29 December 2010

Tees Maar Khan

“Um, patanahi...I don’t think yeh kuch zyada accha option hoga...”

“Ab dekho tum aaye ho, mauka hai aur hum taiyaar bhi hain. Laage-lagaye mein dekh aayenge, nahi toh humara jaana kahan ho pata hai. Aur hume bhi toh naaye zamane ki picture dekhni chahiye! Batao, itne saal ho gaye, aakhri baar Barabar Jhoom dekhen gaye the Abha Behenji ke saath...”

“Haan, well, agar aap kehti hain toh...”


“Pahuch gaye. Pandrah-bees saal hue yahan aaye hue. Aadha mann toh yehi hai ke Manoj ke policy kar aaun.”

“Nahi, ab gaye toh late ho jayenge. Ticket bhi toh khareedna hai; aur woh dekhiye, line kitni lambi hai.”

“Hai ram! Waapas chalain kya? Nai mila ticket toh Manoj ke hote hue chalenge!”

“Arre andar toh chaliye, waapsi ki baad mein dekhenge.”


“Ae bhaiya torchman, kahan baithain? Yahan baith jaayain?”

“Ji, yahin baith jao ji.”

“Hume zyada aage nahi jaana, peeche se hi dekhenge...hum wahan peeche chale jaayain?”

“Mataji yahin baith jao aap, bas.”

“Arre dekho wahan ganda hai, paan ka thooka hai! Hum nahi baithenge yahan bhai, hum peeche jaayenge!”


“Yahan kaise baithenge bhai? Chalo beta, peeche chalo!”

“Nahi, mataji, nahi...arre, chalo aap andar toh ho jao, ek aad seat hum logon ke liye bhi chorh do!”


“Accha hua na aage aa gaye? Peeche se puri screen nai dikhti, woh balcony ka projection raaste mein aa raha than a.”

“Haan, woh toh theek hai par yeh kahan aa kahan gaye hum? Yeh janta kaise shor-sharaba kar rahi hai!”

“Ab bhai hall hi aisa hai...har type ke log aate hain na yahan, aur unmein kaafi thorhe woh gareeb rickshaw waale, daily wage earners, outstation students aur yeh sab hote hain na...”

“Humne nahi pasand yeh sab! Pandrah saal ke the toh Eta mein picture dekhi thi, yahan ke crowd ne aisi hooting kit hi. Hum nai baithenge aisi seetiyon aur taaliyon aur shor mein! It’s the limit!”

“Arre kya, a baa gaye hain toh dekh hi lete hain. Waise bhi picture...”


“Hey bhagwaan! Kya picture hai yeh! It’s the limit! Aisi vaahiyaat picture humne itne saalon mein kabhi nhi dekhi!Kya zamana badal gaya hai! Aur kuch sar-pair toh ho? Aaj ki larkiyan, bas nanga naach karva lo! It’s the limit!”

“Ohho! Jab maine kaha tha toh tab toh naaya zamana tha! Ab dekhiye!”

“Nahi, hum nahi...arre bhaiya udhar se ghum ke jao na!”

“Bas ek minute, sorry.”

“Ab use jana hai...”

“Ae bhaiya torchman, humne kaha tha na humari balcony ki ticket katva lao, woh kahan hai?”

“Mataji hum kahan se laayenge? Aap batao, hum toh bithate hain logon ko, ticket kahan se layenge?”

“Aur hall bhi yeh centrally heated nahi hai! AC on karo bhai, barhi sardi lag rahi hai hume!”

“Aisa hi rahega Mataji yeh, itni hi garmi hai!”

“Arre hum aa chuke hain pehle, tab...”

“Mataji upar balcony mein hai garmi, yahan nai!”

“Arre toh lao na ticket upar ki!”

“Aap picture toh dekho Mataji, upar ka nahi hoga ab!”


“Kuch samajh nai aa raha...itni lambi zindagi mein sainkron picturain dekhi hongi, par iss jaisi...it’s the limit! Kya kehna kya chahte hain yeh log? Kya message hai picture ka?”

“Entertainment hi hai, aur kya...”

“Nahi toh uska bhi toh kuch udeshya hoga na! Aise kaise...abhi hawaijahaz mein the, ab gaon mein hain...aur kuch tuk toh ban nahi raha hai, bas aise hi...arre kitni baar kaha bhaiya, udhar ghum ke jao!”

“Arre aunty kahan se ghum ke jaun?”

“Wahan se jao na beta, baar-baar!”

“Shush! Saat saal ke bacche ki tarah behave maat kariye, picture dekhiye! Kissi ko toilet jana ho toh utna pura hall dundh ke toh koi nahi jayega na!”

“Accha phas gaye bhai...”


“Jaan chooti! Ae scooter waale bhaiya, arre zara ruko, yahan Prem Gali se nikal lo. Aisi vahiyaat picture, aur aisa hall! Bathroom jaate jaate toh pair hi philas gaye the, gir jaate toh....hai ram! Aur ladies ko bhi theek se...kya batayain ab! Arre bhaiya sabzi waale dekhte raho, kathal lena hai humain!”

“Iss time pe Mataji patanahi...”

“Arre sab mil jayega, zara aahista chalo...kaan pakar liye bhai, mati maari gayi thi! Ab din gaye, hall mein picture dekhne kabhi nahi jayenge!”

“Kathal ka kya karna hai ab...chorhiye...”

“Sab bacche ek saman hain humare liye, ek khana chahta hai toh hum kyun na banvain?”

“Par iss waqt?”

“Woh dekhiye mataji, woh raha kathal!”


“Kaisi rahi?”

“Bahut accha hua, bahut accha kiya jo aap nahi gaye! Bilkul bakwaas, besharmi ki had hai!”


“Khana theek se banya liya tha? Iske bhi tevar bahut ho gaye hain...aur woh gaana, use toh hum dekh hi nahi paaye sharm ke mare! He ram, aaj kal ki larkiyan, it’s the limit!”

“Arre, ab aisa hi hota hai aaj kal...”

“Hum isliye toh gaye nahi, hume toh andaza tha...”

“Ab maan toh rahi hum dimag phir gaya tha! Bhai hum purane aadmi rahe, humse nahi...nahi, khoobsurati ko pratak karne ka bhi dhang hota hai, aisi hi nahi ke kuch, kaise bhi...nahi, yeh sab toh theek nahi...haan, le aao. Hullo? Haan? Arre, tum bhi? Humne toh ek kilo le liya! Arre, le aayenge...nahi? Yahin rakhe rahain...chalo, agle hafte hi...khair, yeh toh theek kaha, tees maar khan dekhne gaye, tees maar khan hi ban gaye!”

19 December 2010

On Corruption

I really don’t get the ongoing hullabaloo over corruption. Agreed, scams and scandals of the sort are pretty unpleasant and don’t exactly reflect well on our integrity and honesty as a people, but then that’s it: they’re a loss to the exchequer and a disgrace to the people, but that’s just it. Certainly not worth the fuss that’s been made of them.

Seriously! I mean, just look at it, look at the way everybody’s reacting to it – and this time it’s not just the media – the so-called media properly, news channels for the most – but the people, the common, middle class citizenry as a whole. Everybody’s shaking their head, muttering prophecies of common, universal doom on this decadent age. The country, the people, they’re all irredeemably down in the pot, so much so that to some not even dictatorship, by large an abiding middle class dream, will save us from the throes of narrow selfishness and despair. The dog days, people say, have finally dawned upon us…

Dear oh dear, the dog days. We’ve all been mickeyed, yes, and fraudulence in public life plutoed beyond compare, but still, it’s just that. Not end of the world, not even end of the world as we know it.

Yes, yes, I know I have that tendency, that habit of smoothening rough ends, mitigating general ills and creating continuums of occurrences, happenstances and coincidences. I know I take it overboard at times and doing so dismiss the gravity of the present for the weighty balance of the past. I know all that, but regardless, I’ll still say that all these present instances of scam and corruption are, well, just instances of so, nothing as out of the ordinary as we’ve been making them out as.

I know the sort of objections most would have to this. The first would be money, that though much has been swindled before, such huge sums were never involved. This is almost like saying our swindlers are better cheats and we perhaps much more gullible than our great grandfathers, an argument to which I can only say that, all due respect to those gone by, perhaps the reason why such huge sums weren’t involved earlier would be that they just weren’t in currency. Think about it, the value of money has steadily increased over the decades so that what was much then is so pitiably small now. Really, the sums themselves have little to do with it: Shree 420 rolled in lakhs, but had he been on Lavasa’s board today he would just as well have played in a few thousands of them.

Now, I can see how this denies conscience and takes quite the dint out of morality. If a cheat’s a cheat and all that’s stopping him/her is only pure luck, then not only would quite a few frauds not have been detected but also the power of precept to guide would be but nil. In that case, the moral and ethical worth of humanity all through would be just the same, the variations being only compounds of the material circumstances of particular ages. The idea of moral and ethical degradation then becomes more or less redundant.

More or less. Like most of my ilk, I choose to believe there’s more to matter than mere materiality. If not degradation, then evolution at the very least: change, changes effected by the dynamics of materiality against certain inherent, passed notions.

Which, in other words, is saying that while the world seems so very much in the gutter now, it’s just more probable that it has always been there and that it just seems filthier because we ourselves have made it so.

Nothing, I say, nothing out of the ordinary.

These things keep happening. The past almost always seems noble and ever so virtuous; quite frankly it’s uber convenient to have it so too – a convenient, if somewhat inaccurate, sepia tinted benchmark against the follies and shortcomings of the present are easy to evaluate. Yet, in doing so we mustn’t loose perspective, that what seems is exactly what it is, an imposition, projection, and beyond that rife with tensions not too dissimilar to our own. When, therefore, we shake our head in disappointment and mutter at the corruption in public morals in our own degenerate dog days, then we may be just as sure that our great grandfathers’ fathers would’ve been doing the same. Corruption, moral bankruptcy, unethical behaviour – every age and generation is witness to deviances from the norm.

But that, that alone, is not my contention here. It’s a bit obvious and to say just that is to be just as much. My point here is that there’s really no need to make such a fuss about the whole affair not just because it’s been done in the past and so there’s nothing new about it, but because – which is more important – to take the matter thus is to further a hollow and redundant belief system which denies the humanity of human beings.

Big words, yes; yet, not without merit I hope. When we talk of the corrupting influence of a particular work, act or event, when we condemn a fraudster, a corrupt public servant or an unscrupulous business tycoon, then do we not take righteousness beyond its rightful bounds? Indulging thus, do we not reaffirm binaries, entrench them all the more rigorously, forcefully in consciousnesses both public and private – this even as we farther claim the unsaid private right to keep them distinct and separate? Isn’t being zealously moral and preachy ultimately a disservice to the very aims of morality and, well, preaching?

When we focus our gaze on a particular figure for laxity or corruption and thus condemn him/her, there is hidden in that condemnation the unsaid, unacknowledged awareness of our own weakness, the awareness of our being human. We’re all fallible, all of us human; saying this is not as much as condoning corruption or laxity in public or private duty as a natural, inevitable fallout of human nature as advocating an approach to or an understanding of duty and discrepancy as potentialities within all of us. If a certain minister manipulated contracts and regulations to siphon crores of public money in his own pocket, then are all those who so vigorously condemn the act completely sure of their own incorruptibility, of their ability to stand indomitable in face of similar temptations?

It’s an old idea, but essentially pertinent to the way we understand society and relate to each other. Being aware of one’s weaknesses and ready to grant others the same doesn’t, again, necessarily mean condoning those weaknesses when they take a form injurious to other beings; nor, indeed, does it mean disregarding the demands of justice as and when they arise in such cases. What I would have it taken as, instead, would be as an empowering consciousness, as inculcating an awareness which takes humanity and human nature as such, as ever prone to transgressions, and does not make a cathartic fetish of those over the top or too injurious to the public good. These deserve to be punished, unreservedly they deserve to be punished; yet, in carrying this out, in pressing for justice and even retribution, before we ourselves go overboard with righteousness, we, and particularly those who aren’t directly victims of the act(s), should remember that all of us are prone to the same.

Of course this is a bit problematic. Saying this, one cannot escape the implication that justice, retribution, equality, all of these dissolve and become ambiguous, arbitrary. But again, more or less: these are constructs, but they have the weight of history and common practice and cannot be wished away. Indeed, it’d be in our best interests, our interests as so-called civilised, civilising society, to keep them in some form or manner. The best thing, of course, is to realise these as such, as constructs, and work towards making them relevant overall in a manner beneficial to all beings.

Which, said otherwise, is saying all of us, particularly our elected representatives, would be better occupied in orienting ourselves thus than appeasing the lust for blood too much by creating a ruckus about corruption and degeneracy as we are now.

30 November 2010


Fine, fine, I admit it: it does feel different, top to bottom it does. I know I’ve denied it time and again, but I just have to admit it now. Being in MA does feel different from BA.

Duh? Well, yeah, but still, once you’ve gone on and on and told everybody left, right and centre that it feels just the same to say the exact opposite now does count for something.

How’s it different?

Well, for starters it’s a hell lot more boring!

Oh yes, so it is. There’s nothing on at all, nothing! All you can look forward to are lecturers and lectures and lectures. The Department doesn’t seem to have too much of an idea of fun so that the only supposedly extra-curricular activities it organises are talks and seminars – which, were it not for the food in the last case, it wouldn’t be half as worthwhile to attend. The professors, admittedly, are pretty competent and engaging with the usual unmentionable exceptions, but the very locale of the classes is as dull and uninspiring as can be. A long, dusty hall with benches as uncomfortable as can be: there I was, fondly imagining aeons ago a stepped hall wherein the mysteries of learning and literature would be revealed unto me. Masters of Arts. Department of English. University of Delhi. A long, straight hall…sigh.

The company’s none too animated too. Only those who sit up front can savour the delights of intercourse, for designed as it is the hall engenders a natural hierarchy which reduces those at the back to oblivion either in the text or outside the window. A happy oblivion no doubt, but oblivion nonetheless. One wouldn’t like to shout comments and questions, certainly not over heads of stupefied peers transcribing the professorial word onto paper for posterity. Thy word is my law, thy word law…

Nonetheless, what makes it really so boring is not half as much as the Department or those interred in it as the factuality of Hansraj College. Of my now being in Hansraj.

Not that there’s anything bad about Hansraj per se. True, it’s almost at the end of the world, but being so has its own charms of a spread out campus and very many nooks and crannies for quiet hours of reading and writing. Hansraj’s very good in itself.

Yet, it’s Hansraj. Not, oh well, not Ramjas.

Oh well indeed. Not Ramjas. Not familiar faces, familiar haunts, sights and sounds grown familiar over ages. Being in campus, in the academia now feels like an escape, a short cut from the reality of responsible adulthood. The training itself seems devoid of all purpose except continuance in the same and the fact of being in Hansraj, being there for whatever reasons one is there, makes the whole experience inescapably fragmented. Fragmented? Ha! Alienating, fragmented, broken, boring: a whole store full of adjectives yet words, words which fail. You’re neither here nor there: Hansraj is a continent new, Ramjas forbidden and the Faculty an obligation.

A passing phase? Undoubtedly, but that still doesn’t take away from the ramifications of the here and now, especially with there being no hereafter now. What is is and naught more shall be, such must be the lessons of life. There is, of course, more to all of it than just boredom; much happens, so much that it often gets difficult to pick and choose – still, still there’s something, something in the very nature of things, consciousness, nature which is different. Be it the fact I’m seldom on time or that I’m still to feel a sense of belonging to the Faculty, or to Hansraj for that matter, be it what it may, it’s different, it’s different, it’s different. Not just boring, but different…

Mountain out of a molehill? Of course. Yet, depends where you see the molehill from.

14 November 2010

Notes on a Presidential Visit

Don’t you think the excitement over Obama’s latest India visit was a bit overdone, that it was hyped and, to some extent, naïve?

Of course, the visit was important and means a lot for not just US and India but a number of other nations as well. Business deals were agreed on, political commitments spelled and mutual niceties exchanged. All that was very prim and propah, all as it should be.

Yet, Obama is, well, just that, a man after all. All the media coverage about the most powerful man in the world landing, the most powerful man in the world shaking a leg, his oh so powerful wife shaking her booty, the ever so powerful couple paying respect to old Gandhi at his memorial…power, power, power. Yes, we all get it, America’s powerful, the American president’s powerful and can bully one and all. Still, that’s that and there is a line.

Not that the Americans themselves crossed it much this time. They had to bring in all their armoury to defend their powerful man, though technically I don’t see why they couldn’t trust him to the security which our own State accords its holy cows. He’d come here after all and he hadn’t really landed in Dantewada; shoot-outs happen, but I’m sure the Indian State had taken all precautions to ensure all were out and out of bounds. Powerful as he is, he could’ve trusted our capability of keeping our big-shots from harm. As for his car being this and that proof, his guard being so and so geared, his…well, if a man’s clever and really sets his heart on murder, not even the Americans can stop him. Certainly not an armada stationed not far off the coast for purposes just in case. Yes, Obama’s an important man and crucial for a lot of things a lot of places, but I really don’t see why his blokes had to send so much ammunition, much less an entire fleet, to keep him one piece. Surely our own Sardarji’s gear would’ve done?

But then, the very fact of Obama being important, powerful. I don’t quite know if they also do it so much where he comes from, but all the shrill rhetoric about the powerful man doing this and that smacked full-on of a feudal servitude that continues to characterise urban Indian discourse. Obama, the mighty god from across the seas, descends upon our shores in his mighty flying machine and goes about our roads in another, equally might wonder on wheels. Everything about Obama is grand, spectacular, epic: he’s the American President, America’s the most powerful state. We bow to thee, great American Obama!

Great American Obama. No, it’s not meant personally and I do think he’s a decent enough man, but really, most powerful man? Most powerful nation? Seriously? Was it just our media which went bonkers as usual or do the Americans too seriously believe their President’s the most powerful in the world? If they do, have they really given him the constitutional authority to be so? Is there really some console hidden in that room from which their President can play Rudra a la the nukes, no questions asked? I’m not ready to believe the Americans trust their President so much as to give him the power to arbitrate war and peace all on his own. If they have, as all the oh-so-powerful rhetoric – unwittingly? – implies, then so much so for their love of freedom and democracy: what is their President then but a tyrant, a big, powerful bully whose writ is law.

Great and American undoubtedly, but not Great American. Yet, that precisely is what our engagement with him seemed to imply. Thank heavens for the frigidity of foreign offices in general, for the way everybody else gushed one would’ve thought the gods themselves had walked the earth. Obama’s wife dances with Mumbai kids: oh, she’s so pretty, so nice, so fashionable! Obama gives a speech in Parliament: oh, he’s so witty, so astute, such a statesman! Yes, all of that is undeniably true: the missus is nice and fashionable, the mister an astute statesman; but the way we did it implied such condescension, that it was such a favour which the Obamas bestowed upon us all by being nice and human.

Of course, as a nation we don’t expect the mighty to descend to such lows: we expect favours to be coated with red tape and rarefy power to Meruvian heights – something of the sort is always expected and people like me ought to be immune to it. Still, one can’t but be irritated at repeated displays of such awe and fawning in front of foreigners. Think about it, was giving that rock such a big thing? Obama donates a piece of marble from some under-construction memorial for Martin Luther King and the keepers of Rajghat erupt in joy and pride. A piece of marble? Yes, personal choice, perfectly valid; valid too the privilege of such choice to a head of state. But seriously, twas just a rock: along with being President, Obama is also just another man.

Regardless, what irks most of all is the development rhetoric. “India is not rising”, quips Obama, “India has risen”. I’m sorry, but I refuse to subscribe to this rising-risen rhetoric: it presupposes a universality, an underlying consensus on a host of notions on developed and developing, advanced and backward. Western economic models make much of the world down and out, but then these models are quite essentially the result of systems of labour which got consolidated by exploiting the rest of the world in the first place. Applying parameters premised on these models to judge a whole people is co-opting them further into those very systems. When Obama says India has arrived, he puts India on a pedestal created historically and sustained still on exploitation and discrimination. One might excuse him for doing so – I’m sure he thinks twas very nice of him – but the sight of people all over India erupting for joy is, to say the least, as distastefully childish as can be: agreed as urban Indian bourgeoisies we’re as much American as Indian, but still, we don’t really need an Obama to tell us whether we’ve ‘arrived’ or not, do we?

Apparently not. Countless activists can cry themselves hoarse about environmental damage, economic disparity, communal tension, sexual harassment, caste violence and so on. But India’s rising nonetheless. At what cost? The lives of millions of voiceless Indians. Being an industrial and military ‘superpower’ a la the American way seems the only goal to work to; why humanity cannot survive peacefully otherwise is a matter not worth consideration…

Barack Obama’s a sensible, intelligent man. His visiting India was a nice enough gesture. Yet, all said and done, it was just a gesture: it merited a nuanced response, not the hysteria which it provoked in so many quarters.

30 October 2010

On cleaning a toilet

“Nahi, nahi, chinta ki kya baat hai? Main kar dunga, koi pareshani nahi hogi…”

Cleaning a toilet is one of the most liberating experiences ever. It’s a dirty job, yes, but nonetheless an ordeal out of which one emerges cleaner in more than one sense.

Obviously, my Dadi doesn’t share these sentiments. Cleaning toilets is for the low caste: achuts, Dalits and SCs. Even if not, even then it’s for the maidservants or, at the very least, for the sarkari jamadar – not, certainly not, for her dear pampered grandson.

Yet, there was no one else to do it and so the lot fell on these shoulders. Why not too? What is in cleaning a toilet?

Something poignant as I see it.

Disgusting and filthy, yes, but poignant still, reflective of the unacknowledged labour of numberless multitudes who worked behind scenes to make those scenes what they are, presentable thus – does not history rest on the shoulders of those who lived and died in poop, pee and puke? A historic act? Certainly…

“Arre kahan phas gaye beta! Rehne do, ek haath maar ke hi aa jao...pote se aisa kaam karvana parh raha hai…”

“Mein theek hun Dadi.”

“Theek toh tum ho hi, par bas ab nibta ke aa jao. Aao aur nahao…”

But history still isn’t without the stigma of pollution, ne? What, what but a string of fables commonly agreed upon? History, indeed; the weight of history rather, imagined as much as real – more imagined perhaps than real. To clean a toilet? Pollution, inescapable pollution! Caste redeems, yes, but then such a caste too! An outcast caste, half here and half there: still, history weighs us down.

“Dadi, mann mein ek khayal aaya hai, kuch vachan dimaag mein ghum rahe hain.”

“Kaise vachan? Kam hua? Jaldi aao bhai!”

“Haan, haan…par sochiye, Gandhiji ne bhi toh aisa hi kuch kaha, kiya tha! Vaishnav jan toh ten ere kahiye, peer parai jaani re…”

Vaishnav Jan, Harijan. Harijan? Really? We who have the leisure to think, to consider our position in a wider order and the forces which bind that order, we make ourselves Harijans. Who else out of his/her own volition would be so? Still, in doing so, in such fashioning, one is that, one is so: peer parai jaani re…shit unites, shit holds what naught else can: everything said and done, we all carry shit within ourselves…


“Kya hua?”

“Honthon se chu lo toh, mera geet amar kar do: ek boond andar se chapak kar mere honthon ko chum gayi.”

“Hair ram, yeh larka! Bas ho gaya, aa jao! Hai ram!”

Whatever it might be, a job well done does give satisfaction. A toilet restored to its showroom shine does lighten the heart, bring a tune to the lips. Thank goodness for Harpic and the like too, for along with something noble cleaning the toilet is now also a sacred chore, a contributor to health and hygiene and the GDP in totality.

“Haan, kaam toh accha hi kiya hai tumne. Shahbash! Nahi, nahi, mujhe mat chuhiyo abhi! Ja naha ke aa, phir, phir!”

“Arre, toilet hi toh saaf kiya hai!”

“Haan, bas, toilet saaf kiya hai!”

20 October 2010

Lines Composed upon Wazirabad Bridge

(to Lakshita; or the idea of her)


Tranquillity or not, recollecting emotion is no mean task. You sit back, relax and spend many ponderous hours mulling over what you saw and felt at such and such place and so and so time. Every few minutes you think you’ve got it and you jump up in excitement and then just as soon you feel a sharp pang of disappointment when a mean little devil in your head rakes up doubt and whispers this wasn’t really it, you’ve missed something, that you’ve lost what it was for good…

It happens so many times too! Of course, for day to day commonplaces you don’t mind it happening, and you pass over such everyday trivia eagerly without a care. But for those things or events or just, well, moments, for these, for those for which you feel a special pang, not being able to recollect them perfectly well can be pretty irritating – irritating as it can be beautiful, both at the same time.

Really! I mean, you think and think and get all the more irritated at the way it just eludes you try as much as you can, but then there is a certain quaintly quixotic charm in this game of cat and mouse, in trying to fix reality knowing full well you never really can fix it after it’s over and done with. Is it man’s will, aiming a la Mirandola and ye olde Humanists to reach out for perfection in thought, in achieving a unity of thought and action, all a harmonious, shining whole? Or is it just plain, ruddy perversity, this hankering after a few seconds, wasting hours for a few moments when there’s much else to do: duties to fulfil, tasks to complete, life to be made…

See how it goes! From one to the other the chain goes on and on and so by leaps and bounds transports you leagues from what you started with. Such if life, and such is the human mind!

Wazirabad. It enters the city there; not literally, no, not in the geographical sense of entering the city limits and coming under the jurisdiction of some of its multiple bodies. No, not like that; yet, in that sense, in sense of jurisdiction, control, this is where it first falls under our control, us as a city. That’s where the first of the many bridges and barrages which we have over it here is and so, in that sense, that’s where it enters the city.

Nothing special about that. Of course not: it’s just yet another bridge and barrage over the mighty river. Ha! Not even a might river; a nallah, rather, as many of us are wont to derisively call it most of the time, implicating in such ridicule our governance, the famed bodies, in the twin conspiracy of corruption and pollution which has for long characterised any effort to restore it to any semblance of a living river. The Yamuna; not a river, a nallah: the Yamuna nallah.

Not a nallah then.

Mighty, mighty river! Crashing, pounding, taking all in its path – forward on to doom! The meek shall inherit the earth, and so the docile, staid, everyday nallah rises up in froth and fury to submerge man and his kind, to take down whatever comes in its path, threaten his arrogance with heavy blows, rot and decay! Chastise him with a heavy, heavy hand, a resounding slap against the vanity of his dreams…

It’s such a pity it didn’t flood, that it didn’t really break down all those banks. It would’ve been spectacular had it, had it flooded that Village. Ha! That would’ve been divine retribution for the Abhiyaan, something to finally award their long, fruitless vigil for nature and man. Not that death is pretty, nor that loss of property or of a lifetime’s hard work desirable. But rather it would’ve broken into our monuments than the lowly hovels, rather it would’ve reclaimed its own there and not thus. The poor always suffer; is the river a capitalist too?

Pah! A river’s a river and that’s it! Not, of course, like an urn’s an urn, or a daffodil’s a daffodil and that’s it, but still, a river’s no more than just that, a dead, lifeless river!

Yet, what a river and what a sight!

Perhaps it’s inexperience. I’m sure it is. A nallah otherwise, just now in spate – what of that?

Yet, why not? Why not indeed? A narrow, two laned bridge laden with the filth of man, his wheels. In it’s centre, the river’s centre, the centre where the channel runs deep and eternal and where now the watery expanse flows the most disturbed, waves upon stormy, turbulent waves of muddy water. Mud of the hills, mud of life, the seed of all our joys and sorrows, this water and mud…small whirlpools, just along the tired pillars aching to give up, make way, the steel of the walls long drawn up in abject obeisance to the river’s will. The will of man? A grain of sand tossed in a stormy sea…

It shakes. The heavy weight of tired souls; hearts laden with dust and grief, with daily cares and joys – the bitter-sweet offices of life and love. It shakes to the core. The mighty sinews of mortar and steel, what might before mud and water? Round and round the muddy water, through the grill a force unknown beckoning, pulling in to its dark, suffocating, deathless womb. It shakes. So shakes man, shaken to the core, his core: a nallah in spate.

Yet, what of it? A week, two at the most and the walls come down: the plains re-appear, the devotees with their plastics come back, the squatters, humbled yet again for no fault of their own, try yet again to piece together the shadow of a life. Spirit? A great city’s spirit, to continue as if nothing happened, as if twas naught but just another blip on the nation’s, the economy’s heart? Very few casualties, just a few displaced – the circle of life? Games people play…

Wazirabad. The nallah enters here. Soon there’ll be a bigger, grander bridge in its place, a bridge to make the city proud, a monument to its power and glory. The nallah flows on…

30 September 2010

On bonfires and the Quran

Notes on secularism and will

I don’t quite see why burning the Quran should be a problem.

I mean, of course, I can see how in the sense people made it out as: it’s not a particularly sensitive thing to do and none too sensible as well, displaying as it does a lack of tact and understanding which may be expected of all clear thinking, inclusive people. I can also see how it might’ve been a particularly inflammatory act given the volatile condition of the Islamic community the world over and everybody else’s relation to it. I can see all of that, yes, and understand it perfectly well.

What I don’t see is why this should be a problem.

After all, the Quran’s just a book. Of great value to billions around the globe, to Musalmans as well as others interested. But all things said and done, to other people, to atheists like me, just another book: of great cultural import, yes, but quite really another book on the shelf.

Also, by that very logic, by being a document of such great significance, something not likely to be diminished in importance by having a few of its countless copies burned – or shredded, or destroyed in any other manner. Islam’s not going to suffer even if thousands of the Quran are burned; I’m sure they make them at a much greater rate than they’re able to destroy them and so there’s not really going to be a paucity of them anytime soon. In any case, I’m sure this wasn’t quite the objection which so many other people had to the idea.

No, if I’m not wrong, what many people’s and States’ problem was that such an act would prove inflammatory and invite backlash in very many sundry ways from the Islamic community. The rhetoric, of course, was a bit different and couched quite often in what our comrades on the other side call the secularist jargon of the liberal democratic setup, of such a move being unacceptable within the secular ethos of modern society, but the import seems to be much the same all over: burning the Quran is dangerous, the mullahs might just burn some more things over.

Which is what my problem with it is.

First of all, it’s just stereotyping the Musalmans way too much as an overtly religious and touchy people bound to flare up at the slightest slight. Agreed, stereotypes are more or less based on factuality, but then to assume that burning the Quran would rock the heart of very Musalman is to force the point beyond belief. I mean, surely the Musalmans have better things to do that forth and fume and work themselves up to fury over a bunch of folk burning the text they venerate. Wouldn’t a majority of them be more concerned about making a living and fulfilling their needs and being tolerably good men and women? How does it really matter if a few of Qurans are burned? Allah’s word is going to remain just the same, a few paperbacks less or more!

That, and that burning things like the Quran might actually help. After all, good man Jones did have a point: the world’s not half as nice as it might’ve been because the Musalmans have very nicely bombed and gunned it up. Sitting there in the backwaters of Florida, there’s little the good Pastor can do anything about it – as little, perhaps, as any of us, us being everyday people more into food and love and exs than theology and restoring Eden on earth. He must’ve felt frustrated – and he has reason enough to – and so planned to do the only thing which could’ve taken his frustration out: burn the book which the Musalmans like the most. Splendidly cathartic idea as I see it: take the Quran, think it up as all of Islam rolled within its pages and then burn it away to glory! Wouldn’t he have felt good after it? Purged, as the word goes.

Is it right then to raise such a hullaballoo over a lone old man and some other friends burning a book which they consider emblematic of all the trouble in the world – and that, specially, when just another symbol, a mosque, was been concretised next to the site of which they most probably consider the greatest blow to their own idea of themselves as a nation by the self same community?

I think not.

I think Jones and Co. have as much a right to burn the Quran – or any other book for that matter – as anybody who buys a book, doesn’t like it and then proceeds to burn it in his/her own backyard. It’s juvenile of course: burning books doesn’t solve anything –indeed, if all of us started burning books as response to the various crises which beset us there wouldn’t be much literature left in any case – and it only adds on to pollution and creates an unnecessary fire hazard. Yet, it is undeniably cathartic and can help people channel their frustration to harmless little bonfires.

It’s only in the public eye, then, that such an act acquires greater weight than it merits. There’s only as much importance to a symbol as one attaches to it and given the paranoia against Islam, it’s but natural so much should’ve been attached to one small flare-up on the margins. Yet, that still doesn’t take away from the inexorable fact that a symbol’s a symbol and attaching too much importance to it unnecessarily and thus blowing things out of proportion only makes that same thing, that symbol, bigger than itself, an entity on its own. If this little would-be bonfire cum blackmail threatened became an international crisis of sorts with heads of various states and religious bodies expressing regret, then it’s more a reflection of the culpability of the general public in allowing itself to be misguided by a zealous media than of the addition of any new dimension to the problem at hand or, for that matter, its solution.

Of course, all that is well known in any case: the so-called general public usually gets misguided by the media, while so-called commentators sweat to expose this same. That isn’t the concern here. What to me is important right now is that while rightly condemning Jones’ plans, nobody on the public scene bothered to qualify their concern by acknowledging the difference between the extremist and everyday Musalman and that while condemning the plans nobody seemed to take cognizance of Jones’ right to a bonfire and, more importantly, to either propose a pro-active, holistic approach towards the alleviation of those conditions which first suggested a bonfire to a Jones and a plane crash to an Osama or at least initiate a sincere, all-party revaluation of existing strategies for the same.

Like good man Jones, I too have no real idea on how to go about doing this and while a part of me does idly itch for that tempting matchbox and those two hardbounds taking up space on my shelf, I cannot but desist. Not just because they cost good money and I wouldn’t want my mother to know I’ve been up to mischief again, but also because the way forward lies inescapably in – in spite of as well as along with bonfires – accepting various things, symbols, abstractions, peoples as they are and not in forging unity through fire and steel. If we are to be truly secular – and this is what I understand secular as, as accepting religion(s) though not necessarily conforming to it(them) – then one of the steps forward we need to take is this, to simultaneously release both publicly and privately peoples out of stereotypes and work towards negating the violent and violence inducing conditions which create those negative, negating stereotypes in the first place.

Which, to put it differently, is to say that we need to be able to come up to a situation where we would first be able to accept a bonfire of this sort as an expression of dissent and disapproval and then handle it without burning up anything else in the process.

28 September 2010


In Memoriam, Us


“It’s nice, you know, it’s nice…”


“You know, this…I mean, it just struck me we’re doing the Western consumeristic mumbo-jumbo, you know, and encouraging market capitalism, but still, it’s nice, this, this mall-hopping thing…”


“Yeah! It’s being together!”


“Oooh, oooh, oooooh! I want them, I want them, I want them!”

“What, where, how!”

“Those boots! See them, the big, black ones? I sooo want them!”

“But didn’t you already buy a pair before the Freshers’? Though they were sandals, but still, I don’t think your Pappa will be too happy about it…”

“True…but I want them so much! And, and I want the sandals too and those wedges!”

“Isn’t that a bit too much?”

“It is…but I sooo want to buy something!”

“Hmm…so buy one na.”

“But I dunna have money na! I’ll have to take it out and then…”

“Haan, who bhi hai…well, I can chip in! You have some, I’ll put in what I have and then you can buy at least one. Sounds good?”



“I think the wedges look super-duper cool on me!”

“Sure do, darl!”

“Yayie! Yayie, yayie, yayie! Me is happy!”

“Hehehe! So am I. What next now?”

“Do you wanna go to the bookstore?”

“Ah, well, no, I don’t think so…”

“Let’s just go and see, hmm? It’ll be nice, let’s go!”

“Okay, okay…”


“Am I mistaken or are we really in a bookstore?”

“We are. Why?”

“Well, what’s with all these CDs and accessories and stuff then?”

“Ah well, they cash in on everything, don’t they?”

“Yeah, and I can’t also find the book which Poppy was talking about. I think it was this…”

“Um, darling?”


“It’s really quite visible when you bend down like this.”

“Oh, um, yeah…thanks!”


“Oh god, there’re so many of them! Look at that entire pile, so friggin’ many of them!”

“Yes, isn’t it surprising? Almost as if there was a fever on with everybody wanting to write and be all so my-story-best-story about it.”

“Yeah, and most of it is bull!”

“Well, it at least makes you feel glad there’re people like V to champion literature’s hold on literature!”

“Oh, don’t be mean!”

“No, seriously, I think all of us have a noble duty towards literature; nay, not just to literature, but to culture, to humanity, to save it from the fell hands of scurvy hacks who do demean the beauty of art…”



“Shut up.”


“Looks like it’s going to rain and rain very hard.”


“What hmm? Jaldi karke finish this nahi toh we’ll get drenched with all the stuff!”

“Yes, Ma’am! We’ll do chattu-pana and go back and then come, right?”

“Yeah, I think so.”


“Hmm…today was nice, wasn’t it?”

“Lovely. Very, very good in fact!”

“Hmm…and the bookstore was nice too!”

“Yes, I think we should do more stuff like that, y’know, check out bookstores more often. It’s so much fun with you!”

“So is buying shoes with you! I like my wedges, I so like them!”

“Hehe! Yeah…we should do this sort of thing more, in spite of the capitalist claptrap.”

“Totally should!”

“Hmm…chalo, ho gayi khatam. Baarish bhi shuru ho gayi. Chalain?”

“Ji, chaliye.”

Yeh chiraag bujh rahe hain,
Mere saath jalte jalte…

31 August 2010

On the Right to Education

The Government of India finally granted all Indians the right to be educated early this year. How charming! After sixty or so years of being so, the Indian people can finally demand to be educated: how perfectly charming!

What the heck are they going to do with it though?

Get educated, of course! Move on, move up in life; improve themselves by partaking of the fruit of knowledge and thus be part of India, India shining. Realise finally through learning, through the accumulated wisdom of ages institutionalised and discipline and hard work upheld the great middle class dream: roti-kapra-makaan finally in their jholi.

Or add on to the teeming ranks of the unemployed and underemployed educated.

What else? Employment opportunities have steadily increased in India, but not at such a rate as would keep pace with our population growth. If more of the people who’re born every day get greater access to education and manage to inch up towards matriculation and graduation do not at the same time get access to employment, leave alone fruitful employment, then one of the primary purposes of creating those opportunities would be defeated. Without employment that’d fulfil aspirations and enable those in whom these are generated to live the lifestyle which is held before them, education will only, as it continually has, become a contributor to social dissatisfaction and unrest, the first stepping stone to discontent with the way things are presently.

Of course, not to say that efforts are not being made to increase these, opportunities for employment i.e.: they are, and the expansion of industry in particularly the tertiary sector embodies this as nothing else; in the primary and secondary sector too industry is daily expanding and making more employment available. Yet, while the former caters largely to the urban and urbanising middle class and can offer on a scale of any size employment mostly in low to middle level jobs with few chances of promotion and fulfilment to all, the latter is, owing to increased mechanisation, actually taking away employment from hordes of the unskilled while creating a few jobs for the technically trained. With population growth showing no signs of stabilising and technological innovations changing the way we take to our environment and harness the resources therein, employment opportunities, at least in India, will not be able to keep pace with the demand for the same by the increasing numbers of low to medium level educated job seekers.

Education – education of any sort – in this case will not be able to ameliorate the situation. We train men and women to join the workforce; we train them professionally most of all, as experts in this field or that and expect them to add on to the economy’s growth as producers, processors or planners. We also train men and women as trainers, trainers not just of expertise but, more importantly, as educators, as trainers of the basics which would go on to necessitate training, professional or otherwise. Finally, educating people and then not having suitable jobs to employ them in incapacitates them for employment which they would’ve found otherwise: the great dream is to move up, move out from the hinterland to glittering urbanscapes and the chances of a farmer or farm hand’s college educated child voluntarily coming back to the family trade are rare.

The only way out in that case seems to be to not educate the masses. If we don’t want a social revolution of sorts add on to our miseries, then the best way to keep the status quo would be to do just that: not bring education to all.

Of course, there is another way: we, the so-called, supposed people, could all make a collective effort and channel development and economic growth more towards happiness and joy, towards containment rather than the attainment of particular GDP growth rates. We could innovate and create models of growth specific to our own socio-cultural environment and milieu, development which would not hanker for industry and technology just for their own sake; development which would recognise in entirety communality, the rights of people over resources not solely as private property but also as a common whole; development which would at least try to address the consumeristic market and defuse the inflation in demand brought about by it. We could do all this and much more, and so could we make work positively towards checking population growth and industrial development and affect a balance between these and with providing fulfilling employment in other sectors.

We could. Would we?

Much easier, I think, to promise the people education, to dangle before them shiny dreams and lull them on. Easier, I think, to give them some training, some learning, some knowledge: a hotchpotch, create a work force neither here nor there, leave it thus and then punish its deviance as betrayal.

Fulfilment is a birth right, something which cannot be dictated on by a State; education, certainly not higher, technical training, is not necessarily a prerequisite to it – even if it were to be couched so, then, again, it is a birth right, something whose bestowal by a State reeks only of a callous indifference which treats the interests of the State and of the people, the so-called masses at large, as separate and parallel. If we are to consider education as a right towards fulfilment, then we need to look beyond the myth of study as improvement and press for a holistic approach towards making it so.

The right will we quite wrong otherwise.

23 August 2010


There was something wrong with his eyes. Well, of course there was; for all he did he couldn’t see, couldn’t open them more than the tiniest bit that was necessary to prevent him veering too close to the road and bumping into an oncoming bus or truck. Even then, it wasn’t exactly vision: some mysterious glands somewhere had suddenly become hyperactive and so all he saw was through the moist veneer of salt.

Thank goodness for the glasses, though. They were a relief, those goggles, shading him from the glare of the sun and allowing him to open up, even if that much. Still, it was irritating beyond compare, this sudden flood from his eyes. Nothing that had happened previously or that morning explained it, and so he carried on, shuffling, careful, eyes forced down by the heavy weight of tears…

He managed to get a bus. It was an ordeal getting in; it usually was at that time of the morning when duty summons labour from the outskirts. But it was better there, better even as it was worse: crowded, full of the sights, smells and sounds of the far-flung, neglected underbelly of Delhi, yet as shelter a relief to his tortured, exposed eyes. As they rattled on and he lost all sense of being amidst the pushing, elbowing and stomping, normalcy was restored and he could finally bear separation from the messianic shades. A relapse occurred, though, and he was instantly pushed back into the grey during the short interval he shuffled from the bus stop to the platform of the station, but then in the train everything was alright again.

But what stays? Out of the metro and till the faculty it was the same, the same torturous downfall that made the world a blur and everything dark and dank. Things cleared up once inside the long, uninspiring hall, but so it was, a mystery: why this should happen, why his eyes suddenly water incessantly outdoors when nothing could presage the onset of an infection was as much a mystery as an irritant.

Yet, so it remained all through that day. He met her after all was done and they took the usual route back. All was well as they chugged along the potholed road and past the ill starred Park till he got out.

Got out, as it was, to blinding hell. That place had never been too much of a stop and in that sticky, hot and humid afternoon it was a blaze of light and sweat.

And people.

People, yes, for there was something wrong here as well. Minute gave way to minute and the crowd kept on increasing; there had been no bus the past hour or so and the prospects looked dim. His condition worsened till the tears shut out the world and reduced him to near-complete blindness. Then, desperate times calling for desperate measures, then did he finally do what he’d never done before.

He took an auto back home.

And there it was, in the auto, speeding across the maze of traffic on the great road that he finally met his destiny. Finally, the cause of all his trouble, the end to all his misery; there, at long last, the fruition of all his pain, let go in all at once, in a mighty, tremendous…


31 July 2010

On Being a Hack


Roshni Dutt,
A long suffering woman
With the thickest epidermis ever:
My Editor.


Being a hack is at once embarrassingly traumatic and enriching. You hate the job and you hate yourself for doing it, yet you can’t but help be fascinated by it.

Really. There’re so many things to it. As a hack – or, let’s clear the air, a content writer – one gets exposed to a well nigh bewildering range of subjects and topics, many of which one would never even have though about in all one’s life. From budgeting to dating to child care to schooling to erotica to hardware to marketing to so on and so forth, the expanse of and demand for content writing today is nearly limitless and as such covers almost every imaginable aspect of human knowledge and expertise. To the amateur in content, then, this range can well be a matter of amazement.

Though, of course, it’s one of those obvious things which we all so often tend to miss: there’s so much matter on the internet, so many products and services and as many blurbs, reviews, appraisals, descriptions and so on. They didn’t just get there on their own nor were they generated by deviously crafty machines. Real people, people like you and me, wrote them because there is an ever increasing demand by – again – real people like you and me for information, advice and help. In striving to fulfil that demand, content not only enables that audience but also provides those who create it – managers, editors and writers – an enviable opportunity to enhance and enrich their knowledge and understanding of the world.

What then is my problem with content writing? Quite simple: it’s boring and fake.

Eminently so. There can be nothing as boring as writing about the advantages of a bamboo chopping board over a plastic one or enumerating the procedure for filing an insurance claim or exalting the virtues of a particular type of wood furniture. It’s marketing most of the time and thus involves all those clichéd tricks of selling something which few would want to buy – advertising, for instance, a particular language course or a certain tattoo outfit. Sound cheery, confident and on top of the world, as if the product you’re pitching is the best of its kind. Some of them are good, no doubt about that, but then the very charade of marketing and advertising – the pretence, the pitch, the discreet, round about clinch, all repeated over and over again ad infinitum – is enough to lull one to a weary stupor down to one’s very soul.

Plus, since it’s for Americans, it has to be kept abysmally simple and obvious. So naively obvious in fact that at times you want to pull your hair in despair – or clobber the silly sod who came up with the job in the first place. Imagine, for instance, my despair on the fourth go on a five hundred word article on budgeting for the average American: the same thing, the same features, the same silly, obvious advise – plan out expenditure, it’ll help you save money; don’t indulge excessively in impulsive shopping sprees, you’ll end up wasting money; don’t invest in risky propositions, the stock market’s volatile – all over again in different language. If it’s uninspiring and boring, it’s also absurd in the most stupefyingly existential way.

And of course, it’s also fake.

Fake not just in the sense of being hollow and uninspiring, but also as being unreliable. Given the demand for content and the profusion of start-ups in this part of the English writing world, almost anybody can be a content writer today, writing skills and grammar notwithstanding. This means that those who churn out content most of the time know almost nothing about what they’re told to write and as such have to rely on what’s available as public domain on the internet – which, more often than not, is yet more content, written previously by people just as ignorant. Yes, there is some degree of truth and veracity to all of it – after all, somebody back up in the chain must’ve done up reliable research in the beginning – but as it is, the twists and turns which inevitably accompany each new article and advisory put yet another colour onto knowledge and reduce with each successive effort its reliability. Of course, there’s no way for the lay reader – even, indeed, for the befuddled writer – to know just where a particular piece stands and so all appears, as it must, new and original.

Which brings me to the next problem with content: it’s simply not ethical.

Indeed, for content is naught but matter rehashed, plagiarism just on the right side of copyright laws. No matter how much firms advertise the originality of their content, a vast majority of it is copied and rewritten, either directly from one source or, if the writer’s slightly more industrious, from a few – and since there’re absolutely no incentives for quality work, the chances of that are pretty rare.

This last, as may be guessed, is because the whole industry’s organised on a pyramidal, trickle down model with writers – those involved most centrally to the job – at the bottom most rung with no perks or benefits. We may write on them for righteous fashion and organic food portals, but fair wage ideals hardly ever appeal to content writing firms, much less if, as a considerable majority are, are start-ups entrepreneured by enterprising and ambitious college students and under thirty graduates. Further, since much of the work that comes is outsourced matter, it holds, by virtue of passing many hands till it finally comes to a writer, little monetary value, amounting many a times to as little as ten paisa per word.

Not just that, though. Part of the problem is also integral to the nature of content writing as, as it were, an industry: as a thoroughly capitalist economic setup that caters to the insatiable demands of an increasingly consumerist world culture, content writing works on principles reminiscent best of the Dickensian workhouse, minus, of course, the physical grind and torture. Writers are expendable units, openly bought on the cyberspace – an employer on a leading job portal asked interested writers to “quote their price” – and freely expected to prostitute their skills to anything that’s demanded of them. The laws of free market demand and supply deem it so: explicitly instructed to a nameless anonymity, all they’re required to do is to create content in accordance with specific guidelines dictated by clients. All of this must be accomplished with the least questioning and inspection; writers – for that matter, particularly in case of solely rewrites, the firms more often than not – are not supposed to know to what ultimate end their work will be put to and interaction between writers and editors cum managers is restricted and formal to the core sans all but the least, ritualised pretension to recognition.

Now, it’d be fine if it was really just this. I mean, of course it’s boring and it’s unethical, but given our economic setup today, there’s almost no form of employment that isn’t exploitative or underhand in some way or the other: this one, where it is, is only in sense of ownership, of IPR and other modern statues, and that too of matter as sordid and uninspiring as content. In any case, these conceptions are on the whole alien to literary traditions the world over, traditions historically prone to inspired creations and imitations, all perfectly within the ambit of acceptability and canonicity.

Ironically though, the problem is just that: literature.

Not literature of course, not literature per se: oh no, not at all, not in the least. Literary training rather, more accurately the biases concomitant on such a training. Dependant not as much, or not as necessarily, on the accident of pedagogy as much as on the historical biases engendered by criticism and, perhaps more so, popular culture and accepted as such by a pseudo-conservative mind. On its own, content writing, for all its flaws, is enriching; besides I in any case spice up whatever I do, mixing post-modern feminist theory in advisories on dating and Shakespeare in tips on budgeting.

What then acts as a deterrent, what makes content writing an embarrassment – even, at one level, downright traumatic – are these biases, biases which deem writing as a fulfilling creative force at once exalted and humble. Notions, expectations, one’s own as well, in a vague way, societal: writers as creators, commentators with and in the know; literature-wallahs as academicians involved in fruitful criticism and dialogue. As both, and as aspiring to more fully be both, the openly mercantile nature of content writing stands in direct opposition to one’s ideal for oneself: to be, in whatever small way, a critic and a commentator and then to write content; to write thus, aspire and conceive, to create and then to be a hack, overwhelmed by the machinations of domestic economy, all for money…to be a hack, at once enriched and degraded, biases of training and tradition: a hack? A hack! A hack…