Tuesday, August 12, 2014

O Captain! My Captain!

As I woke up to a sleep deprived grumpiness today morning and sifted through my twitter timeline, I read a tweet – the first of many which said “Rest In peace Robin Williams”. I rubbed my eyes hard to shake off the grogginess hoping what I read was just an error of my sleepy eyes. It was crushing, the eyes had read it right, it took me a second to realize that the man I adored the most in Hollywood, a man who has had so much influence throughout my growing years is no more. Even he was a mere mortal. A hand just pierced through my stomach pulling out my guts with searing pain rising up to my quivering lips, my eyes went moist and there was no dust to blame the tears on. A celebrity’s death had totally crushed me.

I wandered into a limbo, with my mind staring at the slowly rotating fan remembering a loop of great moments from his movies, stand-up and talk shows. Great moments etched into my memory. Moments of uninhibited madness, moments of irresistible enthusiasm, moments of deep empathy, moments of acting brilliance, every single human emotion I cared about was finally personified by a single man and I realized that today – a day when he is no more amongst us.
He was someone who proclaimed he dreaded “Art”, sitting on a bench with a shabby beard and unruly hair under a cap, he delivered a wondrous monologue – a monologue which defined the essence of life for me, made me take my first steps towards achieving something, and made me sit down and think about a goal. He stared into my eyes, half broken, lingering and told me “Your move, Chief!” I came back to reality, the fan was still rotating, nothing had changed he was actually no more.

I curled on my bed not able to accept it, and a fine Mr.Keating entered the loop. He was exuberant, childish, and witty. He showed me the intoxicating charm of a language, danced around, used seductive words, made me take an interest in the fascinating world of literature. He whispered in my ear - Carpe Diem. He enticed me, shouting out with that impish smile “But only in dreams can a man be truly free, it was always thus and always thus will be”. That whisper still rings in my ear, that impish smile has started to make me slowly accept that I won’t be able see that live on a stage anymore, a regretful deletion from my bucket list. I wished it was just a dream and that tweet was just a truly free brain wandering. I see the fan, rotating, showing me it isn’t a dream. I broke down. Two great lessons as a child and the man who taught me that was no more.

He was a superhuman, he could be whatever he wanted whenever he wanted and still stand out as an individual. The voice of so many endearing characters Genie, Popeye, the timekeeper, robots. He was a cartoon stuck in a human body. A human who made animated graphics take on a character, gain a personality and made us either love or hate them. Suddenly he shouts out loud breaking my limbo “When in doubt, make a dick joke.” I chuckled a bit, even in death this man had made me laugh.

I remembered him sticking up against his boss when he said “You are in dire need of a blowjob than any other white man in history”. He moved around explaining to me what loss is – losing someone you love more than yourself. He made me laugh and then just sit down still and cry, all within a moment. He spread laughter to millions around the world and still died depressed. As the academy tweeted, Genie was finally free.

An astonishing story teller, he could make a board game come alive and thrill our senses. A man so versatile every act, every movement of his was a discovery in the field of comedy. A genius untouched by bad taste and committed to entertain people. The man who dreaded “art” made entertainment an art form. I return back to my dazed state, slowly realizing it is best to let go. I have a day ahead, I remember O captain! My captain - a specific verse :
“Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with mournful tread,
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead. “
It is bittersweet, I switch off the fan and lock the room. The powerful play goes on and I have to contribute my verse to it. Rest in peace my crazy diamond.

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hello Manipal

Finally I have entered Manipal, the land where no parent wants to send their kid to, the land every kid wants to go to. A city High on life, masti, hot girls (apparently) and some education thrown in somewhere in between.

Thirty years ago when a resolution was passed in the Indian parliament amidst protests from the farmers and Arvind Kejriwal (he is in every protest right?) that a beautiful rhyme, a secret prayer “Rain Rain go away, little Johnny wants to play” has to be taught compulsorily, I guess Manipal either did not want to be a part of it or they do not have a kid Johnny who actually says this from his heart. It has been raining incessantly since I have arrived in this city and moreover there is no Raveena Tandon dancing around in an orange saree. As a member of the society of gentlemen for appreciation of ladies in sarees in heavy rain, I was greatly disappointed. A great man Gabbar aptly gave words to my frustration when he said “BAHUT NAINSAAFI HAI”.

Moving on drenched by thinking about rains, Manipal is a city filled with students. I guess they actually outnumber the flies that you find hovering around a delicious juicy jalebi beside the railway station drain. Basically, it is a city filled with educational institutions right from pre-school to the post graduate level. You realize that almost all the institutions leaving a paltry few are started, run and named after the PAI family. I actually dreamt that I was a tax inspector/wannabe actor who could go around the institutions roll his sunglasses, wink and pop a cigarette and then say “Pai, Pai ki kimat chukani padegi”, but that would be in a parallel universe where I would be good enough in mathematics to become a tax inspector and I was woken up by my roommate before the dream ended. Saala Padhakoo kamina hai mera roomie.

For a guy in his youth like yours truly, it is important to at least act hipster to stand out in a crowd or be noticed. Here in Manipal it is quite easy to do that. Firstly you are already a hipster if your surname is not PAI because that is the name that seems to be omnipresent. Secondly, do not carry an umbrella, I repeat Ondu chatri sagisuva illa (yes I have started learning kannada maadi). Every tom dick and harry carries an umbrella here for obvious reasons. Show them you are different, jog in the rain daily, enjoy the nature and then complain about the lack of medical facilities in the institution after you get pneumonia. Trust me it is worth it. Third and most importantly do not carry a camera, that DSLR wala camera.

Camera reminds me, Manipal is a very picturesque place, high hills suddenly sloping down to beautiful beaches, greenery all around with the occasional King Cobra or that reptilian specie which you can never identify and feel like the anchor of Man vs Wild until you end up disturbing it so much that you have to complain about the medical facility again when you get a rash or that round Mayawati like thing on your skin because of a bite.

One important lesson that I have learnt here is, if you have a friend who is going to Manipal, mute him on facebook and instagram as soon as possible. According to a random statistical study every 3.4 out of 4 students feel that they are professional national geographic photographers as soon as they put their right toe on the soil of Manipal. The remaining 0.6 move around in suits wanting to be photographed (true story). The infinite monkey theorem “"Even a monkey will write Shakespeare if given enough time" applies here and this person will take and share so many photos until either he gets a masterpiece or dies after he gets bit by a reptile. There have been instances of the camera walking up to the police station and complaining about being molested by their owner.

I have about 21 more months to left to be spent over here, so I am pretty sure I will spread more insights into this wonderful city (I mean it). In the meanwhile you will have to wait to know more as I need to go jogging in the rain and disturb a reptile.Bye.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Aftermath of the Rape : The great Indian policeman

I had to write this blog post just to vent out what I felt about the activists sitting on their chair telling how barbaric the Police are when they tried to tear gas and water cannon the peaceful demonstration in New Delhi against the gang rape. Recently I had spoken to quite a few policemen about how well staffed they were and what was their pay but then these people were not law enforcement officials but the traffic police. So I decided to google up what all I could find about the police department in India.

Surprisingly the results I came across were telling a big story, I was surprised basically because the people who were criticizing them on social networks and my friends in general know and research a lot before telling out their opinions but this was shocking, it was like no one knew what the police force goes through every day of their lives.

Let’s move on to the first statistic which I came across , according to report compiled by Bureau of Police Research and Development in 2006 there are 142 police personnel for 1 lakh citizens of India(source). That approximately turns out to be 1 policeman for 705 citizens of the country. Then I came across another report(bprd.nic.in/writereaddata/linkimages/5740124051-Chapters-3.pdf) where there was an on ground survey, it seems that there are 140 sanctioned policemen for 1 lakh population but the actual figure was as low as 103 policemen for 1 lakh population. That makes it 1 policeman for a 1000 people approximately.

Now that there a 103 policeman for 1 lakh of us, you would have seen how many of them actually are on VIP duty, the job of protecting the people you elect and also buy groceries and monthly kirana for them for free. Oh yes who would pick up and drop the kids of the politicians from and to school. So let us bring the number down to a 75 per 1 lakh of population. Now imagine, two people in Mumbai tried to save their girlfriends against a few thugs and ended up getting killed and then think how many people one police officer has to manage.

The first problem that rises over here is that a single person is overburdened with the task of maintaining law and order due to this huge ratio and there is no domain specialization too. A constable has to tackle riots, throw lathis at terrorists wielding Kalashnikovs, save his MLA from a chappal being thrown at him, stop a guy from beating his wife when he is drunk and at the same time worry about the well being of his family, this for a salary ranging somewhere from 3k-9k which increases after an experience of 5-8 years. Salaries vary differing on how sensitive to crime that area is but the cap is at 9k. This leads to the next problem.

Everyone knows the people who join as constables are not the really rich ones; they are just people who are trying to make their ends meet in order to get 2 meals a day with a family consisting of a wife and 2 kids most probably. They are sparsely educated and have no other go to live decently than this. Now think they get on an average 5k per month (report by the cbi on salaries).They have small perks for living but other than that they have to maintain their family with food, cleanliness, new clothes, school fees (no person in their right mind would send their kid to a govt school in India). I am talking about the constables here because they are the people who are the face of the police to ordinary citizens of our country. All these have to be covered within their salary and for that they need to do such a burdensome job. How much motivation can a person have to maintain about 1500 people without allowing any violation for a salary of 5k per month?

Even then let us assume that a person is very motivated and is a beacon of honesty and is a good police officer. He gets let down because the transfers and promotions in the police department is a subjective process and not an objective one. Do you know that as you know the son of the brother of the MLA’s wife, you have more chances to become a head constable although you see a rape happening right in front of you than a guy who catches even a pickpocket and doesn’t let him go until legal punishment is dealt to him and then we people wearing headphones and driving our bikes or standing in front of a girls hostel complain that a police man took 100 rupees as bribe for something you don’t feel is wrong and blame them for the inefficiency. Remember this man is woken up at 3 am to accompany Suresh Kalmadi to the airport; the same person buys chicken for the biryani the Mla’s wife has planned to cook on that Sunday. Yet what happens, an aaj tak reporter tries to walk through the area where the rape has happened and gets eve teased and then openly tells this is how inefficient our police is without addressing the root cause of why it is so inefficient resulting in the law enforcement officials being made the scapegoat.

Now moving on to another problem in the police ranks which I even saw firsthand, sexist attitude and being a male chauvinist. The policeman I talked to told me that even girls are drinking and driving and we can’t catch them because then they file petty cases against us like we caught their hands etc and the women police force is even more woefully understaffed. Then he went on to say I never thought girls drink when I came from my village and isn’t it wrong that they drink because I thought girls are meant to sit in house and do housework. Then I say it is wrong to think in that way, you have moved to a city from your village and this is how people live here everyone is equal and do what they want to. It is their basic fundamental right. He says, yes sir I have few friends from the corporate world who told me the same thing and I feel happy about it too but it has come as a shock to me as I have never seen it before and a few women have slapped me too in their drunken stupor and later come and apologized. This man has turned out be a perfect gentleman but he tells me stories of his superiors not being able to tame their egos. I reached a conclusion, right from that Delhi commissioner who said stupid things to this guy, they have to be given basic education about equality first. Right their mindset can’t change but an effort can be made to at least educate the less educated and I am pretty sure they too are ready to take this up as a challenge to overcome their cultural shock. They have been brought up in such an environment and will need to know how to tackle the fact that what their dad taught them was wrong.

Just to conclude this one, when you say how shameless the police are when they tear gas you during a protest against gang rape, just ask yourself is it the police who is doing it. The police in India are still not an entity which is empowered to take decisions on its own. There is no genuine empowerment of the personnel and they only take orders from the people you elect.

When you blame them for their inefficiency, remember they are the people who are available 24 hours a day even on a holiday to maintain 1500 people per person without proper training, equipment and sparse education.

When you say that for gang rapes to not happen, there should proper education from childhood, respect to woman taught and pepper spray and self defense classes and a other millions of petitions demanding the punishment of a reported rape, remember that for every reported rape there is about 50 unreported rapes easily and whatever you do rotten apples will remain and a well equipped, trained police force with a pay that they deserve will do wonders in enforcing a crime free city.

Before supporting the jan lokpal bill and protesting against the corruption in police force, remember that basic constitutional reforms will go a long way instead of having an authority to enforce no corruption because he can get corrupt later on and you will just end up accepting that too. What will you do next; have another authority to take up this authority?

Finally before putting that stupid black dot as a display picture on social networks, make sure that the black dot will be on your index finger electing people who will enforce the reforms in the police department. There is no shortage of reform proposals for the police department but it has never been addressed by the people you elect because it will take away the power from them. So instead sitting on your chair and putting a black dot, go out at night show you are equal to men, fight with your parents to treat you equally with your brother and ensure that at least in your life you are treated equally.

We don’t need capital punishment or castration to see effects, we just need simple reforms just these reforms to see that the police force is respected, treated with dignity and is getting the pay they deserve, then they will in turn be motivated and will get more efficient and even corruption along with crimes like rape will be prevented easily

(P.S. this is one report I came across if you care just go through the reform proposals - link)

EDIT : Here is a first hand account from a policeman(click here)