Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gulzar Kuch Khoye Huye Nagme - 7

Movie: Namkeen (1982)
Music Director: RD Burman
Singer: Kishore Kumar

I had planned to write about this song for a long long time now. I came across this post today and I think it describes all that I feel about this song and much more. I am not even going to try write anything more about it. Read it for yourself.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

The Third Election

The November 2008 Presidential election would be the third for me. Seeing yesterday’s resounding speech by Obama and talking to a friend of mine about the ongoing political games in the country made me think about my perception of these elections. As far as I can remember, I have never been overtly interested in politics and elections. In my teenage days I was quite callous to politics even though all the adult members in my joint family were quite opinionated politically and had different beliefs and loyalties to different political parties. I turned a deaf ear and a blind eye to all the discussions and debates around me. I wouldn’t say that over the years since then interest has increased, however I can now say that I understand (if only at a high level) the political leanings (left vs. right), the election process and the political machinery to a certain extent.
Year 2000: Bush Vs Gore
I was about 8 months old in the country and did not really care about anything other than slowly absorbing the new world around me. The entire primary season, the campaign leading up to the now infamous election results went by completely un-noticed. Only on the day that people started talking about the big Miami-Dade fiasco that I tuned my television from Seinfeld to CNN. I did not understand what the fuss was all about, but just by the looks of it, I liked Al Gore and wanted him to come out victorious. Anyway, we all know what happened and then I got to witness the Gore concession speech. Just because I was living in the Washington DC metro area, I and a couple of friends attended the inauguration of Dubya on a cold January afternoon. The only image that stayed with me from that day is a homeless man holding a huge banner on the National Mall which said “Grand Theft Election”. That was 8 years ago.
Year 2004: Bush Vs Kerry
This time around, I knew how the system worked – the primaries, the caucuses, the debates, the nominations, the conventions and all the other shenanigans. I was living in Harrisburg, PA that year which happened to be the capital of a swing state and hence was under the spotlight in the campaign. My parents were visiting during the primary season and I explained the process to my father. He was quite impressed by the debates, the process and the transparency of the whole thing. He got to see Kerry speak on the steps of the Pennsylvania Capitol when Kerry visited the burg. I was also intrigued by the process and was actually looking forward to the election results in November 2008. We all know what happened thereafter. That was 4 years ago.
Year 2008: McCain Vs Obama
I am back in Washington DC this year and I must say I have come a full circle. I have been chatting a lot with a friend about the elections and the candidates etc. Over these conversations I realized that I am back to being that teenager again. I have become apathetic and aloof to this election. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not because I am not entitled to vote, or it’s not my country. I am still contemplating on what is it that changed? I have simply stopped caring. No candidate or no speech (no matter how rousing or earnest and honest it is) seems to stir me. The outcome of the elections does not matter, how we get to the outcome does not matter and what happens after that does not matter. I am trying to tell myself that it should matter and that all this is not a farce, but every time I try to reason with myself, all I hear is – “What’s the point? What a waste of time!”. I only feel a tremendous hollowness in everything the candidates preach. The ads on TV make me cringe, the slogans and the promises bring an involuntary cynical expression on my face and my hands immediately reach out to the remote to search for any channel that plays “Seinfeld”.

Friday, August 08, 2008


I ranted about the ridiculousness of American television broadcasts of international events here. Today the National Broadcast Company did it again. The Beijing Olympics opening ceremony is not being telecast live. Because the execs at GE (parent owner of NBC) in their peacock sized brains can think only about the moolah that will be generated by broadcasting the ceremony during primetime, so the North American audiences can watch it per their convenience at 7:30 PM with their TV dinners and beers and then run to the stores to buy all the fancy products advertised during the broadcast. So all of us peacock-pestered folks will have to wait to watch the spectacle which the 90% of the world population has already experienced. One of those instances when capitalism stinks.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Comfortably Numb

Is there anybody in there?
Just nod if you can hear me.
Is there anyone at home?
Come on, now,
I hear you're feeling down.
Well I can ease your pain
Get you on your feet again.
I'll need some information first.
Just the basic facts.
Can you show me where it hurts?

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying.
When I was a child I had a fever
My hands felt just like two balloons.
Now I've got that feeling once again
I can't explain you would not understand
This is not how I am.
I have become comfortably numb.

Just a little pinprick.
There'll be no more aaaaaaaaah!
But you may feel a little sick.
Can you stand up?
I do believe it's working, good.
That'll keep you going through the show
Come on it's time to go.

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship, smoke on the horizon.
You are only coming through in waves.
Your lips move but I can't hear what you're saying.
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.

Most of you who have ever listened to the music of Pink Floyd, the cult band of the 60s/70s, know this number from The Wall. I have my own distinct memories of when I first listened to this ballad. Why do you say, I am bringing up this song today?

Last week, two more Indian cities fell victim to the terror that has been hounding the country for decades now. More people die, more fingers are pointed, the media screams with made-up pathos, we “tch tch tch” the victims for a day or two and then the blood is hosed away, the pieces of flesh and bones are picked, the bombed vehicles impounded and we all move on. Have you noticed that lately this “Moving On” is happening with more and more alacrity?
This is not how we were – we used to have a passion for fighting for our rights – we consistently endured and drove away external invasions for centuries - from Alexander to the Queen. Today, we cannot beat the demons within ourselves, today our passions are reduced to IPL, the capitalist way of living, fast cars and voting for IDOLS – you get my drift. Not that there is anything wrong in nurturing a passion for these things, but where is our fighting spirit when it comes to fighting for the basic needs that a Government should provide its population – clean water, electricity, food, and above all SAFETY for its hardworking citizens. We take to the streets to oppose the scantily clad cheerleaders, to protest against a painting, to protest against a bridge in the ocean, against a book or even a Rakhi Sawant - but when it comes to bringing our rulers to task for the lack of basic needs we look the other way. Where has that fire gone? Where has that spirit disappeared? Have we all become “Comfortably Numb”?

(More information about the song here)