Saturday, December 06, 2008

it feels good to have an intellectual dialogue with a student who has matured beyond his age and is now a professional journalist. yes i am talking about the interaction with shashank in the course of the last two days. shashank has grown up, but in some ways he is the same student that i first came across more than five years ago. he personifies someone who has imbibed good values and any parent can be proud of a son like him. just one example hits this home. Shashank wanted to make time from a tight schedule to go and see the landlady who had housed and fed him during his student years. it is these small gestures that add up.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

remembering past

the incident in class 109 the other day took me back a couple of decades to my pre-university days. a similar incident took place with yours truly in the hot seat. for the language class, we had to move to a different classroom. i, like many of my ilk, wanted to occupy the familiar seat in class. but that day i had to take another seat due to the non-availability. a couple of girls came up to me and asked me to vacate their seat. i, of course, refused and insisted that i had come there first (rather rudely).

in retrospect, i feel like a heel. as kids we do some really stupid things. i could have moved to another bench but at that time i wanted to be difficult. as humans we do this all the time. when we drive, how many times have we given way to the other drivers? in a queue did you give someone in dire need the chance to move ahead? we usually assert our right in such situations. isn't there a higher calling- one that calls for mutual respect, acknowledging the feelings of others...

student days are full of learning- the more diverse the group in class the tougher it is to get along, but a great opportunity to gain immense experience that stands the test of time. hopefully, the differences that we encounter all around will not be our undoing but a challenge and, ultimately, our strength. 

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

cathartic effect

when something affects you- and it happens very often to me- till it comes out in the open (your reaction or opinion) there is a sense of turmoil within. after the last posting i feel relieved that i got the angst out of my system. the things that trouble me and the issues that i am bothered about need a resolution. the kind of mental agony in the absence of a closure is difficult to overcome unless it is thrashed out in the open.
blogs allow for just this. an open forum to bring out any issue and place it in front of the world- inviting comments/criticism/acknowledgment. an open society is the safest bet against misunderstanding and conflict. only when things are hidden there is a scope for confusion. more than talk about issues, blogs allow for baring the heart out. what would have happened if this option was not around?

crime and punishment

the news about the students being made to sit the whole day in the corridor of the school as a punishment shook me and shocked me. it made me angry as i thought about it in the context of my school-aged daughter. how dare the school authorities impose this punishment or any punishment whatsoever. to top it all, the punishment was meted out not for an act by the students- their parents had skipped the parent-teachers meet on saturday.
schools are in the news increasingly for the wrong reasons. the inability to deal with the disciplinary issues, the excess workload and pitiable salaries are driving the teachers to take resort to punishment as a way out. it is high time punishment (out-moded means to achieve compliance) was done away with. What is the message one is giving the children (future citizens of our country) by punishing them for something they did or others did? what values are we imbibing in them? will they grow up to become better than us or just remain in our image?
The school authorities must be punished (not by making them sit in the open) for having done such a ghastly act. better still, they must be reformed. punishment does not achieve anything. the objective is to change the thinking of the person and not make him/her feel miserable. at least in the future children can go to school without fear of punishment.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

mirror image

michael jackson's 'man in the mirror' comes to mind as i try and deal with the question of identity. last saturday i got an opportunity to watch a premier of a kannada movie at badami hall. the main character in the movie is named 'gandhi'- it is also used as a metaphor in the movie. it narrates the struggle of gandhi in the face of having to live up to the great name. in the end, he is forced by circumstances to accept defeat and therefore decides to change his name.
the movie had an impact beyond the story. if i ever wanted someone to put a mirror to reflect my real inner personality the film did just that.
being a kannadiga by birth but not having lived a kannadiga's life (whatever that means) i was a fish out of water among the select crowd that had been invited to the premier. the cosmopolitan sheen keeps me from acknowledging my roots. while watching the movie i connected to the real me. deep inside, once you remove the outer layers (accent, educated...) i realised i was no different from the rest out there. i had found my identity. i am now, unashamedly acknowleding it.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

giving advice

it is good to feel that someone wants to consult you for a career move. your advice is given importance. that puts a lot of responsibility on me to give good advice. what is good advice? our experience can provide a bit of insight into things but circumstances change and in the changed circumstances giving advice on the basis of past experiences can be problematic.
it is ironical that when it comes to taking a decision in life i dither. all the possibilities and angles have to be looked into and then a decision can be taken. the same must apply for giving advices. without thinking out the options, we have no right to state a course of action. by putting all the options on the table, it becomes less of an advice and more of a choice for the advice seeker. it then becomes the responsibility of the person to choose the right path. hopefully, in the latest case i have been careful in doing just that. for i should not be the cause of any wrong action.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

plugging loopholes

i am curious to know what makes people tick? the other day, in the department, my mind was trying to figure out a few things as i saw/heard Mr. Kennedy explain and convince three bold and intriguing girls about the need to write positive about college. i, for obvious reasons, will keep out of the debate (class is where i will speak out). now what is of interest to me is the reasons behind the writing, its objectives and more importantly why one is not willing to compromise on ones stand.
we have to communicate our feelings and emotions- to not do so is dangerous. the forum, the method and the means to communicate are important if one has to overcome the fears of the guardians of stability and decorum. each one has to choose the way to speak out depending on the ground realities. one formula will hardly work for everyone. experience is the biggest clue one can fall back on- and my experience tells me, what works for someone may not work for me. so, without loosing hope, find other avenues for those creative & critical juices.

Friday, March 14, 2008

farewell all

was thinking that i will not do this. it would be a repetition of the one i write every year at this time. but what prompted me to write on the same subject was the realization that the students are not the same. a new bunch of students are going to graduate and they need a proper farewell. in fact, they deserve it.
i will start with the students of Thai origin. for starters i am ashamed to admit that except for three i don't known the names of others. but their faces are etched in my mind's eye forever. as foreign students they deserve special treatment. it was not possible to give more time and energy to their unique requirements- it will always be a regret.
the other group that i interacted the least was the one made up of students mostly in the 60s- roll number that is. the onus is obviously on the teacher to draw the students out of their shells. this was again something that didn't happen. why is it that the background of the person matters so much for even us teachers to warm up to students?
Rahul j, tarun, ajay, rahul m... make up another group (may not be a cohesive one) that was hard to crack. again i take responsibility that it was not possible to draw this group into the mainstream of the class activities.
come to think of it now, very few are left of the class who i did relate to and interacted with- big regret. ali, sheetal, shivraj, sumantra... were, due to different reasons, accessible and thus the class to me is represented through and by them.
finally, all the best to each and everyone of you- the journalism batch of 08. may you all do well in life. take care.

Monday, March 10, 2008

force multiplier

thought that u.r. ananthamurthy's speech was inspirational. not that he said anything new- it was the way he put it, with examples. i have been thinking of the same issues he put forth before the audience today at Christ College. i have been debating the pros and cons of the various controversial issues he touched upon. no i don't have the answers to them, yet. but it really takes guts and conviction to say the things he said in a public forum. i may think along the same lines but have very little strength to go public with them. take for example the divisive politics played by BJP (sometimes you wonder whether any political party is blameless), especially in the state of Gujarat- what succeeds in one state may be replicated in others. of course, one cannot but take the name of Raj Thackeray in the same breath. he is rewriting the script perfected by his uncle, the ever famous Bal. Regionalism, language politics and communal politics to name a few have surfaced time and again in this ancient land. it has its success in the short term. in the long run it leaves a trail of hatred and ample scope for future reprisals. As ananthamurthy said, it is through intellectual opposition that these forces can be defeated. where do i sign up?

Monday, February 25, 2008

cosmopolitian bombay

The images of people of north indian origin leaving pune and other towns of maharashtra brought back the memories of bombay, once again. it has been two decades since i left bombay but the images that i want to associate with the city are mostly pleasant. every colony is a microcosm of india. the diversity that is bombay extends to the schools and colleges. the differences hardly mattered to us while growing up in the metro. having friends from all over had its own advantage. a punjabi classmate, who incidentally quit college after the anti-sikh riots of 1984; a few marwari friends i walked home with and one day ended up visiting their temple; a parsi who took pride in his identity and many more. each and everyone of them has added to my rich storehouse of experience and i am glad that i had this opportunity.
it obviously makes me sad, very angry to see the visuals of North Indians being harassed and forced out of their 'homes'. bombay is the home to all those who have come for a better life, whether from other parts of the state or the country. when one starts differentiating and dividing on the basis of 'we' and 'them' it bodes ill for the nation as a whole. what angered me more was the lack of steps taken by our national politicians to put an end to this divide. if it succeeds in maharashtra today, can karnataka be far behind.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

rewriting history

i once saw a movie in which a man gets to go back in time and change the events so that the present can be suitable for his needs. so if one wants to change the way things are today- tweak at history. one gets the feeling that Ashitosh Gowarikar has tried, over did it in Jodhaa Akbar. the movie is a version of the history that the director wants to amplify. it comes off as too clinical to be true. the versions of history one is used to doesn't help in accepting Gowarikar's version without doubting the authenticity. the objective is appreciable, though ill conceived and some times overdone.
there is no doubt we require to change for the better- more understanding of other communities is desirable in today's context. but one cannot comprehend the ways- Mera Bharat Mahan set of short films in the 90s and today Jodhaa Akbar. interestingly, while watching the movie one gets a feel of the rigid polarization in society- one spectator shouted 'ab pata chala' to a exclamation by Akbar on hearing about taxes on Hindu pilgrimages. it drives home the point that there is a undercurrent of suspicion and maybe even hatred of the other community. the qawalli was taken as a big joke by a group of college students who laughed and made fun of the tradition. rewriting history has been tried before, by the state. now it is the turn of individuals for nationalistic reasons, of course. an insight into the cultural practices of the others will obviously make for a better understanding and appreciation of diverse groups in society but by blatantly tampering with history (again, even for a just cause) may just backfire.