My notes and musings …

Archive for the ‘Introspective’ Category

Its a journey and not a pursuit

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There are multiple words that have been used – progressive, liberal, leftist, communist, etc. to describe those who have sought to pursue a purpose greater than the enrichment of themselves and their immediate family. I am not sure which of these describe me best. I do subscribe to the notions and ideas of cooperation and  community ownership. Yet I do see how these quickly descend to nationalization and centralized decision making which invariably leads to alienation, disenfranchisement. And close at its heels, the bracketing and exclusion of people – of the other, of those people.

At a personal level, my effort to find a purpose for my existence and a use for my talents, started from (and continues to be driven by) a fairly fatalistic point of view – death is the only thing that is certain after one is born. It really does not matter in the broader scheme of things that a person was born today and died sometime after that. What does matter is what that person did when alive. Who remembers that person? who would rather forget that person?

These ideas had taken a deep enough root by the time I got to high school that I was sure I was not going to join the rat race. I am lucky to have been born, brought up and grow in a family that has allowed me to explore and shape my life the way I deemed fit. As neo-liberalism and communalization started competing for the body politic in India, I started identifying that the broader purpose of my life would be to work towards evening the keel and improving the access to resources that large sections of the population have been denied in almost all societies.

The fact that we know so little, we as in those outside of certain academic circles, about the lives of those who were not the kings or princes of years gone by belied the fact that those in power shall write the books of history. As this st

Coll IMJ, photo (c) IMJ

We must fix our eyes upon the catastrophes that we have behind us – and on the catastrophes of which we are the witnesses. For the atrocious has not happened, it is happening now, it is about to happen. We are entering an era of catastrophes: human, ecological and finally philosophical catastrophes. – Milo Rau, 24/11/2017.

arted sinking in, I came across a story of a small bird that tried to save its nest from a forest fire. As the other animals were trying to run and escape from the fire, they asked the bird, ‘what are you trying to do? you cannot put out the fire ! Fly away and live for another day’. The bird apparently replied, ‘I know I cannot put out the fire. But I shall try my best to save my chicks. If I fail, it will not be because I did not try.’ Thats a translated version; even though its been more than a decade since I heard this story and I have done numerous translations, I have not been able to capture the emotion of the last line, it is best said in Hindi – “जब इतिहास लिखा जाएगा, आग को भुजाने कि कोशिश करने वालों में मै गिनि जाऊँगी, आग को बढ़ने या उससे भागने वालो मे नहीं ” Yes, the importance given to historical record in this story is not something I took/take literally. The message that I took from it was that one needs to try, at least try, to fight for what one feels is worth saving before one follows the very natural response of self preservation.

These ideas have held me in good stead and helped me find more to spur me on – like the recent speech by Milo Rau.  I see these providing me the tools to navigate further along in this journey.

It has been a hectic year with a lot of things happening – many unanticipated, some expected, and quite a few expected ones that did not happen. And that is what makes the journey beautiful, and the idea of a pursuit not worth pursuing ! 🙂

Its going to be just two posts in 2017. I hope, and have a feeling that, it will be better in 2018.


Written by Dwiji

Sunday, December 24th, 2017 at 21:00

Religion & Recycling

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Religion gets shadowed or covered up in various ways in our day to day lives. Every now and then it does peek through and such glimpses linger.

Cleaning up the computer that my father uses, I sorted through the bunch of (data) CDs he had accumulated over the years and many needed to be disposed off. In one of those rare moments, my father, a proud pack rat, asked me to take out all the old electronic items tucked away in different attics! When it was all gathered, the waste pile included a floppies and CDs, a 20 year old TV, and even older space heater, coils from tube lights, and lots of wires bought almost 30 years ago when the house was constructed.

After a string of phone calls and searching online, I found out that Ash Recyclers was the only company / organization in all of Bangalore that recycled all types of electronic waste. I was more than glad when they offered to pick up the stuff from our house. When they did arrive to pick up the material, I was very curious to know how it worked out for them to pick up a relatively small consignment from a residence. Kumar, the collections manager, started showing the national and international media coverage that their work had recieved. I then asked what they did with the material and if they had the necessary permits and licenses. Syed bhai, who seemed relatively silent and reserved, made an impassioned speech about how most benefits from his operations go to a non profit working with muslim communities in urban, semi-urban, and rural areas. He went on to lay out some of the human development indicies in which muslims lag behind their counter parts from different communities and shared his motivation to taking up this work.

His strong convictions made me look within. I had not asked that question till I had seen the page of their brochure that mentioned that most of the proceeds are disbursed by the Masha Allah Trust. The progressive in me makes me think that I would have questioned with equal intensity if the benefits were distributed through a Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, or Jain institution. But then, the luxury of hind sight does pamper the progressive in each of us …

Written by Dwiji

Tuesday, July 8th, 2008 at 16:24

Posted in Introspective

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