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.