if you don't do anything different, you will, by definition, do the routine. - meech
so what does the above zero information sentence mean? a lot actually.
i have seen and known people who had the potential and were genuinely interested in living life on their own terms, but ended up in a 9 to 5. now, some of them vehemently deny ever having such ambitions, some are busy transferring them to their newly acquired next of kin, and some have locked them in safe deposit boxes to be opened at an appropriate age.

well..whats so wrong about that?
hmm there are many questions hidden in that question mark. lets take them on.

whats wrong with 9 to 5?
not much, apart from the fact that it makes you schizophrenic. you cannot spend more than half your waking life doing something you are not passionate about, and still call it a quality life. i know its hard to believe this. when you see almost everyone around you doing the exact same thing, the question of it being right or wrong kinda fades away. but all you need to dig out the dirty truth is a rational mind and some guts. if you need clues, here are some. do you look forward to the weekends? yes? get scared. do you plan nice long vacations every year? yes??? damn, too late for you.

but i love my job.
really? are you sure? if you are sure then let me ask you. are you sure? :P
nobody can beat us at fooling ourselves. we will lie, cheat, distort reality and fabricate evidence to gratify ourselves. anything that will maintain the status quo and prevent a big change. this is especially true for the lucky (or unlucky) amongst us who are very well compensated (toppers in college, successful businessmen, highly paid (laiki peksha jasti :P) software folks, etc). i am not saying that you hate your job, but there is a difference between changing outside world to fit your inner reality and changing your inner reality to fit the world you are stuck with. basically there is a very faint thin line between fighting for the life you want and accepting what you've got. again all you need to dig out the dirty truth is a rational mind and some guts.

i like this idea of doing something different, but haven't found my calling yet. so i will do the routine till the passion of my life dawns upon me.
and that brings me to the meaning of the stupid quote at the top. dude, it seems like a good plan. but sorry, ain't gonna happen. the Routine (by that i mean graduation > job > car > marriage > house > kids > bigger house > bigger kids > their graduation > ....) is self perpetuating. thats the whole point. once you get into it, you are not allowed to get out. so be _extremely_ careful when you take on new responsibility. when gautya said "possession is the root cause of all suffering", he was not kidding. do you have any idea how much commitment a washing machine demands?? let alone a wife or kid.
so question yourselves a thousand times before getting them :P

NOTE: obviously this post is for myself more than anyone else. i have realized that it helps to bare the facts once in a while. it makes it harder to deny them when the time comes :D

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

एक कप च्या - a cup of tea

so why did i decide to watch this obscure marathi movie with no star cast when Paa is the flavor of the season? couple of reasons.

firstly, marathi movies have raised the bar in all aspects of the game and i must admit i have enjoyed the likes of vaLu, ek daav dhobipachad and gabharicha paus more than their star studded hindi and, special effects studded english counterparts. secondly i was not in a mood for the intricacies of human emotions and 'relationships' :P (you have got to know bollywood to understand the quotes).

instead i was in a mood for something more practical and when this movie advertised that it is about RTI (Right to Information) Act, i went for it.

we never cross paths with the government and its infinite offices. we pay our taxes, mind our businesses and hope that we never have to deal with the courts, the police, the this department and the that department of the administration. only when we are dragged into these places (e.g. by an insanely high electricity bill that the dude in this movie is served with), do we begin to realize what a mess they really are.

by we, i dont actually mean you and me, 'cause we are the privileged class (people with liberal access to broadband connections can safely be termed as privileged in a country where most don't have access to good food and water). we won't have a problem even in these offices 'cause we can simply bribe our way through them.

but what if you don't have the money or don't want to indulge in bribery on principle? this is a story of such stupid people. and surprisingly, it has a happy ending :)

Saturday, November 07, 2009

Phantoms in the brain

NOTE: i used to rely on interactions with interesting people, daily nonsensical discussions with friends (dd with bidi) and personal experiences gathered from doing something out of the way, for most of my intellectual fodder. but alas, those days have left me. i seem to have taken to reading and filling myself with second hand information. hoping to quit this dreadful habit at the slightest hint of something more worthwhile. (i mean no disrespect to the bibliophile, but there is some alluring liveliness in two-way communication which is difficult to attain in a medium like print)

here are a few excerpts that a liked from this one. If you are generally intrigued by the so called human condition, as i am, this might be a fun read.

Chapter 5: The Secret Life of James Thurber
Each time any one of us encounters an object, the visual systems begins a constant questioning process. Sensory input flows from bottom-up, memories and associations from top-down. In this manner the impoverished image is progressively worked on and refined till we actually "see" the object in front of us. I think that these massive feed forward and feedback projections are in the business of conducting successive iterations that enable us to home in on the closet approximation to the truth. To overstate the argument deliberately, perhaps we are hallucinating all the time and what we call perception is arrived at by simply determining which hallucination best conforms to the current sensory input.

Chapter 7: The Sound of One Hand Clapping
    Thus the coping strategies of the two hemispheres are fundamentally different. The left hemisphere's job is to create a belief system or model and to fold new experiences into that belief system. If confronted with some new information that doesn't fit the model, it relies on Freudian defence mechanisms to deny, repress or confabulate - anything to preserve the status quo. The right hemisphere's strategy, on the other hand, is to play  "Devils Advocate", to question the status quo and look for global inconsistencies. When the anomalous information reaches a certain threshold, the right hemisphere decides that it is time to force a complete revision of the entire model and start from scratch. The right hemisphere thus forces a "Kuhnian paradigm shift" in response to anomalies, whereas the left hemisphere always tires to cling tenaciously to the way things were.

Chapter 10: The Women Who Died Laughing
    I find great irony in the fact that every time someone smiles at you she is in fact producing a half threat by flashing her canines. When Darwin published 'On the Origin of Species' he delicately hinted in his last chapter that we too may have evolved from apelike ancestors. The English statesman Benjamin Disraeli was outraged by this and at a meeting held in Oxford he asked a famous rhetorical question: "Is man a beast or an angel?" To answer this, he need only have looked at his wife's canines as she smiled at him, and he'd have realized that in this simple universal human gesture of friendliness lies concealed a grim reminder of our savage past.

Friday, October 16, 2009

शादी के side-effects

why are most married guys so dull? even compared to their own self in college or just outta it. (as if my rants were not enough)

पोरगी पटवणे is a passion like no other. some might say "ah, its important but not _that_ important" but thats just crap (and your ego). trust me, you don't realize it until its over. almost every action and every thought has an underpinning of scoring with a hot chick then. and its an almost* perfect passion. its effortlessly natural in its drive, it offers tremendous scope for creativity and courage (u know wht i'm talkin abt ;)) , there is almost universal peer approval (_everyone_ is doing it), excellent reward on success and abundant fun in failures (गम मै रम).

all this slowly withers away after marriage. if you don't have other passions (music/theatre/sports/etc) you are more dull than ever. then these unlucky married dudes try to engage in popular activities (making money/rasing a family/weekend outings/etc), and do them so religiously as to resemble a passion. but they so dearly lack the advantages of a natural one.

Access. to quote mait from her comment on my post

"...Some other good friends are in various respects distanced from us. So a lot of times there is this burning desire to do something and talk about "real" issues, do something totally passionately..but there is no company. Doing something passionately is doubly rewarding if you are doing it with like-minded people, and like-or-more-enthusiastic people..."

 in college you have individual access to lots of people ( say ~100) on a day to day basis. its comparatively easier to find a group that matches your interests the most. (you might say the same is true for a office, but its not. in an office you are not supposed to form groups according to _your_ interests, are you?)
married people move about in couples. society mandates it. you are not supposed to invite someone somewhere without polity asking if the spouse would like to join (exceptions exists but are typical and typecasted - bar visits for guys, shopping escapades for girls?). i dont see anything wrong in this. most people get married bcus they share a lot of common interests. but no matter how much fun it is in a group, passion is an extremely individual affair. you need _personal_ and good relations with people in the group for it to work. and i think this practice of coupling individuals is detrimental to it.

* almost, only because its slightly more instinctual and non-objective than i would prefer.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

new election, new logic

i dont have a candidate to promote like last time but i have a stupid logic never the less.

so basically we dont want to vote for a corrupt candidate, and all the main guys (likely to win) are rotten. what can we do?

i have devised a cunning plan. what we do is find a decent independent candidate and vote for him/her. if you cant find such a dude, the hell with decent, just vote for any independent. this will raise the percentage voting figure without making you feel guilty of sending a crook in the state assembly. come next elections, parties will realize that 60-70% people are voting and that they cannot rely on the zopadpatti vote alone to sneak through. then they would realize that it is a bit harder to woe the educated class and further down the line they wont be so blatant in ignoring the people. finally they will start doing things slightly more efficiently and something resembling good governance might happen.

yup. i know its lame. wont get a soul out on election day. even if all the optimism in this logic is to be believed, it will take 20-25 yrs for this to happen. too boring and insignificant. better dash off to sinhagad on 13th Oct, i hear they've declared it a public holiday :)

some unnecessary links - Find your name/polling booth here. (this site has a reputation of going down close to election day. I suggest you save your/your families vitals stats somewhere to avoid dday confusion.) - List of candidates and their affidavits

UPDATE: few more..

Friday, October 02, 2009

I A(m) S(uperior) :P

NOTE: this is a gross generalization based on my very limited interaction with the administrative services in India (specifically the police commissionerate in Pune). take it with a pinch of whatever you like.

The Scene: lok sabha election time. a doctor and a software engineer have gone to the police commissionerate to get permission for an election rally. everyone is looking at them as if they missed an exit and walked into the wrong neighborhood.

मी: अरुण भाटियांच्या rally ची permission काढायला दिली होती. ती तयार झाली का?
कुंजीर साहेब: अरुण भाटिया?
मी: हो
कुंजीर साहेब: चांगला माणूस
मी: (smile)
कुंजीर साहेब: आम्ही register पाटील madam कड़े पाठवलय
मी: त्या कुठे असतात?
कुंजीर साहेब: आतल्या office मधे
मी: मी भेटू का जाउन त्यांना?
कुंजीर साहेब: तुम्हीच बघा काय ते. त्यांच्या मनात असेल तर होईल तुमचं काम आज
मी: (same q. to patil female)
पाटील madam: तुमचं नाव काय?
मी: सिद्धार्थ गोरे
(पाटील madam starts humming गोरे गोरे ओ बाके छोरे..)
मी: (मनातल्या मनात) खतरनाक
पाटील madam: तुमच्या सारखी educated लोकं अशी कामं करतात?
मी: (smile)
पाटील madam: ते permission चं सरपोतदार सरांच्या हातात आहे अता
मी: ते कुठे बसतात?
पाटील madam: cabin मधे. पण बोलावल्या शिवाय जाऊ नका. त्यांना राग येइल.
मी: ते मला का बोलवतील?
पाटील madam: फार प्रश्न विचारता तुम्ही गोरे.
मी: (barging into sarpotdar dude's cabin) rally ची permission तुम्ही देता का तुमचा पण कोणी साहेब आहे, जो सगळं ठरवतो?

our government offices/bureaucracy are not exactly known for their efficiency or customer service (??), so this was to be expected. i always thought that this inefficiency is because govern is welfare based, unlike the corporate world which is merit based (in theory at least :P). i was so wrong.

the problem is not with the people or their merit. people are alright, just like you and me. what is horribly wrong is the environment that they are made to work in. by environment i mean protocols, procedures and systems. the hierarchy is in the air, and its an extremely rigid one. each rung in this ladder hates but fears the one above it and has no mercy/respect when it comes to treating the one below.

i hear such hierarchy exists even in some industries (mechanical i guess) and on assembly lines where humans are used as just hands and legs to perform a repetitive task (which eventually a sophisticated machine can takeover). but a place like police commissionerate or a municipal corporation is as far from an assembly line as it gets. each person walking through that front door has a unique set of problems. mere processes and registers _cannot_ solve these problems efficiently. what it needs is a person with experience, knowledge and authority. kunjir saheb, patil madam et al. had no derth of experience or knowledge. but authority? they just pointed to the guy, one up.

i can understand strict hierarchy on a nuclear submarine. the captain never mixes with his crew, dines separate, sleeps separate, lives separate. this separation is valid, even necessary here because the captain can ask someone in his crew to carry out a task which can potentially endanger his life. to do that task without a seconds hesitation the crew needs to _always_ look up to that post of the captain. would you risk your life because one of your colleague's asks you to, i think not.
but why the hell is, say a municipal commissioner supposed to call a clerk by his first name (even if he is his old man's age) but the clerk has to respond with 'yes Sir'? are millions of lives going to be lost if he treats the clerk with a little more respect?

when the british left this country in 1947, they left behind a system of governance which they had perfected over the last 200 odd yrs to govern a _foreign_ land. the working principle of that system had to be a very strict separation, both physical and psychological, between the ruling (decision making) class and the subordinate staff. how much did we change that system after independence? didn't it occur to our leaders that we need not minor amendments but a total and fundamental overhaul of the entire system?

i guess when the british left, people who took over the administrative services must have said to themselves - dude, we can either dismantle this and create a new, more democratic system or, or we can keep everything exactly the way it is and just slide into all the places where the british used to be. that way _we_ get to rule this country from now on. we just need to keep acting like the british officers and nobody will even notice.

i think they chose option 2 :D

Monday, September 07, 2009

10 years ago...

someone once said to me, to really live life and understand it you need bursts of intense activity followed by time for pure leisure. i was in college then. we had bursts of intense activity (a week or 2 around exam time and ofcourse purushottam) followed by pure and unadulterated leisure (pretty much the entire semester), looks like i was on track. a few years later i had landed a decent job and was saying to myself, hey things are not too off even now. 2 days of extreme activity (the weekends :P) followed by 5 days of somewhat restricted leisure (the workdays). it might be the other way round for some of you who take their work seriously :P (if you are reading this blog in office, u ain't that type).

its been a while since then. even now we work and we have fun, but its not the same. the difference i guess is passion. those days i was around guys who were passionate (some bordering on crazy actually :P) about everything in general. not only about the usual stuff - babes, booze, money and cricket, but about abstract things like life, mind, truth and reason. now, i dont see many people around me (including me, ofcourse) who spend majority of their time on something they really really like to do. and not on weekends, thats an hobby. everyones got that. i am talkin getting involved in something you love and doing it like your life depends on it. (if you dont know what you love, then getting involved in finding it, like your life depends on it :D)

i've had this explained by wise men of the world by "there is college, and then there is life". ya ofcourse, you don't act like you are in college for your whole life. but you dont have to be half-dead for the rest of it either. some say its physical, you simply have more energy when you are young, so its best to slither into some routine as you grow old. i dont think the human body deprecates so much when you go from 25 to 30. about the human mind? i am not so sure.

i mean forget about doing non-routine/weird stuff. what happened to just good 'ol talking about it? how can i explain so many smart guys and girls around me talking about nothing but the weather and the stock market, every day, every week? i remember the _same_ people talking about writing plays and trying to understand the meaning of life and shit. i guess somewhere along the line it got branded as "that stupid stuff we used to do when we were in college". we were almost bullied into believing that something, like pondering about the nature of the universe or philosophizing for more than 5 mins in public will instantly make to an irresponsible adolescent who has no clue about how the world works.

and it kinda makes sense. the only way to look smart even when you dont know the answer, is to pretend that the question does not exist. if enough people do that, everyone looks smarter and more mature :) and so the heavy questions vanish and the simple ones, well we talk about them every day, dont we?

whatever the case maybe i see things getting that much more routine and dull everyday, and no one seems to mind it. i guess this is what happens when people around you/close to you change, and you dont change with them.

about 10 years ago, i had scribbled (probably under the influence of alcohol) some pages in illegible handwriting of what was supposed to be a one-act play. i expected to find some stupid shit written in those pages (as those are supposed to be the fun but stupid days of your life), surprising didn't find a single word i wished to change in it (talk about learning as you grow, eh? :P).

here is an extract from it. you can get the whole thing here. (dont even think about following it, i am sitting on that link with a club in my hand :P) and thanks ashlya for converting the manuscript into something readable.

D: तुला काय वाटतं? काय चांगलं आणि काय वाईट हे आपल्याला १००% खात्रीपूर्वक कधी कळतं? म्हणजे साधारण कुठल्या वयात?
प्रे: (मोठ्यांदा हसतो) खरं सांगू का? डोक्यावरचे सगळे केस पिकून गुल झाल्याशिवाय ते काही कळत नाही. म्हणजे ईन मोष्ट केशेश. हा...काही जणांना ते आधी समजायला लागतं, पण तसे लोक कमीच. आणि काही लोकांना तर ते कधीच उमगत नाही.
D: perfect! तुमच्याकडून हेच उत्तर अपेक्षित होतं. पण माझी theory ह्याच्या बरोबर उलटी आहे. प्रत्येक माणसाला चांगलं आणि वाईट ह्याची समज असते. पण...फक्त वयाच्या पाचव्या वर्षापर्यंत
प्रे: तुम्ही पाचव्या वर्षापर्यंत म्हणाला का?
D: (हसतो) हो. let me explain. तुम्ही कधी चड्डीत शू केलिये का?

yup. it was the alcohol.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

i dont think he will win

i have never thought about anything but myself, so thinking about a whole city is really outta my league. but until someone pays me to shutup, i will keep talking :P

so the question really is, can a educated, highly qualified honest man with a will to improve the city and its administration, win an election? the obvious answer is no. the reasons are obvious too...i and you wont vote.

but i feel sorry for people of Pune this time around. there nearest and dearest excuses have been mercilessly taken away from them.

Punekar: my vote wont make a difference. actual elections are won/lost in the slums.
Stupid Reality: more than 60% of pune's registered voters are from the educated middle class. they are actually (and i still dont believe it) in the majority.

P: fine! but who do we vote for? all are corrupt.
SR: theres this dude, arun bhatia (u might find the name familiar, same dude who broke down all illegal constructions, when commissioner of PMC, was later transferred...obviously :P). read the excerpt from his website below. proves he was not liked by the system. there is no way you can put him in the "all are corrupt" basket

"And so in 26 years of service (excluding the training period and service in the United Nations), Bhatia was removed from his post (transferred) 26 times. "

P: :( even if he wins, what can 1 MP do?
SR: he has plans. but forget everything else, if he wins it will just prove that a good guy with extremely limited funds and no gundaas, can still win a lok sabha seat in india. which will be a revolution in itself.

P: (dodge this u punk!) is desh ka kuch nahi hone wala. kyon time waste kare?
SR: ok. u win.

SR: here is his video, watch it if you have the whole 10 mins to spare.
P: isnt he expecting too much frm us? cant watch katrina for tht long, and she is the hottest!!

i dont know which side i am on. to vote or not to. but one things for sure, if i am not going to vote in this LS polls, i will need to be very creative and find a good excuse. cant hide behind those good ol ones anymore :( hmmm...something on these lines perhaps :P

SR: why dont u vote?
P: i am a believer of individual action (SR: mostly cus no one else listens to me). you tell me, for my vote to be worth anything, 4 lakh more have to vote for the same guy? that doesn't work for me, too far fetched. doesn't make me feel special. i would rather give 10 bucks to a beggar, get the instant gratification and be done with my social responsibilities. (SR: if you have no sense of social responsibility..u r the luckiest)

but if u r gonna take the brave step of being non-lazy non-pessimistic, and risk being found looking stupid standing in a line at a polling booth, then remember these dates.

27th March: last date for voter registration
23th April: showtime