Quarter life revelations?

Posted in Uncategorized on May 18, 2013 by mindmontage

Actually, it’s not even quarter life since not all of us live to a 100, right? Anyway, a friend once told me ‘When you inch closer to 25, you start getting philosophical about life.’ At that time, I pretty much pooh-paahed him but now, I am beginning to wonder there is an element of truth to this. For the first time, I find myself thinking I don’t want to grow up. Ha, some wish that! Now is when the effervescent advice about age being a number and living life to the fullest kicks in. Face it, you and I both know that doesn’t always work. As much as you find yourself kicking yourself back to the familiarity of the past, you are pushing yourself forward in more ways than one. You’re constantly thinking of getting ahead at work, you want to trounce that colleague at a story and get a front-page byline more often than you’d like, you actually find yourself warming up to the idea of living with a boy… for life! You begin to think of things like fixed deposits, insurance premiums and car loans. Sigh.. When did we grow up so quickly?

Let me burst that little bubble… It wasn’t so quickly, was it? I don’t know about others, but throughout school and college, I would look at my older sister achingly and wonder when I would get to do ‘grown up things’ like drive a car, use a credit card, make important ‘work calls’ and go home late heaving a laptop bag full of papers. Well, the universe conspired and gave me all this, but I find myself aching for the long gone….

As I ponder all this on a Saturday night (instead of living it up in a nightclub somewhere.. isn’t that what twenty-somethings do, anyway?) I find myself unnervingly comfortable with the notion that life has been kind to me so far, and now is when the shit gets real. Be it handling a crappy job with a retarded boss, a cranky boyfriend, friends who grow distant over time or even the exasperating traffic, it’s all on you. Only you. Over time, you realize you are miles ahead of several counterparts and instead of feeling dizzylingly ecstatic, you only feel terrified. Unsure. Scared. Yep, all that and then some. Somewhere along the way, you begin to empathize with mothers and fathers all over the world. You know you have the onus of responsibility on you, responsibility for yourself, and the consequences that come with it. If you screw something up, you are accountable. This is the independence we all want, crave and yearn for all through our growing up years. When we are handed that on a platter, it definitely makes you falter and stumble a little. You wonder how people did this? That’s when an epiphany strikes. If XYZ could do it, why can’t I? And that’s how you get a move on… 

Sometimes, you need to take a step back and look at everything in the most distended manner possible. The alarming reality that you’re only a small part of a bigger plan dawns on you, which is when you can smile, ease out those clenched muscles, embrace life and walk on…

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A phone call that made me think

Posted in Uncategorized on September 30, 2011 by mindmontage

A phone call really made my day. Just a short while ago, I received a call from someone, who made me see life in a whole new light. A villager, of the Chitradurga district (Chellakere taluk to be specific) saw how I was trying to make a movie in the barren, hot lands of Karnataka. I remember how he walked up to me and offered if he could help. With my (then) limited knowledge of Kannada, I stammered my way through and told him I was in his village to shoot a short film. He looked at me suspiciously (as did everyone else in the 8 villages I went to that day) but offered to help. Feeling much more encouraged, I went along with him. As we walked in the scorching heat, and on the dusty roads, I told him what I did. He was quite impressed (I think!) with my description of education in the city.

My film was about the poor connectivity in the cluster of villages I was assigned to. Hundreds of villagers had no option but walk or travel in a rickety bullock cart to the district. When I think about how there are atleast 5 good hospitals withing spitting distance of my house, I thank my stars. I recollect how I would leave at 8:15 am for school since it was just two lanes away from home and Mom would breezily drop me to the school gates within 8:25 am. The sullen old watchman would reprimand me for coming late and let me enter anyway! And to think, these children had to walk 10 kms everyday to school and back.

I saw a pregnant woman, clad in a yellow sari, no more than 25, heaving herself onto a chair. She made it to the desolate looking hospital building in a bullock cart with ten others. And this, was her monthly checkup. I shuddered to think how she would avail medical assistance when she would go into labour.

And through all this, the villager continued to be the voice of my film script. How does one manage in such circumstances? Will this film help us overcome our problems? Will the Govt help?

I did not have the answers back then, and I still do not.

When he called me, about half hour ago. I was so thrilled! I jabbered like an idiot in my (still) disjointed Kannada and my heart swelled with happiness. After I hung up, I teared up thinking of that wonderful week I spent with so many simple, earnest human beings. Times like this, I go through such mixed feelings about my profession. Being in such close quarters to human pathos, the journalistic principle to ‘report only’ and not get involved just tears me into two.

The battle continues..

The dawn of the New Teacher.. Err, really?

Posted in Uncategorized on September 27, 2011 by mindmontage

It has been a while since I blogged! My apologies. Let me first update this space. I left my job as an Output Editor and News Anchor at NDTV and I now work with The Deccan Chronicle as a Features Reporter and Sub Editor. I can safely say I am blessed to be given such opportunities so early on in life.

But anyway, now that my role is more defined, let’s get started, shall we? Today, Google turns 13. It’s officially a virtual teenager! There is no refuting the fact that Google is a boon to millions worldover. Right from students to professionals, the search engine’s gambit spreads far and wide. One can safely say this has changed the face of the Internet in the present day and age.

I remember, back in college, my Journalism professor mentioned something about Moodle lectures. At that time (Okay, it was just three years ago), I thought it was a far-fetched idea but nevertheless, ingenious. And now, steps are being made slowly to phase out the role of a conventional lecturer. Question is, will that justify the role of a teacher?

Tech-savvy and electronically enhanced humans may argue to the effect- when books can be replaced by Kindles, iPads and the like, it’s only a matter of time that teachers will be replaced by robots. Even if that’s a distant reality, virtual lectures are no longer a pipe dream! Several universities abroad capitalise on high-speed internet to complete portions at breakneck speed. Sure shot way of churning out mass produced results, but can this match up to the bond between a teacher and student?

Call me old fashioned but I’d much rather have a teacher right in front of me! By that, I mean, someone who I can see and speak with, [maybe even gawk at ;)], hound after class for a free hour, beg for attendance that he/she may have denied because I sauntered in late! Basically, I would like the real deal.

Okay, I’m 23 and I have normal hormones, yea? And I’m a girl. So yes! I am thinking on this tangent, “When my daughter or son does this-and-that… (yadi yada)” and I’m thinking I want them to go to school like I did, have fierce best friends, hate a teacher’s guts at the age of 7, love a teacher so much that they would cry their eyes out all day upon hearing of her sudden demise, drool over a cute lecturer in college(however weird it maybe, but we’re being honest here, remember?) and remember to drop an email/message on Teacher’s Day. I really wouldn’t know what to say to a robot-teacher, would you?

What does it take to get noticed?

Posted in Uncategorized on August 21, 2010 by mindmontage

First things first, it feels great to post an entry after so long! I have truly missed mindmontage-ing 😛

When a human error is responsible for taking the lives of many, and even so, if the same human error is not accounted for, how does one justify the situation? The world’s worst industrial disaster, the Bhopal Gas Tragedy in 1984, claimed over 25000 lives and maimed several more for life. Till date, many are crippled by the after effects of the deadly Methyl Isocynate gas (MIC gas). Unsuspecting civilians of Bhopal were killed by noxious fumes in the dead of the night when a container exploded releasing the gas. Safety and quality control was questioned from the inception of this plant but none paid any heed to the warning signs. The villagers were swayed by the prospects of a better life by working in a factory, than pay attention to the threat looming large on their heads. This was a human error that was developing uncharacterestically. Union Carbide Chemicals set foot in Madhya Pradesh and saw promise in the poverty that existed in the small town of Bhopal. Labour would be available at a low cost and liabilities, if any, would not be major.

Cut to 2010. An oil rig off the US coast explodes at Deepwater Horizon, killing 11 workers and causing a massive oil spill for miles off the American Coast. British Petroleum, one of the leading oil companies, was facing the ire of American administration. The vitriolic waters began to threaten aquatic life and Obama was not a happy man. Within months of this disaster, shares of British Petroleum began to plummet in the world market. BP now faces a seven year offshore ban and 10% of profits come from Gulf of Mexico alone.

So the facts are laid out on the table. USA is truly flaunting it’s superpower status. Despite the recession and a sagging Obama administration, there is no doubt that the USA is a very powerful entity. After the oil spill, Obama had another trump card against BP in the form of Megrahi. The Libyan bomber was released on compassionate grounds as he was diagnosed with prostate cancer and apparently had only 3 months to live. He was responsible for the death of 279 civilians aboard the Pan Am flight that exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland. One year after his release, Megrahi lives on and USA is livid. The reason why BP is under fire for this issue is that Libya guaranteed UK rich oil reserves, in exchange for Megrahi’s release, and BP had a big role to play in this transaction.

It does not take too long to join the dots but implications are far reaching. 26 years after the gas tragedy that killed and injured thousands, a verdict was delivered and till date, Indian politicians are passing the buck around. Warren Anderson, the CEO of Union Carbide Corporation at the time of the disaster, was given a freeway out of India by Arjun Singh, former CM of Madhya Pradesh. The man has only moved up the political hierarchy ever since. And USA has declared the case closed. It’s as simple as that. Victims still await compensation and acknowledgment from the government. When will justice get delivered? Rather, the pertinent question now is.. Will justice get ever get delivered?

I cannot help notice how swiftly action was taken in the case of the oil spill and how lackadaisical the Indian Govt has been regarding Bhopal. Despite mind boggling numbers and dangerous implications, action was and still is pending. India is a burgeoning democracy and this apathy is not befitting our nation at all. Wonder what it takes to get noticed…

Trial by Media.. Only for the elite?

Posted in Uncategorized on May 9, 2010 by mindmontage

I cannot help but notice, how the justice system is quick and harsh after the media applies pressure. We all saw what happened with Jessica Lall. The case reopened after six years and today, Jessica’s killer Manu Sharma is in jail for a non-bailable offence. The peace marches, intense debates, public pressure all paid off in the end. Ditto for Priyadarshini Mattoo. The Nithari killings too bore a similar fate. Aarushi Talwar and Ruchika Girhotra too line up. The latest to join the bandwagon is the infamous Ajmal Kasab, the lone terrorist of Lashkar E Toiba who has been sentenced to death. The case was the fastest in Indian criminal history. The verdict was out in less than 2 years of the tragic attacks on civilians on November 26th, 2008. Okay, all sounds good. The world is messed up but at least the wrong doers are being punished. There is enough pressure on the Mumbai High Court to not allow this case to turn into that of Afzal Guru, who is still rotting in jail.
Now.. I noticed a pattern. The acted upon are all the elite class of India. Respectable, upper middle class citizens who live in the big metropolitan cities. Does this have anything to do with the speedy justice? Possibly so. There are thousands of cases still lying unresolved in High Courts and Supreme Courts. Jessica Lall’s case was reopened after public began to apply pressure and eyewitnesses began to talk.

The judiciary hangs at a transitional point now. At a time when there were only select cases making it to the hearings, there were many case files that just collected dust in the courts of law. Last week, when the Supreme Court ruled in favour of Mukesh Ambani over RIL as opposed to ADAG owned by his brother Anil Ambani, many other cases took a backseat as this case was being decided upon by the Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan.

The powerful call the shots in India and largely, we have the urbanites backing them up. How often do you see rural crimes being brought to the forefront? The public too has a selective perception and chooses certain issues over the other. Democratic power is something we can wield very strongly as India allows for it greatly. We do not belong to bureaucratic societies like China, so we actually hold a rather influential position. It would be a lot better if many more issues came forth. Leads to more information and therefore, justice. In due time..

As we come to an end…

Posted in Uncategorized on April 22, 2010 by mindmontage

I have learnt many things down this road… the world of Journalism started looking so different to me, and I have emerged a changed person. The thrill of waking up to new challenges, the struggle of facing hurdles and a feeling of exhilaration upon accomplishing something new, gives me a high! A year in Journalism school has taught me how limitless knowledge is, and I consider myself extremely lucky to have had the chance to experience all the emotions mentioned above…

A real test came along only towards the end of the course… When I was covering stories, working on editions, covering crazy distances week after week, little did I know the hardest was yet to come… When it did amble along, I was divided in emotion. On one hand, I was alarmed at the cavalier outlook of the class towards ethics. On the other hand, I felt thrilled by not being a part of that majority.

When you do something opposed to what favours the public, you are bound to face the odds. What the general lot of people may like or favour, is not always necessarily the right thing… Making yourself heard is mostly a personal choice, not many make that choice. When they do, the reception is not always a pleasant one…

I cannot help but recall this line from Spiderman… “With great power, comes great responsibility” The call of a profession like this is such, and abuse of such power is not only wrong, but tragic. I only hope I can always do justice to journalism, and nothing gives me more satisfaction than the same…

Controversy’s Favourite Child!

Posted in Uncategorized on April 15, 2010 by mindmontage

Art has different meanings… it has evolved over time and stands as a form of expression. From being comprehended as skill or mastery over a particular subject, art evolved to become a stimulator of thoughts and feelings. In fact, even now it is a matter of debate about what art means to each one. When something is as diverse as this and needs to be probed into further, why would it be subject to so much criticism?
Right from Norman Lindsay and David Cerny to Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasrin, several artists, poets, writers, sculptors have been dragged into the mire of controversy over their works. Salman Rushdie is a talented writer and his book ‘Satanic Verses’ was banned, and former Iranian President Ayatollah Khomeini issued a ‘fatwa’ against him. Recently, his interview at the India Today Conclave on freedom of speech and dissent was such a pleasure to hear. He spoke about how the Indian Government is allowing extremism to settle in the nation when the time to ripe to do away with such practices. “India should protect MF Hussain”, said Rushdie. MF Hussain now holds a Qatari citizenship after his controversial piece ‘Bharat Mata’ was criticized for insulting national pride. The point of true art is to go beyond boundaries and in order to realize this; one has to consider the element of risk. Alexander Solzhenitsyn in his speech once remarked that art lives on, though the artist dies. His work may be subject to criticism and he may be punished for the same but his work lives on and speaks volumes of the era the artist lived in. Artists are being pushed to the fringes of society when in fact; they should be in the ‘mainstream’. Being politically correct is not their job, being artistic is what they ought to be doing and they should be given the freedom to do so entirely.
The period of Reformation in Spain was a period of cultural tumult. However, that period will remain significant in the minds of ardent art admirers simply because of what it sustained. It has greatly contributed to what art is today. India has such a rich cultural heritage and has given the world a sea of talent. The scurrilous treatment of creative geniuses seems unfair and limits the greatness of the work they are capable of. It is a about time philistine practices be done away with. ‘Open the Universe a little more’, goes the adage. This is the only way to see what imagination can do to humans.
On the other hand, artists need not be treated differently but should be sensitive to the feelings of others. Sadly so, in a nation like India, religion is very sensitive issue. Much of the art gets filtered through this social setup. It is debatable to note how much religion should dictate the boundaries of art.
Artistic freedom comes with a price. This has been happening since time immemorial. Da Vince and Galileo were criticized in their time for their contribution to art as during the time of Reformation, it seemed like they were questioning a higher power. The same people are now heralded, as thinkers and inventors and we cannot imagine a world without their contribution. I wonder what will be made of people like Taslima Nasrin, MF Hussain, Salman Rushdie, Rukmini Arundale in a couple of hundred years. Only time will tell…