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Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Postman Nevermore Knocks Twice.... - HEY MY 50TH POST

"Poetry is all that is worth remembering in life," said William Hazlitt.

I don't know how much the current generation of teens and youth out there remembers, poetry or not. After all, this is an age of Memory Chips and 100+ giga inexpensive hard-drives. So save as much as you can. Even dedicated drives for downloaded DivX movies. Ek Dum!

When I was a kid, there used to be this scheme run by the government to encourage savings at a young age, called Sanchayika, whereby your schools used to run a sort of Savings Bank and each child could credit to his/her account even 5 paisa - each day or whenever possible. And we were proud owners of pass books. When I quit school, from 7th std until 10th, I had saved 32 rupees painstakingly over 4 years and to receive it as hard cash!!! Rs. 32/- in 1981. How much is it worth now?

Well now, am not talking of that savings.

Save to Memory. The watch word of the day.

And thus computer does make Hoarders and Packrats of us all!

So, everything is available on the World Wide Web. There is no need to write notes, buy bazaar guides, burn midnight oil at the 11th hour. Visit one of the many essay and guide sites dot com and search and save.

In absolute contrast to the Nazi burning of the books where the watch word was "Search and Destroy", now we are witness to the age of Search and Save. In either case, we spare the world of paper. Thus Nazis and We are both contributive in our own ways to Save Trees, Conserve Ecology and all that jazz!

As an extension, we spend more and more time on the WWW. As a natural extension we start living out our lives in front of the Computer more than in real-time. Leaving aside the fact that we now consume more hydel energy instead of Bagasse, communication, exchange of messages, emails, opinion sharing all happen in this P2P world of give and take. I am going out there one of these days and go on a Friends of IPO (IPO Bachao Andolan) a-la Medha Patkar. May be I'll go on fast and get Saif 'Cyrus' Khan to endorse and probably have his movie banned at our own Q IS DEAD MOVIES!

I read the other day that postmen who used to go door to door to deliver post and parcels, of late have also started carrying stamps, money order forms et al so that now they are mobile post offices of the minidor sort. Yes, now that courier deliverers have taken over going door to door to deliver posts and packets and parcels, IPO-men have to move on. IPO ya BPO - ay, there's the rub! So anyway, these poor souls have no raison d'etre anymore. Even worse, no one writes to the postmen anymore. And the Postman Doesn't Even Knock Once.

Blame it all on the blog!

I must be getting past that age when I can't consider myself eligible anymore to be in the youth age-group. The newspapers who write about theatre in Chennai have done away with the youth tag on me. There are real youths (I mean 18 and 19) getting into theatre. My early theatre days was like the English cricket team of about until 5 years back. The average age of a theatre youth would be mid-20s. Chennai Theatre scenario isn't so anymore, it resembles the youth world of American tennis (15s and 16s), although the English Cricket team seems to be cruising on the mid-20s aver-age mode as ever (else how do you account for Shaun Udal!). So, forget me. Move on to real youth.

The youth seems to have its own ways, as it always have been through the ages. Except, we are entering or have already entered an absolutely new hi-fi age where high infidelity and low fidelity rates in relationships are the norms. But we are not talking that either. We are talking about the habits of keeping unearthly hours.

I normally fuzz out at 11.45 the latest in the night. Times were I used to crawl home at 2.20 and 3.10 am on my Titan Dial with an array of smells in my breath, enough to make the Fragnipanis and Baldinis of the world go dizzy with envy. Not any more. I cop out at 11.45 PERIOD

And the next morning I get up early (which is about 6ish) to check my mails (lest there are heavy downloads on my mail, since I belong to the primitive civilisation of Dial-up users) and surf the net for info I seek for any writing projects of mine. And what do I find? The comments to posts on some of the blogs I visit as well as the posts themselves bear the stamp of Interstate 1.00 am-ish to 3.00 am-ish. I got piqued and asked couple of my young gen acquaintances in theatre.

Well, apparently around 2.00 am is the time of maximum DivX Downloads since the broadband is relatively faster then. So while a six-hour download starts its life, the surfers all commune at the bloggers park and start posting and commenting.

It's Darkness in the Junge, Listen to the Night!

Wow! Who would have thought that a country that two decades back was pronounced as backward and developing and conservative as it went to sleep by 9 pm to wake up and start its day at 4.30 am to the sounds of cows named Radha and Lakshmi swinging their heads as they chaffed at the fresh grass, would today go to sleep at 4 and 5 am!! Who would have thought that a country divided by the plates that unite Vindhyas underground would get together in the night. After all this is the country that got its Freedom at Midnight!!!

And then there is Call Centre! So what's so unique about Call Centre life anymore. I scoff at all these yuppie Call Centre folks when these days they come and strut about their night life. I hear you Chetan, we are in sync. The whole nation is anyway awake and that is a whole new world, brave or not. We have started working and communicating and now even conversing to Western Time Zones.

What happened to the good old real-time meetings among friends and common-interest groups? What happened to all those days of arguments and debates and exchange of ideas and trading of opinions and formation of hypotheses over coffees and pakoras at Debate and Poetry and Literary Clubs? Everything happens on-line.

Coffee is Passe and Latte is In!

Even neighbours seem to communicate either through phones or emails. I mean, the traditional description of a neighbour is a person who lives next door. And even if Indians don't anymore live in wall-sharing street-houses, we all live in neighbouring flats. How can two neighbours who share the same floor of the same block of the same apartment complex not open the door in real-time and walk across to each other's interior to say something?

This incident happened to my brother, am not joking. My brother had gone to his headhunter at Bangalore to attend his overseas interview calls as he was poaching for a job to get back to US after a couple of year's break. Obvious, it was a call center. And he was attending interviews. According to records and some sidewinding done by his B'lore companpy, he was supposed to be attending an interview call from Nebraska or wherever. They do it regular if you didn't know. That's how Indian placement guys operate. You give them a CV they forward another to their headhunting clients... further doctored needless to say. In the first place, most of the job-seekers themselves partially doctor their CVs to reflect the latest in CSHARPs or DOTNETS or whatever, and show the most recent employment as until the other day even if they were not employed until the other decade!

So, coming back... suddenly the guy at the other end, apparently his prospective employer, interviewing him gets a bit fishy and decides to probe. Actually you're sitting in India right? Haaarrummmph! Well... things kind of work out! The thing in my brother's favour was that at least he was not putting up accent or disproving he's Indian who used to be Murugan or whatever turned Mark or whatever! And then he happens to adjourn to a near-by eating joint! Wonder of wonders... he runs into someone with whom he starts chatting to while time away... and that guy narrates the story of how he was sitting in a Bangalore Call Centre and happened to interview a guy who's supposed to be in Nebby or someplace... No joking, this happened a bit recently! So... we've reached a stage in the drainpipe where two guys sit in the same Indian town and behave like both are in another western country and interviewing each other! I SALUTE THE CONTEMPORARY FIBRE OPTIC INDIAN PREDICAMENT! What shall I say?!? That was just an example what we are leading ourselves into.

The cutting edge age of bytes mega and giga

We are witnessing - and some out there are being part as well of - a generation that has become unable to structure their thoughts seriously enough that they have started speaking in monosyllabic "Hey" or bi-syllabic "Howdy" (now that comes from Frontier Westerns originally) or "Hey You" or even better "Sup?" or "Wussup dude" irrespective of the gender of the addressee or addressant or whatever s/he is! And we have become inept in communicating spontaneously not because of our lack of language tool, but because we are losing touch with reality. We need to constantly update ourselves about what's up in the world of current affairs or movies or music or books only because the next time we visit any blog we need to be able to participate and leave comments so as not to make a total turd of ourselves. Who cares? No one even knows whether you visited or not. As the used to say in the Frontier West days... "If you don't leave yore corral, yore hoss don't leave no trail, sabe?" But we have also become info-exhibitionists that we feel impelled to impress others with our knowledge that was probably acquired as a result of nethunting for info on Wiki or Rottentomatoes or NYT or or wherever just a couple of minutes back after reading other's comments. And so the bangwagon of insecure generation rolls on!

Was it Robert Frost who said, "Poetry is what gets lost in translation"? If that, and as a natural extension this current gen is Poetry as it is getting lost in translation from real-time to blog-time, then am I witnessing Poetry in Motion? With too much of verbal diarrhea, it is probably a bit too loose motion. And they now even have a new terminology based on blogging that should anytime get into the dictionary.

BLOGGER CANDIDATE. That's how TIME described a certain IRAQ War veteran who returned home and was spurred by a politician friend of his to run for the Democrats in the election. The candidate spoke about all things that never would mean anything in realtime to the voters. And he got outdone by a traditional Senator candidate from the same county because he knew the reality. That's what it is. Blogger Candidate. Too much of attitude and too little REAL info. How much of info that is being exchanged on the blog really is useful? "Well, it gets people to know each other better... these little little exchange of opinions". So what're you going to do? Is this a sort of about to be married candidates prospecting each other? Beat it!

Arre... wah wah... new to Blogging? Welcome to Blog World (or like I leave as my housewarming comment, W2BW).


Srini said...

Very good post Sir KK!

But like usual jam-packed with umpteen branches of a tree to comment upon. So let me comment on what I recall.

I have always subscribed to your view that with yur gen an era has come to a close. It happens almost everywhere. A certain veteran Professor in our college a strict and scholarly academic by name D' Silva is retiring this year and his farewell received more strength then any of our woefully shoddy departmental festivals during my 3 yrs stay at college.
Then the thing about neighbours and friends not meeting each other! Bang on, I reckon. The point however is we digress into temporal excuses and say none finds the time: well if one cannot find time for one's dearest, then I am afraid what's the point of vaulting ambition, money and an array of limos to drive in.
About blog too, I totally accept your view - though I myself in the recent times have veered into some treadmill topics of late: for that matter even on the net at large, it is fast food that we can nibble at - whether it is notes we want or blogs that we read - and that it can never parallel the painful but at-the-end-of-the-day pleasurable experience of having gained real knowledge. After all it was Ionesco, wasn't it, who said something in the lines of - to gain knowledge one must encounter pain!
And the IPOs and BPOs I have always believed are a big farce. Plus our emails and SMS-es. Though my emails themselves are like letters, I do admit that it can in no way supplant the pleasure of sending and receiving letters.
Till two years ago I had a friend to whom I wrote regularly.
If I can think of anything else, I'll comment again. Cheers!

Krishna Kumar said...

Dear Srini

am glad you see the point of the post despite its thickets of allusions and diversions. Yes, I still maintain the habit of writing surface mails and sending greetings to friends. Mostly these are ones abroad. The thrill we both receive when we acknowledge our mutual surface mails over emails the next day is beyond desc. Have you done any posting recently? I have been terrible busy... really... not a word of lie... that I haven't done all the commenting i must. I am covering at the rate of 3 blogges a day. And of Anand... I owe him a huge visit! Keep in touch

sykora said...

I agree with the umpteen branch thing... anyways,

What I can gather from that marathon post I just finished is that the world is changing. That is a good thing. If the postmen find that they no longer have a "reason to be", then there will be no future postmen, rather we will have "Internet administrators" and whatnots.

The internet, and blogging, have made the world a smaller place, and we can now communicate with friends overseas with relative ease. We keep unearthly hours because the sun and the earth don't share our views, and we aren't bold enough to tell the americans to call us for help when *we're* awake.

All that's left for us, is to come face to face to each other, and then emoticons.

Srini said...

Dear (sir) KK,

First of all congrats on thy 50th post. How silly of me that I got absorbed by its content and even overlooked such a highlight in the title...

Oh, yes I always understand you are a busy gentleman and in a way admire the fact that you still keep checking blogs. There are new posts in both my blogs. Do check them out if time permits. After exams are over, I might start work on an elegy. I hope - though I compare never - that mine will at least be a shadow of Gray's poem, which was the first paradigm shift from Neo-classicism to Romanticism.
By the way what are you sir KK? The restrained Pope or the blessed Wordsworth? I mean which do you enjoy as a being?


Krishna Kumar said...

Son Sykora!

The day we realise we have the balls to tell the americans to work to our hours we would be better people. Actually it is the Americans who are desperate, not us. Because they are the headhunters and good heads are rare to get, if we keep our price up and not show leering rows of teeth to get a job 'somehow', they would appreciate it actually. From my dealings with americans, what I find is that they are the most trusting people. If for example you say you're calling from a particular place in US even if you're not... it is easy for them to call your bluff. But they won't. They are like that. The general western mentality is that. They treat you by the face value. And we are soooo desperate as a race and have no self-esteem nor self-respect we stoop to any level to 'somehow' get things done. As against which the Chinese for example also offer cheap labour rates, but search a Chink who would not hold his head held high! So... the proof is in the pudding. Stand for something and seek things at your price and if it's worth it, you will have it. SOMEHOW is the worst word that needs banning.

As for internet bringing the world at a closer proximity than telephones have managed to do... you look into yourself and ask, we can't communicate with neighbours and relatives and closer relatives like parents and kins inside our homes but we find it necessary, why, even essential to get in touch with friends abroad? You get into local shit they ain't gonna bail you out. We Indians are forgetting our local community and get carried away by the global glamour.

We need to patronise and encourage what's germane to us than saying they've become redundant and support these multinational. I guess next you will root for USPS running postal service in India, because phoreners are better blooded and privatisation is good! I am no nationalist or partial to swadeshi for swadeshi's sake. But suddenly because we have tasted something that works better in other countries while we were in other countries, we cannot expect the same here. Conditions are different. We need tolerance. Well, grow up to be middleaged you'll understand. For now go serve the cause of privatisation through multinationals wearing reebok boxers and nike vests and drink capuchino and eat donuts from Dunkins!

Krishna Kumar said...

Dear Srini

I am the beatnik Brian Patten. I am an 'in yer face' artist. I do not espouse words which are just lyrical and sound good. If something doesn't serve any purpose but exists purely to delight alone I am not for it. Whatever is created must have a purpose. I am more appreciative of Arun Kolatkar than Gray or Wordsworth or Burns.

Aashirwad said...

Maybe i'm not old/worldly-wise enough to comment on the BPO-IPO stuff, but stuff like the crazy-hours, stranger-neighbours, call-the-guy-whose-in-the-next-cubicle stuff really is strange, but something that we observe everyday. Jeez, everybody I know is online all night. I myself find myself online an hour after dinner till certain restrictions (my PC is in thatha's room) force me to switch off (and sometimes boot amma's laptop and work out of wireless). Invariably, half the city's up till midnight. And what's more, since everybody speaks to everybody else online, nobody wants to go out and have that coffee or go for that movie anymore, unless its a real date (meaning hands-on, literally). Already one month after my boards are over, and guess what? I've met my friends once, not gone out for a single, not watched a single movie at the theatres, simply because nobody wants to get out of that chair (or is it just me...).
And cellphones, free sms, etc is really causing the get-lazy-and-do-everything-while-on-the-couch syndrome. There was this time during the exams when I had to wake up early (4ish) and finish some cramming (jeez, even that isn't normal. cramming. a.k.a. not having studied and doing it in the last minute) I asked dad to give me a hand waking me up. So I wake up at 4 am to the sound of the phone ringing, and guess who's calling - dad from the next room, saying wake up!
Neighbours - i don'tknow anybody who lives in my building. I've only seen their cars and drivers and sometimes a quick glimpse of them...never as much as a polite acknowledgement in response to a hi/hello...and these (including me, I have to admit) are the same people who don't give a damn about having an hour's chat with a stranger on the net, having 'e-friends', etc. Some people go as far as fix their dates/marriages's shameful.
Wonder if this is some kind of redefinition of society.

Srini said...

Well sir KK,

I completely agree with you. But then do you denounce all poets? (I do not have anyone in mind... lol)

Krishna Kumar said...

Spot on Aash! I am glad there are few people who still hold hope for this country.

Thankfully between my elder bro and myself, we only use MSN messenger and other stuff to test each other's connectivity. Otherwise, he lives upstairs and I do downstairs and use upstaits-downstairs only to sleep independently. That is one thing - A Joint Family - I guess no one can totally rub off the Tamil psyche if not Indian!

This night life and stretching our sleeping hours is a conscious effort by the private sectors and heartless capitalists (those who hoard money and money and materials). I mean how much can one really want. What is the point in hoarding. We've grown so individualistic that we need 3 phones, 3 cars, 3 whatevers if there are 3 ppl in a home. And then meet for a family dinner at a hotel after their independent schedules! SCHEDULES within a family??? I give up!

I wish Rajiv Gandi had not come and liberalised the country sometimes. See... it all boils down the Congress clan. Even after 57 years they continue to screw up the country. Don't be surprised if Antonio Maino makes us next speak in Italian. As such the rate of conversion to Vatican is getting alarming what with non-denominational churches burgeoning each passing day. This is the joke: You don't need to change your name... just get rid of YOUR EXISTING GODS and watch Daystar and God TV! I wonder how can Krishna Kumar or Vishwanath Anand - vaishnavite and saivaite names - belong to a non-denominational church. How can Santhanam Jebakumar be a Christian Nadar? Christianity is religion, Nadar is community based on Hindu Manu Sastra. Oxymoron. Ox as well as Moron?

Krishna Kumar said...

Dear Srini

I don't denounce anyone. There are things I like, there are things I don't like. Nothing like use of strong words such as abhor. In only one sense I am a Gandhian - I hate people's actions, not people per se. I am known to give people a long rope and a lot of hope. I never shut my door on people. When people do things that goes against the grain of what they stood for and what I came to know them initially, I just clam up, stop responding. I believe one should not change fickle-mindedly. Policies and Ideologies can't change. But I keep the doors open, just in case the change back! But I see no hope for the Romantics. They just provide you lyrical hard-ons with their ganja of words and rhymes. What is the use of philosophising about beauty? Beauty is to be savoured and not discussed. I mean, you don't philosophise about the falling attires of Carla whatever do you? You just gawk and go ahead with your life. May be recall the image. Similarly, with life. I think Coleridge and Byron are exceptions. That guy STC is absolute illusionist. He just dopes you out. Byron... there is the example of the term fiery! He LIVED Life! Although I appreciate Shelley, Wordsworth, the inferior neo-romantics and pre- and post-raphaelites, I don't much set store by them. Keats was ok. Too bad he lived too short.

Aashirwad said...

Yes, KK, I think we're overdoing the 3 of everything concept...I just took a minute off to analyze and realised that for the five people who live in my house (mom, dad, sis, grandpa, me) there are SIX people who work as support-staff (cook, maid, driver, etc). It's a concept blown wildly out of proportion. I think I'm going to start putting aside days on which to live frugal...

Srini said...

Dear sir KK,

Thank you for the strong response. I appreciate it a lot, albeit my question was very light-hearted (lol).

For me, among the Romantics only Wordsworth is worth something - more for his philosophy than literature. Keats is fine as you have said. STC I love only as a metrical artist!

Krishna Kumar said...


there's another thing...if you notice. In the course of time we become slaves and dependents to them all. We subject ourselves to our reliance on them and we curse them for letting us down by not turning up on the most crucial day (at that point) of our lives, while it is us we must curse. Anyway, I have never had and hopefully will never have this maid shaid thing. I guess, the day when labour becomes expensive we would start doing things that we must anyway and can anyway do ourselves. Like in the west. How many can afford chaffeurs. Labour is cheap. Again... so is it because self-esteem is cheap. People are willing to be or do anything to get things done. These slum dwellers most of them come here a menial labourers brought down by government in hordes for road laying or building huge offices... or by small time real-estate guys to build apartment complex... and lo and behold, these people are left dislocated. They are such menial daily wagers back in their village reaping and harvesting during season or rolling beedis off-season and earning such low income, they don't want to go back. They camp here and squat. Soon we have Dhideer Kuppams and Slambang Slums. The local politicians find it convenient to encourage them because it means support morally. Four years down, they seek or get voter cards... and they are urbanites. And we suffer from a sudden what shall I say In-odus, we who have been born and brought up in our own native city are left to feel like diasporic dandelions!

Krishna Kumar said...

Dear Srini

there's more philosophy in STC than Wordsworth if you pored into his works. The same way Tennyson does. Wordsworth is too much mass. What do you expect who live ripe and outlived all Romantics. Simple truths his poems are I accept. But too much is being made of WW and we are indoctrinated too much of WW during our school days the same way we are of WS. Blame it on the teachers since they have this unwritten self-ordained tag as high priest of morality to expose us students to nothing they think that can assault the edicts of Indian morality! Ever seen a teacher who talks what's really inside Shakespeare?

Anonymous said...

My thought after reading your essay...
Drive on a 9 seater SUV all alone, thinking of the greenery - a past posession of the present road...., that is how life in the so called developing world is all about... and Iam not an exclusion from the above list....