Thursday, November 28, 2013

Why Tejpal Should Not Be Lynched by the Mob

We think it’s unfair. This mob-lynching should stop. (Disclosure: We don’t know Tejpal, never ever met him, and are no apologists for his crime.) Some of Tejpal’s good friends have turned lynchers. Yet, nobody is saying a reasonable word about him. True a man in his fifties can make an error of judgment, and get carried away. Heard of crimes of passion?

We live in very deceptive times, especially the generation that flowered in the age of flower-power and “make love not war” age. Then we talked of a just and equitable society where peace was the ultimate aim of mankind. May be, there was a lot of free sex then, and a lot of what is called intellectual fornication. (We never were part of any orgies!) The youngsters of today are very different.  They haven’t been through a war and have been brought up very protectively by their idealistic parents. They belong to an interconnected networked world where results are immediate and punishment for wrongdoing is given instantaneously. They believe that being young they have the power in their hands to change the world, and indeed they do. But do we really need this hastiness? There is a danger here of forming “lynch mobs” which is contrary to what a democratic environment entails. Are we proceeding towards a system of instantaneous punishment or are we keen on reinforcing our legislative-executive-judicial system?

If a person is suspect it’s the duty of the law machinery to apportion justice and not of a lynch mob. Politicising the matter, we feel, as has happened now, may be counterproductive. Where is the need for politics in a criminal-judicial system? The Nirbhaya case has opened a Pandora’a box of sexual indiscretions in India. We aren’t saying this is bad. It’s good that sexual crimes are being reported and offenders caught. But forming a lynch mob outside the accused’s home reeks to me of a lack of understanding of basic democratic principles.

Abuse of power by a person at the top is a common occurrence. Roosevelt is said to have had many mistresses and one of it was his secretary. If the secretary had gone to the police Roosevelt would have been prosecuted because American justice system is such. In India there are many such affairs happening and we aren’t even aware of them. If found out they are said to be platonic relationships, brother-sister relationships. Indian corporations are full of such stories of abuse of power for sex. However, they do not come out, they are well hidden, only known to a few.  Tejpal’s must have been one such. So let the law take its course now that it has been revealed.

As we said we aren’t votaries of the kind of work Tejpal did nor of the way he behaved. But now that it is in the realm of law why did a certain political party demonstrate outside an accused’s bungalow? Why is a chief minister giving undue attention to the case? This only reinforces our theory of the lynch mob. When a country is taken over by a mob then chaos prevails, law and order fails, and there’s absolute anarchy. That’s the time when a dictator finds it easy to take over.

We said it first. Watch our words, and this space.

Monday, November 25, 2013

First Diwali lights

Tejpal’s Fall from the Pedestal

Okay, wokay, we are exercised about it, we are agitated about it, we tried some deep meditative techniques to wipe it away – without success – and we wait for the dust to settle before making (or, manufacturing) a  comment (which most commenters don’t do).

Tarun Tejpal. Tejpal was one of our heroes. We considered him the ultimate authority that could make or break a journalist’s (also writer’s) career. Didn’t he push The God of Small Things from obscurity into the blazing lime light? Didn’t he start his own magazine?         Didn’t he in his earlier days keep a pony tail, the sure sign of a rebel? Didn’t he….?

Until the last week when it all came crashing down. Then it became how could he…? How could he…?

Yes, how could he with one careless swing of the bat lose the wicket he had defended with all his ability? Men are known to reveal themselves at the most unlikeliest of times. Some examples: Hugh Grant did it with a prostitute in New York, Michael Jackson disgraced himself with the revelations of a teenager, John Travolta suffered at the hands of a male friend.

Tejpal had everything going for him: success, money, power. But he forgot one cardinal rule – men don’t shit at their own doorstep. He supposedly did it to a former colleague’s daughter, a friend of his daughter. It’s a case of power corrupts and he didn’t hesitate when his power granted him the opportunity for sexual favours. There may have been precedents, girls who preferred to leave rather than make an allegation. This time he chose the wrong person.

And there is this fact. Like it or not, sex rules our corporate sector. Almost every company has a sex-related scandal going on in its closet. The so-called sexual favour is rampant in corporate circles. Orders are made out and cheques are signed on the base of sexual gratification. We can’t shut an eye on this, we have to face it. When the victim becomes a young ambitious girl making her mark in journalism and also aware of her rights, then things can go wrong. Women in media aren’t like pliant secretaries; they know the law and know their rights.

What will become of the icon of investigative journalism, we don’t know. One thing is sure; men in media will use their discretion more in the days to come.

Monday, November 18, 2013

Sachin Became a Great Cricketer Because He Is a Good Human Being

Okay, okay, enough said about Bombay’s crazed, mazed traffic problems. We are moving on now, though briefly, we might add. Because other earth-stopping occurrences are happening in our back yard. And our blogging fingers are itching.

Sachin Retired!

Oh, gosh! We don’t know how to take this. We sat watching the farewell ceremony and wept. We wept more than Sachin did. As did many who were present. Why? Don’t ask us.  In twenty-four years we heard the name Sachin nearly a billion times. A friend told us of a boy who was hitting sixes like there were no tomorrows.  Another said that a Sunday was reserved to watch Sachin bat and do nothing besides.

We saw the boy wonder soon after. He was a ball of energy, his shots came with ease, his eyes were intense. The way he backlifted and sent a ball sailing over the umpire and the other batsman to the sight screen was a study in graceful motion. The way he cut, flicked, hooked, were so natural that one seemed not to notice unless one went into the field. We cheered; we frissoned with a feeling of love for the small guy. It had become a habit, to watch Sachin do it on the pitch.

A Star was born!

We were a callow youth then. A cricketer, nevertheless, captain of our school’s Green House. We scored the highest runs in a match at one time and we remember it well. The score wasn’t much, around fifty, and we had scored twenty-four runs, the highest. Nonetheless we lost the match. But what we still remember is the excitement around the ground. My friends were yelling at my every shot and egging me on to greater things. But we fell at twenty four, and the match was lost.

What is it staying on the crease for so long? Ask us. There was a thrill passing through us every moment, an elation that gave rise to risky shots. In fact, we were carried away by the adulation. If it was so traumatic for me, it might have been a hundred times traumatic for Sachin. Imagine the thousands watching on the ground and around the world. He could have lost his head.

But the young boy didn’t. That was his best quality. He is a specimen, a role model for every youth in this country. After the farewell we saw a program where Sachin spoke to some kids. He said his father told him “Become a good human being first, and then it will remain with you for ever.” Kambli didn’t make it, he got carried away. There were greater talents like Anil Gurav (read how he lapsed into inebriation here) at that time, he also didn’t make it.

But, in the internecine, scandal-mongering world of cricket’s nether world Sachin did, because he was a good human being, and thus became a great cricketer.

But Sachin made it because he had a level head over his shoulder and was a good human being. I would like to ask the younger generation: “Are you a good human being before everything else?”

Friday, November 15, 2013

The Nightmare That Bombay's Commuting Is Going to Be

 Okay, we have railed at it (in this post); we have steamed in traffic wondering what went wrong with it. Yes, we were pulling our already sparse hair over it, not that we have any left. When we are sitting in traffic we can’t visualize the whole scene, about what has actually gone wrong. So, we sit with a stupid Sad Sack expression inside the bus or rickshaw and wonder, wonder, what is wrong with the city’s traffic. Ditto, with the thousands, nay, millions we have seen on the road looking at the marvels of construction, wondering where the big bridge – highway, whatever – now being constructed would take them, and would it improve the situation, if at all. Don’t ask.

The thing is, dear folks, hold your breath, lest it freeze your cockles and jam your arteries, it won’t bring order and decongest Bombay. Why are we saying this? Because we pondered a lot on the inherent problems and the stupid way our townplanners and engineers went about doing their jobs. It’s as if their brains are really sheathed by the cartilaginous cavity of their knees, or, the rough integument around their testicles. Whichever options please indulge.

The accompanying drawing (roughly done on my MS Paint software shows why. Remember, this is the result of a few simple minutes of conjecture and imagination and haven’t taken years to plan as the engineers sitting in the municipal corporation, have probably done. Then those lazy asses didn’t figure the confusion it is going to cause even after undertaking these lopsided plans at the cost of thousand of crores of the taxpayer’s money.

Bandra and Kurla could have been hubs but these have been ignored, as they have a huge slum population.
Notice how all the those highways, freeways, bridges, metros, monorails do not meet at one point anywhere. As is obvious, at present, the need of a commuter living in new Bombay and working in the western suburb is to have a central point where he can change over to the other line that would take him home. See that none of these ****ing screwing highways take him anywhere  to either Bandra or Kurla which are the hubs, so to speak, of the vast networks of trains and roads. Just look at the picture. Doesn’t your mind boggle? Don’t you want to clutch your head and curse everyone who has planned and drawn these idiotic bridges and highways? Doesn’t your aforementioned cockles turn to ice?

Engineers elsewhere in the world plan hubs (we typed hugs, sorry, shows how lonely we are as we type this in our ivory tower!) which will discharge commuters who want to find connections. In Bombay, if you are a newcomer and are searching for hubs (typed “hugs” oops! Again) you will never find any, because there are none. Bandra and Kurla could have been hubs (this time we force our fingers on the letter “b”) but have been ignored. The way it is, even as it would be in future, you would have to get down from one of these fancy transport, and board a rickshaw to reach the next hub. Reason, we aren’t aware, but, the large slum population of these hubs (voters! Voters!) could be the reason.

But then as is written on all vehicles in Bombay “Horn OK Please”, “OK, Tata”, who cares!

Friday, November 08, 2013

On the Highway to Bombay

The other day we decided to visit an old friend of ours. We had grown up – and old – together in the then burgeoning small town of Belapur and since the time was right, we decided to go. Something along the way struck me as typical of India. We don’t give enough importance to planning.  Though it was Diwali there were no lights around and we were on the Bombay-Pune highway and cars were whizzing past as if they were in Budh – the Indian Formula 1 track. We were in a modest rickshaw and immediately my ante was up, I was fearful of the traffic.

Recently four executives on a joy trip fell into a river and all four died. What they thought was a road turned out to be a gradient going towards the river. All were strapped to their seats and they drowned. No wonder road accidents are the biggest killer in India. Around 1,42,000 people died in road accidents in India in 2011, which is high considering it is 11 per cent of the total accident fatalities in the world. When will we learn? Driving in India is a hazard, the reason, perhaps, why we don’t own a car.

For example see the way the following road is laid. While the bridge for the fast lane traffic to Pune should be on the right, it’s actually on the left. The detour to Belapur, which should have been on the left is actually, by some queer thinking, on the right. If a car on the fast lane wants to access the bridge (the highway to Pune) it has to cut across the traffic slowing down for Belapur, and the result would be a collision.
The fast lane traffic has to turn left to access the bridge on the left, while the slowing traffic for Belapur has to go right exit the highway.

Then, again, see the other side of the road. The fast traffic that should travel on the bridge to Bombay has to cut across the traffic slowing down for Belapur. We were travelling on this road, and thank God the rickshaw driver had his faculties in place. Or, God forbid, it would have lead to collision.  

The fast lane traffic has to turn left to access the bridge, while the slowing traffic to Belapur has to turn right.

Tuesday, November 05, 2013

Why We Consider Manna Dey a Better Singer than Kishore, Rafi, or, Yesudas

A few days ago singer Manna Dey passed away. Many consider him as a lesser singer, somehow, than Kishore Kumar and Mohammed Rafi, or, for that matter Yeshudas. We feel different, which is the purpose of this post. We feel that he was a better singer than all these. Here's why we propose this, probably idiotic assumption. So forgive us tomato and rotten egg throwers, bongo babus, Yesudas die-hards and Mohammed Rafi lovers.

We will only take one song in Hindi and one in Malayalam that Dey sang. The Hindi song is "Jindagi Kaisi yeh Paheli" from the film Anand. Hear how easily he achieves the higher pitches and the lower pitches. One thing we notice is that he always ends his lines in a half note. This is a talent that none of the aforementioned triumvirate of singers ever had. Their songs are all either screamed at the top of the lungs, or, sung in a sad lower pitch. The purpose of music is to touch the heart and feelings and not to show off your vocal power, sorry, change it to vocal cord power.

The Malayalam song - the only one - which Dey sang was "Manasa Maine Varu" from the film Chemmeen, an all-time superhit. We doubt if Yesudas could have brought the feelings Dey brought to this song. Sorry, Yesudas fans, fawns, admirers, before you crucify me let me let me give my last testament.  Yesudas hardly varies his pitches and comes off as monotonous as Kishore and Rafi often do.  That’s why this song is a perennial favourite of all Malayalis. No Kairali Kala Mandalam function in suburban Chembur, or elsewhere, is complete without a singing of this song.

Then why wasn’t Dey given his due? Many feel that as a proud artiste he was isolated by his peers, as was singer Vani Jayaram and many other talented singers. This isolation of talented artists is the bane of Indian art and literature (oops!) which we strongly oppose. When he died nobody wrote a good obit of Dey listing his songs and its lilting musical qualities. (If somebody has done it, enlighten us!) We hope this humble post would do that job.

Hope we have made our point. Rest in peace Manna Dey in the great musical universe of beyond. Your songs will always live and grow in us.