Friday, November 27, 2009

Thesis vs Blog

Writing thesis is a lot different from writing a blog.

People read the blog.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Had a presentation with my Thesis Advisory Committee (TAC) yesterday. Seems that for coming one month, I'll be away from all the 'extra-curricular' activities. Probably there won't be much blogging - priority has to be the thesis for a while.
Well... as dear Calvin says - there is never enough time to do all the nothing you want ;)

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The joys of driving slow

Yesterday, I attended a talk on urban governance. The speaker,Enrique Peñalosa (a former mayor of Bogota, Columbia) argued for bigger footpaths, more public transport, and fewer cars. It was a nice talk but as many nice talks go, it was pretty Utopian. However, what caught my attention was the pictures in his presentation. Those pictures reminded me of a draft in my dashboard that I thought of writing but didn't write beyond the title.

The title 'the joys of driving slow' came to me as a very pleasant feel, when I was at home in Lucknow this diwali. I was driving my good old LML scooter, with which I've been rated as a rash driver by most of my friends. Some who don't say so have actually not seen me driving. So when I was driving, I realized that I was going slow in the leftmost lane while everyone was flying by in a jiffy. Well... that was not the joyous part as speed really thrills but then I started exploring the things which I could never see due to the 'rash' driving.

For the first time I realized that even roads have a life of their own and that too, a beautiful one. There were many new shops and tea-stalls on the side with laid-back people around, some kids in the parking lot, some cute stray dog trying to steal a meal, some rag-picking kids who would have found some curio and were enjoying looking at that in a huddle, a couple from some rural area who were amused by the city, and some eagles perching on a roof. None of these sights may seem very unusual, important, or beautiful... yet, everything was so usual and simple that that made it beautiful and perhaps, photo-worthy.

However, the experience went deeper and longer than that drive. It was a lot like life - to reach one goal after another, we go fast. So rash and fast that we miss those small joys of life, which are neither unusual nor important and yet, so usual and simple that that makes the life beautiful. From then on, I often drive slow, be it a bike or the life... I am learning to cherish the joys of driving slow!!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Pictures and Poems

A picture is worth thousand words but when I embarked on finding those thousand ones, I found some poems. Here are two pictures that triggered me to write some lines, as given below the relevant pic.

बहुत हरी हैं मेरी
ज़िन्दगी की राहें अब
तेरे कदमों की हरारत के बिना
काई सी जम गयी है राहों में

मैं झुका रहा तू तना रहा
यूँही फ़ासला सा बना रहा
ना तू मुतमईन ना मैं मुन्तज़िर
ज़रा सोच आखिर: क्या रहा

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Flop Show - still

The famed satirical series by Jaspal Bhatti - Flop Show - was first aired on Doordarshan in 1989. Two decades later, as I finished watching the show again, the humor remains intact but the satire is much louder. It is sad, indeed, that even after twenty years, the problems we face are not much different. The government officials that don't work, the tenants that don't vacate the property, the doctors that do not care, the TV producers that fail to imagine, the doctorates that don't research, and so on.

In India, the world has changed a lot since liberalization and globalization began two decades ago; but ironically, the more it has changed, the more it remained the same. Democracy still fails millions and the four pillars - legislature, executive (administration and police), judiciary, and media are all hopelessly cumbersome, corrupt and inefficient. A dignified employment is mostly illusive for many, agriculture is still the largest employer yet least productive, basic amenities like potable water, sanitation, electricity, good roads, health, education, and security still remain a distant dream, and the Millennium Development Goals are but a mockery.

I am glad that we have made a lot of progress in the past two decades and I am happy that flop show is still humorous. However, I am more sad that we, as a nation, have achieved only a small proportion of our potential and that Flop Show is still relevant in India. Somehow, I feel that Jaspal Bhatti's jokes are no longer directed towards those corrupt officials or dishonest professors or inefficient doctors. Alas! The joke is on us.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The long term optimist

Years ago, when I was filling forms and applying to colleges, there often was a column for strengths and weaknesses. As my closest guide then (and friend later), Anand Sir had suggested 'long-term-optimism' as one of my strengths. Although I didn't exactly understood the meaning or implication of this 'strength', I simply complied, for I had no 'strength' (pun intended).

Now, almost six years later, I am realizing what Anand Sir was able to see back then. I have faced many bad times before as well as after that. And though those were bad times, only good came out of each one of them - in the long term of course. Moreover, I have learnt just one thing out of each one of such experiences - at the end, everything will be fine and if everything is not fine, it's not the end.

As I undergo another one of the difficult phases of my life, I again remain optimistic for the long term and hence, forward looking coz as Anand Sir would say, I am a long term optimist!


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