Tuesday, August 30, 2016

On Staff Meetings and Other Gullible Academic Pursuits

Since I have been writing for a while about some acts fit for a circus happening within the academia, thought that I might as well write one more as an add-on to what has been said so far.
This one is to all those departments, schools, colleges and universities who proclaim that they are conducting 'seminars and conferences' at 'state, national and international' levels-yeah right(!) for they settle for nothing less...

To the fellows who Organize:
Why? Well, here goes your modus operandi (that you thought we never noticed.): You make one of your several phone calls to establish a 'quid pro quo' with a classmate or a glassmate living across the district and convince him/her to send some of the students from his college so that you may return the favour when s/he is in need sometime later-over a secret and convenient handshake thus, a pact is signed and the deal sealed-once that part is done, you gladly go on to announce on a carefully hoisted banner that a 'state-level seminar/workshop on (some God-cares a damn) some random topic is to be conducted in the campus soon. 
After having learnt this invaluable lesson on how to fool around-now that you are recognized as one of the greatest organizers of events held in the campus by authorities who buy your crap, you would then proceed to call a person from across the state and call it a 'national-level' program. The next greatest career achievement of your life time. 
This only to proceed to the next level of marking your star-studded achievement-by bringing in a tourist (preferably a white skinned one and preferably with an accent to match that no one understands) who you pick up during your stroll into a neighbouring supermarket to light the 'kuthuvilakku' (the lamp) and call it 'international-level' program. If nothing else works, the international seminar/conference can still be conducted if you invite your neighbour, the NRI, who just returned for a short break and let him/her do the honor of whatever the otherwise tourist must have done-technically this fellow holds a foreign passport too and what if s/he has a funny Indian name(?!) we shall cover it up with his/her fake accent.
As you climb higher in this ruthless pursuit, you only seem to be falling lower, lower and lower at this only to get better and better in doing so... and hey, just to mention, we are watching.

To the fellows who Participate:
The sad lot who sit like mute animals waiting to be butchered. Who are you people? Where do you come from? What do you even get in return for being a part of this sado-masochistic endeavour? Do they push you to attend these or are you pulled towards the food and people during these gatherings? Did you even realize that if you weren't there (together with everyone else,) this endless nonsense would never happened? Does anyone stop you from walking out of this deep-pitted pit of despair if you chose to-perhaps just to make your point clear to the spineless and senseless rest? Still, you refuse to go and decide to stay. Don't tell me that its for the content; seriously(?)! Could it be then for the lousy certificate they give at the end that perhaps someday may add points required for your promotion or the required formalities to be completed to get that degree they might put on hold? Don't you already see an emerging consensus network operating in synchronized coordination feeding into each other's gullibility? Duh!

To the fellows who write and read those papers in these seminars/conferences:
Surely cut, copy, paste and plagiarize is not yet considered an art in academic writing. Has anyone really read an academic journal or anything else of that sorts in the recent past? Crap, nothing less than pure crap is what most of the writing has reduced to-in content as well as style. Perhaps those sheets of paper if not wasted, could have been put to better use-perhaps to make toilet papers-the difference being-instead of shit transferred to paper like it does in the former, one would at least be glad to see the vice versa happen in the latter. 
At the end of the day, what else do the readers deserve more than this enh?! One begets the other with the fall in quality and the whole system is so flawed and grossly stinky-with everyone together in it-that no one gets the right to question the other about each other's stink or each other's contribution to the pollute.

Staff Meetings: 
Stored the best for the last. This is one place where Einstein's Theory of Relativity would take a humble bow towards the nearest exit for sanity's sake. This is where time stretches irrespective of how relatively senseless everyone feels about what is happening before, during, after and around these so called meetings.
This perhaps is the most seeded ground for the powerful, powerless and the clueless to gather under one roof to prove 'who is who' and for the rest to understand 'why so'; this brings together the shamelessly agreeing 'Yes Sir Community' together as they pledge their loyal devotion to the ones who take their positions above-setting an example for the rest to follow suit; last yet not the least, this holds the majority-the audience-who put up with this gruesome task of waiting as they wonder with an earnest angst within about the delay in the arrival of the samosas and bajjis to fill the vacuum in a place void of any decisions or common sense that has been there for a while.
Seriously, do you even have an agenda in these meetings? Have always wanted to ask, 'How on Earth do agenda-less meetings last so long?' How are things made to appear so organized in this chaotic mess?

Until then, let me run to catch one meeting or perhaps two and wish that this time, they will serve some vadas too... 

Monday, August 22, 2016

The Politics In Tea

'So how would you like to have your tea?' if asked, one would probably start imaging the Darjeeling, the green, the oolong, the silver tips, the golden tips perhaps or maybe even the orthodox or the humble Indian chai being served and sipped with a delight... seldom would any normal one even remotely think that someone actually asked you 'on what you deserve it to be served in?(!)' 'Would it be in a porcelain cup, tumbler, clay pot or coconut shell perhaps...' Somehow, like many other finer and more uncouthed things that happen in India, this question of 'what to serve the tea in', comes with a need to reveal one's caste-based identity-an identity that could determine your dignity, respect and esteem more than anything else that you would not have to work on to deserve the same. 
It is sad yet a reality that in some shops in India and still many homes, there is a 'double-tumbler' system that prevails when it comes to serving tea. In some tea shops, people considered and labelled, 'the untouchables', are served tea in cheaper and/or broken glass, aluminum, clay, plastic or other disposable containers while dominant caste groups get served in stainless steel tumblers or shiny cups made of glazed china clay. If you are too unfamiliar or unslottable into a particular caste or due to some strange reason, your enigma/charisma is such a put off that the tea-master (the guy who brews the tea), will dare not ask to your face the caste you belong to, then your caste is assumed and to make no mistake, you will be served in a disposable cup and anything equally less. Some of these places-shops and homes included-have even separate entrance for different caste groups-usually the higher through the front and the lower through the rear. 
Why does this happen? I don't know. Why does this still happen? I really don't know. Perhaps people do find some excuse or the other to stratify and discriminate. I really do wonder if there is any scientific research done on this issue in this area to prove that majority of a particular so and so community often let glass or stainless steel cups slip through their fingers and in order to reduce loss to the enterprise, such a scheme is laid. Other than that what else can be even close to an excuse?! Ignorance? Apathy? 
Recently, I came across a canteen inside a superior college, in a state that claims to be 100% literate and in a district where a hartal can be declared at the drop of a hat for any (non)issue-where not two yet a 'triple-tumbler' system is still prevalent. Paper cup, stainless steel tumbler, cup and saucer-student, teacher, clergy-you decide who gets what. Now what do I blame it on?! Ignorance or Apathy?! or a socio-cultural idiosyncrasy in a cultural context in motion? Shame, shame puppy shame... 
Technocratic discrimination has dwindled bureaucratic lines and at times rides comfortably in the girdles of our blindness and our failure to even notice these marked stratification and discriminatory lines. This is the same hollow tunnel through which the comfort of the oppressor creeps in along with a support system that encourages these practices. Everyone is to be blamed. Some for being blissfully ignorant, some for being comfortably apathetic, some for being the confident perpetrators and others for being silent promoters and humble acceptors of these practices. Following the tea trail, the ruin of its reign seems to unfold the more and more one tries to ponder-straight from the slavery used to lay the plantation (Have you read 'What Colour Is The Soil In Munnar?!'to the system of slavery that is installed by the way it is served. 
For now, when I look around and see teachers, students and clergy sip through their tea in a hurry-choosing to carefully ignore this simple yet deliberate mistake happening around them in this canteen-situated within an educational institution-in a state ruled by a group that promises equal treatment to all, I am amazed at the complacency of the discriminated lot who choose not to stand up, nevertheless ask-for whom I write this; as the famous quote by an author unknown goes, '“I freed a thousand slaves. I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” 

Well, at the end of the day, how do I like my tea served? Pretty plain, neat and simple-like everyone else's please. Until then, my ahimsa, my way-am boycotting the canteen until they chose to change the cups along with their attitude. Chai anyone?!

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Unbelievable Fight

So of all the things, I never thought fighting could be so much fun. Should one laugh? Should one cry? Should one do both?! You see; you decide...

And for a bonus, if you are still up to it, try this too:

And let me know... is it only me or did anyone else feel that this bout would have looked better had the fighters worn frocks... By the by, these are scenes from old Tamil movies.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Photo From 1800's

On the pursuit of collecting, restoring and archiving antiques, found an old photo-perhaps the only one remaining of my great, great Grandfather-that makes it even more personal to me.

This is a photo of Rev. Devasahayam in his graduation robe and Thalappa (Indian head gear). A graduate in English Literature during 1800's, he was also a reverend in the old State of Travancore. Another treasured possession in my antique's archive is an English dictionary used by him-perhaps during his college days-a beauty of its own. 
Recently during one of my walks in the graveyard, I discovered his tomb as well-in MM Church, Trivandrum. These discoveries make you search for the person's life history-that is seldom recorded and that is very often distorted and twisted by hear-say accounts-yet is interesting.

Wish time travel was real and if I could travel time, I'd rather prefer travelling back than forward and meet some people I love-many I haven't even met-one such person I would love to hear stories from would be from this great, great grandfather of mine for all the exciting accounts of his life I have heard so far-some that ended a search for what I refer to as 'an interesting genetical coding' that like most other 'interesting' things, is proclaimed 'faulty' by most-that runs in our family-that all started with him. Hahaha! 

By the by, like his shoes-one more justification for my shoe fetish...           

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Surviving Academic Politics

Uproar in the media about a 'deemed to be Doomed' private University in Bangalore last week did not catch me by surprize. What happened was bound to happen... perhaps my un-hippocratic self won't shut from telling me, 'This won't do... we need more!'. From levying exorbitant fines for silly reasons, to watchmen at the gates being asked to feel the pants and/or lift the dupatta of girl students to check if they fit into the prescribed dressing code of the college, to unsanctioned extortion from parents in the name of fees, to horny priests and their hornier superiors walking the corridors, to the disappearance of teachers who stand up to these unreasonable woes time to time-this compound is one large circus of clowns with a guaranteed show everyday... Thanks to the clowns.

For example, there is a half-baked bald head who sits in a department or two in this compound. This guy's modus operandi is flawless, he tries to intimidate any new staff by taking them for a walk through the parking space, where an old, green, used-van would be shown off and he would go on to declare, 'I donated this... you know!'; later he would point to exactly ten rolling chairs to repeat  'I donated this... you know!, I donated that... you
know!' 'I, I, I, Me, Me, Me, Myself, Myself, Myself...' repeating endlessly; later, he would parade the staff back to his cabin to start of with his-almost eulogy sounding-self trumpeting speech (perhaps that no one else listens outside this compound and perhaps the reason why the family of this guy gave up all hope for a cure) about what he supposes must interest mankind the most-unbelievable stories about himself-for as long as his old self can throttle. If anyone dares to cut his crap, they call for his wrath and what else his little donations can achieve through his connections with the higher-ups.

Interestingly, this guy passed a post-graduation degree at a time when dinosaurs lay eggs in his backyard and claims to have a PhD but from a different discipline; adding to this, he neither has a NET certification-nor will he in this lifetime-this makes him neither fit there nor here nor anywhere else; even UGC won't be happy with this occupation of a chair which otherwise must be held by a more respectable, responsible and reasonable human. This here, is an unqualified fellow who has been given the task of running a department by the other circus clowns. With things like this happening, where every clown thinks that they are far above the UGC or any other regulating body in the country, just because they think regional-connectivity-with Varghese, Kuriens and Chackos from their gate all the way to the parliament-can get them whatever they want, what can one expect other than... Yeah DOOM! and that is what has happened so far.

Not many of the students who study there get to study what they must be and later not many of the students get a job or exit the gates with a plan-nevertheless a future-ahead of them. With buffoons like this guy sitting there to just water their egos as their central duty by holding on tight the thrones they are strapped to, how would academic concerns matter? Yet, this clown thrives and continues to run his show titled, 'I donated this... you know!' Perhaps unfit, unqualified and ineligible people like this fellow must survive on these donations they make.

These are the fellows who do nothing and get away with anything; and to show that they have of course done something, ensure that they trip others from doing anything and thereby establish a fact that they are ahead of the rest. These are fellows who would like to sit in every committee nameable and imaginable and fight over titles that other better thinking and talented people perhaps will not care a rat's arse about. These are fellows who would like to straddle on the loins of power-a compensation for their lack of it in other aspects of their rather pathetic life. Interestingly, parasites of this kind use 'buttering' as their only progressive tool in their career path to move ahead. They try to stay close to the proximity of people who assume power, investing their time in feeding the management. administration and anything that moves above them with gossip, rumours and anything that will keep them sadly entertained, sidelined, uninformed and distracted from the factuals, logic, reason and rationale; and it seems like the management likes it too and it is likes of these hypocritical liars that they like hanging around them having fallen for cheap tricks that is shoved down their throats with hints of praises about the listener to add that 'buttering' effect in between-a perfect formula, a recipe that these buggers seem to have learnt and perfected over time that seems to work for them to seat their fat bottoms in. These are fellows who get offended if they don't get the respect they demand... And that perhaps is the beginning of the large book titled, 'How academic politics originate... a field guide to dummies with no other specific talent and professors with special needs.'

What else can I pray for other than for the students who enter this campus with a hope to get a shot at the future... that they be saved and redeemed and not deemed to be doomed like this trap they walk into... 

Monday, August 8, 2016

Surviving Backstabbing

'It is not from the benevolence of the butcher, the brewer, or the baker that we expect our dinner, but from their regard to their own interest.' said Adam Smith.

'Self Interested, Self Obsessed, Self Centered, Selfish'-a few words with which I would associate people who I met last week. Realized that one picks enemies the moment one begins to give others the threat of being a competitor.
Once threatened, some will go as far as to stoop so low that they would resort to backsliding, backbiting and eventually backstabbing-yeah right, sports academicians-especially Indians, more specifically Indian academicians play-to compensate for their lack of actively participating in any form of real sports during their better part of life.

What do they get in this bargain?! At times I wonder would these fellows be so good as to be able to see their faces in the mirror? How would they look? Would they be able to see themselves? Would they be able to see the different person in the mirror-if they reflect-and would they like it? Would they be happy? What do they get to take home at the end of the day?

Yeah, the saddest part though is that backstabbing catches you off guard as it comes from the people who you consider as a part of your inner circle. After a while, you either become immune or become paranoid enough to avoid being prone to more of such attacks. Lessons taught over and over-yet, remains a lesson never learnt.

Also having been there and having had a fair deal of knives pulled out of my back-many stuck by those I mingled close with-those knives that I perhaps someday must hoist in a museum with a personalized note. Realized recently that there is no need to fear or respect backsliders as well. There is no need to necessitate the need to talk to the face of the ones who do most of the talking behind other's back.
What is the need to talk ill, and pass vicious and venomous comments about someone in their absence? Isn't that itself a sign of cowardice? Wouldn't the one's who sit to listen to such cowards see through that?
Have you noticed how these slithering, disgusting crawlies operate only in the dark too? Perhaps their need to work in the dark is necessary for their lack of presence at work during the day when the rest of us do.
Everyone must perhaps know that the fellow who gossips about someone in their absence, will soon be gossiping about everyone who is listening to them too. That is how they operate, that is how they are tuned, that is how their DNA runs and that is how their fathers and mother unfortunately made them the pests that they are and to be. My prayer meanwhile to the dear One above will be for pest control or maybe just a stronger back to pull me through this pest infested mold.

Monday, June 27, 2016

A Rose By Any Other Name

These days, somehow, the idea of classification, stratification, categorization, reservation-no matter what you prefer calling it, at the end of it, the idea of discrimination-surrounds me.

Aparna recently was on a visit to Korea to present a paper in an(other) "international" conference. Upon her return when I asked whether the idea of living in another country fascinated her, she said that she would like to visit not settle. She felt that the hospitality of people lasts for not too long and lasts up until the natives begin to feel that there is 'some other person' in their territory-talk about guests and meat stinking after three days! What interested me was not about the natives yet about a young western girl (performing the duties of a secretary) who had been assigned to take care of the logistics during the conference. The white girl ensured that the fifth floor, from where the view was the best, was carefully allotted to the whites (only whites), keeping the next floor for the Asians (the browns) and the lower floor for the Africans (the blacks). Except the whites, the rest were restlessly uncomfortable with this logic of separation and everyone's discomfort was choice-fully ignored; and you know why. God! I thought... it must have looked like stripes on the United Colors of Benetton though I didn't think out loud and chose to reserve my comments.

Personally, recently I had a humbling experience learning that the word 'discrimination' is quite offensive and too difficult a 'word' for people to digest if one uses it to communicate a more offensive, difficult and deliberate 'action' of the 'other.' I was soon to realize that, you would be advised-with utmost sincerity by the 'other'-to use more 'diplomatic' words to portray the violence without offending the violent. This diplomatic use of words assures that perpetrators of violence and injustice, remain unoffended and unaffected and receive the required sanction to carry on with what they do sans hurting their ego, conscience and sentiments; meanwhile abolishing everyone who would take a chance with words and offend them or perhaps prompt their conscience and attempt to stop them from doing what they otherwise do with comfort. Safe and sound in their serene shangrila of immorality, assured uncouthed impunity by thrusting the idea of diplomacy on others. While claiming to live in a civilized world, the cowardly few, carry on with their most uncivilized actions with no one to offend, question or stop their cowardly action with nevertheless-words-or perhaps the lack of it. It seems that the want to live in a "civilized" world (whatever that means) applies to only them and no one else...

Just imagine a situation where you are driving on a dark, curvy road at night and you just forgot to dim the car's headlight for an approaching vehicle. Do you think the guy who is driving towards you is going to take it easy, digest your mistake and cheer the idea of being diplomatic and polite?! Of course not! Before the vehicle zips by, your entire family's history, geography, dignity and honor would have completely collapsed with the choicest use of well rehearsed words, leaving you with time for a thoughtful reflection for a while within the comforts of your car and the audience of the ones travelling with you. What emerges out of this (so called) 'filthy, vulgar, impolite and undiplomatic' use of words is that the next guy who will be driving past you, is assured a dimming of headlight as a response sans a reminder or a need for request. An automatic and classical conditioning to respond to a stimulus. Thanks to the unreasonable, undiplomatic and indecent bugger(!) my action becomes more reasonable, diplomatic and decent... isn't it?

Diplomatic communication, I think is a trick on us. While we try to scramble, juggle and trampoline our brain into choosing a 'better' word, like we do in a game of scrabble, those smart cookies who hide their sins under the blanket of diplomacy, play the game with no one to stop them and escape in the cover of diplomacy and claim for civilization. What else will one call that racist, discriminating, secretary from the west-reliving in a prehistoric world with a retarded, apartheid-mindset-who threw people on different floors based upon their colour-anything but... 

'A knave; a rascal; an eater of broken meats; a
base, proud, shallow, beggarly, three-suited,
hundred-pound, filthy, worsted-stocking knave; a
lily-livered, action-taking knave, a whoreson,
glass-gazing, super-serviceable finical rogue;
one-trunk-inheriting slave; one that wouldst be a
bawd, in way of good service, and art nothing but
the composition of a knave, beggar, coward, pandar,
and the son and heir of a mongrel bitch: one whom I
will beat into clamorous whining, if thou deniest
the least syllable of thy addition.'?!* 

Note: ...if anyone has a problem with the use of words, kindly take it to Sir William Shakespeare. *lines extracted from King Lear by William Shakespeare for my lack of 'diplomatic' words to refer to the otherwise wonderful Secretary.

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Verse Libre From A Prison

Every time one runs...
runs from something,
towards something else,
leaves behind what once he called 'home'.

A home, at times, a prison for many.
To escape, to run.

Far away into the distance,
to turn over a new leaf, to start a story afresh.
Stories stitched into a tapestry-
gathering tatters some from here and some from there;
stories that shackles hold and forbidden told
held together with stitches running bold.
Man runs; a man made to run.

An abode for a while, a menage perhaps (?!)
or a space for a bit to relax.
The farther he runs, the more the pain
with shackles that restrain.
Yet, man runs.

Alas! he runs into a sanctuary green
serene and sound it only seems.
A prison in its own making far away from home,
a glorious grain of a story retold,
thoughts of another prison just enfolds.
Man runs.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Misinterpreting Nietzsche

Very often, as often as we often do, we take a few lines (out of context) and we dare to commit the blunder of maligning the very nature of the person who spoke by highlighting the parts sans understanding the whole.

Friedrick Nietzsche, said to be a devil, an anti-Christ, a wicked man who was supposed to have said, "God is dead" actually did not say (just) that; yet if people had (only) read the whole, would have perhaps understood that he said just the opposite of what we remember him for. Here are the infamous lines that made him famous...

Said Friedrick Nietzsche, “God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him. How shall we comfort ourselves, the murderers of all murderers? What was holiest and mightiest of all that the world has yet owned has bled to death under our knives: who will wipe this blood off us? What water is there for us to clean ourselves? What festivals of atonement, what sacred games shall we have to invent? Is not the greatness of this deed too great for us? Must we ourselves not become gods simply to appear worthy of it?” 

which is not the same as "God is dead." or is it?!

One more misunderstood person manipulated in History by a maligned lot.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Truth About India

India has been a lot more than a country of slums, snake charmers, street magicians doing rope tricks, men with turbans, women with pots on their head and hungry children-no matter how hard the world tries to project or stereotype it to make it fit into the limitations of their taste and mental capacity. India has always been and will be a land filled with wonders and surprises: The founding father of surgery may be traced to Sushruta-a man who taught and practiced surgery on the banks of the river Ganga, who also authored the Sushruta Samhita which had volumes consisting of procedures to perform complicated surgeries 2600 years ago;  our contribution to the field of math is mentionable too-from giving zero its value to calculating the value of pi and by introducing the concepts of trigonometry, algebra and calculus, place value, the decimal system and quadratic equations, we have counted ourselves in; Spices, herbs, ayurveda and yoga have helped in the prevention and curing of illnesses at its root cause for centuries in India; even most of the religious customs followed in India are science-backed; like sitting cross-legged with a straight back that helps in digestion or the early morning ritual of drawing kolams (geometrical designs) at the entrance of the house that helps aid hand-eye coordination; every character that has ever been portrayed and will be in audio, visual or print, are said to be traced to fit into a character that appears in the two great Indian epics-Ramayana and Mahabharata. India was home to the Indus valley civilization, a group of settlers over 5000 years ago when most of the rest of the world were still nomads. The world’s first university flourished in Takshila in India in 600 B.C with over 10, 500 students learning over 68 subjects that included Vedas, languages, philosophy, politics, astronomy and medicine besides other interesting ones as well. The first residential university in the world with over 10, 000 students, 200 teachers and 300 lecture halls is the Nalanda University which was started in the fifth century in India. With its strong value and belief system established on non-violence, India has never attempted to invade any country so far and further provides safety to refugees escaping religious and political prosecution from Sri Lanka, Tibet, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh. From Aryabhatta’s revelations about astronomy to Chanakya’s revelations about state administration-from Vatsayana’s Kamasutra to Tagore’s Gitanjali-from ideas of Dharm, Gnaya and Neethi to the concept of Ahimsa and Nirvana (ideas that will lose its meaning and essence if attempted to be translated)-from dance to drama-from methods of agriculture to methods of irrigation-from logic to reasoning-from emphasis on the rationale to the emphasis on the emotional-from management to administration-from ethics to values-from philosophy to astronomy-from medicine to games and sports-from music to martial arts-from art and literature to culinary taste-India has a bounty of information hidden within the safe threshold of its vernacular limitation. It is a land rich in diversity and a true Union of States with every State having the capacity to serve its array of intelligence, knowledge and wisdom in its own unique way.

Despite all these, India still struggles to break free from the shadows of colonialism. Even the first and world-renowned Indian Institute of Technology in Kharagpur was set up in the Hijli Detention Camp where many patriots were imprisoned during the British rule in India-which may be an ample metaphor for the context. Indian’s obsession with cricket, a game left over by the colonial masters, happens over the repudiation of its own games such as kabaddi and hockey-which is analogous to the way western educational models have been taken up, upheld and glorified while renouncing their own system of education. If only and only if India like Finland chose to alter its course and set right its path and return to the basics and took pride in its own design that would hold its uniqueness and identity that may find contextual value and relevance and decides not to submit to universal confirmation to authority...

Said Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan, Indian Philosopher and President-whose birthday on September 5th is celebrated as Teacher’s Day, ‘Nations, like individuals, are made, not only by what they acquire but by what they resign.’

If only India realizes…

(Excerpts from A paper I am working on to be presented at an International Conference in Korea this month.)