Archive for the ‘Face’ Category

These days, I am trying to keep my patience and save my energy as much as possible.

I keep telling my students, colleagues, family and friends that one of the biggest challenges in life has become how to keep calm in the face of the numerous reasons you could otherwise be angry. I keep telling them that this is one of the top lessons we need to teach our young generation and children — i.e., those who still want to learn from oldies like us and have some faith and confidence in our wisdom. Honestly, we the older generation is leaving behind a horribly messed-up world for them; its up to them to decide whether they want to clean it up or destroy it even further. If they want to clean it up — and I hope they do — they need to learn how to stay calm, composed and focused in spite of the many provocations and turmoils caused by the people in power. They need to learn how to be stoic, and sift through small, mundane things to deal with the real important ones.

Now, what the heck does it have to do with the title of this post: This is Brooklyn, New York. [This is] Not your United States? What does it really mean? I mean, look at the sentences: on the surface, together, don’t even make any sense!

It has a little, real-life story behind it — as a vast majority of my blogs have had some kind of real-life connection. What happened was that this morning, I went to do some small groceries at a locally-owned store here in Brooklyn. I picked up some fruits and vegetables and stood in the line that had perhaps three or four people in front of me, and no one behind. It is a small store and there is not much space to move around near the cashier’s check-out machine. This is a store run by a Hispanic owner; most workers, if not all, are also Latino women and men.

So, waiting in the line, I saw an old white woman pushing her cart full of stuff she bought and she was tentatively looking at me as if she was trying to find out if she could get in front of me, or behind, in the line. I would have no problems letting her come in front of me especially when I was the last person in the line; in fact, my deep-rooted Indian courtesy for older people often makes me do such little acts of benevolence. So, I said, “Would you like to come in here?” Or, maybe, I thought, she was trying to sneak by me into the isle for milk and dairy products.

And then the old woman said something that was quite out of the blue. She yelled at me, really yelled at me on top of her voice, “This is United States. We don’t do it around here. In the United States, we do not come that way. This is United States…here…”

Oh my Gosh, why did I even bother to be nice and polite to her, I thought! I was so taken aback (a mild way) that I even told the cashier girl about my feelings. Of course, she didn’t want to comment: after all, she wouldn’t want to remark on another customer’s behavior. Maybe, she was all too familiar with such incidents happening regularly in her workplace.

Obviously, this was an old woman who was probably quite a bit on the crazy side and didn’t know what she was talking about; it’s likely she was upset at something else and took it out on me at her first opportunity. It could be she thought she had reached that age where she thought she had the right to yell at anyone she met. Or, it could be that she thought I didn’t know the rules of “her” United States: obviously, with a brown skin, mustache and beard, and with a “non-mainstream” look, I definitely did not fit her traditional concept of someone who belonged in “her” United States, and she thought she could tell me that she was not happy that “we” invaded “her” United States.

I know I’m making a big deal out of it. Sure, I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill, so to speak. But I am doing it for a reason. I know that living in Brooklyn, New York, this is not a totally extraordinary incident; in fact, I have had such experiences — more memorable in nature — over the past few years. (No, I’m not talking about the post-9/11 anti-immigrant hate crimes and violence that I wrote about on this blog before; I’m only talking about small, personal, hard-to-deal-with experiences here in New York City, the so-called paradise of diversity and tolerance).

I know such things happen in life, and it was not in any way that bad or hurting. Living in a mega-city like New York, Calcutta or London has its pluses and minuses. We need to know how to deal with it and ignore the insignificant. But the incident still troubled me a little. I would not remember this morning’s experience for too long; but I would want to remember it for at least twenty-four hours before it slipped into oblivion.

I would not even want to say too much on it. But I would want to remind ourselves and our young generation about the absolute necessity to stay calm in the face of provocations — big or small.

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

###

One face or two faces? That is the question.

Over the last few weeks, I asked some hard questions I thought we should all ask Romney, Ryan and the Republicans. I did the same with Obama and the Democrats.

Because the so-called mainstream media is not asking them, I thought the onus is on us.

Even though it’s an American election where U.S. citizens vote to elect their president this November, actually it’s an election that has serious impact for the entire world. In a way, it’s a global election. Therefore, politically enlightened people from all over the world need to understand the various aspects of the election as clearly as possible. For the entire world, the stake is too high.

I was happy to see the level of reaction to my posts. A surprisingly high number of readers of this blog — now from near and far corners of the world — read the questions I asked to the Democratic and Republican candidates. Some wrote their comments directly on the blog, and some others sent me their feedback personally. Some of these friends had a strong disagreement with my position on Obama; they were also unhappy to see how a super-excited 2008 me turned into a less than enthusiastic 2012 me. These friends challenged my political acumen when I asked some critical questions to the Obama campaign. When I said I was not feeling excited at all for Obama, they warned me not to pop their excitement balloon. They said my wet blanket to douse their party bonfire might hurt Obama’s chances.

I felt delighted — by the thought that my little, no-name blog had so much power!

Of course, this is almost an academic discussion. Neither Romney nor Obama is going to read my blog, let alone answer my questions. But this is all I can do. I have said it many times before: other than my writing that I use to make my readers, friends and sympathizers think, I have no power. I have no money, no pedigree, no political connection and no real hope for publishing my thoughts for a wide mainstream audience. Therefore, this is really the extent of my political activism. This is the best use of my experience, analysis and energy.

Ronald Reagan pushed french fries and ketchup for vegetable for school lunch programs. Did McDonald’s serve?

I try to make people think. I try to challenge their minds. This is my only non-violent weapon.

Now, for the sake of time, let’s select only a few issues that are critically important both for an U.S. and global audiences. Food, clothes and shelter: these three have always, historically, been the most primary for the ordinary people across the world. In today’s globally-connected society, some other issues have become critical: I could perhaps select war and violence, energy, environment, education and health for the list. Then, we could perhaps include the subject of labor, immigration and society. I’m sure you quickly see a few other issues that you would want to include in your first list. I am sure I myself would later reflect on it and include a few more that I might have missed this time around.

But at least for the time being, not to make this post unnecessarily long, let’s put together our first list of issues and compare the two big parties and their two big candidates on these issues. It might help us to understand the nature of the electioneering process as it is heating up here in the U.S., and determine objectively what exactly is going on. Often, these critical issues do not surface our way — the ordinary, powerless people’s way — in the 24/7 conversation on big media done by their big experts. I call it Journalism of Exclusion.

Therefore, again, the onus is on us to do it. We must do it. Questioning is democracy. Analyzing is too.

So far, we have identified the following issues to be critical to compare the positions of Obama and Romney and their two big parties.

(1) Food

(2) Clothes

(3) Shelter

(4) War and violence

(5) Energy

(6) Environment

(7) Education

(8) Health

(9) Labor

(10) Immigration

(11) Society

Of course, the all-encompassing, all-pervasive, overarching factor would be economics and money. Given its overlapping nature, I decided not to itemize economics as a separate point. The discussion of money would feature quite prominently when we take up these points — one point at a time. Foreign policy would be another such aspect: it’s going to be interwoven in the discussion of all the other points — one way or the other. And obviously, jobs, wages and unemployment would be another — if not the most important — all-pervasive subject. It brings us to the question of poverty, exploitation and injustice.

Millions of Americans seriously believe even in 2012 that global warming is a hoax and even if it’s true, God who created this earth in seven days will take care of all the problems. Can we include this topic in the presidential debate?

But in this intricately-connected world society of the new millennium, where political boundaries have become almost meaningless, especially when we consider how economics and money (and work) can move from one part of the globe to the opposite part — with a speed of light, and considering how the people in power are using the global connectedness to their advantage, I believe that perhaps we could add one more item on our list. And that item would be:

(12) Globalization.

There! I believe we have come up with a good list, at least for the time being. Now let’s see if we can briefly discuss and compare the positions of the two candidates and their parties on these issues. I’ll try to do it as simply as possible, without making it sound too academic. I’ll try to do it with a language most of us — including myself — would understand. You tell me, please, if this language works for you.

If we think carefully, there is practically no way we can discuss one of the above twelve topics exclusively: they are all overlapping. What role does food and water play in today’s politics? Food prices, food quality, water sources, water quality — and the politics of U.S. government and its two big parties — one that media hardly talks about? Coca Cola’s capturing of natural water displacing millions of poor people from their land (and putting a famous movie celebrity as their PR)? U.S. seed company Monsanto’s forced replacement of Indian farmers’ traditional seed banks with their one-crop, genetically engineered seeds forcing those farmers to go bankrupt and commit suicides in hundreds of thousands every year? McDonald’s food colonization with substandard, unhygienic food that caused obesity and serious harmful effects in the U.S. and throughout the world?

What about the foreign policy around the clothes we wear — where and how are they made? How many of us know how Wal-Mart manufactures its imported textiles from China and Bangladesh, Disney manufactures its fancy DisneyWorld costumes from Haiti or Dominican Republic, driving poor laborers like slaves and depriving child workers of their childhood and education? What about those cool i-Phones manufactured at China’s Foxconn where a large number of desperate, young Chinese workers have killed themselves — because of the horrendously oppressive work conditions and toxic environment?

Where is the discussion either at the huge, confetti-covered RNC or DNC? Is there going to be any discussion at the presidential debates? Will New York Times, NPR, PBS or CNN talk about them between now and November?

Anybody want to talk to Obama or Romney about Orwell and Newspeak?

Now, let’s see. war and violence are two subjects where the two parties’ positions are different, they say. Okay, it is true that Romney, Ryan and Rush Limbaugh’s Republican Party openly talk about a new, imminent war on Iran (or Syria, or Yemen…it doesn’t matter); on the other hand, Obama and Hillary Clinton talk about how they have finished the Iraq war and how they’re going to withdraw from Afghanistan in two years. And then of course comes Joe Biden and gives a war-drumbeat speech at DNC…as if John McCain or Joe Lieberman (remember him?) was speaking. And there is rousing chants all around at the convention…USA…USA…USA…

But let’s see: was there any reason for U.S. to be in Iraq in the first place after six or seven years of destroying an ancient civilization, killing hundreds of thousands of people, and looting their oil, gold and other treasures? It’s almost like the British colony withdrawing from India after total plundering, brutalizing and partitioning a once-prosperous civilization, putting their handpicked, subservient, “Gandhian” feudals in power. The aggressors were going to leave sooner or later anyways: there was no more reason either for the British to stay in India or for the U.S. to stay in Iraq. Where is that perspective?

Can we talk about it in a straightforward way? Oh yes, can we also include the politics Israel has always played and has been playing in this incredible mess? Isn’t Iran or Syria or Egypt or Libya or Saudi cards used in the same game?

And then come Obama’s hit list and the drones and the relentless bombing…the war is over?

And then comes Julian Assange and Wikileaks and Bradley Manning…didn’t they say whistle blowing was actually patriotic?

Would New York Times, NPR, PBS or CNN talk about them? Would anyone throw these questions — this straightforward way — in the presidential debate?

We’ll now talk about globalization, immigration, labor and the economy — and their interconnectedness. We need to know how these two parties and their candidates are different on these issues.

I hope you come back to participate in that discussion. I need you in that discussion.

(To be continued…)

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Who will talk about the globally-imposed cultural conformity? Mr. Obama? Mr. Romney? Mr. Limbaugh?

Never had money. But ever had balloons.

Dr. Seuss, Dr. Seuss, have you any wool?
Yes Sir, yes Sir, three bags full.
One for my jelly, and one for my jam
And one for the Subway Sam who won’t eat no ham.

Do you know what I’m trying to say here? You don’t? Good. Because if you do, you would be as crazy as I am. This is my crazy day. I feel like writing crazy verse. Crazy song. Crazy verse turned into crazy song.

Crazy, crazy, crazy song.

Join me. Together, we can celebrate this crazy day.

In fact, Dr. Seuss inspired me this evening. I owe this entire post to him. And friends who love him and quote him. Dr. Seuss made my day. I’m sure, it made theirs too.

Where did that jam and jelly thing come from? A friend posted on Facebook:

Tan I Am — I ain’t no yam.
If you like Jelly, you’ll LOVE my Jam!
Tan is IN! It’s HIP to be
This Tan if you’ve got a Big Belt Buckle like ME!

Immediately, it inspired me to react with something (well-wishers insist that I do not react) — as if in an electrical chain bulb. The Facebook’er was talking about color and asking us what color were we feeling today? One person said, tan. I felt like I was, like, olive — you know, North Indians sorta wear an olive tinge on their skin? Never heard of it? Good…now you did.

Isn’t that cool?

So, I wrote back (with Dr. Seuss the crazy inspiration in mind):

Olive me — I chuckle
O’ leave me — I buckle
Crazy rhyme or reason
Red ‘n Blue — or treason
Sweet ‘n sour dough
E-motion high or low.

Not bad…eh? Tell me about it! Even my friend who started the what-color-do-you-feel-like today was impressed. And she was so impressed, she pulled out another piece of crazy verse from her third floor attic. Now, that’s super cool!

She wrote:

Olive me. – Why not take Olive me.
Can’t you see, – I’m just Drab without you
Take brown pants, – I want to lose them
Khaki too, – I’ll never use them.
Your good-bye – leaving with Swarthy sighs

How can I – get bronzed now without you?
You took the part- that once was my heart.
So why not – why not take Olive me!
_________________________________________

One fish. two fisher. three fishest. so?

Very, very nice. That verse is nice and crazy. The rhyme is nice and crazy. The rhythm, the beat — that you can easily turn into a crazy song with some serious heat — is nice and crazy. Dr. Seuss is having a field day.
So many rhymes, so many hard-hitting words. So many songs could’ve been with those words. So many rhythms, so many beats. So many starlit nights would make so much treats. One, two, three…and go…two, three, and four. One, two, three, four…you go…two-three-four-five-six. Get it? Now try again.
______________
1, 2, 3
go
2, 3 and 4
then
1, 2, 3, 4
go
2, 3, 4, 5, 6
then
5, 6, 7, 8, 9
ya know
simply super fine!
_________________________
What color are you baby?
What color you in?
Olive, tan or green?
Red or blue — or treason
(Sure ya got a grin — right?
Sure ya got a grin.)
Life is but a dream
They said
But life’s like ice cream
You hold it on and lick it up
When fullest, sexy brim.
_________________________

“The King’s aunt plays cricket, with a squash from the thicket.” Bengali poet of fun Sukumar Ray, father of Satyajit Ray, was perhaps our Dr. Seuss (if not Lewis Carroll).

E-motion high or low. Couldn’t make’em think. They refused to think. Friends punched a blow.

Face, book or slow
You could make it fun
You could wait or run
You could dabble ‘n draw
You could rabble ‘n raw
Idea sin or crazy
Super-clean or hazy
Idio-syn-n-crasie
Pick it up and run
Like juicy Seuss had done.
_______________________
“Look at me!
Look at me!
Look at me NOW!
It is fun to have fun
But you have
to know how.”
_______________________
WOW. You just made my day, old man. Thank you.
Or, really, it’s Floccinaucinihilipilification. In fact, it’s more like Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious.
Try it.
___________________________________________________________
Sincerely, Funnily Writing,
Partha
Brookyn, New York
###

Everybody doin’ the same doin’ the same fun. But at least they are trickin’ … at least they got no gun.

Today I’m writing to celebrate my birthday. But today is not my birthday. It’s tomorrow.

I’m writing today because tomorrow I won’t have any free time. Birthdays here in the U.S. do not wait for a free day (or a day when you can make yourself free), and just like some other days I love to celebrate — such as Durga Puja or Tagore Jubilee — they often fall on a busy day in the middle of the week, and I cannot celebrate them the way I want to.

That’s not what I call a free country. (But that’s a different story.)

I also want to celebrate those days I love to celebrate with a lot of people and family and friends, and that don’t ever happen either.

(But that’s a different story too.)

I really love to celebrate my birthday. I’ve always loved to do it. I’ve done it in our small, limited-means way both in Calcutta, Kolkata — where I spent the first half of my life when Ma cooked some of the best Indian-Bengali dishes you could ever get anywhere in the world (ask any of my old friends); and then here in the U.S. — where I spent the second half and where my wife cooked some of the best Indian and Bengali dishes you can ever get anywhere in the world. Believe me: I’m not making it up.

So, great food is not a priority no more on my wish list. I’ve been blessed with great food — homemade and heartfelt — all my life. I seek something else. My mind asks for something more. It’s a spiritual yearning.

Perhaps, my very special birthday wish this year is: would you be mine? (Now, I know that’s cheesy :-)

This is a very special note at this very special time. I want to smile. I want to chime.

Would you remember today to smile and chime? Mr. Bright? Ms. Bright? (That’s also perhaps again not so cheesy, right? :-)

I need to see a lot of smile. I need to hear a lot of laughs. I want to hear a lot of songs. Happiness has been in seriously short supply. Seriously. Recently, it’s reached a critically low level.

Yeah, that’s it!

My family and friends — especially those who I know deeply care for me — often tell me these days that I have changed slowly but surely from a sprity, forthrighty, frothy, fizzy, frolicky, fun person always with a big smile and grin and loud laugh and sense of humor to a rather sad, glum and grumpy old man. Now, that’s major bad news. I want to change it.

This is a major tipping point.

So, on this very special day (like, starting from tomorrow), I want to remember the good things that happened to my life and be happy thinking about how lucky I am that those good things indeed, actually happened to me — things that do not happen to most people I know (and I know a heck of a lot of people — like, thousands, literally). I’ve sort of decided to come to a resolution that I shall, in my mind, focus on those positives and ignore, delete and de-focus the negatives.

Now, I know it’s easier said than done.

I also know it sounds like one of those Deepak Chopra books — comics that people actually buy and read and make-believe they are happy now. But Deepak Chopra or not, I know I ain’t got no more choice. Or, it’s gonna be fast and painful death for me. I don’t want to die fast and painful. More importantly, I don’t want to die and be remembered a sad and glum and grumpy man. Oh, no no no, man! Because, I am not a sad and glum and grumpy man. I never was. I never will be.

I’ve actually thought about it long and hard: what is it that pulls me down and makes me sad and angry?

I could perhaps post a long laundry list of those things in layman’s terms — events, experiences and feelings all of which happen to be true and raw and depressing and dirty — that could pull any human being with a heart and brain down. Like, deaths of loved ones — and way too many of them too untimely. Like, leaving India practically for good — out of compulsion. Like, being born too poor and seeing too much poverty and starvation too up close. Like, going through a hell of a lot of physical and mental injury and insult. Like, extreme verbal and physical abuse…like, sexual abuse. Like, hiding them all…way too many of them…and pretending they didn’t happen.

Then, there is more. Like, being forced to go through a social, educational, economic and political system that absolutely, totally, unquestionably cheated you. Like, not being able to use your delightful, lovable, warm personality and sprite, blotting-paper-like desire to learn and respect for your teachers, God-given talents, knowledge, experience, analysis and proven leadership to put to use to change the society and system in a significant way…and at the same time helplessly witnessing one of the darkest and dumbest and most exploitative and violent chapters in human history unfolding in your own life…one event at a time…like a bad, obnoxious movie…acted, directed, produced and promoted by some of the most corrupt and inefficient-yet-arrogant crooks in human history. Compared to them, yes, Caligula or Nero or Kissinger or Cheney is like child’s play.

I’ve come to a major resolution. I can never be president of the United States. Heck, I know I can never even be the chief minister of West Bengal. Only people with tons of money, a Bush-like one-of-a-kind predecessor, a major-media-sponsored genocide or a despondent-hopeless-pathetic regime and equally hopeless electorate could make you a president of the U.S. or a chief minister of West Bengal. I’ve therefore given up on those secretest desires.

That’s sarcasm, as you can see.

My parents-in-law became destitute refugees, overnight. Thanks, Gandhi.

But truly and cross-my-heartly, I’ve resigned to believe a few other not-so-idiosyncratic thoughts. Like, the two Golden Bengals will never be reunited and Bengalis will forever be blasted and looked-down-upon by the West and East alike as a failed race (and nobody will read the history book and know either the Pala Dynasty, Sri Chaitanya’s Bhakti movement, Raja Ram Mohan Ray, Derozio, Vidyasagar, Lalan, Swami Vivekananda, Sister Nivedita, Tagore…and of course, on the flip side of history, the British barbarism). Nobody would ever know how prosperous Bengal was where after the Battle of Plassey, Lord Clive and his women looted so much gold and jewelry that they went absolutely wild berserk. (Read about Clive’s atrocities here.)

I’ve resigned to believe that at the London Olympics of summer, 2012, there will be no demand from the millions of Indian, Pakistani and Bangladeshi immigrants-turned-British citizens for an official apology and reparation for the British Raj’s two centuries of occupation, brutality, mass-killing and mass-looting. I’ve resigned to believe that in India, the same illiterate and feudal-chauvinists who were responsible for a bloody partition, riots, refugees and famines will keep in power for many years to come. I have resigned to believe that very few people even in the so-called enlightened West would ever care to know exactly how many hundreds of thousands of Bengali women were raped and killed by the Kissinger-backed Pakistani army in the 1971 Bangladesh Liberation War.

I have resigned to believe that people who I thought would care would not care. I have a number of examples of that disillusionment. Obama has been the latest example on that list.

My Alma-Mater Speaks Loudly.

I have resigned to believe that Tagore’s Nobel Prize, stolen from his own Vishva Bharati University’s national museum, would never be found. I know the British monarchy would never return Koh-I-Noor and numerous other treasures they looted from India. I now know the British government would never tell us how Subhas Bose — whom Gandhi sabotaged — perished in exile. (Am I digressing too much?)

Okay then. I’ve come to realize that nobody in the elite academia in the “free-thinking” West — especially those in the seat of power — would ever care to learn or promote philosophers and intellectuals outside of what Harvard, Columbia or University of Chicago asks of them to freely think. They would not want to know Tagore. They would not know Bengal Renaissance. They would refuse to know or teach anything majorly un-Euro-American.

I know for the fact that none of the above would ever read my blog.

So, as you can see, I have my reasons to slowly but surely transform from sprity, fun, frolicky to sad and glum and grumpy. But at this rather critical juncture of my life, I refuse to be a victim of their doing and die and be remembered a sad, glum and grumpy, bitter man. I shall not give in to their grand plan: destroy the thinking mind, dumb-down the non-thinking others, keep the trouble makers on the edge, and kill all the smiles.

No, I won’t die their prescribed death.

I want to celebrate this birthday. I want to celebrate it with a smile. I shall live on the many positives that happened to me.

I hope you do too.

Smile with me.

Let’s celebrate life. Let’s celebrate it together.

That is my very special birthday wish today…and tomorrow.

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

Another Reason to Celebrate: Teaching American Labor Rights!

Scared? You should be.

Trayvon Martin would still be alive today if his killer Zimmerman had no gun. It’s simple. As simple as the bullet that killed the poor kid.

As Bill Cosby said just a few days ago, and I am paraphrasing: “It’s not about race. It’s about guns.” That is where the debate and action should be.

I know what I’m talking about. It’s very real for me.

My uncle Buddha — my mom’s youngest brother who was like a big brother to me — was shot and killed by a gun.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time and words on this subject. I don’t have to. It’s pretty easy to get.

Did you read the paper, watch the TV, or follow the news on the radio? In the last few weeks, almost every single day, some people — innocent people including children — got killed here in America because of guns. Somebody found a gun. Somebody bought a gun from Wal-Mart or some place like that. They brought the gun to school. They brought the gun to their workplace. They brought the gun to a shopping mall. Then, they shot and killed people. They blew skulls out. They destroyed lives. They destroyed hopes and dreams.

Let there be no illusion. Let there be no confusion.

Guns kill. Guns kill the innocent. Guns kill children. Guns can kill my children. Guns can kill your children.

I’m not here to scare you for no reason. Guns are scary. Let’s be afraid of guns. Let’s be afraid of people and groups behind the scene.

Let’s be afraid of people who’re pushing guns. Just the same way we should be afraid of people who push drugs. Or, those who push pornography. All three forms of vicious killers — guns, drugs and pornography — are abundant now in America. They are beyond control.

They can all kill us. They can all kill our children. Some do it slow. Some do it fast. But, they all kill.

Guns kill fast.

Does the above sound like a sermon? So be it. I have no other way to put it. I don’t have to spend a lot of time and words on this subject. I don’t want to. It’s pretty easy to get. (Even though watching American media, you wouldn’t get it. They don’t mention guns much, if at all.)

Killed by Legislation and Profit.

The so-called Stand Your Ground law in Florida and other states here in America is stupid, primitive and motivated by profit. (Update: even the Norway mass-killer claimed self-defense — the theme for Stand Your Ground law). Bloomberg, the billionaire mayor of New York, in his new crusade against the gun violence and gun lobby and National Rifle Association, used a lot of good logic against the powerful NRA. But he did not mention the gun industries’ motivation of profit and the big Wall Street people and politicians behind passing the law. The same Bloomberg is using his NYPD to arrest peaceful Occupy Wall Street protesters every single day. (and I have yet to see a major coverage in major media).

Without mentioning the drive for profit, and that too at the expense of hundreds of innocent lives, the big Bloomberg talk against NRA is meaningless.

If you talk about NRA, you talk about the gun industry. You talk about the war industry. You talk about the pervasive culture of violence — promoted by media and TV and Hollywood. They promoted it in USA. They promoted it all across the world. Guns and bombs and grenades and mines and remote-control explosives and computerized drones are big business.

Let’s face it: you cannot talk about one element and exclude the others. They are all connected to each other.

I have no sympathy for the culture of violence. I know Obama frequently talks about Gandhi and his so-called non-violence. Good. But Obama never speaks against the all-powerful NRA. He’s afraid to upset them and lose the Southern conservative votes (and Northern gun owners). Neither does Clinton — either the man or the woman. Republicans and conservatives and American feudals and cave men and women tout the Second Amendment to tout their God-given right to carry a weapon. Good. At least we know they are primitive. But Democrats — the so-called civilized, modern people also never take on NRA and the gun lobby. I believe they are either hypocrites or stupid. I don’t care. Either one is bad.

Guns kill. Every single recent, blood-curdling episode — Columbine, Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois, San Francisco, Trayvon Martin, the Colorado Congress woman, Ohio, Pennsylvania…just name it. Guns were the single-most important factor in the killings. Yes, baseball bats can kill too. Yes, knives, swords, poison, drugs and pornography have killed thousands of men, women and children over the couple of thousands of years of recorded human history. But never, ever one single weapon of destruction has been able to destroy lives so fast, so massively and enormously — before the gun was invented and marketed.

You think. You decide. You act.

In 2009, guns took the lives of 31,347 Americans in homicides, suicides and unintentional shootings. This is the equivalent of more than 85 deaths each day and more than three deaths each hour. This is U.S. government’s data.

Think about Columbine, Virginia Tech, Northern Illinois, San Francisco, Colorado, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Trayvon Martin. It’s simple logic. Had the killers carried a baseball bat or knife or sword or poison or drugs or pornography, would they be able to kill so fast and so massively? If the guns and ammunition were not so easily available, would the killers be able to use them so easily?

Think about how these innocent young men, women and children would still be alive. They were somebody’s children. They could’ve been your children. They could’ve been my children. I wrote about it before. I shall write about it again.

The same NRA and gun lobby and conservatives and feudals and primitive, pre-historic profiteers and politicians and press often tout God especially during election times. Would God — any God — approve such massacres? Would Jesus approve it? Would Moses approve it?

I don’t want to spend any more time and words on this subject. It’s fairly simple. Guns kill. Nowhere in the civilized world outside USA people carry guns, or buy and sells guns at Wal-Mart and such places. It’s unthinkable. And those countries and societies do not lose their children every other day because of gun violence at a shopping mall or school or day care center.

I do my part. You do yours. Stand Your Ground.

Shun the Gun.

Or, one day, just like my uncle Buddha, somebody in your family might get killed. It’s a very real possibility.

Believe me, I’m not making it up.

Trayvon Martin would still be alive if Zimmerman had no gun. It’s simple. As simple as the bullet that killed the poor kid.

 

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

Koch-ALEC-NRA-trinity

Image


I am a naked sadhu
— a holy man.

I live in a cave — away from civilization.

I cannot reach out and touch the rest of the world — its people, pleasures and pain. In fact, I do not want to.

I have voluntarily exiled myself.

I have ash smeared all over my unclothed body. I have not took a shower for years. I have not had any cooked food for ages. I have not wore clothes for eons.

I have a smoking clay kiln with firewood from the surrounding forest. It burns day and night. The smoke fills up the entire cave. Nobody can see me from outside. Nobody has the guts to come in. There’s an invisible chalk circle.

I sleep whenever I wish. I wake up whenever I wish. I eat and drink whenever I wish. I follow no rules of civilization no more.

But I am still strong. I am strong physically. I am strong mentally. Unlike most others, I can clearly think. I can analyze.

I don’t speak much. But I can speak. I speak only when I want to speak. Nobody can make me speak. Nobody can make me do anything.

I do not need anything either from the so-called civilization. I am just fine without needs. A sadhu has no need. A sadhu has no greed.

People who I left behind believe I am sore, disillusioned and disturbed. They are right — more or less.

I am angry but not destructive. I am disillusioned but objectively so. I am disturbed because only the mindless can be undisturbed at the way things are going in that so-called civilization. Just the other day, they shot and killed women and children in their sleep, and burned their bodies. It was not honor killing.

Life has no meaning. Home has no meaning. Hope has no meaning.

I renounced life as I knew it because finally I woke up to realize that I have been cheated all my life — by the people who have power. I came to realize that they’ve always cheated me of my dues, dignity and dimes. I know, for sure, there is no democracy when it comes to honor and honesty for the ordinary. I was ordinary when I lived and worked in civilization. I did not see any honesty or honor coming my way.

I could be screaming violent about it. I could’ve exploded in anger at the injustice and insults I’ve experienced all my life. I could speak and write about all the lies, half truths and exclusions of truth.

But I won’t do it no more. I am a sadhu. I am a holy man. I do not believe in violence. I renounced pains and pleasures and people too. I renounced reaction.

I decided to withdraw — completely. It is an absolute renunciation.

Just outside of my cave, life is still dancing away. Just outside of my shelter, love is still waving at me. Lust is inviting me with open arms — in an explicit gesture of seduction. All the material pleasures — money, mauds and maids included — are eagerly waiting for me just outside. They’re using all their seductive mights to lure me away from this exile. Urvashis and Venuses, Ratis and Aphrodites are ready with sensuous movements of their oblique glances and wavy curves. The mortal bankers and earthly treasurers are waiting to shower me with their usurped mountains of dark, sinful cash. Military, mafia, machines and monsters and their pimps are also sending their vicious, bone-chilling threats to pull me out of this maximum isolation.

But I know, they will all fail to accomplish their mission.

I am now meditating my autobiography. I am a naked sadhu — a holy man. I am like Buddha in his deepest meditation under the Bodhi Tree — searching for the meaning of life.

Only in my case, I’m not searching for life. I have seen life.

I am content in my cave.

Do not disturb me.

You cannot disturb me.

______

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

A special note: I’d like to take a moment to thank all the readers especially those who read it from places I otherwise have no way to reach. It is a matter of great comfort that this post was read in countries — other than India, USA, Canada and U.K. — such as Austria, Bangladesh, Egypt, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippines, Poland, Spain and Thailand (and some more). I believe the cruelty and violence I described in this blog is global, and there is enough reason to believe that we are trying to find solidarity here — to stop this brutality. Thank you, readers. I hope you take a moment to share it with others. -Partha

________________________________________________________________

Nightmare on Boyhood Street

Today, I remember a day from my school life. I was thirteen at that time – an eighth grader. It was Calcutta, India. It was perhaps a late summer day.

Calcutta’s name has now changed to Kolkata. Bombay has changed to Mumbai. Madras is now Chennai. A lot has changed in India since then…a lot…especially with the invasion of new shopping malls, MTV, McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut.

Has child abuse changed in India? If your answer is yes, show me how. Give me some examples. If your answer is no, tell me why not.

Here is a real story from a real life.


Bang, bang, bang…

Punch, punch…

Whack, whack, blow…

Slap, slap, kick, thud…

A stout, muscular man in his forties held a young boy by the hair. He held him down with one hand. With his other hand, he beat up the boy mercilessly. He beat him up continuously. He punched him on his head and upper body. He slapped him fiercely, repeatedly, on his tender cheeks. He pulled his hair so hard that the boy was almost airborne. He pulled his earlobes so strongly that they were blood red. The slaps made reddish pink finger marks on his cheeks.

Along with the beating, the man groaned, ground his teeth, and grunted, “Huh, huh, huh…”

The boy took the abuse…the horrible beating. But he did not fight back. And he did not cry out, or ask for mercy. He did not ask him to stop. He did not show any visible sign of pain.

That made the man even angrier. He became more violent. He forced the boy to sit in an animal position, with his palms and knees touching the floor. The man then climbed up on him, and started to hit his back with his bent elbow. He also kicked him…or did he?

The violence went on for nearly ten, fifteen, twenty minutes…maybe, half an hour. The man lost his sense of time. The boy did too. He was nearly unconscious at this point.

The entire episode happened in a classroom. It happened in front of some forty or fifty frozen, traumatized, eighth-grade students. They watched it with horror;  some covered their faces. A few of them fell sick. Another boy urinated in his pants. One of their teachers was doing this to one of their classmates: they couldn’t believe their eyes! But none of them stood up or said a word against the barbarism. They watched it in complete silence…for the entire time.

Ashu Kar, a teacher in our famous, 150-year-old, missionary Scottish Church Collegiate School, was famous for his bad temper. There were a few other teachers who were even more notorious than him. They were never known for their quality of teaching or love for the students; they were only known for their dexterity to mercilessly, violently beat the kids.

But luckily, these men would not teach us, some of the best students. Back then, Scottish had merit-based promotion; they would always place us in Section A because we topped in the final exam. The abusive teachers would not take our classes. We were privileged to get some of the phenomenal educators of Calcutta whose presence in the classroom was like a gentle breeze coming off the ocean. Shyamadas Mukherjee of Mathematics, Bijan Goswami and Amiya Roy of Bengali, Rev. Santosh Biswas and Sudhendu Deuri of English, Nitya Sengupta of Chemistry, and Tarun Datta of Biology. Then, there was our famous headmaster A. R. Roy, known for his personality and poise. They were great teachers. We learned from them as eagerly and as fast as blotting paper would soak up water or ink – through every possible capillary of our young, inquisitive minds. We’d look forward to their classes.

The horrible hangmen would get the poor, “backward” students in Section C, D or E. We’d often hear horror stories from them. Even in elementary school, in fourth grade, there was severe student abuse. And I’m not even talking about the verbal abuse that was commonplace: teachers would make personal, intrusive, insulting, snide, negative remarks, constantly on a daily basis, to students that did not do well in tests or failed to turn in the homework; particularly, students who came from underprivileged families. Indian boys and girls were used to verbal abuse. At home, they got it from their fathers, uncles or neighbors. At school, they got it from teachers. The verbal insult and undermining would dash their self-esteem once and for all.

Now I’m talking about the more serious, inhumane, physical abuse. We the “good” boys from Section A came to know about them in middle school, since maybe, when we were in sixth or seventh grade.

Police beating a child

There were two men named Mr. Jana and Mr. Dafadar who took Section E classes only: boys who did the poorest in last year’s finals. They brought in class their own special teaching methods and tools. Every day, they’d enter the classroom, and before doing anything else, call out some students they decided the worst backbenchers. They’d line them up outside the classroom facing against the wall, with their arms all the way up, the length of the arm touching the wall, as if cops doing a shakedown on them. I’m convinced these teachers were cops or military men before they became teachers; they did it to their sixth, seventh or eighth-grade students exactly the way cops did it to suspected, frisked criminals. Or, in case of today’s India or USA, anyone the cops or military might suspect to be trouble makers.

Jana and Dafadar – I don’t remember which one was more dangerous – would then return to classroom, take attendance for the remaining students, give them some meaningless work to do – maybe, a bunch of arithmetic or English grammar problems from the textbook without showing them how to do it, and return to their “favorite” students waiting outside. Now, they’d stick out their personal, two-feet-long, wooden ruler scale or a long, bent cane, and spank the students real hard until they all cried out in pain. Some diehards would not budge; some of the kids were so used to it that they’d look the other way, and chuckle while the bad cops kept beating the others. If they’re lucky, they’re spared. If Jana and Dafadar caught them chuckling, they’d have some more special treat that day.

Some E or D students regularly cut classes. They also nicknamed the abusive teachers: Jana and Dafadar were called Jharudar or something, meaning the sweeper; alternately, it could mean the one who beats badly.

That was them. Then there was our Ashu Kar. In between, there were some more child molesters – big or small.

Why do people get so violent? Why are some people so cruel? What pleasure do some big, powerful men get out of beating young boys or girls who can’t resist or fight back?

Sigh…tears…sigh…tears…sigh…

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

Owner beating child worker at a textile factory

Yama, God of Death

–Tick Tock…Strike One–

I have seen death too many times in my life. He’s been with me all along.

Honestly. Really. Nothin’ to brag about. But it’s true.

I know Lord Yama, the god of death, all too well. I can’t say I like him a lot. But because I’ve accepted the fact that I can never get rid of him, I have resigned to un-dislike him. Or, is it dis-unlike him?

Anyways.

You see, it’s not easy to explain. This guy is like the distant uncle from the village who’d show up at least once a year, totally uninvited, and wouldn’t mind our very obvious unwelcoming gestures…until he decided to travel somewhere else, to be someone else’s guest. Some years, he’d show up even more than once a year. Gosh…really annoying!

What can I say: he’s always been quite whimsical.

When I was a child, I didn’t know him all that well. Growing up, I heard strange tales about him…where he lives…what he does…where he goes…how he makes a living, and all. I never paid close attention to those tales. I never believed I had to. I was least bothered.

Slowly but surely though, his presence became matter of factly. Then, one day, he volunteered to introduce himself. I saw his face up close when I was only in sixth grade. He said to me, “Hello kid…I am your Lord Yama Uncle.” He said, “Pleased to meet you.”

I was speechless.

He said to me, “You don’t look very happy meeting me, do you, kid? That’s okay. I’m leaving you now for a while. But you’ll see me again, don’t worry. I’ll be back.” And just before he left, he grinned, uncannily, and said, “You’ll see me over and over again. You better know me well, kid. Or, you’re gonna be miserable.”

He was right. A few years went by.

When I just got into our M.Sc. program at the University of Calcutta, Uncle Yama for some reason decided he’d now be our guest for a quite a while. Maybe, he didn’t have no other place to visit. Maybe, his village had a drought and he must eat and sleep at somebody else’s house. Maybe, he realized he didn’t see us for a long while and started missing us too much. So, one early summer evening, around seven thirty, he showed up and knocked at our mezzanine apartment door.

In fact, he banged hard. He wouldn’t wait no more.

Ma was dying of cancer. Uncle Yama took her first…and left…

He left…but only for a short while. In Ma’s death, he’d struck a gold mine. He saw with his unearthly, uncanny eyes (see his profile photo above) that this was a place where he could come back now…quite often…over and over again…uninvited…and these people wouldn’t say no to him…couldn’t say no to him.

He knew we were too good and too powerless to dis-un-dislike him.

[...]

(to be continued. please come back.)

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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Here He Comes! That's Him, That's Him!

Ahem. Announcement. Loudspeaker. Drumroll. Would you please meet your own Renaissance Man?

Would you please consider standing up and greet your one and only Renaissance Man…like…the only one you’ve known in your personal, private world? That’s the purpose of the words “your” and “own.”

Is it too much of an expectation from him? Is it too much of a demand? At least…a dream…maybe?

I know other than you, nobody knows him. He is not big. He is not tall. He is not rich. He is not famous. He’s not white. He’s not black. He can’t run fast. He can’t shoot guns. He can’t climb mountains…he can’t move mountains…he can’t even climb a tree. He’s not an agile swimmer; he can barely float. He’s not a heavyweight lifter; his knees gave out because of a series of cricket and soccer-football injuries. His left ear has been ringing bad in winter since seventh grade when a North Calcutta thug punched him hard. His rib cage aches from time to time even since in eighth grade a school teacher beat him up black and blue.

He does not come from a prosperous family; he doesn’t have any pedigree. He doesn’t belong to the elite class so that people truly hate him. He doesn’t even belong to the proletariat class so that people truly empathize him. He is not widely traveled. He has not read all the books an averagely intelligent person should read…not even all the available English translations of famous writers…not even enough English literature in English. He’s not a polyglot; he’s only managed to speak, read and write a couple of simple dialects. He is not even that fluent in languages he’s picked up. In fact, if you make him angry or nervous, he starts fumbling and mumbling even speaking the handful of new words he painstakingly learned. You can hear him stammer…that is…if you can get close to him. But It’s difficult to get close to him because he’s often rude and arrogant and defensive and egotistical and unyielding. He is not an easy man. Common perception is that he’s a difficult man.

But he still believes he is your personal, one-and-only Renaissance Man. Therefore, would you please rise up and delight him with a standing ovation? Here he comes…confetti, claps, table thumping and loud cheers…major jostling for a close-up look…media frenzy…paparazzi shots…black limousine…red carpet…limelight…flashlight…floodlight…fill-in light…deep focus…soft silhouettes, pretty, young, tall female companions in sexy evening dresses…

Well…um…actually…they’re not there with him…yet. But you’re a sensitive, imaginative person, aren’t you? You can imagine it all! Can’t you?

Please do. It’s big fun that way…to imagine…paint a mental picture!

Now, why in the world does he consider himself to be a Renaissance Man? I mean, given what we just heard about him and drew a mental picture, what makes him think that he belongs to that rare, elite, powerful group of people with dexterity in diverse arrays of life?

Well, the last time I heard, the only reason is that some of his friends and family members pumped his balloon too much, and ballooned his bubble. Just the same way they ballooned the stock market bubble before it all crashed. I’m now very apprehensive and worried that this man’s ballooned bubble is ’bout to bust…before we can believe him.

We also heard that one of his friends actually called him a Renaissance Man in front of him. A facebook friend (can you believe…a facebook friend…ha!) called him a role model. I heard another person wrote on his wall that she got the ability to see through the woods because of his writing, and his analysis. That person since left his facebook…for some unknown reasons. However, stupid and naîve he is, it was enough for him to believe that he was indeed one. I mean, how can you take your friends…real or virtual-world friends…so seriously…however smart or honest those friend are? I mean, don’t you think you need to look in the mirror yourself first before you start believing in yourself?

I always check in the mirror. If I know I’m short, I wouldn’t think I could do things a tall man can do. If I see myself to be a poor and powerless man, I would never dream of going beyond the box, cross the line, come too close to the elite and powerful, and consider myself (even remotely) to be one of their own. Like they say in old Indian-colonial-British English, I am a burnt cow. I’ve seen the fire way too many times. I am a dreading cow. I cower.

Enough digression already. Are you still reading?

I actually had a chance to speak with this man. I have to be honest. Remember, this blog I promised would be all about honesty and heartfelt feelings…without hiding a thing? So, this is what I found out…and I must say this guy has reasons to believe his friend was right. In all fairness, at least he deserves to dream that he could be one…one of those days.

Now, crossing over the elitism gap…well, that’s a story we’ll leave up to the political movers and shakers…and social scientists.

I sat down with him with my note pad, and here’s my scribbles. We spoke for about ten or fifteen short minutes.

Did I say I was impressed? I didn’t? Well…I did…sort of…in my confusing-confounding way.

Listen…you read to read twice what I wrote, okay? Yes. Let me confess: I was impressed with what he had to say about himself, his life, his work, and his mission. In fact, it was in plain English even I could understand.

I’d strongly ask you to have a talk with him — one on one — maybe, over a cup of Darjeeling tea. You’ll find out.

He has reasons to believe he is one of a kind. Grab him…come close to him. He’ll be yours. He’s ready to be yours.

Meet and greet your own Renaissance Man.

Would you?

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

Talk Over a Cup of Tea

"The Message of Justice Weeps in Solitude." -- Tagore

Troy Davis is now dead. In my layman’s language, the mighty, glorified American justice system refused to revoke his death penalty, and last night around eleven, in an American prison, he was straddled on a chair and given a lethal injection. Troy died ten minutes later.

Just before his death, from his death bed, he gave a final statement proclaiming his innocence once again. He said he did not commit the crime. He implored us to “look deeper” into it.

Even though I did not know Troy, a black man in Georgia who was convicted of killing a police officer in 1989, only four years after I came to America as a foreign graduate student, over the years I’ve heard about him and the alleged flay of justice he went through for twenty years, and wondered about the mighty and glorified American justice system. I read about the civil rights movement and Dr. Martin Luther King when I was in India. I remember I read in our Bangla newspaper about his assassination in Memphis when I was in elementary school. I heard about the assassination of John and Bobby Kennedy. I read about slavery in America, and how black men and women were subjected to racism, bigotry, exploitation and violent repression. Much later, I read about Abraham Lincoln and the Emancipation Proclamation.

I sort of always wanted to believe that America had changed for the better. I sort of wanted to believe the U.S. justice system was actually mighty and worth glorifying.

___

"They call in marcenaries, and scream, 'kill, kill, kill.'" - Tagore

Since yesterday, I put a status update on my Facebook page, and changed it three times. I did not know of any other way to show my fleeting emotions. First, when I came to know that he was likely to die in a matter of a few hours, I wrote:

“Abolish the Death Penalty Today! It’s barbaric and primitive. Want proof? U.S. India, China and Saudi Arabia still have it. The entire Europe, South America, Australia and Canada banned it.”

I posted a number of links to prove my point: (1) U.S. India, China and Saudi Arabia still have it. The entire Europe, South America, Australia and Canada banned it (why was it banned?); (2) how fanatics and fundamentalists across religions use similar logic to support the death penalty; (3) in a high number of cases, how DNA fingerprinting exonerated convicted, death-row inmates. I put link to a TV news story I did about ten years ago for ABC TV.

At 6 P.M., when it was all news that they were going to kill Troy at 7 P.M., I updated my status:

“At 7 P.M., America will execute Troy Davis. I’ll observe a moment of silence.”

I was feeling very tired just by imagining what Troy was going through at that time. I was internalizing the feeling of sadness, hoplessness, frustration about the mighty, glorified U.S. justice system, and a bone-chilling feeling of death — as if Lord Yama the god of death was knocking at his doorstep, to fetch him. I could not take it anymore. I went to sleep.

At 8 P.M., I woke up and realized that he was still alive; I read that they had delayed the execution because of an appeal to a superior court. But because I never believed in miracles…my life has been so mundanely lacking miracles…deep inside I knew the end of Troy Davis’ life was near. But I was hoping to believe in miracles, only for his sake and for the sake of his family.

But I was feeling very tired and exhausted again just to think about the roller coaster emotions they were all going through. I was imagining the pounding hearts of the hundreds of thousands of supporters and activists who were rallying in Georgia, in Washington, D.C., and in other parts of America; in fact, people against the primitive and barbaric death penalty were rallying and protesting all across the world. In the name of Troy Davis, a black Amercan man in Deep South, the world’s conscience was coming together.

It was too much for my emotional, impractical, old-fashioned heart to beat normally. I went to sleep again.

I woke up at 6 A.M. this morning. I knew it was all over.

I did a final update on my Facebook status:

“A primitive, barbaric system put Troy Davis to death. I hang my head in shame. This is a dark day for America.” 

Repeat statement: Troy Davis is now dead. In my layman’s language, an American court refused to revoke his death penalty, and last night around eleven, in an American prison, he was straddled on a chair and given a lethal injection. Troy died ten minutes later.

I just gave you a synopsis of my fleeting emotions surrounding Troy’s death. My fleeting emotions will not let me remember for too long this alleged flay of justice by the mighty, glorified American justice system.

But right now, as of this moment, this is my life’s status update. This is my life’s raw, real emotion. My life spoke for a poor victim of a primitive, barbaric system — in real, raw terms.

For you, Brother Troy.

Sincerely Writing,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

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