Friday, April 24, 2009

Delhi April-May 2009 Day 1

I am finally in Delhi after two year gap. Last time I was here was in the summer of 2007. Since then much water has flown below the bridge. But this time I am on an `official' visit.

Anyways. Since the train tickets were not booked too early, there was no chance that I would have got any reservation. So had to fly. Then I tried for the `no frills' flights. The week I checked them they were ~ [LaTeX code: $\sim$ ;)] 2.5 K. But the next week the same flight cost me ~ 4.2 K. So this was a `no frills' flight whose cost nearly as same as that with a flight with frills.

During my last visit I had a fiasco with train which I was supposed to board to go to Nagpur, which is another story. That travelogue is still in analog form, have not yet blogged it. Two years down the line. But since then I become quite nervous and anxious when I am about to leave for a longish journey. During one or two days prior to the journey, I sort of become OCDed, I check the tickets and timings again and again. And as if I have lost confidence in myself, I confirm the date with others also. So this flight was scheduled on Friday the 24th of April at 17:10 hrs. So when I checked and rechecked the flight status, finally the day arrived and I was ready to go.

I reached the airport comfortably two hours before the departure. The check in was done in five minutes and I had the boarding pass in my hand. The airlines people were asking for photo-id from others, some how for me they did not. [Does my name and personality match so much?] So after I just went ahead with the security check of mine and the cabin luggage. I put all my accessories in the bag itself. And was myself clean. I waited for my turn before they would frisk my body with a metal detector. It seemed like eternity. Finally my turn came. As I did not have any metal things, the security guy did not have the much to do. But he was a bit taken aback with my waist watch. I mean those of you who remember the Fastrack advertise of girls hanging ulta from trees and asking यार टाईम क्या हुअा है? will understand. So the way he was standing he could not obviously understand the placing the watch on my waist and then not being able to make any sense out of it. He asked me to take it out, and had a look at it, so as to understand what kind of watch was that. But then, finally he gave up, put the watch down along with the security stamp on my boarding pass. The cabin luggage [bag] also had been cleared for security.

Then I went to the waiting area. I called up people to bask on my achievements of clearing the security check so quickly. There is a Cafe Coffee Day counter, inside the security area.
So after ordering a cappucino I sat with a view of the airplanes just about to board. Every now and then I would also have glimpse at the flights that had just taken off. Having sips of coffee with such a splendid view are moments to be cherished.

In the waiting area, aptly called so, people come from the security checks wait there for some time and then go for the flights. This for me was like wathcing a time-lapse movie when I was having my sips of coffee. Just outside the waiting room, the world is entirely different. There are all kinds of activities and vehicles going around there, in seemingly chaotic manner. But, there is clearly a method in this madness. How do these people communicate with each others, I do not know, but everyone was seemed to know where they wanted to go.

While waiting in the `waiting area' I browsed through a lot of newspapers. Most of it was trash. Babes in skimpy clothes, ads for which I had least interest and politics. With the soaring temperatures of summer, it seems that election heat is also increasing. But, this time around I have least interest in who is going to be in power. Anyways, the day before was the Phase 2 of elections in Maharashtra. So the news papers had quite some photos of the people who had successfully voted in these elections.

They say that the percentage of people who came for voting is on average ~ 50%. So this is supposed to be worrying trend. Out of all the photos that I saw, there was one of an old lady. People posed with blackened fingers to assert that they had indeed voted. The indelible ink. This lady was about 70 years of age. And they had put the indelible ink on her middle finger. And she was showing a blackened middle finger with pride to the entire nation. Where is the moral brigade now? Won't anybody charge her of obscenity in public place?

In the middle part of ceiling in the waiting area, they have created a glass ceiling. Not the one which is here but the real one. Well, one can say that, this is a glass ceiling which separates the flys and fly-nots [literally, no pun or metaphor intended], but then I rest my case. The view from this ceiling was amazing. The sky was blue and a few white clouds here and there were coming in view. From the large ventilation pipes overhead, this little [well, not very little] window gave a different view as to tell the passengers awaiting there in the waiting room that the sky above was waiting for them. Every now and then a flight would be visible. moving across the skyline. There were two people who were cleaning the glass above. They cleaned the very glass which separated them [fly-nots] from the rest of us [flys]. But, this, I think is true in our society everywhere. People from the oppressed lot are used to oppress people. I felt bad about them and all the cleaners and other people who are class 3 or 4 employees. They see so many flights, everyday. They are ones who make the operation of the entire airport possible, but they may in all their lives never get a chance to fly. They are like birds with their wings clipped, so that they cannot fly.

Well, coming back to the flight, they announced that there will be 10 minute delay in the flight, as the incoming flight from Goa was late. So, I was a bit disappointed. After a lot of wait, and it was not 10 minutes definitely, we boarded the flight. The air crew from the previous flight tended to us till we were seated. I had booked a window seat this time, as never I had had a window seat.

Well then the 'cabin baggage' nicely tucked in the overhead compartment, I sat, watching the view outside from my little window [this time I mean it]. The flight plan was announced by the hostess, with names of the captain and the attending staff being told.

''हम दिल्ली जाएगें''

She said in a sweet voice. Well after a few minutes from that, the plane finally began to move. I had a sigh of relief. But soon this relief turned to frustration, as for the next 20-25 minutes we were on the runway. This gave me all the views of the airport, especially the slums around it. Heaps of garbage and kids playing on it, seemed like a shot straight out of Slumdog Millionaire [see my post here]. When Danny Boyle had landed in Mumbai, he must have seen these kids and made it into the first part of the film. I saw two flights land from a bug's eye-view. So finally after a long wait we were on the runway. And we ran away to the sky...

When the flight is gaining altitude [as they call it], you experience a force, which is not very pleasant. One could see the almost completed Worli-Bandra sea link, from a bird's eye-view. I could recognise many of the areas, like Mahim creek and all that. But that was it. We flew Westwards towards the sea, never to comeback to the city of Mumbai below. With the acrobatics the plane was performing, there was an illusion, with the position that the plane was in, the sea went up. Till I could see out of my window, I could just see grey waters below. The experience was very dis-orienting.

We soon went over the clouds and the picture above would make you see what I saw. The clouds seemed like a carpet [cotton] spread over the entire area below. It was an amazing sight...

Soon the light began to fade, and sun from a blazing yellow went towards deep orange.

The horizon seems endless from this height. The contrast in the colors below and above horizon during Sunset become most stark. Below, you have a dark mass of unknown regions, the horizon it self becomes blazing line of orange. And above that you have a gradient from orange to dark blue. It thought I saw a few stars here and there...

So the final moments of Sunset in the picture above.

And this is what the horizon looks after the Sunset. This condition stayed on for a while. Then the darkness ascended. Now both the sky above and the land below were darkened. No visibility. This is the twilight.

Soon the one could see lights here and there in the land below. At a few times I saw intense orange lights [Sodium vapor ones], but apparently randomly placed. I could not find any structure in them.

Soon the formless light structures, gave way to villages and hamlets. One could make out the roads, which were straight and were lighted regularly. The cities from above looked like fractal structure. The sight was amazing.

Delhi, light everywhere...

All was Light...

But, unfortunately I could not get it pictures, or was it for my eyes only.

Seemed like golden and silver dust has been sprayed in the darkness of the night and what forms is the city below. Streams of cars and highways were in all directions. The cars coming towards us were all yellow, and those away were all red.

The flight lands after a long delay.

We are finally in Delhi, it is officially announced.

So much for the first day.

Dunno whether be able to continue this for the later days..

till then ciao


Monday, April 13, 2009

Good Work Team India...

Finally !!!
We Won 3-1 !!!
Good Work Team India!!!

The Sons - Franz Kafka

The first time I heard about Kafka was in a interview of Kabir Bedi in a Times of India Sunday supplement called Times Life. Kabir told the scribe that one of his former wife quoted Kafka a lot. So, then as you know Google is your friend, I googled Kafka. And I was introduced to one of the authors who is enigmatic and mysterious, with shades of surrealism in in. But it was not until very recently that I bought the works of Kafka, in hard copy. I had them in soft version, tried to read them on screen, but without success. It was not until Strand Book Fair 2009 that I had mint copies of Kafka's work with me. Apart from The Trial, now I have almost all of his major works. I started with The Sons, which is a collection of three stories, namely, The Judgement, The Stoker and finally The Metamorphosis.

Kafka wanted to publish these three stories in one volume, he said in a letter to his editor there is a secret strand which runs through these three. The novels I think are a window to Kafka's mindset. The stories reveal a complex personality of Kafka, which was tried to carve an existence of its own in the shadow of the overpowering personality of his father. The feelings of Kafka are made clear in the part of the compilation, A Letter To His Father, where he tries to convey his father, tries to convey him, how strong and suffocating his
personality was for Franz as a child and also as an adult. It relates small incidents, which made a dent on Franz's egg shelled mind, whose repercussions he felt even as an adult.

Some of the incidents in one's childhood can have a lasting influence on one's future. This I guess, most of us can relate to. How many childhood memories, especially non-pleasant ones, are still fresh in your mind, as if, they happened just yesterday? On the other hand the joyful ones, many times, are harder to remember. This where I guess Kafka is just great, he remembers little episodes from his childhood, and relates them to the person he is now. As far as qualities were concerned Franz was a direct opposite of his father. And he makes a point how his forced silence in the childhood made him the person he was. I think this is where Kafka gets his inspiration from. The things which he was not allowed to say, came out in form of the literature that he has produced. This is why I say, that his literature is a window into his complex and sometimes surrealistic persona.

My reading of Kafka is also confirmed by others. In the Fontana dictionary of Modern Thinkers [1], it says,
Himself slim, sensitive, an intellectual, Kafka was dominated by his well built, bullet headed, businesslike father, about whom, he said, all his works were written.
The picture above appears on the front cover of the same book [1].

And in Franz's own words

My writing was all about you; all I did there, after all, was to bemoan what I could not bemoan upon your breast.

Now to the three stories themselves:

The Judgement

In this story an obedient son commits suicide

The Stoker

In The Stoker Kafka
You can think whatever you like. But morals change every time you go to a new port.

Oh, that's just the way things are; it doesn't always depends on whether a man likes it or not.

I am complaining just for the sake of complaining.

You don't listen to what I say, and then you give me advice.

Activity without end, restlessness transmitted from restless element to helpless human beings and their works!

All his strength was concentrated in his fists, including the very strength that held him upright.

And all other people here are of no consequence.

The Metamorphosis

This getting up early, he thought, can make an idiot out of anyone.

... since he was well aware his mediations, would come to no sensible conclusion if he remained in bed.

But what's the use of lying idle in bed?

... if that were possible, and saw no way of bringing any calm and order into this senseless confusion, he told himself again that it was impossible to stay in bed and most sensible course was to risk everything for the smallest hope of getting away from it.

.. he did not forget to remind himself occasionally that cool reflection, the coolest possible, was much better than desperate resolves.

Inspite of his predicament he could not suppress a smile at the very idea of it.

I'm in great difficulties, but I'll get out of them again.

Don't make things any worse for me than they already are.

Letter to His Father

Nothin alive can be calculated.

The effect you had on me was the effect you could not help having.

I couldn't pick and choose, I had to take everything.

You mistake the person for the thing.

But that joke is, in a sense no joke at all.

Between us there was no real struggle; I was so finished off; what remained was flight, embitterment, melancholy and inner struggle.

All this, however, is today only a dream.

Even in other circumstances I should probably have become a shy and nervous person, but it is a long dark road from there to where I have come.

It is not easy to find a middle way.

My writing was all about you; all I did there, after all, was to bemoan what I could not bemoan upon your breast.

Probably I am constitutionally not lazy at all, but there was nothing for me to do.

To live with such fantasies is not easy for a child.

In reality, however, the marriage plans turned out to be most grandiose and hopeful attempts at escape, and, consequently their failure was correspondingly grandiose.

That so many seem to succeed in this is no evidence to the contrary; first of all, there are not many who succeed, and second these not usually don't ``do" it, it merely happens to them; although this is not that utmost, it is still very great and very honorable.

There were certainly obstacles, as there always are, but then, life consists of confronting such obstacles.

... but they are not decisive; they do, like worms, complete the works on corpse but the decisive blow has come from elsewhere.

It is too much; so much cannot be achieved.

But if he escapes, he cannot rebuild and if he rebuilds he cannot escape.

In my hand I have nothing, in the bush everything.

But I did not ask this question but live it from it from childhood on.

Everything is entered but never balanced.

But you sit at your window when the evening falls and dream it to yourself.

A way of life so natural that is borders on existence.

Just think of how many thoughts a blanket smothers, and how many unhappy dreams it keeps warm.

Do you think I have no memories?

rooted in ordinary life, he experienced or imagined ordinary fear,
distress, frustration, to an extent that we can all empathize with
because it corresponds, if not to our actual experience, then to our
apprehensions, even our nightmares.


[0] Franz Kafka, The Sons. Schocken Books, 2000, 0805208860

[1] The Fontana Biographical Companion to Modern Thought: Alan Bullock, R B Woodings (Eds.), Fontana, 1983, 0006369650