Saturday, October 8, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Friday, June 10, 2011
What's the difference between our armchair journalists and Robert Fisk? It's very simple. Our journos are those who don't know what a journalist should be doing. According to Fisk, journalism must "challenge authority, all authority, especially so when governments and politicians take us to war." Another famous remarks of his about journalism is this: "There is a misconception that journalists can be objective ... What journalism is really about is to monitor power and the centers of power." The last one is a view held by Israeli journalist Amira Hass and Fisk too approves of this definition of fair journalism. Now, how many of our journos are really eligible in this regard? We may have a Tharun Tejpal, Sainath or Praful Bidwai. That must be enough in fact. But how much heed our main stream media is paying to these greats? That's where we fail ourselves. It shouldn't be surprising for it's all too natural that we only get what we really deserve. We are a people who are always too ready and happy to be deluded ourselves into manufactured images of self grandioseness by our rulers or anyone else for that matter.
Coming back to our subject Robert Fisk, let's have a few more words. Fisk is currently writing for the prestigious The independent of UK. Whatever he writes is eagerly awaited each day across the continents. Then his words are translated into a large number of international and vernacular languages in the respected dailies and weeklies the world over. What prompts this kind of receptivity among the readers for a journalist who lives so far away from them? It's his objectivity and sincerity while analyzing the events. contrary to our belief it's not because of the impartiality. He is not impartial always. If there is an obvious aggressor and a clear victim, you have to be partial in solidarity with the victim. This rule especially applies to a sincere journalist. Fisk always upholds this basic principle. Fisk's father was a world war(ii) veteran. and he used to talk about the necessity of wars to achieve a peaceful world. The young Fisk may have realized even at this tender age the perennial futility of war and destruction. Perhaps that's what made him dead set against injustice and imposed wars and invasions.
Though his is a British, he has primarily been based in Beirut for more than 30 years. The New York Times once described Robert Fisk as "probably the most famous foreign correspondent in Britain." He reported the Northern Ireland troubles in the 1970s, the Portuguese Revolution in 1974, the Lebanese Civil War, the Iranian revolution in 1979, the Soviet war in Afghanistan, the Iran–Iraq War, the Gulf War and the invasion of Iraq in 2003. A vernacular Arabic speaker, he is one of few Western journalists to have interviewed Osama bin Laden, and did so three times between 1994 and 1997.His awards include being voted International Journalist of the Year seven times.
Fisk has published a number of books. His 2005 work, The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East, with its criticism of Western and Israeli approaches to the Middle East, was well-received by critics and students of international affairs, and is perhaps his best-known work.
Monday, March 21, 2011
It seems, at rare moments of reflections, that many aspects of our lives have become metamorphosed into an artificial existence these days! At times, in order to escape this unfathomable feeling of disillusionment and boredom, at least for a while, many of us, our minds may tend to take refuge somewhere in the past where one could somehow find some kind of solace, traveling back to that time and space where perhaps we had been less concerned about material achievements or failures.
At moments like these, it is your childhood days that you can always depend upon. Those endless chain of treasure hunts. Where else could one retreat to when one finds oneself woken up from such colourless dreams and delusions!
It's like growing back to that fragile infant baby again and falling back onto the lap of your mother once more. To be consoled on her benevolent bosoms, to be fed with her breast milk and falling back into that careless sleep on her ever-supportive shoulders and be worried about nothing in the world. No earthquakes, no tsunamies, no stock market rise or fall is going to worry you anymore. Her soothing voice humming in your soul even while you are carefully being laid into the cradle, and her melodious singing and the swinging of the cradle keeps you calm and quite, you might as well place one of your thump fingers into your toothless mouth in sheer ecstasy and be oblivious of the whole world. In company with beautiful angels, you may smile looking at the stars around you and giggle yourself, seeing this, your mother may forget all her perpetual sorrows and worries and sing for you yet sweeter lullabies and Aesop fables.
Or, it is like growing back to the days of your childhood when you were still in your primary school classes. You had in your neighborhood, very close to your own home, a large mango tree. Your very memories begin with this huge tree with its long leafy branches spread across and around the field where you used to spend your whole days once upon a time, long ago, yet your memories seems still frozen with those times. The time when that mango tree gets ornamented with its blooms, the time when those tiny baby mangoes are grown and seen hanging down from the green thick leafy branches, the time when they keep falling to the ground because of your passionate prayer and desire to mouth them in their tender age.
You may have tasted Chinese food, Japanese Sushi or Mexican delicacies or exotic fruits of various breed or brand. But that pungent smell and taste of those infant mangoes in its early stages, then the juicy rich, mouth watering sugary taste when it ripens never fade away from the tip of your tongue.
Those wild summer seasons, the month of May, when the school is still on vacation and you the children are camped around the mango tree from dawn until dusk. Waiting in the soothing shadow of the vast mango tree in a hot summer, waiting for the cool breeze that brings you on its wings the cooling comfort of the Mother Nature. The same breeze that blesses you when it passes through the leafy branches of the mango tree when ripened, sweet, yellow burst, mouth watering mangoes are waiting for the feather touch of the wind to fall into your hand. The other companions that you fondly remember are those beautiful noisy, mischievous squirrels, crows and party above you who in their own celebration of the season jump from branch to branch in merriment and endless dancing that makes the ripened sweet mangoes find their way down to your eagerly and earnestly waiting little hands.
A falling mango is expected to make a thudding noise when it hits the ground. So, you keep your ears in a permanent state of alert. Once a mango falling noise is heard, your eyes simultaneously jump into action to locate the fallen fruit. It may have fallen on pure earth, or among the dry leaves. In the later case, it demands further exertion of your eyes to locate it exactly. Once it is located, begins the real "survival of the fittest" contest. The most sharp, agile, able runner may grab it. But if someone is lucky enough to be near the falling hot spot, he or she may get it without much effort. And others continue their wait for their lucky moment to arrive (fall).
Sometimes, arguments arise over a disputed grab of the mango. One says, “I got it first, but you snatched it away from me. So, it belongs to me”. Or perhaps he would say, “I saw it first” usually a weak argument point to make a claim.
But, often, with good solidarity, children share their fortune of sweet mangoes with their buddies who were not lucky enough that particular day. Thus, the good camaraderie is kept intact for the most part between the kids. After all, it was an age of innocence. Wasn’t it?
A scene from Vikom Muhamed Basheer's Balyakaala Sakhi comes to mind. In the beginning of the story, we see Majeed and Suhara under a mango tree arguing over a fallen mango. At the heat of the moment, ensuing an intense verbal fight, Suhara rushes forward and gives Majeed a skin peeling, burning scratch with her sharp, long finger nails. In reply, Majeed thinks over how to revenge her appropriately, but his imagination fails him to find a way. Then to his delight, Majeed sees Suhara’s small hut like house and his tile roofed comparably well built house through the coconut and banana trees. Both of them are neighbors. Looking at both the houses Majeed’s face brightens and he declares to Suhara with a victorious smile: “See, my house is tile roofed, but yours is leaf roofed” (roofed with dried coconut leaves). But then, to his horror Majeed finds out that Suhara is not a bit annoyed at this earth shaking attack on her honor. She simply stays cool and never loses her pose. He feels defeated and beaten by a “little girl” again. However, after this fighting between them and Majeed’s humiliating defeat thereupon, gradually, both of them become best of friends on the course, and the story progresses to a heart wrenching end that no reader of Basheer can ever forget.
Sunday, March 6, 2011
Welcome to a short journey down the memory lane through the isles of childhood, once more to feel and see the wind and rain and the sunshine of those times as though it was only yesterday.
Generally, people of those days were happier and more content. They lived a life that was calm, simple and down to earth. Their lively income mainly came from agriculture and farming. They walked often and rarely did they travel in vehicles. Life was more in-tune with the nature and the seasons.
The monsoon rain was a completely different kind. Contrary to our present experience, the monsoons always kept its date starting around 1st of June without fail. It was long, sustained, steady and stormy. The heavy rain poured down from the cloudy sky was like it was never going to cease. The wells and the ponds fill to the brim and then it overflows to make a narrow stream that leads to the paddy fields.
Rain rain come again
(Please keep the speaker on)
My friends like Kunhippa (real name is Hassan and we sometimes call him Hassainar Aduvanni), Mustafa Neduvanchery, Satyan, Babu, Salam Neduvanchery, Ravi, Unni, Mohan and a host of others come to my mind, and the memories of how we celebrated the rain. Usually we reach school by 10am and the study period is extended up to 4.30pm. At break periods we engage in games like hide and seek and small games of other kind, all the time we are waiting impatiently for the evening when we have planned our water adventures.
When the school closing bell rings at 4.30 we take a rabbit-race home and reach there before the bell is finished. As soon as we reach home, we rush to the large water-pool overflowing with sky-blue water to begin the real fun. He who jumps first into the water is a winner, and the race to win is exciting without end each and every day. Heavily pouring rain or earth shaking thunder and lightning doesn't deter us from our game in the water. Instead, it makes the game yet more thrilling even if it is fearsome at times. Some acts of the boys are really dangerous and sometimes life threatening. For example, while jumping into the water from a fairly higher ground, some bold-boys turn around in the mid-air. The one who makes a double turn-around in one take is a hero. Thus the water-game goes on and on till the approaching night makes it impossible to stay any longer.
A swim in the water-pool
(Please keep the speaker on)
Then, every one walk back home, with eyes reddened and hungry but still anticipating the thrills in store for the next day.
Talking of monsoon and rain, a beautiful passage from Arundhati Roy's Booker winning work "The god of small things" seems relevant here:
"But by early June the southwest monsoon breaks and there are three months of wind and water with short spells of sharp, glittering sunshine that thrilled children snatch to play with. The countryside turns an immodest green. Boundaries blur as tapioca fences take root and bloom. Brick walls turn moss green. Pepper vines snake up electric poles. Wild creepers burst through laterite banks and spill across flooded roads. Boats ply in the bazaars. And small fish appear in the puddles that fill the PWD potholes on the highways.
It was raining when Rahel came back to Ayemenem. Slanting silver ropes slammed into loose earth, plowing it up like gunfire. The old house on the hill wore its steep, gabled roof pulled over its ears like a low hat. The walls, streaked with moss, had grown soft, and bulged a little with dampness that seeped up from the ground. The wild, overgrown garden was full of the whisper and scurry of small lives. In the undergrowth a rat snake rubbed itself against a glistening stone. Hopeful yellow bullfrogs cruised the scummy pond for mates. A drenched mongoose flashed across the leaf-strewn driveway."