Latest Entries »

An Unexpected Journey

Well, I have a special affection with this story. Perhaps the two of my longest running nicknames, although self-given and proclaimed, comes from one of the most skillfully created movie character of all time, Smeagol. I had a natural excitement towards the movie but in the almost three hour running, of first part of, “how-on-earth-they-made-a-trilogy-out-of-250-page-book”, Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, I had most of my excitement in the four-legged rock-caressing crawl and in the twisted language of Smeagol. Don’t get me wrong, I liked the movie because even if it looks ridiculous to make a trilogy out of such a small book, I had my worries answered by Peter Jackson. And, in complete grandeur.

I have read the book, The Hobbit, but I could never complete The Lord of the Rings. The subsequent trilogy, a some sort of logical evolution of the story of  The Hobbit, for good reasons, has overshadowed its prequel. The various foundations laid in The Hobbit, viz. the enmity of the elves and the dwarves, the story of Gandalf, the story of Smeagol, were followed in the eventual trilogy and there are numerous references to these old stories in The Lord of the Rings cinematic adaptations as well. But the movies were all about defeating Sauron. It didn’t have time to address Tolkien’s mind while he was crafting and knitting those maps and stories and now, it seems, Jackson has taken up that task to himself. This movie isn’t about adapting The Hobbit, its about completing every story that Tolkien had ever imagined while writing those books.

The plot is familiar to every LOTR fan. Bilbo is a Hobbit of the Shire, who has settled into a life and loving great food is all the excitement he has got. He could simply smoke his pipe-weed for his entire life. That, of course breaks down, when Gandalf, the gray, a wizard, chooses him to be an important cog in the quest of the dwarves. He promises him a new sort of excitement and Bilbo buys it. Rest is an adventure which one should buy a ticket for.

The Hobbit

The 170-odd minute running show explores various stories. The wizards present in middle earth, the elves, the mighty kingdom of the dwarves, the orcs, trolls, goblins; each contribute to the evolution of the central character from a scared little Hobbit, to someone who would dare to take on a mighty foe. Another story is that of the leader of the dwarves, Thorin, who is leading the quest to conquer the home, which was lost to a dragon. And we have the architect, Gandalf who pulls the strings and is always present to save the day. Every character has been handled well, the grandeur, the timing of courage of Bilbo, the valor of Thorin, the wisdom of Lady Galadriel have all been demonstrated with great skill. Jackson is perhaps the best creator of such an era, its visually stimulating and stunning at same time. At times, it looks like a surreal flow which combines the soulful music of  Howard Shore with footage from BBC Nature show in HD and the story dwells on the stuff which would be usually found in DVD extras. But the story develops nicely in the idyllic backdrop of some of the most stunning places on earth and every character evolves in the most natural way.

Make no mistake, this is a grand stage in the making. And it is the beginning of a new legacy. My guess is that Jackson wants to challenge the legacy of The Lord of the Rings with a smaller work for inspiration. The story of The Hobbit (book) is gripping, and enthralling and by the look of the first movie out of it, Jackson has done a Nolan with the LOTR and has brought full circle to every story that was started in the trilogy. We can expect some great excitement with the next movies and my heart beats to ask “What has it got in his naaasstee litttlee pocketsesssssssss?”

The state of CBSE syllabus is abysmal. I am not interested in what it has done to Hindi or English over the years, my concern is with flowery science books and completely diluted maths curriculum. When I was in the 10th standard, my father used to say, the curriculum should introduce concepts about calculus. But then my father always told me to solve standard 10 problems in 8th. Coming back to the state of syllabus, logarithms are removed, all that you need to learn in circles is that tangents from an external point are equal. I don’t understand what CBSE is exactly playing on. The education system in India is highly driven on cramming and substituting stuff in formula. The system has generated a very small group of students who actually want to push the envelope and learn extra. If I chose to go beyond the syllabus even by a bit, many would question “is this in our syllabus?”. So there you have my CBSE, you thought you were being smart by giving an optional exercise in the maths book with difficult questions; YOU KILLED IT BY WRITING OPTIONAL ON IT. Nobody is going to do that. It has generated a very large fraction of mediocre and less than mediocre students. Those who cannot utilize the formula, fall in this very bracket and they need a mathematical rehab and overhaul which no normal teacher can provide.

The biggest damage of this dilution of syllabus to boast of higher literacy, is the lack of imagination. There is a complete disregard to what are units for physical quantities. The frequency of an electromagnetic radiation is 500MHz and the wavelength is 60cm. The students happily multiply and find the speed of the radiation as 30000. Maxwell and Einstein died once again, I think. No units, mark that as well. I asked a pretty easy question once. A gift is in the form of cuboid, of certain dimensions, it needs to be gift wrapped at the rate of Re 1 for every 10 sq.cm. I was really happy, every one did it. They happily told me that they had done such problems in standard 8 itself. So, i decided to have a fear factor game. There is a room of dimensions 10m x 5m x 2m and it is full of ants everywhere. If every ant needs 5 cu cm of air for an hour, how many ants can live in the room without dying in an hour? Nobody could do it. I gave the solution and they supposedly understood. Find the volume, divide by whatever parameter is given. That’s what they understood.

It is not their problem. It is the way the questions are asked in exams or they way it is taught in classrooms that curbs thinking in maths. You can find these students fluently jabbering in English, using fuck words, correcting grammar of teachers but not an iota of imagination in maths. If a student of standard 10 can claim without any shame that he doesn’t know what a right angle triangle is, or how to solve a linear equation in a single variable or how to add a fucking fraction, the system and the coaching institutes and the parents, all need to take an action.

One last question over imagination. Remember the room full of ants? Same room again. Now it has been infested by a very civilized colony of lizards who live in their own areas. Every lizard wants an area of 1 sq. m. How many lizards exist in the society? I didn’t see one shred of imagination. If the area occupied by a lizard is given, why would you calculate volume? Right, the previous problem was solved by taking volume and doing a simple division in the end. Nobody thought of lizards to be only capable of sticking to walls, which will in general not demand any calculation of volume. If the education system had stressed on teaching the importance of units, they would have seen that after division a metre will remain. None of the students saw it either. So, very fucking cool calculation my friends. 10m x 5m x 2m = 100 cu.m and 100 cu.m/1 sq.m =100 m lizards. I gave them a problem of lizards. They showed me they were 100m fucking dinosaurs.

Skyfall

Skyfall has garnered its share of praise for its approach towards a Bond movie. In my opinion it has earned it. The flamboyant, weird-gadget-man has been replaced by a driven yet charming, a cold assassin yet human James Bond. Bond movies have followed a tradition and this change of character is unprecedented. These movies have a few ingredients: the British Intelligence MI6 headed by M, action sequences full of absurdity to challenge Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayana fights, a couple of Bond girls to be charmed by 00(7) and the villain motivated by money/ revenge/ extremism. The actors who play those roles aren’t just James Bond, Vesper or Silva; they are more than that: Bond, Bond Girl, Bond villain who have been cultured since 1962 to flaunt suits, legs, gadgets, and stunts. And each movie was a pasta made in the same sauce of scenery, sex and action.

Skyfall brought them alive by asking questions on each of the pillars of a typical Bond movie. The existence of MI6, the troubles that each of the characters face in doing whatever they want to do with their lives was laid out bare in Skyfall. For once, a Bond movie was more about bonding than breaking things with gadgets. For once, the movie appealed to our ability to understand the characters than provoking adrenaline. And in my eyes, Skyfall delivered answers to those questions. Bond had always flaunted his 00 status, but he didn’t just have the license to kill. He could destroy millions of pounds of property and could get away under the aegis of MI6. The world however operates on dick praising diplomacy which comes back to bite M and question the relevance of MI6. The decision making of their commander in chief is heavily scrutinized through the lives of Bond, Silva and the agents they lose in a deadly attack on MI6. The sauce of this pasta is made from the guilt of M, whose decisions give us two broken men, who rise out of death. One wants vengeance over M and the other wants to prove that he is still an asset to count on. Both having been the trusted lieutenants of M, are heavily skilled in espionage, planning and most importantly, daredevilry.
The movie of course has a predictable end with Bond coming out on top. But he doesn’t come out without a menacing fight which tests everyone from Bond to his enemy to their common creator. After 50 years on the celluloid, James returns to his home in Skyfall village and comes back as good as ever. Watch it for giving us the new Bond.

A Legend is Made

Probably, you want to harp on the title of this blog, when the official tagline of movie is, “The Legend Ends”, but I think the tagline is from the team Nolan standpoint. From the audience perspective, it is creation of an unprecedented legend in the genre of superhero movies. For a long time it has been an adaptation of stories craved by geeks and kids alike where a character derives some freakish superpower to overcome great threats. However, the elements of the game remain largely unrealistic in any such movie. Suppose two adventurous people go for roller coster rides for a day, certainly the rides would be the highlight of the day. Certainly, a diary entry would describe the rise and the fall of the machines. There would hardly be any mention of the emotional aspect of the company of two people enjoying that time. Superhero movies are usually built around this very “superpower” highlight where the human behind the power gets shelved. Christopher Nolan had a different take on the Batman story. He found the human and wanted to see him grow into a silent guardian of the Gotham City. He has always kept the Bruce Wayne alive with bruise marks on him, or by keeping the pain of losing his loved ones as his motivating factor alive. And the upcoming movie is going to be on similar lines where this time, he will be broken, his will shattered by his toughest nemesis, Bane; but most importantly, he will learn again and RISE. Whether he will lose one of his three father figures: Lucius Fox, Alfred Pennyworth or Jim Gordon, is open to debate, but certainly, Batman and Bruce Wayne both are going to be tested to their limits.

In Nolan’s edition, Bruce Wayne is much more important than the daredevilry of the Batman. Batman gave Christopher a great chance to explore the human part of a superhero because he has no superpowers. I wonder what he is going to do with Superman, I wish it is great. But I digressed, sorry; yeah, with Batman there are no superpowers. It is perfection through attrition. And Nolan is gifted in capturing the toil, the little emotions, the nits and picks, that converts something ordinary into completely extraordinary. His every work, is centered around the art of magic, where every magic trick has a third and final part called Prestige: Making things disappear is not enough, You have to bring it back. This has been evident in all his previous creations where a single simple line at the end of his movies, (“I knew inception was possible because I had done it myself on my wife. That her world was not real”) ripples profoundly through the entire past of the film and re-evaluates the complete meaning of celluloid drama.

Batman is coming full circle this time. I am not privy to any spoilers, but I think Batman will have his body as well as legend broken. Bane is a physical force who will shatter Bruce Wayne. But more than that, the lie about Harvey Dent isn’t going to remain secret to the people of Gotham. The legend of Batman will be mocked by Bane and with the lie exposed, Gotham will be ashes and Bruce Wayne will be sentenced to death by Bane. However, Alfred is one character who will never leave Bruce alone. Bruce was never fond of his legacy but he found his attachment to the name Wayne when his nemesis Ra’as Ghul burnt down his house. Alfred saved Bruce in the burning wreckage as well as an emotionally burnt child looking at his ancestral mansion turning to ashes. But he rose, and he took upon the evil and he shall do it again this time. In Nolan’s style, Why do we fall? So that we can learn to pick ourselves up. Brace yourself, The Dark Knight RISES.

The Social Inception

Social Inception is one of the most common features across the entire world. There are a variety of external factors that try to impose new ideas on our head. Some ideas may support other ideas while others may conflict with each other. There is a scene in the X-Men movie where a US senator campaigns against mutants by declaring that mutant ability to control the will of a human being is highly unacceptable in a free society. The movie is irrelevant here but I have been on the tails of the abstract nature of that statement: How much independent are our thoughts? And what will it take to recover the control that was lost?

Inception is a complex mechanism. It doesn’t need dreams and gadgets to pipe into someone’s brain. The objective is to plant foreign ideas which is doable in broad daylight, or rather, in a systematically synthesized “broad daydream”. For any beginner to begin inception process, a few requirements must be met by the individual. First of all, the agent which introduces the idea must make a favorable relation with the host. The idea and the its source cannot afford to be repulsive to the host. If George Bush claims that he didn’t order the torture of prisoners, who is going to buy that? Second requirement is directly from the movie, “it is a foreign idea, and for it to grow naturally, one needs to start with the basics of the situation.” Consider for example an advertisement company who wants to sell a certain mosquito killing spray; it must shout at the public in anxious and restless voice (imagine the 2300 hrs telecast of Vardaat kind of news programs) “Malaria is death, mosquitoes spread malaria, kill mosquitoes”. Right now the ad company has its audience, as it is not selling a product that public has never dreamed of as mosquito killing is practiced by us since childhood. So, the basic inspiration is us is inherent. Mix it with fear over TV or radio and the marketing strategy might just pay off. Try selling condoms with the same blueprint of shouting at public while banking on fear of STDs and it will almost turn out to be a disaster. The point is, every inch of the presentation of idea matters: the tone of voice, the size of the font, the imagery, the visualization, the story it packs to make the message stick, just to name a few. If one can perfect these principles, one can be a good asset for the marketing division of a product company. But this blog isn’t about that; it is about our overloaded minds.

As we grow in our childhood, we pick up stuff from our family.At that age, we learn algebra or religion or the divisions in society, everything, from our family and the people around us. We recognize friendly faces from family or those who are close to our family. But as a child, do we actually decode the community of someone before we try to bond with that person? That guideline comes directly from the taller people with grey-black hair around us. Simply speaking, it is not difficult to imagine in a house that a child will enjoy playing with the child of the housemaid before the social rules come into play. In many cases, we learn things which stop us from being objective about an issue. Now, the inception part of this. The constraint isn’t the thing which a kid would love to encounter. But if the same “friendly face” or “acquaintance” preaches those rules incessantly, at some point of time, the child would give up to that “friend”. Consider the child having grown up and in a relationship with someone from a different community. It might be interesting to measure the courage in that grown up person to go against the childhood lessons. The desire to break patterns is curbed and it takes an immense amount of clarity in thought and “enlightenment” to go past those barriers. This is true about religion, a family custom, or any lesson that didn’t have a proper logical basis. Our lives are heavily modulated by the society we live in, because at some point of time they had bought us a teddy bear on our birthday and claimed the license to give us some “funda” about life.

Free logical thinking?

When we talk about larger than life situation, whose life is it to which it is being referred to? In the previous paragraph, its the life of the kid. Everything around the child is beyond his life. In general, larger than life would refer to a lifestyle which is full of amenities and facilities that are not accessible to a common person. So, celebrities, sport stars etc. fall in this bracket. How do such personalities become larger than life? Is it only about the movies they act in or the games they play? There is a bigger factor here, media, which builds up everything about a “celebrity” in our minds. It cultivates the image and it also waters the same image to keep it green through a similar inception process. Let us trace the path of becoming a celebrity. For media, it is all about inventing names for those personalities to which we can relate. The actual name is only an old curtain. A new movie star is a Hollywood star or a Bollywood star, because the readers know about movie production “Woods” more than the star itself. As the movies work on box office, more sobriquets are attached, “The Mr and Mrs Smith” star, “The 10 time Oscar nominee”, “The King Khan” and so on. It is noteworthy that all these sobriquets will have words that have their own charm: “King” “Oscar” “Captain Cool” “Three time Ballon d’Or Winner” just to name a few. Thus when we read about people through their mega achievements, it is not difficult to see how they become larger than our simple life. The effect of this inception is the crazy fanfare among the masses, which must be maintained to support the cycle of money making. SRK has made a string of pathetic movies, MS Dhoni has made a string a pathetic defensive moves resulting in losses overseas, but how much of the paranoid fanfare reduced? How many Barcelona supporters will actually call Messi a “cry baby” if Messi says “missing penalty was unfair” when the goalkeeper didn’t even make a save on his skyrocketing shot? The paranoia that fanfare induces in us, makes us believe that we are a part of the same larger than life structure. Therefore, its supremely difficult to throw stones at your own house. Only one logical question to it: Is it really our house? And there is nothing in all the fanfare.

A major part of our lifestyle is governed by policies made by some very external people. The basic control over life doesn’t exist either as the necessities of supply is also controlled for vested interests. Mafia, corruption are entities which go hand in hand. But, life has its needs and thus, we need other people around us. Entertainment, help, company, utility, anything are provided by people around us. The needs become the ground for foreign groups to attack and conquer our minds. This world preys on that demand and tries to control the supply. We have major and minor companies. What are they, if not organizations that control the supply of needs? I am not trying to sell an idea to break down the existing cycle of living. I just wish that people continue to logically evaluate a situation before swallowing it like a given truth.

Kick Ass (2010)


First off, Kick-Ass is the name of a movie. An unconventional name, truly, and a completely unconventional take on a superhero movie. This movie isn’t about superheroes, who is out there to poach the poachers of social life in a city. It combines the abstract concept of a superhero who is willing to take on crime on the surface of city with the traditional setup of a few people out for vengeance against a criminal organisation.

In Spiderman 2, Aunt May, tells Peter that there is a hero in all of us. In Batman, Bruce Wayne decides to arm himself with training and gear to fight the mob. There it is, the inspiration for the teenager Dave, who simply wants to find that hero within himself and fight on the streets of the Manhattan to bring some good in the city. But sadly, his abstraction of a superhero is that of a suit and a heavy, pretentious voice devoid of any bite of a motivation which drives a vigilante continuously to kick butts of the enemies in his land. Predictably, he messes up in his first fight and in a comical cascade of events, gets branded as a homosexual man. Adding more to the misery, he gets his bones shattered by a car hit. However, he wins his first fight against death and unpredictably earns steel plated bones as the trophy of the victory.

There is another side of the story of vengeance of a cop, who was framed by a crime lord of the city. His pregnant wife attempts suicide following the imprisonment of her husband. She is able to kill herself, but her baby could be saved by the doctors. In one of the most unconventional scenes in a movie, the big daddy trains himself and his little girl of 10 years with guns and knives and swords to prepare for the big battle against the killer of his wife, the crime lord, Frank Damico.

Frank Damico has a son, Chris Damico, who wants to be prove his worth and inherit the criminal empire of his father. But his father always assumes him to be only a child. However, he is not a dimwit and proves his worth in the best of styles later in the movie.

And there is a love story between Dave and Katie. Katie befriends Dave after his accident which Dave assumes to be his chance to woo her. However, Dave quickly realizes that he is a gay in her minds and is forced to foster a one sided love for his friend. Dave gets his shot to stardom when he watches a guy being thrashed by a bunch of other goons. He fights off the goons and takes on the moniker of kick-ass to become a youtube, coffee house, and pencil box cover and teenage sensation. All under a green mask. He valiantly decides to take on an a gangster and an ex-boyfriend of sorts of Katie who owed her some money. He is almost killed by them when Hit Girl and Big Daddy come to his rescue. In a frenzied sequence of sword slashing, the daughter kills everyone of them while her father provides sniper cover. Dave realizes what he had been missing: the true skills of fighting, brute force approach of jumping into a fight isn’t the way to resolve one. The father daughter duo make Dave their friend and meanwhile keep eliminating bits and pieces of the Damico’s empire. Damico wrongly  concludes Kick Ass to be his real enemy. His attempts to track Kick Ass fail and his son, Chris, delivers on his potential to become the heir to the empire.

He decides to become a fake superhero by screwing one of the goons of his father’s empire to win the trust of Kick Ass. Under the name, Red Mist, he befriends Kick Ass and takes him to a warehouse for an impending slaughter. Sadly, the warehouse is burnt before they reach but Chris is able to retrieve a hidden camera from the ruins and uncovers the mystery of the father daughter duo as well. Dave has had enough of superhero and he reveals himself to Katie. Katie, who is initially shocked, is also a blonde. Therefore, they become a couple despite Dave having been a complete ass.

In the final sequence of events, Red Mist uses his friendship with Kick Ass to track Big Daddy and Hit Girl. Hit Girl is shot over her kevlar vest and Big Daddy and Kick Ass are taken prisoners. Through a live streaming over internet, Frank Damico, decides to have his henchmen brutally kill the aspiring superheroes of the city. And comes the savior, the Hit Girl, who is able to save Dave, but not her father. She kills the boy inside Dave with the words, “if it weren’t for you, my father would still be alive”. She decides to complete the vengeance and Dave gets the motivation he had been missing.

And the fun filled climax.

One of the best superhero movies, that I have seen. 🙂

A Cloud Story

A combination of grace and glitz is rare. Grace is effortlessly serene like a rainbow while the glitz oozes profusely from the dazzling pomp and show of lightning. Clouds hide both these emotions very successfully. Both of these features come off tears of the cloud but in one case the tears become a part of the extravagance of the electrifying show while in case of a rainbow, the same droplets are seen to be feminine weakness. Life gives us such moments to choose between people who are serene and beautiful like rainbows and can share our tears and turn them into romantic colors; while accepting that the hard sun on the back is a part of the same life and people who can cloud the sun behind us to provide brief moments of electrifying emotions.

The Mamta Problem

Recently, Mamta hit a new low by branding a political science student from Presidency College as Maoist or someone from CPM cadre. It appears, she had just asked questions about the performance of her government. I am not totally aware of the magnitude of problems that CPM has landed on Mamta’s hands, but we can all agree that the current Honorable CM of West Bengal, Ms Mamta Banerjee has no love lost for the CPM. When I read that Trinamool Congress (TMC) has won the election after a lot of years and Mamta “didi”, as many call her, will be leading the debt ridden, poverty ridden, almost entirely rural lands of West Bengal for the next five years, I could appreciate the burden she had. A tinge of empathy maybe, made me feel sorry for her.

But then, she is a Bengali person, or colloquially, a Bong. Someone, who will always crib rather than solve, and crib on matters that are irrelevant. Exceptions are always there, and lot of Bengali people are really good people. But a majority, one will always find, have strange notions. Just as an example, there is an awesome daily train from Dhanbad (Jharkhand) to Kolkata, Black Diamond Express/ Coal field express. A few bogies have been marked as a new railway class: “DP (for Daily Passengers)”. Just for once, take a seat in that public compartment of Indian railways and you will have an interaction with a horde of Bongs that will make you feel as if standing in a Bong Compartment of Bong railways. It will be less comfortable than the idea of a DP. (only a select will understand this :P). But then, railways are abused in Bihar as well where it has been heard of people who flag a train with their hands to stop it. Or, by students in Bihar who can claim right to Sleeper coach berths during their examination while travelling without a general ticket.

But right now, the focus is on Ms Mamta. I shall call her Mamta, for two reasons: first, I am not a fan of long names, and second, I am not sure if I can call her “didi” as many of her followers do. She has scuttled a lot of operations in West Bengal. Probably, it started when TATA decided to build a car assembly factory for their ambitious plan of $2500 car for Indian market. I cannot comment if the land acquisition was fair, but Mamta spearheaded the protests. Imagine this, if a Bong can take you to a war or words for a fucking seat in a train, how much difficult would it have been for TMC bandwagons to rile the peasants up when their lands were acquired for a project? A ray of light of industrialization in West Bengal, first of its kind (barring railway factories at some spots in West Bengal), was nipped in the bud. TATA motors left West Bengal for a different state.

I am not a fan of UPA government at the centre. But, some of their initiatives do make sense. The Indian Government mooted towards the introduction of National Counter Terrorism Centre which gives the officials to conduct investigation into state affairs without permission from state (1. Read footnote for more). Mamta leads a political party which has a lot of clout in New Delhi in deciding the fate of a bill. On paper, the idea is good to have a centralized agency for all intelligence and state governments pooling their information. I don’t want to judge if the bill that was tabled would have really destroyed the so called “STATE RIGHTS”, but Mamta didn’t do anything to help the government. Even if it was curbing some rights or something, did she propose any solution? Not to my knowledge. Fine, the powers of NCTC can be abused greatly to make the state government look like a whore of the Centre, but is the State intelligence anywhere near to prevent attacks like those of Mumbai and Naxalite ambush in Dantewara? It was pointed out by Mr. Arnab Goswami in his news program that she has become the biggest headache for the government and is bending the UPA rule on her whims. She castrated the railway price hike plan which would have generated sufficient capital for managing such a huge network. All in name of the “common man”.

The Bongs who vote for the rule in Bengal aren’t the middle class or the rich. The actual vote bank, like entire India, is the poor population. There is a reason why Mumbai hasn’t been able to get rid of slums. Poor have no dreams, and no education to imagine about dreaming something better. They can be manipulated at the behest of tiniest of personal possessions. Look at the train example and decide if it is an issue to fight? The British raped the destitute across the entire nation and they have accepted the fact that cloth, food and shelter is all that matters. The American government go to wars to make their parent corporations richer, while the Indian counterparts maintain the poverty to keep the vote bank. Mamta goes and ties herself to the rural Bengal population through amazing gestures. She carried a jute bag for her railway budget in stark contrast to Lalu’s shiny brown briefcase which looked to have been magically carved out of a MS XP icon. Mamta understands the Bong aspirations very well and knits her political moves according to them. The federal structure of Indian government isn’t about power distributed to Union and State governments for public welfare, its about their rights which they can wield and agendas they want to pursue, to keep themselves in power. Mamta got her independent tantrum license with the CM’s chair, she will hold on to it more for her ego than for any other interest.

In the interview, Mamta’s paribartan movement was being examined. I want to ask what has been done by her government for the common man. It is very easy for her to rule the Bongs as they are typically viewed as the most gullible kind of Indians. Just tell them that officials from New Delhi can raid your house in name of NCTC, or tell them about a fare hike in railway prices, and use the same idea of the seat grabbing to predict the rallying force that would be behind “didi”. She has no Mamta. She only has paranoid tantrums. Coming back to questions to be asked to her, well, I haven’t got any, because apparently she has woken up from a 1980s or 1990s Bollywood political drama to brand anyone pointing at her work as work of anti social rebels (Maoists) or “sab opposition ki chaal hai”.

Mamta is hopeless; people of West Bengal, open your eyes!

Footnotes:

1. The UPA government on Feb 6 said it would set up on March 1 a powerful anti-terror agency that will integrate and analyse inputs on terror threats in India and will have legal authority to make arrests and conduct search operations. The NCTC will have a Standing Council comprising chiefs of counter-terror outfits in states and others as its lynchpin.

It will have powers to requisition ‘elite’ forces like NSG and marine commandos to carry out operations against terrorists.The Standing Council will comprise members of anti-terror agencies in states, in what is being seen as a step to encourage the states to develop a stake in the pooling of information and intelligence inputs.

This coupled with the powers under the Unlawful Activities (Prevention) Act (UAPA) to make arrests and carry out search operations across the country are designed to get around the problem of law and order being a state subject: a constitutional scheme that is seen as essential for country’s federal polity but which has hampered cooperation between the Centre and the state as well as among states themselves.

Find more information here http://www.ipcs.org/pdf_file/issue/IB181-Chari-NCTC.pdfhttp://www.rediff.com/news/slide-show/slide-show-1-faq-whats-nctc-why-centre-and-states-are-fighting/20120223.htm and judge the relevance yourself.

2. This is beta version of post, this maybe refined later. I am not claiming any authority over the validity of the information here. This is based on two things: my limited knowledge over many issues, and well documented arm twisting moves of Mamta Banerjee. If I ever have better understanding of things, I shall update it.

The Premier League Finale

There are certain names in world that draw a lot of attention. People revere them, loathe them, dance in their glory and curse in their misery. Somehow, the common men are able to attach themselves to that crest, badge and banner and truly feel the pain and the joy of those who actually bear that responsibility. I can toil over the concept of religious fanfare for such institutions but that would sidetrack me. It was an incredible day of football in the history of English Premier League (EPL) where the title was decided in the most dramatic ways.

First, the background. Manchester City had spent close to a billion pounds since 2009-2010 in buying players to challenge the big four of EPL: Manchester United (Red Devils), Arsenal, Liverpool, Chelsea for the title. There has been severe criticism of the policy and for two seasons the returns had been poor. In fact in the 2009-2010 season, City could drag almost any match to a finish in a tie. Barring Manchester United, all of the other three clubs have withered considerably over the past few years and this season, it had to be one of the two clubs from the same city of Manchester to battle for the crown.

Come October 2011, and in one of the most scintillating derby matches between the two neighbours, Manchester City pulverized United on their own home turf at Old Trafford. The analysts wrote off the league after just a few months into the season with Manchester City boasting a 5 point lead and walking with the strut of an invincible side. However, karma is a bitch, they say. In the 2010-2011 season, Chelsea had the same flair of winning and City stopped their march only to see themselves defeated by Chelsea in the 2011-12 season. City still kept the lead at the top of the table and United maintained the pressure.

A league in a football is a battle over almost 10 months of a year. And its a long time to level lots of gaps. Manchester City commanded the two point lead over their local rivals while United maintained the pressure for weeks. It finally paid off and after an unusual upset, Manchester United were a point ahead of their “noisy neighbors”, which soon swelled to 8 points. Premier League was dead again for the critics. City had lost the initiative. They appeared to have returned to the same ways of drawing any game of previous seasons. But football is a stage for drama.

A week later, United succumbed to a goal from wrongly given corner. However, if the defense cannot hold a bunch of players taking a short corner, it probably does little to crib at the referee. The Old Trafford veterans and fans were both left bewildered as they shockingly drew against Everton 4-4 having been 4-2 on the front. It came down to a difference of 3 points with Manchester derby still to go. The derby was supposed to decide the course of the title. It would be unfair to call it “The English El Clasico” for the Spanish duo from Madrid and Barcelona have a far richer meaning of the rivalry but nevertheless, this match was going to decide the fate for both teams.

City emerged victorious through a header in stoppage time of first half and the league table had two teams with same number of points at the top. Unlike other leagues, the EPL position in league is decided via goal differences (goals scored – goals conceded) in case of a tie at any ranking. Goal difference was set to decide the title history of EPL for the first time and it went to the final match. The pundits claimed City to be in pole position in the race.

A league is usually won by the best team. City had beaten almost every other team and United twice for good measure. They had been good. But on the D-day, things can go awfully wrong as it becomes a one day match where the title could go to any one. Nobody could have expected what would happen on the final Sunday of 2011-12 EPL campaign.

Manchester United played at the Stadium of Light against Sunderland and City hosted the relegation threatened (lose a chance in next EPL season) Queens Park Rangers (QPR) on their home turf in the Etihad Stadium. A victory for City would require United to beat Sunderland by a margin of 9 goals, an impossible feat and the only escape for the Red Devils was City being held by QPR without a win. It was unlikely to many.

The Devils drew the first blood in their 20th minute and forced their “Noisy Neighbours” to score. It took immense pressure from the City and something of a fumble from the otherwise exceptional goalkeeper to score the goal for City after about 40 minutes of play. The Devils were in hell. The game took a nosedive for City after half time as a horrendous error from Lescott gave QPR a chance to equalize. The captain of QPR, however, wasn’t in the best of his moods and was sent off for a reckless challenge on City striker, Carlos Tevez. United fans could only curse that moment of recklessness from Barton as City had their full arsenal to destroy the 10 man opposition. Fate has all facets and on an unusual break, QPR struck again through a fine cross and a neatly headed ball to make it QPR 2-1 City.

20 minutes were left in the match with City fans in disbelief. United fans gloated in the other side of Manchester. There were tears from fans in both sides of Manchester but for very different reasons. 15 minutes later, the commentator said “City had to win only one game, they had all their members in the stadium to witness their club take the title after 44 years. It is not going to be and 44 years will change to 45 years of wait for the title. I do not know how the Manchester City fans will pluck the courage to pick themselves up and work the next day.” The normal time was over. The assistants signalled another 3 minutes for the game in Stadium of Light and 5 were given to Manchester City to score twice. The people of Manchester couldn’t have hoped a bigger drama on the final day.

That day, Pabla Zabaletta had scored for City, his first of the season on the last day of the season. 2 minutes into stoppage time and Edin Dzeko, who had not been among goals scored from a header and give City a final chance to get the title. Etihad Stadium went wild, and everyone was at their edge. The game finished at Stadium of Light with the Devils emerging as victorious but still clueless if they had won the league. It came down to 120 seconds at Etihad Stadium to glory for one of the teams from Manchester. City had got two goals from two players who had not been among the goals. They had been chokers for best part of last three years.

It was a script as written by Christopher Nolan. City would either come full circle to the chokers they had been or they would exhibit phenomenal resilience. A beautiful play, gave their star, Aguero, the ball who went past a couple of defenders and fired into the net. And, that was it, Etihad stadium exploded in the relief and City got their investments worth. Sir Alex Ferguson could only ask their team to wrap up and enter inside the locker room.

The glory was fought hard and well. City deserved it and they won it. The Devils had beaten City once in injury time that had lasted 6 minutes (4-3, in 2009-10 season) and many other matches against many other teams in the final seconds. However, the Noisy Neighbours came out as proud champions to have snatched the title from the Devils in those final 100 odd seconds.

Deals With the Devil

Lets start with work of others.

We have both good and bad in us. Its our choices and our actions that defines us. (Any superhero movie will have a version of this one.)

Good versus Evil is one of the most ubiquitous mythological aspect of human civilization. (Zeitgeist)

And far away in some recess
The Lord and the Devil are now playing chess
The Devil still cheats and wins more souls
And as for the Lord, well, he’s just doing his best (The Spanish Train, Chris De Burgh)

Chris maybe correct, I think. If the god and the devil indeed possess the power to control the fates of the living and dead; then yes, they must be playing poker or a game of chess. Lives change dramatically on earth. Suddenly, a new card comes up and a floundering hand can yield a big win. Or, a calculated and thorough move is a deadly amiss because we missed one more factor in the plan. To Lord, or the Devil, our lives are naked and they play the character of peeping tom upon us and juggle with our lives. Maybe its our turn to return the favor and see what they talk about us.

If any sense has to come out of this piece of writing, please assume that for some irrelevant reason, I was in a limbo. Probably it was something like the one in which Dumbledore explained a lot of stuff to Harry in the final chapters. I had walked into a room where I could see the Lord and the Devil sitting across each other. Something was strange. If we take a speech, or rather “preach”, analyzer and scan the words of various religious figureheads, we would find a remarkable peak at one point: Lord and the Devil both sentence us for our actions. It would be mighty offices for the Lord and the Devil to sieve the enormous data off the rap sheets of countless men and women and possibly cattle and birds also. And yet, here I am in a room which is peaceful, quiet, empty and clean of any feathers or coconut water for that matter, filled with a white mist surrounding the Lord and a grey one around the Devil. The Lord kept looking at the Devil; waiting for the Devil to speak. Or perhaps it was the Devil’s turn to wait for the God to start a thread of conversation.

I helped myself to a chair in between them. They noticed my presence and went back to staring at each other. I have a pretty proud head and being ignored that way didn’t sit well with me. Probably God was playing the same ball with me as I play when I ignore him. Or they had been at this discussion table for a very long time but the room gave no hints of any other object or inhabitant. I wondered how much time had passed since I took the cold seat. And I saw my wrist watch appear on the table. I thought the God was behind this miracle, but he continued to measure the Devil and looked stony as ever. Perhaps it was best to leave them alone for their “extended” period of silence.

The God stood up. The devil leaned back and let his head rise. The Lord stared down in silence. The Devil shook his head and took out an invisible cigarette of his mouth. He stood up and strolled past me giving a malicious smile to meet the God and said, “Look. It has been a year of silence in this room.” My jaw fell open and I could barely mouth ‘Really?’ The Devil continued “I remember you were quiet for a decade last time.” I screamed before I could stop, ‘Oh my fu-‘ I stopped as I felt their gaze fall upon me. I completed with a tame ‘God.’ The Devil smiled at me and got a frown from God which could have completed the word I didn’t utter. He carried his speech to the Lord “Yes, I lured a lot of people into my trap and brought their doom. But do you really think that I am going to repent? I did not regret last time and I am not willing to try any form of remorse and seek your forgiveness. So in front of this kid (“Kid ?”) as witness, I confess that I have sinned, but I feel no compunction. Regardless of your position in the battle against me, you will never give up and show these people hope. But on the previous counts, I have defeated you fair and square. So, if you want to win this battle of silence at the table, you can have it; but lets continue with our job, and discuss on how to consume this world of men.”

I joined the discussion with a question. “You people just talk here? My entire world worships you as a protector from this Devil and you two just exchange a few “What Else?” and “Hmm” with each other interspersed over years?”

I stopped my rant as I felt their gaze fall on me and looked up earnestly for an answer. They looked at each other and smiled. Still looking at the devil, the god said, “What did you expect? That we would be scanning lives of your species? This is our home, and I am amused to ask you the question: do you see any filing cabinet to store souls? We live together and give deals (choices) to fellow human beings in their lives. The Devil –”

The Devil cut in sharply, “Speak for yourself, my dear friend. I shall advertise myself later.”

The Lord looked at me. I pointed at the devil and spoke, “Fair enough.” The Lord eased his expressions and continued, “You have your own methods to interpret us. You worship me and condemn him in the same book, place or event. You think that the Devil is just an opposite of me. So whatever you know about the Devil is based on what you know about me. Worse, all of that knowledge is something which you have assumed about me, us. You assume that you know me and what I expect from you. And then, preach stuff about both of us, presumably having learnt about only one of us, in books, in institutions, in crowds.  We have no business in deciding what happens to “the countless souls” that land “at our gates”. We have a single room, with a tea table. I don’t think it would qualify for your hell or heaven.”

The Lord spoke in a vague language. And it was lacking sense. He continued, “If there is anything that you have known correctly, it is the fact that you have the potential to take both good and bad choices. If we are present in this world, we are only in your actions. I am the symbol of fair actions which provides the highest good. My methods can often be laborious and usually depend upon the hearts of people. The methods would never work with those with less patience.”

It felt like being present in a weird classroom of religious fundamentals. I had not believed in what religious texts or figureheads have preached since a long time. And yet here I was, in the middle of a room with the proponents of the theory present in person. Listening to them, I felt like they had been made the whores of the “religious media” and paraded and flashed in the faces of the population in every stupid form. I took some time off from them in the chair, and pondered over the time spent over things that don’t matter. The name of God; the “difficult” path that must be taken to attain his blessings; the “tortuous fate” that awaits any soul who strays from the “path”. Various religious texts are replete with these concepts. How many have actually stressed upon the fact that these two can exist only in our actions? Probably some thinkers have said so. “We have both good and bad in us. We choose to take one of the paths.

It was a while when I noticed the watch lying on the table again. The time had barely passed. The Devil noticed the surprise look upon my face and said, ” This is your dream. You want to be here so your mind will manipulate the time”.

The Lord cut in, “Talk about manipulation, talk about yourself!”

The Devil looked at me and said, “And you thought he was benign! He fails too.” He turned to God and gave him a sarcastic smile. He said, “Even if I beat you, there is no need to jump in when I am talking. Yes, I was gloating over my victory; but I gave you a decent stretch of time to speak for yourself. I think I will count it as another victory, I manipulated you into a petty outburst! Now let me continue with him.”

It was odd to see the Lord being dictated by the Devil in that way. But, then it was an odd setting in which they were present. The Lord and the Devil both seemed to have noticed my dilemma. The Devil took the initiative, “Look. I know that this situation has rattled you over the definitions of two figures in front of you. But the Lord loses each time when you take my path. My path is often an easy one. It can give you a quicker result, maybe even favorable one. But, then we have to stay in business and therefore, you land in more sticky spots. If you went my way, there will be a day when the problem at hand will make you feel humiliated and you would regret that you ever took my path. That humiliation is my business. The God, if I have his permission, gives you a tougher path than me, but there is no embarrassment in the next part of your journey. His business comes from your satisfaction at the end of day. The only difference between us is that I gloat over my success, the Lord just moves on to the next deal for you.”

It didn’t sound like something completely new. After all, they had just translated the concepts into our everyday actions. But then, it was a major transition. After all, going to worship the Lord is a big deal. There are so many protocols to follow that WE made and wrote in books. There are custodians of that code, “The code is the law“, who decide how we approach the Lord and any deviation from the “path” is ostracized. Or rather, the deviation is devilry. The god is an embodiment of good faith and living and therefore, it cannot be restricted to the description of life and actions of one man. The concepts of God and Devil get any tangible significance from our own actions and behavior to the world around us. Words don’t mean anything, said or written unless it is backed by an action. The honesty and sanctity of a promise comes from the love and dedication put in the actions to fulfill the promise. Why should the concept of God and Devil be separated from actions? If God is all helping, all loving and all caring, how can one justify killing animals, or tagging and restricting the lives of people as untouchables in the name of same God? Religion has depleted its spirituality and is rather replete with what institutions exhort us to do. They ask the wrong things.

I asked God, “Why do we fail?”

The Devil said, “Since you saw no heaven or hell, you can ask him in straight words –” he takes a stance to mimic me and looked at God, “Why do you lose to him?”

The Lord gave me a calculating look. He cogitated for a while and attained a melancholic face. The Devil looked eager to hear the Lord’s answer. The Lord finally spoke, “I created the world of men and women and the process wasn’t defect free. Those defects were the seeds in you which gave roots to the Devil. The fundamental flaw among you is that you are limited. You don’t have infinite patience. Neither you understand everything fully. What you don’t understand, you would never be able to trust completely and you would always fear for what it could do to your lives. The Devil hacks this: your limitation and offers you a solution that will eliminate that fear of losing what u cherish for the time being. But once you make him an ally, he can tempt that scared corner of your heart into misgivings, again and again. Regardless of competition, I have no shame in accepting that he is a smart, cunning and shrewd option whom you cannot outsmart easily. The moment you deal with him, you may have signed a long term employment under his regime.”

They stopped for a while to let me reflect upon the most recent “teachings”. It made sense. We suck up to people and wrong ideas many times so that we can protect some other things from falling apart. Probably they are the things that we love. I could count numerous such cases in my own life when the fear of losing people or things that I loved made me to make the wrong choice. I lied to someone, I tried to cover up a defect in my report etc. all in the name of protecting something bigger. We love things but we fear losing it. Often, we cannot put enough faith into it and speak our hearts, and the truth. Probably we do not understand the person to whom we lie. Or we don’t know enough about ourselves to trust in our own capabilities before we fake to impress someone. Is this the limitation they talked about?

The Devil took the baton from the Lord and continued, “I have seen many artistic impressions about us. The Lord usually looks great and I am nothing more than a caricature. Probably you should make one on how we operate. I will give you some hint to draw it. Traditionally, the Lord’s path is that of a thin line. If you fall, you need a church to get yourself absolved of your “sins”. But you are limited, and therefore the fall is inevitable. Is that my chance at ensnaring you into my subservience? Not exactly, but it does provide me a chance. Again, remember that its your choice which matters ultimately. I will come back to this later. As I was saying, the path isn’t a fine line, rather a broader road with its own share of potholes, puddles of mud and all ingredients to make it messy. Why did the Lord make such a path for you? Well, he didn’t. You constructed it yourself. You love yourself, your small worlds around you and resist changes to it. Even if you are presented with a bare fact, your kind will continue to preach the wrong to continue the favorable status quo. Simply speaking, irrespective of the relevance, you don’t like things if they don’t suit your needs. It maybe someone’s habits or some idea like earth goes around the sun but any one who has tried to break the trend has been ostracized and ridiculed as a heretic. The Lord’s world changes and so do the people and their surroundings. Haven’t you heard “Change is nature”. In the end, you create a civilization which needs lies and cover ups to exist. Therefore, the difficult potholes are not something from the fourth or fifth worlds, they are just your imperfections of your own worlds. The Lord’s path is, thus, difficult and even if the correct set of actions provide the highest good for you and your species, mankind will always be the biggest source of friction in that path. On the far end of this road, there is an unmatched bliss. A serene world, in which you and your surrounding is satisfied.”

I took a breath. The Devil continued, “I hope you enjoyed that silent breath. Now, take some hints to draw my route, or Route 666. My choices are simpler and yield quicker results. After the initial beginnings of the “dark path”, there is a magnetic pull towards me. If you desire for a result and you need to resort to wrong actions, you will always need me to protect that result. I don’t have a liking for a particular type of human. All are equal when they seek the dark path. The first step is an easy one. A small mischief to attain the desired end. Remember that I never helped to solve the problem. I just gave a different route to follow. As the problem comes back to bite, I demand bigger and bigger slips. Eventually you slip into my pocket. Easy, huh? My path ends in a black hole of remorse. I can play the devil in that black hole as well and never let you take the step to make things right. But I am usually frightened at this stage of losing an employee. Remorse is a very strong feeling, which overwhelms every other emotion. It comes from a clear picture of loss, and clarity is my biggest enemy.”

“Anyways, leave the pencil and paper. I share this room with the Lord. I think that I can give you some more wisdom. Don’t think that just because you dabbled with something unethical, you are doomed. You don’t need the church or temple to recover your heart. You need yourself. If I can hack into the fear, and give you cunning ideas to bypass the problem, there is nothing wrong in considering me a problem and trying to bypass me. After all, you cannot eliminate me. But you can always try to keep my presence in your life to a minimum. It is our game to lure and persuade humans into the evil and the good parts of life. But, ultimately, its your free choice. You can always come out clean. You can always try to change the course. It will not be easy because of the complex world you knit in darkness, but that is the only way out of the black hole.”

The Devil stopped talking and took a chair in front of me. It was a while since I had looked at the Lord. He had been pacing across the room at a gentle pace. He stopped behind the Devil and bathed me with his gaze. Ultimately, he spoke, “I didn’t create him. I created you with an imperfect mind. You will always have an imperfect life. Only the ideas can be perfect. We are concepts. Therefore, we are perfection of good and the evil. But your life, imperfect as it may be, is real. You can have one perfect idea about yourself: your choices are yours to make and they alone define the “level of perfection” in your life. All actions are not evil, neither every true thing is good. Its all a matter of timing. The only essential thing is to live in a way that provides the best environment for free thinking to grow. Take a look at the room again.”

It was the same. The wrist watch was gone. Probably my time was up. Or rather, the idea of God doing such miracles was over. There was difference in what I felt in that room. There was no mist anymore because I didn’t feel mystified with that picture of God or Devil anymore.  People say that the Devil is needed to make the Lord real. The Devil isn’t real. The Lord isn’t real either. We are.