23 May 2007

cyclical stories

some novels are clearly linear, with the plot(s) and characters moving in certain directions, toward certain ends. others are not. there is movement, but not toward a certain end. without making any judgments on which novels are better (in any sense of the word), i will definitely say that i am more comfortable with those that are linear. i like the idea of characters moving towards something, preferably a better something. cyclical stories are so much more painful, as characters go through agony without a happy ending. without that ultimate sense of good prevailing.

this is clearly my take on life: everything works out for the better. but what if it doesn't? kiran desai's inheritance of loss is one such novel, where things in fact do not work out happily at the end. in fact, i could say things are worse at the end than at the beginning (this is obviously debatable). her ending reminded me vividly of the end of rohinton mistry's a fine balance. i have no idea whether it is a coincidence that both of these books are about india, by indian authors..

regardless, desai's novel was great. it was funny, sad and so real that i started feeling i was an immigrant myself. her writing and imagery was quirky: "Cheese and chocolate they wanted, but also to kick all these bloody foreign things out. A wild daring love to bicycle them into the sky, but also a rice and dal love blessed by the unexciting things of everyday". the ending made me uncomfortable though. straightforward sadness or pain is easier to deal with, but this discomfort is unsettling. more so if i start wondering whether life too is cyclical..

problems? what problems? just work harder

i had lunch today with a former UN special rapporteur and a former attorney general of india. the best i can say about the experience is that it was uninspiring.

the former attorney general seemed genuinely unaware (or was it indifference?) of how the majority of the indian population live. faced with specific court rulings or state action in violation of legal and constitutional provisions, his only response was that the 'ten per cent of good rulings that indian courts come out with' should also be taken note of. so next time a human rights abuse case is brought to my attention, i will tell the victim it is unfortunate they do not fall into that ten per cent.

the attorney general's motivating last words were that if NGOs worked harder, and for free, more progress might be made. for a few moments i was amused. my amusement wore off very quickly though; how dare he put the burden on us? i wasted a considerable amount of time after that being annoyed, whereas most of my colleagues simply shrugged it off.

i should be used to such attitudes, but i learnt today that i am not. i also have not developed the thick skin needed in human rights work. i will always be fighting against the odds. i will always be surrounded by people who exploit others with the greatest ease. admitting this, accepting it, and moving on, is in many ways harder than dealing with individual violations.

18 May 2007

lord of the flies as reality tv

reading lord of the flies (and seeing the film) in island school as a kid was a disturbing enough experience. i am astounded that it is now being made into a reality tv show for kids between the ages of 8-15. good grief.

and there i was, thinking it couldn't get worse than big brother or those shows where some millionaire guy chooses a girl or vice versa. i really don't understand the american/western obsession with reality tv. and now children are to be used as well..

08 May 2007


i came across the following poem that i liked, and thought i would share it in the milad spirit.

Inni Wallahe Ohibboka Ya Maulaya

You can say it, think it, or feel it.
You can live, be it, or dream it.
But in the end, just try to believe it.
Inni Wallahe Ohibboka Ya Maulaya

You can show it, demand it, or sing it.
You can write it, depend on it, or save it.
But in the end, just try to believe it.
Inni Wallahe Ohibboka Ya Maulaya.

It’s a tiny five word phrase
But is powerful in so many ways
Nothing else matters matters if you believe it
Inni Wallahe Ohibboka Ya Maulaya

So what’s your condition? Your character? Your form?
What’s your neck of the woods, where’re you from?
Who cares? As long as you believe it.
Inni Wallahe Ohibboka Ya Maulaya.

White or black, smart or slack,
thin or fat, wherever you’re at.
It’s all good, if you believe it.
Inni Wallahe Ohibboka Ya Maulaya.

Now, if you’re wise you’ll surely see it.
You’ll see the reason to believe it. Do you feel it?
So, go on now, show that you believe it.
Inni Wallahe Ohibboka Ya Maulaya.