Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Today is a holiday, finally

I opened my eyes. It could not have slipped out of my mind that today is one of the most coveted days I have been expecting since long: 26th January, wow!! another extra holiday, that too in the middle of the week. We were pretty unfortunate during the last two consecutive times: December 25 and January 1 were Sundays. I went up to see the time- my mobile read 9:oo hrs. Ohh!! how come it's just 9 in the morning!! I should have been in bed till 11 this cosy winter morning. At least it was good that I don't have a kid to be taken to school yet, else things could have been a real pain. The sadness that engulfed me being early to rise was to some extent compensated by the fact that I don't have to see Mathur today, my manager. Mathur is probably the most annoying man I have ever seen, always poking his nose once every couple of hours to take a measure of my progress through the slides and the more cryptic reports that he passes on to me to analyze and of course he assesses the number of minutes I spent in facebook. Well having said that, I must admit that since the last couple of weeks, I find myself to bear a little respect for him at least in one aspect. We have got one thing in common: our sheer interests in how to save taxes and I must say that he is a real boss with immense knowledge about saving (I don't want to use the word 'evading' here out of my sheer respect) that three letter word. The techniques are real intricate and requires one to be skillful enough in implementing them.

Mathur invited me to his home last year within a week after he was promoted as our senior works manager. He stays in a decent 2BHK with his family. The Andheri flat costs him 30K as rent. He owns a more lavish flat at Colaba that he has let out. Smart chap- ensures a tax benefit on his EMI and as well as for his wife on the rent they pay for the Andheri house; impressive enough to establish himself as my tutor.

Mathur could clearly see my admiration for him while he spoke to me about his feats. He did not really mind chatting with me for hours even if it meant that we did not progress through the reports. This possibly gave him the necessary boost to be candid about his other achievements. He spoke to me about how he arranges petrol bills from friends and also a number of medical bills that are instrumental to his success in decreasing his income tax. Whatever, I must say that I could not resist being happy when I felt today is not Mathur's day. He had two kids to take to school for the republic day parade at their schools.

Atreyee got up pretty early as usual and was watching the television quite religiously. Some school students were singing 'Saare Jaahaan Se Achchha'. I remembered vaguely my school days, students parroting patriotic songs and giving slogans 'Meraa bharat mahaan'. "Crap it", I murmured, "God knows in what way it is so. Every time I go to office, I get the impeccable fun of the roller-coaster ride to my office through the potholes along with the inevitable traffic jam of Mumbai roads." "What crap!!, you are a crap", Atreyee almost shouted. I possibly murmured louder than I wanted to. "You guys do not pay your taxes properly. Still you expect things to run smoothly. Ours is a country with a big population and has of course certain problems. Things need time to be improved visibly. Why don't you do your job before criticizing anything else? Why do you buy things always without a bill and escape the VAT?" I have been taught since childhood that good boys never get into arguments with girls and so I acted a little pragmatic with my small 'Hmmm' and sank into the sofa to engross myself in the morning newspaper.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Mumbai Rains

This monsoon I spent a month in Mumbai. I felt why are the kids in school only taught 'rain rain go away'- boring repetitive stuffs!! sometimes rain is real fun. I was in the IIT campus. The trees were greener than ever. In Delhi, we usually don't get to see this greenery. In summer the leaves anyway turn brownish. I was asked several times by my parents, who happen to worry a lot, to carry my umbrella to Mumbai. In fact, I had to search a lot for it before I could exhume it from a pile of old newspapers buried deeply in one corner of the lowest rack of my cupboard. And in the first week itself in Mumbai, I found using it more than I did in the entire two years I spent in Delhi. And carrying an umbrella in Delhi is possibly old-fashioned, we don't really care when it rains. In Mumbai, one needs to carry it even when it does not rain, it is like a break from the incessant rain, so it can resume anytime. More interestingly, carrying an umbrella is indeed a fashion there, people having different sizes of umbrellas. The choice of carrying one depends on how heavy the downpour is.

Catching a sight of the sun is like a phenomenon. I possibly could see the sun on my third day in Mumbai, honestly! And don't get psyched if it ever happens that you get hurt by a tree!! I found some branch falling off or entire coconut leaf falling with a loud bang a few meters away.

The rain gives you some time, it may be less than a minute for you to run. All on a sudden, you start listening to a sound if it's heavy, but you can't feel it. The rain is approaching towards you and you need to run particularly if you are not carrying the umbrella on a rare occasion. And then the rain reaches you.

I was given an accommodation which is close to the hill side, there is indeed a small hill close by. The top gets surrounded by the clouds when it rains, it gets all white. But the best among all was when I was at TIFR in Colaba and it was just awesome to keep looking at the sea when it was raining. The rain seemed to have the sky immersed into the sea water at the horizon.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Way to Evolution

Today is Deepavali, the festival of lights. Lighting lamps has an universal appeal; it goes beyond any particular form of religion or religious practices; it symbolizes victory, solidarity and ushers in a sense of well being as the great sages from India have uttered 'Tamoso ma jyotirgamayo'. It is about making an end to our ignorance and making ourselves sensitive to issues that cripples people and issues that act as a hindrance to any form of progress. It is about evolution of mind a step forward.

A change or a progress can be brought about by a revolution which is a sudden thrust that aims at demolishing the vices of an existing system or eradication of the system completely at a quicker pace. Evolution on the other hand is a slower process and is stabilizing in nature. In the eighteenth century, the age of enlightenment prevailing among western nations has been highly associated with a series of revolutions termed Atlantic revolutions that includes French and American revolutions. The zeal of emancipation from tyranny and oppression of any kind led to these huge armed uprisings and they later proved to be the harbinger of reforms in social, political and intellectual domains.

Bringing our focus to India, after 60 years of independence, we being in the 21st century cannot afford to have an idea of such social or political revolution. We are developing, growing financially with a strong middle class and are stable internally against any kind of military upheavals. Rather we need to evolve to fight against corruption, to fight against the social evils and the injustice to prevent another CWG scam or honour killings in the future. However, in an evolutionary approach, this fight is not only against a corrupted mass but also against an individual's numbness to corruption and injustice when he or she acts in his or her own capacity. Recently, a friend of mine shared some videos which bears testimonials to how common people can be empowered with Right to Information. (Here is the link: one must watch it. But that is not the end of the story. For someone, asking for the right information is an absolute necessary but the person needs to learn from it as well that the same is not repeated when it is his or her turn to implement the rule. One should learn to be sensitive to issues that are unjust and unreasonable. However, this essence is to some extent missing in the idea of a revolution. That is why the world did not witness end of French colonialism in places like Africa and India even after the fall of Bastille in their own land. In this regard, I highly appreciate the view of one of my profs who says that getting someone infused with the right outlook and values will make him or her sensitive and concerned over any social issue be it discrimination towards girl child or lack of education among underprivileged or anything that is unacceptable.

Let me conclude here wishing you all a Happy Deepavali and wish the light of the festival too leads us to the way to evolve.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Silent Dreams

Asha was returning home almost after a year. The New Delhi Howrah Poorva Express was slowly trudging into the station. It was the month of July, a bright sunny morning that she always impatiently waits for. Rain and water lost their traces from her heart a year back. Then the summers were dry and the crops in their little land could not lose almost every single drop of water. But time has changed, that land is no more and their sweet little thatched home at the southern tip of Gosaba island in Sunderban got a partly collapsed wall. The day is so live, she cannot forget it even for a moment. The uneventful date she still remembers, 12 i Joishtho. She remembers Palan'da, the master of the primary school, saying that the radio forecasted a very bad weather. Aalo too was uttering some new term, 'cyclone' every minute that Asha never heard before.

The small land was monocrop. Ripe paddies were to be harvested in early autumn. That yielded the paltry income for a few months. Panchu, Asha's emaciated husband had to work as a labourer for the rest of the months. Like every mother in the village, Asha waits for the day when Aalo, his 16 year old son will turn into a young man about whom she can boast of. Her neighbour's son Kartik learnt computer and is teaching in the local computer school. He does not have to earn in lieu of his hard physical toil. Asha too dreams that Aalo will learn computer and will be an educated person of the village. The seniors including the village headman will then consult him for their day to day business. But in her small world she was unaware of the fact that every human being is incarcerated by forces that cannot be controlled by man.

It was 12th day of the month of Joishtho. Black clouds covered every bit of the sky. There was a little wind in the morning and the trees were waiting as if to be lashed by someone very dreaded. Panchu had gone for work as usual. Aalo's school declared a holiday as there were some serious warnings in the radio about the impending weather. Asha milked their cow and was doing some cleaning. Since Aalo did not have school, she had enough time and prepared 'lau-chingri', a dish that is mainly made from gourd and small shrimps, one of Aalo's favourites. The winds soared and rain followed. Water kept surging like never before. And the coconut tree fell heavily on the wall of western side of their home tearing apart the wall of the only room that the home had. Aalo was sitting a couple of feet apart helping his mother. Wind and water started gushing in into their little home. The wind grew stronger, the old banyan tree of the village got uprooted and so were numerous other trees. Panchu was outside and every terrible thought started hitting Asha hard. It was around 11:30 am when the wind abated. Everything changed in a couple of hours, the little home, the land, their luck and possibly their entire life. When Asha found Panchu in the school building, they had little time to grieve on each other's shoulders. They immediately knew that worse time would follow. The sea water changed the soil of their land changing them to paupers. The land could not be cultivated any more. Water receded in a few days but it exposed a barren land.

It was a barren half-merged island that could not feed its people any more. For the next one month, Asha, Panchu and Aalo had to depend completely on the Government relief for which they had to stand in queue for hours. No school, no work, no electricity and no home as well for many: as if life in pre-historic age. The life that was so tortuous a month ago has become so simple, or perhaps it was no life at all. Soon some families started vacating the village entirely in search of a place that would fulfill their fundamental demand of mere existence. The village school started in a couple of months with aids from a few NGOs. Aalo started going to school again. A little savings Asha and Panchu had were used up in repairing the home. Everyday there were news floating around about work opportunities mostly as unskilled labour in the cities. Nilu's mother one day came to visit Asha; she had to set out for Tatanagar next morning where she would work as a domestic maid. Then one day someone told Asha about this family in Delhi. She would have to take care of an octogenarian woman. Three thousand bucks a month when Asha and Panchu's plight knew no bounds sounded a good deal. It took some time to convince Panchu who had reservations against Asha going to a far-off place. And above all Aalo, Asha had to explain him a hundred times that it was for him all; for the day Asha's dreams about Aalo would come true, Asha can then return for ever to their little home.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Least and the greatest fixed points

It was one of the early days in first sem in the college when I missed a few parts of the lecture as I was dozing. I went up to the nimble girl who seemed to have an agile mind that was pretty evident from her questions in the class. She attentively put down all class notes too. I thought I would borrow her class notes for a day or two. "Do write down your mobile number", I found these words somewhat unexpected as they pierced through my ears. I was certainly not going to run away with the class notes!

Well, along the years as I witnessed similar incidents, I was more and more convinced that there is nothing wrong in it. It is just that some people are more careful, particularly the members from the fairer sex. We have two very different and distinct psychologies. Some of us tend to trust in people around us and continue to do so until we find that one is unworthy of it. I fall in this group and I believe that this group shows more optimism in day to day activities than the other group which considers that one can be trusted only through good relationships that last over long period of time. The latter reflects a more conservative approach. On the other hand, I strongly believe that people around me will be very much similar in a broad sense and share a similar background and there is no reason why I should not believe in them.

This sounds to me very similar to the way we calculate the greatest and the least fixed points. Both the least and greatest fixed points are the intended solutions but for the former we start with a null set and keep on adding elements to it until we reach the fixed point. While calculating the greatest fixed point, we start with the universal set and eliminate elements until we obtain the fixed point. Both lead to solutions but the former leaves out some elements that could have been part of our solution. So we fail to get to know a few people who could have been closer to us if we initialize the basket of our trustworthy people with no one. The old may argue that it is just my youth which ventures and time might change things as I move along.