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Showing posts from September, 2021

September 10 to 16, 2021: Remembering the Old Days

September 10 to 16, 2021: Remembering the Old Days. In some horrific ways. It was a cool autumn morning at the Air Force Base. I had the rental car and I remember I was wearing a dress shirt, khakis, a tie, and a sports coat. There was bad news from home. There was internal bleeding, the surgery had gone OK, but there were complications. Always unanticipated. Otherwise, they would not been complications. The jet lag still hung on me as a cloak as I sat there – a small version of a War Room – the walls adorned with pictures of famous people from the Air Force. The coffee was still warm, I was waiting for the meeting to start. I was there to present the findings of the study. Everyone was interested to know. This is why I had returned. The ride to the airport from Salt Lake was dismal. I had seen him being wheeled away, clean shaven, a smile on his face, he had said, “tumi choley jao – kaaj roeche tomar, aar orao ekla roeche (you should go back, you have a lot of work, and they are also

September 5 to 9, 2021: The End in a Dual World

September 5 to 9, 2021: The End in a Dual World. It is impossible now to figure out where I am. The time zones across the World coalesce into my hole, or on the metal chairs and tables outside the brick building, or on the WhatsApp screen of my computer. This is a recurrent theme – the cybernetic World – person and machine collapsed into a point of simulcasting every moment. It is always available. Students like it. Miss class because was doing homework for the next class. We all remember those frenetic moments. In class. In the seat. Masked. But distanced. The current time passes by away from the classroom.  Embedded in a virtual World. But time does not matter. It can be turned back. I can return to the missed moment. Time travel is a paradox, but time shifting is real. Up at 1 am because someone is time shifted, deep in sleep at 2 pm for the same reason. The connected world that I have seen since those crazy days in Delhi, when the work started at 11 pm and I would be responding to

September 1 to 4, 2021: And Death Will Come

September 1 to 4, 2021: And Death Will Come. Always uninvited. Sometimes inevitable. Sometimes inexplicable. But it leaves a trail. Sometimes a trail of blood. Always a trail of memories. The calls and messages started when I was taking my students on a trek through the Hindu Kush, the phones all beeped at the same time in the classroom on that just a regular Wednesday noon as I discussed the fascinating history of the Indian Sub-Continent. No one checked messages. Then a call from my wife. Or was it a WhatsApp message? My pre-programmed annoying “WhatsApp Message” beeped as we discussed the intricacies of a sociological take on religion. I looked at my phone. Not something teachers do in the classroom, but the messages were coming too fast, from all directions, from so many. Lockdown. A different kind. In the sleepy little wannabe town, I call one of my homes. In what civilized country does a 16-year-old carry a gun into a school? We know the answer. The exceptionalism allows anything

August 29 to 31, 2021: Habits that make us

August 29 to 31, 2021: Habits that make us. Once we believe that the interruptions are over, there is comfort in routine. The same things happen and there is a predictability to life. We all perhaps seek a little bit of that. To be not surprised. To take things for granted, that someone will wake at a certain time, will do a few things that can be expected. In such expectations we find familiarity. It these patterns of life that were taken away last year. Nothing could be anticipated. In such anticipation lies the ability to plan. To know for sure that certain things will happen. And if they do not happen, there is at least a good explanation. There are no mysteries. At least at the mundane level of everyday life. In that periodicity things change their importance. In my World, the people I work with the most, the uncertainties are not about being a victim of the pandemic, but the questions have now turned to “how do I enroll in a class that has no more seats left.” I have gone back to