Friday, June 28, 2013

Wall of Colours in Kindle

Teaser: Back-cover preview of the paperback.
Cover release will be on 1 July 2013
June 25th was a Tuesday and I was required to visit the college I work at, in order to attend a meeting there. My classes only began on 26th. I teach English, and English classes are required only for the first year students. The college was dedicated to applied sciences; therefore, there is no English major course at the college.  

I still remembered from the previous day’s call from the college that the meeting started at 3 pm. I was required to reach there only at two in the afternoon. That was quite relaxing, since I always had a peculiar distaste towards the hurly-burly for being late. I woke up at eight in the morning, took a long time for morning chores, and sat down in front of my computer. (My home computer, which everyone in my house uses, I mean. I do not own one personally, yet).  

The paperback printing of my book had already begun and Amazon had asked me to upload a file for its kindle version. I was happy. After three minutes, the Kindle Direct Publishing site showed that it might take a few more minutes for the conversion of the Word document into e-book format. I waited. A button turned and turned at the left side of the box, in which the above-mentioned message was showing.

Upload and conversion were successfully completed.

The next sign was telling me below the upload box that I can now see the preview. I could either use the online previewer in ‘Kindle Fire’ format, or download a brand new previewer into my computer. I already had a ‘Kindle for PC’ application in my computer. Therefore, I chose another link, which said, ‘download a preview’.

The Button turned, a blue book-like image blinked with a ‘.mobi’ extension, close to the bottom of the screen. I placed the cursor of the mouse on the blue book image and clicked the right button. From the list that popped up, I chose ‘Open.’ Another button went round and round above the cursor of the mouse. I waited to see it stop. Before the next three minutes, the boy, reading a book under a dark tree, appeared. It opened, and there it is.     

It looked fine; a bright patch of colour, among all the other e-books—Treasure Island, Pride and Prejudice, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, and Wall of Colours!

God! My book was right there, in front of my eyes, just a double click away from opening.

Some people who have come across this page and confronted with this post might know the journey I had, the risks I took and the wonders it all opened to me. Those are people, who have been following my creative life, on and off line. I thank all of them.

For the new visitor, my word is this: hang on; you are about to experience a ride of tales of the wonderful, and the mundane.

Wall of Colours will be yours, on 1 July 2013.

I went to the meeting at the college that day, but I was not the same wannabe writer anymore. Something had changed, and the image of my book preview, in the kindle reader remained in my eyes.  

Monday, June 24, 2013

Monsoon in Syria

Image Courtesy: The Atlantic.com
I wrote a very romantic piece on Monsoon, towards the end of May, by which time Monsoon had just started to make its presence felt. Rain clouds were arriving in the sky in bundles. It suggested the end of the rudeness of summer. However, I could not publish the article. Why? It was too romantic, for the reality that followed.

The following reality necessitated the pondering of the pre- and post- Monsoon social life in India. I realized that as the saying goes, the Changaran, who climbed the coconut palm, was still on the palm. No one brought him down, yet. This is an old adage suggesting procrastination, changelessness and corruption (popular in Malayalam language, in Kerala, southern India).

Monsoon is not just a natural phenomenon. Culturally and socially, humanity has responded towards this phenomenon, and assimilated it into the varying spectrum of cultural experiences. Still, each year, in Kerala, the land of Monsoon, once the rain comes down, the roads become useless, schools and colleges have either their roof dripping or fell down, electricity becomes a rare commodity, as the supply lines are either flooded or made useless by the rust or falling trees. Most of the paddy fields and banana plantations suffer the harmful impact of water blockage or flood, as there is no proper channeling of the rainwater down sewages. In fact, in some places, there are no sewages at all. Imagine roads without sewages or the existing sewages ones filled with garbage dumps. The logical outcome about the condition of such a road would be devastation. Of course, so are many highways in Kerala. I am not even talking about the flood in North India. That is totally another issue. Let’s come back to Kerala. Who is responsible?

Is it a specific type of cultural amnesia? Why do people often forget a very poignant experience such as Monsoon, each year? To ask this, is to enquire also, why aren’t we learning lessons from our experiences? If you repeat the same mistakes again, it becomes a decision, as Paulo Coelho puts it. (Words may not be accurate, but the sense is.) Is this cultural dilemma unique to this tiny strip of land, in the Western Coast of India, called Kerala?

In order to find an answer to this question, we must first accept that social behavior and cultural changes should be studied in terms of ‘patterns’ rather than close analysis of isolated events. The pattern, to which our post-mass-amnesia situation in Kerala can be stripped down to, is; ‘A group of people repeating the same errors under a repeating event.’
 
Image Courtesy: Google
Let us analyze another specimen here—Syria.

The current situation in Syria do not much reflect Afghanistan in its past, as much as the crisis resolution measures under consideration by Russia, Britain, America and other global players. They say, it would be better to arm the rebels for securing justice. Some pundits propose this measure as the ultimate chance of the survival of the ordinary people from the government’s military brutality.

Why does it sound a lot like the American strategy, a couple decades ago, against the Russian invasion in Afghanistan? Uncle Sam armed the opposition there, back then, in the hope that finally, the poor tribal folks can defend themselves. We all know what resulted from this ‘solution’ in Afghanistan. In Syria, they plan a similar operation.

Pattern-- ‘A group of people repeating the same errors under a repeating event.’

God save them.

The power had just been cut off, one again. Power stays through the daytime, very rarely. So I took it to write on a paper, with a pen. A black, ballpoint pen, on a newsprint paper (low quality and pale in colour, since I cannot afford a costly sheet of paper at present.) is grinding its way down to the concluding part. For the time being, rain has come to a halt, but it will resume, soon, probably. I love rain.

I heard in a news channel, two days back; a minister in Kerala talk about the precautionary measures the government had already taken months back (even before the arrival of Monsoon), for Monsoon damages this year. The minister stated that he had dispatched a considerably good amount of money to the District Collectors, to be used under any natural calamity. The District Collectors, then, have to wait for the people to die and crops to flood. The newsreader, then inquired about the ditches in the middle of national highways and broken country roads, the sewages that were never cleaned, and the water blockage it created. The minister repeated his statement, once again; the same words, the same meaningless sequence of offers, the same assurances, and the same fake ethical integrity.

After the news, advertisements followed.
Image Courtesy: N Y Times.com
__THE END__
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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Admission

Image Courtesy: N Y times.com
Movies with moderate sounding titles don’t do much business. Or so do I think. Of course, I am no Stephen Hawking. I can’t churn out universal principles from my study. So maybe they do well, sometimes. Admission, however, even with that unnoticeable title, came to me like a surprise. It was like finding chocolate in a pack of Milk Bikis. Who would choose a title like ‘Admission’ from a pack of DVDs with titles as sexy, delicious and violent as ‘Sex and the City’, ‘American Pie’, and ‘Dark Knight Rises’.

Reluctant, though I was, in trying Admission, on a lazy Friday evening, its label, which read, humour, prompted me to take a shot on this one. It’s a universal story, told with an American point of view. Admission to college or university is one of the most important moments in any individual’s life. The movie takes this event as its background in telling the story of an admissions officer in Princeton University, Portia Nathan.

In this Romantic-comedy drama film released in 2013, directed by Paul Weitz, in which the charming Tina Fey plays the protagonist, Portia Nathan’s life changes during one of her visits to the friendly Quest school and meeting with its Head Master (played by Paul Rudd). It is not a school for disabled children, where one is drowned in sympathy and tears, but a spot for prodigies and outspoken smart assess. John Pressman, the head master, makes an unexpected revelation to Portia that the student Jeremiah Balakian, she met in the Quest school, is her own son. He is seeking admission for Princeton University, at present.
 
Lily Tomlin
Image Courtesy: Google
John Pressman prods Portia for giving a slight hand up for Jeremiah, because this would the one thing she could do as a parent. Jeremiah was given to an orphanage, just after his birth, and he had never been good at the traditional academic record. In class, he scored grades in Ds, and did all his learning by himself (an autodidact), even at an early age. John Pressman shows Portia a birth certificate of Jeremiah, to prove the claim that Jeremiah is her son. Would Portia be able to help Jeremiah get an admission at Princeton? How far could she go for this purpose?

Image Courtesy: google
There are other interesting characters in Admission, such as Portia’s mother (played by Lily Tomlin) and the Russian scholar who courts her mother. The black kid who Pressman had adopted from Uganda, too, is wonderfully hilarious in the story. But I would not say the movie was satisfying until the end. Something was uncompromisingly out of tolerance in the stupidity level, at the end of the movie. Some pieces did not fit together at all. 

Admission is the film translation of a novel written by Jean Hanff Korelitz, with the same title. According to Allison, a fellow blogger, Admission is a “thoughtful book”. 


I must say, until that last part, the movie was just fine. Humour did work out, too. 

Personal Question: How could they make a movie or write a novel on a university, without being sued? 

Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Spell seems to be Working

Statutory Warning: This post has nothing to do with Superman. But hell, why don’t you understand, he interferes everywhere. 
Image Courtesy: Google
Sreesanth, the fast bowler, who once, was part of the Indian Cricket team, whose alleged relationship with bookies put him behind bars for weeks without trials, who hails from Kerala, the South of India, who is the tangible example for the North Indian bias towards anything and everything southern, got bail.

At last, the boy came back home and ate homemade pickles.
Image Courtesy: Google

In fact, cricket has lost its grounds based on this degraded controversy, at least, in my eyes. I do not watch cricket on TV any more. Moreover, I do not think I would be alone in this tryst. However, the masses, that I see watching the game in galleries, make me think about cultural addiction and social dementia. We forget that in the name of the game the managements and players played fraud. We forget better things in life, like helping socially backward communities and poor children; instead, we sip from the intoxicating charm of cricket. As a society, perhaps, this attitude is the root cause of the still remaining epidemic of poverty and malnutrition in India. Not ‘cricket’, but the attitude, the inclination to hold on to any form of addiction. This behavioural pattern reflects in individual level as well. Gudka, pan-parag, toddy, alcohol, ganja, charas, and opium, are only a few names in the long list of drugs, the ‘common man’ in India is addicted to. What about prostitution? What about self-pity?

Yes, all these moral and psychological diseases exist in varying degrees within the cultural genome of the nation. Did I forget corruption? No, in fact, I do not want to mention corruption as an isolated instance of addiction. The political community and bureaucracy seem to possess an unimaginable and indelible taste for corruption. The level of this addiction surpasses any sense of normalcy, and often bribes become part of the daily routines of government offices. If you want passport, the procedure requires your clearance certificate from any police cases. Take it an example; there are forms to fill in the police station, to declare you free of any charges. As a token of your appreciation of the services provided, at the end, you should pay a small amount of INR 200 or USD 3.44. For INR 200, you could buy two chicken biriyani or at the current price, one kilo chicken. The amount is not very small, but still, everyone pays it; and for that matter, this amount is not that big either, when passport is concerned. It ends up as a pure reversal of the ‘normal’.
Image Courtesy: Google

Corruption is not exactly the city centre, if we take that analogy; it is the city itself. If one looks for a pavement and parking lot for a convenient observation on the monument of corruption, one is making a mistake. The monument is visible, of course, but that is not exactly what you think it to be. You demolish the city centre. Someone else will build another, the very next day. Ending corruption has been the constant devoir, almost all the political parties and NGOs concurred upon. Great many times, they demolished the city centre. Corruption still exists in every office, school, college, university, and organization, in one form or another, though. No one looks at the bigger picture. Corruption is the city itself, and no isolated city centre. That was what I said; I would not say corruption is an isolated instance of addiction. Instead, corruption is the result of many other reasons, from poverty to self-pity. The city is connected with many roads. Many roads lead to the city of corruption.

Compared to rape, murder, or burglary, corruption is a graver crime, because it provides suitable environment for all other crimes. In New Delhi, a young girl student was raped and murdered in what could be called the epitome of brutality. The police could not prevent it, and neither could it save the girl. Child rapes became unstoppable, recently, and the authorities could not stop it either.

However, something was different lately. The masses grew extremely discontent on how the investigations went. The matters gathered even foreign attention. The emotional bondage of Indian culture with ethical Ram and moral Gandhi flared up and rose in violence on the streets. Consequentially, the police force of the capitol came under criticism. There is nothing odd or unusual in pointing the finger on the police. According to a newspaper report on April 29, 2013, Delhi Police Commissioner, Mr. Neeraj Kumar was on the verge of losing his job, due to this unrestrained criminal orgy, and the people’s demonstrations against incapable policing.
 
Image Courtesy: Google
Instead of cleaning the city of corruption, the Delhi police, quite quickly found another option; demolish some minor buildings. They implemented their plan to save themselves by taping calls and sneaking into some of the cricketers’ life. Not even religion attracts this many number of people as the game of cricket does, in this nation. Therefore, the investigation was supposed to get some serious attention from the public and to redeem the police department from accusations of corruption and inefficiency.

Everything worked according to plan, and the police arrested the players under charges of spot fixing. It all went a very professional manner. Delhi police arrested three players from one of the IPL teams, including an international player.

S. Sreesanth was the hot shot among the others, the cricketer with international reputation and a potential game turner in the upcoming cricket world cup. Just after the arrests, Delhi police, under Neeraj Kumar, participated in a reality show that, in spite of the lack of any credible evidences, raised the hairs on the neck and arm, and everyone felt gooseflesh.

Considering the efficiency in the working of the system in covering up corruption, Keralites never expected Sreesanth back at home. Nevertheless, it seems the “Akram, Bakram, gili…gili…” spell, I casted in the previous post, worked quite efficiently. Anyway, I think that’s enough.

Note:

It’s strange, though, how none of the national media reflected upon this possibility, during the spot fixing scandal.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

A guest for you

Have you met Lit Pet, yet?

Meet Lit Pet here.
Here is a guest post from our dear friend, Lit Pet
 


Boww…wooww….I stood by a telephone booth, half expecting someone to pick me up. The day before yesterday, the day of my birth, I realized that the world is a hard place to get on with. Therefore, I decided to find a way to get connected with the inner me, the self. You might think I want to achieve some self-realization. Hell, no! Boww..woowww….The only way I could tolerate the hideousness of this world is through finding something else to look at and focus. It helps in diverting my attention. A great deal of diversion was music. Then, occasionally, I listened to Adale, and started crying. That was why I decided to find something else. Well, so I searched and wandered the streets.
Up the northern side, near the thattukada, was a telephone booth. A left turn from that telephone booth could lead you to the ‘police ground’. There was no police there, when I reached there. Instead, I found a circus company. I cannot write its name here. They have eyes looking everywhere, suing everyone for using names and all. Boww….wooowww…So I went inside. No tickets, if you ask me. But they would make you take one anyway. However, the one advantage of being a dog is that you don’t need to take tickets where a human being is at the ticker counter. Moron.
That’s where I heard a nerd talk about this. Stephen King is up to something different, from his usual scary paranormal stuff.
The bestselling author of Carry and It has come up with a piece of crime thriller—Joyland.
 
In a small-town North Carolina amusement park in 1973, college student Devin Jones comes to work as a carny and confronts the legacy of a vicious murder, the fate of a dying child, and the ways both will change his life forever.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Inauguration Monsoon

Image Courtesy: Google
Hi,
It’s Monsoon season; authentic, natural and purifying shower of heavenly life. The rain symbolizes life and creativity. During the pagan past, people worshiped rain as a demigod. In literature, writers wrote about rain in half astonishment and half reverence. This reverence and astonishment sometimes, gave way to fear and uncertainty. This perhaps, is the reason why rain becomes the background for so many action sequences and mysteries, in movies, and sorrowful events, of course. In our current social life, we pretend to heed not the charm and mystery of this companion phenomenon. However, with an occasional whip-lashing  it rains down and washes away shacks among abodes and skyscrapers alike. At that point, at least, we do the proper service at the altar of attentiveness, on the arrival of this heavenly phenomenon.

I decided officially to inaugurate monsoon, to respect, to admire, and to observe, this manna of earthly resurrection. I wish if all my readers could say with me for ten seconds, the following lines, in the inaugural ceremony of Monsoon, June 2013.

O, watery substance,
That fills the oceans,
O, undeniable presence,
That blows soul into sleeping seeds
O, reluctant pacifist of delicate design,
O, fundamental sign of growth, and desire,
O, rational being of the fantastical realm,
O, penetrating passion of the silent skies,
O, poison weed of summer heat,
O, naïve child,
Of naked mother,
We see you,
We respect you,
We drink from you.

In the auspices of all your dignified presences, I hereby inaugurate Monsoon, June 2013.

Let the rain drench us all.
Image Courtesy: Google

Monday, June 10, 2013

Akram Bakram

Warning:  
Preferable only for 18+ readers. Explicit language used; readers discretion advised. 
Image Courtesy: Flickr.com
Something is not right. Monsoon had already blessed Kerala, but load shedding is still on, saying the dams, which produce electricity have not enough water level. A serious case of fever, with names including dengue and malaria and rat fever is sweeping the land, killing people, already slaughtered by the price hikes in rice and fuel.

There was only one hope; Sreesanth, but he is in jail, for charges in spot fixing.

Every street, village, and city is populated by waste, dumped from factories and butcher houses. When it rains, the rainwater washes the rubbish from roadsides to the main streets and chunks of shit reach your toes, touching them, flowing away, touching them, flowing away again.
 
Image Courtesy: Google
In news channels, all the interesting news has given way to Narandra Modi and BJP. Some channels do make it a point that the fever issues are duly addressed. Again, the news becomes no news, but a routine, from the second day onwards. So is the case with the fever news, only the death toll changes each time. Five, ten, twenty, four hundred.  

Admission in schools get damn competitive and students balance between suicide and contentment. Once you are denied admission for your twelfth class, what else is an option other than suicide, if your family status does not support you going to a parallel college for higher education? Sounds like a fucking passive sentence in a neat paragraph of simple sentences. Not just in schools. The admission process is in full throttle in colleges too. Long lines of people, waiting hopefully for some information about their daughters’ or sons’ admission in college is a regular scene in early June.
Image Courtesy: Google

If they want to get back home a bit early in the evening in the Monsoon, with some hot pakodas, samoosa, ulli vada, undakkai, bonda or puffs, from the nearby thattukada, a street food stall, the busy traffic holds them on the way. By the time, the poor working class, bourgeois, the super rich and the dreamers reach their respective homes, it would be eight in the evening. Samoosa, ullivada and pakodas, all would be cold and stale, by that time.

Akram, bakram, shukram, pakram. Gili…gili…gili…gili…shooo….

I am trying a spell, to make this all damn right. What do you say?
Image Courtesy: Google

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Bradley Manning, a Victim?

Air Strikes in Iraq
Image Courtesy: Google
In 2010, a young soldier decided he should do something about the war. Many of the powerful nations on the earth were in Iraq, making it even with another murderer. The nations that were at war included his nation too, The Unites States of America. Many people were murdering many others in the name of justice, punishment, and sovereignty. Nevertheless, nothing made sense when he saw what the war led them to.

Prison cells were teaming with humans without cloths, food, water, and dignity. When the cells were full, they shot some of them, not just, because the budget for ammunitions was large enough to afford it, but also to make more room in prisons. Many lost their lives this way. Many were still alive in the hope that one day their religious leaders would negotiate for their lives. When no one came for them, they all lost hope and turned insane. There were others, who held on. However, they did not get fair trials. Finally, they shot them too.  

A naked soldier was tied up in chains to a wall and three or four other soldiers pissed at the soldier in chains. The soldiers, who were urinating, thought if the barbarians had captured them, they would have beheaded them, without even asking their last wish. At least, that was not happening here. Pissing and shitting was much humanitarian.

Bradley Edward Manning was his name. A young soldier, from Crescent, Oklahoma, US, he was arrested in May 2010, under charges of passing classified information to WikiLeaks. Through the information that Bradley Manning allegedly handed over to the website, the world saw a war ripped off from all the Hollywood masala, naked and vulgar. That was not just prison cells, but much more. How can one ignore the airstrike video that in the cable television, those guys celebrated?

On one hand, Bradley Manning can be justified in helping humanity see through the vagueness of politics and blindness of battles. His courage is remarkable. However, on the other hand, he compromised his nation’s interests. What his nation wanted to be protected and hidden, he revealed, in an act of disrespectful honesty. The stand of the US government in this matter is in this light and is deserving respect as well.

The victim here is neither Bradley Manning nor Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, the Millennial Gandhi, but the United States itself. After the attack on the World Trade Centre, the US proclaimed that she would not let this happen one more time; no enemy would attack the nation upon her soil again. In the solemn pledge the United States undertook for its citizens’ safety, she failed. The name of that failure is Bradley Manning.
Bradley Manning
Image Courtesy: Google

Islamic terror came inside the fortified walls of ideas and political propagandas and pulled the young US soldier into the abyss of hell, with the help of the same democracy, the same system, the terrorists want to destroy. A US citizen will lose his normal life in the name of ‘national interest’, why? Because he sympathized with his enemies.

War atrocities would be present on both sides. A war qualifies the presence of cruelty at all levels. Bradley Manning had empathy for one side, as you may think from the videos. By arresting Manning, the US is cornering its own citizen, a soldier, thus appearing unjustifiable, cruel, and ruthless. Who is the winner in this game of crime and punishment? Who is laughing?

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Spot Fixing and Champion’s Trophy

Image Courtesy: Google
In the morning, I had some ideas about what should appear in this article. But as the day wore on, night came and I felt spent and tired, unable to move on a centimeter. Writing requires tremendous energy, especially when it is about such a hot topic as ‘spot fixing’. As usual, I should warn you from misunderstanding the article to be a piece of investigative-gossip journalism or a piece of shitty morality.

From whatever I understand, as much as I try, there appears a limit in knowing what takes place behind the closed doors of the police quarters where Sreesanth and other players “were played” against themselves. Who knows what happened. The latest news surprised us, Keralites, to a very humongous extent. They took our Sreesanth to Tihar Jail!

“That wasn't any act of God. That was an act of pure human fuckery.” *

Delhi Police validated the case against Sreesanth by playing with the deluge of evidences, the whole world watched on Television. No one took such an imperative for Vindu Dara Singh or Sakshi Dhoni, who was with Vindu Dara Singh, as the television cameras showed us, during an IPL cricket match!

The blame game now rests upon the BCCI Chief and things in this direction seem very foggy, as well. From the apparent lethargy the system seems to work with, in the investigation after the evidence of the involvement of the fat cats started appearing in the media, it is natural to ask; why is Sreesanth alone in jail? 

No one would give you the answer, though. The answer is evident and clear to you, without any engraved or taped proof. It is time to find a culprit and walk him stripped on the streets, uplifting the morals of the nation, and shouting out ‘hail truth’.

Let us surmise the situation by reminding ourselves of some age-old adages: “there won’t be smoke until there is fire”; “if you ran, you should sweat.”

Until this point, it is OK, all natural moralizing crap. Look at what is going to happen next; Champion’s Trophy, the One-Day international cricket tournament. There is no problem in playing cricket, but when you play cricket under the veil of silence to questions like is it a ‘sport’ itself or just a show like the WWE, ugliness crawls in. The Indian Cricket team and the authorities, (the people who manage this entire bat and ball business) should declare the nature this sport in India holds, before the commencement of the Champion’s Trophy.
Image Courtesy: Google

If Indian cricket were an ‘arrangement’, still the lovers of this game in India would be happy to watch and cheer for their team like anything. It is there in this culture—servitude to the tyranny of emotions. An “arranged cricket” with its shouting, dancing, and screaming hulks, is in no way lesser than the IPL or the One-Day matches (with no internal arrangement of who must fail and who must win). But, only if they let us know.  

*Stephen King, The Stand

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