Thursday, July 23, 2015

Silence of the rocks

Near my house is a rock. It looks very impressive and measures 56 inch in width. And for last year or so it has gained tremendous following. Bhakts and believers from all over the country see it as an answer to all of their troubles. They say it not only answers their prayers but also speaks to them, heart to heart ("mann ki baat" is what they term it in Hindi). A young student, now studying in 11th, told me that some wise words from it helped her lessen the anxiety before her board exams last year.
Impressed, I went to pay it a visit with few other friends. One publicly inclined friend asked it why the nepotism and corruption in the upper rungs of government doesn't seem to be coming down despite the change of government. The rock was silent. The bhakts present there clarified -- it only talks to believers, and by your hostile questions you clearly don't look like one, hence the silence. But how can we become believer before it answers our questions, we asked. Faith does not submit to such rational calculations was the terse reply.
On our way back, one of the friend with a political sense of humor observed -- this rock is just like our previous prime minister who always kept quiet. Another one corrected -- no, it's more like the current one, who talks depending on the topic and the audience.
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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Kafka in MEA

Contrary to the rumors of his death, Kafka is hale and hearty. Met him at the passport office of Ministry of External Affairs, India last couple of days.
Went to get my passport renewed. Since I had got married in the interim, I wanted to get Manvi's name added. The document list on the website suggested that I submit a joint affidavit declaring that I and Manvi are married. Sounded pretty legit. I did the needful and attached the affidavit with the application. The officer at counter B who was responsible for verifying the documents didn't seem convinced that I was married to someone I was stating on a sworn legal document that I was. (Even though the MEA's own site said the document was sufficient.) The officer, in his own infinite wisdom, then decided to ask for the verification of originals -- the wife, in this case. No kidding! His logic: since the affidavit was executed on the same day, he needed to double check. (Implying that had I sworn in the same statement a couple of weeks ago, it would have been more believable. An affidavit is perhaps like concrete that need to be curated for a week or two before it achieves desired strength.) He and subsequently the deputy passport officer asked me to come next day with Manvi.
So I and Manvi reached passport office again early next morning. The only problem? The security guard was adamant that the rules are pretty clear -- in no case can anyone be allowed to accompany the applicant who was not a child or senior citizen. So I tried to make him see the catch-22-ness of my situation. Finally after about 15 mins of hand waving and emphatic arguments, we agreed to wait for some officer who would review my case. In the interim I was left wondering my luck -- had the officers at counter B yesterday shown the similar spirit of sticking to the letters of the rules as this guard was showing today, I and Manvi would have been spared this trouble. The wisdom in a government office is always arbitrarily distributed, I surmised.
Finally the guard talked to someone inside and luckily this person wasn't as stickler for details and advised that we both be allowed in. After about 3 hours of other multiple rounds of verifications, scannings, and clarifications, my file was accepted. Funny part -- the file had exactly the same documents as were submitted the first time. Only consolation -- throughout these hours of difficulty, the wife was present, in original, alongside me, as she promised about a couple of years ago.
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Tuesday, July 7, 2015


Came across the following Hindi poem on Twitter via @iawoolford - 

And my attempt at translation -

I stumbled upon
As one would on a new word.
To grasp and comprehend you
I accepted my own inferiority;
And with a student-like faith
I turned into a believer.
Doesn't being a believer imply
That only as the understanding dawns
One becomes uncomplicated like a learner?
Isn't word polymorphism the essence of texts?
O my word
O my meaning
O my text

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