Nothing!

I am writing this sitting comfortably in the chair car of Karnavati, on my way to Ahmedabad. This is how I ll be celebrating Diwali. Its my TOEFL tomorrow. I had booked a chair car thinking I ll be able to prepare for the test on my laptop in the train. Turns out, I cant! There’s too much movement, too much chaos around…. I tried doing some reading comprehension but finally gave up when this kid came close to spilling water on my lappy. So now, keeping an eye out for irritating toddlers, I ve decided to do something that’s long overdue… Write!!

I wrote this thing about New York (the movie) about 3 months back… It was my 2nd post ever. And after that, I got a writer’s block!! (And imagine, an aptitude test I gave in std 11 said I should be a novelist!!) I tried to but couldnt write. Was too lazy. Too busy. And at times too boring. Not to mention the huge complex I got seeing the wonderful and at times awesomely incomprehensible musings of my fellow bloggers. Who’d be interested in what I ve got to say about boring, mundane stuff when there are people talking about smoking, hanging God (nice one Pareek :)), estrangements, enchantments and so much more…. I did try some stuff but fell asleep halfway through writing it! So now, with nothing better to do while I wait for Karnavati to reach Karnavati, I am attempting this again.

Topic.. topic.. topic… why do I always need a topic? Why cant I write about anything, everything? Why do I have to be so fastidious? Why always organise my thoughts and present them as if I m giving a seminar (November 7th!! : my seminar )?? No I don’t. Its my blog (ours actually!!), I can write what I want… So here it goes… I cant believe I ve written close to 300 words already, saying nothing!!

Since I am being so open I thought I’ll share with u the different topics I thought I’ll write on before finally deciding to write about: Nothing.

I wanted to write about the flu.. Naah not the swine flu. Swine flu is passé! SVNIT has seen a new outbreak… Blog-Flu!!! Every other day, I saw a new status update among some friend on my gtalk contact list mentioning his/her newly minted blog.. I was happy!! I felt I had the perfect fodder for a biting, sarcastic article ripping the newbies off. But, much to my astonishment and dismay, almost all of them write well. Too well actually. So instead of the biting and self-invigorating post I had envisaged, all I got was self doubt, a complex, and more self doubt. The ‘roller coaster’s, the ‘i got my answer’s, the ‘oneamongdruck’s , and the ‘expiredbond’s bowled me over; not to mention the veteran ‘allpartoftheplan’s, the ‘faultythought’s, the much publicized (or should I say publicizing ?? :)) ‘blogging park’ and of course gauravpareek!! And how can I forget our very own blundering malice!! I felt small, silly and dull in front of these awesome bloggers… So I chucked the idea and decided to wait for something else..

Aah!! then came the three lettered golden goose… GRE! I gave my exam and got a decent score. The score was decent enough to be mentioned on the aforementioned blundering malice. It was like being mentioned on Aaj Tak or India Tv!! I was over the moon!! So i decided to write about GRE. I was sure I could write pages and pages on GRE. How to build vocab, how to not touch maths till the last week, which books to use, which classes to attend et al… But again, God (Pareek had not hung him till then. If u don’t get this pls refer to http://gauravpareek.wordpress.com :)) had other plans… Just as I was about to complete the post, I googled “GRE help” and realised how redundant my things were. Anyone who had access to the net and spent 5-10 mins on google could write what I was writing. Another thing I found was that there were hundreds of people out there who had done much much better than me. So it was chucking time once again…

So now I was a bit low on self-esteem. Quite low actually. I got thinking about all my failures and came to a conclusion. SVNIT sucks!! I realised I had got nothing out of this institute except contempt, anger, helplessness, and increased sleep… Ya ya I did get great friends and all that cr*p… but still I was too depressed to look at the brighter side. One day when I couldn’t keep my emotions to myself any longer, I decided to write again. I decided to trash SVNIT, its pretentious people, the endless sycophancy, the obscene nepotism. And a whole lot of other things I don’t even remember now. So I wrote and I wrote, for a full 2 hours… Again, the yet-not-hung God decided to stop me in my tracks! It was joyfest!! Joy of Giving week. People out there were doing great deeds, playing with young children, giving them a great time, playing guitars, donating bikes and so much more. Almost every third person on orkut expressed his/her contentment with life. People were in love with SVNIT! I felt marooned on an island while others made merry on the mainland… It was clearly not the time for my explosive, venom-spewing post! I deleted what I had written and decided to find some Joy (not the Barot guy) for me too… On a serious note, hats off to the joyfest guys. U guys gave me atleast some vicarious satisfaction of having done something good!

There were many other passing ideas too. Gandhiji on 2nd October, Barack Obama when he got the nobel, why i want to leave Gujarat forever, Kareena, Israel, etc were some of them. I don’t want to go into details for lack of space, time and intention. Suffice it to say that I chucked everything I wrote or thought of.

So here I am now, writing about ‘nothing’ so that the confluence guys atleast don’t throw me out! 🙂

I ve crossed baroda now and am feeling up for a nap.. So I ll end it here. See u in another 3 months time I guess! Dont miss me too much. If u do, there are always other blog-flu affected people u can look up to. 🙂
Cheers!!

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New York = Ahmedabad ?

I saw this new movie New York recently. For those who don’t know, it’s about the retribution faced by Asians (especially Muslims) in America after the 9/11 attacks. A very nicely told story of how a perfectly innocent guy is driven to terrorism and destruction just because of his religion.

The first thing that came to my mind after I saw this movie was, How similar the story and the issue depicted in the movie is to what happened in Gujarat post-godhra in 2002. The more I thought about it, the more I realised how intolerance and prejudice (racial or religious) transcends borders and is the same everywhere.

In New York, the plight of the Muslims in America after the w.t.c attacks is the same as that faced by those in Gujarat in the immediate aftermath of the Godhra massacre. Not only that, even the reason of their misery is similar. While what happened in America was a reaction to the truly evil act committed by a few mindless zealots, what we saw in Gujarat was an outcome of the dastardly act committed by some fanatics in Godhra. The similarity is that in both cases, the people who faced the retribution were totally disconnected from the respective events. The average Asian in America had nothing to do with the terrorists just as the poor Bakery owner in Baroda or Ahmedabad had nothing to do with Godhra.

In the U.S, what happened was due to the prejudice that suddenly sprang up against Muslims, Arabs and Asians along with the free hand given to the investigative agencies there. What we saw in Gujarat was due to the intolerance that has been systematically developed among the Gujarati populace by fanatical right wing organizations that use “Ram” to justify their acts. This intolerance in Gujarat has also percolated into the law enforcement agencies which were mute spectators and at times even active accomplices in what happened.

I ve heard many people praise New York and sympathize with the victims in the movie. All I wish is that we showed similar empathy and solidarity even in real life, in Gujarat. I don’t want to get in to the politics of the issue. I despise Modi for what he did (or didn’t do). I know most of my fellow gujaratis don’t. I don’t care. All I wish is that we, as a civilized, peaceful society; and as a state that gave India Gandhiji and Sardar Patel atleast understand the gravity of what happened in February 2002. I feel saddened by the fact that we have, in the last 7 years, not made a single expression of collective remorse at what happened! We must learn from Australian P.M Kevin Rudd who publically apologized for what the country had done to the aborigines there. Would it be too much to expect our elected leaders to at least say they regret what happened? A little compassion never does any harm….

I know some friends who still justify what happened 7 years ago by using the “Every action has a Reaction” nonsense. To them all I can say is that reactions do not happen hundreds of kilometres away from the action!! I don’t care what view you subscribe to, left, right or centre. At least be humane enough to feel sorry for what happened…..

Targetted!

A couple of days back; some Indian students were racially abused and beaten up in Australia. There has been an alarming increase in violence against Indian students and professionals in the U.S. Since the last 6 months or more, we have been hearing incidents of violence every few days. Now Australia has joined in too.

While we cannot conclude that there is a general ill-feeling against Indians, it does appear that with the global economic recession and all, we have become a target for frustrated out-of-work people. As an Indian and a student who might go abroad, it worries me to see this trend of targeting working professionals.

I know that the governments of the respective states cannot be blamed for the violence but the lack of any action taken against the perpetrators of such crimes is worrying. There is hardly any attention givento it in the media, World as well as Indian. If such things would have happened against foreigners in India, there would surely be a public outcry in the west. The Indian government, by not forcing the issue, has strengthened the notion of India being a soft state.

Excited!!

Thanks  a lot for having me on board Gaurav!!

I m looking forward to an enriching experience with u ppl… though i do feel that this is going to be not just confluence but also conflict of ideas at times too 🙂

But as Gandhiji used to say “mat bhed ho to koi baat nahi, bus mann bhed nahi hona chahiye” (its ok to have difference of opinions, but there must not be conflict of hearts)

cheers 🙂

India Unbound!!


I recently bought the book India Unbound by Gurcharan Das.
For those who dont know, Das is the former CEO of Procter & Gamble and has been involved in the corporate world for decades. His book is a part memoir and part account of the economic and social upheavels India has faced since independence.

I have almost finished the book now and can say that it is a riveting tale told in a masterly way by Das. It is for all those who are interested in the social,political and economic scenario in India… We youngsters have grown up in midst of high growth rate, a liberal economic scene. For a us the kind of success achieved by people like Narayana Murthy, Dhirubhai Ambani and others is more achievable than ever before. So it was both enlightning and interesting for me to see how different things were in pre-reform India.

Das begins with the mixed economy envisaged by Nehru and analyses it well. He candidly admits that like most of the Indians, he was thrilled by Nehru’s ideas at that time and was looking forward to their implementtions. Using his personal experiences, he narrates how the great Indian dream soured and it became apparent that the socialist policies had failed miserably and were leading us nowhere.

Throughout the book, Das uses his personal ringside view of the state of affairs in India as an employee of a company and later as its CEO…. He takes us throught the strangulating days of the License Raj and upto the crisis that triggered the reforrms in1991. He uses numerous people and companies to explain the churning in the Indian economic scene..

While reading this book, I happened to have to go to the office of BSNL in Bharuch, much against my wishes. I needed to change the internet plan in my broadband connection. After putting it off for as long as I could I finally went when it became unavoidable….

it took me 20 mins to locate the person responsible for my requirement. I climbed two flights of stairs thrice before finally meeting the bsnl babu in the basement!! His office was in the basement. When I approached him he looked at me disdainfully, as if I was impeding on his precious time. He put his tea cup down and raised his eyebrows. seeing his demeanour, I forgot who was the client and who was the ‘public’ servant and addressed him as if I was talking to the chief minister of Gujarat! He asked me some questions about my connection. He was particularly interested in why I was using so much internet… After some more timepass, he told me the solution to my problem… “Write an application, on a blank paper” and then abruptly opened his file and started going through something. It was sometime to realise that my appointment was over. I asked him by when my plan change would come into effect. He replied by pointing towards another desk without looking up…. I took a deep breath and went away looking for a piece of paper, bracing myself for some more dosage of Indian babudom….

After two houurs I emerged from the basement, tired, sweating,but victorious. I had applied and had successfully submitted the application to the correct place. Now if all goes well I ll get my plan change. If not, then – back to the basement….

My experience is nothing new. Every adult Indian has gone through it, for getting driving license, telephone number, electricity,etc. Why it struck me is because it made me realise how lucky we are. From what Das has described in his book, What I experienced for two hours, once in so many years is something my dad and his dad had to go through every other day!! It just proves Das’ contention that though we have come out of the dense woods of the socialist raj, we are yet to reach completely green pastures.

As Robert Frost would say, We have miles to go before we sleep……