Archive for January, 2008

Norms, Standards

January 31st, 2008

Yesterday we visited an organization that registers construction workers. It creates a database of the workers. It is a mediating agency that puts the construction workers on jobs with companies/projects requiring workers specific skills. The organization acts as a mediator. It  registers construction workers, provides them with accident and family insurance, and organizes some skill trainings for them. It does some amount of dispute settlement. i.e., if there is a problem between the workers and the builders or the other way round, it tries to pacify the parties.

What was interesting was the approach of the organization. It has so far found it difficult to register migrant workers because migrant workers are least likely to have address proof. The workers themselves are reluctant to get themselves registered, particularly the women workers. So the organization approaches the builders, telling the builders that it will provide Provident Fund (PF) facilities. Hence, the builder “must get” his workers registered with them. I found this irritatingly fascinating. Here is a NGO that claims to work in the interests of the workers but because the workers are uninterested, for legitimate reasons (including not wanting to be on a database lest they come in the eyes of the state for all the possible alleged reasons), to get themselves registered, it invariably ends up using force. Is control so inherent?

Then we are told that construction workers in certain states in India are politically powerful and also these workers don’t work as hard as the migrant workers do. This organization believes that migrant workers suffer at the expense of the politically established, “lazy”, home state workers. Creating an identity card for the construction workers and a nation-wide database with call center facilities will enable the workers to get work in whichever part of the country they may move to, the workers will work “hard”. Then we are told how a state like Kerela has made a choice not to have industry and to benefit from the remittances of those working in the Middle East and Gulf States. By not having industry, the Kerela state government is doing something very wrong! And we asked, what is wrong if you choose not to have industrialization? Who defines that development must be carried out only in one way? Who decides and defines what constitutes development? What if people are not interested in working? Does that automatically mean that people are lazy? Can’t people choose consciously that they don’t want to work and there is nothing wrong in not wanting to work? Is work the only way in which we can categorize people as hard-working, lazy, unintelligent, etc.?

I came out of the meeting asking myself whether control is inherent in us? Like this organization, that believes it is working for construction workers’ interests and is inherently controlling?

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Nothing spectacular. Just ordinary.

January 30th, 2008

It was yet another day that began with depression and anger, that sense of not knowing what I am doing, why I am doing what I am doing and what I am going to do. Everything seemed like a burden when the day started off. And it got more and more burdensome by the middle of day until I felt like I would collapse under this burden.

Then V sent me a link to his blog post He had written about London and how he feels alive in London. It reminded me of my few days in London and how much I was in love with that city and how I longed to go back again … just to feel alive, just to sleep the nights off on the streets and beg by the days. V and I chatted about how stability was killing us and how I felt that everything that I did was pervaded with an increasing sense of nothingness, of meaninglessness. After talking to V, it felt like I had a goal in life – to get to London. For once, I could not care about money and how to get there. I just knew that I had to get there. That was the first kick of the day.

I decided to walk to the Center today, just for the heck of it. And it turned out to be some experience. Nothing spectacular, just ordinary, but a sense of revelation. The revelation was not about the city, as much as it was about me. For once I realized how I have to let go off time if I have to make something out of myself. Right now, my tightly holding on to time is murdering me, slowly and gradually. In the evening, when Jack and I reached late for our appointment, we felt such a sense of relief. We felt like we had done something for ourselves by being late. Just these simple things in life, such pleasure!

I have decided that I have to spend an hour writing every single day. Even if I write garbage. Sometimes, it does not work to wait on spontaneity to strike you. Like David would tell us during our photography lessons, sometimes you have to just practice, like a habit. Then it becomes habitus, a part of you, where you inhabit it as much as it inhabits you.

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Structure and Everyday Life

January 28th, 2008

This morning as I rode out towards Domlur, a sudden anxiety and fear gripped me. I do not have a daily routine in terms of “work”. Yes, I do the domestic work in the morning and in the evening. But I do not go to an office. I have to create my own deadlines for work and my own work routine. Since I work on a project basis, the moment one project gets over, I get gripped by a queasy, uncomfortable feeling in the neck – what next? now what do I have to look forward to? And then begins a desperate search for some more work. In the process, I don’t know where I am going. Just scrounging for more work, instead of trying to do what I really enjoy. But then, what do I really enjoy? (I don’t think I am even enjoying the act of writing now!)

So this morning, as I rode out to Domlur, I was gripped by that queasy, uncomfortable feeling of being out of “work”. What then is work, I ask myself? To me, it is what defines a structure. And the comfort is the structure, even when you are not actually doing the work. When that structure collapses, what do you do? It is discomfort. Every day has to be lived on a day to day basis. Now you are a master of your own time. But that mastery is itself unnerving because we are used to being slaves to time.

This morning, as I rode out to Domlur, I was gripped by that queasy, uncomfortable feeling of being out of “work”.  The structure has collapsed. Now will I build another one?

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Writing by Footsteps …

January 28th, 2008

So what now? …

After one and a half years (or maybe more), I decided I had to write. Why did I decide I had to write? This decision goes back to a few years where the act of writing was an exercise in self-reflection. As I wrote, the reflections automatically appeared in the words. My vulnerabilities, my anxieties, my angst, my excitement, my passion, everything about me was reflected in the words. Writing was meditation, mediation and release.

I wrote about cities, about people. I was the observer and the observed. One and a half years ago, I moved to Bangalore. I lost touch with the city and with writing. Somebody once said that when you get more and more professional, you start reordering your priorities and you rarely go back to doing all the things you wanted to do. I wonder now whether with this initiative to write, I am getting back to home. Yeah, it is questionable as to where is home and what is home. For now, let me admit that my words are my home. In them I seek warmth and comfort. In them, I find myself. The act of writing then is the act of finding myself, of grounding myself, of placing myself.

I had exquisite stories to tell when I was writing about the city. When I decided to reopen writing, I wondered where the words would come from. Earlier, the words came from the act of walking through the city, traveling in myself and in the environment such that there was no difference. This time, where will the words come from? What will I write about? I don’t know … And this not knowing has been preventing me from writing. So let me step into the unknown for once and figure out things for myself anew.

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Moved …

January 27th, 2008

Dear all,

I have now moved my blog to in the hope that I will find some words (and in the process, myself …)