G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

W H Auden: "But in my arms till break of day / Let the living creature lie. / Mortal, guilty, but to me/ The entirely beautiful."

Will Self: “To attempt to write seriously is always, I feel, to fail – the disjunction between my beautifully sonorous, accurate and painfully affecting mental content, and the leaden, halting sentences on the page always seems a dreadful falling short. It is this failure – a ceaseless threnody keening through the writing mind – that dominates my working life, just as an overweening sense of not having loved with enough depth or recklessness or tenderness dominates my personal one.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Art Spiegelman: "You know words in a way are hitting you on the left side of your brain, music and visual arts hit on the right side of the brain, so the idea is to pummel you, to send you from left brain to right brain and back until you're as unbalanced as I am."

विलास सारंग: "संदर्भ कुठलेही असोत, संस्कृत, इंग्रजी, बुद्धिवादी, तांत्रिक, इतिहासाचे, खगोलशास्त्राचे, आधुनिक पदार्थविज्ञानाचे, शिवकालीन व पेशवाईतील बखरीचे, अगणित ज्ञानक्षेत्रांचे, अशा वैविध्यपूर्ण ज्ञानावर लेखन- विशेषत: कवितालेखन- उभं राहत."

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Sorry Joya and Manas Barooah. Hope Your Son is Safe

JIM YARDLEY:

Like a fever, fear has spread across India this week, from big cities like Bangalore to smaller places like Mysore, a contagion fueling a message: Run. Head home. Flee. And that is what thousands of migrants from the country’s distant northeastern states are doing, jamming into train stations in an exodus challenging the Indian ideals of tolerance and diversity.

(The New York Times, August 17 2012)


Economic & Political weekly, Sept 1 2012:

"While the electronic media covered the exodus, and the crowds at the station and on the trains with much more attention than the far larger crisis in the relief camps in Assam, it quickly reverted to its “nationalist” self once officials of the government insinuated that external agencies were responsible for spreading the rumours. There was little by way of independent investigation into the source of the rumours or why migrant communities felt so vulnerable and had panicked.

The exodus of the north-eastern migrants poses difficult questions to state and society in India. It has once again punctured holes in the idea of one Indian nation; 65 years after Independence, India is far from becoming an inclusive nation state. It has once again showed up the fissures in society; decades of prejudice and discrimination have made the marginalised and the peripheral sensitive to the flimsiest of rumours. And it has also shown that in a crisis, the Indian citizen has little faith in the state’s ability to provide security; she depends instead on kinship and the safety of “home” for protection."



My wife and I lived in Assam from July 1989 for about a year continuously and then occasionally up to April 1992.

I have written about Assam a few times on this blog.

For instance this:

"Although my base was Doom Dooma, Assam, I used to travel often between Kolkata and Dibrugarh from 1989-1992. When I went to Kolkata, I often got unwell. On my return to Assam, as my pickup car took a left turn from the airport towards our way to Doom Dooma, just one long deep breath in that air used to cure me of all nagging coughs and colds."

When my wife fell very ill, my senior colleague Manas Barooah and his lovely and very beautiful wife Joya helped me nurse her. Thanks to their hospitality we ate some of the most authentic and delicious home-cooked Assamese food.

To date, both of us feel grateful to them.

Corruption was rampant in Assam but there were notable exceptions like Mr. Barooah and his friend Mr. P K Das.

Teenaged kids of a lot of my Assamese colleagues then used to study in Mumbai and Pune. Mr. Barooah's only son was then studying in Pune. When Joya and Manas came back visiting him in Pune they wondered how unescorted young girls felt safe eating ice-cream by the roadside at 11 PM.

I told them it was not a big deal. You expect that from my Maharashtra. I used to feel proud about my home state. I was not entirely safe in Assam, thanks to the terrorism of Ulfa, but my state was different. What Maharashtra does- not just thinks- today, India does tomorrow.

It was then. In last century.

Business Standard on August 17 2012:

"...assuaging recent concerns about the safety of citizens from India’s northeastern states who have migrated to other parts of the country to work should be seen as a major responsibility of governments, both at the Centre and the states.
It is important to emphasise that very few attacks on people from the northeast have been reported – some in Pune, one in Bangalore ...In fact, India’s states and its city administrations need to rework their entire attitude to migrants. Mumbai has been particularly problematic in this respect, with an angry nativist politics being given free rein...simple point is: without the freedom to move anywhere in India to work, citizenship loses much of its meaning, and without the ability to hire from the largest possible pool of labour, growth will become even more difficult to achieve. State and city governments must move from responding to migrants’ worries only when there’s a crisis, to competing as attractive destinations — by demonstrating they are safe and welcoming."

Artist: Edward Frascino, The New Yorker, 24 December 1979