Tuesday, September 21, 2010

It's a mad world.

Life was moving at a nice pace, driving down the winding roads in the university, watching greenery on both sides, listening to the birds, and listening to the air whistling in my ears, her song, so much one with the environment. The past few weeks have just been the opposite. Driving down 30 minutes to work is a nightmare. I hear all the unnatural of sounds, pam, poom, peem, creee, keee, kiichh........ oh noises of every kind, not to speak of reverse horns,,,,, tick tick, tock tock, pick pick, pock pock. Thankfully, they don't play the national anthem, everything else is there in the menu. For otherwise, me and my car would have had to stand in attention right in the middle of the road.

It feels like a rat race, with competitors of every kind trying to make the vacant inch of road ahead of them theirs. They would overtake you left and right, and make your hair stand on ends, but overtake they will to obtain that vacant inch. And if you are slow, they will honk the hell out of you till you and your car nearly jump off the road, till they get their way.... plain bullies. There are then vehicles who drive all round the road, left to right, break, and zoom which makes you wonder whether you unknowingly became part of a computer game. It's crazy I tell you. In India, you have vehicles starting from the poor cycle, poor because we don't consider them anymore as vehicles of conveyance, so much so that we push them off the edge of the road, like the poor pedestrian who is considered as person non-grata on the road. Then you have the three wheelers, auto rickshaws, rickety as they are, their pulling power at an all time low, but their emission levels always high. Then come the cars, big and small. Small like the Maruti, which occupy less space and were meant for India roads and the ugly like the Sumo, Innova and the Safari's, big time bullies, who I believe should be banned from the Indian roads. They are the rakshasas of today, scaring anyone in their path, and having air-horns that blow your ear drums off. Then there are the buses, the state transport ones, typical elephants they are(in a nice way - I love elephants). Huge, carrying the heaviest possible load and the means of conveyance of many, they are the most ill-serviced of the lot and their drivers, the most harassed. But then, there are those private buses who believe that the road is theirs to rule and follow the 'push everyone off the road' mantra, again, big time bullies. I can only thank the people who decided to keep the lorries off the roads during working hours for they heavily loaded as they are are a veritable pain moving snail paced, occupying a major part of the road and heavens forbid if they break down.

All of the above I manage, laugh and move on. The only kind I don't understand are the two-wheelers, the bikes. They think they move in air, going from left to right, right to left, scratching the edges of the car by trying to go in any nook, gap and corner they find. The worst is when they think they are elephants. What I mean is, they drive in the middle of the road and would not let you go. Besides, they love driving in the middle of the road in single file, not to speak of some drivers speed and occupy all the space. To add to this, they are gingerly and start shaking if you go near them, making it a terrible experience to overtake them. Then there is a special kind among them, who when driving look at posters and shops and everything around, and sway with the wind that moves, thereby confusing you as to what is their next move. There was this guy who was driving in the middle of the road, and kept looking to his left over the shoulder, that I thought he is going to go left. Instead, he took a sharp right. Maybe for him, yes is a no and a left is a right. They are the ones who need to be taught road rules first, for they rule the roads as of today and are bad rulers.

So much for the madness on the road I face every morning and evening, a total of one hour, that to survive I must learn these rules. I must learn what left and right is for whom - so much patterns to pick and so much confusion to resolve.

Oh, driving is mad, especially in the mornings, when everyone is driving to reach on time somewhere. As someone told me once, "Would two minutes more matter ?"

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Life changes tracks

Well, sometime in life, we change tracks.  Not that the two are disconnected totally, but it leads us in two different directions.  So, it is here.  From being a full-time researcher, I move on to being a part-time researcher.  In the process, I realize that a researchers life is bliss.  You sit and read work by people, then dream a bit about what you want to do and finally settle for what is possible to be done as of now and postpone the rest to future work.  In the process of research, a lot of elements come into play.  You read a bit on philosophy, a bit of literature, and ask a lot of questions because you are being conditioned to ask questions thereby irritating beyond repair people around you who have no clue of what's happened with you.  However, you enjoy this phase as it helps you bring your creativity to the fore.  For one, there is no such thing as time in a researcher's life.  If you feel like working now, at 4:00 a.m. in the morning, then yes, go for it.  There is no better time.  Sleep can be postponed. 
Change of track and the real world welcomes you.  For one, time is an important factor.  9:00 means 9:00 and the practical world steps forward and the idealistic world a little backwards.  It jolts you when the change is radical.  It is so here.  Having moved into teaching full time, research is taking a back seat and I am not ready to let my good friend take a back seat as yet.  I feel like I am not working at all though I teach.  My brain protests at the lack of food.  It also protests when something not very interesting is fed in.  It's a strange feeling, but that is the way it is.  I itch to pick my research papers and start again. 
Life was bliss as a researcher.  And the university gave me an ideal mix.  Computer science, music, drama, literature, and the perfect environment.  Can only idolize the life gone by.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Getting 'No Dues'

Everyone wishes to show their power.  From the watchman, to the paper boy to the electrician.  Everyone wants to bask in their two minutes of glory.  Satiate their ego.  No, not everyone is like that, but you will find this happening many a time.

Go to a government office for any work, and first you have to salute the peon.  He behaves like a demi-master walking around with files and shooing you away from the door as though you were a mere fly.  Then he walks around with this virtual halo he sees around his head.  And if he wishes, and you have pleased him enough, you get to see the actual person.  And then starts the wait for their autograph on the sheet of paper you want.  And you helpless soul, feel reduced to eat the dust.  It is a moment of eating up your ego.  Of being powerless.  All this if they are they are not on leave, else, your bad luck.

I started my job of getting 'No Dues' certificate I guess at the wrong day and time.  First was the library which was straight.  No problems.  Then I tried home turf.  The murti didn't turn up in the office for four days.  There are tri-murtis to keep track of our activities.  Two murtis were on leave and only one murti left who for the time being had all the authority.  So, two days, I waited, hoping the the murti will show her face in the office.  Third day, the office staff told me to try going and meeting her in her workplace(this was her additional duty).

The building was a maze and at some nook and corner there are rooms for the staff.  Suffocating corridors, where if two souls have to walk, each of them have to stick to the hall.  Even light fears to step inside for fear of getting lost in the maze.  Our university gets amazing architects who know to use maximum space and indirectly tell its residents to maintain shape.  After crisscrossing the maze with my poor geography I haplessly stood in front of a clerk(a good one) who guided me and showed me the way through the maze to one such room.  Waited there for two hours for her to show up to no avail.  Blessed are the people who work here for they need not show their faces in case they don't have class.  No office hours.  No 9-5 schedules...

After giving up hope of getting a signature, I went back to the office and told them that finding her in the dept was a Himalayan task and hence, they should do their job and get it for me.  In the afternoon, when I went back, they told me to get the signature of the superior, and in case he requires the one of the tri-murti's signature to tell him that it is four days since she's come to the office, the other two being on leave.  Great.  Nice way of passing a complaint.  Doomsday for the student.  And then, lo as though like a miracle, someone brings news of her arrival and then there is a flurry of activity.  Files are pulled out, others clear up their tables and start working, the atmosphere in the whole place changing.  I finally get her autograph.   She did show how powerful she was and how difficult it was to get her autograph.  After four days.

Next is the superior's office.  4 they tell me is the time he comes and it will be done.  So, yes I am there at 4 on the dot.  Wait till 4:15 and then, he calls up telling he is in a meeting and will be coming only at 5.  Well, maybe his way of telling people in his office to wait or otherwise, another way of showing his importance, he is attending meetings and everyone in his office should know.  So, around 5:20 his car comes at a distance and again there is a flurry of activity.  Students waiting for him wake up from their slumber as do other people.  The office staff gear up with their files.  The head among them orders who has to do what.  In all this flurry of activity, and arising from the chairs, I am left mesimerized.  What is all this about, I wonder still sitting in my chair.  And there he walks in and looks around at heads bowed in reverence, some even saluting him.  After getting his due, he walks to his room, a jatra in his trail.  They jostle for his blessing and one by one come out, victory written on their face.  I wait, for the clerk to get the signature and give me my form, tired and amused at the same time.

Each one, his/her two minutes of glory. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

It's just not my day

This has been the feeling for the past few days.  Here I am on the last leg of one of my most important events in my life, and there is a setback at every step.  When I mean every step, literally, every step.  A signature that takes less than a minute usually, takes four days for me.

My luck has always been bad, I know that.  But, it usually used to be just for one day - never for so many days at a stretch.  And it is depressing.  Yes, I am using the word.  At the end of the day, I feel defeated, fighting against my bad luck and making no progress at all.

Some people tell me 'Be Patient', some 'It happens', others 'Your luck is bad'.  To sum it up, it is not a good experience at all when people and events stall your progress for no fault of yours.  When events happen and you feel that they are all comisserating against you and you feel powerless to overcome it.

Bad days.  It never rains but pours.