Narayan… Narayan…

November 27, 2008

The cost of life…

“Terrorists take over Mumbai” “Attacks in Mumbai” – Breaking news headlines flaring throughout the day.

Aww… tell me something new. We all got used to this. The common man is going to wake up and go to work the next day as if nothing happened.

But then something caught my eye, as I fleeted through the news. These guys attacked Taj & Oberoi hotels, and were asking for folks with American and British passports.

Now that’s something different. These guys finally found a way to get to the media, so much so that CNN & MSNBC have decided to stop guessing about Obama’s next man in the transition cabinet. Imagine pictures of Hemant Karkare, Vijay Salaskar, & Ashok Kamte (the men from the Indian Anti-terrorist Squad, who lost their lives in this attack) being flashed across American channels.

That is media attention. And how did these terrorist manage to get that – simple, Stop focusing on cheap Indian lives.

I bet this is going to get much more attention than the serial blasts that happened over the last 6 months.

Jaipur, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Delhi, Guwahati – These are not the list of developing Indian cities. This is just the list of cities which saw serial blasts rip through their busiest areas killing the common Indian man – bad strategy I would say. Com’on who cares for a cheap Indian life?

(A, B, D, G, H, J… see, these poor guys missed out a city that starts with C, then E, F… )

Awww… and after this, I loved the way, our ‘honorable’ politicians, dressed for the cameras, came out and said –

“This is a tragic moment for our Nation. My prayers go out to the people who have been injured and killed. We shall initiate a CBI inquiry into these attacks and the intelligence failure. The govt. will provide 5 lakh rupees to the next of kin of the deceased”

Did you happen to notice the cream colored bandhgala, and the green one a few minutes later, which the home minister, Shivraj Patil wore for the press briefing? And yeah… 5,00,000 rupees for one Indian life – see, that was indeed cheap. Who cares?

And now, the creative terrorist has done something different. Why focus on those many cheap Indian lives, when few Americans and Britons can give a better coverage? Paradigm shift, Hmmm. The news also said that around 100 people lost their lives in this attack. Now that is like collateral damage. Com’on, They will anyway get 5,00,000 rupees. Don’t worry about that.

Shocking, gruesome, horrible, carnage, massacre – these are few of the adjectives used to describe the event. Analysts are surprised at the incredible planning.

I am surprised; They don’t get the basic fact – This happened in India.

What does the Indian government do after each terror attack? Vote bank politics take over, with an eye on the next general elections. The victims and perpetrators of terror are classified based on religion, race, and ethnicity. Statements are issued accordingly. The motive – get the maximum number of votes. It is important that the future is secure – the future of the politician, the minister, the government.

After all, who cares for a few hundred cheap lives in a billion plus population with a birth rate of 22 per 1000? And yes, the common man – who cares? He is going to pay the taxes to sustain the privileges of the bureaucracy. He is going to go back to work the next day, irrespective of what happened.

Sad and depressing – that is the truth. The life of a common Indian man is cheap and dispensable. It is not me, but the politicians and government who say so…

Last heard:

Shivraj Patil – “Damn those guys, why did they have to ask for British and American passports? Now that America is watching, I need a new Armani.”

Manmohan Singh – “Thank goodness, they didn’t ask for Italian passports. Madam will be happy. Now what do I wear, blue turban, green turban, or… black, that will go well with the black suit”

LK Advani – “yaaaaay… now let them talk about Hindu terrorists. Hello… CNN … I am giving a press briefing”

RR Patil – “Female reporters at my press briefing should be wearing sarees only. Indian culture…”

Raj Thackeray – “First we have to find out if these terrorists were originally from UP and Bihar”

October 30, 2008

Remember… remember…

As I hear news about the serial blasts in Assam, I am reminded about something similar that happened in Hyderabad… yes, serial blasts…

I am publishing the words of a good friend, Parnab Mukherjee.

CHORUS: I took the shortest route through Belief’s sad country

where archangels. on the Word’s command, slew my word

Aga Shahid Ali

CHORUS:

Please don’t slice the sky

Dip your dissenting finger in this pock-marked landscape

Make Che a little more than your T-shirt

Yes,

it is secular list

so said a political leader in Rabindra Bhawan

after the Hyderabad blasts

yes, one of the many in politics

who feasts on that old rhetoric of “our” and “their” divide

for heaven’s sake let’s not dig this scrutiny and surveillance trenches anymore

somewhere cowards who have programmed

a Prince quartz clock

to let go at 7.40pm at Lumbini Park and 7.50pm in Koti

must have drawn up their private secular lists

too

Sir,

I am looking at the list

and feeling ashamed

you must have a self-congratulatory smile on your face

CHORUS: I don’t think artists can avoid being political. Artists are proverbial canaries in the coalmine.

When we stop singing, it’s a sure sign of repressive times ahead

Theresa Bayer

And looking at the images of photographers shooting the lonely shoe

and also the passerby who keeps flower at Gokul Chat

Yes,

the list is out approximately 45 killed

or rather between 42 and 45

approximate lists for approximate human beings

about 60 injured

numbers do matter in preparation of secular lists

don’t they?

I know how the stake knife is sharpened

and how the little blood clot forms at the tip of this knife

I know how blasts rip apart our consciousness

how bodies fall like nine-pins

how dead bodies roll on the floor

gets collected in a heap

before you throw a white sheet over them

I know how we die

how we eat splinters

as they explode and implode

how bombs enter and change the nature of our gullet

I know

that’s why I bleed

We all know

that’s why we all bleed

Gokul Chat in Koti

Lumbini Park overlooking Hussainsagar lake

series of blue benches

headless bodies, legless bodies, lonely shoe, pool of blood, buckets of blood,

new blood, old blood, stale blood, trickle, downpour, drops…

all kinds of blood make dying look so easy

dying was never difficult

as bombs ripped apart our consciousness

claiming, reclaiming, declaiming

at the end of it all add a “y” to make the word blood

bloody

I mean add a “why”

WHY

mangled real

mangled surreal

Time kills. Time heals. Gaping old scars. And the eyes that grow inside the scars.

I know now why cold blood is called cold blood

hot blood is hot blood

I know that beyond redemption

forgiveness

hell

there lies a zone called

burning ghat

burial ground

crematorium

and out there somebodies become some bodies

motionless

still

stone tablets that proclaim that you once lived

I know so I bleed

We all know so we all bleed

I can see that you see my wounds

And you can see that you don’t see yours

Small doses of blood

that turns into experimental playground of dynamite sticks

Neogel 90 with ammonium nitrate

I know how the stake knife is sharpened

how the edge drips with blood

how blood takes it’s own shape

how we realise that we bleed

that I bleed

why hot blood is hot and cold blood is cold

yes

there’s still this bomb that never went off in the Dilkhushnagar area

then the saga

of

half-burnt bodies,

half-baked hands,

half roasted legs,

half-barbecued upper parts,

half-fried lower

would have had more names

Names do matter to those who draw up secular list

CHORUS:

A secret turning in us

makes the universe turn

Head unaware of the feet,

and feet head. Neither cares.

They keep turning

Jalal-uddin Rumi

blood bandage

bandage blood

What do i do as a theatre person?

sentences after this are never straight

they become curved, crooked, grammatically incorrect with disorienting imageries

sentences that float mid-air

sentences with lost alphabets,

missing vowels

sentences that rebel

each phrase slugging it out with another

sentences fight

sentences meander

sentences tell me

about the sentence that I cannot write

at the relative anonymity of the drawing room and chat rooms

we still shed crocodile tears

smile crocodile smiles

and write crocodile small cheques for solidarity fund

Hyderabad,

I can see a pile of solo heads becoming the neck of the Necklace Road

headless, neckless, limbless, bodiless spectre

visit me

in my insomnia

I can see death in conversation with dead

deliverance in conversation with hellish redemption

And life re-asserting itself amongst the mounting stockpile of private sorrows

a pool of dried tears

an art gallery installation of small wine goblets filled with red-ink to signify blood

and as artistic tributes flow in

Buddha laughs

Buddha smiles

at the Hussainsagar lake

dead people grapple with the memories of dying

the lonely shoe on the road

the lonely pair of glasses

red stains amongst the white sheets used in the morgue

all add upto the jigsaw

why

who

why

whowhy

who

whywho

why

why so much blood

as whys multiply

poem becomes a cliche, death becomes numbers

the lonely shoe is packed up as evidence

it will remain as one

till the time

it withers

fall apart

flying comments

fly like papers all over

typically out of a Guru Dutt frame

CHORUS:

The fences have grown to a jungle

now how can I tell my children

where we came from

Tenzin Tsundue

raw skin brushes against the sky

open wounds

does not want to be covered

Hello Hyderabad

the new and the old

the one with three colour-halftone-zinc

and the one with digital

the hi-tech

and the sepia

the liberalised new distancing

from the old

the new trekkers and the old

ones who lost way on the zigzagbad

all of you

all of us

and most importantly all of them

It’s time for another a play

we have to invoke Cherabandaraju

and talk about the otherness of the body

locate Buddha smiles, lonely shoe, dead sentences, dead captions, dead lines

please don’t talk about secular lists

sir,

death is a death

ashes are ashes

tombstones are tombstones

crocodile tears are crocodile tears

lop-sided development between the old and the new parts exist

any death is a death

any loss of life orchestrated by those who bulldoze humanity

must be condemned

and in our extreme nowhereness

let’s just raise a silent toast to

our shamelessness

And be ashamed

CHORUS:

And be ashamed

I have been associated with Parnab during my theatre experience. An excellent orator, an artiste and a great person. I had done a play “The Otherness of the body” – a performance based on a series of poems by Cherabandaraju and other Telugu writers interspersed with some of his texts

This was a piece of his production “Finding Hamlet”, and was written immediately after the August 2007 Hyderabad serial blasts.

October 29, 2008

The Crisis of Identity continues…

I will take a step back to do some thinking on the “Sons of the Soil” concept.

AD 1947 – The great Indian nation stretching from the Karakoram ranges to the Arakan Yoma ranges was being divided. Religion formed the major criteria for partition – Hindu or Muslim. Muslims in the sub-continent had acquired an identity – being a Pakistani, which was different from being one amongst the few million Indians.

AD 1952 to AD 1961 – Potti Sriramulu dies in a hunger strike. He wanted a separate state for the Telugu speaking community, free from Tamil hegemony. Nehru assures of separate statehood. The Indian nation is divided into states based on Language. Every Indian had one more criteria to identify oneself with –Language.

AD 1979 – A commission headed under Parliamentarian Bindheshwari Prasad Mandal was established to identify the socially and educationally backward, and finally ends up suggesting affirmative action practice under Indian constitution to backward communities. Mandal Commision ends up giving us one more characteristic to identify ourselves – Caste.

One should not forget that we are already born with 2 characteristics the whole world recognizes – Color and Sex.

Nature divided us on the basis of sex; the world divided itself based on race, and color. We then divided ourselves on the basis of religion, language and now caste. How further can I go, to identify myself uniquely?

But hey… as I ask myself this question, one cranky guy has opened up a can of worms – Son of the Soil.

Now what is that? How do I identify myself with a particular soil?

I just reached a point of frustration.

Can’t I just lead my own life? Can’t every common man live a life without being bothered to prove his identity & his loyalties?

Why do you need to classify me as a Southie or Northie? Why do I need to identify my loyalties to a particular state, a Bihar or a Maharashtra?

Is it hard being just an INDIAN?

The Crisis of Identity

Filed under: A pinch of salt,General discussion,India,Politics — Narayan @ 2:39 pm
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My Origin – Tamil Hindu Brahmin, My Parents are from Kerala. I Speak Tamil, Malayalam, Oriya, Hindi and English. My Passport says “Republic of India”.

Born in Lucknow (U.P.). Studied in Rourkela (Orissa). Studied in Trichur (Kerala). Studied in Bhubaneswar (Orissa). Worked in Cochin & Calicut (Kerala), and all other places around here. Worked in Bangalore (Karnataka). Worked in Kolkata (West Bengal). Worked in Hyderabad (A.P.). Worked in Chicago (IL, USA) & Santa Clara (CA, USA).

Well, does this look like a resume of some sort?

Hell… NO – This is not a CV or Resume. I am just trying to figure out my nativity. I am trying to answer the question – I am the son of which soil?

After the rhetoric being drummed up by politicians about the “son of the soil” concept, I have had a few more questions.

What does the term citizenship refer to?

What does the term Nation mean?

Will I have to specify the State Nativity whenever I introduce myself?

Will I need a visa to travel from one state to another, in my own nation?

I am going through an identity crisis. Who am I?

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