On Privacy and Surveillance-05

These days there is a new watchman manning our society gate. And he is not interested in me. Well, not yet!

The New Watchman sits on the seat looking out, towards the gate and not my window, unlike the earlier watchman whose eyes never leaves my window. Probably, the new guy is not briefed about me. The Watchman who is mainly entrusted with the task of my surveillance is missing – on leave, I assume.

This makes my life easier. At least for a couple of days I can stand by the window and gaze the sky, without being gawked at nonstop. As one can guess, if someone starts watching you non-stop and periodically, it gets on your nerves. In India, one can’t do much about it. Probably, if I were in any western country, I would have called 911 or some such number and reported this behavior. In India, I might have to wait another decade or so, for that kind of facility. But, the question remains, will Indians ever get unto that kind of sensitivity with respect to privacy? My assumptions is – never.

There are no safeguards in India, if “someone turns someone’s head.” Sexual Harassments have a structure of reporting. What about Privacy Harassments? I’m not pointing towards any breach of Privacy. I’m a step ahead. I’m pointing towards outright, blatant harassment.

While working in my last company, the key people in the department came to know one day, that there is a “head” that exits near my house, whose “turning” can give them information on me. It took them just a couple of days to “recruit” and they got a “Turned Head” – a live CCTV pointing towards my house. How I know this? Let me show you how —

Shortly after the “installation of Live CCTV,” one day, as I was leaving the society gates for my evening walks, there appeared a loud call from the rear. Standing on the far end of the society compound was the “Turned Head.” And he shouted at the top of his voice – Neeraj Sir! Ambience! with repeated signs of an inverted thumb pointing towards his mouth. The cry was at the top of his voice with all evening goers of the society present. And also children who had stopped playing to watch the circus.

For people who don’t know, Ambience is a Bar nearby my house where I spent half my life snorkeling. It’s also a bar where I took all my friends to drink and paid all those through my nose. It’s also a place where people send there informers to snoop on me. It’s also a place I’m expected to be. My identification with “Ambience” reached such an extent that people mailed parcels to Ambience for me to receive.

The cry of “Ambience” which rang through my society that day signified many things. One, that people of position in the company can “recruit” a subordinate, a new guy with just few years in the company, and tell him everything about me, immediately upon knowing his location proximity to me. That’s a contemptuous attitude and this should have alerted me from my any future associations with them.

I had never had any relationship, social or otherwise with the “Turned Head.” In fact, I don’t have any social relationship with anyone in my society. It’s just Hai-Bye. The fact that the “Turned Head” knew the information on me including my habits and my usual haunt can only be informed by people known to me and with whom I sat and drank.

The “turned Head” turned several heads that day and after I left the company, the “Turn” is still on. I marvel at the hard work and discipline of all the Khabaree (informers) of my last company. They are the best workers. Just imagine the application and hard work they put in to feed their handlers. On a Bell-Curve their KPI would always be at the top.

I’m waiting for the day when I actually meet or they call me, those former “Khabaree” colleagues. The first thing which I will generously propose is a good position and reward for the “Turned Head.”

The “Turned Head” is doing a really great job. Work-From-Home, None-the-Less.

My life has always been news worthy. Not because I’m some great Hoo-ha, but because of my quirks – eccentricities, whims, accidents, mannerism, together with “over-the-head” partying and merry-making. These made my space a den of news-worthy information which patrons then, trade with their higher ups for miniscule personal gains.

Well, there are big information flowing in the corporate world but big information is rare and difficult to get hold of. Social Climbers and ingratiators need Daily Talking Points. Question – Who will provide those Daily Talking Points? Answer – A Low Hanging Fruit. And I’m that Low Hanging Fruit.

You won’t believe this. A Prime Informer of my last company got Star Performer Employee Award just for trading personal and private information.

At the turn of this century, while processing papers to join the company, I was in Calcutta. There was a lady working in a department of the company (which I was to join) who did not know me at all, but sought me out anyways to warn me from joining the company. She told me, and this I clearly remember, that I was making a mistake and the company is a dirty place from where it would be difficult for me to get out, that the company was not fit for people like me. I dismissed those warnings.

It’s my habit to dismiss warnings.

Twenty Two years after that warning was given, today I remember that lady and the warning. I had indeed joined a company with toxic culture. I had made a mistake.

In my Calcutta company, even though there was (and is) politics and dirty games, but when I was in the process of leaving and even after I left, there were no bad feelings and rancor. But, the company which I joined, the start was itself virulent and malignant.

Had I been in the habit of heeding warnings, I would have quit sooner before the rot of the company set into me. For, within a year of my joining the new company in 2001, some quite good staff simply left. And before they left they had wondered why I had chosen to join “that” company and no other. For they knew the pestilence. And the venom.

Just like the movie “Nagin” and the proverbial Indian myth, the snakes of a defunct company, are still seeking me out to bite. They already have a “Turned Head” positioned on me and a turned head can always get many more turned heads. I wonder what the end-game is going to be.

There are angels who walk far to warn. If only they could open minds and help perceive.


Leylah vs Emma

I like these names. Leylah, as usual, is pretty familiar to Indian ears as it’s in stories and folklore and movies of India. And Emma is familiar to anyone who is familiar with Jane Austen. It’s one of those famous books which I haven’t read. Yet the name has a sweet tone.

Leylah Fernandez and Emma Raducanu are both teenagers. Laylah just turned 19 and Emma will reach that figure in November this year. If age counts and if days and months count too, then this makes Emma younger and more potent on the court by few months. Both of them have defeated opponents who are not much old at all. Yet, during movements on the court and during long rallies, it’s very noticeable that the younger of the two have more reach, speed, and relentlessness, with no compromise on accuracy.

Emma Raducanu’s presence in the US Open 2021 has a history. Initially, she was not on the list of players. They called her in when the original participant, Jeļena Ostapenko, withdrew. But before getting her place in the first round, Raducanu had to go through a qualifier and in one of the three qualifiers, she defeated the experienced Mayar Sherif.

After defeating 4th seed Sharif in the qualifiers, the other seeded players she defeated were 11th seed Bencic, the Olympic 2020 Gold Medallist, in the quarterfinals and 11st seed Sakkari in the semifinals. Compared to Leylah, Raducanu has an easier ride to the finals, being pitched against lower ranked players.

Unlike Raducanu, Leylah played against higher ranked players. She defeated 3rd seed Osaka in the third round, after which Osaka seems to have quit tennis for the time being. Then she beat 16th seed Kerber, this year’s Wimbledon semifinalist, 5th seed Svitolina and finally, 2nd seed Sabalenka to reach the finals.

Till the eve of finals; Raducanu played 9 tournaments with total 18 sets and 18 wins. Leylah has played 6 tournaments with 16 sets and 12 wins. With quality and quantity head-to-head, Raducanu has more match and more wins, but Leylah has defeated higher ranked players.

If the intentions are good- statistics will tell a lot. But not without the usual clause, because life is uncertain. Past performance is no guarantee for future returns, in tennis or other-wise. Yet, one can gain judgment and perspective just by having some judgement and perspective to start with.

When Leylah walks on the court to face Raducanu in the finals of the US Open 2021, she will have several advantages in the game in which Raducanu is yet untested.

Leylah has shown something which the followers of Federer, Djokovic and Nadal may have noticed – the ability to raise the game whenever required. In most games, Leylah played three sets and faced tie breaks. If experience is anything in tennis (though many experienced players lose badly), then Leylah has that mental ability to get out of a hole and raise her game up a notch.

If Raducanu faces similar situations, will she be able to come back? That’s the question not known yet.

Raducanu is untested in either in comebacks after a set loss, and in three setters, and in tie break situations. One way to approach this is to consider that Raducanu may be a better player, that she has more skills and better technique, that she doesn’t get into sticky situations and shows her anticipation.

One would choose to be a Raducanu. Be lucky, at least to start with. She was at home when a phone-call notified a vacancy in the US Open. It may have been the world’s shortest time to say – Yes. Time and Talent met. Probably that’s called Dream-Run.

But one would love to see Leylah win. She has worked her way up with victories, defeats, and in one instance, against Kerber, a temporary debacle in the quality of her game. For people who show both their successes and failures and faults, the vulnerabilities, the benevolent majority always wish for their success.

I would love Leylah to win.