Friday, July 08, 2005

Monsoon and the Mindscape

After a long break I wandered around with my camera...then urge to put my mind's eye vision through the view finder as so intense that i risked shooting in the damp weather. Here's a set of snaps taken recently. I have chosen those pictures that would point to seeing beyond the obvious. I found myself completely at a loss to 'title' these photographs. You are free to do that it will be really great if you could chip in with your impressions.

"You don’t make a photograph just with a camera, you bring to the act of photography all the pictures you have seen, the books you have read, the music you have heard, the people you have loved!" - Ansel Adams -


















Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Of Revolts and Rebellions

Today’s News headlines read :
“Violence in city leaves scores injured ...Students clash with police, 57 injured across Kerala…..”

The borderline between Reaction and Revolution seems to be very thin for many still. Clenched fists of fury can break anything that comes on its way, even if it is the very edifice built by one’s ideologies.

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I am just reminded of what Arundhati Roy wrote in her “God of Small Things” on the red streaks of the green expanses of Kerala.

"Once the Ayemenem office of the Communist Party, where midnight study meetings were held, and pamphlets with rousing lyrics of Marxist Party songs were printed and distributed.

The flag that fluttered on the roof had grown limp and old.

The red had bled away."

Campus politics had been on the waning phase, of course for good, in Kerala. It was quite a welcome change as well. I remember the days seeing my ‘politically enlightened’ peer group, clad in the facade of comradeship, intoxicated with the opium of ideals fighting for causes which only the local MLAs or MPs know of and often ending up being dropouts or some times even drop deads!

The transition from campus political activism to active involvement in academics must have been a major paradigm shift in the educational scenario of Kerala , it must also have been a relieving respite to many concerned parents.

But, today’s news headlines show a reverse trend. Kerala witnessed perhaps the most violent student agitation and violence yesterday, suppressed by the forces in ways they deemed would befit violent agitation.

Professional education, of late seems to have become something that could be shaped to anything by eager education-vendors’ whims and fancies.

Ambitious parents at this end, greedy predators from the private education sector out there and aspiring students, in between, on the cross roads pushing themselves to breaking limits ...oscillating between parent's needs and predator’s greed. Hard earned merit may not mean much in the long run when it comes to securing admission to pursue an engineering programme one truly deserved.

On the fateful day of engineering counseling, few students took to the streets. The veteran comrades sprung into silent action smelling political mileage there too , to use this protest as a front to cover up the fuming power chambers. Student activists summoned and briefed, perhaps they would have got a bit invigorated too with a dip in the spirit that courses through the table tops of the conference rooms.

Protest into revolt and then into rebellion…

To dislodge the ruling party and appalling policies
stones pelted , traffic blocked and classes suspended.

To disperse the mob, shells fired
and ambulances called.

…and yet, the policies remain unchanged!

Another academic year began thus bringing martyrdom for the opposition while the ones on the other side revelled on the fortune amassed.

So many people in protest and nothing was done towards achieving their ideals, Why?…and there had been many like this before.

Is it that the way we protest must change? Rebellion will be confronted head on with oppressive forces, and which side winds depends on the solidarity and the courage of conviction of people involved.

We have had enough of revolts and rebellion, right from pelting stones to hartals to self immolation… the mob-ilised movements seem to have run out of vigour. This event brings to mind 3 poignant episodes of protest suffused with Grit, Grace and Compassion.

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Can a single human being make a difference? Can he or she stop the forces of evil dead in their tracks? A courageous young man at Tiananmen Square captured the imagination of the whole world, when he single handedly stopped the advance of a tank column by standing in its way...

This was the forerunner to the downfall of communist regime.

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The Vietnamese monk Qang-Duc, protesting religious persecution under the Diem regime, sat quietly in the meditation posture, and took a box of matches and struck one...a whoosh of flame and dark smoke engulfed him, in the rage of flames his shaven head and the orange orbs grizzled...then darkened and amidst this devouring flames and shrills and cries around he remained fixed in meditation.

…and before he set himself ablaze he just said “I protest !”

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Yukio Mishima hailed as probably is the best author through whom a Westerner may approach the East, for his life and work provide, in microcosmic fashion, the fascinating link between the Oriental Past and the Occidental Present provided by the whole modern experience of his country.

He was strongly influenced by Buddhist ideals applied through modern psychological conventions to arrive at a vision of life rooted in traditions, yet open to changes. Perhaps he could not bear seeing the “Zen” ambience of Japan drowning in the neon glow . He thought the Japanese nation had lost it’s soul. He hated the way the country was being run by bread-obsessed capitalists and finally found that he couldn't write anything angry enough, so he topped himself. He committed ritual hara-kiri."…he bowed out after leaving a legacy.

Photograph: courtesy - All the MArvellous Earth - Krishnamurthi Foundation of America
Some fish out in troubled waters…some fish out troubling the waters…

Photograph: courtesy - National Geographic Archives

...and...“May we leave your generation a world better than the one we were given – Carl Sagan, CONTACT”

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Shine On...

Tears of joy
trickling down
my today's face
smeared with yesterday's grime.

I see you afar
like the rising sun.

But, I can't gaze for long
because the summer sun
might burn me to blindness.

Shine on...into the frozen sea of tranquility,
the moon glow does not blind
it only blindfolds.