Hmmm…


Suppose you’ve spent three years with someone. You’ve laughed with them, cried with them, fought some of your biggest battles and shared your victories with them. You’ve walked miles together, you’ve watched the sky turn from pink to black for days on end, you’ve writen essays together, defended each other to the hilt, survived on the other person’s money and even lived with the other person when you needed to hide.You’ve been naughty together and been very good too. You’ve gotten drunk, smoked, borrowed clothes, fought and lazed in the winter sun, sipped glasses of cold lemonade, watched each other’s backs and felt like the other person was always there. Suppose you bunked college together and regularly yelled at each other for not sleeping or eating enough. Suppose this person was your best friend.

Suppose you see that both of you are drifting and that you know there is nothing you can do about it. Suppose the only thing that the two of you have ever had in common was your institution. Suppose suddenly, you suddenly find yourself being left-out. How would you feel? Like me I suppose.

I don’t quite love her. I will miss her though. I do as a matter of fact. Life has got a weird way of lighting these flares in your head– why do you never know before it is too late? This is for you Nidhi. I hope you know I’m glad that you’ve been around with me in college all this time and thank you for trusting me!

The Pink Floyd Thing



Music has a wonderful effect on me. I’m a rock lover and I’ve had a special love for Pink Floyd since I first heard them. Back in school a friend of mine who borrowed my Biology text in class scribbled something along the lines of “Run rabbit run…”. Later when I discovered it, apart from being annoyed about the disfiguring of my text book I found the line remarkably odd and out of place. Hence I inquired.I discovered Floyd slowly. Getting out of the pop phase was difficult and learning to appreciate the odd chords that make up Floyd was hardly easy. One has to admit however, that Floyd is deeply captivating. Floyd comes across as incredibly reflective of my current state of mind. The strange part is I can now listen to Floyd when I’m tired, broke, unhappy, drunk, dazed or just lazy. High Hopes is one of my favourite Floyd songs.

So here goes:

PS: Do sing along!

Beyond the horizon of the place we lived when we were young
In a world of magnets and miracles
Our thoughts strayed constantly and without boundary
The ringing of the division bell had begun
Along the long road and on down the causeway
Do they still meet there by the cut
There was a ragged band that followed in our footsteps
Running before time took our dreams away
Leaving the myriad small creatures trying to tie us to the ground
To a life consumed by slow decay

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
With friends surrounded
The nights of wonder

Looking beyond the embers of bridges glowing behind us
To a glimpse of how green it was on the other side
Steps taken forwards but sleepwalking back again
Dragged by the force of some inner tide
At a higher altitude with flag unfurled
We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world

****

Encumbered forever by desire and ambition
There’s a hunger still unsatisfied
Our weary eyes still stray to the horizon
though down this road we’ve been so many times

The grass was greener
The light was brighter
The taste was sweeter
The nights of wonder
With friends surrounded
The dawn mist glowing
The water flowing
The endless river

Forever and ever

Subliminal Messages



Lately I’ve been depressed, to help my mood get better I ventured out for the first time in a long while. I went to a rock show. The local rock show at the local collegiate fest. It was good, loud death metal that I could lose myself in till a band that called itself (Ironically) ‘Brahma’ (the creator, in Hinduism, the faith of the vast majority of India) came on stage. There was nothing wrong with the music, as a matter of fact they were till that point the best of the lot. Post three songs the main singer said this:

“… And this song is for that little country next to ours, Pakistan, and its people…. its called “Let’s bomb our neighbours”…”

I was shocked out of my wits, why? Because this is how much fascism and fundamentalism has pervaded the everyday consciousness of people. The musical genre of rock has a small following in India- it comprises mostly of people who live and breathe their music, dope, drink and have little or nothing to do with politics. I do not believe being apolitical is a virtue, however, being apolitical as opposed to being fundamentalist openly IS a virtue.

Daniel’s (the lead singer) words were greeted with a loud hoot of applause that I am rather sure had little do with music. This is what is scary and dangerous– the subliminal messages, the slow altering of consciousness, the slow acceptance of oft repeated words, the sinking in of rhetorical speech…The growth of the communal, fascist and militarist ideology.

Road Trip



One of the best things I did these holidays was to take a day long road trip via the famed East Coast Road from Chennai to Pondicherry. The drive was beautiful for reasons other than the sea and the clean air. The road was clean, bump free and the traffic (though reasonably heavy) moved effortlessly.

ECR is one of the few Indian roads that has put to use the principle of pay-and-use despite being a national highway. The 320 kms long stretch has three toll stops along the way. Private management of this road illustrates beautifully the principle of the tragedy of the commons in a positive manner. Take the state managed Delhi-Jaipur highway which makes a luxury Volvox coach traveler bump along merrily and then take a look at the ECR. The ECR is managed by a private Italian road management company in tandem with the government.

The good news is that a longer ECR is being built along the same lines– project officers say that the popularity of the ECR has made the toll rates fall steadily over the years. This webpage explains why the creative privatisation of roads might be a good idea.

Just


“If you saw Atlas, the giant who holds the world on his shoulders, if you saw that he stood, blood running down his chest, his knees buckling, his arms trembling but still trying to hold the world aloft with the last of his strength, and the greater the effort the heavier the world bore down upon his shoulders–what would you tell him to do?”
“I . . . don’t know. What . . . could he do? What would you tell him?

“To shrug.”

Free Market Apartheid



Someone told me that free-market supports have a great deal of disdain for history. Historically, said this friend of mine, labour has always been exploited. Now I am not denying history, nor am I suggesting that labour was never exploited or that it should continue to be exploited. To the contrary, I believe that the reason labour was exploited is because they weren’t owners!

A free-market situation is where everyone is the owner of something and the buyer of something else. As a matter of historical fact, labour unions too came up during times of capitalism. Capitalism provides the entrepreneur with a way up the economic ladder- wage labour does not have to remain wage labour in a system designed to respond to positive incentives and given to increasing the size of the economic pie. Fine so that has to do with economics, what about social issues?

Let’s examine the South African experience. The history of apartheid has been a struggle of the individual as opposed to centralized government power. Sure with capitalism’s characteristic of the dispersion of wealth- a race counts for little. But what when, the race finally gets some social acceptance, what pushes further? Economic prosperity. So now South-Africa has set-forth to harness the forces of the market. So as R.J. Rushdooney put it “One of the central myths of the modern age is the belief that politics is the arena for effective social action, and for the advancement of causes. To the contrary, however, politics only adopts causes which have already gained popularity or success, and then often does harm to them . . . . ”

Ofcourse the government has a role to play- to put eloquently as Ludwig Von Mises did: ” The main problem of the market, the main problem of human cooperation, is the fact that there are people who resort to violent action, who do not comply with the rules that are necessary for the preservation and operation of the market. In Order to prevent this violent action, in order to make possible the workings of the market, of human cooperation, of human society, it is necessary to have an institution that protects the market against violence, against people who lack the knowledge or the will to comply with the rules of peaceful exchange of commodities and services. This is the function of government.”

That is the lesson India has to learn. That blind economic nationalism does nothing for India or Indians. Do Indian’s not have fewer jobs with fewer MNC’s? But forget jobs. Competition is about efficiency, technological innovation, and effective use of limited resources. Far more importantly it gives real power of choice to workers and consumers alike!

On Terrorism and Meaning



This is now old news. Blasts in London- attributed again to ‘terrorists’. Its almost as though ‘terrorism’ is fashionable these days or worse a political excuse a cover-up that the public accepts. Trumpet ‘terrorism’ without understanding what it is about, what historically gave rise to it and what sustains it. I’m not condoning violence, let alone supporting it- but stop, think. What drives people to violence? When do you hit out a person? When reasoning with them no longer makes a difference.

Is there a point to reminding people that mass casualties have become commonplace in countries like Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran? That America is the only country to have used nuclear bombs in human history? That America is the only nation to have conducted a major war or carried out military coup in every decade? Since world war II America has systematically bombed China, Korea, Guatemala, Indonesia, Cuba, The Belgian Congo, Peru, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Grenada, Libya, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Panama, Iraq, Bosnia, Sudan and Yugoslavia. Then of course there is its legacy of financing terrorists, conspiring with the CIA and then bombing nations to get rid of those very monsters they once fancied.

So terrorists to some are freedom-fighters to others. This Blog has a last line which caught my attention. It says something about ‘Islamic Terrorism’. I have a problem with that term. When Britain collaborates against international will with Bush- leader of America with a despicable human rights record to Bomb country after country without any real agenda aside of oil supremacy; I find it hard to buy that terrorism is Islamic. This is not about religion, it is about power. Most certainly this is also about terrorists, Bush and Blair masquerading as leaders– the greatest fascists of all time.

The Middle Class Syndrome



In the days of Celina Jaitley- I used to watch beauty contests. On one particular show Derek O’Brien (yes, the celebrated quiz master) asked would-be beauty diva Celina what sort of man she would never marry. She said ‘Lalu Prasad Yadav’ and giggled. O’Brien laughed in response. Had they left it that I perhaps never would have caught on to the joke; fortunately or unfortunately O’Brien decided he would ask her a clarifying question. She said this: “He’s got hair in his ears you know, and he’s uneducated and he’s got an awful accent…” and then she laughed. The auditorium, O’Brien and countless others joined them from their middle-class homes.

While am not pro-Lalu in any particular manner- or against Celina Jaitley, I think this showcased in public space one of the most ugly aspects of the Indian middle class. A class of people desperate to joint he elite, devoid of sophistication of the truly distinguished or the sensitivity of the common man. I ask what is so particularly bad about Lalu that doesn’t apply to other Indian politicians? Is Vajpayee’s poetry anything better than trash? Are his speeches punctuation by three minute long gaps particularly profound or erudite? Are they not all corrupt? In fact I would add that Lalu is still distinguished by a loud passion- a passion the Indian middle class wants to conceal because it doesn’t match up to fake standards of etiquette.

I admire Lalu when he takes the communal right of this country head on- ” Kaun kehta hai yeh Hindu rashtra hai…. main uski chaati phad doonga” (Who says this is a Hindu Nation….). I admire the fire and the passion, I see beyond the crudity of the language and recognize the finesse and courage of the emotion. I see a fierce love for diversity, the only thing left that India can claim to proud of, slowly losing itself to a growing communal and fascist movement that the Indian middle class cannot and would not like to admit to.

Laughs on the net


Once in a while one comes upon a gem on the internet- a little spark of ingenuity combined with a sense of humour. Here is one of those …. “Alas, the page once here has gone astray; there’s nothing more that I can do or say. Did you type it wrong or did it move? The document is probably at the Louvre. A wicked pox on those who are to blame; without a doubt, their heads are hung in shame. Perhaps another link would aid your quest, or would you rather stare at Chris’s chest? Our site is filled with fun from stem to stern – so stick around, there’s plenty more to learn. With help abound since nineteen ninety-six, the Gnomes have a knack for wicked picks. My sonnet, thus, was crafted just for you; There’s nothing more that I can say or do….”