Tuesday, April 25, 2006

The best things

They're not the moments you've been most looking forward to, or even the unexpected surprises. They're the everyday random conversations that make you laugh.


It's a month off now, and I'm starting to miss it. It's nearly May, and will thus be a searing dustbowl in dear old Delhi. Still, I miss the afternoon airconditioned naps, the early morning swimming, the sheer bliss of aam panna and going out for ice cream in the evening. Delhi summers don't seem quite as horrible when you're in a land where the range of seasons is "Rainy" and "Fucking Torrential". A wise person(enter good excuse for not remembering the originator of the quote) once said "If you love something, leave it".

I often find myself defending my city to fellow degenerates from all over India, peers of mine at college. There's a lot of misconceptions about my home, and a lot of exxagerations. A couple jar me more than others. Delhiites use and love of Hinglish, a language all to our own, has often lead to presumptions of the incompetence of Dilliwallahs english language skills. I and others from Delhi will frequently mix Hindi with their english in conversation. This leads to a quick deduction on part of populace that Dilliwallahs are incapable of speaking or indeed writing competently in The Mother Tongue. Given that we're comparing across a similiar educational strata (that which has landed up at college) I don't see how Delhi student's english is any worse than any other part of the country. In fact, from the limited sample size that I have, evidence does seem to point to quite the contrary. But there's a chauvanism here, where one cannot mix and max language, and one must keep it pure. Well, adjust kar lo, kyunki Hinglish is here to stay. So is Punglish.
Misconception and hasty generalization number 2 is that Dilliwallahs are a bunch of snobs. The strange thing is that this usually comes from Mumbaikars, who I must say are occasionally more chauvanistic about their Maximum City than Bangaalis are about Robindra Songeet. Get one started about a local train, for instance. I find it quite amusing that the experience of being crushed in a mob-like crowd is cited as one of pride and enjoyment by every member of the city. I too have spoken of the sheer insanity of a DTC bus during rush hour traffic, but wouldn't exactly call it something to be proud of. Certainly not one the high points of living in Delhi.

What is, however, is the way the winds will come in and start blowing one of these April-May evenings, how everything will change from searingly hot to magical storm in a matter of minutes, how at any point it could start raining, hailing, storming; and indeed how nice a refreshing aam paana could be. My Gulmohar, as well as trees all over the city will have probably started blossoming as well, and entire lengths of road will be a sea of red shortly.

I guess someone else will rush to board up the windows and batten down the hatches this year, when the first dust storm hits.

"On the wings of the night
As the daytime is stirring
Where the speechless unite
In a silent accord
Using words you will find are strange
And mesmerized as they light the flame
Feel the new wind of change
On the wings of the night"

"On The Turning Away", as performed by Pink Floyd

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Reverse Bungee

Me, Shivya and Malay prepare to be shunted 60 M up at 200 KMPH, touching 5G at the top.

And we have liftoff!

What an incredible rush. The adrenelin kicking through you is amazing. I'm heading to New Zealand and doing normal bungee, this was just way too much fun. Posted by Picasa

Monday, April 17, 2006

Its Good to be Out

The world was mean to me, and I was afflicted with the scourge of chicken pox. It was a loving and thoughtful gift from my roommate, to whom all I would like to say is, Just wait till I catch scabies. Or even German Measles....

Anyhow, the world decided to more than make up to me. It has been exceptionally astounding to me since I have returned from quarantine, by amusing and entertaining me. I went out to town with assorted members of the phamily, and one of the most interesting sights in this weird lil place called Bangalore greeted me. Imagine this. Theres a one way road, leading from N to S(usual geographical abbreviations followed). This road is constructed to lead on to a fly over. The flyover, on the other end, is connected to Another road, going from S to N. One way. The day of the opening of the flyover, there are a couple of major accidents. (who'd have thunk it, eh, with traffic coming face on from both ends?) So they solve this problem by this really cool technique. Half the flyover is one way in N-S, the other half is one way in S-N. They created two extra branches to the damn thing. In the middle, without the aid of a traffic light, traffic switches over from one side to the other. Just like the blood did in the chapter on Circulation in high school. Its highly fascinating. Bloody stupid, also, but fascinating nonetheless.

In class, one of my wisest and erstwhile most respected profs informed us that she doesnt believe in the theory of evolution. Now, irrespective of what I might be studying, I still consider myself a student of science. I have forever been fascinated by the subject because I think evolutionary science, especially evolutionary biology, is one of the most interesting subjects there is. I of course dont expect people to concur with my views. But in this day and age, to flat out deny the existence of a well documented phenomenon, is just...well, to my mind at least, a bit myopic and rather absurd. To a point raised in class, she also attributed women's physical inferiority to men- in terms of running, and hunting skills, etc- to the system of patriarchy. Now, I'm all for women's rights, and all for equality. But you have to face the fact someday or the other, that the two genders Are different, you cant compare apples and oranges, as I read somewhere. It made for interesting discussion, at least. And I was called a pseudo-male-supporter. Sigh.

I have been given a very lucrative offer. To sing in the Univ. competition. If I accept, technically, its not My fault what happens. I mean, all Im doing is what they ask me for, right?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Woo Hoo!

My exams are over. Yay! I'm free, I can sprawl around and do nothing completely guilt free. For the next week and a bit, before summer term starts, I shall start resembling Garfield in character(sadly not in form) and shall aspire to the better life. I shall also, at some point, go for the Fullerton Chocolate Buffet, where you have all you can eat chocolate.

In completely unrelated news, Diga actor Rajkumar's death, a man we only know for his wonderful rendition of "If You Come Today" passed away, promping mass riots and mourning in Bangalore, and has brought the IT capital to a halt.

It happens only in India.

Anyhow, this blog offers him tribute, now that it's too late.
Tick tick tick tick tick tick. Dorling!

Monday, April 10, 2006

The Immorality of Affirmative Action

It's surprising to hear the views of many on the whole reservations scandals. Quite a few people I talk to are quite okay with affirmative action as a concept, and oppose this just because they're going too far. Well, they are going too far, that's a foregone conclusion and because of that they'll never be able to push in the new quotas. However, the existing Affirmative Action quotas for SC/ST will remain, and because the majority of us seem to be okay with this immoral grotesque concept, the government will get away with it for the next 50 years as well. Strangely enough, there won't ever be any "upliftment" of the classes this policy tries to protect.

AA is an inherently immoral practice, and is tantamount to theft. Before I go any further, I'm going to clear up what AA is.
Affirmative action, in short, is a policy where because a particular community has historically been ill treated, as a compensation to them and to "level the playing field", reservations or relaxed cutoffs are created for the same in institutions with government affiliation.

In an institution where it is clearly stated that the only way to get in, no management quota through donations or whatchamacallit, is by merit through an exam, the policy of reservation undermines that very examination and principle, that the best will get in, irrespective of anything.

But lets put that aside, and look at AA from all its parts. First, the historical ill treatment arguement. They had a shitty life, still do, and therefore they deserve more than you do. Bullshit. My grandparents had to run from Lahore after partition, and came to Jammu with next to nothing. Thousands, if not millions of Punjabi's can claim the same fate, you can ask around how many of your parents or grandparents started off life with nothing. Not everyone was priveledged enough to be born into Brahmin Government Jobs, agreed, but not everyone claimed to be victims of their fate. Like the Punjabi's post partition, the Sikhs during India's Greatest Bitch's Dictatorship, The Sindhi's, Kashmiri Pundits, Indian Muslims in Gujrat or UP, communities abound that haven't exactly had the easiest time in life. Some of them have had the gumption to get out of the rut, and move on. None of them have had Affirmative Action. That people have had a hard time is no excuse to give them a better time now, at the expense of people who have had nothing to do with their suffering. I don't even know what an OBC is (the constitution isn't exactly clear on the matter either, neither is the mandal commision), leave aside discriminated against. The only community I have actively discriminated against is Communists, and quite frankly they've already got reservations, it's called JNU.

The next arguement, which is kind of silly to go into, because the first one is already a load of rubbish, is that quota's in Central Tertiary Institutions, with particular reference to IIT is going to level the playing field. Baaaa wrong again, kiddos.

To even think of getting into IIT, you need to have done science in 11th and 12th. To have do science in 11th and 12th, you have had to have made it To 11th and 12th. To have reached 11th and 12th, you must have passed your tenth, and to have bloody done that you must already have been in school and umm...not have been failing. To meet all these wonderful requirements means that you probably haven't been to the shittiest of government schools, and as a result have been given access to a decent standard of education. Now, if all these wonderful things have been met, there is no difference in the level of opportunity between you, and the SC/ST/OBC person attempting the paper. Sure, he may not be going to a fancy coaching class, but then again, he may. But that's pretty much like anyone else of any income level who's not SC/ST/OBC. So is this helping the downtrodden chappie never given an opportunity? I doubt that. Show me a statistic that says that any of these communities have opportunities upto 12, and then they suddenly dissapear, and I'll start to believe it. What it does then do is give people fortunate enough to have an SC/ST/OBC certificate to walk into an institution with pretty much any mark they like. Isn't life charming. What it further incentivises people to do is get that very certificate to give them easy access. Has it leveled the playing field, then? No, it's made it quite uneven actually. Because now the poor soul bereft of a certificate, irrespective of his income value, education or intellegence has given up his right to a seat in a college he's made it on merit, because the government has decided that some people are more equal, and more deserving than others.

It's theft, larceny plain and simple. Have the gumption to say so, instead of half heartedly attacking the government for having Gone Too Far.

EDIT: A lot of people ask and question me in very moral tones of voice how I can possibly be against AA. They then tell me how it's needed at a primary school level, to "level the playing field".
To answer to that, I'd just like to point out that providing quality primary education to SC/ST/OBCs is not affirmative action. Its an existing duty of the government, as dictated by our spanking new fundamental right to a basic education. I'm all for a government that secures its citizens it's fundamental rights, the Congress led UPA sadly is dedicated to snatching them away.

Friday, April 07, 2006

Indian Crab Syndrome

My exams are in three day's time, after which year one of college is officially at an end. I shall be staying on for summer term, so the joy of returning does not abound, not for a while anyhow.
Last month was a bit of a hard time(translate: generally a disaster) and as a result, I have to do quite well in my finals to recover my grade in a couple of my courses. I have studied quite hard, however, surprised myself at actually being able to understand things I earlier could not, and should be set for a decent set of final exams. On this topic, I shall speak no more, less I "Jinx" it.

One of my father's favourite stories, certainly one that is vivid in my memory, is a joke about Indian Crabs. My father is a well travelled person, and chooses this to illustrate a great point of difference between motherland and Foren. Here's how it goes.

There's this ship which is carrying seafood in it's cargo hold, nice expensive stuff. The captain enters the hold with one of his crewmates. Explains how this is the hold for crabs, from the world over. There's a container with crabs from Australia, and it's huge, a container with hairy chinese crabs(its a delicacy, don't ask me why, seems like the crabs got all the hair in the chinese genome), again closed, yada yada yada...you get the drift. Finally, he comes to the container with the Indian Crabs, and hot-diggity, the container's open. Crewman asks, won't the crabs escape? The captain says, take a look inside, every time one tries to climb out, three pull him back in.

It's that mentality of malaise that my father poignantly pointed out to me that we suffer from, and it's a great truth. That said, it's encouraging to see, at least in pockets and parts a climb out of this trap, where you don't let people succeed just because you're not. For every Sitaram Yechury, there's a Narayanamurthy, so to speak.

The first contrast I ever saw between these attitudes, and their results was when I switched schools back when I was a wee nipper(Sadly I still haven't grown much taller since then, and remain an averageish sort of nipper). I came from an Indian Crab School, where anyone good at anything was despised, and right from the students to the adminstration, an effort was made to ensure that everyone stayed at the same level. Sadly, no one really realised what that level would be. I wasn't really happy in that environment. When I shifted(out of much duress) to a school I had grown up hating, because of surprise surprise Indian Crab Syndrome I noticed a difference. There was an environment that actually rewarded you doing well, and had people celebrate your success. Hell, people even looked up to you sometimes!

And it makes a difference. If you're in a school/society/culture like that, you're incentivised towards working to get out of the container, and if you know that you're just going to be pulled back down, you've got to be one hell of a crab to fight your way out. How many times in your life have you had to say "Why Bother", when you know that the costs of attempting to do something pretty much outweigh any benefits. I applaud the efforts of those who did, who bypassed the system, stole from it, cheated it if they had to, because moral or immoral, that's what the situation demanded. I hope they've made steps, baby steps atleast, towards ridding ICS, because as far as sociological factors go, it's our biggest hinderance to development. People look to places like Singapore, now China, Korea, indeed America and you can see places where a winner is rewarded, not brought down. Quite often, this simple enough difference can bring about one hell of a change. You can see it in SMU, which despite has a similiar environment of competition and reward for success, sometimes scarily so.

Now, before I get teary eyed and start dreaming of a world where no one listens to Commies, and Pseudo Secularists, I'll stop. Miles to go before I sleep.