Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Photography at Chupir Char, Purbasthali

Its been a pleasure trip to Purbasthali to watch and photograph migratory and residential birds at about ten km stretched Oxbow lake, creating an ideal habitat for birds to nest, feed and live freely. The place is located at about 3.3 kms from Purbasthali Raliway station.

The location from Purbasthali Railway Station

How to reach?

Chupir char is easily accessible by availing Howrah-Katwa or Sealdah-Katwa railway connection. Frequent local trains are available and takes about three hours to reach the Purbasthali Station. From station hier an e-rickshaw, popularly known as Toto. Ask the driver to wait for you at the lake side from where you need to hire a traditional, hand run boat. The rate is usually Rs. 120 - 150/- per hour.

Alternatively one can take the road, reach Kalna by Grand Trunk Road and then take Kalna Katwa Road. Then at Parulia Bazar take the Purbasthali station road on your right hand side.

Where to stay?

There is not place for accomodation immediately beside the lake, however, I have seen a nearly finished guest house which is supposed to be open by January 2017. This is an initiative by the local panchayat. 

At present it is better to find accomodation at Nabadwip, where plenty of hotels are available. 

A few Snaps:

There are a variety of birds to see. Because of fog and my limited capacity camera, I had Canon SX30IS, I could capture only a few through my lens, but many more through my eyes. 

Yellow Wagtail

Boats are waiting for tourists to arrive with camera

Ruddy Shellduck

Bronze Winged Jacana

Lesser Whistling Duck

Leser Whistling Duck

Bar headed goose on the flight

Bar headed goose on the flight

Stork Billed Kingfisher

Wattled lapwings

Common Kingfisher

Black headed Ibis

Red Crested Pochards

White breasted kingfisher

Longtailed Shrike

A group of Red Crested Pochards

Red Crested Pochards

Common Coots

Common Moorhen

Pied Kingfisher

Things to remember:

Apart from the scenic beauty of the place, the boatmen were extremely helpful and caring. They know the strategic locations from where you can take good photographs. Additionally, they have been able to mobilise local government and local administration to put a ban on entrance of the picnic parties who used to disturb the birds and often hunt them.

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Questioning 'Focus' - Mistakes and Celebrations

A brief archaeology:

Focus has always been a focal issue in Kaleidoscope's time of growing up! Lucky that he has been asked to be focused on one thing only - study, and that was good enough to make his life miserable. He can barely forget those days and evenings when he tried hard not to fall in the trap of being instructed "FOCUS KALEIDOSCOPE!" He cannot actually empathise with today's kids who are asked to focus on whatever they do, study, games, swimming, drawing, and yes that hurts!

Although as he was told and experienced, it was not difficult for many of his friends to focus on girls and pronographies! Yet, most of his friends have done pretty well in studies and careers!

Reintroduction of FOCUS:

Focus -  as a matter of fact, gets reintroduced ever since Kaleidoscope has managed money to buy a good camera. He always wants to have a focus on things he wants to capture through his lens. Well, he usually succeeds to do so. With Canon, it is so damn easy, all Kaleidoscope has to do is to half press the shutter and green box appears to confirm that its done!

Well, quite often, the result becomes just quite the opposite, and the chance/luck factors remind that notion of 'focus' is alive and well. For example, he once tried for about a few dozen frames to capture a small bright beetle to focus. No matter how hard he tried, the beauty remained out of focus. He tried automatic focus, which is like oh my goodness, most often precisely accurate, failed! His manual endeavour has been equally miserable! So, was it a mistake? Kaleidoscope for quite long believed that it was a mistake and he even tossed in the category at JPG Magazine as "My favourite Mistake" (please click, its fun)! 

The mistake which is supposedly favourite!


The point is, should these happy go out of focus things be considered as an outcome of mistake? If it is a mistake, is it a mistake from the perspective of the camera? or the person behind camera? 
If it is the person behind the camera, and if the person tries hard to focus on it, is it a mistake? Or sheer luck/chance! Just like other posts, Kaleidoscope does not have the answer to it. But he can, related a few oops moments with focus:

1. You tend to focus on something (your career or the person you want to be with!) and it gets slip away - focus/out of focus liminality

2. You tend to be in focus (to your higher authority/your lover!) and you are out of the frame - inability to remain in focus - you, the 'proletariat' looser

3. You tend to focus on something and end up focusing on something else, which you did not want at all, and you hate it/ or on a positive side, you end up having something you desired but never dared to chase - Needs for focus dies here, RIP

Now, don't tell Kaleidoscope, that he has made a discovery of how brilliant life is going in parallel with his camera and focus.

Meanwhile just see how badly Kaleidoscope failed to focus on a beauty and end up focusing on the ashes (do not remind him his point no. 3, it hurts!).
This is a beautiful Red Avadavat on a ash background, well the focus was reversed than originally intended, and it happend for a million times!

The bird when finally Kaleidoscope could focus on, but the ash background is gone, the award winning contrast is gone for ever!! 

Now, if Kaleidoscope wants to take another step forward, its analogous to what he strives to call life, and of course, this is why its beautiful to be alive! 

Friday, November 25, 2016

Civilisation and question of love: Part VII Vanishing beliefs

Yes there are many philosophies of life. With the increasing rationalisation of life, kaleidoscope finds himself in a world of present. Where there is no after life, reincarnation or heaven exists, the belief of which used to be so powerful that people used to undermine the hardship of everyday life. Increasingly the hardship and battle for everyday life has become less physicallly challenging and more intellectually and cerebrally exhausting.

Since kaleidoscope, like may others have started to live in a society of wiping away of belief systems, they are living in an eternal present! Therefore, the philosophy says there is no eaternal beauty  and 'beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder!' There is no after life and thereforw, enjoy today, be engulfed within the present!

Therefore, kaleidoscope is taught to live the life at its fullest, making everyday count as if this the last day! Interestingly, kaleidoscope thinks, if he would knew it was really his last day he would have done things which, as such have not relevance to the world in which he tries to live in! The saddest part is one day would be the last day and it would not be as Kaleidoscope or any one dreams of, it would definitely be one of those depthless present days continuing in the endless succession!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Letting go 5: One surreal fall

Just on the other day Kaleidoscope met with one random person on his way to work. It's usually a short trip to his workplace at the heart of the IT land! However, on that particular day the short trip became unusually long because of two reasons. First, the road through which he travels became unusually congested with traffic. The reason being the sudden breakdown of one of the machines working for future Metro railway projects. The second reason is narrated below.

To make a small story big, the random person was sobbing desperately at the back sit of the car in which Kaleidoscope was lucky enough to get in. Kaleidoscope became a little concerned for the gentleman at the back sit.

When he tried to look back intending to ask if he needed any kind of help, the gentleman described the event of missing himself. He narrated that he just had found out he doesn't love the person he thought he loves for so long! No, not surreal, he was sobbing for the loss of his love. And amazingly when he tried to break the news to his partner, his partner said the same thing, that she also feels the lack of love from her side.

Thats the end of the story. The gentleman got down a couple of stoppages before the place where Kaleidoscope had to get down, saying 'its not always the break up that matters, sometimes its the inability to love that matters too!'

Kaleidoscope asked if there is another person in his life already! He said 'no' and banged the car door.

Well even if there is no other person, yet there is a dream of the other person! Kaleidoscope thought.

Well it was then time to wake up from Kaleidoscopic sleep, the smart phone was smart enough to wake him up.

Yes of course it was just a dream. Surreal... just like the dream of the imagined other person, he thought in his dream!

Kaleidoscope went for his workplace thinking about the dream. Its winter and some leaves had fallen over the pitch black bitumen creating a random mosaic pattern. With wind being blown, the pattern kept changing which was so wonderfully described by the river as Kaleidoscopic mosaic. Yes a surreal river is always with Kaleidoscope. Suddenly a car stops near him exactly like that dream. A gentleman sitting at the back sit. Kaleidoscope sat on the front. Of course nothing happened! Kaleidoscope hoped for a dream matching day... but it never happened - yes, it never happens. Perhaps that is why Kaleidoscope has dreams! Perhaps that is why everyone has... dreams!

Monday, November 21, 2016

Letting go 4: Can you talk of love at all?

So, how many times did Kaledoscope find himsef falling short of words to express what is going on inside his head? Well, it's countless. Kaleidoscope often have felt that there are lot to say, lot to make the other understand. He often has made  plans: a checklist of words, sentences  and points that he wishes to tell, to share, to make understandable by the other. However, when the moment comes he often fails miserably.

How does he fail?

1. He tries to put his thought into words and then after some time he finds so many fill in the blanks in his script! May be he expresses through his body language but such language often remains undeciphered or may be he is equally poor with his body languages.

2. With repeated failure he often stops talking. He often gives up saying things that he used to say regularly. Then all that are left in a conversation is idle chatter!

When the question of love comes Kaleidoscope can only utter the words to express the way he is dragged towards the image of love and not the love per se. In his intimate moments with person, places and the like he finds himself in an absolute shortage of words. He describes the situation as silence! Yes an word to escape from himself! Yes it is silence outside and a storm of ignited passion inside. He often asks himself 'what you talk of when you talk of love?' he has also documented in his earlier post that its the 'Silence.'

Well, silence of what kind?

Silence because of the shortage of words?

Silence because the other as Kaleidoscope perceives can read a lot from a silence?

Silence because of the pain he has to take up?

Silence for prolonged broken promises?

Silence because of memories and inheritance of loneliness?

Or perhaps a combination of so many things of compatibility and incompatibility with kaleidoscopic self , the world and the imagined world.

Kaleidoscope just like others still searches for the answers to one of his primordial questions now 'what we talk of when we talk of love?' In addition to another and more persistent one 'did we know what love is? Do we have the capacity to even imagine, the feel the passion the tenderness of a state of being we so reluctantly label as love?'

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Letting go 3: what you talk of, when you talk of love?

Its another visit to the river to the wonderland. Kaleidoscope cannot get over the disruption caused in the name of 'public services.' What makes this departure so painful? So far Kaleidoscope understands it's primarily because the wonderland was perhaps the first place where he felt to belong truly! The river is the only entity that makes kaleidoscope believe that he is wonderful as he is. Kaleidoscope tries to make sense of what he talks of when he talks of love?

So when he visits and comes back in the twilight moments in liminality,  makes love, cries, laughs and hugs he is alive again. The liminality defines kaleidoscope, if ever the space changes, the river changes kaleidoscope ceases to exist! So, the question remains what we talk of when we talk of love? Its usually the silence!

Yes, the twilight is good when you see the colours no matter if its dawn or dusk; the rest is monotonous.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Postmodern Encounters: Dumb Professors and Brilliant Painters in Kolkata

In Lalitkala Centre, Kaleidoscope had a friend who used paint masterpieces along with a group of brilliant guys. Kaleidoscope was a regular visitor there, during his university days. Often after long days of boring and endless lectures he used to spend hours looking at work of art in progress, plus he also loved the mixed smell of paints, inks, cigarettes and expensive perfumes which Kaleidoscope believes only painters could afford to! Not because of the price, but because of the right kind of smell.

Once, he saw one of the well known handsome painters framing a canvas with a simple yet elegant scratch mark. The painter declared it as an work of art! Kaleidoscope couldn't understand any part of it and let it be because that handsome painter was already famous for his swinging mood! However, Kaleidoscope managed the courage to ask a disturbing question - 'why should we call it an work of art?'

The Painter was irritated and replied 'an object is an work of art, in so far as people believe it as art!' He continued 'my task is to make them believe that this is art!' - you stupid!

During that period Kaleidoscope was taught postmodernism in an workshop and he shared the story of 'scratched canvas' with one of his professors. The professor said 'these are bunch of bullshits, you should avoid mixing with these people!'

The same professor tried to make Kaleidoscope and others understand some part of the postmodern philosophy! Quite obviously most of them found it dumb and bogus, and since then many of his friends have made fun of postmodernism as a philosophical position (not that Kaleidoscope is an admirer of it! but the point is, they hardly knew what it actually refers to!!).
Well, Kaleidoscope continued to mix with those 'bullshits' to understand the very nature of democratisation and postmodernisation of art. A work of art is anything that people think as an work of art, period!

After a very long time gap (almost 12 years) Kaleidoscope had a chance reunion with that handsome artist, who is now a bit old and wise to control his temper. He informed Kaleidoscope that 'scratched canvas' was sold in some 28k in 2005 and referred to one of the classics Duchamp's fountain. Kaleidoscope sincerely hopes that he would never become that professor in his life, but then he also knows, unlearning something is really difficult!

Duchamp's fountain, it is one of Duchamp's most famous works and is widely seen as an icon of twentieth-century art.   Taken from http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/duchamp-fountain-t07573

Friday, November 4, 2016

When You Curtail Our Freedom: NDTV and Beyond!

Taken from http://www.cartoonmovement.com/cartoon/14091

Well well, this is it! This is the time we were all waiting to come. The ban on NDTV, the penalty of showing things which disturbs (allegedly reveals “strategically sensitive information”of Pathankot movement!) some people with power! The ban is based on Cable Television Networks (Regulation) Act of 1995, which was amended in 2015 to prohibit "live coverage of any anti-terrorist operation by security forces... till such concludes." However, as Kaleidoscope, like many finds, such information as where the operation was being carried out, how long possible it could continue, bla bla bla was also broadcasted by other television networks as well. Moreover such information was also made public by the security forces themselves (Click here). Instead of following legal action agaist the television channel putting a ban on NDTV which has been critical of the government is seen by many, a dreaded sign of the decaying freedom of expression and media freedom. India ranks 133 among the 180 countries in the lastest Annual Press Freedom Index released by reporters without borders in 2016!

Journalists are often being attacked, it is needless to mention the recent ban on newspaper in Kashmir, arrest of journalists in Chattisgarh, reminds many the undeclared emergency. 

The nature of history with revolutionary changes:

Why does a government curtail the freedom of media? Plain and simple answer is that of intolerance towards opposition and an attitude of 'might is right'! The question is what happens when you continue doing what you think in your opinion - the best! You curb the spread of alternative views. Such strategy is usually adopted by people who are afraid of the voices against them. However, this strategy usually fails (but how long would it continue is a question!!) where the society is incredibly heterogeneous. The people in power foolishly believe that until a mass movement against a regime takes place there wouldn't be any change! This is also a popular connotation about movement based protest politics. History tells often quite the opposite story! Kaleidoscope was looking back the history, the interesting fact that comes out is how many people support your view is not that important! 

In 1914, for example the Russian elites and 3 million noblemen knew how not to allow 180 million peasants co-operate and launch a revolution. Although, the revolution began with 180 million peasants launch a revolution against Tsar. It was made possible by a handful of communists who could place themselves at right positions. With 23000 members of communist party the revolution began against 3 million people (Black 1970).  

And we can never forget the famous 'boo' in Ceausescu's speech to understand the history in action. People still question who was the first person to shout out the loud 'boo'. See the history in making, watch the youtube video attached below (if you are running short of time drag it to 2:50) and hear to boo and then 'silence silence silence'!

It is intriguing to note that the ruler continued to rule for decades and then collapsed in such a spectacular manner! 

Why do people support bullshits? 

At least the above video refers to the domination of 20 million of Romanians was ruled primarily because Ceausescu and his cronies  a) controlled all the networks of co-operations (political, economic and social), b) prevented the creation of rival organisations, c) continued to get supports from sister communist parties in the Soviet Union and eastern Europe.

However, coming back to the present situation, there are protests coming from all the corners, and this is perhaps not a single boo!

Black, C. E. (ed.). (1970). The transformation of Russian Society: Aspects of Social Change Since 1861. Cambridge: Harvard University Press. 

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

How green is my lawn? landscaping and and value addition

When kaleidoscope had to join at his new workplace at the heart of the IT hub, he was quite impressed by the the apparent appearance of it. His new workplace has a postmodern glass reflecting architecture with a landscaped lusty green lawn in front. The reflecting glass part and the green landscaping complement each other well. There are several jokes which revolves around the architecture, like it was supposed to be a guest house (as many of the classrooms have attached washrooms with them) and so on. However, on a serious note, Kaleidoscope finds this landscaping as a brilliant attempt of showing a supposed aristocracy and of course the downfall of it!
Glassy classy appearance

Archaeology of lawn:

Kaleidoscope is reasonably sure that stone age hunters did not seek a lawn to be maintained  in front of their cave home. Flintstones cartoon also ratifies such conclusions!
Then lawns become symbols of authority, particularly because it demanded land and a lot of works, in exchange they produce nothing of value.
The symbolic value attached to it is nevertheless formidable. Royal palaces, government buildings and public venues often aided with signs 'keep off the grass.' A sign that makes it conspicuous that lawns are associated with political power, social status, and economic wealth. One can easily understand the wealth and position of a family by the size and nature of the lawn.
While laws began as a craze of Europe and America, it is no longer restricted to there only. It had since then invaded several other corners of the world. Kaleidoscope's workplace is no exception. The only thing which interests him is that the lawn is constructed by a government which supposedly represents subalterns in

Flag hoisting on the landscaped aristocracy 
their slogans 'mother, earth/soil and humans.'
However, the symbol aristocracy also has its counterparts.. A badly shaped lawn can indicate the condition of its owner as well. With a couple of walking ways, because of a couple of shortcuts and often decorated with cow-dung - the symbols representing rightful owners of the land, the lawn, however, represents not a downfall, rather an attempted fake identity that couldn't hold itself long!

Some of the rightful owners near Kaleidoscope's workplace

For those who are interested:

Lionel S Smith & Mark D E Fellowes 2013. Towards a Lawn without Grass: The journey of the imperfect lawn and its analogues. Studies in History of Gardens & Designed Landscape 33: 3,158-159

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Letting go 2: what happens when you come back

Kaleidoscope went back to the wonderland for one more time, within a little more than two months' time after his departure. During the journey he enjoyed the beautiful landscapes from the 'nonstop bus.' As the time progressed he became increasingly excited about his return to the place, more so about his return to the river he loves the most.

The journey:

When the daylight was gone, he became on his own with a mix of loneliness- as he rarely travelled the distance alone, excitement - to meet the river, the wonderland, and anxious- because of his scepticism about the interaction with place where he is no longer a regular visitor. Would the place question him because kaleidoscope has made so many promises? Would it dance to celebrate kaleidoscope's return? Would it stop talking to him, because of the broken promises? Would it tremble if kaleidoscope touches it one more time? With the twilight he started to write a blog, easiest way to take refuge from storms inside that he has to handle every now and then.

The arrival:

When the bus crossed the 'gateway', Kaleidoscope could not hold his excitement anymore. He tried to look out in darkness, tried to make sense of the place which is engulfed in darkness. He failed to do so until he reached the crossroad near his workplace. The crossroad, the port lights, the rivery smell, the wind remained the same. They did not welcome kaleidoscope in any overwhelming way, but kaleidoscope could feel the connection began to build once again from within. They were not excited with the return, neither they remained indifferent, they rather looked at Kaleidoscope, as if questioning 'while you expect us to be the same, are you the same person when you revisit here again?'

The interaction:

Kaleidoscope had a wonderful reunion with his friends, celebrated the life, and continuation.
The place, surroundings interacted differently at different times. Sometimes, kaleidoscope felt at home, sometimes he cried out silently, because this visit, and every next one would be momentary. He cannot roam around aimlessly on the streets, talk over hours, wait with his camera forever to capture the right moments. This very momentary nature of his visit made all the difference. He attempted to see the not so conspicuous road side outgrowths, the birds, trees, reflections of the sky over marshy land and numerous tiny little things which lives happily and only comes alive in 'macro lens.' Kaleidoscope's inside shouted out 'miss you all, there is nothing like you here so big and yet so small.'

The river:

The river remains as lovely as the sunset moments, as warm as a lover's soft hands. Perhaps more inviting than a blooming flower. Kaleidoscope wept for a while along with the river. They told each other 'stay well/ bhalo thakis'- that's Bangla way of saying 'please don't leave, stay!' and then with darkness two lovers depart with longing selves living for another reunion.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Letting go: What happens when you leave?

Kaleidoscope has just finished his wonderful days at the wonderland. When he was shocked by the fact that he has to leave the place he fell in love with, has to stop seeing the river he can't live without, he was numb. He knew that best days of his life was about to get over. Its not that he never thought about this day. He knew he would be shattered when these days would be over. He had in his distant thought about the things that would have happened when he leaves the place he is so attached to. When the moment arrived he fell short of words to describe exactly what was going on inside his self.

The abrupt departure:

The nature of attachment Kaleidoscope had would made any departure abrupt to him.  He made it sure that he leaves without tears, he made it sure that he leaves with a positive mind. On his way back he talked to the river and to himself, said its not the end. Its a beginning with a new journey at a new place. He also expected a new journey with his friends at the wonderland. He expected new beginnings at the new place.

A divided and restless soul:

Its now about two months. One part of his soul still lives at wonderland and perhaps will never leave the place ever. Perhaps there is another part of his self,  an imposed division, which he had to make because of the sudden change of place. Now when he roams around the city where he grew up and has so many memories, he finds himself as a complete stranger in the middle of a crowded place, all alone, attempting to find a refuge, attempting to develop a language to converse with.

Everydayness and the loneliness:

He is transferred to a new part of his city, rather an extended part, specifically designed to house the Information Technology hub. Everyday he travels in a crowded bus to reach his work place. He cannot estimate the time needed because he almost forgot to calculate time and distance, keeping in mind the traffic conditions. He usually lets go most of the over crowded buses and stands alone in a fleeting bus stand to see people come and go. He sweats, looks around the busy people talking over phone, or arguing with the bus conductors and fellow passengers. Often nothing registers in his mind. He looks out, tries to transcend his contextual change and imagine the highway rides, sunsets over the river, kisses and smells of the waves that made him survive so many hurdles of his everyday life.
When stuck at traffic jam Kaleidoscope never gets irritated, he is usually in a process of churning the memories, because memories are all he has.

The return:

Kaleidoscope could perhaps never return to the wonderland, to the river, to the lover like he used to rush everyday, every moment. He could, perhaps never be the one with the wave. Perhaps he would never cry out thousand rivers. He would never be the same again.
However, kaleidoscope returns everyday, every night in his dreams, sometimes in a surreal way to his river. His soul claims the river, the sunset and the wonderful highway.
Would it ever be the same again? Would the river give him another chance, another time to cry, tell a story. The story of growing up misplaced. Would his highway set him free like it used to be?

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Naturalized injustice: intolerance of difference and polarisation

It appears that Kaleidoscope's endeavour to thematically organise the recent resurgence of religious intolerance had an impact (click here). A few people, or may be many, have taken Kaleidoscope's everyday experiences seriously. They have decided to keep an eye on Kaleidoscope's future posts, they may take some adverse step if he continues to post what in their understanding is anti-Hindu. Such an event along with a couple of comments from one of his favourite colleagues from his new workplace has made this post possible. His colleague mentions that the Hindu Muslim polarisation is less prominent in his native place, it is nevertheless increasing with each passing day. However, eventually within a short spell he recalls that this not so, rather the polarisation and mutual hatread is quite prominent now a day in his native place. While those of the intolerant people and my colleague occupy two completely different positions but are victims of the same primordial feature of human mind variously known as 'natural attitude' by Husserl, 'taken for grantedness' by Schutz, 'reification' and 'false consciousness' by Marxists, Gramscian and even the Bourdieuians (if there is any such thing at all)

Kaleidoscope wishes to call this primordial bias as 'naturalisation of injustice.'


Following agriculture revolution, our beloved civilisation needed humans to organise themselves in mass cooperation networks - something that ants, bees have in their instinct but we lack. To handle this baggage we have developed imagined orders that is naturalised. People needed to be divided which is neither natural nor fair.

Here are few examples:-

1. Naturalised hierarchy between slave and masters.
2. Hierarchy based on racial theory, where rights  of men had little to do with Negroes.
3. Hierarchy and gendered division of labour, rights and opportunities.
4. Todays' hierarchies between rich and poor is equally and falsely taken as naturally pre-given, at almost an ontological level.

If you discuss with white supremacists you will enjoy a psudoscientific lecture concerning the biological differences between races. You will be informed that there is something superior about Caucasian blood!

Ask a die hard capitalist about the hierarchy of wealth, you are likely to be explained that this is an obvious and objective outcome of differences in ability. The rich have more money because they are more capable and diligent. No one should be bothered if a wealthy gets better health care, better education and better nutrition simply because they are born in a rich family.

Caste hierarchy coming from some mythological origin of Purusa is no exception.

All these hierarchies are essentially an outcome of human imagination. Just as for today a Hindu cannot accept that there once existed ritual widow burning the famous satidaha pratha, similarly today's westerners would be shocked to accept that once there were laws to prohibit blacks to stay in white neighbourhoods.

Similarly, kaleidoscope cannot accept the fact that he is living in this polarised society where there are different layers of hypocrisy in religion based discrimination - to accept this fact he has to perform some sort of coding of his own experience.

Kaleidoscope's favourite colleague takes time to recall the difference between his idea about his society in his native place and contemporary reality.

Kaleidoscope's groups of anonymous friends similarly cannot accept their imagined disgust to be analysed and presented in a manner that they feel threatened.

All these are products of our fertile mind which has once accepted the creation of imagined order (mythological orders in caste system about some 3000 years ago, psudoscientific racism and the like). What happens afterwards is interesting. Eventually, human beings tend to take these orders for granted and never questions.

People imagining their society as a just society, religious intolerance as acceptable, killing in the name of protecting one's country, accepting rich and poor gap as natural are all victims of the process of naturalisation of injustice.
Take it easy my friends; we are all product of a long 'civilisational legacy' like a long long blood vessel.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Resurgence of religious sentiments

Resurgence of religious sentiments in recent time is formidable. Kaleidoscope experiences the recent transformation in his every day discourses across different sections of his society. He wishes to make a few thematic foundations based on his earlier readings in phenomenology and qualitative research.
Depending on the context and extent of acquaintance he wishes divide these discourses into these broad divisions.
A. Formal sphere with close friends
B. Informal sphere with close friends often after a few shots of alcohol
C. Spheres with acquaintances
D. With complete strangers in public places

A. Formal sphere with close friends

i. Increasing terrorism and Islam association: often referring to the 9/11 incident and numerous other cases.
ii. Lack of religious reform among the Muslims
iii. Issues of internal threat and its association with the Muslim population.
iv. Politics with Muslim voters: mostly referring to congress at the centre and trinamool congress at state thereby justifying BJP - RSS alliance and polarised politics. Therefore, all other issues of bad governance, international relations, fatwa on cultural expressions are legitimised.
CORE FINDING: policy, politics, religious orthodoxy admixture in arguments is noted.

B. Informal sphere with close friends often after a few shots of alcohol

Here often a complete transformation in arguments is noted. It usually begins with much like the formal sphere discussions, eventually the nature of discourse becomes more personal filled with hatred on the Muslims.
i. Personal attack: from traitor to religious enemy are the labellings attached once kaleidoscope tries to place the arguments against the discrimination based on religion.
ii. Good and bad Muslim: usually these people had or has Muslim friends who are 'strangely' good and therefore are exceptions, all the others on the other hand are exceptionally bad in nature.
iii. Partition and riot: are all caused by Muslims and not by Hindus.
iv. Lack of birth control and minority majority issue: there is a fear psychosis growing. They believe that because of allegedly lack of birth control measures among the Muslims soon they will overtake the number of Hindus. Even when presented with statistics from census the argument remains the same - a strong sense of denial prevails.
v. Filthy and unclean living: muslim food habit, dress code and their smell is bad. Completely disgusting. (But of course this discussion over glasses of whisky and kebab continues).
CORE FINDING: us/them division, cultural disgust, fear psychosis.

C. Spheres with acquaintances :

i. Educational issues: since Kaleidoscope is associated with educational industry, he often encounters with views which states the needs to remove Madrasa institutions completely. Some would say it is not the question of Madrasa education system or syllabus but it is more about the way they teach and inject communal hatread among their students. Although the people do not present any concrete evidence not even from their personal experience.
ii. Muslim country and no country for Hindus: there are countries for Muslims but India as a superpower needs to be a Hindu country! To protect their race.
iii. Food habit and cultural sentiments: the difference of food habit and the the like is so prominent that there is no way these two can co-habit peacefully!
CORE FINDINGS: Policy, space and cultural incompatibilities.

D. With complete strangers in public places

i. Sheer number of their children (meaning large family size).
ii. Uncontrolled behaviour and public display of beard face, hijab is disgusting.
iii. There are so many things for them (alia university, minority empowerment centres, OBC status reservation and the like) and nothing for HINDus.
iv. How can they be allowed to have special muslim law?
v. Why should they be allowed to keep more than one wives?
vi. They are uneducated and uncontrolled.
vii. All of them support Pakistan.
Cultural difference and intolerance, anti-national sentiments.

Nature of the problem:

Kaleidoscope thinks and thinks for quite some time now, that there has been a recent resurgence of religion based discrimination in the active thought pattern of the people with whom he interacts or listens to when they interact with each other. In his last few months of pseudo bachelorhood he has encountered an increase in frequency of such issues at the informal and intoxicated space. After a careful but quick review of the nature of discourses it is clear that while in formal discussions the underlying disgust which is primarily an outcome of the cultural incompatibility is masked with issues of partition, population problems, policy issues and the like, in informal sphere it is more personal and revealing that people are taking out their primordial hatread and religious sentiments.
Interestingly people with whom Kaleidoscope has a chance of interacting with formally and informally, all belong to educated often upwardly mobile middle class of West Bengal. Whose polished ways of presenting their underlying disgust is shattered with alcohol-in-action in private space. The nature of hatread and disgust is dreadfully same with the passing comments that kaleidoscope encounters in bazaar, public vehicles and other places where every other person is a perfect stranger.
It is quite early and immature to conclude anything based purely on random expressions being noted by a qualitative mind, but the essential nature of discourse that clearly indicates some sort of parallel of thought between the so called educated middle class mind and those of the not so educated mass minds at time of increasing polarisation is a matter of concern!

Monday, May 16, 2016

What should you wear in an emergency?

Kaleidoscope's neighbour has an one year old girl. In a sad incident today the girl fell on a half cooked and still boiling fish curry. It was a sudden accident that attracted about fifteen people to gather and to instruct. The most significant question that came immediately after the decision of taking the child to a hospital nearby was what should her mother wear? She was in a nighty- a popular form of informal night dress which one is supposed to wear while remaining inside the home.

It was debated among the spectators and she was not given the privacy to change her clothes as the family has only a couple of rooms. She could not say a  thing but left hesitantly in her nighty.

When she came back in the afternoon. The discussion was how rational it was for her not to change her clothes, and that no one would mind, not even the men at roads who watched her on her way. This discussion continued for hours with an addition that it was an emergency otherwise you should not wear a nighty outside and how embarrassing it is to go out like that even in an emergency. 

P.S. The girl is fine now with some second degree burns on one of her legs which will take some time to heal.

I do not know about the woman and her feeling about the clothes and the discussion, whether this 'embarrassment' would ever be healed.

Sunday, May 15, 2016

Archaeological Imagination and the imagined present: Reality and its Juxtapositions

This post is about the imagined nature of our present time. It is in support to the contention of archaeologists in the cultivation of imagination. It is important to note, at the beginning, that archaeology is considered itself as a discipline of imagination (Thomas 1996). To extend this argument I suggest that archaeology is about imagination not because of the paucity of material remains to 'reconstruct' our past, but more so because we live in imagined world and each and every moment of our life are imagined moments.
Before going into the abstraction of the imagined nature of our everyday living, I wish to present two cases of the jumbled up space in Haldia - my work place to show in what ways reality is misleading and reality is imagined.

CASE I: Haldia Govt College and the beer bottles nearby.

Haldia Govt College used to have a huge tract of land. I have gathered the information that the college had about 50 acres of land which was never fortified. Even today when college administration can identify about 25 acres of land it does not have any boundary wall. In 2009 after the famous Nandigram incident several families have started to take refuge nearby. Most of them were political refugees from Nandigram. Initially they set up shanties - make shift arrangements which eventually is converted to semi permanent structure. Now they have successfully brought electricity, installed hand-pump for water. One of the major occupation of these people is to bring and resell scrap materials which ranges from factory waste, smashed car scraps from highway accidents to beer bottles. Since there are two bars nearby, the most conspicuous material is beer bottles. There are thousands of beer bottles, hundreds of whisky, vodka bottles and many more country liquor bottles being stocked every week.
The beer bottles nearby the college building - juxtaposed space

Possible archaeological inferences: 

Its less than a hundred meters away from the college building. Therefore, in a site formation process the material remains that archaeologists might have is the college building. That means a building with blackboards, laboratory equipment and then thousands of beer bottles. What would they infer?
1. Bottles were most important aspect of education in 2016
2. Students were encouraged to drink because drinking has direct linkage to concentration that early men believed.
3. The educational institution had a wine manufacturing unit too.
4. Teachers and students used to drink together and drinking was an integral part of that civilisation.

CASE II: the removal of Lenin's statue

While there are several industries in Haldia, it nevertheless also had many strong labour movements under the leadership of CITU. The erstwhile Member of Parliament Mr. Laxman Seth provided leadership to install several association offices in Haldia. One of such office is  a two story building near railway track close to Bandar (meaning port) railway station. The most conspicuous emblem is a lively statue of V. Lenin.
The Lenin Statue which is now removed

Now, since there  is a political change in the state, the two story buildng known as Shramik Bhaban (building for labours) lies there, which is now a home to some of the still faithful followers of CITU. The building is slowly decaying without maintenance. The Lenin statue has been removed from the place.

Possible Archaeological inferences:

The material remains of the past symbolising left labour movement is decaying, perhaps being destroyed purposefully. With such removal of the statue if Lenin, now, the history only survives in the oral narratives. The more the time passes by, there is lesser chance to the history to survive with material remains. This is typical of power shift and an indifferent attitude towards history that makes even the present imagined.

The Imagined Present

While as  discipline with scientific hangover rooted from positivist philosophical tradition archaeologists were once hopeful about the possibility for a 'reconstruction' to a certain degree of accuracy. It has increasingly recognised the impossibility for a 'reconstruction.' It is impossible to reconstruct because of several practical reasons. First, there is paucity of material remains to reconstruct, second, even the written records may be misleading (written with a voice, voice of the powerful people), third, and more importantly there is juxtaposition of time and space (as we can see even in present time, the Haldia case matters, right?). 

While archaeologists and to a certain degree social scientists have accepted the fact that there is no single reality, and with the age of postmodernism we are increasingly stepping towards the multiplicity of reality. However, postmodern philosophy and postsructuralism talks much about the perspectives (an emphasis on how we see, rather than what we see, as we find in Woods, 2011, p. 7). 

However, what these juxtaposed realities suggests is that it is perhaps the time to rethink the present as well. Are we not living in a present which is filled with so many juxtaposed, jumbled up and hodgepodge, extremely heterogeneous realities and power play that whatever we think about time, and more importantly how we take note of it, how we fix it in our everydayness is also imagined?

We restore our faith in the material entities of our time. But can we really believe that the material reality is also constant and not a changing one? Or can we rest our assumption that there is any unchanging  narrative of the present? If we secure foundation of meaning and live comfortably in our narratives of the meaning, are we not living in an imagined reality?

Monday, May 9, 2016

Civilisation and question of love: part VI aggression, nature and our illusions

Taken from http://en.artoffer.com/Ricardo-Ponce/O-T-Emotions-Aggression-People-Men/4780

One of kaleidoscope's favourite philosopher-cum-Archaeologist Professor Gordon Childe commented that civilisation is  time when people started to have an aggressive attitude towards environment.

What is an aggressive attitude?

It means at least three things,
A. You forget that the thing you are dealing with has its will and consciousness (at least it has its internal working)and you tend to deal with it as only a material to be tamed for your own purpose.
B. you tend to make it twisted for your own purpose.
C. You tend to behave violently when it resists!

How does it affect you?

When you are aggressive towards anything, what you do is that you pursue self interest maximization, you behave rationally (from your often restricted and selfish economic rationality only) to undermine the value of everything else.
Hence throughout the history of human civilisation we devised several shortcut methods for our own good. Here are few examples of such shortcut methods and potential dangerous outcomes.
1. No need to hunt grow your food
Result: high level of malnutrition in most part of the human civilisation, crop failure and famine even in 21st century Africa.
2. No need roam around, settle down
Results: power inequality, slavery, class formation (hence struggle!), resource accumulation, greed and warfare (even today)
3. No need to have individual identities, remember people in classes(kinship, age set,caste and so on)
Results: you tend to objectify people and do not dwell on the richness of individual relationships. You suffer when you cannot fit in to categories (everyone knows the pain of being attracted towards a kin and not being able to tell, even share with others)

So, what's now?

On the one hand we have developed aggressive attitude towards nature, people and other things, and on the other hand we have forcefully created our environment and the violently tried to adapt ourselves in. Today we occupy several different built in environments everyday where we are constantly adapting. In the morning we are at home then on road then on vehicle then at office with work then we break at canteen then again back to work then again on road, in a vehicle then back home again. I know the above sentence has been monotonous but just think about the tremendous psychological and also physical pressure we are taking to adapt ourselves in environments in which we are forced to adapt. To adapt to this complex world human babies have to spend almost one third of their life in learning!

When we tend to dwell in this complex world  of ours we are being told and made believe that civilisation is  gift to make our life easy! Kaleidoscope with his pea-size intellect is still searching for 'how civilisation has made our life easy?'

It has rather made us forget fundamental beauties of consciousness like falling in love, making love, appreciating nature as it is, living in harmony with others and appreciating the fact that world is a home for not only the human species but for all!

Saturday, April 30, 2016

May day: two narratives

Narrative 1

Kaleidoscope's friend's driver on a highway on their return journey from haldia.

Kaleidoscope: do you have association where you can organise for your benefits?
Driver: no, sadly we do not have one. If we had we could shout out slogans for payment hike, we would never want to work for more than  8 hours until we get a handsome overtime... we could make blockade in the roads to meet our demand. But we do not have one.

Narrative 2

At eastern diagnostic centre on Free School street kolkata.

The floor cleaner arrives. He works at the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and gets a salary. These cleaning services at different commercial buildings are his extra earning opportunities. He belongs to traditional 'Mathor', i.e. the scavengers, a Dalit caste.

Cleaner: tomorrow is may day... will celebrate!
Kaleidoscope: how will you celebrate?
C: will attend the morning assembly, hoist TMC flag and then work.
K: you will work tomorrow? Tomorrow is a holiday, isn't it?
C: yes and that is why we will get just the double pay!
K: then? Will you work more?or its the same?
C: will try to work more and then in the evening will have liquor

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Insecurity, information age and unemployment: From Uber ride to assembly election

Kaleidoscope with his smartphone now a day often rides app based cabs to when he is in a hurry. He has several reasons for it, the most primary is the unwillingness of the yellow taxi drivers to take him home through 'country roads' - nothing of John Denver sort of romanticism though. Once, in such a ride the cab driver was playing FM radio. Wonderful songs in a romantic evening was disrupted by Ola cab advertisement which asked people to download Ola app and ride for Rs. 7 per km. Till then Uber was offering ride for Rs. 9 per km. The driver immediately turned the volume down.

Today Kaleidoscope encountered a similar event at one of the street side saloons where he goes once in every month to maintain his civilised look. The saloon has a television set and in the evening it becomes one of the nodes of popular public sphere meeting place. People come and talk about matters that affect their lives. (Kaleidoscope is fortunate that such space exists otherwise his thesis could not have been completed, but that's another story). Today while surfing the channels one of the local hero looking youngman stopped at a news channel and when the channel started speaking about failure of Trinamool Congress (TMC) government he immediately moved from it and ended up in some South Indian movie channel. He stopped there for quite sometime and no one dared to tell him to change the channel. Kaleidoscope could feel the uncomfortable moments which lasted for quite sometime until one of the saloon boys asked him to switch over to the IPL match which was about to begin.

Moments later he spoke about an encounter of the Central Reserve Police Force officials lead by local police with TMC's contesting candidate of the area and how she successfully drove them away from stopping her making a gathering. By the way, we need a short footnote here, tomorrow is the election  and today there is no way people can gather like this. An even small foot note is that the woman in question happens to be the law minister of the state!

A few questions that drives kaleidoscope at the moment, these are:
1. The insecurity of the Uber driver and TMC worker is similar in nature, with winning election becoming a source of employment to many, where are we heading?
2. With this extreme form of fear with information, aren't there going to be extreme form of defense vis a vis violence in the political process and election?
3. How long can the state deny the fact of the rising unemployment is driving youngsters to remain insecure and seek shelter under political banner?

(One of kaleidoscope's colleagues reports of theft of a very old wrist watch! Today one of the saloon attendee reports the theft of one of the rear view mirrors of his motorcycle! Think of the grave poverty on which we are sitting on and relaxing)