Saturday, October 26, 2019

Canopy for your everyday living

How about looking to the world through canopies? Kaleidoscope laughs silently, it's only possible once in a while when he gets to travel to places where there are trees. It's nearly impossible for an urban dweller to avail such a luxury to see through the canopies. 

It can only be the distant dream of an early retirement that Kaleidoscope used to plan with his much loved supervisor. There will be books, coffee, good alcohol and canopies, happy ending of a life. His supervisor, by the way has successfully perked himself in the institute campus and then got a place to stay nearby too to accommodate his family. He is now the proud owner of seven lakes and numerous trees and a palacial quarter. That calls for a quality of life Kaleido, Kaleidoscope often thinks. But then comes the responsibilities in the office that allows barely a moment to even look at the lakes and trees. 

What could be the alternative? Kaleidoscope kept thinking. Meanwhile his employee declared a 65 year for retirement age... It won't let Kaleidoscope go easily, he thought. What is left in a life if the work life ends in 65... That too long... Injustice may be. Kaleidoscope thought, where is the justice? Nowhere may be. 

Here comes the solution, Kaleidoscope planted trees that can outgrow his window and encroaches his balcony. Much loved canopy view now comes with flowers. 

...and it looks something like this.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Detention camp museums: The future of the present

Kaleidoscope in 2007 had the opportunity to stay inside a Jail in Orissa for the whole day. Yes, inside the jail with the inmates talking on the most forbidden issue of his country - sex, that too Men having Sex with Men (MSM). He visited cells, their kitchen, their garden and never failed to witness the 'end of the world' not very far! The world there had a wall, a brick coloured one which almost touched the sky.

It was one of the most unique experiences he thought even a few years back - who having the life course of Kaleidoscope can even imagine being inside of a Jail.

The paragraph above, can be the prelude of a book written in a detention camp that are being set up in tax payers (both direct and indirect) money at different corners of Kaleidoscope's country.

People interfaced - an anecdote:

There is this medicine shop owned by a family originally belonging to the East Bengal (now Bangladesh) where Kaleidoscope often makes a visit. Kaleidoscope by the way is loosing friends and acquaintances at an astronomical pace ever since the public sphere of his world is divided in to Hindu/Muslim, India/Pakistan, Nationalist/Antinational, etc., is quite conscious on the choice of his words, and place of engaging in debates. He lost it all when the shop owner was speaking to one of the custmers and referring to Gujarat riot as a fantastic payback to the Muslim community who killed "thousands of Hindu pilgrims" in Godhra. Kaleidoscope tried to give him some statistics but as usual was informed that the statistics was wrong. Kaleidoscope wanted to give them the statistics of lynching (98% by the way happened after 2014, if one takes the data set from 2010 to 2019), but they labelled him as Pro-terrorist, Pro-Pakistani. One thing, Kaleidoscope thought that he had to stop going to that shop again in near future because he fear lynching! On the other hand the shopkeeper was loosing his customer. Lets talk about NRC then, Kaleidoscope thought. Knowing them to belong to a family which came to India much after independence they might be afraid of it! The response was like this "If requires we can live in detention camp" but we wholeheartedly support Modi-Shah because they will drive away the Muslims! It might have been incomprehensibly deep sense of jingoism and hatred that people like that shopkeeper is ready to even sacrifice their own comfort in the name of ethnic cleansing - Kaleidoscope thought! 

So the prison house is not to be feared - if it is detention camp then it might be better than prison house - at least that is what these people might have in their mind. Or does it have something to do with the "assurance" from the home minister that apart from the Muslims the rest of the people will get citizenship. Even if that happens there will be different classes of citizenship - Kaleidoscope knows, but who cares. 

No one:

Perhaps the most easy to use phrase is "no one." No one cares to what is happening (who cares are either jailed or are silently executed in one way or the other), and to the people whom these things are happening are no one! There is a dreaded indifference to the matters involving civil liberties and violations of fundamental rights - the prime example is of course the Kashmir. If the Kashmir is what can happen to Kaleidoscope and his fellow citizens, the amendment of Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA) by enabling it to designate individuals as terrorists without following any procedure and by providing the accused no effective means of redress is the instrument through which it can happen. On the one hand Kaleidoscope's fellow citizens have the example (Kashmir) and they can check with UAPA but they have other important things to do or celebrate the possible imprisonment of their fellow citizens. 

In so far as Kaleidoscope lives in a world where 'no one' cares for 'no one' there will be a rising number of 'no ones' until the country is completely dismantled. May be Kaleidoscope will have a dying wish inside/outside a detention camp that he would like to see in some future time. When those detention camps will become well maintained Museum objects at display with narratives for the future generations about what should not have been done

Meanwhile his society still has a chance of not doing it!


Wednesday, September 25, 2019

Mountain person?

Are you mountain person? Asks Kaleidoscope to the river. The river was too busy to reply but gave away fountains of scattered intoxicated droplets as Kaleidoscope and his friends climb up the mountain through the early morning lights. The forest only accepts those who seek refuge in the canopy, creepy soundscape and definite waterfalls. As the car speedup and pines started to replace sal a brief goodbyes to the plains Kaleidoscope thought. Where else would you see the morning lights, cloudscape, whispering birds, moss, ferns and colourful people making love with each other - than the Darjeeling!

The day started with his favourite sausage, becons and a cup of tea in his favourite corner of Caventers, juxtaposed by the chilli-beef with a hint of beer in the noon. Before the night it was to see the love making and the evening show by rock bands on the mall could not have been better with rounds of whisky! All just for the river that brings memories of love in the mountains.

Before the day breaks Kaleido leaves, he thought he can born a thousand times just to see the silhouette of the mountains always ready for the love... the eternity - like the river born.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Namthing - place where nature steps in

Wonder if Kaleidoscope should let it settle in the deep sea if his heart and let it be for the rest of his life - like a long lost love! Namthing - at the heart of the Sitong reserved forest about 4000 feet above the sea level, centering around the cute little lake where Salamanders live a peaceful life before they are completely wiped out of the planet, is the place of solitude with the Stars in the night, monsoon rain during the day and a game with sea of September cloud.

The place is about 50 kilometers from New Jalpiguri through a near deserted road which complements well with the trees and  steep altitude is waiting with open arms to conceal you from your life - for as long as you want, perhaps for the eternity.

Here are some photos of what Kaleidoscope could experience with a group of like-minded others

Saturday, September 14, 2019

A balcony towards liminality

At the midst of nowhere, there seems to be an endless transitional space where Kaleidoscope now inhabits. A varanda, that offers more of a macro cosm with micro details. The trees outside offers the perfect wilderness, the miss in the bark, the never ending furn on the bark is a timeless memories that mesmerises one's soul. Kaleidoscope can quitely sit on a chair and listen to the loud sound of birds and whispering wind that blows through the monsoon soaked old Kadam tree. He could live a thousand lives just by looking at the trees grwing old, and the end of civilisations that could imagine to paint the walls Blue-White.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Life (?) in a Jute Mill - Kankinara and more questions

West Bengal, even a few years back used to declare itself with proud to be a Marxist exception. There was a God that people used to worship, yes, Karl Marx. Inspired by the Marx's brilliant explanation of history as a class struggle and that in a capitalist society there were supposed to be workers movement against the owners of the means of production, West Bengal has seen no shortage of trade unions. The workers supposedly push towards a better deal for their interests. The average person in Post-Left Bengal would almost invariably say (if s/he is a TMC supporter, then more vehemently) that trade-union militancy is one of the reasons that the state has experienced relatively quick migration of industries from the state to elsewhere. The assumption is posed in such a way that the state seems to be an isolated ideal self sufficient village which does not have impact of the national or global waves! While reverse is the true, Kaleidoscope's brief exposure to the Haldia industrial city created an image inside of his head that workers during the Left period could consolidate their demands around the CITU banner to push for their demands against the top-down pressure of profit maximisation through "dead labour"!

He was shocked for the first time when his team went to study the riot in Hajinagar. Hajinagar has Hukum Chand Jute mill where workers from different states have been coming for decades. He wondered how could a state run by Karl's followers failed to transcend beyond the primordial identity issues while it ruled for three and a half decades. If West Bengal being the state with an experience of longest communist rule of the world could not transcend such issues then can we really see any hope for the idea of equality and prioritising workers rights - of so called base of Marx's Base-Superstructure structural model of explanation.

The question remained unresolved as he kept finding riot like conflict increasingly becoming the dominant narrative to his state. His Kankinara visit after the riots taking more than 7 lives was an eye-opener.

Below are just two images of the medieval like quality of life of the Jute mill workers which perhaps has not improved even an inch after so many years of India's independence and three and half decades of Left rule.

Yes, the top photograph is that of a community toilet where workers are supposed to defecate without any cover, seeing the process of their fellow workers. Watching the excreta floating on a large tank, which overflows to their tiny little rooms during the monsoon.

The photo bellow represents their everyday bathing practices. Kaleidoscope remembers similar scene in his experience of studying Chowdwar Jail, Orissa. Inmates were supposed to take bath in similar fashion.

Kaleidoscope learned the fight between the fellow workers and their families on the issues of portable water, access to whatever little space they have.

Yet, instead of demanding for the Base they are fighting for the supposedly religious superstructure! 

It doesn't look like the riot was a completely manufactured game executed from the outside, neither did it happen from within the inside! Puzzle!!

AAMRA ek Sachetan Prayas Forum and Kaleido's friends in AAMRA

Monday, August 5, 2019

Scrapping of article 370 - a lonely Kashmir and the funeral of the Public Sphere

Indian Coffee House: Vibrant public sphere?

Scrapping of article 370 was a newsfeed which came when Kaleidoscope was showing Rang De Basanti song "khoon chala" to his students as part of his course on Social Movement. The CBCS system though disrupted to a significant extent the tune of Higher Education system, also brought some space to deliver things that matter to his student's everyday life. Social Movement, although is inclined towards the stereotypic study of tribal movements, but Kaleidoscope thought of showing in what ways his country demands an active social movement to make things going around for a future plural India!

The news floated on the projector screen, thanks to their newly installed institutional Jio mobile connectivity. Suddenly, Kaleidoscope saw faces of a few people who came to his life at different points of time, a friend from a long past workshop, a girl during his days long workshop courses, several shalwalas who were the childhood fantasies to many of his childhood friends of the opposite genders.

The streets, roads are deserted while in the parliament its being shouted out that people were supposedly celebrating there. Seeing these Kaleidoscope recalled his youthful days at the IIM library desperately reading and re-reading Habermas! Kaleidoscope had enough trust to his theory of "Communicative rationality." He constantly believed and subscribed to the fact that communication skill of his species would be able to solve no matter how challenging the situation is, simply because there is a forceless force lying within the communication itself. The vibrant public sphere that transformed itself with the rise of consumerist capitalism was undermined by Kaleidoscope for quite long, so as to even forget that there is a parallel rise of misinformed, partially informed, whatsappised, facebooked public sphere to encounter.

Therefore, what scrapping of article 370 show is nothing short of a major move simply bypassing what people of Kashmir wanted - simply because its very easy to bypass public sphere of the whole country once you can modify it through your IT cell and the sense of Nationalism. Public sphere is dead... so does the "communicative rationality" - Kashmir shows the future, like it or not Kaleidoscope!