Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Measured Steps

Each step is measured now
Unsure of where it lands next
Never been the case
In all these years

When all it mattered
Was where I wanted to go.
Unmindful of pits or craters
With reaching as the only aim

Can’t recall how I was a toddler
And there is no Mom to tell either
I am sure she would have said
They were never weak knees but

Is it just ephemeral?
This cautious tread that
Play games in a confident mind
But is the fear eternal?

If there a life’s story in this?
That the spring in the step
Is a child of youth, and
About the strength of mind

Now steps are measured
In a known turf
Will it carry the burden
To the uncharted grounds?

With so much time to think
Possibilities are endless
But I know one thing: I’ll
Just keep walking ……

The Valley of Masks

Tarun Tejpal has weaved magic in ‘The Valley of Masks’. It is allegorical to whatever one thinks it needs to be to. It could be Al Qaida, LTTE, RSS or sometimes in a subdued level even our very own systems and practices that we blindly follow without questioning its necessity but always striving to be a singular grain in the meal that doesn’t spoil the taste leave alone adding to it.

Every march has a cause and it germinates in a very just fashion and need. The challenges lie in the systems that are created because not everyone understands the larger cause. But the rigidity in enforcement of discipline that later degenerates into an irrational habit digresses the march so far away that at one stage no one remembers why they are marching and what they strive to achieve. Is it perfection in following the systems or the path it leads to??

And a much larger question is that of the messiah. Is the messiah we flock behind pursues his own idea of a righteous path and if so who questions the modus operandi of the same? In business we talk about strategy and tactics with strategy being the long term objective and tactics being short term. Tactics invariably are broken down to smaller action items that would ultimately lead to fructification of the strategy. Invariably in an organization many of us agree on the strategy after endless cups of coffee in a boardroom so far removed from the actual battle scene. While there can be questions posed on that approach, for argument sake let us choose to stay away from doubting the wisdom of the messiah on choosing the path. Then it leaves us with debating the modus operandi which is loosely bound by a set of rules in a business, the fate of which is determined by a handful of line managers who have their own limitations and interpretations. Precisely to side-step such anomalies, a rigor in introduced in a system with penalties and rewards.

Now going back to the messiah, if he happens to be a megalomaniac or an ardent & narcissistic fan of his own philosophy the rigor takes to the extreme. Leading to a systematic annihilation of individualism! And that’s where uniforms come. To think of it, all fascist organizations start with uniform attire. You are no different from the guy who stands next to you, because both of you exist to serve a set of principles someone else drafted for you. And then uniform is equated to discipline, extending the theory to untraceable lengths that creates a paradox at some point of time. Which came first? Uniform or Discipline?? And then the myth & immortality of the messiah that needs to be cultivated for the sake of rigor merchants.

So who is really achieving what? In a loose environment like business, there are no exit barriers. But one step ahead, you can only desert the brotherhood and thus the philosophy. But that is fraught with dangers starting from social imperatives being trampled (atleast in the eyes of the believers) to getting penalized for the transgression sometimes through giving up one’s own life.

From the advent of mankind, we have never challenged the idea being one in the flock. And the shepherd was searched for, followed, eulogized and deified. Why is that you are not that shepherd? Unfortunately teachings on these lines by the real messiahs are misinterpreted by the false ones for their own needs. We have craved and begged for the uniform by our behavior. We are comfortable in our cocoon that is protected by the crustacean shell of ignorance and apathy.

And it is apathy ‘The Valley of Masks’ deals with. The relentless pursuit of the pure which creates a casteless, faceless, parentless, music-less robotic society that drools at the mention of the Messiah Aum and his exploits! Infants are pried way from mothers; everyone is fitted with a mask so that all look alike, only teaching is the tenets of Aum and unquestioned faith on Aum and his path are implanted in the brain. The infirm are sequestered, the romantics are quashed and a terrace of many steps, a climb of which is coveted by any man in the society, there is apathy sprinkled in great measure all over.

This is a book that can be read a million times over and still find new stuff every time only to marvel at the unerring similarity to the society we all belong and the apathy that is traded, albeit in a less dramatic manner but equally painful nonetheless.

2011’s answer to George Orwell’s 1984 …..