Lone Survivor

You must have seen many action movies. Let’s put that on one side. Now here’s a new one – Lone Survivor. This one’s different. Trust me.

Though the movie has some American bias, still the Taliban side of action is not discounted. While watching, you may get a feeling that the “villains” gave back as good, if not better.

But the fire-fights are filmed with lots of staccato. There is precision in that mess. It is not gory. But it is not un-impactful either.

In the end, they relate the actors with pictures of real American fighters. You will sit through this movie right up-to the very end.

P.S. While watching this movie at Grovels, and towards the end, the usher opened the exit door expecting the usual rush-outs of audiences. Though few in numbers, none left. It was pretty touching towards the end.

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The Wolf of Wall Street

It may have been 1990 when the stock market bug bit my father. In those days there was no online thing in India. There were sub-brokers everywhere. I saw one of sub-brokers when my father took me along for his usual purchase of shares. I had instant dislike of this sub-broker.

He was sitting in his tiny office surrounded by piles of investment forms, some of the bundles almost encroached the road outside. My father was not alone. There were other losers too, briskly filling up some stupid forms to buy into fortune. Then, atop those forms, they stapled a crossed cheque of a certain amount. While doing this great act they sat around that Gab and listened to his unending moral-boosters. He was a sure-fire know-it-all mother-fucker. Little did those wizened bastards knew, while filling those toilet papers, that the sub was fucking their heads.

It took Harshad Mehta to give the idiots the first lesson in 1992. Probably, most of those form fillers were wiped out. I still have no idea how much money my father lost. But we still have piles of share certificates in plastic sheets abandoned in an old Godrej Almirah.

The lessons were not learnt. Damania came along with shares – the best hood winking device of the nineties. I think it still is. Anyway, being a loyal employee I got my quota. The case to note here is – my father who never supported my decision on any matter like sports or studies or hobbies, had extra enthusiasm to buy those shares and later got me interested in the rights issue of those shares. Mr. Damania probably got this early – some people can be fucked all the time.

By 1997 there was an Asian financial crisis which took many companies under. But by that time the smart asses had already exited the market. The ass-holes, again, were left holding defunct scrips and sagging dicks.

Cut to present time – Trying to relax from my Power-Walks I hit the theater to watch Sholey in 3D and Wolf of Wall Street. It is the later movie which has provoked me to write this. I also have memories of Sholey with which I will return later.

If you are interested to glimpse what happens behind the scene in any stock market, you must watch this movie. I am absolutely sure that it happens the way it is depicted. It is made interesting with all the horny orgies of the broker side of the story. But the movie starts with and implies throughout the gullibility of the believers.

The movie begins with lessons by a veteran in a restaurant demonstrating the unrealities of the speculative world.

The movie ending is significant too. The thrill of taking the investor’s ass is so enticing that the Broker refuses to quit. He changes tactics.

The Movie – Wolf of Wall Street is based on a book by Jordan Belfort, a convicted fraud of the stock market turned motivational speaker.

Tweedledum and Tweedledee !

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Ideas from Fiction

Most of my readings hover around Non-Fiction, mainly History, Military History, Biographies. Very rarely I stray towards fiction. My last read on fiction (which is also not entirely fiction) was Shantaram. Later I saw a CNN interview with the author – Gregory Roberts and I agree with what he said on writing – that Novel writing is an art and it means, “entering the readers mind, touching their soul”.

I just read a book – Why we Write by Meredith Maran. The book introduces twenty writers of various genres who talk about their writings, their motivations, their coping with the problem of actually sitting down to write. Two things become clear. The reason to write is both unique and common. Unique because every writer has one or more compelling reasons to type out his words. Common because all writers agree that writing is drudgery.

Stephen King in his book -On Writing- says that we don’t really know from where our writing comes from. I know it’s true. I just write and the very act of writing makes me search my thinking and tapping the letters on my iPad brings forth My Writing. For me, there is no “Which is first- Egg or Chicken” dilemma. For me it’s writing first and through this I dock with new thoughts. One day I will meet my best seller.

As I wait, I hustle with thoughts of great writer’s thoughts on writing. Also, I am reading them after I have some Ten Years of regular writing and then 5 more years of fits-and-starts. I haven’t been consistent but I love the idea of being a Prolific Writer.

I’m reading Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. I’m reading this because firstly, I forced myself to try fiction after an interval and secondly, the book’s first chapter got me. In fact, the publisher in me bought the book after, I think, one and half page. I am impressed when words paint a picture for me. Subtle descriptions of a scene makes me visualise the story. This is what I will call a successful story.

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Who Has Power

Who is powerful. Before this, one has to define power. Not from the point of view of any dictionary but by what we think is power. This can be subjective. 

For me, a person has power if he knows powerful people. I don’t intend to hit an unending loop. There are institutions headed by someone who gains power by his virtue of his being there at the top. He is the “approval” kind of a guy. All papers, decisions, what-next, falls on this guy. “I have to call him”, or “have you called him” or “I have spoken to him”, “as per him” – the constant reference to HIM begets HIM the power. Now, if you know HIM, you have the power of whatever you want to make use of HIM.
Likewise, there are several burocracy- created people, who are powerful till alive or retirement. The power of one man increases in direct proportion of how many of them he knows.
Now what is meant by “he knows so-and-so”. Even a parliament Chai-walla (not NaMo) knows the Prime Minister. Yes, that Chai-wallah can be powerful but in a certain sort of way. A Chai-Wallah can bring to the table a Chai and his power extends that much. A Chai for a Chai or probably less. A Chai walla in your office can provide you Chai then, for some limited period, use your office PC to surf Internet or use you phone to call his wife in jhumrilallaia. 
Hence, powers I muster is the powers I get on the table. That means, powerful are first powerful themselves – whether it’s an ownership of Chai or Television Channel. 
If I know someone who knows the Police Chief, an MLA or an MP, a tevelanglist Lawyer, Arnab et al –  to use his powers I need to have equivalent powers. In other words, I can use him to the extent of how much I can be used by him. 
Off hand, I can remember Malcom Gladwel’s one book (I think Tipping Point) where he calls such people – Mavans. You just have to know this One Great Guy. And he knows a hundred thousand. He can move things for you – definitely at a cost of Money or influence- mostly influence for all money is in influence.
So what can be concluded at the end of it is one should use time and energy to gain power. Your power depends on what you can give and how you can leverage that value to take what is desired. Remember, power is exchanged with power. Money is power if one gets onto a zone where there is power. Money buying a clerk who passes your goods without tarif is power. Money buying Smart Phones is dumb. 
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Hello Paul Walker, Do I know you….

Paul Walker died. The star of the Fast and the Furious. It doesn’t make any difference to me because I know neither. Today is the day when I hear his name first time though I have come across the name the fast and the furious. 

I want to analyse the feeling. Why is it so that the death of an individual make no impact on me. And I have concluded that this is because of how much emotional investment I have done on the person (any living being), place or thing.
Let me take an example. A few months back a bylane near our house went for concretization. Now there used to be a broken man-hole pipe stuck on the rain water drain by the side of the road. During the process of road-repair it disappeared. 

I had fond memories of that because often when I returned after a night of heavy drinking I sat on it to “cool off” and smoke a few cigarettes. I have emotional investment on that “Throne” and I poignantly remember all the good times I spent sitting on it. 
So, even when the matter does not reciprocate (or does it) , our own emotional investments makes us feel that nearness. A loss is mourned when the entity which necessitates the emotional link is no longer in that particular state.
Now, this appears like some Theorem. But I just set out to explain myself why I am not touched at all by Paul Walkers death.
Now suppose, due to some reason, I begin to explorer his life. I see his Fast and the Furious, I check out his life and living and suppose, his life resonates with mine. Not many. Probably his quirks are so like me. Recently, I was reading a blog of a certain someone and many of her habits and incidents where so similar to mine. This is another way where, after the person has passed away or the person does not know you, you can still start a emotional bond.
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A PSALM OF LIFE – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)

    
        In the bivouac of Life, 
    Be not like dumb, driven cattle ! 
        Be a hero in the strife !

    Lives of great men all remind us 
        We can make our lives sublime, 
    And, departing, leave behind us 
        Footprints on the sands of time ;

    Let us, then, be up and doing, 

        With a heart for any fate ; 
    Still achieving, still pursuing, 
        Learn to labor and to wait.

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Shoulders by Naomi Shihab Nye

A man crosses the street in rain,
stepping gently, looking two times north and south,
because his son is asleep on his shoulder.

No car must splash him.
No car drive too near to his shadow.

This man carries the world’s most sensitive cargo
but he’s not marked.
Nowhere does his jacket say FRAGILE,
HANDLE WITH CARE.

His ear fills up with breathing.
He hears the hum of a boy’s dream
deep inside him.

We’re not going to be able
to live in this world
if we’re not willing to do what he’s doing
with one another.

The road will only be wide.
The rain will never stop falling.

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Starting Again

It’s amazing to think back and know that I started to write my page, a journal, sometimes in 1987. Other people, writers, born then have grown up and are now published authors. I believe, in my case the story of the hare and the tortoise is gonna fructify. And I know I’m no hare. (It’s always good to strike a winning note)

Anyway, I must say what prompted me to scribble (sic) again. I chanced upon a blog online and for two days I’m hooked. I won’t reveal the source for I have some pretty good reasons and plagiarism is not one of them. Yes, I was saying, I am hooked. I read the writers since she (ok, this much I can reveal) started blogging in 2005. Although she wrote off and on, she had some great insights on thoughts and characters- some which surprised me – the fact that she was just 19 then.

What I learn from her is detachment in the process of living, observing, writing. She enjoys yet she keeps a distance. She stores the moments with emotions, thoughts and context and then compares when those context change. This is something which I have not been able to successfully distinguish even though I can appreciate it in her. You can see I’m struggling to get my words correctly.

This detachment, distinctions, this handling of things modularly is a stuff to go after. I’m more sold to the methodology of thought than the thought itself. But differentiation is not my strong point.
As for me, I go absolutely into the moment then come out scathed. The worse part is I find myself empty handed. Then, as if I am sitting in the bar, I call – repeat!

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On Modi

You come across this often: Modi has Re-Defined Politics. Is it true?

Redefinition is required when some definition exists. Political India operating since senile years has not defined Politics. They defined corruption. It is Modi who defined Politics. It is Modi who made development as the agenda and actually delivered. It is his template which some of the others are emulating.

Indian media is pretty open and you get a lot of material to evaluate. Also most of the politicians are on social media. Hence there is a narrative following personalities. The citizens can make some judgement on the politics of this country and evolve a thought.

You don’t have to go to Bihar to discover this. When you come out your house and meet a river in place of a road. you know, someones not doing a good job. A former CM and railway minister said he will make India like Japan and get a bullet train. He should be happy that we have reached Venice. Now politics will promise us boats.

The prime intention of current Politics is anything but development. Politicians are ever ready to Pee in a dam than be productive and get the actual thing. Development that you see is accidental; something that politics has stumbled upon on their way to self-fulfilling goals.

I am not a supporter of terrorists and terrorism but in this present scenario it seems that they are the only one taking some action. If politics abrogate its responsibilities this is what you will get.

In these context sits Modi.

It is clear that his hinterland is not productive. Also his new vehicle is old and clunky. He has been made a driver of a bus where all seats are taken by hostile travellers and the earlier driver has runaway with the keys.

In politics or otherwise, vested interests will rule. That’s how it is. Democracy gives us power and chances to voice our vested interests. And our interests are not caste, religion or statues.

It is also not development.

It is Delivery. Development is a part of Delivery. Politics touches our lives in many ways. Problem begins when the channels of delivery are blocked or bent.

It is good that the PM path for Modi is not easy. Because if it becomes easy then its a sign of compromise. Heck, the present office holder got it easy and his mechanical advantage is less than one. The New incumbent must be a combatant with proven records of Delivery.

Why should India not give a chance to Modi. After all we have nothing to lose. If he fails (if), we can always fall back on mediocrity with which we are comfortable.

 

Narendra Modis gujarat2

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Gun and Culture

The intention is to catch the pattern of a culture and its narrative, then see the similarities in the Indian Context.

These days, Piers Morgan of CNN is rocking. He, a Britisher, has taken upon himself the responsibility to confront the American establishment and its population who support the possession of guns by private individuals. And the debate is on.

The telecast presents people from both side of the divide. People who support guns appear well-groomed, are powerful, belligerent and judgemental. The non-supporters are morose, emotional and appear weak. They are mainly people who survived attack or lost someone to the gun or activists who sound like they’re fighting a losing battle.

The gun-supporters are aided by the Second Amemdment to US Constitution done in 1791. The law allows US nationals to buy guns faster than Domino’s Pizza. They are doing this for over 200 Years. Now it’s a culture. Taking guns away from a US citizen is like dishonor. Questioning and introspection are not strong points of culture.

Consider this. The Number of US troops killed in Afganistan in 10 years from 2001 to 2013 is 1996. <refer this> During the same period, the number of people killed in US by Gun Violence is 270,000. <refer this>  These figures make Afganistan look like paradise.

3000 people died in 9/11. And 30,000 died in gun related crimes in US in 2012. <refer this> Whereas one mass murder is condemned as terrorism, the other, much greater, is ignored in the name of tradition.

The arguments in support of guns are absurd. It has to be heard to be believed. It’s astounding to see powerful people, educated and cultured (they are Americans), vehemently for gun possession. They’re in denial of Mass killings over the years. For every statistics, they have an equal and opposite statistics. Finally they converge to one ridiculous conclusion – Arm Everyone. Their presence on TV is just a sales-pitch.

The solution proposed is exact opposite to what is required. That’s Culture – It doesn’t look inwards but backwards.

Let’s retrace back to India. We too have our “gun-cultures” – meaning, entrenched believes and associated arguments which are much older than 1791. This is what makes us attribute rape to Mobile and Chowmein and whatnot. Our institutional memory has clever arguments for all cultural-ills we can think of. Even our arguments have to be heard to be believed.

I’m drawing comparisions and attempting to visualize a model – a framework that will put a finger on to the actual problem and its containment.

So, what next? We have to go back and watch our Big-Daddy – US. How will it grapple with this Old ingrained Cultural malaise? How will the policy and legislation evolve? How effective its gonna be? Close attention might give us a template to address our own problems.

But Policies and Politics play games. There are selective periodic amendments to show the public that our laws are being made relevent. While our eyes are fixated on the broad-framework of the Law, the fine-prints loop-back to as-is-where-is. And the con-game continues.

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