Thursday, September 27, 2007

Daily Blurt

It's interesting how people find ways to make you feel like shit,
even when you are doing a far better job than them.

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Sunday, September 16, 2007

A fresh start...

I am with AdfactorsPR , Mumbai, since about a month and a half now. I began my journey with Adfactors and Public Relations field exactly on the August 1, 2007.

I am a very unlikely candidate to take on the challenges in Public Relations. I say this because my interests and world-view is contrary to what is considered “ideal” for PR. I am a self confessed introvert, a voracious reader and very laid-back as an individual. I have read a bulk of Noam Chomsky’s work and feel ‘participatory economics’ can be a credible alternative to the prevalent socio-economic structures.

These tendencies can be considered as counter-productive in PR environs, as most of the crisis in Indian social scenarios emanate from individuals with liberal leanings. But, these ‘rabble-rousers’ have a relevant point, a perspective which benefits the larger interests of a society.

There are many schools of thought as to what constitutes the core of Public Relations. The perspective I can relate being in this profession to was put forth by Madan Bahal, MD, Adfactors, in a conversation with the new inductees in an orientation programme. The following is my understanding of it and one of the reasons why I am in PR.

In an emerging economy like
India, post-liberalization, disparities amongst the constituents of society is increasing by the day. These essentially increase due to gaps in communication from top to bottom or vice versa. In this situation, where conflicts are on the rise, a PR professional acts as an ‘arbitrator’.

A PR professional in
India, is an ombudsman, who assess the situation and facilitates a dialogue between the parties at discord. He brings the clashing interests to the talking table and ensures a holistic solution is thought of which is in the larger interest of the environment within which they exist.

The number of skill sets one is supposed to possess is mind-boggling. One is required to be a good conversationalist, a decent writer, a structured thinker, an impeccable researcher, an amateur sociologist, an all-round communicator with an overall understanding of emerging media trends and a lot more.

It is a demanding career option and it can be overwhelming at times. But, there are two very important qualities that are essential for a PR professional.

Firstly he or she must have immense amount of patience. PR functions in chronic chaos. Almost everyday you will find innumerable instances which are candidates for case studies to validate Murphy’s Laws! So one must have the patience to tread through the gallows and conquer the maelstrom. At the very least, it is a necessity to survive at work till the end of the day.

And secondly, a person must have a child like curiosity to delve into and understand the core areas of functioning within his professional universe and outside. Without knowledge the rest of the plan is redundant. In fact, to plan one requires relevant, precise and in-depth information. This is possible only if a person has unrelenting hunger for information and an open mind to understand it.

PR is a fertile breeding ground of stories, emanating from the basic core of human existence which I find intriguing and also disturbing at times. Like everything else in life, it is a very potent learning experience

Relevant links:

Participatory economics
Noam Chomsky
My Blog

Friday, August 31, 2007

Disturbing pics on smoke packs to curb smoking!

Continuing my tirade against a hypocritical Anti-smoking Bill proposed by Anbumani Randoss (see previous post)

The ultimate nanny state, good ol’ England, has gone a step further in messing with people’s minds.

The Telegraph Online publication headline reads:

‘Cigarette packets to display smoking diseases’

Alan Johnson, the Health Secretary, unveiled the move conceding that the written warning was loosing its impact.

By the end of next year, every cigarette packet must carry one of 15 stark images on the effects smoking can have on the human body.

One image shows a pair of healthy lungs next to diseased organs, with the warning: "Smoking causes fatal lung cancer."

Firstly, kudos to the English Minister, at least he had the cajones to raise the bar higher. Our bureaucrats were left yelping “Ji Mantijee’ helplessly as the invertebrate minister went ahead with his diabolical scheme of ‘doing nothing’ .Nothing substantial at the least.

Here’s an idea Anbu, why don’t you put your money where your mouth is and do something real, than merely harping about public health.

But, the real conundrum lies in the fact that he can do very little to make others quit smoking with his warnings and ‘danger’ signs. Even the distinguished gent (sic) from Britain may just prevent people, youngsters especially, from taking up smoking.

News flash messieurs, they know what’s wrong with smoking and that they are headed towards a bleak pus-filled-degenerating-lunged future and also bad breath to add the very least.

Smokers will quit when they want to quit. When they really really want it for themselves. Their reasons may be varied but that’s the general idea.

So quit preaching and leave the smoking masses alone to rot in their tobacco stench, till they want to rise above the smoke cloud and see the world around them.

Did some one say 1984?

Also see the really sick pictures in the link featured in the article linked above. It's a treat...

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

No cajones...Mr. Minister?

A Bill seeking to provide for pictorial warning on tobacco products with the option of displaying skull and cross bones on their packets was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday.

In a mockery of "good intentions" Mr. Ramdoss makes it optional to display the dreaded 'skull n bones' which is a sign largely feared by the devil-in-disguise tobacco lobby.

To add insult to injury he says that the optional labeling is offered "taking into account the religious sentiments expressed by certain sections of society".

Come on Anbi have a heart or at least the balls to go all the way.

With your logic the "Danger" sign should also be made optional or allowed to be modified as per convenience. That will make the world a lot safer.

P.S. No offense to all you smokers out there. Just pointing out the obvious hypocrisy. I am sure none will be taken as it hardly matters. Right?

Link to the story

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Harping about Harry

A ‘leaked original edition’ of the final Harry Potter adventure ‘The Deathly Hallows’ may be available on the net. Even if its content is legitimate, an e-book cannot replace the charm of paper

The release date of the last book in the Harry Potter series looms large in our collective media space and the hysteria of appropriating a copy for oneself has reached its pinnacle. Last I checked in the news about a million copies, and still counting, of Potter books are booked in advance.

Amidst this madness, original copies of the last edition are doing the rounds of shareware programs and even via zipped email files. The ‘originality’ of the e-book is a contentious issue. The author may not invariably remain J.K. Rowling in all those editions, contrary to what is printed. A talented person with an active imagination and well versed with words may have filled in the chasm left behind by Miss Rowling.

A person fairly acquainted with the internet can avail of these ‘leaked original version’ of the book with minimal effort. A search on google or any popular shareware sites will satiate the lust to know and be the first one to read the hallowed final account, if not in the world then in one’s own clique.

But is it worth it? The experience of reading a well written book is much more than internalizing information in the presented sequence. The medium in which it is offered is the very characteristic that defines that experience.

A book to me more than just a collection of black ink lines on a white paper. An e-book cannot emulate it. The feel of paper is distinct. The rustling sound made while exploring the depths of a plot. The sweet smell of a new print or the damp musty fragrance of an old edition. It all adds to the enigma of reading.

The journey that one undertakes with the turn of a page and the gradual progression of a mesmerizing narrative revels in the ordinary and yet charming demeanor of an innocuous book. The same cannot be said of an e-book. The strain of staring at the ubiquitous glow is disturbing at best. It is like staring at a bulb and trying to read the fine print on it.

In matters of academics, communication and even small prose, the computer can be very a simple and inclusive instrument. But while reading a novel or any work of fiction the characters are lost in translation amongst the embedded binary and the drone of processing. It just doesn’t feel right.

The techies might call me a hypocrite for turning on the very medium that empowers and I don’t blame them either. I love reading blogs online and the elusive International Herald Tribune web edition. But in matters of fiction my heart craves paper.

I will wait my turn and lay my hands on the copy when I am assured of time on hand. With the rains lashing out at the frenzy in which we exist, I long to curl up on my favourite couch, tucked away in the warmth of a blanket. Away from the madness, immersed in a beautiful world the memories of a journey will linger on.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Taj Conspiracy

Excerpts from fellow blogger modred1980’s detailed blog Conspiracy theories (My world):

Note: The blogger states facts as they are known and clarifies that “the right to believe it or treat it as a hoax is your purview”. The post speaks of the commonly held knowledge that Taj was built by Shah Jahan, a Mogul Emperor, in memory of his lady love. It is the other theory that is interesting and not often heard. Read on. (Also see, further reading)

Story behind Taj Mahal: Fact or Fiction

The Taj's Other Story

If you have ever visited the Taj Mahal then your guide probably told you that it was designed by Ustad Isa of Iran, and built by the Moghul Emperor, Shah Jahan, in memory of his wife Mumtaz Mahal. Indian children are taught that it was built in 22 years (1631 to 1653) by 20,000 artisans brought to India from all over the world.

This story has been challenged by Professor P.N. Oak, author of Taj Mahal: The True Story, who believes that the whole world has been duped. He claims that the Taj Mahal is not Queen Mumtaz Mahal's tomb, but an ancient Hindu temple palace of Lord Shiva (then known as Tejo Mahalaya), worshipped by the Rajputs of Agra city.

In the course of his research, Oak discovered that the Shiva temple palace had been usurped by Shah Jahan from then Maharaja of Jaipur, Jai Singh. Shah Jahan then remodelled the palace into his wife's memorial. In his own court chronicle, Badshahnama, Shah Jahan admits that an exceptionally beautiful grand mansion in Agra was taken from Jai Singh for Mumtaz's burial. The ex-Maharaja of Jaipur is said to retain in his secret collection two orders from Shah Jahan for the surrender of the Taj building.

For the complete article follow link.

Further reading:

Taj Mahal is a Hindu temple: Professor P.N. Oak

Was Taj Mahal a Hindu Temple? : The Photographic evidence

Taj Mahal or Tejo-Mahalaya – Media Monitors Network, Faisal Kutty

Just wondering...?

Taj Mahal was inducted into the ‘New7Wonders’ list on 07/07/07 via internet and SMS polls, an initiative undertaken by a Zurich based firm. On the subsequent day, Times Now informed its viewers of the inclusion in a Top Story ticker which read:

‘Taj retains its place amongst the new seven wonders of the world’

The word ‘retains’ may as well be a scripting error, but this is highly unlikely. It reflects and in its connotation perpetuates a long held myth that Taj Mahal was ever a part of the Seven Wonders of the World.

The original seven wonders were listed by the Greeks millennia ago which consisted of only Greek monuments. (see IE link below) Since then no such comprehensive list has been drawn which has global consensus. Neither does the latest poll which has come under harsh criticism by experts for not being democratic or scientific in its methodology.

They, read Times Now channel and other media outlets, need be careful of getting their facts right and not create history in topics where none exists. This casual acceptance of long held beliefs and its subsequent apotheosis exemplifies the tendency to reiterate the most convenient discourse.

In a profession which prides on its relentless pursuit of cold facts the current trend leaves a lot to be desired.


People hail laurel for Taj – The Hindu 09/07/07

Don’t feel guilty if you did not vote for Taj. It does not matter. - Indian Express 07/07/07:

I didn't vote for Taj and I am proud of it

The Indian Express front page dated 07/07/2007 carried a box asking us not to feel guilty if we did not vote for Taj to be included in the new 7 wonders list. It informs us that the poll is carried out by a private Zurich based firm called New7wonders “with no sanction from any international body.”

It suggests that the firm would want us to believe that the poll is about “awareness and monument appreciation” It further goes on to inform that the firm takes home one-fifth of the revenue earned from SMS voting and phone calls of which 50% is pledged for conservation marked with the tag “spin-off”.

Also, Times Now does a volte face and asks its viewers whether the Taj Mahal need be endorsed via SMS polls to be considered one of the wonders of the world. Ironically, it asks us to SMS our views whether an SMS poll is required to endorse Taj. One is tempted to ask if any of the SMS polls on news channels are relevant altogether.

The intentions behind these news stories seem noble but once the surface is scratched the warts are exposed. It is the final day and the results will be announced in the evening. It was common knowledge, as to who the promoters of the event were, namely a private firm. It just was not given enough prominence.

So, why did it take so long to uncover the murky underbelly? Because then the SMS polls could not be validated otherwise which would lead to a loss of revenue for these prolific media outlets. After about a week of promotion the Taj fever reached its crescendo due to constant campaigning and “in national interest” messages from mobile and internet companies. Not once did they bother to emphasize the fact that it would not matter.

UNESCO was asked by the firm for its backing, but it genially refused. So the fervor with which the media promoted this ‘hoax’ is an alarming reading of the market dominated mainstream Indian media. Some may argue that it isn’t a lie, the polling is real and New 7 wonders will be announced (and they may have been by the time this is written).

But it wasn’t the complete truth either. A lie of omission is nevertheless a lie. How many people would have voted for Taj if they knew the complete facts? The polls do not have an international standing, neither are they democratic nor scientific in methodology. Taj may not receive any funds per se for its upkeep nor assistance in planning the urban sprawl surrounding it. As for the awareness bit, most of the people are not even aware of the other contenders in the run up to the last seven.

By tomorrow the verdict will be out and we will have our “SMS wonders”. Taj may or may not be one of them. The media will be either jubilant in its inclusion or defiant and defensive questioning the necessity of third party endorsement to acknowledge the beauty of the monument.

Once again the media, across the spectrum, chose to toe the line when it could have put forth the complete facts. Think WMD and US media and the future suddenly seems bleak. Now, in its efforts to score perceived brownie points the media will leave their viewers/ readers dumfounded as to why they voted in the first place. And once again, the media won’t have any answers.

Indian Express: Don’t feel guilty if you did not vote for Taj. It does not matter.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Why supporting the ULFA makes you smart

At the onset, I would like to clarify that I do not support ULFA or the brutal murders that they have carried out in recent times. Also, I feel that they need to rethink their rhetoric and refine it to reflect present realities and not merely dwell on demonizing the capitalist as they have so often done in the past.

Now, getting back to my theory that ‘if you support ULFA it makes you smarter’. This may sound absurd and even sensationalistic but I assure you my intentions are not to convert or influence your thinking towards radicalism. It should be understood that this is a theory I propose and you may vehemently disagree. I encourage it. There are a few considerations before I get into the meat of the matter.

Firstly, ULFA or United Liberation Front of Asom is a symbol that I choose to represent radical groups or peoples movements backed by rational ideology. It is not specific to the left or right of centre political thought. I chose ULFA as I thought of this when I was reading about their history and because I am free as an individual to make that choice.

Secondly, by support I do not mean blind faith or unquestioning reverence. In fact, I intend to suggest just the opposite, critical thinking being one of the necessary attribute which justify the support.

Finally, supporting such an organization will not ‘make’ you smarter but is a pre-requisite as stated in the earlier point. By smart I do not mean a person with a very high IQ but someone with reasonable grasp of economic and political realities and the willingness to think beyond his or her preformed notions.

I think that a person inclined towards such movements has the will and the curiosity to know more about his or her social surroundings. This compels them to move beyond the structure created by parenting and institutionalized thinking. The very fact that a person is willing to explore rather than accept his realities is a testament to independent thought.

It would require a person to forgo the comforts ensured by the system if he or she follows the path laid out in front of them. I do not wish to insinuate that it is an easy task which requires no skill, intelligence or hard work. But yes, it is relatively easier to internalize and implement those values as the systems to do so already exist.

As most prevalent opinions discourage such leanings the task of understanding the motives and objectives of such movements is difficult. It is a constant battle to understand and if at all accept the principles or necessity of such activities. Far more difficult than what is generally heralded as a universal truth. For instance, western countries are far more developed as civilizations in present times. To refute this generally accepted notion, one has to delve into the finer nuances of the claim which is an arduous task, than to accept it as it seems obvious.

Also, mainstream media and key opinionators where mass media is not all pervasive like in India, although this scenario is rapidly changing, do not represent such causes and movements, ideologically or in action, in equitable proportions as compared to accepted views. So it is difficult to know about them without initiative, effort or interest which again is a trait likely to indicate critical thought.

A majority of breakthroughs in human thought have been possibly only by flaunting the conventional wisdom of the time. Without penetrating the mould we would still grapple with the imperfections of Newtonian physics, a non-traditional view in itself, and be oblivious to Einstein’s theory of relativity which is also now being challenged.

It is a trait that we all posses to question and evolve from our closely held beliefs and perceived facts. In this context, a person inclined to support radical movements and subjects established notions to an intense scrutiny before aligning with it. The process that one must goes through imbibes a real world-view formed by self determination and critical thought.

So, supporting ULFA will make you smarter as much as watching football will make you an athlete. But yes, it does prove to be a valid indicator of individuality and independent thought. One can argue that these values in themselves are not worthy of imbibing and rightly so as per their perception. But I choose to disagree on this one and of course with regards to this piece so may you...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Banter - a word too many

“What’s with the crazy typing? What are you writing, your autobiography!”

If I had a nickel for every time I heard someone say this to me, well, I would have a lot of nickels. It would be pretty amazing though, an achievement in itself, as it is relatively difficult to find nickels here in India.

Its equivalent, one paisa maybe or even a rupee does not evoke the same drama as a nickel does. It must be a western thing. Not John Wayne kind of a western, but Samuel Huntington’s clash of the civilizations non-eastern western.

Anyways back to the point, if there is any and even if there is it mostly tends to be of little relevance. The point I was making with the quote above is the generic assumption, even if it is merely a reiteration of something commonly heard, that a person has the maximum to write about in his autobiography.

According to them, an every day e-mail, random thoughts, chatting via the net or an Orkut scarp cannot possibly involve as many words or thoughts typed or written as an autobiography would entail. Any other topic would not measure up in prominence as oneself. A narcissistic generalization only a human mind is capable of making.

A tirade against Bush 43 (that is Dubya, for the uninitiated), global warming or communalism, for instance, is not important enough. Musings about one’s love may necessitate such unexpected verbosity but they are hardly sustainable, something I agree with. As it were, the pinnacle of human articulation resides in introspection and self-aggrandizement (yes, it is a word and not made up!).

As a Yiddish scholar and humorist Leo Rosten proclaimed, “Every writer is a narcissist. This does not mean that he is vain; it only means that he is hopelessly self-absorbed.”

Cradled in the frivolous nature of the comment is a deep rooted truth that most of us seem to be aware of, we like talking/ writing about ourselves. It carries over into the most unassuming of our humorous observations in a candid, pertinent sort of way.

So may be there some truth in that callous comment. A person would probably have lot to write about when it comes to their story. Some may have nothing to say at all. Most of us do feel that we have lived a fascinating life which demands to be documented with the utmost respect and attention to it.

Others may not find it amusing or worthy of so many words, but it still must be told. May be some stories are better left alone, untold.

And yes, I was writing my autobiography, well something close to that anyways. . .

Monday, May 28, 2007

Tales of a tumor IV – The final act

Part IV - The final act

Before surgery

It is the moment of truth. At this time tomorrow, I will be in an alien place, anticipating for the worst to happen. The closer it gets to the final stage, the more unreal it seems. I hope to wake up from this nightmare to a simpler reality. But I know I won’t.

I will be admitted today by eight in the evening. The surgery is scheduled for tomorrow, morning I presume. I could be the first person to be operated upon and the doctor might be a bit rusty, not “broken in” for the day which is not a pleasant thought. Then again, the idea of a spinal anesthesia followed by a two hour extraction, hardly ever is.

I have been warned by many well meaning persons, not to rush into anything. Consider alternatives to the surgery, if possible and to take my time if I still felt like going ahead with it. I feel I am ready. I need to put all my apprehensions behind me and do this. I can not wait anymore, it is very frustrating. Especially, when time drifts away slowly and I am compelled to be a mere spectator.

I shifted my focus from Biotechnology and Horticulture, the stream in which I am academically trained in, to journalism. I did not want to be a journalist. I just hoped to write and may be with a stroke of luck get published. I perceived myself as a fairly centered bloke who was immensely interested in making wines. I wanted to work on a farm, learning about the trade, right here in India and grow with the grapes. Write about the seasons, the people and the wine. It was a simple plan.

Certain events would change the course of my life. The Bombay train bomb blast was the turning point which convinced me to get trained in professional journalism. Hone my skills and contribute in my own little way. The focus was still on telling stories, but in a different context.

This excruciating wait before I can delve into my chosen and cherished field is what frustrates me the most. This situation prevents me from wetting my teeth in true reporting for months. Patience is a virtue, only with an end in sight.

It is a 2 hour surgery I am told. It will take 8 days before the sutures come off and 3 weeks before I can walk around normally. The total recovery period is about 6 weeks. This is assuming there are no complications. I am a big fan of Murphy’s Laws, at this moment they seem like an anathema. Being skeptical does not help, especially if hope is all you’ve got.

I am taking Thomas Hardy’s Jude the obscure and Zaidi’s Black Friday along with me. Che Guevara’s biography by Andersen and Inheritance of Loss by Kiran Desai are also in contention. This heady mix of tales of rebellion, emotional complexity, derision of society and a human experience with dollops of reality should keep me good company.

I stare at the next two weeks. As my mind gets clouded by apprehension and anxiety I can only ignore the reality that I may have to deal with after this ordeal. It gives me the much needed time to reflect to introspect. To read and write more than what I do now. To think and to live. But it does not come without the guilt.

P.S. Pardon me for rambling on and getting nowhere with this post. That’s kind of the point anyways.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

All the King's Men

Indian Presidential elections are just a guessing game with the common public having very little to do with it.

As the debate over the Presidential elections intensifies, the rationality behind the hype eludes me. No doubt, the person occupying the highest civilian post in India is a matter of immense interest, but the parameters within which the discussions are held are skewed.

The sense which is largely created by media that these elections are relevant for the common masses and in fact are driven by their perceptions is false. For, the common man on the street does not have much to contribute in the “selection” of the President.

This post is deliberated upon by the electoral college, as mandated by their respective political parties. There is no real choice as the probable candidates have political backing and are nominated by the parties themselves. Even if one extends the concept of representative democracy the final choice is always with consensus of major political parties and a “suitable” candidate is elected.

In this context, the SMS polls and surveys are merely a speculative exercise with little influence or significance to the election. The notion that the President must be non-political and rooted in real politicks is absurd.

If a true democratic candidate is to be elected then these elections should be conducted in the people’s domain, where citizens cast their votes and elect their President. The recently concluded French Presidential elections may serve as a paradigm. Also, the President’s office will have to be aptly empowered to validate such an exercise.

Until then, the media should call a spade a spade. These elections are merely a matter of political calculations and not a refection of people’s choice. The talk shows, debates and polls which ask the citizens to ‘choose your president’ are futile.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Tales of a tumor III - Comfortably numb

Part III - Comfortably numb

“When I was a child I caught a fleeting glimpse,
Out of the corner of my eye.
I turned to look but it was gone.
I cannot put my finger on it now.
The child is grown, the dream is gone.
I have become, comfortably numb…”

Pink Floyd

The thought of impending surgery has taken over my consciousness for the past few days. Every aspect of my life as I know it is clouded by the influence exerted by this seemingly ephemeral event. The scar will be permanent, though.

It is this stagnation that bothers me. Solitude is chosen while isolation is imposed. My tumor has left me somewhere in the middle. Neither is this state chosen or unyielding. It can be altered by choice, by being “pro-active” as Covey would have offered, plugging his 7 habits. In my case it wouldn’t prove as effective as promised. The reason being I like it this way.

Woody in his infectious neurotic candour, in Annie Hall, categorizes life as being “divided into the horrible and the miserable. The - the horrible would be like, um, I don't know, terminal cases, you know, and blind people, crippled. I don't know how they get through life. It's amazing to me.

You know, and the miserable is everyone else. That's - that's - so - so - when you go through life - you should be thankful that you're miserable because you're very lucky to be miserable.”

This misery was and still is necessary. I need this misery to write, to think, to feel alive. I feel I am addicted to it. As I had written earlier it is important to be miserable at times.
Its bitterness lingers on my lips, on my tongue, till I ingest it.

Now, the line between the two is quickly blurring. The line is a 10cm incision in my left calf. It will determine my classification. It separates the morose from the morbid.

Fear of the unknown is like no other. Even in the most insipid moments, it excites, paralyses and often than not makes one think. Mind roams free. Transcending walls of rationality it conspires with dreams to sabotage thought. In the grip of fear I seek solace. It is this fear that facilitates expression of innate desires which otherwise remain suppressed under the burden of reality. When cornered, clarity prevails.

I can be fairly anally retentive, especially when it comes to analyzing life situations, poring over the minutia of everyday existence. In one of these many moments I realize that I could have done nothing to avert this or change anything if I could or wanted to, for the better. Shit Happens.

What is more disturbing or comforting, depends how you choose to look at it, is my perception of life is just the same. Nothing has changed. This may sound absurd, but I always felt that when I have a tumor (yes not if but when, had the feeling long back!) things would change. I would have some sort of vision or insight into life, the kind emanating from extreme despair. I have none yet.

This stillness gets to me. My plans for the future are on a hold. I am asphyxiated by my own ambitions which refuse to stand down and have to be coerced into submission. There are times when I want to take the hit and roll with it. I have begun to become accustomed to my current state of being. May be I always was. This familiarity, in the face of turmoil makes me feel like I have become comfortably numb.

It restricts me and also sets me free.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Tales of a tumor - Part II

Part II - The reactions

“Every action has an equal and opposite reaction.” –
Newton’s first law of motion.
When informed of a tumor, the myriad reactions that come forth are engaging, humorous, overbearing and occasionally heartfelt.

The thought of a person having a tumor demands a reaction which elicits a gamut of emotions that engulf an entire spectrum of human experience. These mandatory utterances, at times an insipid silence, have a potent effect on the variables that elucidate ones existence.

These may range from the pragmatic to the obscure. It also serves as an indicator to a person’s immediate response to a crisis or an awkward social situation, depending on ones proximity to the distressed being. But mostly they toe the predetermined social propriety instead of voicing what is truly felt.

The shell shocked

This kind is left speechless when told about the tumor. The word itself has such a tremendous impact that everything else, including the bearer of the lump, becomes secondary.

This kind is prone to shedding copious tears and also ascribing blame to something or someone for the condition and most likely it is going to be you, God or both. A lack of any information on the subject except things internalized via media and movies is a special characteristic.

The overtly caring

This kind is generally nice by nature, may be a bit too nice. On being informed a moment of silence is followed by a gracious offer of “How can I help?” when very little can be done. If one accepts these innocuous proposals then they get to work with a missionary zeal to make you feel better, no pun intended.

A feeling of asphyxiation may soon take over as you will be left with little room to even wiggle your toes. Right from an umpteenth number of phone calls to the tracking of your bowel movements, this category seldom spares you from the details. I do not intend to be sexist but old aunties and clingy girlfriends are more prone to this peculiar behaviour.

The pseudo concerned

This type will censure you, usually in a high pitch voice, for not informing them earlier.
Terming you as callous and without any respect for the relationship you share with them, they will threaten to terminate all contact.

Barely having recovered from this onslaught you decide to apologize in spite being the patient here. This is when you will be informed of their paucity of time and truck loads of work to be finished. And before you can remember the last time they called, they are gone. Just like that.

The know-it-all

This person is usually well read. It could be a dissertation on the amount of pesticide to be used to ward of farm rats, rest assured he would have read it. This affliction to peripheral knowledge, apart from his professional area of course, leads to what I call an ‘oracle complex’, the condition of knowing it all.

When told about the condition, this individual will most likely tilt his head upwards with the stem of his spectacles in his mouth, in grave contemplation. He will grill you about the nature of the disease, giving an occasional smirk if you do not know a particular detail, which will be diligently pointed out.

Suddenly inspired by a mysterious celestial force he will launch into a discourse about the disease and how one can circumvent the condition. Peppered with unnecessary factoids that hardly seem relevant to you, this person will single handedly cure you, in his mind that is.

Here the focus is not on advice but on the brazen display of perceived talent and infinite knowledge which is expected to be ratified with a “You should have been a doctor!”

Also, you will be subjected to an “I told you so” at the end of the monologue. This will be followed even after your diagnosis and medical treatment, at every step, irrespective of its success or failure.

The alternate thinker

More than a trait, this is a condition. This person ardently believes that cancer or AIDS is a matter of perception, a ploy by the westerners to degenerate our minds. So, terms like ‘allopathy’, ‘surgery’ or anything even remotely related to modern medicine is blasphemous, a curse borne by Humankind.

This man’s panacea lies in age old traditions and indigenous medication. Ayurveda, Unani, Chinese medicine, Reiki, holistic healing et cetera is a part of his core belief system. In his case he may choose to give it a miss and try the occasional asprin to relieve headaches, but that is hardly the issue here.

The point is to convince you about the many benefits of local organic medicines which are said to have no side effects. Whether you try it or not is immaterial.

The advisor

This category may be a composite of all of the above or a unique entity by themselves. The common factor that determines their reaction, almost making it eerily similar in all these individuals, is the obsessive compulsion of giving advice.

Irrespective of any prior knowledge about the condition they will offer advice because that is what they feel is the right thing to do. It stems from the innate notion that one should help in any way possible or at least suggest so with a plethora of pointers relating to general hygiene to the type of treatment.

Also, this type has an instinctive ability to relate any matter under the sun to your disease. Like global warming and its possible effects on your surgery or your thumb length’s implication on recovery period. This radical theorizing need not have logical reasons in support. The idea here is that at least I contributed something.

The nonchalant

This type is the opposite of the ‘shell shocked’ category. They hardly seem to care about what bothers you or the kind of disease you have. For the sake of social niceties they will ask about it, and then continue to talk about what bothers them.

This casual observer cannot do much to make you feel better or worse for that matter. Also, his inane rants take you away, even if only for a moment, from your preoccupation with the tumor. This type is easier to deal with as compared to the ‘overtly caring’ or ‘the know-it –all’ but can be frustrating when in genuine need of solace or a kind word.

The somber and pragmatic

These individuals are the best of the lot. They are aware of their own limitations with regards to medical knowledge. They let you do the talking and listen intently. They will even read about it online and discuss the pros and cons of a treatment.

Without any baggage or assumptions they deal with the situation as it comes. Also, they are a repository of emotional and moral support. At times they can be very grave and contemplative but they will try their best to make you smile.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Go on…tumor me!

A tirade necessitated by the discovery of a tumor. These are my musings.

Part I

My knuckles are sore. The intensity of the scarlet bruise changes in tandem with the needle in my wrist watch. I look away to try and distract myself. It has been 20 minutes since I sat here, waiting for my turn.

There was an uncanny calm. Not the kind one would expect, especially outside a clinic. Seems like a slow day, I thought, or was the little child wailing not loud enough. A constant throbbing grasps my attention. No it is not my head, neither is it the right hand bearing the above mentioned battered knuckles. It was my left leg, the left calf muscle to be precise. An obtrusive bulge wherein nestled the tumor.

I have a tumor. It’s benign. It is called ‘intramuscular lipoma’ not to be confused with the infamous and at times fatal lymphoma. A lipoma is docile. A recluse of sorts, I guess that’s keeping in line with its bearer. Its more illustrious, hence undesirable cousins which are malignant and which often undergo metastasis will strike the fear of God. At the mention of their name compulsive mortals quiver, dreading the worst, assuming one believes in it of course, God, cancer or either.

As the condition seldom is fatal, the anxiety I felt that day seems to be misplaced, yet justified. With the baggage that I carry genetics or otherwise, I felt the impending catastrophe would be in accordance with my errors. But, alas, it is but a mere deposition of adipose tissue, namely fat, that ails me!

My penchant for drama aside, I was truly wrecked at the thought of surgery, however routine or safe it may be. Anything that requires a sharp, pointed object to be thrust in order to penetrate any body part cannot be termed as ‘a routine’ not for someone at the receiving end, at the very least.

The decision to taste steel, not in course of a dinner mind you, hangs in balance due to self-anointed enthusiastic doctors, healers, messiahs of God…well what ever that may suit their taste. It is interesting how a medical situation triggers the latent talents in almost everybody except the doctor himself. He will ask you to get tests done and encourage you to go for a second opinion. The rest surrounding you, however, are ready with their brand of cure, from massages to leeches and more.

That is the reason why we do not insist on universal Medicare in India because apparently everyone here is a doctor, capable of treating everyone else but himself, as suggested by several excursions to neigbourhood clinics. Healer, heal thyself!

My family physician, an ex-military corps surgeon, whom I was waiting to see, now a general practitioner, has advised against convention, not to remove the tumor. As it causes little hindrance in my movement now and will possibly remain uneventful if left alone. While the other doctors, whomever that I have consulted offer the opposite.

To be or not to be under the surgeon’s blade, that is the question.

As I stared at my bruised hand that morning, it became clear that I have not quite dealt with how I felt about the tumor, the surgery, the lay-off from work and an indefinite wait before I roam free again. A wooden door bore the brunt of my suppressed angst. I write to heal. I write, therefore I am.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Press release



Irregularities in the presidential and Vice Presidential elections

Mumbai, 8th May 2007.

Writ Petition [WPI 219/07] in the Supreme Court
on the serious irregularities in the Presidential and Vice Presidential Elections since 1974, which is posted for admission.

The petitioner Dr. Leo Rebello, World Peace Envoy, and one of the Presidential aspirants from Mumbai, will address the media and elaborate on his writ petition and its historic significance in Indian polity.

This writ petition filed and admitted via the internet is an oft ignored legal recourse open to the citizens of
India, a facility which not many people or advocates are aware of.

Dr. Leo Rebello will address these issues while speaking on his Presidential candidacy. Also, he will respond to citizens and media questions.

A press conference is being held in this regard on
the 8th of May 2007 at 3.00 pm at the Conference Room of Mumbai Marathi Patrakar Sangh (Next to Press Club), Azad Maidan, Opp. BMC Office, VT, Mumbai 400001.

“In such a gargantuan task of cleaning the Augean’s stable of Indian politics, mired in corruption, casteism, communalism and criminalization of politics I will need every right thinking citizen’s help”, says Dr. Rebello

Justice Corps cordially invites you to participate in this historic press conference.

Dr. Leo Rebello is a qualified Holistic Healer, Educator, Author and Social Scientist. He has delivered over 10,000 lectures in 63 countries and written 30 books. Director of Natural Health Centre, Bombay, President of AIDS Alternativa, Fellow of European Medical Association etc., he has been nominated for the Nobel Prize in Medicine for his pioneering work on AIDS and Holistic Healing.

Dr. Rebello is the founder/president of All India Letter-Writers Association, a 27 years old NGO of conscience-keepers of the nation. He is also the President of Litigants Welfare Forum, Hon. Adviser of Justice Corps, Founder of All India Voters’ Panchayat, and a prominent leader active in public life.

Winner of World Peace Ambassador Award 2004, President of World Constitution and Parliament Association, Vice President of International Association of Educators for World Peace and is on the Governing Council of UN-Habitat.

If you would like more information or to schedule an interview with Dr. Leo Rebello, please call, Mrs. Kashmira Rebello at 022-28872741 or Mobile – 9869828619.

E-mail at | .
Official website:
Postal Address – Dr. Leo Rebello, 28 Sunshine, Samta Nagar, Kandivli East, Mumbai – 400101, Maharashtra, India.


Sunday, March 25, 2007

Raigad Dairies III - Culture conflict

Raigad Dairies III – Culture conflicts

I apologize for the latitude in posting this third part in this series. This piece is dedicated to Ronald Rebello (5 May 198223 Feb 2007), without whom I would not have these myriad experiences and decide where I want to be. Thank you.

Part III – In retrospect

I stood there, staring at the grand bungalow with a beautiful flowing garden. And to think this area is mired by water scarcity. A chill runs through my spine, I can feel its iciness licking my feet. A little pup looks up at me with innocent eyes, as if to convey the painful memories this place has evoked in his sullen soul. I was in front of the Zamindar’s (Landlord’s) house.

He is quite a powerful man with political clout is this hinterland. The CM, they tell me and other state dignitaries, visit him when they are in these parts. It was disturbing, as I stood there with Laxman’s words reverberating in my ears. My breath quickened and I began to perspire profusely. I felt seething rage seep in, challenging my capability to maintain mental equanimity and objective distance. Was this just a human reaction? Was I now, one of them?

Culture shock
The world is fast becoming a global village. The prevalent influences which we are subjected to in our routine realities threaten to override our indigenous identities. The nature of the debate is dichotomous and so must be seen in context of micro situations.

I was quite exited to experience the local culture and dance forms. So, after quite a bit of cajoling the locals agreed to ‘perform’ with the pre-condition that we take part in it. We gathered near the courtyard, surrounding it we waited in anticipation. They said that they would play the “banjo”. Now, I was curious!

A band with a synthesizer and orchestra drums, often seen in weddings, suddenly took form. A loud din of familiar pulsating tunes filled the air. The village men started gyrating to the rhythm al la Ganesha festival procession in Mumbai. I gasped at the vigorous and at times crass moves, an obvious external influence that was internalized.

Prabha Tirmare, the Nirmala Niketan professor traveling with us, explained. “We were shocked to see them…Their dance form was quite different sometime back. It was much more rural and poignant. The rustic art form seems to be lost…The women have started wearing relatively modern clothing and plucking their eyebrows…it is gradually changing”

The day before, I washed my face in a corner, by the roadside, in front of the temple we had slept in. In a stereotypical yuppie movie twist, the rock I thrust my head over turned out to be a tribal deity! I was grossly embarrassed and after apologizing profusely, I quietly walked ahead. It was genuine ignorance that made me commit this act. At this point I felt diminutive, a complete moron.

The students who took part in the ‘traditional dance’ were much more demure and ‘rural’ than the villagers. Was a tradition lost forever, diluted beyond recognition. Were we overtly romanticizing village life?

The visiting NGO’s and social groups, in a way introduce their own culture, assumptions and outlook towards life to once culturally pristine region. How much impact do these people have on the native culture? And how much of it is valid in the name of progress?

This brought me to the basic question, should we leave the tribes and in their untarnished land in a sanctum sanctorum state or should we try and change, influence and educate them for a “better” quality of life?

The other tribe
This visit would have been an ethnographer’s delight. This was a unique opportunity as two intrinsically related groups were juxtaposed with each other. This symbiotic mode of mutual necessity and understanding is something that has always fascinated me. The tribe in question, far less intriguing but equally mystifying, on this trip was the tribe of “social workers”!

For a long period of time I failed to understand why individuals who have no particular reason or an obvious logical motivation, become socially inclined. To work for the masses, to ascertain their rights and place in our feudal, hegemonic social order. These individuals, by a large majority, come from the upper crust of class-caste disparity, with nothing in common except for a red blooded heart.

Most of them on this trip could be defined as left/liberals in their political leanings, except for a few towards the extreme left. Largely there is a restrained disdain towards those who consider ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ or CSR as a viable option to achieve social justice. Yes, the cliché of a “cutting chai” with a cigarette in hand, vociferously debating the future of the masses and the destiny of our country holds true.

What most intrigues me is the focus on rhetoric rather than actual actions, which seems to be the rule rather than exception. Those motivated by real action and grass root level implementation are few and far between.

The similarities between the two, the locals and the social workers, are quite conspicuous. For instance both groups as a norm seem to be skeptical of the higher ups in government and the corporate businesses, to a point where it is almost perceived as an existential anathema. Also, the generous and expressive open faces and lots of smiles, is a striking similarity, which bring about an acute sense of camaraderie and a sense of belonging. Almost like a closely knit extended family, a tribe.

Amongst the differences, I would list the eternal angst that a social worker goes through. The conflict of belonging to places, regions, ideologies and people beguiles an individual. As opposed to the relative simplicity of rural life, a social worker is burdened with the prospect of reality, in comparison to his own. He/She bears the cross of knowing and the eventual realization that very little, if at all, can change.

Social groups like the ancient tribes before them, focus on the most humane and basic necessities as a means of creative sustenance. Singing, dancing, arranging skits and informative plays brings out the lighter side of these visits; these activities are not only highly recommended but a necessity.

Folk songs are an intrinsic part of their activities. Interspersed with socio-cultural messages meant to educate and motivate people, a reminder of their cause. These songs, sung in the local dialect preserve the essence of local culture. It integrates them, individuals coming from different parts of the country. Bound by rhythm, mesmerized by words which speak of deprivation, loss in a far of land, about atrocities and crime by people against their own, these songs leap out to tell forgotten tales.

Above all they speak of hope and restitution. They say, we too shall prevail, one day at a time. We too live under the solemn blue sky, with aspirations equal to your own. We too live in a time that refuses to acknowledge humanity, but not for long.

Next - Conclusion to the three part series

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Raigad Dairies II - Tribal instinct

Part II – Tribal instinct

Tomorrow promised to be more antiquated and I could not have been more exited to experience it. …

The most pleasant revelation, when I woke up next morning, was the difference in the air. It was much more clean and fresh. My asthmatic lungs were overjoyed. It was a welcome change from the carbon monoxide spewing city that challenged their very existence. I wonder what makes people leave this serenity to migrate to ugly, congested and brutal cities, more on this later.

If there is one thing that I am grateful for in the city, then it has to be sanitation and the toilet. My morning dilemma was complexed with the thought of ‘doing the dirty’ out in the open. Even though some may romanticize the whole ‘being one with nature, when nature calls’ thing, I for once was skeptical.

Armed with toilet paper (yes, couldn’t help it…) and water we scouted the area. We walked for what seemed like an eternity till an apt zone with enough foliage to camouflage our deed, was selected. After we scoped out the area for snake holes and other insects, it was time.

To avoid further onslaught on one’s senses, I won’t delve into the details. But yes, it is an interesting experience nonetheless. An act and an amenity that we almost take for granted. It is a must for those who feel secured in their claustrophobic walls, to sense this vulnerability. It is disconcerting yet intrinsically human, organic.

Who knew shitting could be so difficult!!!


The trek to Kelat from Varathi was brutal, a 3 hour long walk through a rocky terrain. The steep slopes and treacherous climb up a hill took a toll on all of us, but we persevered. Some of us harden by daily field work found it relatively easier. The view from the top was magnificent. As though nature’s blue prints were laid out in front of us.

The sun spewed its anger, smiting flesh that dared to challenge it. Saddled with a heavy bag breathing became a task in itself.

This is the exact route that the adivasis take to reach rationing shops to get their groceries, medical clinics and to seek other necessities. A river runs through the middle of the route, which becomes hostile in the monsoons. A fallen tree acts like a bridge to cross across the stream. They traverse this distance, carrying their sick and even pregnant women to the clinic in Roha.

We reached the outskirts of the village and were greeted by a small water reservoir, which was a sight for sore eyes. Also, there was a huge land mass covered in greenery, a vegetable patch, I was informed by Ganesh, which was a sharp contrast against the brown contorting terrain. Like an emerald set on a golden broche, it gleamed with pride.

There at last

We were greeted with eager eyes and shy, gingerly smiles. I was first taken aback by the warmth and friendliness of the people. I remembered the hostile, territorial faces back in the city, ready to snap at an inkling of perceived invasion of privacy. Here, there were open doors, open houses, open faces and open smiles.

We kept our bags in a room allotted to us and proceeded to explore the area, talk to the people.
The poverty was conspicuous but so was pride, in their way of life. I felt slapped in the face by reality. It was time to wake up.

Laxman’s story

We gathered under a huge Mango tree in the middle of on open field, to begin our session of discussion and sharing experiences. Laxman Sutak, a tribal youth and Sarvahara karyakarta for seven years now, joined us. He is a 3rd generation tribal, as far he can remember or knows. He narrated his experiences and of his community to us. We were later joined by the elders of the village.

The Khot (Zamindar/ Landlord), Kulkarni duped the villagers and acquired their land. He initially lived in Roha and established a coal mine around Kelat. He lived in Kelat for a while under the hospitality provided by the indigenous people.

When a survey was carried out to establish land ownership, he made the officials believe that he was the true owner thus confiscating tribal land. He made the adivasis labour in the fields for a majoori of 15-20 rupees.

Also, he initiated a ‘makta’ system, revenue (tax) earned on the crops, where he decided a particular percentage of quintals to be given to him. Even though the farmers were not sufficient grains for survival, they had to pay the tax.

He exploited the people and beat them up on a regular basis to a point, Laxman says, that getting beaten cruelly or being raped became a routine. The complex relationship that the tribals shared with zamindars made it difficult for them to rebel. They depended on him to bail them out if caught by the police, for their sustenance and survival. He had a strangle hold on their psyche and every aspect of their life. To go to a doctor, lawyer or police they required his consent.

Initially 150 families lived in Kelat, now only 50 remain, as most have left due to the rampant exploitation.

Sarvahara worked on empowering the local people to fight for their rights. A police complaint was lodged against the landlord. It was decided that for 1 year ‘makta’ would not be paid. Also they demanded right to own their land.

He was booked under Prevention of Atrocities Act, 1989, but was immediately released on bail. Two trucks full of people from neighbouring villages and the landlords touts, tried to remove the villagers from their land. The fight got violent and they were hitting the villagers and beat up two women mercilessly. Ulkatai called up the police and demanded immediate action. Till they came, the violence continued.

Laxman tells us of a similar struggle when he was small, in which his father was mercilessly beaten by the Khot (landlord). He died a month later, due to the injuries incurred. His mother told him about the incident as he was just a little boy then.

At this point I began to wonder about the relevance of my own reality. We use words like “life”, “death” and “survival” as rhetoric, but these are questions intrinsic to their daily existence.

To be continued

Monday, January 22, 2007

Raigad Dairies I

Part I – A reflection

I visited a tribal hamlet “Kelat Wadi” as a part of a workshop. Looking back in retrospect, I feel such rural exposure visits are a must for city slickers like me. It puts life in perspective.

I stared at the myriad specks of light; they never did shine so brightly. Adjusting myself, rather uncomfortably, I looked straight into the darkness surrounding us. Ronald, Sanket, Sagar and I decided to rough it out, get a feel of the outdoors. We lay in our sleeping bags and blankets, telling dirty jokes contemplating the impending morning dew which would add to the penetrating chill.

It was the first time I slept in a chawdi (village courtyard), vulnerable to the environment around me, free from the ubiquitous walls. The star filled sky mocked my limited vision, as if to signify the mysteries that lay beyond my comprehension. It is a very humbling experience, subtle yet effective.

I began my journey on the 11th of January, with a group of students mainly from Nirmala Niketan and Tata Institute of Social Sciences. It takes 6-7 hours to reach Roha station from VT (It still remains VT for me). I wondered what lay ahead of me. Ronald Rebello, friend and a social activist, briefed me about our itinerary for the next two days. From Roha we would move to Taregarh, a small village, were we would stay in the community school and local temple. The next morning we take a bus to Varathi and then begin the long trek to the small tribal hamlet, Kelat Wadi.

Some of the students were placed here as a part of their field work and were the coordinators of the trip. Many were and still are associated with the local people’s movement active in Raigad called “Sarvahara Jan Andolan”, spear headed by the fire-brand activist Ulka Mahajan, since 1990. Kelat was one of the villages that were assisted by Sarvahara (literally, one who has lost everything) in solving their socio-cultural problems and was “liberated” as one of the locals put it.

Katkari – a brief intro

Ganesh Sodaye
, TISS student and associated with the movement for 10 years, filled me in with the history of the movement and the social structure prevalent in Kelat. The sangathan actually started functioning from August, 1990. The three adivasi tribes residing in Kelat are Thakar, Warli and a majority of them Katkari.

The traditional occupation of making ‘kaat’ (used in paan, made from betel leaf) from Khair trees which gave them the name Katkari was inadequate for sustenance as the forests depleted. Not having any special skills in farming, the Katkari were alienated from the mainstream and were forced to migrate to seek work for livelihood. This led their exploitation as the contractors took advantage of the landless, jobless labourers and trapped them in a vicious cycle of debt-bondage over the years.

Six months of migration leaves the children largely uneducated growing up on wisdom that comes from surviving on the fringes of life. Schools and formal education are not a part of their world. Daily meals constitute of bhakri (thick bread), rice and if possible some watery dal. Until sometime ago, his expectations were limited to these bare essentials for his survival.

The perennial instability and faced consistently with treachery, it has become difficult for this community to put their trust in anyone. Sarvahara took a holistic approach to their problems and worked on the principle of empowering the adivasis to fight their own battles. This has led to a radical change in the social and cultural life of this community.

The community dynamics are very complex, Ganesh explained. Hierarchically, the Thakars occupy the top position amongst adivasis, followed by the Warli’s and the lowest being Katkari’s. The Dhor Katkari, a non-vegetarian section is looked down on by the Son Katkari, largely vegetarians. This presumably happened due to the Hindu cultural influences specific to this region where pure vegetarian Brahmins are generally considered more pious than meat eaters. The divisions persist but are gradually on a wane.

Journey continues

We approach our destination in Taregarh. Sheilatai, a local activist, helps us find accommodation. Due to the community service done here by Sarvahara and the group we are allowed to stay in the school and the village temple, both modest places in terms of space.

Here we could see influences of the Hindu religion on the indigenous place of worship. Tribal Gods now had Hindu deities for company, a recent development I am informed, due to cultural proximity of the two.

We end our day, under the watchful eye of the local deity. I see a big lizard crawling on the wall, not the most comforting sight. Also, a dog keeps barking all night, ensuring that I was beady eyed and drowsy next morning. In the silence of the night, rumbling of a truck could be heard. Tomorrow promised to be more antiquated and I could not have been more exited to experience it.

to be continued...

Point of origin

I do not wish to write, but my silence stifles me.

It has been a month since I entered my personal musings, mundane ramblings or general thoughts in these pages. The ‘sabbatical’ has left me with more questions than answers. Then again, I suppose that is a good thing.

I intend to be far more honest in this space than before. Instead of skimming the surface of deep rooted thought which I may not have necessarily expressed are open to scrutiny. It renders a disturbing feeling, but is immensely satisfying at the same time.

I began this year by traveling and being in the most unlikely places that one would find me in. Amongst people! I begin my writings by trying to recall my experiences during the same.