A Wonderful World – New Delhi Diary Part 3

It’s a Wonderful world after a winter of discontent as summer breaks in and we encapsulate a huge turnaround of world events in 2016-17 and should it be a lesson that it is the times that dictate how we, the people of the world elect anybody to any office of importance. But the song never changes!

There used to be this dream where all hell seemed to be happening, nothing seemed to be as I would wish it to be and I was where I just did not want to be. Yet it went on and on. Then there would come a point where I was just wanting for the dream to end and I would find myself half awake saying “oh, the morning is not so far away; it’s just a dream and it will all be over”. Thereafter truly, it was like God intervened and “snap”, presto – I was awake! The bed was still the one that was mine and world order too was mine, very much the way I would ever want it to be.

The other day I met this man and just as he was leaving he said the customary “let’s meet again” gesture where my own response was automatic and habitual “inshallah” which had no religion in it really.

But I immediately felt an odd wave surge within me saying that suddenly the world had changed and so by habits I ought to be careful. Then just today the “Navratras” got over and after week of veggies and half-fasts we went out at as a family to splurge on Naan, paneer and soya chops as we ‘feared’ having tandoori chicken tikkas may be too sudden and harsh. I could almost see my late father rise from ashes with a questioning look “what hey, we used to run for tandoori chicken this day!” and I found myself saying in defense “oh, it was a Tuesday”.

There is no question that the world has changed and so, the way we are thinking is leaving us generally clear thinking educated folks perplexed. Whether it happened from a Trumpy US, a chaotic middle east or closer home to saffron rising in another bread basket of unexpected modernity, I don’t know. All I know is I am first of a generation of Indians born after independence so must think as that! We have led our lives on the cusp of everything from West to East, border to across, house to house, person to person, day to day, period to period and found no need at all to be on ‘one’ side of it all.

My childhood was spent on the edge of the walled city now famous as “Delhi 6”. We took everything as privileged. Example, my folks never considered our locality Daryaganj on Shah Jahaan’s walled zone as ‘old’ Delhi and it was certainly not “New” Delhi because it was at the point of separation called “Delhi Gate”. My uncles wrote and spoke Urdu mixed with Hindi and vice versa and could write some of each, even as they would swear in both English and Hindi, whereas the Urdu was for tehzeeb, meaning courtesy.

My generation added slang and punch to every punchline and courteous abuse, just as every next generation would for sure – to make life colorful but never abusive. We had the Jaini, the Sikh, the muslim and the odd Parsi who lived in seclusion (Delhi still is never Mumbai!). We could hear neighbors fight and we fought them at will. The next day things would patch up. My parents never approved the way others lived and we silently accepted even virtual the enemy. No one ‘told’ us who to meet and who to befriend and so we did that too openly and brashly – romancing the enemy with tehzeeb than with bad blood. The movies too had a well defined hero, heroine and villain but always happy endings.

Honestly rivalries too are part and parcel of ‘acceptance’ of a world order I have happily lived, or outlived I will know much later;  but I find it unfair to hear now some people say that past was wrong and ought to be changed. You mean sir, that to make a better today and tomorrow, we need to revisit past and change ‘history’? Was I a bloody fool to sit in a boring History class in school and now I must rationalize that I have truly lived a life in manner that was actually unacceptable. Honestly, would changing a story of a freedom fighter in school text books make our next of kin smarter and more ready to face the world order that shall be hereon?

Suddenly a world order seems to change and future looms like the streets and walls in “Inception”, the movie as a bad dream I must reverse somehow. A young friend gone saffron finds need to find the Hindu within and suggests my Ram is different from his (I love to sing bhajans, devotional music and pray when I feel like). An old Kashmiri friend is never the same for lack of the colorful musalmaniyat and tehzeeb that added to the flavor. I hate suggestions coming of a day when habitual Moghlai foodies and international travelers of my country will look dumbstruck as good old chicken and mutton platters may need license to be served.  Okay, if it’s just about clean-up of abattoirs, then I am fine!

I walk past bylanes of Lajpat Nagar in New Delhi to familiar ‘pathani’ faces but it’s just that I am noticing things I have never needed to notice until now. Now I am looking for a Iraqi, Irani, Kashmiri, Indian or North East from a new world order that will never restore, just like my dream. Back in college days we just ate Tibetian, but never questioned why they colonized out there on outskirts of DU or the Bangladeshis who got the now elite Chittranjan Park for ownerships as gift from our government.

Yehudi Menuhin was a musician and suddenly I can relate myself to what he said in “the ethos of a country is reflected in the kind of music it listens to”. Similarly I think, bad dreams are a reflection of our worst fears and when what we once feared has already happened and gone past, all mornings shall be beautiful.

So I say, “aahh” – all miseries of this world are the result of the electronica and melodyne auto-tuner music. So I get away from the unending dream to my morning of digital keypads, virtual drummers and symphony, microphone and lyrics, to make a song, record an idea, post some farce that has potential to be a fact provided it gets heard amidst the din of a ‘today’ that is not Delhi 6 – midway between what ‘ought to be’ and what we honestly love. Isn’t future a product of our present and don’t they know “Back to the Future” was only a Hollywood idea?

John Lennon sits by the roadside as I drive past Delhi roads which are seemingly still unchanged where the old Beatle is singing with a guitar in hand, no more the band around him, as he sings – “I’m just watching the wheels go round and round….I just love to watch them roll…no longer riding on the merry-go-round….aaanhh!”

Doing this, I don’t need belonging to any political party, group or cult or being imposed to any one or the other idea of a world order that ‘ought to be’. All the same I agree with my parents to just accept them for their co-existence ‘like neighbors’ and I will twirl all kinds of flags like I did as a boy; simply for their diversity of colors, tones and lyrics within. Somewhere too, it is now the ‘history’ and ‘literature’ classes that I seemed to remember more than the science and it was all of these together that give me my ‘current assets’ – enough for a wonderful world.

Mysite : please visit my new website https://yogeshbahadur.wordpress.com  and other related reads on wordpress.com :

Waiting to be Trumped ?

The story of TECH retrograde in India

New Delhi Diary – 2

New Delhi Diary – 1

 

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Waiting to be Trumped ?

(A Perspective on India and Africa with emphasis on future of initiatives in ENERGY privatization)

This may be the first time that a US presidential oath taking, on noon of January 20, 2017 by IST, is being followed as if it were D-day here in New Delhi. I cannot believe that cafes in Hauz Khas (per newspapers) are inspired to prepare for a celebration with big screens and all the pomp once reserved for big cricket matches only. I guess it has to do with the tourist season and time when NRI’s find best season to visit Delhi at its coldest.

In December it seemed like global warming was on when we said it is a weak winter, but snow like always in Simla since the New Year rang in, has changed all that and all of the woolen that remained inside until now, are finally out. So global warming sans the photography and videos from the melting Arctic seems to take backseat whenever here in Delhi the winter chill shows it’s delayed spurts.

We know for one that Merryl Streep and some of the glitterati may even boycott the grand presidential ball and invites to other festivities but as for those with eye on global energy investments from the USA, they are ones debating on Trump ideology, as it has been widely mentioned that he will go gung-ho back to fossil oil/coal and nuclear that have hitherto made USA the power to reckon. As world would have it, it is the intellectuals, the philosophizers, the sympathizers, the artisans, the educated elite who see the world in a certain perspective who normally crusade for ‘climate change’, environment and future of society.

With Obamacare health already on the chopping block, what will be the fate of Obama’s Lighting Africa and other initiatives for Africa and the developing world at large, none of which have instilled much inspiration anyway, even as Renewable Energy is considered more a democratic idea, less macho, more idealistic than practical by many who have held any kind of important ‘Energy’ portfolio in past decades. The capitalists can afford to keep changing stance the direction winds blow and corporate professionals shall keep falling like Humpty Dumpty to any such ideology, soon as the words ‘profit’ and ‘KRA’ come in during year endings and budget sessions.

With every elected government in developing world in recent years was enforced to give proof of combating corruption, fueling of economy with tax retrievals, the US had a very different agenda this presidential transformation. The whole differential strongly rests on the Payee and Payer division with regards to balance of payments, vis-à-vis, world bank and donor funding where African countries especially, owe billions of dollars to China, US, EU and Japan (donor countries) in particular. The sword of taxation hangs on private sector, which was already looking at their respective governments with feeble trust to enter infrastructure, energy et al to put their own money at stake.

Also no country has had a brave PM like we in India do; that’s the popular view in India at large it seems. Like USA, we too find our people with mixed emotions of late but there are positives and negatives to perspectives in context of Energy and renewables per se.

In India the retrieval on taxes and money out of circulation may have been challenged in part by demonetization; but the PM has taken huge strides to solar-power the nation and this is what I want to leave you as the reader with on the possibility of renewable energy (as against fossils) being trumped (with some comparisons for African countries):

  1. Funding of Renewables under Obama’s programs, especially Lighting Africa has raised more eyebrows and seeing a dismal growth and even worse, the interest of private sector; the oil-rich African countries might just welcome a reversal. It might even create a revival in oil exploration now on hold on east coast, but that is a long shot until the oil pricing shows a definitive trend. So push for renewables will still need a push from governments and regional treaties, with growth ensured.
  2. The private sector renewal business in India particularly will rest with the big fifteen or so who have gained from power projects in thermal coal and are already way ahead with mega solar; even as rural electrification from solar is widely dismal but in mega solar there is optimism from the new guidelines for the (just tendered) 250MW Rewa in Madhya Pradesh have made 3 big attractions for investors – i) lowest tariff of 5.9 Cents (Rs. 4) per unit (ii) state government guarantees with inter-state open access with 25% to Delhi metro rail (iii) deemed generation for grid availability
  3. “Pay-as-you-go” models by mobile companies in Africa, with Kenya showing the way; as also in far east (Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, etc.) are gaining success and India too has started with ADB $6 million support as over 60,000 rural households are in process to be electrified by off-grid solar by a company “Simpa Networks” and others like Reliance will be in fray whereas Adanis have put up the largest of solar mega farms already. However, still much remains to happen in the urban (rooftop) context as electricity woes are diminishing per reports.

In summary, a ‘Trumping’ of Renewables is highly unlikely as the pie for USA dependency is way too small to interest the man who shall build a wall around Mexico. Also, the African & developing country support has sustained Congressional blessings for more important reasons; China for one which practically leads in Africa by miles.

Yet, it would be unwise to say that India will be inert to whatever changes do take place in USA will not impact world population at large. So we can once again sharpen our business instincts and world vision by re-evaluating global equations that will impact business, profession and our general well being, since this is how the world is slowly becoming.

So the better thing will be to question “whether Modiji would find an ally in Trump for real to counter China or will Pakistan (which voices it’s nuclear muscle whenever under threat), offer reasons for a shift even as Hindu temples lighted ‘hawan’ piers in prayers for US to have Donald Trump win the election”.

For sure, the euphoria itself will be exciting for globalized professionals and I am looking forward to get ‘in there’ yet again and with more vigor, but with fingers crossed as the “change” scenario is getting way too dynamic and regular – but sure as hell, we have learnt and that’s what we as professionals must keep believing and keep contributing.

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Where Love has gone

Now this is the first time where I have put a title and really just starting to write on basis of, just a feeling that I have woken up with. But right away, I must warn you that the context may not be the most obvious.

2017 has begun and we seem to be in a world where from the moment we get up to time we go to bed, we must have a peep into our social media – the ‘WhatsApp’ or Facebook, Twitter and what have you. I have tried not to, many a time. But it fails to work. In fact whenever I decide not to err….peep; I am doing it more!

Why have we got so fixed to what somebody else has to say or what somebody has to say to what we said and if we are ‘liked’ then ‘how many’ are these people and who all?

It is very sad. No, not this act or the habit, but the very existence, adaptation and governance factor of such perception per se and social media by itself.

Gone are the days when I will sing a song, all in my house (whenever together with some and that’s how houses used to be back then), they would say ‘wah, wah’ pat me on the back and someone will give the kiddo a 100 in cash right away for whatever it might have been worth. That 100 or even the 50 and 10 would matter a whole lot and yes, fond memories are around still. They egged me to go on, feel on center of a stage; small as the achievements were at that time. They were my halo of being a part of my little world where rest of the world never mattered. It also made me to make my mistakes in life when I perhaps stopped working the passion.

Now I have travelled the world. More and many have joined in the ‘togetherness’ and it is wonderful to see them all, someone in USA, someone in Ethiopia, Tanzania, a European I met a decade ago, a relative of relative who became now more of a friend than the primary relative over time; even an old ‘enemy’ who is appearing suddenly on Facebook page seems like lost love now.

But all along the way, the closeness, the oneness, the ‘My-ness” if I may say, seems to be waning.

If we remember somebody across decades, or across distances or across wider relationships of official colleagues and business associates with whom we have shared our deepest feelings at times without even knowing them enough; there has to be something more to it if we ‘just remembered’ it one fine day again, in midst of ennui.

And the year ends (2016 just did) and a year beginning (2017) are as good a time as any and so it is that I am writing, expressing it the way it is.

At the same time, there is too much music, too much art, too much writing across the websites to make us be heard nowadays. And then…who doesn’t want to be heard? Our friend Rahul Ram, the bassist from ‘Indian Ocean’ even said of those like me “now Indian music is democratic; people from bedroom studios can post music” with HT Times heading calling it “clutter” (hey, my kinds cluttering on the biggies – wow!)

In times when I was a nobody and could do precious little I had friends who loved me to sing, relatives who sent messages wide and far of what a lovely little boy was the ‘son of my parents x & y’. Now it takes so much out of me to draw a ‘you did good’ from my own close ones; when I have really worked hard, invested so much and fought against so many odds to actually learn and master some across the whole 9 yards down the decades.

Maybe it is not so. Maybe they feel me destined to do even more, reach even higher. I am not old and I am certain there is no age peaking on excellence.

But do they want my ‘Excellence’ or is it, that ‘Love has gone’ and replaced with a YouTube comparative for the ‘seen’, ‘liked’ and there is even the ‘thumbs down’ to declare somebody worthy of a ‘glance’ and ‘peep’.

Where Love has Gone, we learn to re-evaluate ourselves.

I get up in morning or to sleep to find ‘who did not Like’ and if there was even a ‘thumbs down’!

These are my indications of “path, yet to traverse”or should I say, the path to where love still exists and be it our work for profits, music for creativity we carry or writing for vision that we carry; the “manzil” or the destination – is the SONG itself, and path is the quest for that love that exists…but needs to be extracted and brought out again and again, better and better.

At least this is what I would like my children and the youngsters I may mentor to believe and that’s all I wanted to say in this ‘first post 2017’. Those who had gone will come again….just do your thing to the best you can!

Coming soon on through http://talentrack.in/yogimusic and on YouTube:

  1. The YogiB Orchestral
  2. The Ghazal – a genre of ‘feelings’ and classical music