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January 24, 2012 / Vandita

Hindsight for shamelessness?

“Scavenging the past to trash it and trashing the present to scavenge whatever is worth giving the boot” is the cultural hobby horse of today’s thinking elite. Without an exception, the thumb rule to getting an entry into the elitist intellectual coterie is to malign tradition, the average and the ordinary. If you are happy with the present set up you have to be a dork, and if you come from a set that does not sneer at the orthodox you’re plain regressive. Today liberal is synonymous with the queer and the refusal to fit in, while regressive is synonymous with the hearth, the home, the home maker.
In a conference that I attended today, I was aghast at the intense anti-national sentiment of the very well placed comfortable Indians. I seriously could not relate to the nation that was sketched before my eyes. I live in North India and around me in a city like Meerut or Delhi I find young women going to work or staying back at home happy with their situation. Very few women I know resent their state but the media and the academic texts consistently paint patriarchy as naturally dehumanising vis a vis women. I have serious qualms over structures of thought that squarely blame the men and male-centric social structures for regression. Why would matriarchy be liberating? Are female-centric societies intrinsically good and guarantors of justice? It is incredibly stunning that Anna Hazare gets blacklisted because he’s a patriarch.
We’re Indians and we love to shout from our rooftops that we’re corrupt. I’m not corrupt and most of the people I know aren’t either – we risk getting classed as mindless and unthinking. After all the ordinary, the nice is boring. I touch my elders’ feet to show my respect, but therein lies a tale: respect per se is shallow and retrograde. To grab and to trash is the norm today.
We love identifying ourselves as the glorified excreta of the global backwaters for we want us scavenged, overthrown and trashed. Welcome to brand India where you have to be deprived and throttled to get defined as Indian.

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November 7, 2011 / Vandita

Indian Heartbeats: Road to Happiness

To be or not to be quintessentially Indian ought not to be at stake. Metropolis culture with its uniform roads, disciplined traffic and mind numbing coda takes a stunning catwalk that leaves me high and dry. I can actually see the wholesome kitchen grate dousing its fire because the missionary megalopolis says so! Sometimes when in our typical village courtyard, at the onset of winters I sleep cocooned under oversized thick quilts I dream of the British police batons swinging o’er my head. I’m the quintessential Indian squirming when the screw is tightened with a veracity that only the Europeans are heir to. I’m from the metropolis hinterland where noise is a way of life, traffic-signals a poetry to unravel, and life a good hearted journey in brazenness.
Spare the rod and let be. We are Indians. Our roads have music – a language that makes zero sense to the jaded. It’s heartening that India’s organized chaos rippled through the Formula One racers. Some of us who’ve never been integral to the metro culture would like to encourage the highest bureaucratic and government echelons, and their confidants, to study how Indian cities and Indian villages have the time of their lives despite snarls and consistent honking of horns in crowded and not so crowded areas.
It is time the world shifted to a multipolar management so that life on and off the road becomes a delightful journey, where the police is typically small town types – indulgent like a parent who lets the child be. Not batons but warm smiles will assuage the ills that plague our metropolis. Can the judiciary say cheese? Could the government laugh a bit? And, on a wishful note, could professors be less militant? After all we don’t want cultural snarls. The roads are jammed, let colleges be happy places. I have just one regret, I never studied in my village where laughter is infectious and the teacher a strict indulgent mentor: everyone emerges a winner with an incorrigible sense of humour.

October 5, 2011 / Vandita

Barnacles Bounder-less Blisters

“Smile an everlasting smile” is an overwhelming wish for happiness that never ever ends.I wonder, does happiness ever last? It is ever evolving and consistently changing just as we alter. Yesteryears, todays and the aeons to come-in had, have and will have happiness. The barnacles – Captain Haddock’s “Blistering Barnacles” – to smiles of happiness will always be there till we let every person “just be”. It has always been an impossible stasis, and maybe will always be. But, with the world becoming a “global village” it becomes a must that a mother who aches to bring up her baby with professionalism has a space to do that like a dad who wants to jig the days away with his children.

We’re all bounders since we traverse. Without sounding like a page out of some thesaurus, let me put it this way that we are all on a “safar” – a journey we do not know will end where and when. It is therefore very important to remember blisters on some of our souls will not be healed over night. Neither will ‘we’ become ewes ’cause we have discovered that persecution never pays nor will ‘we’ become vindictive Injuns ’cause we’ve discovered everyone has a heart.

Yup!! Blistering barnacles will go if each child is never at the receiving end merely because he fails to “fall in line”. All of us ought to have a chance because it matters – who we are, and we are who we are.

September 19, 2011 / Vandita

Ka – A Link in Questing

Let me just quote Rabindranath Tagore today to get my point across: “There are numerous stars in your sky, let me add my own lamp among them.”

the word/letter ‘Ka’ – in Hindi – doubles up as a possessive clause when suffixed to ‘us’ (his).In Hindi ‘k’ (pronounced ‘ka’ in Western U.P.) is the first alphabet, while ‘kh’ is the first alphabet in Urdu. Interestingly, in Hindi dialects,’ka’ prefixed to ‘re’ (‘kare’) is an indulgent questioning. Sensationally, the eleventh alphabet in English is ‘k’ – a post perfect lingual prefect of the numero ten. Robert Calasso’s path breaking mythopoeic novel ‘Ka’ has researched this intensively.

The reason I’m talking about ‘k’ and ‘ka’ is because today all of us wish to belong. Just because I studied in a small town or work in an obscure town does not mean that I’m unpolished. It just translates into a ‘me’ . I am no individual if I give up ‘k’ or ‘ka’.

Each one of us, where ever we come from, whosoever we are, we have a right to respect our individual selves and say with affectionate assertion ‘ka re’ and be the first born in “my life”. Let us rise above narrow creeds and walls and create a resilient, brave, ‘sundar aur susheel jahaan jismei’ the first as also the one who is a post-perfect ten has the space to breathe in.

John Lennon said:”I’m a dreamer but I’m not the only one.”

September 18, 2011 / Vandita

Postcard to i

I could be what I was, never was or will never be for i was to be. Language is zero. Decimate the decimal but zero remains decimated forever. Why? Is it in the human to be orphic or is it humane to let be? Destruction is never a law just as life is a continuum. Why do we vacuumize the I? Somewhere I feel we’re all lusting after continuity, for a world without schisms, a world without seams and still free. Vrooming into a world of freedom, a world of the known and still beyond our ken is what we desire. i is everybody who weeps for the motherland and I is the vagabond powerplayer who aches for acceptance.

Let me just say that Death Penalty ought to be abolished. Let’s have a world where we teach ourselves and the posterity love. Punishment ought to be held back.

If ever a card was retrospect in a futuristic way it had to be a postcard to you, my i.

September 14, 2011 / Vandita

Seminal Treks All.

The punctating clause at the title’s conclusion is deliberate. It is indicative of how every critical enterprise is nothing but a trek, which charters new discoveries that remain forever peripheral and marginal. Derrida’s trace is seminal since it tackles problems of erasure and elipses. Howsoever we may construe, criticism is overwhelmingly an activity in self abnegation. Self abnegation of the kind that  foxes its exponents and detractors alike to resist this reductiveness. It is akin to glorifying suicide for a cause. When Foucault forays into sexual deviance and its close panoptian confessional survelliance in the medieval ages, I am left wondering why he does not discuss the social-psycological dynamics that made sex per se so fascinating. Do Foucault and Derrida in their resistance to social games trying to create treks into the semial – the seminal and nothing else?

I guess I’m doing the same since I am critiqing the trace that is seminal. I guess there is the dreamer in me who entangles in the embrace of words and ideas, treks through the mirage of words and resists the ken of reality. “Sweet dreams are made of these/ Who am I to disagree…” The ‘van’ gives (Hindi ‘deta’) so that we vroom to be who we are. When Hazare threatens to be ‘Sparta’ we respect him, when Jews remain homeless wanderers we squirm. Fashions change and we declare ourselves seminal – concerned with fundamentals – treks on roads all so much taken that they’re now looming ‘afterwords’. We trek through the ‘afterwords’ and evolve as fascinated trekkers on a journey never-to-be-repeated but continuously evolving… with a closure we believe is our prerogative.

We are critics?

September 10, 2011 / Vandita

Why is my Blog ID titled so?

The name I’ve chosen is deliberate and caliberated towards deliberation. In Hindi (Devnagari) van is a wooded forest while ‘dita’ is a tree with medicinal sap (Oxford dictionary) found in forests.  Dheet in Hindi translates as stubborn  with a ring of affectionate indulgence to it; the ”a” is a language game and feminizes this neutral gender noun cum adjective.  Ka is complicated. Right now let us just say that you’re right when you say it’s a simple connective. :)Vroom is personal since I love motorcycles and would love to see how life, speed and literature connect.

PS.: I love to talk and study and I love to interpret… what else would you expect from  a teacher of Delhi University!!