Saturday, January 29, 2011

The Bicycle story

Thos was a guest post I did for my friend. I had reserved copyrights :)

Just as the past few days, I got up very early in the morning. I would have to finish my struggles with the bicycle before anyone woke up. The neighbors would be laughing behind the doors on seeing a 15 year old boy struggling with his bicycle, and that too without any success for the last 2 weeks. Equally painful was the sight of young kids cycling away with haughty, sneering smile on their face. But that day as I lifted my feet off the ground, the cycle didn’t fall off. As I pedaled away, my joy knew no bounds. This was one of the happiest days of my life.

Even after a decade my chest swells with pride on the first bicycle ride. I was a total flop in outdoor games. I didn’t have athleticism anywhere close in the genes. So I had to contend with batting very last in the line-up and field at no man’s land. So a cycle was a big relief. Here I was getting a chance to prove myself without begging anyone for chances.

A few of my classmates too had cycles of their own. We used to exchange notes on the best bicycle in town, accessories and cycle workshops. I got up early morning and cycled through the by-lanes of the city. I had another passion of cycling steep uphills. That’s the time we learnt the angle of inclination in Physics classes. I wanted to try out tilting cycle to the maximum in steep downhill curves. The aim was to use minimum of the road and maximum of the angle. I was successfully negotiating these curves when one day I lost it completely. I was thrown off the road and was nearly run over by a car. The remenant of a bruise still remains as a faded memory.

The cycle repairman was an important figure in our lives. Bicycle is a very delicate creature. Every once in a while a wheel gets punctured, the screw loosen up, chains gets rusted or brakes act funny. He was a slim old man clad in a black dhothi- an authoritative figure who doled out free advice on intelligent riding. The fees were nominal, but the queue of cycles was long.

Years rolled by. The cycle was discarded as it could no longer stand ageing. I whipped up heavy revolt at home for a motorcycle without any success. The cycle and everything associated with it were forgotten. Later it was donated to a poor lady who lived nearby. I didn’t bother.
I finished my college when my younger brother entered one. He got himself a cycle. I was touching one after a long time. The need for some physical exercise prompted me to take up cycling again. The times had changed and it transformed the people too. The kids no longer cycled. They got themselves a motor cycle or even a motor car. The police rarely bothered and there are plenty of under aged drivers around.

I needed the repairman again. Since it was no longer a lucrative job, many had pulled down the shutters for good. I went in search for mine and found it closed. My heart sank but some passerby assured me that he will be back from a pilgrimage. He had withered considerable with age. The movements became very pronounced and difficult.

I doubt if this old trade will last for long. The only visitors are the newspaper boys and milkmen who owns the old fashioned hero cycles. And in the day he calls it a day, I may have to bury my memories forever!

But hey, encourage your kids to take up cycling. Let’s try not to extinguish a healthy habit, an old tradition and a clean (green) machine. And guys I heard it’s awesome for your reproductive organ. So…let’s make this world a bit healthy and a bit sexy.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A sunny afternoon @ Kovalam

For someone who gets churned out 5 days a week, ‘chill-out’ means to go out and get drunk. For a single guy, ‘chill-out time’ can be anytime but for the committed ones chill out can be tricky. To make it worse, if the wife isn’t very fond of his drinking, he will have to get rid of her beforehand.
The last Saturday 4 of us, from the same office, went out to hit the beach. Among the 4, two were single and two married. The two doubles successfully send off their better halves to their own homes to ensure safe fun.

We reached the Kovalam beach on a sunny Saturday. We couldn’t help yearning for the fun times we had in college. Then money was not an essential commodity in fun. Mostly we only had enough money to burn the fuel. Today we have enough and more for the food and wine. Sadly we miss the old, wild fun.

After sitting under the shade and reminiscing the good ol’ times we decided to go in search for a good shack. On the way I noticed some peculiar in Indian habits

The Indian in a beach
The westerner’s notion of a beach is suntan. They wear their clothes to the minimum to get as much as tan as possible. Our ladies get into the water wearing jeans and loaded with accessories. I cannot figure out a cloth more uncomfortable than the jeans in water. It takes ages to dry itself. Besides sand in your underwear is plain irritation. Get to wear plain, simple clothes to the beach.
We had a long walk through the beach. There was a lady with perfect rounded butts walking in front of me throughout the journey. I had a good time watching the juggle, and then I decide to concentrate more on the nature’s beauty.

We settled into a perfect good bar. I had two glasses of wine while others went for vodka. The tongues loosened up a bit after the drinks and the talks grew more and more bold.

One among us talked about a macho guy in his office. They never suspected anything of him until he forgot to lock his system one day. The curious ones did a check and found out that he had a different profile and was a member of gay communities. The best part was our friend had allowed himself to be demo-raped not knowing that for the macho it was a fulfillment.

Then it turned to the first porn experiences we had. We got the first look into world of pornography around the age of 15. We remembered how the grotesque scenes horrified us. Today, it’s quite strange that, kids as young as 13 are a walking encyclopedia on sex.

There is this particular (real-life) story on which we had a great laugh. There was this Biology teacher who loved making double meaning statements/jokes in his class. The guys roared out in laughter while the girls suppressed it to a giggle. But the pious ones weren’t amused by this and registered a complaint with the principle. The principle assured them, ’The next time he makes an offensive statement, you are free to walk out of his class’. The next biology class was on reproductive organs. The teacher read out a portion from the text and announced, ‘Children, Africans have got the biggest penis in the world. It’s real huge and black.’ Suddenly the pious girls got up from the seat and made towards the entrance, when the teacher announced, ‘Hey, you won’t get a bus to Africa at this time of hour!’

One thing that pained me of Kovalam is the crass commercialization of the sea side. In the name of tsunami rehabilitation many concrete structures in the name of hotels have come up giving the beach a feel of a crowded street. Even sadder part is the fake accessories sold to tourists in the name of ethnic handicrafts. In the fake items list even the herbal and ayurvedic treatments also find their place.

I managed to get a few photos on Kovalam. The favorite one is the landmark ‘Lighthouse’. I also managed to get a mosque that stood far away. It’s not something I have seen in many pictures.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

And justice for all

‘Dr.Strangelove’ can be termed as one of the famous work from Stanley Kubrick. You might see the name in ‘all time top classic’ list. Peter Sellers has immortalized Strangelove in the movie. Strangelove has this strange problem with his mechanical hand. The hand acts on its own. The hand contributes to its share of humor when it strangles Strangelove, gets hold of his cock or pulls out his cigar.

Well I do not intend to write on the movie, but the scenario in India when one pillar of democracy starts functioning independent of others. The Indian judiciary has a mind of its own and has claimed superior moral authority over the rest. Hence they are busy passing laws to clean out the specks in our eyes.

KG Balakrishnan was the poster boy for the backward classes in India. The propagandists worked overtime spreading the good news that the oppressed class can look up to him as their messiah and rise to great heights by peaceful means. What we heard last from Race Course Road is he was slated to succeed to the post of Vice President as soon as the chair was vacated. When KGB argued that judges shouldn’t be made to disclose their assets, we accepted it as the saying of the wise one.

Now thanks to his family members, he might have to forego his Vice Presidential dreams. Sonia Gandhi might have lost her pet project of filling the highest office with another stooge.

While the judiciary finds it tough to jail the multi crore scamsters, it doesn’t need much evidence to charge Binayak Sen for sedition. The courts are working overtime to castigate the ‘enemies of the state’. I don’t want to seem batting for the Naxalites. Looking through a common man’s view point, the evidence presented baffles me. We talk nonchalantly on the human rights violation in Pakistan and in the same vein we label a person security threat, while the only crime he has done is visit a prisoner and exchange books and letters. Mind you the exchanges and visits happened under police supervision.

Kerala can be termed as the politically conscious state. Hence we have to live with constant strikes, hartals and demonstrations. A few months back a citizen filed a petition in Kerala High court asking it to prevent demonstrations from happening on a particular narrow stretch of road.. Surprisingly, the Kerala High court banned all kind of public demonstration in the state. A petition was filed in the Supreme court and they too ratified the HC ruling. Has the SC considered the long term impact? When the public places are out of bound for the common man, should he rent out a place to demonstrate his grievances? Uninterrupted conveyance is a necessity. But should we sacrifice the constitutional rights for the sake of it?

Some time ago when the politics started to mire itself in corruption, the common man turned to the judiciary as last resort. Today he will think twice before he hit the court. Similarly the appointment of judges must be based on track records rather than caste and political leanings. Once in a while these judges must be thoroughly vetted. Accountability is necessity be it the Army or the courts. And accountability must be directly proportional to the responsibilities.

The Indian judiciary has its share of deficiencies when British left India. For the British, court was a punishing stick. Sadly the Indian Judiciary has not evolved after all these 60+ years. When the state machinery turns itself rabid on the people, the courts must lend sensibility. Repressing dissident voices only drive us back to colonial era.

Court has no authority to project itself morally superior to politics. Their main aim must be to keep the legislative machinery clean and smooth. Strangely the courts have sided with the Right to spread an anti-politics campaign. The rulings must result in political consciousness and awareness among people. Populism is not the cup of tea for the judges.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

My encounters with species of a different kind

My dad wanted to make a doctor out of me. His sole aim was the social status that went along with the initials ‘Dr’. Sadly I was real bad in mugging up the fine details related to human anatomy. I had nightmares of mixing up prescriptions, surgeries, etc. in some years I made peace with myself and dad- the ‘Dr’ was not meant for me.

It was the final year in school. A period when we will have to decide the course related to our career. I was travelling home in a crowded transport bus. I clumsily stepped on an old man. He was barefoot and let out a loud wail. It must have been the pain, mucous came out of his nose. He was wailing about his inability to treat his leg and the huge cost involved in the ‘tests’. I couldn’t even mutter sorry. I quietly walked away. But this incident shook me enough to arrive at a decision that I am too soft hearted for a doctor.

Gigi and Dervi were my class mates in those years. They were exact opposites in terms of money and brilliance. Dervi hailed from a family that ran a successful business. He was so pampered that he had no clue on how others survived. His dad decided to start a clinic to bolster his already fledging pharmaceutical business. He also decided that his only son was going to be the chief doctor one day. The dad payed a hefty fee to put his son into a medical college. Dervi fell in love with a beautiful girl many years junior too him. He created history in the history of medicine by failing repeatedly. But that turned out to be good for him, when he joined his girlfriend’s batch and they decided to do their foray in medicine together. Dervi’s dad still waits for his son to graduate and take up the reins of the clinic

Gigi came from a relatively simple background. His Mom passed away and dad had a weak heart. But he was very good in his studies. With some hard work, he got into the same college as Dervi. Recently he called me up for his marriage. He was marrying a rich girl and managed to get the latest model of Toyota as a gift from his dad in law.

It doesn’t matter if you become a doctor through your hard work or your dad’s deep pocket. It’s the place you can rake in lots of money. Some may argue that medicine is a social service. But why should Medicine alone be a service. When rest of the world is after money, wouldn’t it be unfair for the doctors to restrain themselves?
Last week I decided to pay a visit to my friend’s dad. He had developed numerous complications and there was only his old wife to look after him and she had her own health problems. I took along a newly graduated doctor friend, Tharun. I had known him for a long time. The way in which he dealt with the old man and his wife was a lesson to watch. He patiently inquired and learnt the actual issues. Just like us he wasn’t too sympathetic. But he generated such positive vibes that the old woman felt so much assured after our visit.

Medicine needn’t be just brilliance alone. It’s a bit of heart, lots of experience and willingness to learn.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

A letter

This is a letter I wrote to the author of an article.

It has been a great pleasure to read your article that was published in Hindu on 2nd of January. It is rare to find someone questioning the system of which he/she has been a beneficiary. No doubt, it would have taken great courage from your part. So please accept my congratulations.

A few years ago, one of the greatest question that raged in our campus was ‘Should campus politics be banned?’. They had valid reasons of frequent strikes, lockouts, bloodsheds, goondas, hooliganisms, etc. Today student politics has disappeared from most of our campuses. But what has it been replaced with? A bunch of kids who fear to question the corrupt educational system.
Slowly the government and administrative machinery has been reserved for the scrupulous of the society. What we see in the place of politics is ‘anarchy’. The bulk among the population chooses silence and the simple ideology-‘Happy as long as well fed’.

The art of questioning has disappeared from our way of life. 10 sedition cases has been booked in India for the year 2010. The sedition law was brought on by British to counter the freedom movement. The irony is the same free India today uses the law more vigorously than the British. The bottom line is ‘You are free to corrupt the system, but do not question it.’

The ethnic culture has disappeared from the countryside. It has migrated to our TV screens and city stage shows. Today Kathakali is a face painted in bright green, doing a couple of mudras. The Theyyam is a reddish devil with fake boobs. Ayurvedic treatment is a western lady being massaged by an Indian. Religion has forsaken ‘the way of salvation’. Today they prefer money laundering to salvation. But we don’t really bother to notice, do we?

You mentioned ‘the unhappy IT kids’. Will they choose to throw away the job that pays them well? May be not, because we fear a day when we cannot afford our hotel bills, petrol, clothes, movies. In short that is ultimate motivation- FEAR.

About Me

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Shakespeare,Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and Lincoln never saw a movie,heard a radio or looked at TV. They had loneliness and knew what to do with it. Thay were not afraid of being lonely because they knew that was when the creative mood in them would work.