Tuesday, August 31, 2010

College saga

I have come close to deleting this blog more than once but something held me back. It is stupid to update your blog after a year and have nothing important to say but I will just pretend that I am writing to myself, much the same way one talks to oneself and lift the writer's burden dangling over me.

The last time I wrote my blog, I was a student. Now a year later, I am working. Does it make any difference to my writing? Probably not much. I am still as confused as ever, in fact even more now. But there are certain things I can say with much more clarity and conviction now that I have made the transition, been there and done that.

First, no matter how frustrating, mediocre, dead or pointless you thought your college life had been, you would eventually realize that college is where you had some of your happiest memories. Once the realization sets in, which is not long before you leave college, you will try to find excuses to drop by your campus, the very same place you spent four years curisng.

You will long for the carefree college days when the biggest problem you could probably face was deleting your 20 page assignment. Trust me, you will never know the kind of carefree joy you felt in college once you join the rat race of professional life.

Second, teachers, even your most hated ones, are not the worst kind of people in the world. In fact, they are saints compared to people you will encounter outside the closely guarded world of your university. At hindsight, you may even start liking them.

Third, excellence does not guarantee success. That works only in university not elsewhere.

Fourth, you will never develop the kind of friendships as you did on college. But your friends will move on. So will you.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Sikkimization, what the hell !!

Every body in Nepal, whenever they are trying to show the imminent dangers of growing neigbourly interest in the country, never forget to bring up Sikkimization. It is the ultimate threat to the nation's sovereignty, they say. Perhaps, they are reminding how the threat is still very real. The annexation of the once independent Himalayan kingdom, Sikkim to the Indian Union happened not very long ago. So, it is natural for the analysts to get a little suspicious at times. I don't like to make political predictions but my take on this is that its very unlikely. I mean at this age imperialism does not come in the form of forceful conquest. Gone are the days of colonization. Economic and cultural imperialism have given new ways of establishing dominance over countries. ANd when this is happening so smoothly in Nepal, why would India stake its repute in the international arena once again? I mean when the four and a half century Portugese rule in Goa was finally brought to end by the Indian Army in 1961, Jawaharlal Nehru had a hard time recovering his tarnished repute and credibility.

Anyway, when I was in Sikkim last month for our college tour, the rhetoric of Sikkimization constantly played on my mind. I looked at the well managed city of Gangtok, the denizens' almost ferocious adherence to the rules and regulations, cleaner air, cleaner sky. It was a big joke amongst us that gazing to the rare sight of a clean blue sky would have our neck permanently bent by the time we return. A well perfected tourism system. Hydro power plants being constructed everywhere. The look of content on people's faces. I am not exaggerating. Every Sikkimise we met were all too eager to tell us how things were changing, how their lifestyles were changing for the good. Topographically, nepal is not much different from Sikkim. There are similar potentials in the fields of tourism and hydro power development. But may be we don't have some one like Pawan Chamling as they have in Sikkim. Someone who can dream big, and translate visions into reality. May be we don't have a stricter legal system or the respect for rule of law or the culture of accountability ingrained onto us at all.

I couldn't help thinking that Nepal can learn quite a bit from Sikkims experience with advancing the country. Of course, I wouldn't want a political Sikkimization of my country. But if this is what Sikkimization looks like, I am on for it.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Our elusive rastriyata

It is really vexing that most of our so called nationalism surfaces only at times when a particular neighboring country attempts aggression upon our national pride. The otherwise silent Rastriyata bursts with its full exuberance only when someone else tries to show us our weak position by means of their unwanted patronage or deliberate insults (everyone remembers the Hrithik Roshan, Madhuri Dixit, Chandani Chowk to China, BJP, Shiv Sena, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and blah blah blah kanda).The irony is, by some arrangement of the geopolitical situation or whatever for that matter, we are weak. Those who beg are always weak. Those who cannot construct a 10 kilometers motorable road without the "help and cooperation" of the donor nations are always weak. Look at our roads, our flyovers, our hospitals, our universities, our hydropower projects, our glorious NGO sanskriti, even our toilets, I have started wondering do we have anything substantial to boast about that is really ours, that have been made from purely Nepali money and effort? Forget these, our national budget, to be precise, is largely a contriution of our too nose poking neighbors and friends. Why care about Rastriyata then if it is limited to chanting slogans and vandalising what is left of our national property?

I don't believe that we don't have the money or the expertise to do something on our own. We simply don't have the will. We have become so much entrenched by our Magne sanskriti that we have started believing aids and donations are somehow our natural and inalienable rights and we don't hesitate to demand for it. Little do we realise how helpless we have become in the hands of these foreign players. It is said that a leaf cannot rustle in Nepal without the knowledge of our Southern neighbor. With what seems like more than a growing friendly interest from our Chinese brothers , I suspect the leaves will now have to ask for their permissions too if they intend to rustle henceforth. The Nepalis do not seem to have enough hawa, I guess.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

Back to the dark age

Forgive me for beginning with a cliche but Nepal is,my friends, the second richest country in water resources and these days the fact crosses my mind every single time any of my work gets messed up due to the power cuts. Twelve hours a day without electricity would not have been unbearable if we were not so much hooked to its uses. More than a convenience, it has become a necessity. I can only imagine how the already dwindling industries in the countries are surviving.

I don't enjoy preaching pessimism but what am I supposed to do, given the sad state of affairs? The economy is on the verge of collapsing, thanks to the decreased production in industries. I t is only a matter of time before the effects of power cuts would start to be felt acutely. Most of the people are only complaining of the day to day inconvenience. But, hospitals are already complaining of inability to operate medical equipments and life support systems. Meanwhile, the leaders and lawmakers continue to bask in apathy as they enjoy uninterrupted power supply in their residences and offices.

I can't comprehend the moral ground for a government to stay in power when its people have to suffer more than 12 hours load shedding a day. Now we hear they are talking about some thermal plant, another way to impoverish the country and push the Electricity Authority to eternal debt. The fervent eagerness for a diesel plant that will sell electricity for Rs. 36 per unit only raises question on the intentions of the leaders. Enough is enough. It is unbelievable that even at this critical juncture, the leaders and bureaucrats have not stopped lusting for the hefty commissions. The country can sure go to hell, right? Unfortunately, the rebel government does not seem any less corrupt than the prior ones. Instead of forwarding the procedures for buying electricity with India at only Rs. 4 for unit, they are deliberately trying to complicate the situation and force diesel plant as the last resort.

The Electricity authority did not let a single MW of power add into national transmission in the last eight years. The reason being, commissions could not be adjusted as per their wish. So, they thought lets stop the plants altogether, till a lucrative project comes around or till they can consolidate the desired commissions. Sinister but true.

No matter how much we talk about New Nepal ,the truth is the newer Nepal is dilapidated than the old one. With the same old diseases of corruption, mediocrity and fatalism, I don't know how the country can reinvigorate itself. I can only hope that god help this country. But, as we saw even "Pasupatinath le hami sabai ko kalyan garun" could not really help. SO what hope god has for this newely secular red country, and that too a Russian-Chinese hybrid god?

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Whenever I hear someone calling TV the idiot box, I think that person has not discovered the joys and advantages it has to offer. For most people it seems TV can never be associated with rationality or anything positive for that matter. My mother falls among one of those. With my mom, TV viewing is nothing but a complete waste of time, energy and creativity. Nothing frustrates her more than to see me hooked to TV. But that is the only thing I seem to be doing most of these times. It is not that I have given up on books but since the last few days I have consciously turned a blind eye to all those books waiting to be read in my shelf. And since I am reading only one book and that too which I am not so enthusiastic about, I have returned with full swing, to my another great indulgence: TV. I am busy catching up on all the series that I had missed and even with the load shedding, I have managed to watch at least one movie a day.

Needless to say, I am a total TV buff. Ask me any program in any channel and I will be able to say something or the other about it for the most part. Apart from getting information (mainly through listening to news), most people will watch TV as a form of escapism whenever they are not occupied by anything else or when they need to relax or wind up. Some people will watch TV just as part of a daily ritual. Some people watch TV for the sake of it.

I watch TV because it brings to me something I long for, a connection to the world. I know it sounds weird but watching TV gives me a sense of being connected with people, places and events just like reading does although not on the same level. With reading, the connection goes deeper. There is a depth and passion in reading that cannot be matched by plain TV viewing, which most people believe is passive. Nevertheless, it does bring a sense of not being alone, of being linked with the outside world in some odd sort of way. I know this is not a real connection and that my reason only attempts to reaffirm the vice of TV as bringing social isolation. I also know that I can be criticized for giving in to some pseudo nonexistent relations to real one. Even so, my appetite for TV only seems to increase.

In fact, I believe TV has made me a very inquisitive sort of person. I enjoy watching the History Channel showcases and Discovery Channel specials on Culture, People and History. Thanks to TV, I can watch programs on pure science that I as a Social Science student would not dare to delve in otherwise. I mean I don't know if I would understand anything about Theoretical Physics or Quantum Mechanics if I attempt it through reading a book. But televised programs which are targeted towards the lay audience do very well in packaging the difficult information in a very interesting and simple way. I remember understanding in real sense the theory of relativity not in a Science class but through a TV show in National Geographic. No, I could not grasp the concept in my Physics class. I did it through a very vivid and informative presentation of space time nature in a Nat Geo documentary.

There is much talk about cosmopolitanism. I believe TV makes one more Cosmopolitan in a sense that you are exposed to and introduced to diverse cultures and lifestyles through TV. Consequently you become more tolerant and acceptable towards other people. There is always a wide cultural gap between people fostering stereotypes and discrimination. Watching Ugly Betty in Star World makes me think the Americans too have the same vulnerabilities and concerns as we do, that in some basic way we all are the same.

It seems I have jumbled up so many excuses to stick to the supposed Idiot box that I don't need to go on with this piece as an attempt to curb my guilt. Despite its vices, despite the bitter remote battles, I still love my TV.

Monday, December 1, 2008

An editor's nightmare

What can I say? I have been so wrong on my assumptions. Recently I found that journalism is not so easy, in fact not easy at all. And, I am not saying it after I have been on a really challenging job or anything of that sort. In fact, I have come to the conclusion after my first real journalism assignment. Imagine that, I am already feeling disheartened after my first try and what a try it was. I stood there clueless, trying to get my interviewee to speak and was constantly feeling ill at ease. It was not even I was ill informed about the subject I was writing on. I had gone there with prior research. I had meticulously made the questionnaire. I had followed or at least attempted to follow all the standard practices that one needs to, with all those small talks and breaking the ice with the interviewer and so on. Again, it was not even that the respondents were hard to speak with. They were pretty comfortably offering me the information I was asking for, yet with every words I uttered I could feel my throat choke. What was I doing.? I was asking them all the wrong things and despite the questionnaire at hand, I managed to forget asking some very important details. When I came home and started working on what I had found, I felt lost.

I was at loss of words for the things to write. How do I begin and how do I say what to say?

I figured out all those news stories we read every day and think are so simple are not that simple afterall. Yes, yes, they are just a bundle of 5Ws and H in the inverted pyramid structure. But, believe me, doing that is not simple. The final report? Disastrous.

In the class, I could see my teacher erasing words after words. My report was less a report and more an imitation of a newspaper editorial and that too a poor one. It all seems so easy but it is really difficult to put yourself aside from what you are writing. There is always a bit of temptation to pour in that view of yours, however irrelevant, idiotic or unwanted it is. But even if my views are right and justifiable, it doesn't mean I have the liberty to stick that in, right?Afterall, who am I and why should anyone make the trouble to read what I think? I am perfectly aware that I have no right. Still, words seem to betray me when I am writing.

With my failing, I have started questioning once more am I right in choosing this profession? Do I have what it takes? Now I have more sense to realize it but when I jumped into this field, the only thing I was thinking was, yeah I could write. Somehow I got this weird idea that just because you can write ( a self hold belief in need of serious revision) and were troubled by injustice, corruption, impunity, war and what not, you could be a journalist. Of course, I know it now that it takes more than that. And, possibly I don't have it in me. I don't have the flair, the passion, the ability to communicate and the spark needed to be a journalist. My writing is like an untamed horse. My views even wilder.

As much as I want to, I feel I am incapable of being a journalist. And as much as I don't want to believe it, its turning out to be true. There is always a difference between what people want and what they can be. Sometime back, when a person had suggested this thing to me, even if I did not express at the time, I was fuming with anger. I just could not believe, someone could say that to me. But even if mean, may be his words contained some element of truth. May be the person could see what I was not seeing in myself. May be I don't have it in me.

The only consolation for me is I could still try to cultivate those things in me. I only hope, the desire to do that remains in me. That I don't get tired or frustrated or just drift away from it. That I don't stop believing in myself. That I don't start saying again- I can't be so let me be. Because, after a long time I had finally started saying- I can be so help me be.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

I still believe....

If some people whose views hold much prominence are to be believed, then I am doomed. After knowing that I can neither earn money nor adhere to the high morals of journalism I had so come to appreciate, because of some inherent professional trade off I am told, I am left to questioning my purpose of being a journalist. Afterall, if it is neither public nor self I am serving, what's the whole point in becoming a journalist? In a journalism class, after a well meaning teacher discussed how objectivity is not possible in practising this profession, I have lost the one last ground on which I had intended on being one. Truth and justice, he tells are only ideas. If they are so, then why I am wasting my time in a university? Why am I basking in the self righteousness every journalism student possesses in some degree for choosing a profession that goes beyond self interest to uphold the interst of the voiceless and disadvantaged.

The good news is I don't believe a word of it. Foolishly or not, I am firm on sticking to these ideals and believe they are possible and become a journalist afterall. Stupid, pretentious or downright emotional fool, I am not buying a word of journalism not capable of being objective. True, journalism today can hardly be called balanced or objective but that does not keep it from being one. To say, the structure and nature of jounalism is such that it can never be objective is submitting and then approving of the irregularities that goes on in the profession.

The central argument was since journalists are essentially taking sides, even if it means taking the side of the voiceless, journalism is not objective. My objection is if you are taking the side of privileged or the oppressors or those in power unduly, then you become unfair, not when you take the sides of the oppressed and disadvantaged for helping them achieve the equality they rightly deserve. Of course there are always debates on what comprises of oppression or injustice. But if you are ready to and wanting to open your eyes to it, then you will.

At this point, I remember the analogy of the beam balance being given to describe the inequality of people in the society. At one end are those in power who weigh down the powerless greatly. The job of a journalist comprises in trying to equalise the balance. If a journalist gives no consideration to this inequlity and treat both the groups with a sense of detached neutrality, then he or she is as much guilty of perpetuating that injustice as anyone else. If a journalist has to take the side of the voiceless, in trying to equalise this power balance, then he/she should. And that will still be as much objective as anything can be.