Thursday, 22 September 2011

Post-modern Self

The modern self identity model relied, among other things, on the ethnic, geo-politik, vocational and religious identity.

Things, I believe have changed. The advent of the TCK generation and concept of home as an interaction, are perhaps testimony to this.

It is my conviction that the post-modern self identity can be only achieved through deconstructing the modern idea of "self".

Visual attraction

This post is a follow up of a requesst, a dear friend had made long ago.

The idea was simple, to create a 3 x 3 matrix of visual markers that I find sexually attractive.

So here it is :

Monday, 19 September 2011

Our beloved Teacher..

It was Teachers' Day a few weeks ago. As I thought about all my teachers over the years, people who to a great extent are responsible for shaping me, one particular teacher haunted me the most. Mr. Troy Ward.

I had just moved to a new city and joined a new school in the middle of the term in the second grade. My class teacher was Mr. Troy Ward, or Troy Sir, as we used to call him. I had been literally thrown into the deep end of the pool, not only was I in a new school in the middle of a term,but more importantly I found one subject in particular was way advanced in this school than my previous school. It was Bengali.

While in my last school I had been in an elementary level in Bengali under the aegis of an Irish convent, where all other languages except English were punishable by caning, here I was supposed to be fairly proficient at the language. Needless to say, I flunked my first class test.
This did not go unnoticed in the eyes of Troy Sir. He made sure that the other students in the class would help me to catch up. One of the first students who came up to help me, is a good friend still now. We are still in touch and even met up at Seoul of all unlikely places. Another girl who came up to help, promptly became my first crush in the new school. Soon Troy Sir would become someone I really looked up to.
(If you have seen Naruto, perhaps you'd understand when I say, he was my Iruka sensei).

But the thing about Troy Sir was that, my case was not an exception. He would for each and every student of his, go out of the way. Such was his care and attention to all of us, that we, the entire class, loved him. In fact, at the end of the year, when we got promoted to third grade, the entire class rebelled ! The prospect of a new class teacher was not acceptable to us ! We would not budge, and doing what second graders do best, the entire class started crying. Finally our Principal yielded to our tears and so along with us, Troy Sir was also shifted to the third grade. This pattern continued and he was our class teacher till fifth grade ! A phenomenon unheard ever again in the history of the school.

In our fifth grade, however, Troy Sir himself asked us to bid him farewell.We were going to be shifted to the senior batch now, which meant our school timings would be changing from morning school to afternoon school. So after having him as our class teacher for 3 years, we agreed to bid him farewell with a heavy heart.

On this day meant for teachers, I had remembered him, the teacher all of us loved so dearly...

Sunday, 18 September 2011

August weekend adventure, part III

Triund was heavenly, and probably the reason I’ll keep going back to McLo, at least till the place is still untouched by the reveller-tourists. Sitting at the chai shop near Galu Temple, munching Maggi and Mars bars, we watched the rain. The occasional colourful umbrellas, blooming like flowers amidst the rain washed mountains and the sound of the drizzle, this was what McLo meant to me. Not the crowd and eateries that I had left behind downhill. We also met a Brit couple and helped them  to get some leeches off themselves. They told me how they’ve been here for the past month and were planning to go to the North East next. At once, my heart longed for the beautiful NE, wish I could return, sometime, sometime soon...

On our journey back, we sat in the Volvo, the bus which will take us back to the city, where we will have to trudge back into our daily activities, each day stealing away a little bit of this tranquillity. The bus was full of people from all over the world, an ageing British Manchester United fan with his Spanish girlfriend, an American with his guitar, two French groups and a revolutionary slogan laden umbrella toting Tibetan activist. There were also the usual smattering of lamas, Tibetans on their way to Delhi and returning Indians. Soon the bus started on its journey with its motley crew. As we sank back into our reclining seats, we wanted this journey to be as non-happening as possible.

But Murphy disagreed.

Sometime around 22.00 hrs, our bus stopped. The conductor asked all the men to get off the bus. As we got down, I got a briefing of the previous incidents leading to this evacuation. It so happened, that due to the heavy rains, our bus driver had decided to avoid the main highway and take a shortcut to avoid the traffic. When he reached the shortcut however, he found that there were more like him who had thought of the shortcut, many more. On top of it, the shortcut, not used to such heavy traffic and already coaxed by the constant rain, has started to give up. Our bus driver had decided he might as well go back to the highway and taken a U-turn. But while doing this he had managed to drive the bus into some mud, so now he needed to reduce the load to try to drive his way out of it. Hence the evacuation.

All of us got down, except a few (including one friend of mine) who were too fast asleep to hear the conductor. We watched from the road as the driver tried to drive his way out of the mud. To our horror, he tried to over speed his way out of it and within minutes his speeding and frantic manoeuvring led to the bus tilting completely on one side, for a while the wheels on one side were off the ground!  Very soon, the bus sank more into the mud and stabilised at an angle, one side in the mud. By now the ones asleep inside had woken up, and the ones awake inside were screaming.

Very slowly, we managed to evacuate the entire bus, each person carefully stepping out through the driver’s door on the side facing the road. The bus was not going anywhere now, at least until a crane arrived to pull it out. Several call to the bus owner and local help lines later; we were told that the crane would arrive in another 3- 4 hours. It had been raining constantly all this while, and we were getting drenched in the middle of the road. Next thing most people wanted, was to get their luggage, so the ones who can, would go ahead without waiting for the crane. But that was easier said than done. Somebody had to go in, but who?

The driver had left the spot after being given a sounding off by angry passengers. One particular youth, who had managed to “extract” the fact out of the driver that he was driving on this route for the first time, had his moment of glory cut short by his girlfriend, who wanted him to go in and get her umbrella!

Poor Indian boy, he had signed up for the gym for a well toned body yes, but not for this !
We, on the other hand, were plain apathetic by this time, we couldn’t care if we had to wait till morning in the rain. Our bags were also inside, but we were in no hurry.
However, soon one guy decided to go in, his compatriot, our gym guy, at once supported him by telling him the seat number from which he should get the umbrella first! One by one, the brave lad got all the bags out, while the poor lad risked his life, some people were ordering him around to get their biscuits and pack of chips!! We couldn’t take it anymore, we stepped in.

Some others joined us and soon we managed to get the scramble in some sort of order. Soon he was going seat wise and getting stuff out, whatever he could find, which we would pass on to be identified and collected by the crowd. We also arranged for some flashlights and mobile phones so that he could find his way inside the bus. Within minutes we had managed to get most of the stuff out and him safely back outside. Some people were still missing some of their “important” stuff like biscuits, caps and sunglasses, so they got in themselves to look for it. We didn’t care to find out if they retrieved them or not, but all of them managed to get out safely, which was more than enough for us.

After waiting for a couple of hours more, with no sign of the crane still, we decided to look for some sort of transport to the nearest town. It would be better than waiting in the rain in the middle of the road. We managed to get hold of two Bajaj Tempo Matadors who agreed to drop us off at Una, a nearby town.
Everyone somehow managed to squeeze themselves in the two matadors. Our matador had the good fortune of being host to gym boy, who on the entire way back, was chided by his girlfriend for “putting her through this” and not holding the umbrella properly to save her from the rain. On an overcrowded matador, while we were barely able to stand still due to the rough roads, I must commend him for even trying to hold an umbrella.

At Una, we found out that the bus to Chandigarh would only leave in the morning. We were tired and had had enough adventure, so we went looking around for any cab that would drive us to Delhi. We managed to find one, even settled on a rate, however, it was a big cab, fit for 7 and the fare was more than whatever money we had with us. So we told him that we’ll get some more friends, to which he agreed. At the bus stop, we spoke to one of the French groups, with whom we had got acquainted by this time, and they agreed to come with us and share the fare. All set, we came back, only to find our cab guy has disappeared!

Half an hour of searching later, we could only manage to make one cab guy agree to drop us off at Chandigarh, but for 60% of the fare that we’d have paid till Delhi. Anyway, we decided to take it. In the morning we reached Chandigarh. The three of us now only had enough money to afford a bus, we could not, even if we wanted, afford a cab to Delhi. So we spoke to our French friends, what they’d like to do, wait for the bus or take a cab. They wanted a cab, they were too tired. This had been their first weekend out of Delhi, where they all had come to work a month back, and what a weekend it had been for them! We managed to get a cab for them and settled the negotiations with the driver and set them off n their way back. They were a bit surprised that we weren’t joining them, but we were too embarrassed to tell them that we didn’t have enough money to pay the fare.

We settled for a low-fare state bus back to Delhi. Even if it had been a cab, it would probably had been the same, all of us were so tired, we slept through the entire journey...

Thursday, 15 September 2011

August weekend adventure, part II

On reaching Phagwada, the first thing we tried was again, try for a cab. So my friends went about to find out about cabs, while I, spotting a cobbler at the entrance of the bus terminus, got down to fixing my boots. No more bare feet! But soon my friend returned with bad news, no luck with the cabbies. Bus was now our only option, but after a chai ! At the chai stall, we met a Himachal Tourism driver, who learning that we are headed to Dharamsala, informed us, to our glee, that he was headed there. Only catch, he would leave late at night. His bus was supposed to go to Ludhiana first and then depart from there, but roads being the way they were, he could not reach Ludhiana, but being bound by a schedule, he would not leave for Dharamsala before 2200 hrs. We figured, since it was early evening already, it would be better that way, reaching Dharamsala after 2200 hrs would land us in a trickier situation as most places would be shut. This way, we could at least spend the night in the bus, than on the streets. Anyway, we were already way off from our schedule and not that we had any other choice.

Who or what influenced the bus driver, we will never know. But he drove like a maniac. Instead of the next morning, we found ourselves standing at Dharamsala amidst heavy rains at 2.30 in the night!
We had no choice but to wait till 6.00 when the hotels would open. Soon we were not alone, cars of all shapes and sizes began to throng the main square of McLo. Judging by their license plates, these were cars that had been held up in the traffic.

In the morning, our fears turned to reality, all the hotels were out of rooms. As we knocked from hotel to hotel, we would get the same reply. Even my regular hotel, where I’ve always stayed, was unable to offer a room for me.Overbooked for the long weekend. He directed me to Green, and told me that I was sure to find a room there. But Green also turned us down. [Though, later they did allot rooms to an American couple, an hour later, while we were having breakfast there! I suspect Green has stopped giving out rooms to Indians, the reason for which is the matter of another story. It is sad, if that be the case, since the first time I ever came to McLo, I had stayed at Green.]

After a lot of searching around, we managed to find a hotel, newly built and quite further downhill from the main road, which probably explains why it had rooms at all.

When we came up to the main square later, we were shocked. The entire area was crowded like never before, and the place had definitely undergone a sea change to cater to the new clientele. Discos with DJ nights and bars and dhabas screamed out from the square, much to my chagrin. Bhagsu was worse, German bakery at Bhagsu now has a new menu, included, among other offerings, paranthas and chicken curry and kadai paneer. I spoke to the waiter, who also seemed dazed and lamented about the good old days. Dazed, disillusioned, heartbroken, the three of us were wondering why we took so much trouble coming here.

The first thing we did however, after the hotel rooms, was to book our tickets back. This was a wise move, or at least it seemed then, since we were the last three to get tickets as all buses were again full for the next two days.

Without wasting any time, we went up towards Triund, far from the crowd. It is at Triund, we found our peace and all seemed worthwhile. It was raining all the time during our trek and my Cats gave up on me again! But, the hills made me happy enough to forget all the trials. On our way, shortly after we started, we met couple of people, but none of them were keen to go up. The rains had washed away the roads, so vehicles couldn’t go there. This thankfully contained the crowd to the main McLo.

August weekend adventure, part I

Last month, my hill-withdrawal had become unbearable for me. With a long weekend for the Independence Day around the corner, of course, I decided that I'll be heading for the hills.
Things started rather fluidly, with me not knowing where exactly in the hills I would be going; neither did it matter much to me, as long as it was the Himalayas. Couple of my friends whom I had told earlier of my imminent journey, were also keen to join and had expressed their desire to go to McLeodganj. I wasn't too keen on McLo because, as I had explained to them, being a long weekend, half the population of Chandigarh, Delhi and its neighbouring areas would be there. Anyway the last time I had gone there, I was a tad bit sad (this post here) on how McLo had started to become "touristy". But a few hours before my fated journey, my friends confirmed that they would join me. One of them had never been to McLo, so McLo it was!

However, whatever premonitions I had about the place being crowded was to be overshadowed by the events to follow and how!

Firstly, as expected, when we reached ISBT, we were told that bus tickets for the day and the day after to any place in Himachal were sold out. This was bound to happen and had we known of our plans earlier, we could have booked them beforehand and avoided this hassle. But me with my ' I-am-going-alone-so-I-get-on-any-bus-headed-for-the-hills ' attitude and my friends who did not know till hours ago that they would come along and we'd head to McLo, this was obviously not possible. Anyway, so having been disappointed by the Himachal Roadways and the private operators at ISBT, I suggested, we head for Majnu ka Tila to try for the private buses operating from there. At this point, one of my friends had suggested that we go via Pathankot, but I had declined as that road always has been bad for me. Last time I took that route; I reached McLo sick and could hardly venture out. But even at Majnu ka Tila, we couldn't find anything till the next day, by that time noon had become evening, so anxious to start that day, we decided to go back to ISBT and take the Pathankot route. We reached back and the earliest bus we could find was to leave at 2200 hrs.

If things had gone well, this would have dropped us at Pathankot around 5.00 in the morn, and we should have reached McLo around 1200 hrs the next day, a mere 5 hour delay than if we had got a direct bus ticket to Dharamsala, acceptable ! By 2230 hrs we had been escorted in and out of two buses, both of which were not accustomed to the concept of leg space or air conditioning. We put on our bravest selves and decided we shall endure this hell, after all the hills were just a night away. Next morning we woke up in an immobile bus, it has been such for 2 hours and showed no promise of challenging the status quo. We got down and saw the situation ahead. Heavy rains had caused the road to cave in and there was traffic all the way till the horizon. We were somewhere beyond Ludhiana, smack in the middle of some unfamiliar hinterland. After being patient for an hour more, we decided, its better that we go up ahead and forsake the bus, try instead for a cab. We were also hungry, and there was a motel nearby from where our bus had parked itself. This we decided could be our recon joint then. We'll have brunch and call a cab service, the number for which would hopefully be available with the hotel staff. Things went as planned, and we sat down for a nice brunch after having called a cab with due help from the manager. The cab guy informed us that he would arrive in an hour.

Two hours later, there was still no sign of any cab, and the traffic outside, had just started to trudge along. We called back the cab guy, only to be told that he was stuck and won't be able to make it ! Now, we were in trouble. So as any full-blooded adventurer would do, we decided, lets walk till the nearest town and try some mode of transportation from there. Luckily, a few metres down the way, we met our old bus, and promptly hopped on back ! But our joy was short-lived, ten minutes later, we were back to square one, the bus had stopped and the road ahead looked even more troublesome. We were back to our walking plan. In the long perilous journey that followed, we trudged through knee deep mud for 10kms ! My ancient faithful 7 year old Caterpillar boots gave up on me, the sole came off, so I switched to slippers, which after 20 fateful steps, decided to bury itself in the slushy mud. Unfettered by such conspiracies, I walked a good 8km of our 10km stretch barefoot ! The only issue in this brave endeavour was my yet-to-heal-hairline-fractured-toe, which made sure that I limped my way through 6km.

After this ordeal, we reached a town called Ghuraiya. The residents of the town must have been amused to see 3 rain soaked, mud caked boys walking through their town with backpacks on their backs, one of them barefoot! By this time, my toe had started its own struggle for autonomy. Having no luck with cabs still, we managed to talk to an auto rickshaw guy, who agreed to drop us till Phagwada, from where, he said, we could reach Dharamsala, via another route avoiding Pathankot. Relieved, we sat in the auto, tired, muddy and hoping that the worst is over.