Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Change or stay in Nandigram!!!

I came across a picture in the Times of India, where in some of the farmers are celebrating over Government’s announcement that chemical SEZ would not happen in Nandigram…Why are they happy? They are happy because they need not change and would be able to maintain the status quo.

Most of us don’t welcome change. We think whatever is happening is the best and we would be doing this forever. But the world is dynamic. Things would definitely not remain the same. We may not change but others will. And very soon we would find ourselves out dated and obsolete. Then we would complain and point fingers at others for our misery. We would say, central government was partial towards other states. We would say, Industry is biased against us. We would say no one like us and there is a antipathy against us… so on and so forth…

This phenomenon has been nicely captured by a small story “who moved my cheese” by Spenser Johnson. Here is the synopsis of the beautiful story…

Who Moved My Cheese! features four characters; two mice, "Sniff" and "Scurry", and two little people, miniature humans in essence, "Hem" and "Haw", live in a maze, a representation of one's environment, and look for cheese, representative of happiness and success. Initially without cheese, each group, the mice and humans paired off, travel the lengthy corridor looking for cheese. One day both groups happen upon a cheese-filled corridor in "Cheese Station C". Content with their find, the humans establish routines around their daily intake of cheese slowly becoming arrogant in the process.

One day Sniff and Scurry arrive at Cheese Station C to find no cheese left; they, however, are not surprised. Noticing the cheese supply dwindling, they have mentally prepared for the arduous, but inevitable task of finding more cheese beforehand. Leaving Cheese Station C behind, they begin their hunt for new cheese together. Later that day, Hem and Haw arrive at Cheese Station C only to find the same thing, no cheese. Angered and annoyed, Hem demands "who moved my cheese?". Unprepared, the humans have counted on the cheese supply to be constant. After verifying that the cheese is indeed gone and ranting at the unfairness of the situation, both head home hungry. Returning the next day, Hem and Haw find the same cheeseless station. Beginning to realize the situation at hand, Haw proposes a search for new cheese, but Hem, dead set in his victimized mindset, nixes the proposal.

Meanwhile, Sniff and Scurry have found "Cheese Station N", a new supply of cheese. Back at Cheese Station C, Hem and Haw, affected by their lack of cheese, blame each other for their predicament. Hoping to change, Haw again proposes a search for new cheese. Hem however, comforted by his old routine and afraid of the unknown, again knocks down the idea. After many days in denial, including a search for cheese behind the wall of Cheese Station C, the humans remain without cheese. One day, realizing his debilitating fear, Haw begins laughing at the situation. Realizing he should move on, Haw enters the maze, but not before chiseling "If You Do Not Change, You Can Become Extinct" on the wall of Cheese Station C for his friend to ponder.

Still fearful of his trek, Haw jots "What Would You Do If You Weren't Afraid?" on the wall and, after thinking about it, begins his journey. Still with worry, perhaps he has waited too long to begin his search, Haw finds some scattered cheese and continues his search. Slowly losing his denial, Haw realizes that the cheese has not suddenly disappeared, but has dwindled from continual eating, and that the older cheese was not as tasty and had been moldy. After a let down, an empty cheese station, Haw begins worrying about the unknown again. Brushing aside his fears, Haw's new mindset allows him to again enjoy life; he has even begun to smile again and is realizing "when you move beyond your fear, you feel free." After another empty cheese station, Haw decides to go back for Hem with the few bits of new cheese he has managed to find.

Uncompromising, Hem turns away the new cheese to his friend's dismay. With knowledge acquired along the way, Haw heads back into the maze. Still going deeper into the maze, impelled by bits of new cheese here and there, Haw leaves a trail of writings on the wall, hopeful that his friend will be aided by them in his search for new cheese. Still traveling, Haw one day comes across Cheese Station N. Abundant with cheese, some varieties strange to him, he has found what he is looking for. After eating, Haw reflects on his experience. Pondering a return to his old friend, Haw decides to let Hem find his own way. Finding the largest wall in Cheese Station N, he writes:

Change Happens
They Keep Moving The Cheese
Anticipate Change
Get Ready For The Cheese To Move
Monitor Change
Smell The Cheese Often So You Know When It Is Getting Old
Adapt To Change Quickly
The Quicker You Let Go Of Old Cheese, The Sooner You Can Enjoy New Cheese
Move With The Cheese
Enjoy Change!
Savor The Adventure And Enjoy The Taste Of New Cheese!
Be Ready To Change Quickly And Enjoy It Again & Again
They Keep Moving The Cheese.
Cautious from past experience, Haw inspects Cheese Station N daily and explores different parts of the maze to prevent complacency from setting in. After hearing movement in the maze one day, Haw realizes someone is approaching the station. Unsure, Haw hopes that it is his friend Hem who has found the way.

These four characters represent four types of people.
1) Who anticipate the change and changes themselves along with the change
2) Who sees the change happening and then change themselves to suit new scenario
3) Who gets affected by the change and then learn how to change themselves thru series of experimentations.
4) Who never changes and expect things to get back to the original shape and wait for them to happen.
We Bengalis are definitely not in stage 1 & 2 and have missed the bus. Now some of us are in stage 3 and are willing to change. But unfortunately many of us are in stage 4 and can not see the inevitable. With this kind of attitude, we would only move backwards with respect to others and would keep wondering why this was happen only with us…

Friday, March 16, 2007

Singur & Nandigram
Can govt be blamed for forcibility acquiring land???

Acquiring land and evicting people... If it is with good intention, is fine. At times lack of broader vision and lack of ability to see beyond the boundaries restrict people from having a long term perspective & understanding the brighter days ahead. But ultimately they are the one who would get benefited. Their sons and daughters would go to school and one day would come back as the manager of the plant, built on their erstwhile farm land.

I would again give the old example- given a chance, your kid would never like to go to the school. But you know, which is good for her, you can see beyond that playful day and opportunities ahead, which your kid can not... do u budge under her demands or send her forcibly to school...
Answer is obvious...

Political parties and so called intellectuals have ruined our ability think beyond boundaries and have turned ourselves into a "kup munduk"...
It is time to break free... and think free...

We shouldn’t get moved by what Mamata Banerjee, Sadhan Pane, Kshiti Goswami, Biman Bose, Anandabazar, Kabir Suman say... open eyes and think ourselves...
Want to march toward the light? or complain about the darkness, like we have been doing till date, forever !!!

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Jai baba Tunganath...

“Oh my god, I am no where near…” that was the expression I had after taking a bent, on the way to Tungnath temple. By that time I had already dragged myself for a little more than an hour on a slope which was almost at a constant 35-40˚ angle. The scenic beauty was stupendous, I must say unmatchable. I had earlier seen Bhutan … but the beauty here was much different. Snow clad mountain on the backdrop, pale green valley on the other side. The sun was there but the sting was missing. The path was partially covered by snow, specially at the points where the sun failed to send its heat and light… I stood for a while. Chilled air was nibbling my face like small poisonous insects. Looked back, no one could be seen till the farthest and deepest, except Suga. Suga joined me from behind aprox 15 minutes back. I looked at him. A sense of frustration, I thought, had started creeping into his enthusiastic smile. “Want some water?”, I shouted. Suga stretched his hand. I took one of the two bottles, which I had kept inside the pockets of my orange GSK jacket, and handed over to him.

Two bottles, would not these add to the weight? Is the though came to mind aprox one and half hours back. But it is a Lord Shiva temple, should I go without some water? I should also offer some sweets … Thinking that I hid one extra chocolate inside the inner pocket of my jacket. “Jai Bhole”, some one cried while we started for the trekking, which was supposed to be only 3-4 km. “This is the highest Shiva shine in the world”, Ravi, the co-ordinator had exclaimed while settling do’s and don’t’s for us.
I started modestly after a dozen of people at least. “You look sleepy!” Sumeet and Navneet observed.
“Yes I am”, I replied, “I don’t know how to complete this, only 10 meters behind me, and I am tired already.” Two ladies giggled and agreed with me that they were in very similar state as of mine. I crossed them and found Sitanath going at the full speed almost with the leading instructor. I dozed a few others before I could catch up with him, “What’s up buddy?”. We chatted on irrelevant subjects for a while before I started accelerating. Sitanath was keeping pace with me. “Avi da”, Sitanath asked, “after all these activities, do you still have the stamina for the trekking?”. “I don’t,” I smiled, “But, I have the confidence”.

Very soon I found myself alone as Sitanath had settled for a brief rest. The person who was showing us the way was walking at least 50 m behind me. “I am doing good!” I praised myself. With a smile glued to my face, I stepped up the acceleration. “Should be at the top within 45-50 mins” was the thought running in my head. 20-25 minutes on, I was totally secluded. Even the person who was showing the way could not be seen. “I hope the group is not going to abandon the treck” was the predominant thought I was having in mind. I kept taking bigger and longer strides. 45 minutes… No sign of the hill top. I was hoping to see the goal after the tricky bent, which had almost, took my breath away. I am sweating like I used to do in Mumbai local trains. Though of taking off the jacket and tying it to the waist. But the stupid water bottles… I started cursing my decision to carry an extra bottle. Looked down again. Some one in orange jacket is coming pass the bent I had crossed. It was Suga. I thanked god. At least some one is there. Scare of being all alone was gone in a jiffy. I took a moment to appreciate the greens around & waited for Suga to catch me.

“What time is it?” Suga enquired.
“2-45”, I checked my mobile phone.
“I think, we would reach there by 3-00. 3-15”
I agreed. At least the prospect of the journey getting ended delighted me like anything. “We should take small targets. I did the same during this year marathon run and it succeeded”.
“That’s exactly what we should do”, Suga supported, “take one step at a time”.

But each step was turning to be more tedious with passing second. Slope was turning out to be steeper. Even taking one step was getting tiring. Slowly a patch of snow here and a patch there changed to continuous layer of glowing white. Only the pathway was clear. I had never thought that that I would be in such a surrounding. I thought it was too good to be true. Snow was soft in most of the places. As I was stepping on them, my feet was sinking in by couple of inches at least. A nice feeling. I took some into my hands and tried to make a ball out of them, I had seen them in movies. But the ice was too loose, it would not form, my hand was also freezing, I had great faith on my ability to withstand cold weather and never thought a pair of gloves could be useful when did the packing before the tour. Took out my mobile phone and clicked a few shots aimed here and there. I could see a sharp bent a couple of 100 meters ahead. Nothing could be seen ahead of that. “Suga” I commented, “after that bent,I think we would be able to see the temple or the pick”. Suga agreed.

“Oh my god, I am no where near…” that was the expression I had after taking that bent. I had already dragged myself for a little more than an hour by then and felt betrayed by the mountains. “Is this a trick?” I told to myself. Even if I could see the destination, I could plan accordingly. Both of us were tired. I offered the water bottle to Suga with a stretched arm.
“The scenery is unmatchable”, we agreed. We could see the major portion of Kedar and badri peak. There were a few other peaks also… I don’t know their name… Completely white. I wished, if I could bring my family& parents to see them. Since that seemed to be a remote possibility, decided to capture them in camara for the time being.
“We would have missed a lot, if we did not come” both of us observed while waving and shouting at a group, we could locate fur bellow. I don’t know if they could hear us, but felt happy and concerned at the same time. Happy because, I was among the first one to see the beauty. Happy because, I was leading the team. Happy because, a sense of adventure and excitement of exploring the unexplored ran thru my spinal chord. And concerned because if the entire team would be able to come up to share this scene, if they would be able to climb fast enough so that we can start climbing down before it gets dark.
Suga also shared similar feeling. We decided to disembark by 4-00- 4-30. We reach there or not. Otherwise once the darkness settle down, it may get risky. We could get a sense of that risk at the places where the snow was getting solidified and harder. I managed to get a few small slips. But could control myself. The deep valley at one side was like a death trap. A little lapse of concentration, and it could be all over. Suddenly this thought creped in to my mind, “If I fall down and die… “. I pooh-poohed the thought and continued moving ahead and looking up if a glimpse of the temple or the peak is seen.

“Avijit, is that the temple?”
“Ya, I think I can see a flag”. To my horror, the flag that I could see was at 60 ˚ angle and almost further similar vertical height that we had scaled by then. No temple can be seen, neither the peak. It was a tiny cloth, which was moving and could be seen over the ridge of the hill further up. Suddenly for a moment a thought of giving up came to my mind. “It would be too tedious” I thought. And even if I could reach there would it be possible to climb down before the sun sets. What about others who are behind us? Would they be able to complete?
However, the moment I thought about other team members, my thought process shifted to the opposite. I am moving at the front. No one had directed me to do so, but I had decided to come ahead. I have taken the responsibility of leading the tem to the top. If I climb down at this stage, it would be demoralizing for the entire team. Unlikely that any one would come defying our view point that the peak is too far and doesn’t look feasible for climbing. The team would fail to achieve what is has set its goal to. This would spill over to other area including work. In turn I would be responsible for the failure of the team. Am I such a weak person? Can I let it happen? Never… Whatever happens, whatever time it takes, whatever toll it takes on my stamina and health, I would go the destination and then rest. Even if it gets dark before I reach there, I would not stop. It is a mater of honor and self pride. It is a matter of not letting the team down. It is a mater of taking the challenge head on.
“Arise, awake and stop not till the goal is reached” – Upanishad.

I remembered god and thanked him for putting me at this situation, which brought the fire out of me. I thanked him for giving me the opportunity to challenge my limits. I thanked him for keeping me alive to see the magnificent creation of his. I looked around and found myself as a tiny object in the back drop of huge mountains, whose existence is so insignificant to the nature in absolute terms. I realized how foolish it is to get bothered about our ego and wants. What are we in the whole universe? I once again thanked god for making me realize this plain truth.

A small temple came on the way. Devi temple. I rang the bell there and took her blessings so that I could reach the destination. The air had become thin by then. We were getting tired easily. Frequest breaks and rests has became very frequent rests by then. I could see the temple gate. It is no more an unknown destination. Another 500 meters and I would be there. I started speeding up, making my way by firmly putting my foot on the snow. I don’t want any miss at this stage.

I cant believe myself. It is 3-40 and I am standing in front of the gate of the Tungnath temple. I opened my shoes, went inside. Layer of snow every where. Within seconds my socks got wet. My body heat is melting the ice. A pleasing sense of satisfaction and achievement swept my mind. I quickly went to the gate of the main temple. It was closed due to winter. I offered the five star bar that I was carrying to the lord. Offered him some water. And then broke into chanting, “Murth maheshwaram, ujjwala bhashkaram…”
Suga was observing different side of the temples and how far other have reached. I quickly took rounds of the place and found a pyramid shaped stone at one corner. It was plin and slippery and no ice was on the top of that. I went pass its top and found most spell bounding landscape. With the Sun behind me, part of the hill was shiny. Part was dim and covered in fog. It was so silent. Even the noise of air blowing, which I had heard on my entire journey to top was missing. The valley was so deep that one step further or a slip on the slope, I would be lost forever in the Himalayas. A strange sensation of chill climbing up my bones. I took half a step forward. Took out the camera once again and shoot some pictures. The settled for a brief meditation. Within minutes heard other team members joining in.

Very soon the place was full of sound. Subu, Sumeet, Navneet, Vikas, Shreya, Navdeep, Panam, Sukhdev, Situn, Amita, Hemang all started pouring in, Rahul surprised me the most. Congratulations all around. Pictures getting clicked. Happiness and smiles all around. “Yes! We have done it”.

4-30, we started coming down from the top. Heart full of self belief and confidence. We met small groups on the way, still fully charged to reach the summit.

What learnings we can get out of this…

We risked our life to achieve that we thought is a mater of pride to us. Under difficult situation, people motivated each other and together achieved the goal. How many times we risk ourselves or our reputation or comfort to do things at work place or life? We hardy do…
Why? If we can risk our life for a silly thing like climbing a mountain, why can’t we take even a minimal risk to do a wonderful job. Ultimately the taste of success and satisfaction that we had got was sweeter because of the additional effort that we had taken. Why can’t we take a little bit extra effort to improve conditions in our life and work?

Let’s do that…
About Singur & Nandigram

Grow up guys...look beyond the greens of West Bengal... check what has happened to other states during industrialization. U need to have industry for economic progress. Either take a short term approach and be happy for today or take a long term approach and suffer for the day for a better tomorrow. Either keep cultivating the same land for ages and let your children and grand children do the same... or think differently, use the money u get as compensation in some meaningful way to lead a better life.
You may ask who is the Buddhadeb Bhattacharyya to decide which is good and which is not???At times when your kids are acting funny and you know what is good for them, you dont hesitate to force... as long as you are convinced that it would do good to them... no harm in trying that. And I am convinced that industrialization is the right way for progression and development... like it or not.
World is moving ahead, if you dont shake up your bones, prepare to get extinct. It is the attitude which is the problem... not nandi gram or singur. tomorrow when investment stops flowing, remaining industry including IT pulls out, govt fund drys, dont point finger to others... learn a tricks or two on how to cultivate half an acre of land to feed a family of nine. All the best