Monday, December 31, 2007

Please don't

All gates are open for one who doesn't wish to walk through them
Alas! Such moments bite my heel and gnaw
The last of what painted my life alive.
Oh! Please don't nude me for inept love's flaw,
Or flay me blue for spineless passions' strive.

I love you, dearest, but sullied am I
To win and husband your kohl-eye's favour.
For in its clear depths I'd this world defy,
Though no knight to clasp your heart forever.

Know me now, as once in true smile you did
That I shall love you, only you, till death.
And I beg you don't, or of life me rid -
Of absence eclipsed-life or one sans breath.

In you is all, pardon my cowardice;
I grovel at your feet, please don't do this.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Sonnet - 5

When the singular music of the morn
Tinkles with the grey rub of ironness,
When unheeded moments fly past forlorn
Empty and unlived in their vast briefness,Love Shattereth All!

When in hushed stealth, straggle exiled snowflakes -
No vacant eye to trace that dizzy path,
When saucy din's clang, in a mute ear, quakes
Clenching my silent innards in loud wrath,

When feather's breath breeze on opisthenar
Rolls numb and desiccated o'er vein streams,
My life blood speaks your name in a manner
That wakens me to your bequest of dreams.

In shackles, searched I my heart's warm epoch
Till you known, erring love for a keyless lock.

Friday, December 21, 2007

Bee Movie

Its been nearly three decades since I saw a movie first-day first-show. And its even better when it is the first time ever!! I chose Bee Movie(watch the trailers, they are quite different from the movie) for that. I agree, that it is not necessarily the best choice for such an event, but then hey! I'd pick this any day over OSO.
PVR is quite a disorganised place requiring people to go to an entirely different floor in order to place their helmets. Put me off totally!
The movie is good. It is perfect for a light evening, noon or night. The storyline is not very impressive with several factual errors, but then are you there to simply find faults, you ol' fella? Lots of nice jokes and a lot more fun scenes. Spoilers ahead...

Courtesy: IMDB

The story starts off with a quick summary of what happens in the beehive by presenting the life of bees once they graduate. When I heard that the bees (in the movie, hence, Bee Movie!) get to choose one career in Honex and would need to stick to it for the rest of their life, I shot a secret prayer to God requesting him to never make me a bee (for that movie, hence, Bee Movie!). Barry (Seinfeld voiceover) feels the same but decides to join the Pollen Jocks on a trip out of the hive to collect nectar (then why not Nectar Jocks!?). On his first trip they land in the midst of tennis balls and then by some turn of interesting fate Barry lands in Vanessa's (Zellwegger house and is saved by her. He startles her by talking to her in English (if they claim a 27 million year... oh! forget it!) and she accepts that with great difficulty. They become friends and he dreams of her in a pool of honey!!
One day he joins her to a supermarket and discovers that human beings buy and sell honey (what about bees wax!? Well... forget it, E). He is outraged and takes pictures of the activity in a honey farm. He decides to sue the human race for using something that belongs to them. Court scenes follow and eventually he wins. Then what happens is so typical of American lawsuits. Barry demands that all honey be returned to the hive (though no honey was taken from that hive. Shhhh, E) and there is suddenly a surplus leaving all bees jobless. The Pollen Jocks do nothing and soon no pollination happens in the world which leads to a rather grey Earth (or at least that city). Another disconnected bit about flowers not being pollinated and how Vanessa and Barry get together and steal a lot of flowers, bring it back and then go about collecting pollen and, well, pollinating (but you can't pollinate dead plants or flowers! Shut up, E, shut up!).
In short, it was fun though the family 2 rows behind kept repeating dialogues and laughing all over again (I heard it the first time, you blokes!). Some people really know how to kill the moment! Have your ear open for the dialogues and catchy scenes (eyes for these, not ears!). I loved the scene with Larry King and the other one with all the insects on the windscreen. Honey just got funny.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

The conscious mind

Those who see worldly life as an obstacle to Dharma
see no Dharma in everyday actions.
They have not yet discovered that
there are no everyday actions outside of Dharma.

This has been the question that has plagued millenia of men and a myriad in each. The question when stated, as it arises in a naive mind, would be:
Why is there a need to move from the current state of living to a more supposedly enlightened state?

This, in its womb, holds several questions which the reader might nod their head to:
  • Why is the current state of living not right?
  • Why did we get into it, in the first place?
  • How do we know that there is a better state of living?
  • Why are we born in that state?
  • Why must there be a move?
  • How should we bridge the eternally parallel states?
  • Are they parallel?
If we notice, the last question summarises our prejudice towards recognising and maintaining the parallel tracks of right and not-yet-right and all the earlier questions were based on that surmise.
Often one notices that the path towards spiritual completeness or enlightenment implicitly excludes our quotidian life. It is as if to say that enlightenment cannot happen in the daily setting. So many teachers and gurus have said that it is not possible to be in the world and attain to the Divine. So many teachers and gurus have said that it is vital to merge the Divine path into daily life. Undoubtedly, nearly all of the latter category have themselves renounced common life (Dogen included)!! So what is true? Does a path towards the Divine require less of the common world? Does it require an initial abstinence followed by a bringing home of the wisdom?
These in turn lead to more questions like:
  • How is one to know when one can return to the world?
  • Why did one have to "leave" in the first place?
  • How is the mind and self going to be any different from what it was before the excursion?
  • Why can't that difference be brought about with running away?
That is when we come to the point of the conscious mind. When the mind is growingly conscious of itself and the world around it, can the self simply drop its role and act according to the Divine will (which it is still clueless about)? Wouldn't that be the case of jumping across a wide well and deciding half-way that you want to turn back? The path to the Divine requires a conscious mind which need not mean an erudite mind. But can the conscious mind suddenly say "So what if the vegetable vendor is giving me stale tomatoes. All the world is Maya and I am sure the stale tomato will become firm and edible as soon as I offer my cooking to the Lord"? While the mind is not yet there, wouldn't the mind require to be able to discern between the worldly and the inner development? Then the question is, when can the mind ever stop doing that? And the one that follows the latter is, does the mind ever need to stop doing that?

The thought that I am playing with is the state of the mind and self where every vacillation of the world is accorded its due reaction. If your mother dies, you will cry though you are aware that all beings come to pass. If you win a lottery, you will rejoice because you can now go on a trip to Hawaii and not stay impassive about the ephemeral nature of all joy. Point is, why should the self be prescribed a state of no-emotion or no-response when the same Divine to which we wish to attain has created all of what this world has to provide? This is not a case for living in ignorance but to realise the duality of the world and how in spite of the variety the Divine is one and the immeasurable joy at the Divine's feet and in the Divine's arms is blissful. And although we know one from the other, there is no point denying one or the other. In awareness, there is built a foundation for consciousness, which in turn prepares the ground for the Divine to enter into us.
So to answer the questions:

  • Why is the current state of living not right?
It is as right as you feel.
  • Why did we get into it, in the first place?
  • How do we know that there is a better state of living?
Because you recognise that this is not the right way to be, and in that recognition you are also aware of what is possibly right.
  • Why are we born in that state?
Because of the Divine will and the state of the 3 gunas. There is no scientific answer to this question but it is something to be realised. Every single state that a human being is in, is fine in the Divine scheme of things. In other words, to the self which is one with Divine, every state is equally ok and inconsequential (as a starting point) in the grand scheme of things. So the conception of the state we are in (born or current) is a function of what our self feels about life and our own measure of rightness.
  • Why must there be a move?
There needn't be any, if the current state is fine and comfortable. The Divine is not separate for a person who is happy and contented in the current state of affairs.
  • How should we bridge the eternally parallel states?
By emptying yourself and letting the parallel states merge in the void.
  • Are they parallel?
Yes and No
  • How is one to know when one can return to the world?
The minute the unison with the Divine is complete. How? There is no way to know that.
  • Why did one have to "leave" in the first place?
Because It can be there only when there is nothing.
  • How is the mind and self going to be any different from what it was before the excursion?
In the same way one's body is while in front of a fire on a cold Winter evening.
  • Why can't that difference be brought about with running away?
Because the warmth of the fire on a cold Winter evening is available only near the fire and not in the market place.

So in seeking the Divine, giving up on discriminatory consciousness is possible only when the duality of the world is not presented every minute. This can be attained by either going on a long break in order to focus on the path to the Divine or by continuously rejecting the world's appetisers. Once the Divine has entered the individual being, then the individual can be anywhere and it wouldn't matter. How is one to be involved in everything of the world, responding to each stimulus appropriately and still empty the self for the Divine, without recognising and maintaining the duality of it all?

Maam ekam charanam vraja

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A theatre of simultaneous possibilities

I have chanced upon a few delightful articles which I intend to share with you. But the pleasure lessens if I merely handed over to you a string of letters and dots and slashes starting with a www. Let me prance about in the unconscious - and to the writers of these articles, I do not exist - forming of a coterie of "literary writing" haters. Suffer my unbridled exuberance and hold not a single phrase against me at the dawn of a more sober morning. I don't hate literature but am holding myself back from actually detesting what passes off as "literary writing" nowadays. As readers of this blog might recall, I had written a trilogy on what I thought literature was (they are available here, here and here) and I would summarise great writing as something:

  • Which weaves a splendid tale for me

  • Which wrings the finest honey out of the language employed

  • Which leaves me unlike myself when I started reading the piece, and

  • Which makes me want to rush to write myself
I would be arrogant enough to say that this is the sole definition of great literature that I recognise, not because I composed it (does that even matter?).
When I was young (that was a couple of decades ago), I read Shakespeare and wondered why everyone spoke so highly of a man who wrote phrases like "saucy fellow" (Julius Ceaser). Only recently (and may I brag of owning the complete works of Shakespeare in wonderful print?) did I gain the required faculties to appreciate the works of the Bard. So much so that I was quick to proclaim him as one of the only 2 writers whom I consider truly great (the other being Nabokov; Gogol seems to be pulling this club to gain inclusion, but it wouldn't be a wrong if he succeeded). Shakespeare's sonnets drove me to a tizzy and made me drop everything I was doing at that moment and pick up a pen to give vent to what he had stoked in me. I thought that he heightened my sense and I was thoroughly glad when I read this article about an experiment conducted to correlate Shakespearen writing with brain activity. I totally agree with what the author says:

In that case Shakespeare's art would be no more and no less than the supreme
example of a mobile, creative and adaptive human capacity, in deep relation
between brain and language. It makes new combinations, creates new networks,
with changed circuitry and added levels, layers and overlaps. And all the time
it works like the cry of "action" on a film-set, by sudden peaks of activity and
excitement dramatically breaking through into consciousness.

And as abrupt as this turn might seem, I must hurry into discussing the other articles I read. All of them are from The first I read was a review by B.R.Myers of a book called Tree of Smoke and about how "It’s the most critically acclaimed novel of the fall. And it’s astonishingly bad." I couldn't stop nodding my head when I read this:

It’s just that once we Americans have ushered a writer into the contemporary pantheon, we will lie to ourselves to keep him there.
I would definitely agree with him when I think about Updike, Oates and Lahiri. The article talks a lot about pretentious writers and how the entire literary community feeds on and into this farce. Here is another excerpt from that article:

An amputee with a phantom limb, fancy that. Lewis’s aside that Tree of Smoke
doesn’t feel like a Denis Johnson novel” lends weight to the assumption that a
writer cannot become famous by writing like this, at least not yet. But with no
way to prove insincerity on the reviewers’ part, I have to pretend to believe
that they really do consider Tree of Smoke to be “something like a masterpiece”
(Lewis) and “bound to become one of the classic works of literature” (Kakutani)
about the Vietnam War. (The novel, a New York Times best seller, has been
nominated for a National Book Award.)
I surely wouldn't be reading this book going by the samples that Myers quotes. This novel appears to be below mediocre to me and if it ever became a "work of literature" let alone a classic, I shall write another post!!
This is what the The Washington Post has to say about this book: "To write a fat novel about the Vietnam War nearly 35 years after it ended is an act of literary bravado. To do so as brilliantly as Denis Johnson has in Tree of Smoke is positively a miracle". Literary bravado? What on earth is that? Why does literature need bravery? So would painting a war scene (albeit cubist) be called brave painting? If this is a miracle, then I am a non-believer. And if "This novel makes large demands on the reader" I wonder to what demand did the writer cater. Please read the Washington Post's article about the book and you won't find anything in it that actually talks about the prose and its style. Just a lot of adjectives and bull-crap. What are we reviewing? The article-writer's proclivity to smitten-talk?
So here I am wondering who this Myers guy is and simultaneously feeling glad that there are others out there who are ready to grab the "literary writers" by their collars (post-modern collars) and give then a good shake. I stumbled upon his "A Reader's Manifesto" and liked him even more. From there I hopped my way to A Reader's Revenge where I loved this at the end:

But if they were to say the prose is good or bad, and explain why on the basis
of lengthy excerpts, then we could judge for ourselves
I remember getting into a virtual brawl with a member of a popular "writer's" online group. She was reviewing Ms. Lahiri's Namesake and used words/phrases like "soul-satisfying, introspective, multi-layered and intellectual read" and when I asked her to justify her conclusion there wasn't any offered. People (readers/reviewers) fancy using large words and cliches to avoid the conscious task of understanding a book and enjoying it for what it is rather than what it is touted to be. I am glad that Myers raises concerns of similar sorts. Although I haven't read a word of DeLillo, I agree with Myers when he says this (and yes, he praises Nabokov :-)

When Don DeLillo describes a man's walk as "a sort of explanatory shuffle, a
comment on the literature of shuffles," I feel nothing; the wordplay is just too
insincere, too patently meaningless. But when Nabokov talks of midges
"continuously darning the air in one spot," or the "square echo" of a car door
slamming, I feel what Philip Larkin hoped readers of his poetry would feel:
"Yes, I've never thought of it that way, but that's how it is."
So why would people still want to call such writing as great? Myers has to say something in tune with what Toohey said in Atlas Shrugged:

"Don't set out to raze all shrines — you'll frighten men. Enshrine mediocrity —
and the shrines are razed . . . Kill by laughter. Laughter is an instrument of
human joy. Learn to use it as a weapon of destruction. Turn it into a sneer.
It's simple. Tell them to laugh at virtue. Don't let anything remain sacred in a
man's soul — and his soul won't be sacred to him. Kill reverence and you've
killed the hero in man"
Mediocrity and laziness is what rules the world today. People would rather have a solution than an understanding of the problem. But I digress. Myers clearly states:

Well, imagine what would happen if the Big Three were allowed to review each
other's cars in Consumer Reports. You might think they'd just try to run each
other down. But they wouldn't; they'd realize that it's in the industry's
interests to screw the consumers, to lower their expectations. They'd say, "The
brakes don't work, but that's what real driving is all about," and so on. They'd
save the bad reviews for outsiders like the Japanese. The same principle is
behind the insincerity with which novelist-critics review each other's books.
And even the full-time reviewers like Michiko Kakutani don't seem to represent
the consumer's interests to the extent that a movie critic like Roger Ebert
does. The best way to reform things is to force reviewers to concentrate on
prose. As it is now, they say things about the plot and the characters that we
have to take on trust.
Pick any review that you might have read of a book and see whether the critic bothers to detail the prose and style without starting with a conclusion. I am glad that Alvibest, as an instinctive policy, disallows reviewers to state anything without evidence.
Given that we have had great writers like Shakespeare and Nabokov, why would I bother to read any of these new novels? I needn't, but when the literary community builds hype around them, it gets me concerned about the state of literature about which I care a lot. Why doesn't anyone aspire to write like the greats and when they can't, just pause writing?
And this is where I see the truth in what I had written in one of the posts I mention here: Attempting to create literature is an adamant belief in permanence. Shakespeare and Nabokov believed in that. I doubt whether any of the modern contemporary writers even recognise that. The mind is, as William James said, a theatre of simultaneous possibilities, and we should try to keep that vibrant and enriching rather than numb it with the opiates of mediocrity and laziness.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

Foods Galore

Praanaya Svaaha
It should be no shocking revelation that I simply love food and anything to do with culinary delights. I am also proud of being deliciously promiscuous (within the limits of being vegetarian). Yesterday was a fun day when the entire team went out to eat and I had the good fortune of an audience prepared to watch me grill their food for them while explaining the technicalities of each and every sauce used and the details of mixing food items and cuisines. My manager, though, was only interested in getting the food on his plate, but seemed to relish what I prepared for him.

Over the past few weeks I have been finding myself in blogs/webpages which focus entirely on food. Some of them are rather good and I thought it might be a good idea to share those sites out here.

The Yum Blog (the lady is quite sweet and specialises in Iyengar recipes and hence... :-)

Tarla Dalal's Blog (Her recipe books are one of the first I allowed in my house)

I Love Pasta (More educational)

Mahanandi (Nice collection and very well organised)

What's for lunch Honey? (I like this because it combines food and photography (check out her calendar, whether you buy it or not)! Damn, why don't I get to meet such fine women!? ;-)

Cheese Lovers (Again educational)

Epicurious (I love this sites l-n-f)

Food for thought (the gobi-kheema won me over. I have developed this fetish for cauliflower and seem to be buying it no matter wherever I spot it. I also loved the fact that she tastefully featured bottled of olive oil on her page)

101Cookbooks (this is ok as a site but special because I found my friend whom I had lost over 18 years thanks to her namesake putting some comment on this page)

Aayi's Recipes (beware! Lots of non-veg stuff, but I generally skip them or replace the offending ingredients with ideas of my own (well cooked and browned cauliflower with stems does resemble chicken!!))

The Cook's Cottage (liked the bhakri recipe here)

Cooking Bread (for bread lovers. I am Atkin's nightmare)

And many many more (I have over a 100 links to sites I have collected over time and hunger). Hope you enjoy this collection. Let me know in case you have found some really interesting sites which I could add to my kitty.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007


These pictures are of a butterfly found dead outside my office gym. At first glance I thought it was perhaps some fine lady's brooch, but on closer examination recognised the deceased. Brought her home and thought it best to give her a suitable "immortalisation".

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Off the news(paper) and sundry


The Aaja Nachle Controversy:
Here are the lyrics that have been keeping jobless politicians busy:
Bazaar mein machi hai maramar, bole mochi bhi khud ko sunar.
And as Hindi lyrics of the present day go, this one doesn't differ much on the PQ (pathetic-quotient). But the politicians aren't complaining about the quality of lyrics. They care too hoots about that and wouldn't know the meaning of words like "taqmeel", "raza" and other beautiful words that once upon a time filled Hindi songs. So here goes a disinterested attempt at getting you the meaning (and N, I am sure you won't complain this time!).
There is a lot of uproar in the bazaar (did you know that is legal English, now?), even the cobbler consider himself a goldsmith.

So let's see what could possibly bother the Indian-jobless-politician.
Uproar: India is being portrayed as a place of noise and confusion and this is tainting the India Shining image into a India Whining image.... Naaah!
Bazaar: This is India's contribution to English and it should not be used in chaste Hindi lyrics. This only goes to show that we are still slaves of the Empire (Arundhati Roy-ish?).... Naah!
A lot: This again is an innuendo about India's population problem and songs like this are what influence the World Bank from not giving us any money because our programs are ineffective.... Naah! Next line please...
Cobbler: We still recognise this occupation and it only strengthens the massacre of animals for the sake of their hide (anti-Hide-Sign and Maneka Gandhi-ish?)... Naah! but you are getting warmer!
Consider: This is the problem of the urban metro-sexual who keeps considering himself to be somewhat in between a male and a female and this is leading to a lot of suicide and hysterectomy!... Naah!
Goldsmith: Errr... no apparent problem here! Oh! yeah! that is the problem. We haven't included goldsmiths in our problem allocation committee and hence they feel discriminated against and want a reservation in problems! ... Naaah!

I give up. I can never become a politician in India! :-(
Answer: (Tell me you didn't skip to this section directly! Gosh! you really are the same since 4th "std", right?) The blokes in khadi think that a cobbler considering himself a goldsmith is a casteist remark at cobblers being low-class and the goldsmiths being high-class. So they probably want it replaced with "Bole software-engineer khud ko Ambani" which isn't casteist to them. But the Indian Software Union of Engineers on the Bench or Working or Employed (ISUEB-WE) is objecting to that and demanding an increase in allocation of Reliance group's investments in their IT department. This has sent Reliance groups share value down the drain (and this drain flows through all high-class and low-class areas, so no discrimination of funneling Reliance shares into a caste based drain) which has troubled our finance minister, PC, who is requesting SG to look into the matter so that she can make statements about no by-elections and the like.

Alright, enough of seriousness. Let's get a little jovial. UP, Punjab and Haryana have banned the movie. Some have lifted the ban too. Producers have apologised for using such words and are providing movie halls with a chemical to erase the lines from the recording. JNU sociologist Vivek Kumar calls it "downright derogatory" and an attempt to mock "those who are aspiring to reach a higher social station". But doesn't that aspiration, Mr. Kumar, automatically acknowledge that those in the so-called lower-station (no, not the kinds between Madras and Ooty) prefer the so-called higher station without attempting to remove the wrong done to their profession and station? I am not saying that Dalits have been treated fairly. Quite a disappointing state of human affairs, but why are we making a ruckus of a meaningless song which would hardly live more than 10-20 days? Aren't we creating a fear and paranoia in the minds of everyone about what they might say or what they might do which might bring onto them someone's ire? Isn't there a very thin line between sensitivity and rampant fear? If the intent was to put the cobblers down, then the cobblers have a reason to object. To make it a Dalit-wide issue is basically being stupid. I am sure that the lyricists aren't intelligent people to have put so much thought into their lyrics. Just look at the lyrics! It is only constructed to fill space and be sung wrongly on the tongue of someone who heard it while passing a tea-stall. Stupid lyrics and so much made out of them. It would be like going back to the fun (and possibly then silly) lyrics of "Sar jo tera chakraye" and saying that the "Kaahe ghabraye" was a hint at oil-massagers being dangerous people and hence calling all people of that caste (no clue what that is) as people with a criminal past and inclination. I think politicians should focus on more important matters and giving facilitating an environment where everyone has a good quality of life.

Joker in the pack:
Another lets-do-something-to-get-noticed-and-rich attempt. Why oh! why can't people write a novel/piece with some interesting content? I am tired of seeing more and more chick-lit (and I am told the male version of this is called dick-lit! Urgggh! Too many of these, and do we call them chock-lit?). Why can't people just not jump into writing? It doesn't have to be done, ladies and gentlemen! I remember reading an article on a similar vein (I just searched and it has been taken off the main site. Here is a place where you can read it). Writing is for people who enjoy the language and cannot help but write. For those who want to give vent to their personal feelings, there is a journal. For those who want to get rich, there is investment banking. For those who want to get noticed, please refer to Britney Spears. Please don't write any more of those you-know-what-really-happens-in-the-place-you-so-admire kinda stories. Chetan Bhagat got lucky. Let's applaud and stop it.

A virtual bookstore:
Pradeep Sebastian is kind enough to share information about the virtual bookstore called "Between the Covers" (there is a show on with the same name). I doubt whether I will ever buy something from there (not as long as I have my Bookworm and Blossoms and other little gems) but it is interesting.

And here are some magazines I would like to mention for their good content. Please find time to read "Bangalore Food Lovers" and "Design Today". Very good stuff in there. There is a Design Conference on the 12th and 13th in Bangalore.

Oh! btw, the "Yes" at the start was for those who always wondered whether I read newspapers and magazines... I don't read the politics and current affairs sections (the only affairs I am interested in are best left unrelated on paper!!) but the Aaja Nachle thing caught my eye. The rest are from the Literary Review and from magazines which I do read!

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Through the hole

I think it was the summer of 1989, for it is nearly always summer in Madras. I was in 7th grade then and, according to a lot of friends, haven't changed much. We followed this rather arcane curriculum of numbering our subjects as 1 and 2 (Math 1, Math2, English 1, English 2...) and I fail to recall which one of those numbers applied to the class where we were asked to prepare a pinhole camera. The mechanics of this was simple: Get a hollow cylinder (which should be called a pipe, but our teachers thought that they were being quite scientific as against sounding like someone from the hardware store). Seal one end with butter paper (and we actually applied butter on standard paper when any oleaginous substance would have suited the purpose) and the other which a thick material. Poke a pin-hole through the thick material and pray that you get an image of some distant object upside down on the butter-paper.

We had decided that we should employ talcum powder cases (like that of the nearly erstwhile Cuticura, or of Gokul Santol)as one end would be shut anyway. We did a lot of hunting and excitedly constructed the contraption for, to a child's mind, any activity with expensive names like camera, engine brought a lot of importance. I think I chose a Gokul Santol dubba (I think I did so because I didn't want to have anything to do with a Kutti-Cura... kutti in Tamil means small).

When the d-day arrived, everyone proudly held their cameras in hand (one girl had even painted hers! I am glad there wasn't a pink bow to it). Some of the fractious boys (and every class had its share) had bullied the students of the other classes to lend theirs. Some of the lazy ones borrowed from their friends in the other "divisions". There was a lot of whispering and speculation as to who possessed "honest" cameras and who were the ones who had "stolen" (for anything non-honest was considered stolen to our inarticulate minds) cameras.

The teacher walked in. She was a rather puny lady with a voice that broke with least warning, resembling a little puppy on ice - running fine a bit and then skidding. She demanded to be informed if anyone had borrowed cameras from students in other divisions. No one spoke a word. Some students got up to say that they didn't finish their project and these were the ones who had secretly vowed to turn informers.

Things went as expected. Some student would be called, he would present his piece. If it was an honest camera, he got some marks depending on the clarity of the tree with its root heavenward on the butter-paper. If it was stolen, some student would blow the whistle. Then there was a lot of ruckus and Yes-No and eventually a zero on the marklist. One girl who had stolen started crying even before she was exposed, which was exposure enough.

One boy was about to go and do his presentation. He was my friend (and that meant a lot back then!!) and I gestured to a whistle blower not to expose him. Surprisingly the presentation went rather smoothly for him. I was amazed at the powers of my gestures and considered the prospects of a career as a mafia Don with the imperceptible nod to signal that someone must be made to "sleep with the fish". I was stirred out of my reverie by a call to my name skidding badly on my teacher's tongue.

I walked over and did my presentation. The tree looked rather nice and helplessly strung upside down on the butter-paper. I was tempted to rotate the camera in order to rectify that, but knowing that it wouldn't earn me any extra marks, I didn't bother.

"Ma'am he stole it."

Which poor soul was caught now? I turned around to see all the boys and girls (minus the weeper) looking at me. Me? ME?

"No, ma'am. I made this. I can assure you I made this?"


Damn! That was my first lesson in never assuring assurances without preparing for one.

"Ma'am he told me not to tell you that he had stolen this camera."

Damn! So that is where the intent of my gesture had gone. Like signalling my own henchmen to fill me with lead and thinking all the while that I am such a good Don.

"No, ma'am."

"Yes, ma'am."

And the topic hardly changed for the next 2 min. She was about to give me a zero when I offered to take everyone to the shop where I bought the talcum powder case and getting my father to vouch for me. The teacher asked me and the whistle blower to resolve this by the next class.

Well, I was able to prove my case and got 7.5 out of 10, but I look back at this incident every time I see a similar one happening in my present day (which became a yesterday). People still love to blow the whistle on others without a basis. I am undecided about whether whistle blowing makes sense (except in really criminal cases and the like), but doing so without basis is quite silly according to me. There is nothing to gain for the whistle blower except for the possible sadistic pleasure of watching another person suffer his fate (and I am only talking about whistle blowers who had themselves defaulted and are trying to redeem themselves by turning into that). Even in corporate circles at the non-executive level, people seem to be resorting to this childish behaviour and feeling quite pleased with themselves. Wonder whether we ever grow up. I definitely haven't and am busy collecting assurances and proofs for the world, lest someone decides to shout out "Ma'am he stole it."

Why is the world upside down!?