Saturday, December 20, 2014

.....

shadows
                geographies of genocides
winter sun

How do you meet without the touch of full stops?

The smell of travel
Places which spin in your head with their harsh sun, mild winter, icy chills,crazy colours, sombre greys....
Nightmare and dream walk hand in hand
Through alleys of paranoia and hope.

How do you talk without the gap of that which you cannot utter?

Words hover over a cup of tea
Till they end with the stroke of the clock.
They wouldn't stretch, wait, take a deep breath
Or do any other gymnastics which you might have
Wanted them to do

Different caravans..
Acknowledge, raise a lantern
Break some bread
And move on to
Different time zones, different nightmares, different dreams..

Sunday, November 23, 2014

...

Some days carry a weight on their heads
As if their neck would break from the burden.

No waits, no hopes, no tomorrows
Next birth is today
Shed stuff with the ease of a tree in autumn

Queen of lost stuff
Always ready with a marching band 
To wave good byes..
Much to the astonishment of the wayfarers who
Walk in and out of the inn.







Thursday, November 6, 2014

PhD And The New Mafia Entrant

One of the advantages of doing a PhD is that you will invariably have the good fortune to interact with an exquisite collection of human species. I mean in normal life, you will come across one or two odd balls. But, the abnormal life of PhD allows you the once in a life time opportunity to meet quite a few odd balls in one place. Mind you, most of them are very nice and quite brainy (just like very brainy and nice grocery store owners and Mafia dons). Most refreshingly most of them have a kind of politics which does not believe in eating thy neighbour or shooting immigrants, poor people, single mothers etc.

The motto of PhD life is minimum human contact and most of the oddballs detest wasting time in mere conversations unless it is done in structured reading groups about Zizek's psychoanalytic bulbrum or Benjamin's mechanic of the art of the reproduction of the age of new chicken. So again, you don't get the opportunity to chew fat with this unique collection of humanity very often.

As for self's oddballness, it has often been certified by most members of the human species self has come into contact with. There is a near hundred percent consensus about the topic. So, in theory, PhD life should be an uneventful episode as far as self is concerned. Generally the most exciting experiences occur when one academic calls another an idiot in nicely veiled bablooz language within the cover of some moth eaten book which a total of two people in the world would read.

So, it was quite a surprise when self went ahead and picked up a fight with a teacher who was trying to direct his flock to the horizon of wisdom through deep reading of selected texts written by mostly dead men and women. As a rule, self has a deferential attitude towards teachers. Even the maths teacher in class 6 who threw self's notebook out of the window (for contesting a fine point about why should a maths equation mean what it did) will certify that self is not a hooligan when it comes to teachers.

And, in UK, whatever  might be the country's faults ( this will take an encyclopaedia...bad food, UKIP supporters, Tories, red Tories known as Labour, CCTV cameras, bad weather...blah blah), self gets along very well with the teaching community. The best teacher self has ever had is from this small island and as for the supervisory team, self considers them as sort of nice parents with whom self doesn't have any issues. (Aside: self has real issues with real parents, so there might be a thread for psychoanalysts to pick up)

Coming back to the point, after shooting a nasty email to a teacher (who probably only wanted to direct his reading group to wisdom through right contextualisation), self felt like a rookie Mafia entrant who has shot aimlessly into one's own group.

The unwritten and difficult to understand rules of academic life are quite similar to the Mafia codes. Both are a bit tough on the new entrant.And, just like a bullet which has left the gun, an email which has been sent cannot be taken back. The strange rituals of the British academia has always baffled self. So far, self has been trying to fit in by asking people how many hours they worked with all the earnestness of a new Mafia entrant who wants to know how to fire the gun properly.

For some reason, like the Mafia swagger, self has picked up anger and a propensity to burn in one's own intensity. This might have to do with self's research topic or the general friendly racism at train stations, pubs, shops, British library reading rooms and similar citadels of the empire which  the small island finally lost for the good of everyone concerned.

With no legitimate target to burst upon, it some how fell on the teacher's insistence on deep reading in the precise manner in which he envisaged. Heretic questions like why read that way?,why should one deep read?, is deep reading like deep frying?, why can't one structure the session differently?, why should one sit through quite a few sessions which might be about Benjamin, Kant, Zizek or similar blighters from the heart of Europe who were blessed with unique thinking genes etc., passed through self's mind and the email was send. One might say that self regrets it. But, as a new PhD Mafia entrant, should bite it and move on as if nothing has happened.

Monday, October 27, 2014

From the Nomad's Diary

What is the point of journeys if you don't have burdens? As the Bedouin says, "the world is full of troubles, this is our share of it". So, take it with a pinch of zen.

Thank you, keep your package deal on happy lives. I am not signing up for it. I would rather fall through creeks, be the alien in racist heartlands, say the wrong thing at wrong places and pitch my tent of non-belonging on nooks and corners of the very round earth.

(Note to the future self- next time when the urge comes to live another life, kindly go to South America, Africa, China...some place like that. Somewhere outside the sacred heartlands with their xenophobia and repressed and overt racisms. Not every place can be Mexico. )

You do have a  new name. So, be fine in that skin. Do you know how nice it is to be free?The villages, towns, cities, people...they are all the same. But, they are all very small if you look through the right glasses.

It is a very short life. So, cut the ties that bind, Don't be anybody else for anyone. Burn the bridges. Travel through new roads, have great conversations with strangers who will disappear again into thin air. Walk through mountains as often as you can. Try to kill the idea of money. Try to create spaces where over conversations and small cups of tea, new worlds are imagined. Travel again on bus tops with the bravest and wisest gang of women you have ever met.

Lose fear. Things which have to blow away will blow away. Go back to your rude, foul mouthed city. The only place which can become half way near home. In spite of the  summer which can break the soul of Chengis Khan and the aggression of its alleys, the place has the build of some thing which you can come back to.

Buy a few square feets some where mid air. To pile the books, memories, broken bits, rarest colors picked from unknown places. A kind of place to leave from, a kind of place to come back to.

Don't make regulated plans. How boring is it to know all the things which are yet to happen. Lose graciously. Bid good byes with a toast to those who leave. Shed tears, how else will you see rain bows?

And work as if you are a flute making its finest song. Try to lose the way as often as possible; how else will you come across new places, new people?

Monday, September 22, 2014

UK Border Insecurity Agency

After passing through it countless times, donating your retina scan, finger prints, x-rays...finally you break down into tears at the border.

London Heathrow.
I am back after spending 4 days in Berlin for a conference.

"So, why are you here?"
For the umpteenth time. After all the paper eating visa gods, my DNA, hair specimen and what not rotting in their files, embalmed in their computers, the same question again.
"So why are you here?"

That computer screen in front of her should know it. That screen holds nice book marks of my body fluids, tuberculosis status, finger prints, places I have been, people I have met....
This is not my first entry. On that great day, the body went through many types of laser beams to make sure that my skin flakes which will fall on the holy land will never pose any threat to anybody.

Questions whose answers the computer screen screams out falls all over me. "Who funds you?", "Why did you go out?", "Why did you come back?", "Is your funding from India or here?" It is part of the new security measures. Break them down a bit, humiliate them by three spoonfuls. Them the possible criminals, those who pollute the milky streets with dirty spots of coffee, cocoa, yellow or black...break them down bit by bit in the most legal, disciplined, panoptic and bureaucratic way.

I am coming back from a city where you find the names of those who were send to the concentration camps on the sidewalks of the streets where they used to live. You have to look carefully  on the pavement to find the name of some one whose hair ended up as woolen blanket, whose body fat made nice soaps. Now, just a name on the pavement, a bit difficult to see.

How many kinds of genocides do great nations carry within them? How many kinds of cleansing sprees? How many kinds of holocausts? Waiting for the right moment to break open.

And then, once it is all over, people sit up and wonder. How could this ever have happened? How could cruelty ever reach such institutional dimensions? There was never ever any sign of it

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Platform Soul/Field Work Notes


Statutory warning: This should ideally belong to what they call reflective narrative which should be the unseen but existing cousin of the fat PhD thesis which self should ideally finish after the stipulated number of years. But some times life spills over and since self has a propensity of chewing supposedly important bits of paper with a chutney of non memory, a blog which no one reads becomes handy.
...........
I do love what I do. Yeah, it is a bit hippy and the sort of stuff which is some how the 'right' sort of thing to say.
Instance: 1
"Aren't you afraid of your reproductive expiry date?"
"If the aim of life was to wed and breed at the correct age would have never left  my sleepy small town."
Much water has flown under the bridge after that. Ain't a 'cool' hippy with camp gear and a caravan
.......
Do you know what it is like to be on the go? But then, Khalil says
"But if in your fear you would seek only love's peace and love's pleasure,
Then it is better for you that you cover your nakedness and pass out of love's threshing-floor,
Into the seasonless world where you shall laugh, but not all of your laughter, and weep, but not all of your tears."
The crowd in the over filled train compartment is your caravan. Belonging is that tiny prayer flag which you tie on every new window.
.................
I am at 'my' room from where I first packed to go out alone. After 12 years and many journeys, it feels like another hotel room. When I return back, to rest my heels amidst the charcoal blues of field work, a realization occurs. Home has moved from the place where it used to be. The streets of the town where I was born looks as strange as  the alien streets of London.
...........
The field work site where my social awkwardness stews with the summer heat during 10 hour power cuts...My incompetent stodgy footage begins to smell of pixelation and I worry about curator priests, fat cat auteurs and the "professionalism" of their million dollar 'small' films. The sand in my mouth, the shit under my shoes, the paranoia of slipping under the shadow of the iron ways of Big Brother who aims to swallow the village, the sugary tea which makes my diabetes genes go mad- are they all worth it?

Am a just a Zelig with a camera?






Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Letter From An Immigrant



Strolling through the industrial wasteland. Peeled off cement, a bleeding man on the side walk, smell of depression wafting through the air and the manic surprise of tourists.
…..
For a tiny island, they do talk a lot about themselves. As people fill the pub, it feels warmer in a very un-tropical way.
I float like oil. Forever the Martian. Making a note of weird habits, strange dislikes, adorable quirks-forever ambivalent.
I count my grey hairs and the lands which wouldn’t want me near them. I am sure one day they will tally well. Their nations, their borders, their nightmares. My brown skin, my religion of disbelief, my patches of DNA which shouldn’t accidently topple over their morning coffee.
Not Ibn Battuta. Not a chronicler. I don’t know the types of beetroots which grow here or the colour of the Queen’s adult diapers.
I queue obediently at the supermarket temple, pay with blood and walk away with a meal for may be two days. I watch the very young bruise their hands and grow old serving mulled wine. I walk through elegant cafes serving cakes worth a week’s rent. I pass by the blonde black woman having a quiet meal of soggy sandwiches under the shadow of brutal buildings.
We brush past each other every day in the tube. At the escalator, I imagine your life story and you mine. I wonder about the dark patches under your eyes and you about the tear in my coat. During rush hours, our breathing dances to a pattern. Over the free newspaper, you sigh at your monkey rulers while I look for the next murderer who will be elected to rule the terms of my passport.

You wipe your loneliness over a beer. I take mine for aimless bus rides. Somehow, we will never ever catch up for coffee.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

The Melancholy of Spring

Have braved the dark gloom of winters
It is the spring which sends slight chill to the insides.

It wasn't a joy ride crossing mountains in the company of acrophobia
The price of travel is that your only caravan will be the silent howling of wind.

A nice well made pie- conversations which died before they were born.
No regrets. Was in a different river, and was a different person.

Now before the ocean. Need to cross it on  a very frail boat. Have done it before. Even if every thing gets lost in the water, it might be fun. The corny line again" aankhon me hairaniyan leke chalo to pata he ki tum zinda ho"- You know you are alive when you walk with surprise in your eyes.
.........
Ghosts are familiar territory. Have exorcised the biggest albatross around the neck. This should be simpler.

May be is just plain tired- the dark speed of the tube, sad soggy sandwiches and hours counted like grain. More tickets, more unknown territories. This time, isn't the cheeky traveller, is more of a worn out one. It might be nice to rest some where for  a while.




Saturday, February 22, 2014

For Moms

Disclaimer: This is not one of the hallmark card pieces for mothers' day and is intended for a fully grown up adult audience of any age.
...........
"It might have to do with your relationship to your mother"
That was from the very highly qualified (and  really nice) professional stranger whom I pay to have the almost narcissistic satisfaction  of getting my life analysed. Many friends have offered to do it for half the money, but for the time being it is nice to do it "professionally".

Then there is the truck load of psychoanalytic crap which you just can't avoid when you are riding a bicycle through the dirt filled alleys of academia. If in doubt just listen to Zizek while he shits apart the molecules of the world using Lacan and penis. The last bit was reading an almost psychedelic piece about camera as the penis.

Now the only thing which equals psychoanalysis' intense love for penis is its intense hatred for mothers.

Well, in the first place self can't really understand the joy of carrying a human form within you for 9 months (bloating, morning sickness etc etc ...ufffff) and going through the most excruciating pain known to humans (apart from probably burning to death) to produce a mouse like object which will constantly howl and shit and then shit and howl. As the being grows up, it will a become an even more complicated machinery to operate. A little like a robot gone rogue. According to folk lore, from babyhood to the 'adult' age of 3, these are some of the feats which self accomplished.
-test drinking different liquids. Samples included kerosene, washing liquid etc and has resulted in more than one hospitalization.
-beating up, biting or in general attacking babies smaller than self. A particular attraction was pulling ear piercings. A few toddlers and their ear ornaments have ended up in hospitals with stitches
-Running into the road to test the efficiency of traffic.

These were just some of the highlights of a very colorful babyhood. Childhood was less eventful. Apart from driving away quite a few house keeper cum babysitters and collecting funds from the entire class to sneak out of school to buy sweets for every one. This no profit business with purely altruistic motives came to an end when self  was seen by one of mom's friends in a shop about one kilometer away from school. Then there were occasional decisions to give up school at class 2, class 4 etc and a general refusal to become a believer in mathematics (PS: is still a maths atheist). Some of self's stronger reservations with mathematics has resulted in a teacher throwing self's maths notebook out of the window in protest. 

Now, all this was nothing compared to the  looooooooooooooooooooooooooong teenage years which can be seen as a long tantrum and shouting march which lasted for 5 years. If I were in mom's place, I would have taken my teenage self in a car, driven to a sea shore and dropped her in the sea and rode away in peace. Thankfully there was no sea around the area where we lived and mom did not know driving. 

Well, then thankfully growing up happened and self moved away to live in other parts of earth. Finding similar rogue beings for company and the smell of travel made things a bit smoother. Except on occasions when mom and dad will make their juvenile attempts to pair self with another human being in a blissful heterosexual union. These attempts always end in tantrums reminiscent of teenage years. Only difference being that now there are three people behaving like bad ass teenagers. Self's brother who has acquired a zen like demeanor as a result of sharing a childhood with self will watch the show before burying himself in a copy of 'MY FAMILY AND OTHER ANIMALS'.
......
Now, I would say mom deserves a Nobel peace prize for going through the entire proceedings. Dad could share her glory, but only as supporting cast. But instead what she gets is a highly 'scientific' verdict about how every little 'issue' in self's life is a result of her not patting self enough or may be patting too much. There is nothing about the friends and foes self met with, self's idiosyncratic book of living life the hard but fun way, a deeply sexist, sectarian and racist society....IT WAS ALL MOM'S FAULT. IT IS ALL MOM'S FAULT.IT WILL BE ALL MOM'S FAULT.

....
Still, why do women sign up for momhood?