Journey to India’s far east – Silchar

Why computer science and information technology?

But … Sir I always wanted to be a software engineer?

Let’s see what is left for you?

Are you willing to go to Gurdaspur?

What?

Chemical Engineering?

WTF?

Gurdaspur, almost Pakistan?

The place I know only ‘coz Vinod Khanna contested parliamentary elections from there and it was in media. Else, despite geography as my favorite in schools, I would have pondered over a political map of India with a hand lens searching Gurdaspur amidst fine prints. I was making my mind whether to say yes or no, before he said but there is a condition.

You will have to wait, there is still a guy with a better rank left, if he doesn’t opt for it, you will get it.

I turned back to look at my father sitting on a chair on the other side of hall meant for parents and guardians.

He wanted us siblings to study medicine but we choose to make a career in engineering instead. No, I am not taking it, only computer science and even if it is a private engineering College. We walked out, with my father trying to console me. Let’s explore other options. “Last year they said, someone got a good REC with your rank, do not worry let’s see.”

At that point little did I see, what I left in far north was calling me from far-east. Silchar, is not a famous town, and that to in Sikkim where people are more satiated and prosperous, leave alone moving out of the state, they do not even think of it.

Growing up in Sikkim in late 1990s and early 2000s had its own advantages. You began to think that anything faster than the slow motion love making scenes in Bollywood movies is hell of a hectic life, that man is born to wear branded clothes, drive car, and drink and if conscience allows pray and bask in sun. You grow accustomed to living with quotas; quotas in REC. while other state students competed in different entrance test to get into it, a boy from Sikkim will enter the engineering college with just 60% marks. Still it was a wonder why the number of students passing mathematics in 12th standard is less than the number of seats in quotas the state had in engineering colleges across India. We even had a separate quota for berths in different trains from New Jalpaiguri to different cities in India. It was one of those quotas that secured us a RAC seat. NJP to Guwahati, and we were joined by likes of us, aspiring engineering students from all over the state. Groups were formed on what part of country you belonged to, Bengalis coalesced; Sardars collided with Northies while the lonely Keralite felt left out, whereas Bihar and UP walas had reason to celebrate with a majority in this democratic country and with better ranks of their kids they had reasons to be boastful.

It was the rumors at railway station and stories in the newsprints that if not cancelled the trains will be late. Flood was playing havoc in parts of the Gangetic plains and Assam, but it was not the flood that concerned us, it was landslide, we already braved a couple till this point. But the talks were of massive slide and the war scale mobilization and rescue operation by Indian Army. We didn’t know anything for sure; only thing we hoped was of a safe journey to Silchar and back.

As expected the train was late and we reached Guwahati. With no rail journey possible due to flooding, we had no time to waste but to start for the day the journey to Silchar.

There is a stand beside railway station where buses and tourist cars ply to different of a virtually different country called the north east of India. Although it was exorbitant prices they were charging (hardly they knew that their passengers had paid prices in Sikkim, they do not bargain it is offensive and anything outside Sikkim is cheap and good deal for them), the deal was done, if the road is clear, they will drop us to Silchar, if not to the landmark landslide, it was also guaranteed that they will wait till it was verified that it is possible to cross, in case we needed a return passage at least to Shillong.

Twelve of us, stuffed ourselves in a two vehicle and started for Silchar.

(When I commented on Debajyoti’s blog post that I will elaborate my journey to Silchar in a separate post, I knew it is going to be long. But, somewhere in the previous posts I made a promise to restrict length of my posts between short and long. It is already a long post, so do wait for next…. We are yet to arrive at Silchar.)

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More Notes on Blogging, Writing & Beyond

I thought I will write a deceptive introduction to this post, if not readers it will at least draw visitors. So, is this a post that promises to teach you all how to be a successful writer? No. Is this the post that bares it all the secrets to successful blogging? No. Does it come from a successful writer? No.
This is my fourth post in this series on Blogging, Writing & Beyond. You can reach the individual post through link at the bottom of post. Do read if you find it interesting. These are notes, learning progress, observations and some sarcasm on the blogging, writing and somewhere beyond.

• There are good blogs and there are bad blogs (blogs which does teach you what not to be as a blogger, in that sense they are good)… and then there are blogs of your friends which is follow despite the nature, content, genre and writing style and even if it is full of bull crap. * Conditions Apply. Not meant to offend anyone.

• Writing is hard work… reading and understanding the author’s perspective and analyzing it independently without any bias is harder and commenting to fuel a coherent, useful and enriching discussion is hardest. As a commenter, I believe you can comment on what you have read, but if you can write so well that your commenter comments on not what he has read but what you have written, I would call that a feat worthy envy.

• Blogging is a cool thing to do, but you run at a real risk of savaging your image. Your words can bite you anytime in a way least expected. Moreover, if perception of others matter to you, it is going to be a tough day. It is more likely that people would associate you with your blog. For some you are what you blog, but there exists a crowd who can differentiate between the blog as a work and the blogger.

• No, you do not need to blog on each and every topic on earth. Even if you describe yourself as a writer who has an opinion on everything, focus and you will find there are particular things you are good at. Differentiate between what is important and what is not.

• When lost, follow the lighthouse. If you are not one of the progenitors of blogging platforms, at one point of time you must have a blogger or a writer in mind, the feat of whom you like to achieve, you like his writing, knowingly or unknowingly under his heavy influence you copy his writing styles, you copy the subjects you blog upon. It is perfectly alright to follow. Right only… do not plagiarize… identify the distinction between aping and plagiarizing… there exist a narrow lane in between.

• Be the rock star. No, it doesn’t mean write about music. Love what you write and live with it. Write it post it like you care for no one while writing, like the rock star performing infront of thousands of crowd. He doesn’t care what will one of his audience think about his music, he may think of it afterwards, he may take critics, but not when performing. When you write, when you blog, it is your performance, it is divine, that deserve dignity in form of pure devotion. Write as if you are the only person who matters, write for pleasure.

• Moreover, if you have difficulty in writing, or you start with a blog post and struck on searching for the perfect way to present it, do not worry, you are exactly on the right track. It is common, it is the writers who understands and feel difficulty in writing.

• Keep it simple. Although it takes a lot of hard work to produce a simple read, again it is worth the effort.

Here are my previous posts in the series:

• Notes to Self: On Blogging, Writing & Beyond

• More on Blogging, Writing & Beyond

• Some more on Blogging, Writing & Beyond

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Book Review – The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene

Pages: 240 pages

Publisher: Penguin

I bought this book for the phrase whisky priest, expecting account of an alcoholic priest, but to my reading delight it turned out to be more than what I expected.

It is a story of a worldly priest on the run in a Mexican state where Catholicism has been outlawed and other priests have been either killed or forced to change their vocation, leaving him as the last messenger of God. The priest wanders through the state in an attempt to cross the borders amidst the fears getting killed and a longing for life. The misery of the priest has been compounded by this fondness of brandy, contemplation over his illicit relation with a woman at his last parish, his love for the illegitimate child.

In its description of state and its hunt Catholicism, the story discusses the futility of faith, of affluent parishes among starving classes, preaching and prayers for those who are struggling to make a living.

The novel depicts bare human instincts behind a mother carrying a dead child on her back, and then abandoning the same with no remorse. A priest fighting a crippled dog for a piece of bone for some meat attached to it, and eating the last chunk out of it when he thought he will spare some for the dog.

Graham green explores why the priest who is so worldly and so unlikely of habits to be a priest yet remains committed to the vocation. It makes you wonder why he needs to be the last surviving messenger of god in a state that is set to eliminate it. The compulsive fondness of the priest to brandy which endangers his life many times, the melancholic distrust and contradicting emotions that comes out in a crowded cell of a jail and the self righteous perusal of authority to serve its citizen food and not preaching. The dangers poor peasants put themselves in for the sake of their faith and their feeling of eternal damnation for not having performed rituals. All these keep you turning the pages wondering what lies next for him and keeps you gripped with your sympathies to the priest.

It is a about a character caught among faith, responsibility and his self. The interesting narrative of swings in human deeds and thoughts, and artful portrayal of minor characters makes the book worth reading. It is an elegant portrayal of a simple story by Graham Greene.

Level of Reading: Moderate

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Book Review-The Blue Bedspread by Raj Kamal Jha

The Blue Bedspread by Raj Kamal Jha

Pages: 240 pages

Publisher: Picador

The novel starts with an unnamed character receiving a call about the death of his sister. His sister has died leaving a child behind. The child is entrusted to him for a night before it is given away a family scheduled to adopt the child.

The man narrates a story to the child, about him and his sister. He reminisce the illegitimate intimacy he had with his sister on the blue bedspread, which also gets the title to the book. The story depicts the troubled childhood with an abusive father, a dead mother, a father who sexually abuses him and his sister.

There are points where the narration is overplayed and feels discrete to the main character (I confused the narrator). There are times when the setting seems surreal but it provides dreamlike drift to the moody yet lyrical narration.

Raj Kamal Jha does justice in artful depiction of not so usual subjects of incest and sexual abuse with a tone that could be termed disturbing. The descriptive narration also provides you with a window where you wonder whether to peep into reality or into fiction. The novel doesn’t starts or progresses on a timeline binding into a unified end but it swings back and forth in time, in unconnected parts giving you an indication of deliberate omission.  The end is likely to leave you blank and unsated with a few questions still reappearing in your mind to be answered.

Level of Reading: Moderately Difficult

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कुछ खो से गएँ हैं

हिंदी में मेरी पहली रचना है, असुविधा के लिए खेद है | 😀

***

कुछ खो से गएँ हैं

सपनो का वोह कतरा कहीं छुट सा गया है

कहते थे सब, इस राह पे चलो

राह अच्छी है ये

उन बुलंदियों को छुआ है

लोगों ने इस राह पे चलते हुए

वाकई अच्छी होगी राह वोह

जाते तोह हैं सभी, आज भी

कम से कम एक ख्वाइश तोह है

उन राहों पे चलने की

वोह राह जो हमने चुनी नहीं

ना भटकने के थे सौकीन

पर वोह राह क्या जो  अनजाना नहीं

जाना था तोह सिर्फ एक मंजिल

राहें तोह खुद बनानी है

चल पड़े उस राह जिसे किसी ने जाना नहीं

कुछ खो से गए है

दिख नहीं रहा अब आगे कहीं

हैं क्या मंजिल आगे कहीं

सपनों का वोह कतरा क्या है यहीं |

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A Journey through Rogue Lands and its Bahubalis

This post is part of Migrations – Reservations – Observations along with A Train to Howrah

***

Not even in my weirdest dreams I imagined myself waking up one fine day in the bank of the Ganges, asking for direction, where I will be spending my four years at a factory what will issue a certificate which proclaims to have molded an engineer out of me.

The city was as alien to me as I was to its people staring me. I would have liked it had it not been litters, dust, roads taking turns around garbage mounds (ok… garbage dumped on road), heat of June and harshness of language they called Patniya (a mix of Hindi, Bhojpuri, Maithili, Magahi, English and XYZ).

Somehow I reached the college gates on a rickshaw zigzagging though herds of buffalo marching on the historical road called Ashok Rajpath. The scene was itched to the severity that I associated Rajpath with buffaloes marching on a wide black topped road for many years later on.

I wondered if it was only for me, but the college had a distinct air of an abandoned relay room of Indian railways. I felt weird… more is waiting for me. The first guy I met who appeared too old to be senior and a bit young to be college faculty asked me what rank I had on JEE. “But, I appeared for AIEEE so I am here.” I said.

Hum inke senior hai.” (I am his senior) the guy said to my father.

Jitna pucha jaaye Utna hi batayiye.”(Answer what is being asked) and turned to me.

Back in my mind, somewhere I could feel the tingling of what everyone warned me for, the most dreaded “Ragging at an Indian engineering school”, the cruelty of which is supposed to match the reputation of the college.

“It is good for you, that you have been admitted to this institute, now prepare for JEE and get yourself into an IIT.”

I thought he must be kidding. “Ok… as you wish” I thought. “@#$%^&*”

The guy offered to take us to the building where admission formalities were to be done.  On the way he asked me which caste I belonged to.  Although that was out of place, I answered.

He took us to the floor where registration was going on.  On the way, on both side I can see, people being ragged. The so called seniors howling at every new ones passing through, I looked around pretending not to look at anyone as I passed through the lobby.

Once inside, I decided only time I will go out is when I am done with every formalities for the day. But things were planned differently; I had to come down for a medical test. A fear ran through my head, but I did my best not to look scared. I passed through the lobby, there were people calling me. Not by my name, they do not know my name. “Hey you, the long hairs”, “Hey you the folded sleeves”, “You tall boy, come here” they were howling as hungry dogs who lurked too long for a piece of meat. I can feel what a dog felt who had ventured into the territory of other dogs.

I went back to come again in a week. What I saw on the day of registration was just a trailer of things that was to happen. Battling through all the adversities I continued as fresher at the college and survived. By the second term it was more like following the instinct, practicing the skills that were inherent. I knew how to abate, how to abuse, how to escape, what to ignore whom to ignore and so on and so forth… Every step I took was calculated like following the instruction in the manual of survival as a fresher.

(Perplexed??  I was to describe the train journey, but this is not so. From here the journey will starts…)

Nothing is as delightful as return home for a homesick; I was elated, moreover, I had a confirmed ticket that too on the concessional fare granted to students. Although, more than often the expenses to avail that concession exceeded the amount of concession in my case such was the procedure and number of windows one needed to visit. I realized this after breaks and vacations; I later renounced taking concessions which I thought as a noble act (I guess it was not responsible for swelling of Railways coffer in those years).

The state was in big festive mood of electioneering. Governor’s rule was not an option in a land identified as birthplace of republic.  Exhibitionism of firearms imported, licensed, unlicensed, automatic, semi-automatic or desi-handmade was in vogue. It should be when your merits for candidature are judged by how tarnished your character certificate looks. The train I was to board came to a whistling stop a quarter before midnight. I waited for a few minutes before boarding, I wanted to be sure if it is on correct platform and they have no plans of changing it. Don’t you know it was a cool thing to do in this part of the country?  Despite display, notification and continuous announcement, you walk to a different platform and then force the Railway staffs to bring the train to the platform you are standing on.

With my bag slung over my shoulder, I walked to the door. The coach was too crowed to catch the unusualness. Passenger seemed not to move, they were all queued up in the aisles. Tearing through the bodies some fragrant, some smelly, some dressed as extravagantly as if they are on way to their wedding, I reached to my berth.  My friend, who came to see me off and stayed on with an excuse of nothing much to do in hostel either, was behind me.  There was a man in all whites, sleeping on my berth with rolled towel acting a pillow.  I looked around and what appeared was me basking the centre of attention. The adjacent compartments and that of mine have been occupied or rather encroached.  I called him asking him to get down, “This is my berth I have made reservations” making a valid point and even eager to show tickets. The man didn’t move, although I was sure he got what I asked but he pretended to be in deep sleep.  I grabbed him by shoulder and shook him up his pretension.

“Go take a seat somewhere else” he shouted.

“This is my seat, see…” I made another attempt to make him realize that he has encroached seat reserved by me.

Before, I uttered another word; there was a voice from behind “Netaji, ko disturb mat karo.”

I turned around to see a group of around a dozen men on the other seats of compartment.  A pile of guns rests against the window side.

The guy came forward “He didn’t get seat in the AC coach, so we are here. I have talked to TT, we will shift as there is a vacancy. Adjust, till then.”

But where am I supposed to sleep” I replied.

“No one is sleeping. No space, only seating.”  Then I realized what was unusual in the compartment. The passengers who have booked tickets were standing in the aisles, waiting, requesting, some pleading for them to vacate, how they will travel with a patients.

“Give me your bag, I will keep it under seat, don’t worry it will be intact and safe.”

The train started moving. Amidst all the hullaballoo in the coach, he could not get down. I moved with him towards exit. “What are you going to do?” he asked.

“I think we will get down at the next stop.  I will go tomorrow.”  I said but I know there will be same case tomorrow. Reservation or no reservations you travel alike, unless you enter into a fight.

“Will you get tickets for tomorrow?”

“No, there isn’t any chance. Moreover, things will be same.”

“See, if you can travel, by the way there is no point arguing with them. I will get down at the next stop.”

“Ok.. Let’s see. But make sure you get down at the next stop. Any stop after this will be at least 50 kilometers away.”

After a few minutes, the train slowed down to a halt, a lot of passengers who were to make this journey un-boarded. I waved byes to my friend who will have to travel another 10 kilometers from a desolate place to get to the hostel at mid night hours, and all because of some fcuking MLA occupying the berth I paid for, and his goons occupying seat of other passengers.

I went back to my seat as the train started from station. Of course there was no place even to sit; I stood there, looking at them searching for feel of despite or otherwise in their eyes, but it was absent. I checked for my bag, it was still there under the seat. I stood there for some time trying to catch any remnant of human behavior left in them. I cursed myself, why I came to this city at first place, but I could not complain, some where I am related to, I belong here.

One of the offers a little space and asked me to sit. It felt generous of him, I took sat there. I don’t remember when I surrendered to sleep. In the wee hours of morning I woke up to the nudge of one of the guy.

“We are getting down at this place; take care of your seat and your bag.”

“Theek hai” I said. I stretched myself on the berth, eight more hours of journey left for me. Things will be better, sane and humane.

***

I wrote this post last week, I didn’t post it. I am posting it now. Once an IIT + IIM fellow blogger expressed his displeasure over my writings and remarks over people behavior in Bihar, he said, it is obvious but why portray it to the world. What is bad should be kept within veil, somehow I don’t subscribe to such views.

_

11850+ words so far in 2012 on Barunjha’s Blog

© Barun Jha || 2012

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No Blogging. Some Reasons.

It’s a week since I posted here last and it feels like I have been here was a long time ago.
“Long, long ago, there was a guy named … who blogged and then he didn’t, for a week, he felt like…”
Any of my readers who wish to continue this story are welcome to do so in the comment section of this post. Again, no link dropping is allowed. Or, I should not say that, rather you are welcome to drop your blog links after comments… Go wonder why didn’t they appear in comments. 😉
This morning as I opened the word processor, and checked the daily writing rate required tool (no big deal… I created one for me… so can you… to escape daily calculations), a lag of more than 1100 words was an eye opener. I wondered where I was wasting my time, why I didn’t write, didn’t blog and wasn’t reading. A hit on the bullets and here goes the reasons:
What I have been doing for last seven days is not worthy a blog post. There are things and there are times not to be shared and not to be dived deep into.
I blog and I write for the sake of pleasure I get out of them. It is a thing you do when you want to so. I didn’t write as I didn’t felt to do so.
Life is good, which means more time, if not better than good, it is surely better than what it is usually. That translates into more time doing things like everyone else than dancing the tunes of schizophrenic clamor of a weird life.
I had no time for writing.
An athlete on track can’t figure out how fast he has been running. He may think he is the fastest of all, given that he sees no one ahead him, but how fast. It is a difficult proposition. It makes a lot of sense to step out of that race and see time pass and others pass and do some rework, revisit the scheme of things and a reboot.
“What have you been doing?” “Nothing.” For the sake of that nothing, spending time to achieve the unachievable, a feat with no proven conqueror, ethereal, blasphemous state of doing nothing. I tried my best to achieve that. Failed.
My internet speed is down; my laptop refuses to start as if I am asking it for a dance on its deathbed. It is such a waste of time which is office time, one for which I am paid to spend watching WordPress load at a slackening speed.
Or, for writing is purely orgasmic and needs the attention and space which I am not able to give.
Well done for now, that’s another post ending nowhere but on writing.
Notes to self:
Thought to concentrate on
“One day I will find the right words, and they will be simple.” — Jack Kerouac

It is time to go reading, go writing even if it is sin, for the sake of all pleasure I get.

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