Friday, December 16, 2005

Legalise Corruption or Institutionalise Hypocrisy

I was reading about this incident where a senior executive of Samsung has duped the company of crores of rupees. Pretty smartly executed! Though we hope he gets caught, I don’t know if he will get reasonable punishment. In other news, we see a sting operation carried out by Cobrapost exposing small time MP’s of taking bribes to ask questions in parliament. The value of the actual bribes seems ridiculously low, and you almost pity these MP’s. I would’ve expected the payout for discussions at a national level to me much higher. But I guess the transacting parties (MP & fictitious NISMA) knew the true worth of discussions in Lok Sabha. ;)

As much as we may try & express shock & disbelief over such incidents, deep in our hearts we know that corruption is rampant in the society. So these incidents are not at all surprising. I almost expected another sting operation on MP’s. This sting operation has done nothing more than expose another channel of money making which our esteemed MP’s use. The corrupt will still remain corrupt. But they will be more careful in future & will probably use newer advanced channels for satisfying their monetary requirements. Well at least these sting operations will ensure that the corrupt are on their toes & continuously have to come up with new innovative ways of making that extra income. Some consolation!

I recently saw Apaharan & more than the story & the message, what I liked about the film was how it showed about the system of working of gangs, police & government. On the face of it we have our laws that are supposed to be followed. But there is another (probably more practical) system of working that is in no way related to laws. Almost everybody inherently subscribes to this alternate or parallel system of working.

The business class blatantly break all rules to save as much tax money as they can. The kidnapping gangs target the business class for ransom. They actually return the kidnapped "party" after the ransom is paid (the kidnapping business runs on this trust). The police have their own cuts from the ransom. As a result getting into the police force is very rewarding & hence that too has its own price. The businessmen know the nexus of police & kidnappers & meekly pay the demanded ransom. The highly funded kidnapping gangs form their own government. The loop seems complete. Businessmen cheat govt. Businessmen pay kidnappers. Kidnappers form govt. In the end the govt which is cheated by businessmen is formed by gangs who get paid by the same businessmen. The only difference is that the money is of different colour.

But there are some misfits in this whole scheme of things. Mohan Agashe’s character is an old idealist who believes in the rule of law. Nobody (not even his son) around him understands his foolish ideals. But for this character, the whole chaos, the whole violence & so many deaths could have been avoided. It was his action (a sting operation of sorts) that disrupted this whole parallel system.

This makes me wonder- Wouldn’t it be better if idealist characters were not there in the first place? After all, everybody is involved in this whole cycle of cheating or blackmailing one another. Since everybody is involved, Shastriji (Mohan Agashe’s character) actually disrupts the balance with his attempts or rather misadventures. Why do they do that? They do that because they feel what is happening now is bad. They feel that people should be punished for cheating, for corruption, for kidnapping. Why? Because they do not have clarity of the present day situation. They feel that whatever is written as laws are the only truth.

But some rules are unwritten. Many offices have almost institutionalised the charges for getting things done. I had a hard time getting my driving licence just because dad didn’t allow me to pay the extra money. Though I finally got it (& was extremely happy to have done it without the charges – felt like I had done it for free!). In govt hospitals, we have to pay extra to get see the doctor, get medicines, or get tests done. This institutionalisation is actually a good thing. At least things are clear. There are no uncomfortable moments where we are thinking how much is appropriate & who should be approached. There is no unnecessary time waste in bargains. But then we have these idealists who do not understand the new order. What do we do about them?

Solution 1: A solution could be that we legalise the new order of working. We legalise corruption. Extreme? Yes. Practical? Again yes except that it has to be implemented carefully to be successful. The idealists then have no base to justify their actions. If implemented properly, I don’t understand why it won’t work.

Solution 2: If we do not have enough courage to out rightly legalise corruption (which I’m sure we don’t have), a (weak) middle path solution could also be implemented. As kids we are taught something, while it is totally something else that benefits us in real life. At least teach both these approaches right from the beginning. Children should be taught how to keep two faces, one for speaking, preaching. And another for actually getting work done. The getting work done part should be hidden from public view – I know that is obvious, but kids being kids have to be taught everything. By institutionalising this way of life, we will prevent any idealists to even take form.

Yes I am being a cynic. I am not sure if that is such a bad thing. At least I am no pseudo idealist.

Friday, December 09, 2005

The 24 hr song

If I like a song, I listen to it repeatedly. But most of the songs I like lose their likeability after hearing them more than 5 times continuously. I get bored of the monotony. This is because they have only one facet in them which appeals to me. They are thus one-dimensional. It doesn’t take long to get bored of such songs.

Then there is this special breed of songs which I start listening; repeat it; repeat again. I am still not bored. I put it on loop on winamp. Sit down – listen 10 times. I am still not bored. I lie down – Listen another 20 times. I am still not bored! Heck I don’t get bored. It is an addiction. You only stop listening if you are interrupted by something else. Something about the song keeps you want to hear it again & again. The song is so “wholesome”. Given a chance I could be listening to it 24 hrs. These are the kind of songs which I call the 24 hr songs.

Many songs have graced the crown of being the 24 hr song in my life. I will list down only some of notable ones here.

Billy Joel - We didn’t start the fire
The first time I heard this song was in about 1991 or so. I had seen the video too, I think in Grammy nominations. The whole package was so appealing. I was just a school kid then but I got a general idea of the song with the video & whatever lyrics I could understand. The music & arrangement of the song too seemed perfect. Needless to say, I fell in love with the song. To add to my woes, I didn’t have to song. So eventually when I found it, it was pure bliss. I think I would have listened to this one at least 500 times till date. The thing is that I still haven’t memorised the lyrics fully, so there is something to look forward to for every repeat of the song.

Guns n Roses - November Rain
The first time I heard this song, was again when I was in school. At that time I was not exposed to such music & rejected it as “noisy”. Somehow one day later I stumbled upon it & rediscovered the song. The song was brilliant. The best part of course was the ending guitar piece.

Boney M – Rasputin
At home we had an almost complete collection of Boney M. All their songs had a good rhythm with decent tunes. Rasputin was one song which stands out in the whole collection. The song entices you and keeps you involved right from the drum beats in the beginning to the “Ohh those Russians” in the end. The Russian flavour in the tune & the accent made it unique. On the whole the song sort of pumped up your heart.

Indian Ocean - Kandisa
I think there is no need of an explanation. This song is simply superb. Who needs to understand the lyrics when the music is so moving? Many an hours were spent listening to this one. The best time to be enjoying this song is in the morning just after you get up. It refreshes & recharges you for the rigours of life.

Waisa Bhi Hota Hai - Allah ke Bande
We get sort of emotionally attached to some songs. This is one of the songs I am really attached to. When I first listened to the song, I was in one of my very low phases in life. In its own small way this card helped me get back on track. I played it so many times (continuously except for classes for 3 days) in the hostel that I would have managed to infect others with this song. Soon this song became a hit on campus.

Metallica – Unforgiven
Words cannot describe the feelings I have when this song plays. A whole mixed bag of anger, fear, disgust, guilt, hate, remorse & even a sense of satisfaction. I don’t know if it is in the lyrics, the music or the combination.

Rabbi Shergil - Bulla Ki Jaan
Another good song which goes easy on your ears and on your mind too. Inspirational lines sung beautifully by Rabbi Shergill. It takes some time to appreciate the beauty of the song.

My current 24 hr song has surprised even me. It is an unknown Trance track:
Master Blaster – How Old are you (Radio Mix)
I was going through an old Trance collection when I stumbled upon this track. The song is like a chant that means there is not much of lyrics but a lot of pumping up in the tune & the beats.

This list is not exhaustive. The list is skewed towards the newer songs mainly because of my poor memory.

Friday, December 02, 2005

Some people

I live with a queer set of people. Here I must admit I must be the queerest of them all, but that is not the point of this post.

BN is a strange mix of South Indian & North Indian cultures. A thin guy like me, he has a knack of noticing things very quickly. He feels that he has a drinking problem & is trying really hard to control it. I have accompanied him many times to the bars when the need became unbearable. :) A unique thing about him is his voice modulation while speaking. His talk changes from whispers to deafening booms sometimes in the same sentence. A straight talking person, he doesn’t hide much. His extrovert nature makes him air his viewpoints loudly. The unique nature of his perspective invariably gets you laughing. He asks for big favours as though it is his right, but at the same time has no qualms about doing almost anything you say. Of late he has become my advisor in matters of life, career etc.

AK: This guy knows his music. He has a small MP3 player which he listens to everyday. Ghazals, Classical Music, Trance are the kind of things he likes listening to. A seemingly quite guy but only up to the time you have not warmed up with him. He could be extremely witty with cruel tinge if he so desires. Cartoon channels are his favourite, with Pogo definitely on top. The lack of hair on his head used to be one more aspect of his sexy persona. But of late he too has fallen in the trap of following the same boring norm of having hair.

PJ: The big brother of the gang. He is extremely knowledgeable in all sorts of things (I don’t know what all they are). A humble guy, he always gives you more credit than you deserve. He rarely expresses directly, but likes it when we get his subtle hints of what he wants. He really works hard, both in job & as far as I know earlier in his studies. Mostly a shy guy, he never gets tired of watching those remix dance videos or any dance number for that matter, etc (hindi music channel) being his favourite channel. In fact such is his passion for etc that he skilfully dominates the possession of the TV remote for it. A soft guy by nature, he has an esp. soft corner for a certain neighbour of ours though he is too shy to ever talk to her.

AS: Though he doesn’t live with us, we still consider him part of the fraternity owing the proximity of his place of stay. AS is always ready to be part of any plan. If you are feeling bored on a weekend, call him up to finalise a plan for a movie, shopping, bowling etc. The best part is that he invariably ends up spending more than you when you go shopping with him. So the guilty feeling of having spent more is non-existent when you are with him. An auto-rickshaw is the only proper mode of transport for AS. In his own words – “Auto-rickshaws provide an end to end yet specialized solution for all your transport needs. They can drop you right up to your doorstep. There is enough privacy yet the appropriate openness for you to enjoy the best of both worlds.” Left at his discretion we would always be travelling in Auto-rickshaws even if we had to travel from Thane right up to CST. Apart from his extreme fetish for auto-rickshaws, AS collects & reads all sorts of “feel good” books he can lay his hands on. A corollary to this is that his spirit is always high, something which makes you want to be with him more often.

Strange this world we live in. Stranger are the people we live with.