Monday, May 21, 2018
It is Us, It is You, It is All
Faridabad Majdoor Samachar
FMS#358 || Faridabad-NCR || April 2018
We are proud that we are ramblers. We can speak, and receive, the unconnected and the unaccompanied.
Hold on boss! Let me consult the thesaurus.
Do it on your mobile.
Wanderer. Roamer. Itinerant. Wayfarer. Drifter. Voyager. Vagabond.
So Mr. Proud, are you suggesting these are quirks and spins in thoughts, both yours and mine?
Nothing is straight and continuous?
Sure, for a moment or two. And then they flow. As clamour. As uproar. As silence. As frozen. As delirium. As mourning. As rage. As joy. As lethargy. As radiance. As spark. And the thrilling thing is, they are simultaneous, as well as out of sync with one another.
Like my laughter clashing with your moan. Like my desire for the dark entangling with your fears.
That’s very poetic. But it’s a digression. We’re trying to think here.
Oh dear. Really? About what?
What do you mean ‘about what’? It’s clear. How do we know we are with each other in thought? For example, when we are in friendship, it gets expressed through words. But our sense of connection and companionship blurs when we try to think of ourselves in thought with one another.
I see the problem. Where emotion is clearly demarcated — e.g., he burst out, or she rejoiced — there the thought-speech connect is legible. But readings get determined by the expressed emotion, and thought recedes.
To me the problem is — When do we become aware of the qualities of our life forces? And by that I mean, together, with each other.
Often when someone is telling me something on the phone I find there is, one, a sense of urgency, two, a clear analysis of the immediate occurrence that delimits life at that point, and three, an astonishment.
This must hold for all.
Clarity on the immediate /
There’s another thing — Sometimes in a formation, these three happen together. And by that I mean together, between many, with each other. I have seen this. Something flows. It’s momentary, and it can also happen over time. It dissolves many hesitations.
It’s a rejuvenation. An astonishment alerts and affirms that it is in us, it is in you, it is in all.
The twin whips of tension and torture keep attacking this radiance. It’s tough!
Tough! Why? Almost everyday I stand amidst thousands and see this paper carried by a wave. I sense a radiance. It comes near through words, but scattered, as fragments.
Yes, I run into you in different places in a month. It feels nice. And I read the paper, and sense language tussling to make space and make words for this wave, this radiance.
We are proud that we are ramblers. Everyone and all are ramblers. There is a churning all around.
Radiance is intermittent. Keep it alive. Hold on to it. Transmit it.
With Regard to the Best in All
Faridabad Majdoor Samachar
FMS#357 || Faridabad-NCR || March 2018
Tell me something. Why do you keep repeating that a “worker” doesn’t understand this, won’t follow that, has no interest in the first page, can’t do this, wouldn’t do that, works against own interest?
I too hear you say this all the time. It makes me want to ask you who this “worker” is.
You both sound like you want to pick a fight with me. By “worker” I don’t mean any one person; I am talking about a general lack of understanding. I call them workers who are not able to grasp complexities.
So then according to you, when many “workers” stop work together in the middle of the day, they do so because of a lack of understanding? Is it because of an inability to grasp complexity and with no understanding of how things will unfold?
No. I’ve been part many such milieus myself. In these moments a lot is at stake, so naiveté is not an option. But things are different in the routine of living and working.
So then according to you, thought is an outcome of stakes. The higher the stakes, the better the thought; you lower the stakes, and thought vanishes.
I feel we stay quiet about the inner stakes we have about life. They remain inaudible. Own stakes are hidden, others’ stakes are screened. All that remains, all that gets sung, is who’s high, who’s less.
The two of you have taken my words into some unwarranted directions. Like it happens every time I try to talk to someone, here too I am failing.
Don’t be frustrated. This debate is old. If we set the bar low for each other, then that is what we’ll see and what we’ll find. On the other hand, if I were to look at her and think, this is someone who has the capacity to draw the experiences of a hundred workplaces from twenty-five people, and who can express experiences of as many as ten workplaces at a time to twenty-five people in exceptional ways, and who reads fat books, then I will not be able to think of her as naive. I mean, if I still do, then it would be my own naiveté.
I want to add another dimension to this conversation. The “worker” you speak of today has nothing to do with labour courts. Today managements take all disputes to the criminal court. Some thousands are in jail from not having been granted bail. So many are in jail following absurd legal judgements. Is this because they are emitting naiveté?
I want to add something as well — All those entering the world of work today have dexterity with language, technology, forms of conversation. They have an agility both with making groups, and with becoming part of groups.
Let me also add something — You only need to read crime reports in newspapers, or news about boys and girls who elope to see how even reporters think of young workers as being highly intelligent and courageous. It is when they don’t understand a situation or an event, that they sense intelligence and courage.
That is so true. When one doesn’t understand something, instead of admonishing and ridiculing, appreciate the mystery, allow the attraction, praise the intelligence and courage, and view the other person with equality.
All of you seem to be suggesting that my thoughts run counter to my experience.
By falling in with the routine divide — where the commonplace is considered very low, and anything out of the ordinary is thought worthy of hyperboles — we suspend each other in limbo land.
It would be good practice to give thought velocity by paying attention to, and giving regard to, the best of an individual or a collective, gathering, or group.
That, after all, is life.
What is Fuel
Faridabad Majdoor Samachar
FMS#356 || Faridabad-NCR || February 2018
I heard a sermon.
Since when have you started listening to sermons! You’re always saying, “Everyone’s a thinker, no sermon necessary.”
I still hold that view. But this sermon emerged in a context and about questions that were both poignant and significant. So, in that moment, I softened my stance.
What a turn! Do elaborate.
A crowd had gathered. It was near the railway crossing. Word was, three young men had died, cut on the train track. They were crossing after their shift. The crowd was restless. Everyone crosses these tracks daily. It was as if everyone felt the loss of a limb.
One young man was speaking. He had everyone engrossed. He kept stuttering on the word ‘cut’. There was a trembling in his voice. His words were considered, as if he had tested many of them, chiseled his language.
You seem to have been very moved both by the milieu and the persona. Sermon is your shorthand for what you felt.
You may be right. But it did seem sermons held a sway on his manner of speaking. He dwelled upon, elaborated and multiplied the word ‘cut’ from and into so many directions that everyone became distraught.
We use the word ‘cut’ often between us.
And he was aware of that. Bodies get dismembered. Humans are hostile to nature. Hands sever from bodies. Childhood shrinks from minds, and compassion withdraws from intelligence. Life resources are dwindled from lives. Humans separate from humans. Humans become antagonistic to machines.
Wow, it’s like everyone would have encountered the force of their own cuts.
And even though I’m sitting so far away, I can sense the power of cuts just from your narration.
That’s probably why we are drawn to thought that extends and enlarges us in moments of difficulty and peril, makes us dig our heels in, sends thought coursing through bodies without differentiating between them.
Something like that. The pain of a cut, the hope of departure, the anxiety of estrangement, the desire for an opening, the anger of exclusion, the joy of an epiphany — everything was cooking in the cauldron. And the fuel? Say?
What was it?
Well let me try! Land was divided. People and land were sundered. Took a train, turned away from the village.
Still, what is the fuel? Descriptions are important. They are in abundance with everyone. Every description is also a description of the fuel.
People have been going from here to elsewhere for hundreds of years. The songs of parting from the beloved and songs of ships rocking at sea stitch the fabric of life.
So are you saying musicality is fuel?
Well, you’ve hijacked my line of thinking! But this direction too is intriguing. It seems there is no one fuel.
Some fuels march in procession. Some fuels burn. Some fuels flow subterraneously like molten lava.
And lava that surges unpredictably like your thoughts? What is that called?
I’m in search of a name, my friend. I’m in search of its name. Once I have it, it will dislodge settled forms. It’s just that I haven’t found its name yet. I experience it, can give a description of it, I sense it, feel it coursing, recognise its resonance, can mark it in different acts.
Let’s keep searching, thinking, talking, dear seismologist.
Imagined Courthouse (& its Contempts)
Faridabad Majdoor Samachar
FMS#355 || Faridabad-NCR || January 2018
I received a very well composed message on WhatsApp the other day. It was elaborate, full of detail, and rich in feeling. It was a message exhausted by complaint.
What was it about? At what time did you receive it?
In the afternoon. It was about a few things. The crux was the cruel ways of extracting work. And it was about young workers and students of Industrial Training Institutes who are taken in as apprentices by companies.
Why are you calling it an exhaustion of complaint?
Because the message lists the many steps taken to register complaints. First with the supervisor, then HR department, then ITI teacher, then principal, and then the District Magistrate.
And you’re saying the level of exhaustion is directly proportionate to the number and stage of complaints filed.
The thing is, experience tells us that the procedures of complaint-making don’t work. Mostly, complaints get ignored. This is common knowledge. Even so, it is through the language of complaints that a critical edge is presented.
Let me get this. You are saying we know complaints don’t work and yet our very mode of expressing ourselves is by complaining.
It puzzles me how those who have sharp observations and thoughts become plaintiffs when they speak and write. As if they are standing in and addressing an imagined courthouse.
And you’re saying this a kind of habit of living that must be investigated.
At one level, it is evaluated on a daily basis. ‘We are not being heard’ and ‘there is no justice’ are things that come up all the time in everyday conversation.
No, she’s saying something else. It may be part of everyday conversation that complaints don’t work, but that’s not the same as investigating it. Because it’s true, whenever we step up to express a thought or a critique, we surrender to a language of complaints and petitions. The plaintiff lives on.
This riddle can perhaps be thought through a few questions — about why complaints have such a sway over our lives; about concepts which we think through when complaints fail; and about languages that get sidelined by the dominance of complaints and petitions.
There are languages that cut through. Just last week I saw a picture in a newspaper — faces lit up with laughter. You get it — in a newspaper!
Yes, yes. In a newspaper. Carry on.
They were faces of young people who opened up the toll gate because they were not paid their wages. No one had to pay the toll. For four hours. And laughed for the photograph in the newspaper.
I have to say, laughing and dancing faces ruffle up settled relations of power.
It’s a contempt of the imagined courthouse.
Maybe this is how language escapes efficacious comfort zones.
What does that mean?
Well, it just came to me. How do I explain it! When we accept hierarchies of social stations, take them as stable, unmovable, unbreakable, and let pulpit-heads dominate, we’re well within efficacious comfort zones. I do think there are many cracks in this, much seepage, but some phantoms hang heavy.
Cruel intelligence uses these phantoms with great efficiency. Stay in your place, it reprimands. You won’t get any more time than this, it commands.
And yet these lines do keep breaking.
Only to be hastily repaired.
And then they break again.
How often, how much must they break before the repairers will be exhausted?
A Driver Asserts a World-Picture
Faridabad Majdoor Samachar
FMS#354 || Faridabad-NCR || December 2017
I saw an arresting scene in a film. As if it was for you. As if it were you speaking.
A woman worker in a factory in 1970s Germany astutely reads the management.
What’s her reading?
Two axes. One, that the management remains always enveloped in a fearful anticipation of our sudden collective halts, breaks, ruptures.
Ha ha. It’s always winters; they are always in search of the security of the quilt.
And second, that whenever management feels jammed in its bargaining with us, it presents itself as a social enterprise engulfed by, and helpless in the face of, global forces.
Has a sudden realisation!
Becomes immediately social!
Turns melodramatically ‘for everyone’!
It gains expeditious nirvana!
Such is the latchkey of capital. When under pressure, evoke global crisis. Say market is turbulent. Plead defencelessness. Cry unbridled competition. Quote all that is solid melts into air.
With that, they also find themselves relieved of the burden of surveilling workers and issuing reprimands one by one about how they are lazy, inattentive, incapable, and not as good as the machines they work. But at the same time, their control over the workplace also slips, becomes dishevelled.
Their confidence also melts into air.
One keeps hearing these days about companies that any of them might vanish any day. And this understanding is quite prevalent too, that companies belong to no one.
A friend of mine who drives Uber-Ola keeps trying to explain to his customers that the car is neither his, nor the customer’s, or even the company’s. The car is in his name, but it is mortgaged to a bank, and he pays monthly instalments on it. Then, also, a part of his income goes to the company as commission. The idea and the software are the company’s, but even those are linked to ideas and software of other companies. And as is the case with all companies, many companies will have invested in this company. And some of what is invested will have been accessed as loans.
Today there is a lot of chatter about banks and companies going bankrupt.
That is why my driver friend says that he himself is a pressure point. He senses the ups and downs both of the company and, through his customers, the world.
Does he feel pressure, or does he assert it?
Both. The pressure of the company’s ups and downs act on him. He keeps his customers in conversation about this. He says that creating an environment where pressure can be sensed and considered, is to create the conditions in which pressure can be exerted.
In cricket they say that you have to build pressure to create an environment in which a wicket can be taken.
There is a deep pleasure in bringing into conversation the world picture that emerges from ones own life and work. People enter such conversations very quickly, and build links with it.
This world-picture aspect of our lives sometimes amazes us, and sometimes makes us curious. Sometimes it feels beyond comprehension. Sometimes it troubles. Sometimes it feels obvious. And sometimes it exhilarates.
In winters this region gets a world-picture from birds. Enjoy it.