Kalmadi- Fix-it for Dixit!

As regards to Common Wealth Games-Delhi, what is the common agenda? It is this-Everybody is against Kalmadi. The question is why? Who told us that it’s Kalmadi? Well, it is the media. When everyone is so aroused against him, I should have chosen to be safe and agree with the majority. Well, I have chosen otherwise. We all know, problems are more associated with structure than with persons. But given a chance, we don’t hesitate to pick up stones. OK, if we have all choosen to throw (stones), whether in Iran or India, we must at least locate the right culprit.

There is not one piece of news where you don’t see the mess and then his face – the face of Suresh Kalmadi – which, the media tells us every moment- is the face of corruption. Actually, there is so much noise, that objectivity has disappeared for good. Along with Kalmadi, the media also targets Fannel and Hooper. We just stopped short of blaming the Queen. This is national shame, this impropriety, this blame game. We have fallen prey to a national sham.

Well, let me take a stand and present my points:-
1. Suresh Kalmadi is not responsible for the mess.
2. Suresh Kalmadi is not responsible for the delays.
3. Suresh Kalmadi will be responsible only between 3 October and 14 October 2010.

Suresh Kalmadi is the President of the IOA – Indian Olympic Association, whose chief business is to manage sports. Suresh Kalmadi as Chairman of CWG 2010 does not have any financial powers outside his domain. He is not responsible for acquiring land, contracting builders, and making stadiums and games village. He can be an observer and give periodic updates to the federation, but besides that he doesn’t have much say.

Let’s take the example of the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India). BCCI owns only the players. They have their own officials to manage the players and events, but it doesn’t own any stadiums in India. It has some stake in Brabourne Stadium, but besides that almost all the stadiums in the country is owned by the state, the associations by the state or the academy. By the way, Eden Gardens is owned by the Indian Army. It is the state government’s responsibility to see that the state cricket associations are  looking after the upkeep of its stadiums. Tamil Nadu government is making a new cricket stadium in Chennai for the 2011 World Cup. If the cricket stadium is not completed on time or turns out to have a horrible pitch, will the BCCI share the blame? Will the media then show Shashank Manohar as the new face of corruption?

Organizations like ICC (International Cricket Council), IOC (International Olympic Committee), IOA (Indian Olympic Association), CWF (Commonwealth Games Federation), IPL (Indian Premier League), and BCCI are known as Shell Organization. They are run by a group of people, almost handful, and their prime job is to define the governance on how the game is to be conducted. The revenue comes from sale of ticket and contracting media rights and logos etc. It has a very limited domain. Their job is also to review the stadiums and inform the association if it is not up to the mark. When Feroz Shah Kotla Pitch was bad, the ICC and BCCI did not start making the pitch. It reprimanded the Delhi Cricket association and banned it for some time. BCCI pays rent when it uses the stadiums. It’s not the BCCI’s or the ICC’s job to renovate or construct stadiums. Similarly the BCCI loans its players to IPL and IPL pays for the stadiums etc.

I want to make this point that the CWG and the OC (Organizing Committee) in India is not at all responsible of the mess which we see or what we are told to see. And you cannot blame Kalmadi because he is the President or the Chairman. Kalmadi’s job begins when the players populate the stadia and village. You can blame him when something goes wrong with the game itself.

But who is to be blamed actually! The person, who must be held responsible, is the lady who is doing a lot of hard work these days. It’s late in the game, and strangely, she has been able to avoid most of the criticisms. Sheila Dixit! Remember it’s CWG -Delhi. Not Kolkata, Chennai or Mumbai. Delhi has bid for the Game and it is the Government of Delhi who should provide for the infrastructure. All money which has disappeared, all delays, all incompletion is the responsibility of the Delhi Government. The Delhi Government took the credit of the new Airport and the Metro which were done for the CWG and very conveniently forgot the rest.

So, why is media targeting Kalmadi? It’s because, the media doesn’t want to target Sheila Dixit. Also, Kalmadi’s association with CWG gives him both, visibility and venerability. Another point going against Kalmadi, and which makes him media’s favourite whipping boy, is that he is Member of Parliament of the Congress party. Kalmadi becomes responsible as an MP, because that makes him answerable to the Union Government. But can the union government take action against him and on what basis. He is an MP from Pune. MP can be expelled if he is not performing in his constituency. But as a President of the IOA, the Government can’t touch him. If Kalmadi ever quits, it’s because the Government has hit him hardest where it hurts, his constituency. Refuse him a party ticket-if he doesn’t own up. It’s called political black mail.

I have very low opinion of the Indian media. And I hate the fact that the public accepts whatever is dished out, without contest. Sweeping generalization doesn’t require much effort. But when public opinion gets focused on wrong areas, it does great disservice to the actual issue. It’s like trying to cure headache by shooting the foot. If it is desired that the mess should not be repeated, it becomes all the more necessary for us get the right diagnosis.

Ms Sheila Dixit is the Chief Minister of Delhi since 1998, four Common Wealths’ back. It was in her reign that the game was bid. It was also the time when she won the Chair for the second term. She had enough time to get the infrastructure built. But what happened? Is anyone asking her this? Have you heard? Is the media giving you any indications?

Now, why is the media not highlighting her faults? There has to be a reason why the media is playing favourites. You will find NDTV’s Barkha Dutt asking useless questions to Kalmadi. Incidentally, NDTV gave best politicians award to Sheila Dixit. Sheila Dixit has also won the best Chief Ministership award from Journalist Association of India. Let’s accept it. She is the media favourite. Someone has to do some research on this. It seems she had bought the media. Did she give land or buildings or special rights to the media? Notably, most of the big media houses have Head Quarters in Delhi.

Probably, as an MP, Kalmadi is adviced to keep shut, accept and listen. Also, look like an idiot on TV which serves well to delude the viewers. He really has to work hard to save the Delhi government and the Union Government, to save himself. At the moment, saving the game is not so important. After all Kalmadi is a politician. He can stoop to conqueror. The question is – What are our options after the blame game is over? Answer – ZILCH!

Tu Meri Soon’ – You Listen to me!

Tu Meri Soon’, is a Hindi word which means, You Listen to Me!

Three words which are spoken and heard by many. Look around and observe, two people talking or a group discussing, and you will definitely hear many – Tu Meri Soon’. Tu Meri Soon’ means – now that I have spent time listening to your talks (your rubbish), it’s now my turn to hold the ‘conversational’ fort. Afterall, I have something better to contribute than you. So, when anyone says-Tu Meri Soon’- he means- listen to my truth, take notice of my actual story, the real fact-of-the-matter.

Tu Meri Soon’ may start with pleasantries but it has all the potentialities of war. It’s a loaded phrase and very fanatical too. When someone in the group says-Tu Meri Soon’, there are two options, either you hear him or you ignore him. Listening is upto your choice and to ignore, that’s your risk too. History is filled with incidents where people have paid the price of not heeding to – Tu Meri Soon’. Haven’t you heard of this famous call- ‘Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears’- that’s Tu Meri Soon’.

Conversation between two or a group should be like a Racquet game, something like badminton, tennis or table tennis etc. The opposition needs to bounce the ball back to stay in the game. The idea should be to add value to discussion and find common ground for agreements. Participation is the key. Sadly, most of the conversation is like a rugby game. Grab the topic and run. Then others run behind you. You, singlehandedly want to score – sadly someone catches up to you and snatches your ball signifying – Tu Meri Soon’. You have to.

Tu Meri Soon’ means the game is not important. What’s important is the Ball. You wait for the other person to weaken, you hide in ambush for your moment, and it comes, many times in History, you grab the ball and run again – Tu Meri Soon’.

Tu Meri Soon’ is type of psyche. No, it’s not in India alone. Every country has their own version of Tu Meri Soon’. They articulate and express it in many ways.

One form of Tu Meri Soon’ is to call all nations and have some kind of meet. Every nation’s representatives gets a chance to walk up the podium and have his glory of -Tu Meri Soon’. Or have one to one meet over tea or drinks. These are civilized ways to growl and wag.

But there are uncivilised ways of Tu Meri Soon’. The brashest Tu Meri Soon’ come from the most civilized of all nations, U.S., so to say. It’s well known across the globe on their version of Tu Meri Soon’. It’s also ingrained in their Foreign policy. If you don’t Soon’ (listen) prepare for the bomb or blockade or both.

Besides the U.S., others too have their brand of Tu Meri Soon’. Instead of “blowing their trumpet”, they choose to blow themselves up.  Its an all or nothing game. If you don’t listen to them, well, you go with them-to enjoy the virgins! This is the worst (or the best) form of Tu Meri Soon’ prevalent in these times.

Now take India and Pakistan. We have developed, over the years, very innovative- Tu Meri Soon’ diplomacy. We have never ending meetings to forward the Tu Meri Soon’. Recently we started sending dossiers – a new method of Tu Meri Soon’. Our bilateral talks are an example-for Tu Meri Soon’. First we call them for some-Tu Meri Soon’ and then they call us for the same. We share our ears. That’s how we have avoided direct confrontation so many years- taking turns for Tu Meri Soon’.

When something like Tu Meri Soon’ becomes all pervading, it becomes necessary to know its roots. There must be some reason for its success, isn’t it. It’s our duty to find it out. Well, you don’t have to go too far. It’s been always with us – since our birth. We are born with Tu Meri Soon’ which we proclaim loudly on our first contact. Eveyones seems so happy to get a -Tu Meri Soon’.

Imagine yourself at the time of birth- the exact moment when your soft skin met the atmosphere and some idiot slapped your back. It’s like somebody putting in the key and squeezing the ignition and you cry out – TU MERI SOON’. Just like, you must have a Father and Mother, you must have a – Tu Meri Soon’ – It’s your Birth Right and you shall have it. 

As per Oxford Dictionary, the word Listen – means to take notice of and act on what someone says. I feel, the meaning of – Listen – has a touch of weakness. Tu Meri Soon’ is just the opposite. It’s an attitude which proclaims strength. Historically, we have not solved anything by Listening. Meaning of Listen, has more closeness to-waste or kill time. You might not like Tu Meri Soon’ but it’s the only way, the world has learnt its lessons. Listening works at lower levels and demonstrates a sort of pecking order.

But Tu Meri Soon’, works at higher levels. In the committee of nations or in the group of powers, Tu Meri Soon’ draws a hypothetical domain boundary. The more Tu Meri Soon’ potential you have, the more others will respect and do as you say. So you need to muster power, gain clout, stretch your influence, make deterrents (like bombs) to have more and more TU MERI SOON’. Also, you better respect the TU MERI SOON ‘in others, because if you don’t, then you will have your own Hiroshima and Nagasaki to contend with.

Dog has a tail, humans have ears. The location of the organ might differ, but  functionality is the same. The dog has reasons to wags. Similarly humans have reasons to listen. The powerful may listen but the powerless must. Why should I listen to you? – Haven’t you heard this, said? or implied? To test your power, ask this question to yourself – Why should someone listen to me? Do I have, what it takes for – Tu Meri Soon’!

Litter – Our Word of Unity

An SMS joke is doing the rounds: “What did Lalit Bhanot’s wife tell the domestic help? Clean it up properly… this is my house not the Games Village.

But Lalit means ‘to create mess’. No sooner had we got rid of one, the other shows up with antics. Wonder what made him say – “Their (western) standard of hygiene and cleanliness could be different from ours so there is nothing to be ashamed about it.”

Ashamed! We are ashamed you – Lalit Bhanot – to go public with so personal a subject. You forget, this country has a well-entrenched purdah system. How could you dare to shake the edifice and utter those blasphemous (famous) truths and uncover our underbelly? Are these things to be discusses in the international media? Have you not earned enough to keep your mouth shut?

Well, sulk and crib, but you cannot wipe the truth off his remarks about differing standards. And also, we must appreciate his thoughts. He tried his best to give Indian Sports some strategic advantages. It’s our fault we foolishly chose not to capitalize. How- Let me explain.

For example, take Cricket. (Pardon me, for using it again). When we go to Australia, for example, don’t they prepare a fast pitch? And when they come to India we do likewise. We, deliberately destroy the surface for spin. Rumour says our captain spins a part of his earnings to get the surface scrapped. Conditions, as a convention, are the prerogative of the host country. That’s International Standard.

So why don’t we allow CWG in India to prepare our own kind of environment. We must have the conditions which is more favourable to Indian Sports. We can’t give the Indian contingent cleanliness and Hygiene. It will destroy their performance. Imagine cycling on the road with clean air. Indians will die of hyperventilation. For last four years, our guys prepared on uneven surface, eaten common food and worked out in the sun. Thoughtlessly, we have created harsh conditions which will give injuries, diarrhoea and flu. I believe, there is an international ploy to disadvantage the Indians.

O.K, that’s good for one side of the argument. Now, let’s take the subject of cleanliness and hygiene. My study of last 20 years (O.K. 20 minutes) has arrived on three distinct standards. One is ‘The Standard’. The mean, median, mode, whatever which separates the world into ‘our-side’ and ‘their-side’.

There is not much to talk about ‘their side’, those International Standards. It’s boring, uniform and uncreative. ‘Our side’, Indian Standards has vibrancy and as varied as the territory. Our standards of cleanliness also differ according to requirements. Like, we have a standard for workplace and another for home and a mixture for in between. We don’t mind the variance of standards. We are quite surprised when those western idiots claim uniformity. How can you aspect uniformity of standards in a country internationally well-known for its diversity. Look at our languages, clothes, cuisine and invectives – all different.

Yes, there is uniformity. Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny to shit, piss and litter with meticulous uniformity across our country. Finally we have some unity in the midst of our diversity.

A dustbin has a meaning. Well two. Oxford defines dustbins as “a large container with a lid, used for putting rubbish/garbage in, usually kept outside the house.” In our OX-roaming country it means, quite simply, “anything besides our house”. For us, a dustbin is a location around which littering in legal. Locate any bin; there is more outside than in. Our garbage collectors are smart. They collect whatever is in the bin. What’s left outside waits for international outcry.  Remember the Plague in Surat!

Gita – As I Understand

The best clash of reasons is in the Gita. And no, it does not come only from Krishna. Arjun is equally convincing, if not more, to present his point of view. His attempts to reason with Krishna on the futility of war is as brilliant as Krishna’s reasoning.

Gita opens with the chapter known as ‘Arjun-Vishad-Yog’. Vishad means despair. But if you read Arjun’s point of view, the reasoning and argument is far from any show of despair. Arjun appears to be right and convincing. Compared to the present scenario, Arjun’s reasoning and argument will make him a very successful salesman.

The question is; what started the argument in the first place. Why did Krishna stop in midst of the battle field and go for a lengthy discourse. Why did Krishna’s point of view prevail and why is it still followed as a standard.

Mostly, we all know Gita through popular quotes, “Karmanya Vadhika…” and “Yada Yada ud Dharmashya…” made famous by the tele serial Mahabharata. But our focus on the book is one sided. We extensively concentrate on Krishna’s side of the Gita and completely ignore Arjun’s point of view. Simply put, we start with – Arjun did not want to fight – so Krishna gave a big advice to Arjun – and finally Arjun decided to fight!

Had it been so simple, The Gita wouldn’t have been such a great book. The importance of Gita and Krishna is highlighted by the fact that how he contested a popular and complex reasoning presented by Arjun which appeared to be so correct. If you read the first chapter of the Gita, I bet, you will come out convinced that Arjun is absolutely right. Arjun presented a ‘fait accompli’ – some brilliant views, which seemed irresolvable facts. Had there been no Krishna to contest his point of view, there would be no war and our history would be different.

But it was not to be. Mahabharata is like a Bollywood blockbuster with a huge canvas. There is not a single event which does not lead to some action. But as the story progresses, the “why” of all the “fight” is kept silent. There are politics, discord and lots of drama. When the story nears culmination, I feel, the author needed some space to explain the “why”. Without the Gita, you cannot see Mahabharata as complete. The author needed the right protagonists at the right time to make clear the necessity of war. Visibility matters!

Arjun represents the environment which prevailed at the time. The thoughts and the reasons which Arjun presents are the reflections of that society and appear to be genuine. Left to itself, the prevalent thinking of that time would have led to degeneration and collapse.

Krishna represents the environment as it should be. The ways of life and thoughts should not only support the present but create a better future. The truth must stand the test of time. All reasoning and thoughts should abide by that truth.

So when Arjun and Krishna meet, with their differing point of views, there was bound to be friction. Arjun, who represents populist sentiments, will win the first few rounds. As humans, we love winners and as humans, we can relate to Arjun’s point of thought.

On the other hand, Krishna’s point of view is so fantastic. Left to ourselves; we will never understand Krishna’s thoughts. The author needed the character like Arjun; attribute him with special qualities, and then face up to Krishna. Arjun’s points are important to explain Krishna’s counter-point. They both complement each other.

Given both arguments, through ages, we have been influenced to lean on the side of Krishna, for good reason. His thoughts are defused in our psyche. But we should not forget Arjun. His contentions are equally important. We need to know why we have to discount the temporary and go for the permanent. In this context Arjun’s chapter is as important as Krishna’s.

Mahabharata and Gita are more rooted to this world. But in essence I like what is said in the Upanishads:-

“There is in truth no creation and no destruction;
No one is bound, no one is seeking Liberation,
No one is on the way to Deliverance.
There are none Liberated.
This is the absolute truth.”

My dear disciple, this, the sum and substance of all the Upanishads, the secret of secrets, is my instruction to you. – Shankaracharya

Sugar – Mankind’s Sweetheart

It’s amazing. Sugar is a product of grass. Yes, cane, the father of sugar, is a type of grass, though a lovable and suck-able one. If we had confined ourselves to cane, we would be safe. But we chose to be sorry than safe. We wanted more from the cane. So we crush it, juice it, boil it and refine it and finally arrive at a shiny granular chemical called Sugar.

The transformation is from ugly cane to beautiful sugar.I wonder why, some things become beautiful the moment we subtract away the substance. Anyway, just as in the company of beauties we tend to get shy and inhibited, similarly we react to our beautiful sugar.

Imagine, your host offers you a cup. Along with the cup comes riding two cubes of Sugar. Why two? Probably that’s a lucky number! You take the first sip. You always take a sip to gauge the potency of the poison. You hope, the accompanying two, might serve the purpose. It doesn’t. You roll your eyes and reach out for more. The act is like shouting “statue”. The conversation freezes. You can hear the cube drop. After this act is over, if no one consoles you with some sage advice – abandon the crowd. They don’t care for you anyway.

Sugar is not love, but it is one way of showing love. Again imagine, your loving host hands you a cup-again with two cubes. Watch the naughty twist on the face. The cubes are decoys and you the pray.

You take a sip. You will always take a sip. And then your brain turns into “Flubber”. It will bounce off ceiling, floor, all around in a mad maze; finally hit the dish holding the cubes. Matrix-like in Slow-mo., the cubes with erupt, volcano-like. You see yourself grab a few and drop into your cup.

Fulfilled, your consciousness will emerge as if from under water. The surround-sound will return. You never realise when you squeaked for more contraband. But you got it and then you had it.

You just provided your love with sugary grist to her conversational mill. Those extra cubes which you gleefully dissolved in your cup reappear like meteors in Armageddon. You know every letter of the word d.i.a.b.e.t.e.s and surprisingly spell it correctly. Oh, how you wish to cough out those extra cubes- only to change the conversation.

Says Lord Newton – To every action to cane there will be equal and opposite reaction to humankind. Had we stopped with cane, humanity would have been spared of most maladies. The sweetener must have its revenge. But you will take a sip. You will always take a sip and reach out – to be caned!

Games – Our Common Wealth

There is a general feeling, in India, that we should not hold multi-sport events like Common Wealth Games, Asian Games, and Olympics etc. We view it as a waste of time and resources without any substantial value. And the probability of winning medals is also bleak. Our opinions are then backed by reasons, where we first want to improve our own sports and facilities up to international standards and then opt for these sporting bonanzas.

Sadly, we never had this same thoughts towards cricket. I bet, we will actively watch India-Australia Cricket and, as a side dish, follow Common wealth games (CWG) on ticker-tape running at the bottom of the T.V. screen. This shows our pecking order towards our games. Don’t we have some hackneyed approach towards our other sports?

Despite all our reservations, I believe, the Common wealth Games are a welcome event. We should have events to aid our sportsmen who seriously play other games besides cricket. It’s not easy to love and adopt games which are not popular or paying in the long run.

Multi-sport events need multi- specialities. They include sports medicine and nutrition. Long Jump, high Jump, pole-volt, gymnastics, fencing etc. cannot be organized, even at amateur levels, unless those facilities are fully equipped to handle the risks present in these sports. Trained support for sports will have to develop and spread along with the playing of these sports.

When we hold International Games, we not only give valuable exposure to our athletes but also develop and build our own sports infrastructure which is multi-dimensional in itself. Sports medicine, nutrition, coaching etc. needs active universities from where they can gain knowledge and spread throughout our country. Games are like an enterprise and it spawns its own eco-system. When promoted in right spirit it will build its own management and enrich our system. Games should be welcome to our other cities too and also our suburban towns.

Games have an organic development, which, like our crops, has distinct areas of followers and patrons. All sports cannot grow or be followed everywhere in the country. Hockey has its own pockets of followers and so is tennis and badminton. And Polo has its own specialized regions in India.

All developments have happened and will happen incrementally. Facilities will first diffuse in areas where a sport has specific followers. Why should there be a Hockey field and Shooting ranges at places where nobody follows this game? Well, it can spread but first it has to start somewhere. Even Cricket started as first somewhere in this country before it spread. And we cannot wait to have International competitive events till all sports and facilities have spread to all parts of the country.

It’s kind of sad, that an event arrives in India to a step-motherly treatment. Or is it good and given our low expectation, would it leave back some fond memories and seriously change things.

Repercussions For Transformation

We woke up, again, to a Train Accident. Some dead, some injured. And life goes on.

Indian Railways is the oldest, largest, and busiest in the word. With such large network, mistakes ‘here-and-there’, loss of life ‘here-and-there’ is expected. Who does not make mistakes? After all, those manning the systems are humans too. And so travels one of our many arguments.

We don’t have any system. There is corruption everywhere. Nobody cares etc. etc. – These “age old oft repeated phrases” are another aspect in our arguments. It seems, we have received generalized set of arguments as heritage from our forefathers.

Arguments will never run out of sides. We are so enthralled by arguments that we quickly forget the real issue. We are Glib (checkout this word). We take quick refuge in perfect reasoning. We have ready answers to almost everything. We know which Reasoning will find common ground and hurry to claim it. In the end, we don’t make any difference, after all.

Realizing this niche market, media steps in and we have “The Big Fight” and “We the people” and some more of these wrestling in various other channels. Look, even our disasters have a market.  Like FMCG we also have FMMD (Fast Moving Marketable Disasters).

There was train accident yesterday, there is one today, and there will be one tomorrow. A train collided exactly the same way yesterday and today and it will hit the same way tomorrow. I don’t mean, why they don’t hit differently tomorrow. Despite losing so many lives over the years, why are the Railways doing us in the same way every time. Why don’t they change?

The answer lies in transformation not change. Resistance to change is old as humanity itself. Nobody wants change. It causes disruptions, pain or death. Yes, Change causes death. How? We come out on the streets protesting against change, the crowd goes haywire, police fires, and some people die ‘here and there’, – this is how change causes death.

That is why; our corrective approach should not be in terms of change. It should be in terms of repercussions. Repercussion is the reason why Soviets and Americans never went to war. Closer home, India and Pakistan avoids conflict. But had there been a war, there will be repercussions which will lead to transformation.

But we don’t have to go that extremes of war. To make anti-venom, you require miniscule venom. But you do need venom. People in charge of Human Lives, both directly and indirectly, should be made responsible to face repercussions if and when those lives are lost. A railway employee should think – what will happen to me if people die. By Employee, I mean from Ground level up to the top. A precedent or two is also necessary. A ‘group think’ should be – What happened to them when people died in their watch. This will have more impact within the system.

The first man who entered the lion’s den discovered repercussion. Since then transformation of Humanity is mostly through series of repercussions. Either we learn from personal repercussions or take example from others who faced it and lived to tell the tale. We don’t fall for fun. We have internalised the repercussions while learning to walk. So till such time we don’t apply this repercussion theory to monitor and transform our systems, we will make “Argument” as the only safest traveller.

The Khabari (Informer)

Act- I

It was on the second or third day, and newly joined Mahesh was in Anand’s shift in Flight Dispatch. During a lull in activity, Mahesh hurriedly went to the toilet. While returning to Despatch he saw Anand standing on the terrace near the door.

Anand beckoned Mahesh to one side and spoke as if he had Osama’s address:-  

Anand: Tu naya hai. Kuch nahi janta. Many things are happening here and you have to watch out. And be careful of Abhi. He is a bastard.
 
Mahesh: Yes sir, I know. I asked him for a leave and he did not give me. He said there is a shortage. But he gave leave to Mala.

Anand: If you want leave, you tell me. I will get it done for you. But you inform me all what Abhi is doing. Let me know what he is speaking about me behind my back.

Mahesh: Sure sir. I will let you know. Thank you ,sir.

Anand: Abhi goofs up big time in Flight Dispatch and many wrong things happen in his shift. He tries to cover it all up. He thinks I don’t know.

Mahesh: Yes sir, the other day he didn’t confirm fuel on time and we had five minutes delay. He put it on the oil company. But it was actually his fault.

Anand: Good. This is a sort of information I want. You will do very well. Now I will fix up that bastard.

Mahesh: You should do something. Or else he doesn’t take responsibility and he puts it all on us.

Anand: Yes, I know. He has even tried to fix me. There was a weather warning at Delhi and I did not get the information. So I forgot to uplift extra fuel. And he made it into a big issue. His assistants are also useless.

Mahesh: Yes sir. Many don’t give a handover and they don’t update fuel and pilot reports during shift changeover. They leave all for the next shift.

Anand: You should tell me all these things. Abhi doesn’t know anything. And he can’t handle his shift.

Mahesh: Sir, can I get leave next Wednesday. I have to go to the doctor.

Anand: Let me go inside and see the roster. Chetan has also asked for leave to Abhi. I have come to know this. I will screw his leave. I will tell, you applied first, and then let’s see what the hell he can do.

Mahesh: Thank you sir. Please do sir. I need it sir.

Anand: Don’t worry. You told me. That’s enough.

Act- II

Abhi: Anand always comes late. One day I will complain to the manager. Every time late is unacceptable.

Chetan: He also goes early.

Abhi: This must be reported. I am doing extra work with no over time. The company doesn’t pay me for this extra time.

Chetan: But he takes comp-offs. Do you have any record?

Abhi: This I will report. You should let me know. Check all his records.

Chetan: That’s O.K. But today, you will have to help me. I want leave next Wednesday. I told you first. I don’t care about Mahesh.

Abhi: How can Anand play with roster? He can’t handle his shift. Now he is poking his nose in my roster.

Chetan: He pokes his nose everywhere.

Abhi: Today I will settle all this. His goof-ups and cover-ups are not going to continue for long.

Act- III

Abhi: (looking at his watch) Is this the time to come.

Anand: You don’t show me the time. You also come late. I don’t say anything.

Abhi: Why are you playing with my roster? I gave Chetan leave. You cut it out and gave that to Mahesh. Who gave you the authority?

Anand: As per the manager, I am also responsible for roster.

Abhi: But you will have to tell me what all changes you are making.

Anand: I don’t have to. I will only tell the manager.

Abhi: Chetan will get leave on Wednesday. You tell Mahesh to shift his leave.

Anand: Why will I shift the leave? Chetan did not tell me that he wants leave.

Abhi: Why should Chetan tell you? He told me. Mahesh also did not tell me.

Anand: But I am telling you.

Chetan: (butting in) If I don’t get leave, I will report sick.

Abhi: Chetan, you wait, I will sort it out. Anand, let’s go to the Manager.

Act- IV

Abhi and Anand both left for the manager’s office. Along the way, they stopped in the lonely corridor.

Abhi: We have to adjust. I have four comp-offs and I don’t know when to take it.

Anand: I have five and my access leave will lapse if I don’t take it by next month.

Abhi: Wednesday, even I have some work.

Anand: I am also thinking of bunking on Wednesday. Bahot ho gaya kaam!

Abhi: But will the manager agree on both of us going on leave.

Anand: All he wants is no goochi. He will be OK as long as the work goes smooth. Come, let’s talk.

Act- V

Manager: Abhi, is your shift over.

Abhi: Yes.

Manager: Then you wait. I have some work for you.

Abhi: (Zouli)

Manager: what!

Abhi: Nothing. I want leave on Wednesday.

Manager: How many times will you go on leave?

Abhi: Sir, I have lots of comp-off.

Manager: I have lots of work for you.

Abhi: Sir, bhagaa na. Kam kairala kairlaa kantal zala !

Manager: Me tuza goochi samblanar-samblanar vaitagla! And Anand, what brings you here.

Anand: We have a problem.

Manager: You both are a problem. Company can solve lots of problem by getting of rid of both of you. Anyway, tell me, what is the problem.

Anand: I too want leave on Wednesday.

Manager: Are you shutting down Dispatch on Wednesday!

Anand: No sir, I have an idea.

Manager: You have more ideas than inputs. O.K. let me hear it.

Anand: Sir, Chetan and Rajesh both are in shift that day. And both can handle well.

Manager: But Rajesh is new.

Anand: Sir, he has worked in my shift and I can say he can handle.

Abhi: I have an idea.

Manager: Oh. You too have an idea. You don’t work and you have ideas and you have ideas on how not to work. Anyways, what’s the idea?

Abhi: Chetan can do Morning and regular and Rajesh can do regular and afternoon. That way Chetan and Rajesh will be together during peak time and there won’t be any problem.

Manager: Wow…Your solution also comes with a guarantee!

Anand: No sir, but it will work.

Manager: What ‘No Sir’, I know it will work – Problem is solved with both of you not in dispatch.

Anand: Thank you sir. But Sir, be careful of Rajesh. That new guy is cunning.

Abhi: Also Sir, watch out for Chetan. He acts extra-smart.

Manager: O.K Groom them up. They will take your places.

Calcutta and St. Mary’s

The only place where I never feel out of place is – Calcutta. Whenever I land at Calcutta Airport and as the aircraft taxies in, I peer out of the window to catch the sight of those familiar busses running across the Jessore Road nearby. Then I really feel that I have arrived.

I am never a stranger in Calcutta. When I come out of the Airport to catch a cab, I don’t have to act familiar to ward off fleecers. I have a sort of confidence in my steps. I know I cannot be conned in this city.

My earliest memories begin from Calcutta. I remember the 1971 war and father pasting newspapers on the window panes and covering bulbs with paper shades. They were done to supress the light so that the enemy fighters and bombers do not detect the habitation. One night we all heard a drone of some aeroplane and my parents were speaking to each other in whispers!

I did almost all my schooling in Calcutta. Till 1985, St. Mary’s School, Dum Dum had majority of teachers who were Irish brothers. The style of teaching and their own personalities were starkly different from the Indian teachers. I don’t want to run down Indian Teachers but the Brothers did have a difference approach towards education. And they were so involved, not only in teaching but also in arts and sports.

Till Class Ten we had a Library Class every week, where we did our readings for one period and also exchanged books. My mates read Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew and Wilbur Smith etc. I started my readings with Noddy, Tin-Tin and all the Amar Chitra Katha. I continued reading Noddy and Tin-Tin till Class Ten. My friends made fun of me as they boasted how many Hardy Boys’ and Nancy Drews’ they had completed by circling the Author’s index. Once in a while, just to fit in, I too got a few Hardy’s and Nancy’s home only to return it unread.  Frankly, my brain could not scale up to take in the story. I was equal to Noddy. The first novel I read and completed was “Freedom at Midnight” and that was in class eleven. I have continued reading till this day. I can’t say much about my other mates.

The Irish Brothers insisted on readings. I never experiences our Indian counterparts stressing this aspect. Closer home, Father was against my reading of novels or comics. His contention was that children should read only study books. I rejected all his ideas and went on reading but hiding it from him.

Some of the Irish Brothers were good Footballers. After Classes, the brothers changed from their white robes to sports vests. St. Mary’s was also a boarding and an Orphanage with a good population of Chinese expats. Among the players, the Irish and Chinese used to be in majority and mixed with few locals. And most of the locals were those boarders and orphans who couldn’t escape but play.

Actually, as soon as the closing bell rang, all the day scholars almost ran out to catch a bus and go home. I was also one of them. Well, playing sports was never a part of the majority. St. Mary’s had a swimming pool, a basketball court, a skating ring, Table Tennis and two huge fields and not to forget, very enthusiastic Irish brothers. Almost all were under-utilized or un-utilised.

But nobody could escape the annual sports day. Its preparation began a month or two ahead and all the classes had to take part. Whether it was sprint, running or relay, the Chinese were everywhere. We Indians took part in PT (Physical Training) exercises where we were required to move our hands up and down and sideways on the beat of a drum. There was one year when we were made to mount on the shoulders of a stout companion and do the same. So much for Sports !

Well, doesn’t it indicate about our own sporting culture? My parents and others too were of the opinion that sports will not bring in the bread. The few weeks of compulsory PT were considered as inescapable evil to be endured. Well, I believe, it will take a generation or two for these kind of thoughts to fade away. Till then, we can catch the drama of CWG on T.V.. The best we have learnt to do is – Clap. Or is it – Yap.

Dabangg – And Our Reality

The media is comparing “Dabangg” with “3 Idiots”. First the media compared the first day earnings and showed how Dabangg has beaten 3 Idiots. Then it showed the lead on the second day earnings. Now it has started to extrapolate on how much it will collect in a week. Finally, by what margin Dabangg will finally beat 3 Idiots.

The comparison is primarily quantitative. But I was slow to realise this. I went to see this movie entirely based on its materialistic assessment. I have not yet seen 3 Idiots. So I thought if I see Dabangg, I could make up of whatever I have lost by not seeing 3 Idiots.

I know; my reason is faulty. But so is, of the rest of humanity who went to see Dabangg. The majority is mad and the media is a con.

Let me compare the two movies, Dabangg and 3 Idiots. You will say- Wait, how can you compare the two, when you have not seen 3 Idiots. I very well can! If the media can compare two movies on data based on earnings, I can compare on data based on “earnings from where”?

Dabangg, though it claims to be set in Uttar Pradesh, is actually a Bihari Movie and Dabangg is a Bihari word. If you concentrate on the Lingo, they are all Bihari. The use of “HUM” in dialogues is natural Bihari.

I am born in Bihar. And though, I grew up in Calcutta, I often visited my mama’s (Maternal Uncle) place at Kankarbagh, Patna. On every visit, I heard fantastic stories. Corruption is folklore in Bihar. On the first day of my every visit, mama’s sons took me around Kankarbagh and showed me all the new multi-storied houses which had come up since my last visit – Look – this house, it belongs to a clerk in Bihar secretariat – and this house – it belongs to a havaldar (police sergeant) who did his stint in Purnia (Indo-Nepal border town in Bihar) and again this – and this, and the list was quite long. Even my own Mama, who was, so called SP, in Patna city, had a big multi-storied house. My Father always told my mother- he is just a Daroga (Head of a Police station). Whenever we visited, we always got special treatment. Because my father worked at the Airport – our every relative in Patna thought, that was a lucrative position. Only we knew the truth.

I can relate corruption with Bihar, but corruption is not a Bihari monopoly. Sitting in the hall, watching Dabangg, I could deduce, why this movie got more success than 3 Idiots. We love the corrupt. We seek them, elect them, try to befriend them and align with them. We have more faith with the corrupt. Over the years, like “Pavlov’s dog”, we have come to recognise brute force with strength and rule breaking with proactive leadership.

Whatever I have “read” and “heard” on 3 Idiots, it’s a movie which projects the malaise of our education system and attempts to correct it. 3 Idiots is idealistic. Dabangg is reality. You can live and feel Dabangg daily. 3 Idiots is like a festival, to be visited once in a while for some moral and ritualistic absolution.

If we look into our daily lives we live dabanggish. We have no respect for processes. A simple queue is a torture for us. If you conform to rules, you are one of the “Idiots”, break it and you are a great dabangg.

By now, its quite clear, why Dabangg is more successful than 3 Idiots. The assessment is not only quantitative, it is also qualitative. It reflects our reality.

So, how do we improve? What do we do? I don’t know. We have made lots of quantitative progress, but that has not kept pace with the quality of our lives. But you can judge the improvements for yourself by looking at the indicators. What would be the indicators? I must say- the day, movies like 3 Idiots succeed and Dabangg type of crass is trashed, and comparing the two is considered a taboo, we cannot be comfortable with our own progress.