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October 14, 2008

What is Congo now!!!

Inequities galore is what we were witness too. And I have been terribly moved by the scale and intent of these inequities that were propounded by various colonialists during the last two centuries.

Sitting at Dubare, I am reading a book by Adam Hoschild about King Leopold's adventures in Congo in the late 1890's and am struck by the cruel mind, the man possessed. Being a history person, even I had conveniently ignored the excesses caused by the whites in Africa, but upon reading he book, which is a gift by Samita's friend Lisa, it has been a sordid revelation.

We hardly know King Leopold, as Napoleon, the Tsars and the Queens have always caught the Indian's imagination, but there he was, a figure in history - belonging to small Belgium who played a game that aided in the uprooting of millions of lives. What he and his well oiled mechanism did is there for the record presently, but what was surprising that unlike the British, his machine ran almost purely on slave labour, an it continued to do so for a number of decades. The experiences in the Congo probably inspired Joseph Conrad to write his Heart of Darkness and led to mental breakdowns of many of the perpetrators of this violence. The scale was huge and statistics never tell the tale, there were many many deaths and it led to the phenomenon of cutting of the hands of the natives. The entire Congo basin was maimed for several years and not many people really raised their voices.

When it was all over and the honorable Leopold and his gang exited, it took years to remove that scar but some signs could not be removed as maimed hands cannot be repaired.

I at this age, have been violently affected by the poison in their minds and wonder what makes us so. It is very apparent, however, from the book that the person committing the crime rarely put his hands into it and tried very hard to showcase it as a necessity, rather than his ritual.

However hidden from the public this crime was, it is a shame that people do not care much about what the colonial world did in places other than India and I dread reading about their adventures in other parts of Africa. We live in slightly better times now!!!

October 7, 2008

the Computer OR the paper

I had an interesting discussion with a famous author some days back and the talk was on the pros and cons of writing, typewriting and keyboard writing. It was a learning experience to hear her talk because she was not against any form of writing. This comes as a blessing for people like us who like to write just for the sake of it and let others read as well.

Infact, the debate between writing down your thoughts and typing them has divided many people who write into fundamentalist groupings. When the lady expressed interest in an article that was published some time back, her first question was whether I have typed it or written it down. With great skepticism, I replied, saying that I typed it directly into the computer. To my relief, she readily agreed and said that she herself has started doing it nowadays.

Now, that brings be back to the question. Most people agree that writing with your pen on a sheet of blank paper always helps assimilate your thoughts better. Some go on to say that it helps you edit better a when the written word is fed into the computer, you are able to see the gaps better. Yet, there are many who say that while a person is typing on the computer, he sees the content lucidly and is saving a lot of effort into trying to reduce the time and effort that goes into writing.

On a personal front, I used to write on paper and still do a lot of times, especially when it is about some not-to-be-seen matter, but when I am writing as I am doing now for the public sphere, I tend to write directly into the computer as I find later editing much better on the computer. However, wherever I have done serious writing, part of it has been on paper and part of it on the computer. SO I would say that there is no particular answer to this vexing question. Though, I would confess that the quality of writing deteriorates when we type, especially on the grammar front. Dont know, comments reserved!!!

October 4, 2008

As today went !!!

Life at Dubare usually continues at a lazy pace. I get up and complete the chores and manage the work and then usually sit down to write a bit. My day passes in managing the resort and the various issues that crop in at regular intervals.

But today was interesting for the amount of walks that I undertook. Sourabh was here and he took me around, marking the appropriate water holes where salt needs to be applied. There are infact many dramatically beautiful places inside the reserve forest and wildlife sighti9ng could improve substantially if we manage the salt licks properly. We were sitting at the tree house also for quite some time.

Then during lunch time, a senior government official came for a visit and it was interesting one hour of discussions and a learning opportunity as he shared his experiences in managing elections.

The day was not yet over when we went with one of our guests for a trek inside the forest. Whew... wild dog tracks, plenty of birds, giant malabar squirrel and many more sounds. The forest was ringing like a bell with the sounds of birds of all types. It was the elegant symphony in practice and was inspiring. We walked long and hard and finally cam e back to the resort. All in all, a busy forested day.