black n white

why to have a blog of my own ? I am struggling to figure out the answer.Till I have one, here are some of my direction less thoughts .....

Monday, January 12, 2009

Any Question ?

“Any questions?”. One of the dreaded things in my life is to confront a question like this nature. In my formative years, after every classroom session when the teacher asked the question “any question?” I did not know where to hide my face so that I can escape his glare. Throughout my life, I always had a rueful face in asking questions. The only question that I am capable of asking is that “why no question comes to mind?” Is it that I understand everything that is being discussed or that I can’t make any sense of it? May be it’s my know-it-all attitude that discourage me from generating any question in my mind. One of my Professors recently commented rightfully that our curiosity to know things decreases as with our maturity. As we grow old we stopped making queries as if we are supposed to know everything. It does not have any scientific underpinning rather it is the convenient idea of taking things as given in most of the time. So we don’t see anything new in our surrounding to make an enquiry out of it.

The problem got aggregated more for me as I realized that I have an articulating ability of lower order. Even If something comes to mind, by the time I articulate my thought and convert it to English (I think in Assamese!), the bus has already left. Now the icing on the cake comes with my earned knowledge that “asking a question is not enough, one has to ask the right question”. Now what is this right question? How can I consider the question that I have in mind to be right? I am caught in a situation to take a mutually exclusive stand of asking or not asking. Most of the time, I opt for the second option for reasons to known to me only. So strong is my conviction of not troubling anybody with any question that I have managed not to ask some irresistible questions in life starting from a very simple question like “what is your name ?” to a little more complex one like “Would you like to spend time with me? Can I take you out for a dinner?”etc. Now you know why I have my status as single in Orkut while some of my friends have already contributed to human resources of our country. In our daily life also most of the conversation starts with a simple question like “how are you?” I am so resistant towards asking something that I have never been able to start a conversation in my life! Thanks to those, who took pity on me and saved me from solitary confinement by initiating conversations.

Till now I have also managed to survive my academic life somehow without asking many questions, but not anymore I can have the same luxury. The most lovable as well as fearful mark in the life of a Ph. D. student is the question mark. As they say, you love it or hate it but you can’t ignore it. There is this animal called “the research question” which the doctoral student need to have as his or her pet. You must shower affection to your pet so as to make the centripetal force work on it. May be someday it will sit on your lap and you may get a closure and detail view of your research question. There are stories of students struggling for years to ask the research question and now it’s my turn to get on this roller coaster ride. “What is my research question?” is the question that I am asking to myself these days and yet to make any headway. The little consolation in the form of a silver line in the cloud, came from the works of Prof Charles Tilly, who was an American Sociologist died in April, 2008. He was a professor at Columbia University and an academician with more than 51 books and 600 articles to his credit. You can visit his home page to learn more about him. In one of his talk, Prof Tilly discussed about the generating idea for dissertation and much of my relief, he suggested for first time researcher, to respond to already asked questions with a new logic or a new perspective to avoid the risk of never been able to complete the degree. You can challenge the accepted answer to an old question or can confirm contested answers to an old question. The contribution one can make by adding one more argument against or in favor of already existing debate is recognizable for Ph D students. So looking for a new perspective in already existing argument can save me from asking a new question. But I am no better off as such because the next hurricane that I have to face is what new perspective I can bring to which argument?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

Halla Bol !

He was killed while staging one of his well known plays. He was killed by some people who did not like his political theatres. He is Safdar Hasmi.
For a living, Safdar taught English literature in the University of Delhi but from his heart he was a political activist with communist ideology. Street play was the medium extensively used by Hashmi to reach the mass and during his life time he scripted and acted in a number of street plays staged in slums of Delhi as well as other part of country. Safdar was murdered by some political party workers while he was staging a play in a village near Ghaziabad. The plays staged by Safdar were a reflection of contemporary political scenario and were very well written to be able to leave an impression on the mind of audience. Attack on his troupe demonstrates the strength of street play as a medium to mobilize people and to be able to influence the power structuration in society. Hashmi was associated with IPTA and also worked with Habib Tanvir – a renowned theatre artist.( For starters, Habib Tanveer played the role of Madhuri Dixit’s father-in-law in the movie “Prahar”). It is inspiring to think of the courage and commitment that people like Hashmi had.
Safdar was killed while he was performing a play, “Halla Bol !”

Monday, August 25, 2008

Tourism in Northeast ?

We are living in a world of wonderful irony. It is more appropriate when I think of my home state Assam. The separatist movements in the entire Northeastern region are been there for a long time and nothing has been done effectively to address the issues concerning the movements. When I said nothing is being done, I am not only talking about the apathy of Central Government at Delhi but also about the ill functioning governance in the State. In fact blaming Central Government and Migrants from Bangladesh seem to be our favorite shield to cover the poor performance of state in all aspects. I am not sure how we can blame others for rampant corruption in state machinery, poor productivity of manpower and nonexistent public services. Of course Prime Minister Manmohan Singh can’t do much about the frequent Assam Bandh called by anybody and everybody in the state. The central government or the state government can’t do much about the mode of protest that is “Bandh”. In last couple of weeks, we are celebrating the migration issue once again. It seems all the political bodies are concerned with this issue and they believe that if we stop all the economic activities for a day or two than the migrant will vanish from the state. So we have a series of “Assam Bandh” in last couple of weeks. And in this scenario, “The Assam Tribune” publishes an article on potential of tourism in Northeast !! What an irony.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

benefits of failure

J. K. Rowling, the lady who gave birth to Harry Potter delivered her Commencement Address at Harvard on benefit of failure and importance of imagination. In the following paragraphs I have taken some portion of her speech on failure and imagination which I found to be interesting reflection on life.
This is how, today Rowling thinks of failure in her youth for which she believed her parents were to be held responsible ---“ I would like to make it clear, in parenthesis, that I do not blame my parents for their point of view. There is an expiry date on blaming your parents for steering you in the wrong direction; the moment you are old enough to take the wheel, responsibility lies with you. What is more, I cannot criticise my parents for hoping that I would never experience poverty. They had been poor themselves, and I have since been poor, and I quite agree with them that it is not an ennobling experience. Poverty entails fear, and stress, and sometimes depression; it means a thousand petty humiliations and hardships. Climbing out of poverty by your own efforts, that is indeed something on which to pride yourself, but poverty itself is romanticised only by fools.”
“You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all - in which case, you fail by default”
About importance of imagination this is what Rowling has to say, “In its arguably most transformative and revelatory capacity, it is the power that enables us to empathise with humans whose experiences we have never shared”.
… ‘many prefer not to exercise their imaginations at all. They choose to remain comfortably within the bounds of their own experience, never troubling to wonder how it would feel to have been born other than they are. They can refuse to hear screams or to peer inside cages; they can close their minds and hearts to any suffering that does not touch them personally; they can refuse to know”
“We do not need magic to change the world, we carry all the power we need inside ourselves already: we have the power to imagine better”.
She ended her lecture with ……”As is a tale, so is life: not how long it is, but how good it is, is what matters.”

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Sanjoy’s Assam

In the last part of July, the security forces in Assam killed one of the accused in the murder of Sanjoy Ghose. The forces were looking for him for last ten years ! and they want us to believe that they were unable to trace him, who was very much there in Assam working for United Liberation Front of Assam (ULFA). Surprisingly when he was killed he was armless. The forces got him in alignment with the ongoing drama of peace building where some of the middle level ULFA leaders have taken initiative. The security forces and Government has a great a sense of timing so far as encounters are concerned. The encounter of accused ULFA definitely helped the Government to show their commitment towards the peace building.

Sanjoy was killed by ULFA because they suspect him to be an agent of RAW.A lot of people who knew Sanjoy found this explanation quite amusing. Sanjoy was an outsider to North East and came to Majuli in Assam to work for people. He was not a known name for many people in Assam but he was already a recognized name in other part of the Country, especially in Rajasthan where he was associated with URMUL. Sanjoy did his post graduation from Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) in 1982 at the age of 22. He was a bright and energetic student. I think the most appealing part of Sanjoy was his inability to remain indifferent to the happenings in his surrounding. For most of us we have, the strange but quite common, ability to stay calm and tolerant without any impatience inside us, while looking at the poverty and failed system, would definitely find it impossible to understand what brought Sanjoy to Assam. I was quite young when he was killed by ULFA and had not followed the opinion given by many during that time. But I believe his ability to mobilize and help people in doing something for themselves rather than cursing and blaming outsiders for their misery, had made many insecure and led to his killing.

“Sanjoy’s Assam” is the title of a book containing compilation of Sanjoy Ghose's writing during his stay in Assam.

the story so far....

She is beautiful. She is intelligent. She is educated. She is mother. She is wife. She is daughter. She is sister. She is the victim.

She had a normal childhood. An obedient child to a government servant, she is a darling to her father. She is the youngest one in the family with two elder brothers. Everything was fine until her father died. She was only 17 when she lost her father. Both her brother were also very young. Her mother took the responsibility of the family and moved to their new home. The family lost their support system……..

They tried to fight the evils. Her mother started taking care of the little property that they have in Lucknow. The older son got his father’s job and things started getting better again. Now the first thing that they have in mind was to get her married. She was engaged at 19. They want her to get married as early as possible may be to avoid too much of dowry, may be to get hold of all of the property. So she was engaged. Her husband was a struggling professional. They got married when she was 22. Before marriage, she has no idea of what her husband exactly does, or what is his earning….like most other girls. That is not required as they say. At the time of marriage, her husband was doing nothing. He left his earlier job and was in the search of something new. He took the money that that he got as dowry and used for his new business. He lost all the money in his business. He was jobless for more than a year before he got another job. By this time she was pregnant. They had a daughter. She had a tough time with her in laws. Her father in law is hard man. He beats his wife, in front of her. Her mother in law is an illiterate lady with a foul mouth. They fight constantly. Her husband with his repeated failures become frustrated and started abusing her …..the story moves on.

Monday, July 28, 2008


Recently I read a book titled “ SHOLAY The making of a classic’’ describing the story of making the one of the greatest blockbuster of Hindi cinema. The book written by Anupama Chopra can engulf any Sholay fan with its excellent story telling style. I am sharing some of the fascinating facts of the classic taken from the book.

A lot of character in the film got their name from people who the story writer duo of Salim Khan and Javed Akhtar knew or heard of. The name Gabbar Singh was taken from real-life dacoit who created terror in villages near Gwalior. Javed knew Surma Bhopali, who was a forest officer in Bhopal. Veeru and Jai were college friends of Salim and Thakur Baldev Singh is his father-in-law. The comic scene of “veeru ki shaadi” was inspired by real life event. Javed Akhtar was in love with Honey Irani and Salim took the proposal to her parents. The conversation between Salim and Irani’s parents got space in the 70mm screen with Amitabh Bachhan ending the conversation by “Kya karu Mausi… mera to dil kuch aisa hain”.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Uncle ...?

Am I growing old…? Am I looking old…? How should I behave so that it suits my age..? Suddenly I am finding myself cornered by these questions. Being the youngest in a family of six, I always had this privilege of not growing up to take responsibilities and still treated like an infant. Unfortunately, I enjoyed this comfort even when I was studying. I was relatively young in our management school and to make the matter worse I also looked young. So my batch mate always liked me and never took me seriously…! So I never grow up while doing my MBA. My first job threw me in a Government department and found myself surrounded by oldies. They also took care of me by not giving any meaningful work to do ! I was really enjoying the protected status of being a na├»ve. Then I move to become the youngest of all project coordinators in a state programme. I was relieved to see that I don’t have to grow up and carried my childish acts. Everything was smooth till I decided to study again. Now I am landed up with a bunch of youngsters in their early and mid twenties and suddenly my status has changed to ( Uncle ?). Now I have some more than 10000 hours in my hand to be on the wrong side of thirty ….and this time I have to grow up ! But as usual, I still have a preference for the old status of being young. I hope with 2008 coming ahead will take a year from me and make me move backward ….towards twenty.

Wish u happy new year