Writer's Blog

Transient Thoughts

Saturday, May 23, 2009

A Mid Summer's Day Dream

Chapter 10


On the way out of the workshop, Chutti looked at his image in a window pane - shyly, self-consciously. One of the many things Chutti liked about workshop days was being in uniform. Khaki shirt and pant and leather shoes. Chutti thought he looked good in uniforms.

His hands and clothes were soiled with fine iron powder. His shirt was wet at the armpits and collar. His forehead was moist; he did not wipe it dry - he also liked his 'workman' look.

Chutti had spent the last two and half hours in 'filing' workshop, filing away at a rectangular piece of iron. The objective (of nearly half the course) was to reduce the the width of the piece to a certain smaller dimension, by (only) filing it. It was strange that such training should also contribute towards an engineering degree. It was hard work, the continuous to and fro movement of the arms, and one had to be careful and file straight, checking often, with a try-square, that the right angles were all still correct. But it was otherwise a no-brainer allowing the mind to drift here and there like a bird. Chutti loved these meditative two and half hours twice weekly.

The rest of his class had already dispersed, having set off on bicycles to different hostels. Chutti now got to his bicycle and started out, with a song in his heart, if not on his lips - feeling a bit like Devanand from some Hindi movie.

He circled the roudabout near the library, and just as he crossed the central lecture hall, as usual, he saw her at the head of a bunch of giggly girls, all his seniors. She looked pretty as usual, fresh, bright and cool - as if they were all at summer vacation on a hill station - not doing college in sultry Chennai. Chutti's workshop day routine was complete.

Chutti had been a reluctant participator in elocution contests while at school, participating only because his teachers expected him to. Something he had once tried from Shakespeare, came back to him now. For the first time there seemed to be more to the words than poetry.

What light is light, if Silvia be not seen?
What joy is joy, if Silvia be not by?
Unless it be to think that she is by
And feed upon the shadow of perfection
Except I be by Silvia in the night,
There is no music in the nightingale;
Unless I look on Silvia in the day,
There is no day for me to look upon;

************

Renee, for it was her, was ofcourse not unfamiliar with guys giving her the glad eye. But in Chutti's case her amusement was tinged with sympathy. "Poor kid," she might have thought "I am so out of his league".

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Jai Ho

"Poye Poye, Taamara poye " ("Oh it has gone, Oh it has gone, the lotus has gone").

I remember one holiday afternoon, in Trivandrum, suddenly hearing the above slogan chanting, sitting in the room of our home which faced the main street of P.T.P Nagar. It was the supporters of the CPI(M), I think, going by on a small truck, sarcastically mourning the big defeat of the BJP in some election.

Yesterday, as I watched the election results, the same slogan came to my mind. This was the first election I was keenly, even passionately, following. And the first election where I voted. And I am happy and relieved with the results. I hope this election has dealt a body blow (preferably a slap in the face) to the lotus party. Or at least to it's chief ideas and ways of working. Over the past few years, I have come to dislike most of it's leaders. However, I hope the party learns its lesson, ditches it's irrelevant ideologies and starts from scratch (of the head?) and finds out new ways of providing competition to the Congress. I don't wish that BJP should altogether go away. In some states - like Gujrat and Karnataka - they are probably better than the Congress in terms of administrative competence and leadership. I hope the BJP in those states sobers up and stops direct and indirect pro-Hindutva and anti-minorities activities. That is I hope the Gujrat government says sorry for Godhra, and speeds up compensation to the victims, and the karnataka government stops funding Hindu Matts out of a cash-starved budget (increasingly dependant on tax on booze) and I hope they hit groups like Ram Sene real hard on the head. I also hope the BJP never never dares do a Kandhamal once again. The last implying Mangalore quietens.

Why not BJP? Why Congress? I could see several reasons, and the rest of India apparently saw them too. First. Hindutva and anti-minorities. The ghosts of Gujrat - compensation granted by Central government over a year ago still not reaching Godhra victims. Then Kandhamal. Then Pilibhit. The Ram Sene in Bangalore. The threat of a Hindu Taliban. And not because BJP deep down believes in such strong fundamentalism (I think and hope), but only because they think they could continuously con the Indian people into the indulgence of chauvinism. I for one strongly believe that good governance and administrative provess a la Modi can never excuse exploitation and fascism. Don't we remember Hitler? Second, quality of leadership. Congress: sober, sincere, honest and obviously not greedy, qualified and experienced, plus plenty of leaders including young ones. BJP: Not so experienced, ambitious after power (look at Mr Advani), not so qualified, a few, old leaders. Third: How they behaved in the opposition. I don't remember much of the Congress as opposition five years ago, but I doubt they were as un-constructive and as coarse in their criticism of the government, as the BJP.

I belong to Bangalore North. And I voted for the Congress candidate Jaffer Sharief though I had doubts about his deserving to be MP again. Only because I wanted Congress to come back to power at the centre. Well Jaffer Sharief lost and still Congress is at the centre. So it is win despite a loss for my vote :-)

Other parties? When Mayawati came to power in UP, I was thrilled with her 'social engineering', her inclusive politics, her Dalit-empowerment. But she has since disappointed, fielding criminals, erecting her own statues (That reminds me, not very inappropriately, of something that Sheikh Saadi, a persian Sufi poet, is supposed to have said - It does not become a man to glorify himself, what pleasure does a woman get pressing her own boobs?), building palaces for herself out of government money, hiring/firing/transfering people she does'nt like. The revivial of Congress in UP is good news. AIADMK? Jayalalitha is supposed to be a good leader. But her flip-flop on LTTE was disappointing. Hope she learns her lesson. Lalu? Too bad. I hope he manages to continue in the cabinet. Nitish Kumar. Hope his good work in Bihar in the years that follow affords him the luxury of distancing himself from the BJP, like Naveen Patnaik has managed in Orissa. Deve Gowda? Good riddance. Kumaraswamy? Poor fellow. Did some good work as CM. Hope he makes a wiser come-back. DMK? Hope they shut up about LTTE, now that it is not required, and concentrate on governance. Anyway, they have good competition from Jayalalitha.

Overall. Quite a Jai Ho result.