Month: April 2006

Conflict of Interest

Read today in a newspaper that the CNI (Church of North India) has decided to mark its foray into the realm of higher education by opening a law college in Rajarhat. Methinks, this ought to be a real humdinger. I just can’t wait to see how this works out. Law, supposedly, is the most secular of all vocations. Now, if my experience in Cal is anything to go by, (Dehradun was a wholly different one), its somewhat taxing to reconcile that element of secularity to institutions run by CNI. Damn, I can almost visualise how a typical morning in this law college would look like. First we would have the morning hymn, something like Amazing Grace or Showers of Blessing. Then there would be a scripture reading, and then finally the proceedings would be rounded off by the Lord’s Prayer . Man, that’d be something.

In Camera

A disclaimer at the very begining; other than the title there is absolutely nothing in the entire post which has anything to do with law. The literal meaning of the term, ‘in camera’ would be ‘in private’. Therefore, a camera, as a device, has its sole function, as capturing the most private of all emotions, to which none else should be privy, and then, to record it for posterity and more. Therefore, it should only stand to reason, that a camera would come into play when individuals are at their most unguarded, their most intimate selves.

Now, now don’t get me wrong, I am not one of those pervs who go around toting their miniature or mobile cams, and then catching ppl in all kinds of uncomfortable situations. Nope, milord, my methods are far more refined, and they are applicable to only those who actually solicit my active assistance in clicking a picture of theirs. Ofcourse, it doesn’t do much to wipe away my rep of being a irritating prat, but then, as the oh-so genteel prose of the Marshall Mathers III goes , “I am, whatever you say I am. If I wasn’t, then why would I say I am?”

OK, to come back to what I was talking about, there are a few pre-requisites. Firstly, as mentioned earlier, he/she should ask me to take a photograph. Secondly, we should be fairly well-acquainted so that there is no chance of a hiding, (with the kind of psychos u have arnd these days, u never know). And thirdly, the individual so concerned should preferably be of an equable and temperate disposition. These conditionalities, being satisfied, there are two ways to go about it:-

1) The moment the camera comes into ur (mine) handes, bring it upto ur eyes in one fluid motion, snap out a “Say Cheeze” or “Smile Please” and Click. A cautionary note though, this option demands immense manual dexterity.

2) The other option is, in my humble opinion, an infinitely more desirable one. A work of leisure, with none of the haste and alacrity associated with the former. Get the cam upto ur eye-level, say whatever you have to, and then DO NOTHING. Just stand there like that, frozen in time. Its only a matter of time before the subject in the eye-lens wipes that fake smile off his/her face and starts giving it to you. You might even decide to facilitate the process by goading and other assorted methods. Believe me, nothing beats the sight of watching somebody abuse you through clenched teeth, cussing and cursing away to glory, all with that fake plastic smile still firmly in place. And then, go CLICK

NOW THATS WHAT I CALL IN CAMERA

Crash

Crash, undoubtedly is by far, one of the best movies I’ve caught in quite some time now (seems like I am enjoying something of a streak in good movies now, first RDB and now this). And this fulfilled the most necessary prerequisite for any magnificent flick; It makes you think. Racism, racial discrimination are the primary context in which the entire movie has been filmed with a series of interconnected episodes seamlessly woven into the storyline.

And it actually made me think that it all boils down to the kind of diversity America enjoys in the first place; it is by no means inherent, at best acquired. Reminds me of something I had read in the Three Horsemen of the New Apocalypse by Nirad Chaudhari abt USA’s guiding motto being Ex Plunibus Unum (From Many to One) as compared to India’s Eko’ham Vahu’Sayam (Out of One Many) or as in its Latin form, E Uno Plures. As such, any effort to uphold and facilitate heterogeneity in a system which actively strives to homogenise its individuals can only be an utopian dream.

I mean to say, taking an analogy which might be completely out of line. India is primarily a Hindu nation right. Of course, we are a pluralist, multicultural society with a strong tradition of democracy but at the end of the day, the majority of India’s inhabitants are Hindus. Just look at the sheer number of deities in the Hindu pantheon. Guess it numbers somewhere around 108,000 or so. On the other hand, America; predominantly Christian, what do the one of the Ten Commandments say; Thou Shalt have no God other than me. Admittedly, a wretched analogy, but still, this is diversity, ain’t it.

Diversity cannot be fostered merely by a consciousness to be diverse. In India, the process of diversity, multiple ethnicities and their ilk commenced aeons ago. With a few exceptions, there are hardly any people in this country who can be identified as coming from a specific region or belonging to a specific religion. There has been so much of intermingling that most efforts at profiling ethnicity have come to naught in this country. Therein lies the beauty of India. America on the other hand was discovered in somewhere around late 15th Century. We had people like Malcolm X, Martin Luther King going around till around the first half of the previous century. Need I say more? There are no quick-fix solutions with regard to societal consciousness or individual bias. They can only be eroded with the passage of time and sometimes, sometimes efforts, however well-intentioned to rush up the process, as it were, actually amounts to a retrogade step. That is the fine line which all advocates of affirmative action or positive discrimination have to follow.

P.S. Whoa, I started with Crash and looked where I have ended. Actually, Crash reminded me of another entity as well…….Orkut……noticed how all the characters in the movie were connected to each other 🙂

Racing Cycles and Cal Roads (A 10-point Charter)

1. The notorious traffic sensibilities of Cal citizens which are second to none in the entire country

2. The kind of perverse pleasure they take in walking in right the middle of the road

3. And then swerving to left and night when you are just one or two feet away as if poked by an invisible phantom (At least applies to Golf Green residents out for their daily perambulations around the Central Park)

4. Racing cycles aren’t generally fitted with bells (atleast mine isn’t)

5. In the absence of which phrases like ‘get out of my way’ or ‘Hey, yooouuu’ are the only way by which I can avoid crashing into the walking or jogging crowd

6. Which, I do not think serves to endear me, in any way whatsoever to the hitherto mentioned crowd, and how they get their own back by resolutely coming right in front of me the next time, even though I’d have hollered my lungs out

7. Usual cycling hours consist of either early morning or late evenings

8. Which, as it incidentally turns out are also the hours reserved exclusively by winged beings for their daily bowel movements

9. Meaning thereby, that there is also every possibility of being torpedoed by bird droppings

10. Ergo, in the face of such arboreal and earthy obstacles, cycling enthusiasts of Cal, Beware

Assembly-Line Novels

Why do all Dan Brown novels, or for that matter, almost all novels of this genre read like they have come out of an assembly line production? Got hold of Brown’s Angels and Demons pdf version yesterday and finished it in four straight hours (and was deprived of a good nights sleep in the process). Although, a plausible enough storyline, most of the literary instruments resorted to were the same as with any other similar novel. Short, crisp sentences to create the feel of a taut, pacy storyline and impossibly long, evocative sentences almost tantamounting to an epiphany of some sort whenever one of the central characters would be in the throes of some strong passion.

Kinda brings back memories of a brilliant short story by Roald Dahl by the name of the Great Automatic Grammatizor or something. Still, Mr. Dan Brown’s novels do contain lots of out of the world trivia and are pretty crisply written