Monday, January 18, 2016

Book Summary : An Ordinary Person's Guide to Empire.

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Arundhati Roy’s ‘an ordinary Person’s Guide to Empire’ (collection of her 14 essays or speeches she delivered in 2003-2004) became the first book, I finished in 2016. Thank you Ujjwal Acharya Dai for the gift. As Promised to Ujjwal dai here’s my summary of the book.
The book is a chilling & eye-opening account of the struggle of people against "empire"(cartel of self-interested corporate organizations & power hungry "pro-development" governments). How the other side of story of this struggle is continuously being repressed by continuous show of empire-side stories by "fair" media lead my same people against whom this resistance is waged in the first place. I felt her political/social writings and speeches are nothing short of illuminating and amazing and I regret reading Arundhati this late, ( I wish I hadn’t ignored her essays ), some of the essays from the book are eye-opener for me.
“The Loneliness of Noam Chomsky” (My favorite essay from the book) is Arundhati’s tribute to one of the world’s greatest and most radical intellectuals, Noam Chomsky, who showed us that nothing is what it seems to be in the free world. He showed us how phrases like "free speech", the "free market" and the "free world" have little, if anything, to do with freedom. And he analyzed the penchant of the United States to commit crimes against humanity in the name of "justice", in the name of "righteousness", in the name of "freedom". 
The essay “Peace is War” deals with the importance of the "free media" in the corporate globalization project. She describes how neoliberal capitalists have managed to subvert democracy – by infiltrating the judiciary, the press and the parliament, and molding them to their purpose.
In “Do Turkeys Enjoy Thanksgiving?” she uses the allegory of quaint historic practices - like saving one good turkey and slaughtering millions - to say that there are always a few good turkeys from minority or oppressed groups that get rewarded, while the vast majority are penned and imprisoned. She warns us that the forces against us are too great for any one person, even a charismatic leader, to challenge.
In “Come September” that nationalism was the cause of genocides in the 20th century. Like a surgeon wielding a scalpel, she deftly shreds our most sacred doctrines. "Flags are bits of colored cloth that governments use first to shrink-wrap people's minds and then as ceremonial shrouds to bury the dead."

Roy analyses the power ordinary people like us wield in today’s world in her essay “Public Power in the Age of Empire”. The world today is a deeply skewed reality. She says that both terrorism and the war on terror share the same excruciating logic- they make ordinary citizens pay for the actions of their government. 
The scope of Roy’s discussion is broad, the bulk of her evidence weighty, and yet her core messages are never lost from view. Some of the major refrains of this collection have to do with the ever-deteriorating, always illusory ‘free press’ and the need for truly independent media; the need to insist upon and assert a role for non-violent protest and resistance to imperializing projects; and the need to understand – and then denounce – grinding poverty as a form of violence. 
 Roy pays particular attention to the parallels between globalization in India, the devastation in Iraq, and the deplorable conditions many African Americans, in particular, must still confront.

She examines the role of resistance movements that can make a difference and return dignity to the term democracy. Whether writing about the so-called war on terrorism, the media, AIDS in South Africa, the war in Iraq, or caste politics in India; this passionate author puts before our eyes the cause of justice for the poor, the oppressed, and the overlooked in countries around the world.


Friday, January 8, 2016


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“So you believe in it, don’t you? This whole stupid idea of romance, flowers and candlelight dinners and even the ridiculous ‘happily-ever-afters’, you have an unflinching faith in it, admit it! Damn! How did I ever miss it when I looked into your eyes for the first time? Perhaps my vision was clouded too…by this demeanour of yours.” And she pulled her hair back, dextrously letting the rubber band slip from her slim wrist on to her hair held tight in the fist. He felt a sharp pang as he realised its happening now. Something that he has dreaded, rehearsed, dreamt and anticipated for weeks now.

But that was it.

She nodded once more before she got up and left. He felt ridiculous, staring blankly at the crumbs of the orange cake that wrapped themselves around the tines of the fork like desperate rings clinging to thin fingers for the fear of slipping off.

He had least expected this would end in a noisy cafe, so abruptly and callously. She could have timed it better, closed it nicely. He saw it coming in her withdrawals, her reluctant kisses, her drifting eyes and twitching fingers but the last thing love performs is a reality check.

He shifted his gaze to the swing door still waving her a goodbye on his behalf. It creaked open and he saw her re-appear. His heart skipped a beat. He dismissed it, he must be hallucinating. Then he though it must be the gin and tonic or an aching heart playing cruel tricks on him.

Then he felt her hand touch his face, it was actually her. She ran her fingers over every feature, his nose, eyes, lips and the firm chin. He had his eyes closed all the while, only inhaling her perfume and recalling the texture of the skin of her hand.

He opened his eyes and she had her eyes closed too. He saw the fine lines of strain corrupting her perfect facial skin.

She withdrew her hand with a sudden jerk and opened her eyes wide. He felt the brilliance of her intense eyes and the smile that rippled upon the placid surface of her pursed lips.

“Sorry!” she said.

He smiled, “ It’s all right. I’m glad you came back…”

But she had placed her finger upon his lips and he found himself kissing it clumsily.

She spoke, “ Get lost! Just needed to register all details of your face. My sculpting project is bloody half-complete. Can’t afford to start over mid-semester with a new model.” She blew him a kiss as she reached the door.

The crumbs had fallen off the fork, the swing door was creaking again…he felt it had ended just right…before she returned.

The swing-door creaked once more, he turned to look in the other direction…


Monday, March 16, 2015

At 6 am


At 6 am
to be here in the lake
watching light
sketch upon the pitch-dark
with its finest pastels
is to know
how a sea of love
gently swells
against the containing wall
of the ribs
that tells
heart from bone

At 6 am
before the mind cribs
'mean and routine',
before man-sound
and engine grunt
hunt and blunt
the senses
before a city awakens
and a dead-living

At 6.15 am
while I am still
a whiff
beyond 'what if'
a blade of grass
seeking no class
wordless, yet all-well
at 6.30 am
while I am
if at all
I am
a damp-soil sigh
a third eye
with eyelids of joy
oh boy
At 6.50 am
I fall
fall back into the
the falsity of senses
of time and its tenses
and captive
from the wing-flap prayer
of four birds that fly
without a care
right off the sky canvas
I fall...into this coarse
crowd of 'us'