Monthly Archives: October 2009

Service with lips, lipsticks and lights

During the second year of my Undergrad, I was highly inspired and motivated to do my bit for the society, thanks to the subject Sociology and the compulsory credit courses we had to take up to fulfill the requirements for  the award of our degree. Whatever…

Since, Outreach offered maximum credits in minimum time and didn’t involve hours of sitting through painful lectures on weekends, many of us opted for it. I was a highly motivated individual at that time remember? We were sent to BOSCO Mane and those days made me realize how hard it is in reality if you really have to do your bit for the society.

It was during such a phase, in December, I think in commemoration of Human Rights Day, we hostelers were asked to take part in this particular ‘candle light vigil’ organized by some Germany based women’s organization. I don’t even remember the name, it was unheard of till then and unheard of even now, but I remember it rhymed with the word onomatopoeia. We were all asked to wear white for the vigil, which saw many a ‘beg, borrow, steal’ attempts by the ones who wanted to contribute to the well-being of the society.

We had to report at M.G road entrance and the rally was to be held around Cubbon park, the popular venue for any ‘Socially Conscious’ Bangalorean. The organizers distributed some fancy candles and paper cutouts to prevent wax from dripping and burning our hands and spoiling our clothes. After the women had finished air-kissing, hugging and exchanging pleasantries (read the designer for their sari, or where they got their accessories from),  putting on that final dab of lip gloss and a brief talk ‘praising the works of their organization, the walk was inaugurated.

The members of the group could be distinctly identified. The white clad supermodels and the ‘hostelers’ like us who were assembled solely with the purpose of ‘aale koottal’ or rather ‘speak volumes’ of their organization. The chiffon clad, stiletto clamped womenfolk started ooh-aahing within 5 minutes of the commencement of the walk. Each five minute break was followed by camera flashes, posing for the press and short page 3 type interviews.

“We’re here to work for the betterment of the Indian woman, who has been suppressed and tortured for years” a fat aunty started off.

“We want these atrocities against women to stop”, another aunty shoved off the fat one and fought for her camera space.

We proceeded, watching this circus and I was ashamed to have walked into this. All that mattered here was not letting your candles blow off, make sure the photographers clicked the right faces and give page 3 type interviews. I had no clue on how I made a ‘difference for the women in this country’ with that namesake of a walk.

That day when I returned to the hostel I was not a content person. This publicity stunt for the ‘sake of oppressed’ women of the Indian Society on World Human Rights Day, left me disgusted. That, I had been part of another venture ‘where people misuse the names of the downtrodden for the sake of showing off their service’ made me cringe. Every bit of motivation and inspiration drained off with the realization that more than 90% of these pseudo-service-minded-people do it only for recognition. For them it was just another gimmick to have their faces plastered on newspapers and magazines.

After that particular incident, I’ve been very apprehensive about taking part in these vigils and rallies. I do agree there are many out there who do whole-hearted service but, these candle-lights and rallies just don’t make sense anymore. A momentary realization, awareness which lasts for like what maximum few hours, the undying spirit of patriotism that arises only during national holidays or terror strikes… and what purpose does it serve?

A few months back, we had this Seminar in college and there were some leftover unopened biscuit packets. We decided to distribute the packets among ourselves. I was traveling home with a friend. We stopped at the signal at Bhasyam circle and saw the bunch of kids who sell some arbitrary hand-made stuff or sometimes come begging. At that moment, we decided to give away the biscuit packets to those kids and I will never forget the smallest kid of the lot who actually smiled and said a ‘thank you’. That day, I was a content person.

I still remain pessimistic about the services rendered and how people go on harping about being the change with just a few rallies and candle-light gimmicks. Poverty, deprivation, hunger, and illiteracy nobody actually knows the way out of it. This is the truth I realized after the invigorating ‘growth and development’ exam yesterday.

Sustainable development, growth, strategic planning, poverty alleviation, integrated measures, objectives, goals, targets, achievements, income gap, human development, equitable distribution, population- environment- development nexus, welfare, efficiency of allocation, optimal utilization, mobilizing resources, knowledge base, inclusive growth, eradication, universal literacy… and many more. All of it makes me puke. Reminds me of the trash I’ve to churn out for the next exam, Indian Eco… Yes, these are stuff just worth putting down on paper.


Rant

I need to do this or else I’ll end up hurling abuses at people in my growth and development paper tomorrow. Questions on critically examine ‘x’ s theory ( note: x=43 in this case..43 theories.. KILL ME) will be answered as Ricardo was out of his mind or Tobin himself had no clue what he was talking about. Anyways, there are only three kinds of people in this planet earth who bring out the worst in me.

1) Auto drivers

2) College and a few people associated with it

3)  Right now every person who formulated a growth theory to make my life miserable. Rather the University people who included all this in our syllabus which is pointless.

All I can think of critically examining is ‘its useless, meaningless, pointless, worthless’. With due respect to all the economists, I have to confess, seriously I don’t understand why their research got so much recognition ( in our syllabus) when it holds no value in the current world. As I’ve mentioned in my previous blog, I’m sure these growth economists were venting their personal egos rather than doing original research. That reminds me that I don’t understand their fascination with the word ‘vulgar’. While criticizing each other, every other person’s theory happens to be a ‘vulgar’ theory according to them. Speaking of the interesting usage of words by Economists this one takes the cake. Ms.Joan Robinson and her ‘ Bastard golden age’. I’m in love with this lady. Of the very few lady economists I know, she is one with lot of guts. Her writings and open criticisms makes me go :O

Now, I wouldn’t have hated these growth theorists if not for my Lect. This person stays 10 miles away from anything that has got mathematical equations in it and thus, a major portion of our syllabus was left for self-study coz we aren’t supposed to be spoon-fed at PG level. What a dumb excuse. For people like me who survive only on class lectures and hate to read anything that has to do with the course subject, this is torture.

The other day I just realized how ‘hypocritical’ people in my college are. My college happened to be my centre for this particular exam I was writing and I was shocked to see the happenings there. Since, I remain invisible in that place especially with my obsessive bunking disorder, these people didn’t recognize me (luckily). The dedication and sincerity with which they were ushering people, showing directions… the wholehearted service left me in tears. One person was kind enough to show me the very classroom where I shuttle up and down everyday I college. Sigh

The tears turned into exasperation  when I had to travel for 2 hours and wait for the’ HALL TICKET’, right on the day before the exam ( today). And, they treat us like some third rate citizens.  Not that I’d have spent those hours in ‘productive activities’ but I could’ve spent that time to finish a few more pages of ‘Godfather’. It keeps me sane.

The worst part of it all was the decision to hire an auto to get back. The bloody jerk had a dysfunctional meter and had the nerve to ask me for extra bucks. I just paid the exact amount and scooted from the place after screaming at him. He almost knocked down a girl in a scooty and fled from the place. Contrary to my ‘why chumma get into trouble attitude’ today my temper was so high that I shouted at him for that too. I’m glad I did that. My troubles with auto drivers here never seem to end.

Anyhow, some days are just meant to be like this and I post stuff that makes people think I’m a misanthrope. Can’t complain, can I?

So where did I begin. Ya.. growth and development. Time to cram useless stuff and answer questions like ‘what was Smt.Joan Robinson’s contribution to theory of capital accumulation’. Smt.Joan Robinson? Seriously? reinforces my belief that our university murders Economics and Economists.


Ileyamma

“Kungone, chorunnu”, the words still reverberate.Though I was too small to remember the days I spent with her, fragments of memories still remain. I remember she’d run behind me, while I dragged myself in the walker and later on ran all over the place. The process of feeding me used to be a procession. Ileyamma would carry me and walk around the park and mom or aunt would tag along with the plate of food. It would take at least 3-4 rounds in the park to feed me. I was a stubborn kid who wouldn’t let anything pass through her food pipe unless I had a view of the outside world and in a constant motion. Years later, people would taunt me saying, if Ileyamma had walked that distance (to feed me all those years) in a straight line, she would’ve reached Kothamangalam from B’lore. I remember how I would openly proclaim, I like her more than my maternal grandmother. I remember how she would call me ‘Kunjone’, my version of her calling me ‘kunjumone’. I know it was no easy task at her age to look after a kid like me. In spite of her health problems she stayed on till my parents could make an alternative arrangement, that came in the form of another blessed woman, ammumma about whom I’ve already mentioned.

Ileyamma, is my maternal grandmother’s younger sister. She is a spinster yet, has the distinction of bringing up 15 kids in the family. My mother was sent to her uncle’s place after the birth of her younger sibling and it was Ileyamma who took care of her. History repeated itself in a way, when Ileyamma was the person who took care of me during my infancy. At that crucial time when my parents were helpless, (we couldn’t afford a servant from our hometown to stay full time in B’lore and  my mother couldn’t afford to quit her job) it was Ileyamma who stepped forward.

She showered us all with unconditional love. She substituted the role of what my maternal grandmother should’ve done. That of a mother for my mom and a grandmother for me. She had nobody of her own, yet, I don’t think any other in the family is held with so much respect and love as much as her. She’s been a solace for all working parents when it comes to taking care of their babies. Even though she didn’t have kids or grandchildren of her own, she has 15 of them, who still fight to claim, “I’m HER  baby”.

On the eve of my B’day this year, my aunt broke that devastating news. Ileyamma was dying. Cancer in the pancreas and intestines was taking her away from us. We were losing her slowly. Everyone was shocked. Doctors said that if it was diagnosed early something could be done but now it was too late. Ileyamma, not wanting to trouble anyone, depended on the ayurvedic medicines from the local doctor when the initial symptoms like stomach pain started showing. It was only in an advanced stage that we all came to know about her illness.

All this leaves us with a guilty conscience. This incident showed the value of relationships. People had taken her for granted over the years.  As the kids grew up, Ileyamma’s role started becoming less important and she was left shuttling between a few nephews’ and nieces’ homes. People got busy with their lives and our contact with Ileyamma was limited to the occasional phone calls or a visit once a year. These are things I deeply regret now. For all those years lost. We could’ve done more for her during those days and now we’re in a situation we cannot do anything for her.

Prayers, wishes, they all seem futile. Its terrible to see someone dying, especially your loved one. All I wish is, let her die a peaceful death coz I can’t bear to see her suffer anymore.

Ever since, I got to know Ileyamma’s days were counted, I’ve been trying to post something about her, but I always end up discarding the post, coz I feel words wouldn’t do justice to what she really means to me or my family.


Finding myself again

As time passed, as people changed, as I grew… I realized I don’t recognize myself anymore. Reading through the archives of my  blog, I felt, somewhere down the line I stopped being honest with myself. A series of boring bad-day rambles, random jots..it felt like words without soul. The itch to write recurs. But, I find that I cannot twist and mold words as I could before. It seems like a jigzaw puzzle with missing pieces. Ideas galore but I can’t put them down here. But, I haven’t given up yet. Sometime, I will find myself again. To write without inhibitions, to be myself again..