Telegraph Calcutta

To Write The Right With Rights

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Sometimes you look out the window and you do not wish to see what you see. For a while now, that has been predominantly the case, you do not wish to see what’s happening out the window because it is such a rabid upturning of right things. Imagine men being killed for imagined evil over what they rear and for generations have traded in for the profit of others and their own. The milk thing, you get what I mean. But sometimes windows help; they go opaque, they do not afford a view of the outside. They keep out what is unnecessary and uncalled for, to put it mildly. Then the gaze turns inwards. It turns to necessary things that may not be out the window. Mahadeb, for instance, isn’t to be seen out the window. But the wonderment over where he is and how he might be can progress behind opaque windows. In that kindly, and widely disregarded, thing called solitude. Why is it that Mahadeb has come to be so sorely missed? Only a chaiwala, after all. But no ordinary chaiwala, The ExtraordinaryChaiwala, notwithstanding. There is something about Mahadeb; perhaps it is how retro he is. An earthen stove, a coal fire, a pan, or three pans, and what nature springs in the gardens and what cows give, daily and dutifully, off their udders. No vends, no dispensers, no plugs no points, it is all just the pure thing of the jugglery of his hands and the elements. Mahadeb’s charm is about fading charms. Like it is about so many other things. Like the writing – or filling, most times – of this column you see. Like how we used to write and how we now write.

Where’s the wastepaper basket? It used to be at the foot of the table. You wrote and ripped and trashed. You wrote and ripped and trashed until the garbage lay piled and the foolscap had become a clean, well-typed space, the rubbish purged by the ripping. That’s how the mind used to work. It was a hard grudge-bout between brain and bin. Then the computer knocked out the typewriter and the mind was suddenly eased of the requirements of rigour. You had spellcheck to tell you you had got colour wrong and aging right. There were other helpful prosthetics.

Delete. Cut. Copy. Paste. Transpose. Prose didn’t need to happen in the mind, the mouse had mastered its metre. Thought didn’t need to be a mental process, it became a screen technique – write the last para first, save, press pagedown, go pageup, do the middle last. The Internet came, and with it, worldwide wisdoms.

It was okay not to have a mind or memory; outsource them to the www. Wondering where the wastepaper basket’s gone? It’s surely not at the foot of the table; it’s probably become the shape of your head; Google may have become our Gospel.

The Net has us plonked on a stunning tech-toboggan; as we zip past the novelties with nightmarish velocity, we know there’s more of this coming that hasn’t even knocked on our imagination. Every day is a blitz of energies. Buy one, get four free – website, wiki, blogspot, vlogspace. And there’s Twitter, the new axis on which our planet revolves. Strapped on this search engine of new frontiers, it is easy to become blissfully numbed about your critical faculties or their great uses. Left click and you are on the information highway, right click and new windows of opportunity are cascading.

But we must dwell on where technology stops to enhance and begins to impoverish. Even at the risk of sounding like a latter-day Luddite, or, worse, a hidebound no-changer, it must be said that technology’s ingress into our lives is not an enrichment story all the way. Sloth of mind and of body strike immediately as alarming consequences of what the Net readily provides us. There is a whole range of other abilities that could stand diminished by idle and arbitrary application – the rich fruits of time, thought, privacy and solitude, the faculty to judge and to discriminate, the talent to order and organise, the skill to feed intelligence rather than be fed by it. There is a lot about the Internet to celebrate; there is a lot that it imperils as well. A good way of dealing with that would be to remember the location and uses of the wastebasket. Fortunately, it’s a standard icon on your screens.

Let’s have the right
If we are to write
Please stop to bite
Writing’s our right.

TT Link

Telegraph Calcutta

The Horns, The Horns

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Weary a bit now, wondering where Mahadeb might be, or might not; and even why he is happy to remain gone. Without notice. Without a forwarding address. Without news of when he will return, if at all. A bit like AchchheDin, if you will. It gets mentioned all the time but never seems to be at hand. Weary now of expecting and nothing coming off it but more expectation. The promise of them, and the utter refusal of their fulfilment. And the absolute lack or absence of any explanation over why what was promised is not here. AchchheDin. Mahadeb. They were pledged to us. They turned out to be empty pledges, walked over, betrayed. Nothing happened. Happens. Happens all the time and all too often that nothing actually happens. If you know enough of life, you will know that happens. The promising, and the unthinking violation of it. As if nothing happened. As if it were your fault you believed a promise. But it was, wasn’t it? Who asked you to? You utter fool, you believing fool.

But you can’t decide, can you, whether you should have believed in the first place or should not have. We all get there once in every while, or more often, on the horns of that beast called Dilemma. The one pictured below. It wades among us all the time; we clamber on all the time, onto Dilemma, astride its horns, not knowing which one to choose. Should we do this or that? Should we say this or that? Should we go here or there? Or should we not go at all? Wonder if being astride Dilemma is a good thing or a bad thing. That itself is a dilemma, is it not? Or should we dismount the beast and go ahead and do something?

Some folks can do that. They don’t waste away time wondering. When BlondieDuck thinks he needs to quack and croak obdurately around his brood and take flight and drop shit on TinTin TrueDough and BangelaCartel and all the rest of them from above, he just does. And flies off 9,000 miles, all in one flap of his super power wings, for an assignation with that DimJangHun, himself the recipient of earlier and many rounds of pestilential droppings by BlondieDuck.

When the BossOfAllThings wants to banish currency, because he wouldn’t put up with the denominations and colours of others and wants them after his own whim, he calls his minions in the broadcast department, gets onto TV and announces banishment forthwith. Kar lo jo karna hai. Or when Shriman PoltuPokherjee wants to go commune with the SS band that begins with an R, propitiate their dubious deities and treat himself to their spectacularly ramshackle militarism, he just does. Irrespective. Uncaring of alarmed entreaty not to do so. Unbothered by what consequences he might bring upon himself and the company he spent his entire working life in. Jaabo! He pronounced, and then proceeded.

But then you might want to wonder whether to have a dilemma or none at all. How about getting locked on a dilemma over Dilemma? Only fair, isn’t it? To think over and wonder and measure the pros and the cons of doing this or doing that? To take time and muse and ponder whether this is right or that is right, or none of the two is and a third or a fourth thing is right? What’s the ability to be able to think or to wonder there for, after all? Those two horns you see in the picture, they are not vestigial, they have uses. They are there to tear and plough and scratch and bore. They are also there to ride on. They are the thing of Dilemma. You ride one horn, and you wonder if riding the other is better. Then you ride the other and wonder if riding this other is better or riding the previous one. It’s how we progress, through dialectics; history never travelled a straight line, remember, it meandered and meandered and therefore here we are.

These above-mentioned entities, and the way they unthinkingly bulled into whatever it is they did, were they right to do so? Could they have ridden Dilemma a while, just from one horn to the other, and thought and wondered about what they were about to do? Doing the right thing and doing that thing right, is the thing. And it takes time.

If you are to right manners born
Please appreciate to be torn
Believe me it’s nothing to scorn
Learn to ride one, then the other horn.

TT Link

Telegraph Calcutta

Game Of The Season: Jhootbol

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Four years. It is a four-year thing, this Jhootbol. Goes away and comes back around every four years. Each time a gladiatorial champ it crowns, each time that gladiatorial champ tries another grab at the crown. Great game this, Jhootbol, they call it the greatest show on earth. Mahadeb comes close, any day, I promise you, but Mahadeb isn’t putting up a show at the moment. He is off stage. Gone.

What you play Jhootbol with comes pumped on accumulations. Of bombast. The more the bombast, the fatter this thing grows and the more perilously close it gets to exploding. This thing called Jhootbol. And when it is in year four is when that is most likely to happen. This business of exploding. It is not unlike the mythic paap kaa ghara which bursts when it gets fuller than full and can take no more. So with Jhootbol. Comes a season, every four years. Jhoot. Jhoot. Jhoot. Jhoot. Jhoot. Then: Boom! The Greatest Show On Earth!! The moment the paap kaa ghara bursts, JhootBol!!! Celebration time.

You might think it is about to happen, this Jhootbol extravaganza, later this week. But you are, as very often, misinformed and misled. It isn’t your fault, it cannot be. You are being constantly and mercilessly misinformed. You are being belligerently misled. Not your fault at all. It is the year of Jhootbol. But it all began quite a while back. And for a while you were taken and did not realise. Jhootbol is not about to begin, it began four years ago and you’ve been lavished with it all this while, bhaaiyon aur behnon! Jaago! And the misinformation industry is pumping on all six, as they say about horse-power driven things, to mislead. For reliable details go to FaultNewsDotCom, but meantime, stay here and be further entertained. Please. Do not please drive me to pleading, else I shall break into Jaaiye aap kahan jaayenge, yeh nazar laut ke phir aayegi, and, you will be the one suffering, ByGodPromise, you will suffer so much you will tell yourself why did I not agree to stay here and read in the first place. Stay. Or regret. The choice is yours. Many people chose an option that they are regretting four years on, so you will have company if you choose to leave and regret. Thirty one odd per cent, or probably fewer, because not everyone is smart enough to regret, or even to know what regret is. It is a higher thing, the sense of regret, you have to know, you have to know differences: this is right, this is wrong. That doesn’t come easy. Differences don’t come easy. It’s hard, it takes time and investment and perseverance to know right from wrong. To know differences. But anyhow, let’s not dwell too much on higher things. This is a newspaper, after all. And we are in Bharat. And we can only play Jhootbol. And we have our undisputed Jhootbol champ, the OneAndOnly Messy, of course, the one who specialises in messing everything up and then plays such a stupendously mesmerising game of Jhootbol, the rest of the field is left gaping in awe.

Like when MessyJi went to Champaran in the province of Beehar recently, the land of the Mahatma of the ExperimentsWithTruth. He went and he made a total Champhaaran of Champaran, I mean MessyJi messed with the truth so rapaciously, there are no words for it; he shredded it to ribbons, poora Champhaaran. He proclaimed, before an oceanic jansabha – his jansabhas are nothing and never less than oceanic – that eight and a half hundred thousand toilets had been built in Beehar over the previous week. Blimey! Imagine the volume of shit Beehar shits! Eight and a half hundred thousand toilets in a week? Which means 5,059 or so toilets built every hour? Which means 84 toilets built every minute? Which means 1.4 toilets built every second? Does that help us come to some approximation of kilo quantum of shit shat per second in Beehar? We might want to know. We might desperately want to know. Because this is a four year thing. That Jhootbol is filling up. And the one filling it up, pumping it, is none other than our MessyJi, undisputed champ of Jhootbol. And we can only hope, folded hands to the high heavens, that the contents of it are not this accumulating shit from Beehar because we would not like a shower of it when it bursts. Please.

And because my apprehensions and anxieties must remain riveted now on what happens next in Jhootbol, I am unable any more to spare any and am therefore borrowing, with due gratitude and commendation and apologies to whoever wrote this in the first place:

Seedhey rastey ki yeh
Tedhi chaal hai
Goal-maal hai bhai
Sab goal-maal hai.

TT Link