Story of a lost journalist

November 25, 2008

An auto trip, a kid and a jerk

Filed under: Diary — Cris @ 14:29


Yesterday after debating with self for a while about traveling in auto rickshaw (other choice being bus) I chose auto rickshaw reasoning that I was tired and needed a cup of home coffee before my next stop. The auto driver got a call as soon as I got in and he seemed to be in such panic that it got the attention of someone like me – who is generally accused of showing utmost indifference to surroundings even when a possible earthquake was in cue. Apparently a little girl, he must have really cared about had some kind of an accident. He kept yelling into the phone “So what to do now”. More than anything it showed that he was completely shaken. That’s the kind of thing we say when we don’t know what to do, and we worry ourselves to death over it.

The auto driver looked so not here, I was worried if he might drive both of us straight to the underside of a giant lorry or bus that came from the other side. The call was over and he turned to me and told me the story without being asked “Its my daughter. She just came back from school an hour back and went to play next door. And shes got her arm cut.” And I said “oh”. I figured out that much but didn’t know it was his daughter. I had a clue what was coming next. “Can you please help me a little?”. And I knew this was financial, cause I heard him say “I have just some 20 with me, now what do we do?”

I kept quiet. I was calculating furiously. I might have some extra 10 or 20 with me, and that was supposed to last my next trip. But what if he was lying? What if he was making this story up with the help of an accomplice on phone to trick me into paying up. But I somehow knew he wasn’t. The panic in his voice was real, the concern in his attitude was that of a really worried Father. I got down. I said “its usually 15, I will give 20?”.

“Madam please can you give at least 30?”

I took 30 and gave him, thinking in mind, ok there goes the money I saved by taking bus in the morning and what I could use to go to my next stop. “Here. And your daughter will be all well, don’t worry”. I was talking like I just made a 1000-dollar contribution. And he said “Ok I will return it Madam”

I felt like a jerk cause I had first asked him “is this really true or are you tricking me” and even after that I just gave a meager 30 when the man probably needed thousands. Well I was no Richie Rich. I told him “No its ok don’t return it.”

To compensate, I walked to my next stop. But I kept feeling like a jerk. I could have at least given him a 50… I wonder how his daughter is doing today. She has got to do well, I hope she is up and jumping like she was, day before yesterday. And I hope she will be really careful next time. I hope all kids will be.

November 20, 2008

Truth, an alternative to Lying

Filed under: My Musing Moments — Cris @ 18:45
Tags: ,

I just read from a blog about the courage it takes to be honest. I have been having some thoughts about this. About how, a lot of people have taken to lying so much that it just doesn’t seem to make a moment’s difference.

It surprises me when I see how easy it comes to them, how they don’t have a moment’s hesitation or afterwards a moment’s guilt in lying with a straight face. One thing about being honest was that you didn’t need any doubts about your stand; you could be as loud and as firm as you liked. But that didn’t seem to verify your honesty anymore, considering the liars were just as good. Only place you can expect a difference is when liars forget the lies they once said and later contradict their own stand.

Day 1:

“I have always scored 90 for Math”

Day 29:

“I have always scored 100 for Math”

Day 49 – in a drunken moment

“I just want to pass Math for once in my life buddy sniff sniff sob”

The thing is all this lying is not because people are so bad. Its just that they have somehow gotten used to ejecting a series of small lies to get their way, it didn’t seem to matter anymore. So if you are not allowed at a place cause, say, you needed a condition ‘x’ to be eligible, they don’t see it as an obstacle on the way. To their clear single-direction mind, they wanted entry so they get it, it was not their fault ‘x’ was there in the first place so-

What makes me sad more than the lying itself is the ease with which people do it not feeling a tinge of doubt about its virtue, about their assumption that this was the way of life. For them the question of “Oh what do we do now cause we don’t have it” never arises. They look at others to whom it did, with incomprehensible eyes, eyes that said how can anyone be so slow. To them, it is only a solution everyone will have to arrive at sooner or later, and that for some weird reason, some people were taking time. Truth does not come any different to them, they don’t despise it. Its just that, they use it as an alternative to lying. When you can’t use the truth, you use lies – the logic was simple and its unlearning quite hard to force upon. Especially when the ways of truth promise no easy paths to a glorious life, the way they had it before.

But how did lying become so everybody-does-it? Was there not enough stress on how important it was to stick to the truth anymore? Did no one tell kids that telling the truth even when they did something wrong would actually make room for leniency? Why was it that lying, even if it was for a simple insignificant matter ignored and not corrected? Cause that means a lot. I can say because when I was a kid there were times my Mom told me “See how your brother admitted he did it even though he knew he’d be in trouble” and to me it seemed like something really respectable. Next time when I did something wrong, I’d run to my Mom and proudly announce I did it.

“I sat on that new expensive dining table, and broke it, all by myself” (mm yes, that happened. Hey I just wanted to test it, but err, it was glass).

It started as a funny way to speaking the truth, but once you understand the importance you don’t feel like swaying away – a simple lie could kill you with guilt for days ahead, you’d rather stick with the bitter truth. Cause its so much better to be punished for something you did than getting credit for something you didn’t.

November 15, 2008

Ritwik Ghatak’s Ajantrik, 1958 movie

Filed under: Movies/TV — Cris @ 14:27
Tags: ,

I have just watched a 1958 Bengali movie called Ajantrik. With subtitles of course. They are showing 3 of Ritwik Ghatak’s movies at K C S Panicker Hall, Museum today. I had to be pushed by friends into going, Saturday mornings being the R-I-P in B-E-D time for me. I am absolutely thankful for all the pushing, though I should remember to set my phone to not accept any calls before 10.

About the movie, it’s a taxi driver’s story, where his first love has always been ‘Jagaddal’, his taxi. I was expecting a lot of absurd actions, unnecessary music, exaggerated emotions and expressions, pushed-in pathetic attempts of humor. I was a moron. Watching a few old movies should be no reason to form unjustified prejudices against all that happened before 1980s. Ajantrik was a classic. The audio was not that clear, and sometimes the visuals too were a little blurry – I am not pointing that out as a fault.

Whatever I say about old movies, many times I have been the victim of time-attack – which means I am arrested by the old times, where I had no place. It’s a strange feeling, the one that you get when you see small flowers and stones in the background and wonder what happened to those; when you look beyond the characters and see people and buildings far behind the action and wonder where their fate ended. From scene 1 of Ajantrik, I experienced all the above. It was obviously black and white. There is no fuss, no drama, we are taken straight to the town where lives our hero Bimal and his love, Jagaddal . The movie, if I heard right, starts with a weird laugh. It starts with humor. And wow, who said movie makers those days didn’t know how to make the audience laugh. Though the theme itself was a dear precious one, the film had its share of fun – both loud obvious ones, and silent subtle ones. I thought so many times, movies today that try to inject slapstick meaningless scenes in an attempt to be funny, had a lot to learn from its predecessors of the 50s.

Actions and expressions – knock on my head for being a prejudiced idiot – ok there may have been a lot of eye-bulging here and there, but that doesn’t stand out odd when the rest of the actions were done so neatly. The actors talked and behaved like how they would have, if you took a time machine and went back to the streets of Bengal of 50 years ago. You’d wonder how they did it so well, but then why not? Who said less advanced technology meant less advanced aesthetics? And oh the music, it just comes as part of the background, as part of the past times, though I’d say it was a tad too high at some points – and I believe background music should not stand out in movies, it should be just that- background.

And there was this one female character, she looked really pretty. I have heard that women those days didn’t really take to acting. But when this beautiful lady came on screen, I thought Ghatak must have done a lot of searching for that one! There was a small boy, who stays as that small boy in mind, when he should be the age of my father now. Another wonder of movies – how we sometimes find it incredible that child actors grow up!

The movie was great. It had emotions, it had a fresh little idea, it had a man, woman, child, it had a lot many things I have no idea how to describe. I am going to see a lot more 1950 movies, and next time I wont need a lot of pushing. Well maybe a bit.

A lot more about the movie could be found here.

November 11, 2008

An equalist, I am

Filed under: tag — Cris @ 23:59
Tags: ,

Since I have left blog barren for a few days I think I will finish my tag-tabs one by one. There is 2 pending, and in order, Seema’s feminism tag is the first. No rules to list, its just to write about my take on feminism. Now even before I start, I want to pass this tag to Amrutha. She has been talking about what is and what is not feminism in her blog in such well-written words that I keep commenting “exactly”.

Anyway what I have been saying ‘exactly’ to was that feminism is NOT a woman doing everything a man can – as seems to be the general impression among many. It is being able to do what one wants to. So cooking and cleaning is not demeaning work; doing it when a woman wants to do it is not being a victim of male chauvinism or male domination. Same way, if a woman wants to do bungee jumping or fly planes, she should be able to do that and not stopped because she was a woman. Wants to – are the keywords here.

Now I will tell how I, like the general mass had a misguided idea about feminism without even thinking that’s what it is. As a child when I saw only Mom or some other woman cooking in a house and the men gets to do nothing, when grown ups kept telling me I should start following that and learn to cook and clean I used to ask “Why is Dad not doing it” or “Why are you not telling this to bro?”. The answers came immediately “Cause he is a man and these are the works of women”. I hated it right away. Without meaning to, I found my wanting a sense of justice making me shrink away from the typical womanly qualities and duties. For years I was a tom boy, I tried to use and do everything my father and brother did – from handkerchiefs to kicking stones on my way to never using makeup and of course staying 10 miles away from kitchen. I never got to find out if I actually like to cook cause I strongly believed if I once set my foot in that arena, I should never be able to get out of the “woman tag” I have been so trying to run away from. And when Dad asked about this insensitivity to helping my Mom I used to get away with “I want to follow you and do what you do” or “If Nish learns, I will too”; and “I don’t like it” when I felt really rebelling.

I now know that was a completely wrong approach. I wasn’t trying to establish feminism, but I wanted to be treated like a human being and not as a woman who had to do things because she was a woman. Every small act of unjust treatment or lines from someone in that line, irks me to the core. It comes with any kind of unfair treatment; I mean its not just gender based; including ones that let me have a better place on some unfair ground.

I hate the dowry system and it always boils my blood when I hear of people (most of them women) talking about it like it’s a taken for granted arrangement, like it was part of marriage. I hate movies that come with the message- why should a girl have education or why she should be the first to sacrifice or why she neednt have a job. I hate it that when a marriage happens, it’s a taken for granted affair that women give up or transfer their jobs to be with husbands and it was not even a question with regards to the man. I am not saying men should always, I just don’t like it that its not even thought about or considered. A man or a woman gives up job to be with spouse is the kind of accepted rule I should like to see.

There is probably a lot more that I have a say on, as regards a woman’s place – that there is nothing like that. One thing I have learnt is trying to prove I can do something was not feminism. When you say prove, you are losing the entire essence. Not bothering to explain your actions and knowing exactly what and why you are doing is.
I have once debated with a friend who said reservations in a particular university for women had to be there, and I argued if a man and a woman with similar qualifications applied for the job, it was unfair that the woman was chosen solely because it was a woman. But his point was that qualification alone was not enough, you had to consider background as well – he said that given a man and a woman from India, chances are the man having studied all his way here was much easier done than a woman who probably had to go through a lot of turmoil being a woman. That could be true, exploitations on women in the past were not a new story. Finally I agreed he had a point and if background was pretty much the same as well, then there should be no preference (on the other hand same could go for man – if he had a difficult time coming there, then he should be given a chance.)

It all comes back to treating men and women as a single entity – humans. Where reservations were considered it had to be – where a human deserved it and not a man or a woman. Where jobs were concerned it must be as he/she wanted to. Where duties were considered, as humans could and should – and not a defined set, one each for men and women. Where behavior was concerned, it’s the character he or she grows up to, how can it in anyway depend on gender? Agreed there are certain qualities that can be concluded to attach with one gender at least as far as majority was concerned, but majority didn’t define all!

I guess what I am saying is, I am an equalist (not in dictionary, but I have been using it so much, its got to be there by now). Equal treatment to all humans and I am happy, no expectations cause it’s a he or a she or a lower caste or a different religion or a darker color or has a lower income, thank you very much (I shouldn’t have added that, that makes it dramatic, the thank you – oh what the heck!)

1. Amrutha – I would perfectly understand if she doesn’t want to do this, she has already talked for eons about it.
2. Mathew – not tit for tat, but I wanted to hear what he has to say
3. KT – This is the second tag I am giving her, would like to hear hers as well
4. Nikhil – totally busy man, I hope he gets time to do this some time.
5. Nims – she should have a lot to say now!
6. Vids – I am not sure if she finally became a regular blogger, but would like to see what the new generation has to say about this. Eh Vids? 😉

November 6, 2008

Meeting Madhupal

Filed under: humor,People — Cris @ 21:50
Tags: , ,

Has been a happening day. I have been part of a team to interview Madhupal (the same person who took Thalappavu). I had already managed to form quite an impression in the calls I made to fix the interview. After he confirmed his availability, I typed to my teammates a grand SMS about the success and brilliantly send it to Madhupal. Another time I had to make a call to him to let him know that there was going to be no payment. This is how the conversation went.

(I shall be hence known as BM – read Brilliant Me)

BM: Err Sir, this is a class assignment and we are students
M: Ok
BM: So err, payment … (brilliantly planned pause hoping he would fill the rest)
M: Payment??? (extra question marks – cue that brilliantly planned scheme failed. Unexpected scenario results in speechlessness)
M: ?
BM: Payment… payment illa (Payment – there will be none)

There was a final call today to ask his address. He said “Number A-five-zero”. And BM replied “Ok got it. Number A-Anwar”.
I wonder if I was born so brilliant or brilliance grew with age.

The interview was brilliant (cause someone else did the questioning). And Madhupal’s instant answers and strong opinions were proof of his individuality and character. The man earned buckets of respect (I know I know but hey that sounds nice – buckets and respect – both has a t in it) in that half an hour.

Well that’s that and another day gone by. In case you didn’t notice, the keyword here in this entry is – brilliant.

November 4, 2008

Kapil went, Kumble goes, Dhoni will go

Filed under: Diary,My Musing Moments,People — Cris @ 13:18
Tags: ,

I am not a sports lover. I am not much of a cricket follower. A match on TV on a rare day is all I have to my credit of cricket know-how. So when I read Kumble was retiring, I thought “Guess its about time. Poor Nish wont be taking it good”. Poor Nish is my bro and he has a history of sitting sad over retirements, of people he says are absolutely talented. He did in 1994 when Paaji left the ground. Now is Kumble’s turn.

But when I read about it yesterday, I found myself a tad too sentimental. These lines from The Hindu especially had me slushy for a long while

“I know how hard I had to fight to get this cap and how hard it is to play at the international level. It’s a proud moment to represent a billion people whose expectations keep rising each time you go out there.”

Seems just days ago Kumble, Ganguly, Sachin, Dravid and Jadeja ran around the pitch in their twenties. These guys were around for such a long while I just identified Indian team with their names. And now one by one, they are all going. How I hate that new leaf-old leaf story! But yet these names were the new leaves of 90s, just like an Ishant or an Uthappa is today. There is just no changing that.

November 1, 2008

To dentist we (dont want to) go

Two conversations. Err dentists or docs, please skip this. No defamation charges shall be accepted.

Scene 1: Jim and Me in living room, today

Me: Jim, I am going to die

Jim: Oh?

Me: Yes. Next week.

Jim: Oh?

Me: I am against suicide

Jim: Oh?

Me: So I am appointing someone to kill me

Jim: I cant

Me: Eh?

Jim: I’d love to help you Cris you know I always do. But I don’t like the smell of blood

Me: Thank you Jim but you don’t have to take the trouble

Jim: Oh is there a back up killer?

Me: There is only one. My dentist

Jim: Oh he is not going to kill you. He will just drive some screws into your jaws

Me: Thanks a lot Jim! That helps!

Jim: Oh don’t be a baby Cris, its no big deal!

Me: But it is! What if he was bored and thinks a root canal will be a fun thing to do?

Jim: Err Cris

Me: It is possible you know. Half the time dentists do things out of sheer boredom.

Jim: I don’t think root canal is a fun thing for dentists either. Monopoly maybe.

Me: You are missing the point. We are talking about me, remember! Solve my problem first.

Jim: You could choose not to go.

Me: I cant. The pain is killing me.

Jim: You could distract yourself. Read Calvin

Me: How? Stick it to the roof?

Jim: Oh I didn’t think of that. Oh yeah mp3 player

Me: Jim! Well that is an idea. But he might confuse it for his stethoscope and throw water at it.

Jim: Dentists throw water at stethoscopes?

Me: All the time. They throw water everywhere, into your mouth, onto their knives and even the nurses.

Jim: Why nurses?

Me: Identification I guess. To know them from patients.

Jim: Oh. Maybe they like gardening.

Me: So coming back to my problem

Jim: Oh forget it Cris, lets just eat for now

Me: Hmm easy for you to say you cavity-less creature!

Jim: One day Cris one day I will get it too.

Me: Don’t worry, I will take you to a doc. Unless you like to stay alive a little longer?


Scene 2: Monday morning, coming Monday morning

Me: I have got 2 cavities

Doc: 2 of ‘em?

Me: Yes can you tell me if I will need root canalling?

Doc: Hmm you just might

Me: Oh I don’t want to die so young

Doc: Root canalling does not imply suicide as is the general conviction

Me: No I know

Doc: Good

Me: Its willful murder

Doc: I beg your pardon?

Me: I am letting you kill me.

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