On Marks and Board Exams and Life

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agoge

It was called agoge in ancient Sparta, the inhuman education and training regimen that little boys were subject to in order to make them  impervious to hunger, fear and pain, a regimen that included having boys fight boys to death so that the weak may be weeded out.

Or as anyone who went to school in the late 80s and early 90s in Bengal would say, school life.

Suicides were common, and so were heart-attacks and nervous breakdowns. Four successive days of two papers of a hundred each was considered to be perfectly humane because, how else, were children going to handle “the real world”? I came from a school, particularly notorious for what was just known as “The Pressure”, where most of us were made to fail in our maths half-yearly in class eleven, because and this was the stated reason, the class ten scores had given us whippersnappers an inflated idea of our intelligence and we needed to be cut down to size.

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Goodbye Leonard Nimoy

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Spock_performing_Vulcan_salute

Our imagination does not impose mortality. That’s why Sherlock Holmes comes back from Reichenbach Falls,  Superman does not really die at the hands of Doomsday, and Spock, well he overcomes the wrath of Khan.

The real world though is different. No matter how loved you are, you still die. And there is no way for your character to be retconed or brought back, much though the fans might clamor and plead.

That’s just the way of the world.

So goodbye Leonard Nimoy. Goodbye First Officer Spock.

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The Battle For Delhi

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arvind-kejriwal

[A version of this published in Huffington Post India]

There are no knockouts in Indian politics.  No matter how hard you have been hit, you can always bounce straight off the ropes and back into the ring.

Take the Aam Aadmi Party. It seems just yesterday that they were wiping their brains off the sidewalk after being hit by the Modi Express, and yet here they are, back for the Delhi elections, swinging hard and strong.

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The Voice of God And His Silences

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Originally appeared in SwarajyaMag

There was a time, around a few thousand years ago, that God would talk to us.

A lot.

Sometimes He would say something from behind a burning bush. Sometimes He would appear in a dream. Sometimes He would give us his words in the field of battle and sometimes He would just send his son down to the earth.

Then, for some reason, God became silent, round about the time Man started this whole “science” thing.

Now once again, after years, he has spoken, this time through a new prophet.

Not surprisingly, the chosen one happens to be a Bengali by the name of Boria Majumdar.

I apologize for the blasphemy I am going to commit right now. But I have to say it. Prophet Boria’s prose is, for the want of a less obvious word, boring. Not to sully the purity of His words, but one wishes that He had chosen a more accomplished spinner of sentences, someone like Rahul Bhattacharya for instance, who would have been less liberal with passages that sound like paraphrasing of score-cards.

But perhaps I am wrong. God knows best.

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Deconstructing Pictures Posted on Social Media Part 1

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Anushtup loved pictures. For him, they were a soft lens into the past, smoothing down the bumps and the ridges, freezing time down to happy faces and nice places. Memories, he always told himself, were different, they carried the bad as well as the good, though mostly the bad. But pictures, no one ever took pictures of themselves fighting or weeping or throwing stuff or lying down in the dark, looking out through the window. They just didn’t.

Yatrik (my forthcoming book, releasing September 2014)

As myriad Facebook albums  swim through my NewsFeed, sometimes I just want to wade in and say, ” I get it. Your life is perfect”.

For that is why we share pictures don’t we? I mean really? To project an idealization of our life.

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