Monday, November 28, 2005

Never trust the system!!

In a land where the gun weilds more power than a pen, students, who are pushed into the throes of a mafia-ruled community, must understand that negotiation skills and business ethics taught in school do not take into consideration situations when your life is endangered. Text books teach that what is ideal and it can probably used in "laboratory conditions"

Moreover most of our folks live a protected life at home, protected life in school and (as far as I can see) the iim students rarely interact with the "local" life around. So trust and belief in the system comes naturally to each one of us. We trust our school, the people in it, the employer that comes in for recruitment, the job and the people around us. The moment any force interrupts it, we believe that if we act in accordance with the system, we will be protected by it.

We just witnessed that it is not so! The system does not always come to our help, and especially when we need it the most. I am not going to suggest being unethical or being unfair on the job. Evaluate what consequences each of our activities can have, assume the worst and see if the system would stand by you, in case of the worst. I think that now a fair assumption is that the system will not do that and we are on our own!

With condolences to the family of S Manjunath - a man who believed in the system.

Encouraging every IIMC-ian to sign the petition ....

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Nihil Ultra

Dear Abbey,

As you step into the world of work, you are bringing to it the freshness of ideas and the power to change things. And yet, there is the danger that all too soon you will forget why you came to a place like MIJ. No, you were not here to understand the Corporate Sector or the intricate theories of management. You came here to understand yourself and your strengths. To believe how easy it is for you to make a difference. That is the pirpose of higher education. To instil in you a belief that you can make the world a better place.
Whenever you feel unhappy about something around you, remember, you have the capability within to improve it. So whether you choose to change it or choose to walk away and just complain - you have made a choice. As a professional manager, you will have opportunities to make things happen. You have had the education that will tell you what to do and how to do it. But it is only your heart that will tell you why you ought to.
There are no limits to which we can grow as human beings. Every moning we get up and make a choice about how much we will do to make a difference. Every day we choose how much we will touch the loves of less fortunate. Too many people give up the opportunity because they do not believe they can change things. I do hope this education has given you the belief within.
Never underestimate your ability to make a difference.
Nihil Ultra - Nothing is Beyond


Ed Hathaway

From the book: Mediocre But Arrogant
Courtesy: The Wolverine

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Delhi : when the dialogue among communities must fight the terror


The following article takes its roots from a deep misunderstanding. The bomb blasts which hurt Delhi last Saturday might have killed anyone of us if we were at the wrong place in the wrong moment.
First, as a human being, I felt highly concerned by the sadness of these terrible acts. Moreover, as a Muslim European citizen, I was intimately hurt by these so called Islamist acts made in the name of Islam all over the world.
Having been shocked by many newspaper articles that I have read and which may create hatred and fear between Indian communities, I wanted to write these modest words, and hope that you, Indian students, will contribute in the building of peace in your country and all over the world.

November rhymes with the end of the month of Ramadan (Roza). The Moslems of the whole world fasted in the search for the balance and the peace of mind. At the same time, the Hindou community was preparing itself for Diwali, the festival of light, which enlightened many Indian cities. As Ramadan signifies the renewal and cleaning of himself, Diwali celebrates the renewal of life.

This month was the opportunity to bring together two religious communities in India in the celebration of their respective religious festivals. But something happened, which might dangerously impact the respect and love between Indian communities.

The terrible bomb blasts that hurt Delhi on the 29th October shocked everybody. Innocent people were killed, giving way to tears and sadness. With a strong and audible voice, we must express our absolute condemnation. But it is not sufficient. We must do exactly the opposite of what these terrorists want.
Because they want a struggle between Indian communities, we must commit ourselves to building peace together...
Because they want to replace happiness by fears, we must fight to destruct suspicion and distrust....
Because they want the people to turn the rich diversity of India into a war of differences, identifying themselves against the others, we, the new coming generation, have to focus on the contrary.

Samuel Huntington and his clash of civilization theory may be a reality if we dont act quickly and consciously. The lack of knowledge of the other (and of self), the acceptance of caricatures and final judgements could lead to this clash. Therefore, it falls to us to commit ourselves to building the society we want., a society which would take its force from the diversity of its population.

Terrorist attacks, all over the world, point usually the Muslim community. If it is true that some people claiming themselves Muslimsmay do these odious crimes, the Muslim community, first, and all the religious and non religious communities, have to fight against caricatures.
Muslims have to explain the real meaning of Islam : peace. They have to explain that the sweetness and the tolerance were the roots of the Prophet Mohammed, offering humanity to all people and participating in society for good in partnership with all human beings who, in conscience, reject a world without conscience

Peace, respect and love are the messages of all the spiritualities. Together, we must struggle against terror and violence, but also for peace, for democracy, for freedom and from justice.

Living together in free and pluralistic societies is difficult. India, as many countries around the world, has to face it. But the Indian democracy quality will depend on the strategy adopted. Struggle those atrocities through repression is not a viable solution. Prevention, education and a non discriminatory implementation of security measures are the real solutions.

It is in that context that we, Indian and foreign students together, wanted to stress the importance of dialogue and mutual understanding, responding together to those who want to install terror and violence all over the world, as to those who try to exploit these acts to propagate racisms, xenophobia, hindouphobia, islamophobia, judeophobia, christianophobia or any kind of stigmatisation or exclusion.

At this difficult moment, we want to convey our deep and sincere condolences to all the victims families.

Badreddine Serrokh,

Saturday, November 05, 2005

Goechala vs The Adventure Club

Welcome to Sikkim
Originally uploaded by Melodic Hallucination.
Welcome to Sikkim

“ I have scaled the mountain; Thy myriads of corporeal worlds that travel in the eternal sea of space! I have beholden that all the stars in heaven would not fill the hollow of Thy Hand; yea, that Thy breath moveth the universe! The glory of Thy works hath inspired me with madness to come to Thy Mighty Home!” – Tae, Ch.I, Oahspe, Book of Knowledge

Howrah – New Jalpaigudi – Jorethang – Yuksom 6th Oct, 2005

We took five cabs from campus, with about four people in each, a large group of twenty one, and left Joka and bought a malfunctioning spider man mask, in a burst of festive spirit, on our way to the Sealdah station. At the station, we waited with our rucksacks, the guitar and each other, hungry and surrounded by hunger, pulling time with the intention of hurrying into the train. A mad beggar ate my biscuits and rolled on the floor like he was in great pain. Sad. We entered the train, and after an uneventful night of cards, food and little sleep, we woke up at NJP with our luggage, transported it to three large jeeps after huge negotiations and headed to Yuksom, earlier capital of the state of Sikkim. We stopped for lunch, after being mesmerized by the views of the Himalayan foothills and plains, the first time for some of us, at a busy town called Jorethang. We ate rotis, rice, dal, vegetables and papad at the marwari bhojanalya. The post-lunch jeep ride was much less nauseating compared to the morning drive, and as a result was a lot more lazy, until of course we reached the border of West Bengal and Sikkim, at Melli, and after a short stop for minor bureaucratic procedures and a short collection of maps and similar paper goodies, we headed on to Yuksom. We reached a few hours after sunset and occupied rooms at hotel yangrigang. We went out for a walk at night and reached the coronation palace, apparently Yuksom was the capital of Sikkim long before Gangtok, and so the place was quite a royal experience with a huge verandah and a very posh dining room and reception. We also tried to find the monastery, but the path was completely unlit and we had no idea where we were going. So we went back to the hotel for a dinner of rotis, potato and dal. I found an old copy of Aleister Crowley’s ‘Moonchild’, and a couple of French exchange students from IIM Lucknow, but unfortunately they couldn’t join us the next day when we left for a higher climb. In any case, there were quite a few discussions on local folklore and we knew not.

Dinner at Yuksom
Originally uploaded by Melodic Hallucination.

Yuksom – Bakhim – Tsokha 7th Oct, 2005

We left the hotel at Yuksom early in the morning after a reasonably heavy breakfast of two muffins, tea and biscuits. We even found some mango cornflakes that I had never seen before, and tasted really sweet, like an artificial mango drink or other synthetic fruit-like liquids. The climb to Bakhim was very difficult, and our route involved crossing four bridges. We encountered at the second bridge, four yaks crossing a stream, throwing me and my red backpack off balance, balancing on slippery water stones. The first yak noticed me in fear, and almost charged while entering the lake, and suddenly walked off in a different direction. The next one danced with his cowbell while continuing past me. All this while, I was perched on a rock dodging yaks and turbulent flows, but soon I was free again, with the Himalayas, trees all around me, and butterflies on my side constantly fluttering in no particular direction. So, many hours and discussions later, we stopped after the third bridge across a huge river, and soon the bridge that held our trembling feet oscillated in the wind and rain, and on the other end, we stopped for maggi and discovered on our feet, leeches, growing and sucking continuously for an explosive bloody end. We climbed onward, after a long break, towards Bakhim, where there were no people but a large spooky tourist lodge and a family nearby. We proceeded onward towards Tsokha which they said was less than an hour away, uphill. It seemed like a lot more, what with all the steep climb and muddy, marshy path of crazy danger, constantly lurking with whispers in the trees, stroking my ears with their cries for help, pulling me back to earth, as I climb on and on. And so I reach Tsokha with four others, and unload for the evening. We met travelers from across the globe, but one of them puked at our dinner table, just before our meal, and we, too cold to react. We were eventually fast asleep.

Tsokha Terrace
Originally uploaded by Melodic Hallucination.

The Path to Dzongri
Originally uploaded by Melodic Hallucination.
Tsokha – Pedang – Dzongri 8th Oct, 2005

We left the tourist lodge after much confusion and headed towards Dzongri at 3950m, perhaps the highest I have ever been. The initial climb was very steep and strenuous and the Himalaya always proves itself, separating the week from the strong. As we climbed on, we discovered more rain, fewer trees, more marshes, yaks and horses (pronounced yucks and yucks respectively). Soon, we were in the drying lands of a deserted vegetation. The trees grew thinner but more colourful, some were even red or green with hues we couldn’t recognise ourselves. One had a peculiar face, it was completely red with green eyes and a mouth, its bark perhaps meaner, but I couldn’t recognise it myself. Who it was… probably just somebody’s practical joke. We climbed on, and the rocks and mud grew more formidable. Soon, I was surrounded by yaks and horses again, but I continued to climb toward the little birds, and eagles above. We were supposed to stop for lunch at a little cabin in Pedang, but it was raining like crazy and there was certainly no space or food for twenty four, so while the others waited for food or the lunching rain to end, many of us climbed on toward the Dzongri peak, meeting place of man and god, and what was supposed to be another short one hour trek turned out to be a lot more, weakening, strenuous and power sapping and after the beautiful climb, and a few descends and more climbs, we stumbled on this particularly snaky winding road that sent us toward Dzongri, and unlike yesterday, we reached in time a lot before the sunset, and at the end of it, we were comfortably seated, with more maggi and a warm mat below for protection. The trek today was far easier than yesterday, so we stepped out again in the evening for a stroll to the viewpoint nearby, and the fifteen minute trek at this height turned out to be more of a disaster than a blessing, as it was seriously cold and we didn’t have too much of a view with all the clouds and rocks blocking the way, so we went back to the hut for a long sleep after a good dinner of rotis, rice, dal and vegetables. Dzongri is very cold.

Dzongri Sunset
Originally uploaded by Melodic Hallucination.

Dzongri Sunrise
Originally uploaded by Melodic Hallucination.
Dzongri – Kokchurong 9th Oct, 2005

My attachment to the highest place I’ve ever been in doesn’t seem to wane with the cold or my aching head. We wake up and walk towards a nearby point where we view the sunrise floating like lava over the snowy peaks, Khanchendzonga, Kabru and a few others. The wind is incredibly chill and the dynamic views kept us rooted to the spot, but eventually we returned to the hut for an absolutely amazing breakfast of poori, channa and onion curry with mashed potatoes but it was too much for the climb ahead of us, more of a descend really, to this quiet riverside cabin at Kokchurong, where we were welcomed with the same sweet chocolate like tea, that I have never had before and great soup. I even tried to bathe in the river, but ended up almost dead cold, and screamed an expletive, as the chill surged up my spine that must have really rocked the lonely mountains. I apologize. We discovered a little fireplace behind the massive log cabin where I tried drying some old, smelly clothes that got wet from the rain yesterday. Apparently, it is improper to start a fire or generate one after sunset, and we found it exceedingly hard to do so. After several unsuccessful attempts, we gave up and went in for dinner, probably the best I have ever eaten, with those protein enriched meat substitute balls, whatever they’re made of, potato, onion and egg curry with rotis and rice. The peaks we saw at sunrise, apart from the Khanchendzonga, were Kabru which was a barrier between Goechala and Sandakphu, from where we had earlier witnessed a similar majestic sunrise. The dark valley of Kokchurong with a lone aluminium roofed cabin surrounded by red and green moss covered hairy trees was quite breathtaking and sometimes surreal. After dinner, for a change, we had a three stage concert. The first, by the fireplace outside the cabin where few understood the words, but felt the music in a much deeper way. The next with confused friends who felt the words escaping the candlelight, and lastly, with the whole gang talking to spiders escaping waning candlelit choruses of cold.

Kokchurong – Thangseng – Lamoni – Sungmoteng Lake 10th Oct, 2005

The last leg of our journey, where we carried a few essentials like one set of dry clothes, a sleeping bag and shoes and warm clothes, we started a little after a sun rising hidden behind peaks that create our valley, Kokchurong. We climbed to Thangseng, a huge plain surrounded by a gigantic dark rock on one side, and snow covered peaks on the other side, and a large cabin in the middle for rest, perhaps colder than a closed valley, but with more stars to enjoy the night sky, and who wouldn’t need a fire at this altitude. We climbed on to Lamoni where we pitched our tents by the noisy river that grew out of a higher lake. After raising the tents, which occurred to me as upside down ships, we strolled to the nearby Sungmoteng lake that was surrounded by flowers of all hues, particularly indigo and red with a sparkle of yellow. After circling the lake once, and encountering a blackness in a cave within a cave, we crossed again, the stream that flowed into the lake, and this time, it was far too dangerous but our lives were safe and minutes later, we crawled back to a most amazing lunch of soup and rotis with aloo. Most of the afternoon was spent laughing in jest and digestion, while the late evening comprised of a discussion on learning from last year’s experiences at Goechala, which were inspiring, scary and productive. The dreams that follow hold us sleeping or carry us upward. Our discussions carried on to our guide’s experiences with far more intense expeditions such as the one to the Everest base camp and Khanchendzonga. Adventures not just with life and death, but the government, sponsorship and other ponderous issues. We were given hot water and tea before bed, again the same chocolate flavored drink that may have kept us colder and awake. In the long run, sweet temptation, and taste buds in contemplation.

Sungmoteng Lake
Originally uploaded by Melodic Hallucination.

Goechala Peak
Originally uploaded by Melodic Hallucination.
Lamoni – Goechala – Kokchurong 11th Oct, 2005

The most memorable day of my life yet. We were woken up at about two in the morning, and were supposed to reach the Goechala viewpoint at sunrise. The trek in absolute darkness, windy and chilly, after mildly nauseating flakes of corn and milk, was a real astronaut like experience with about fifteen of us following each other single file, with torches, under a clear starlit sky and crossing over rocks and branches in the streams spinning by Sungmoteng lake, which is a whole different experience in absolute darkness. After crossing the lake, and very dangerous deceptive iced rocky paths, we headed into the Himalayan desert sands. I heard the cries of wolves, and saw the strangest birds appear, but that kept me occupied as I quietly crept on, hungry, tired and very weak from the already complicated climb. So the last stretch was not only long and difficult, like a beach jog that is equally exhausting, it was also very dangerous and I almost collapsed while climbing the last rock wall thing, where the smaller pebbles were constantly sliding under my feet and carrying me off back downhill. I also lost my water bottle one time, when it landed on a rock, rolled off into a valley and wedged itself between two bigger pebbles, eventually transforming from an aluminum flask to a dented tin cylinder. But soon after, I followed it, quietly sliding down and holding on to crevices and rocks for dear life. I even had a near death experience as I went on the pass between the mountains with a valley on one side, puddles of snow and slippery spherical boulders, while on the other side; I had to again slip down a very unstable mud and stone territory to return to the path left behind. Finally, with a little help from my friends, I made it up to Goechala. I was weak, breathless and colder than a numb skull. But I was here. My lips were purplish yellow and the skin on my scalp screamed for warmth and this peak towering in front of me and sun rays bathing it in its morning glory. There was nothing here in me but the silence echoing outside. And the still lake in the valley, another mind numbing matter of liquid grace.

Goechala Valley
Originally uploaded by Melodic Hallucination.
11th Oct, 2005

End of Series

“the blossoms this standing tree bears cause that world to be light, making it light for the man-beings dwelling there”
– Iroquoian Cosmology of the Onondaga Tribe