Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Burmese Revolution

I am not a sucker for politics. For romantic notions of revolution, maybe, but not politics. I sometimes half wish (why half, I LOVE the idea) of being in a dark, dystopian world, where I am leading a revolution against the authoritarian government. It's one of my favourite fantasies. Think V for Vendetta, 1984, Brave New World, Equilibrium- the like. Also (ulp) Resident Evil, Dawn of the Dead, and 28 days later. Zombies, dictators- whatever. I get to lead the (I LOVE this word) RESISTANCE. And do all the cool stuff that comes along with it. You know, martial arts, guns, spies and shit. And the oh-so-handsome and brooding guy who I have a torrid affair with. It's like Sidney Sheldon in Dystopia. Minus the gorgeous female lead of course- no stretch of imagination will make me THAT. But you get the general drift. It's the manifestation of an absudly intense indoctrination in sci-fi, dystopia and action movies. I should have watched the Blue lagoon when I was a kid.
However, this post, like all my other posts, was never supposed to be about this.
It was supposed to be, and from this point onwards, shall begin to be, about Burma. Not Myanmar. Burma. Till date, my knowledge of Burma has been restricted to three sources- a book, an essay, and a person. The book is The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh, the essay is At Large in Burma by the same, and the person is my Maths teacher, Mr. S.K. Mukherjee, a man I refer to simply as Sir. Sir told me of the time when his father had been to Burma, an absurdly rich and beautiful country. He contrasted it with the time he had gone to Burma, when the great teak floors of the Grand Hotel were no longer used for dancing. The Junta had banned it.
While Sir put Burma on my radar of knowledge, Amitav Ghosh put neon chrismas lights around it. The Glass Palace, in a word, was brilliant. He mixed factual accounts of the Burmese Royal family, and fictional stories of other characters, and spun an epic over and around the entire modern history of Burma. His essay, At Large in Burma, dealt with Aung San, and his daughter, Syu Ki.
Today, the newspapers talk about a 'uprising in 1988' which was 'brutally supressed' by the then government, headed by General Ne Win. That was the 8888 Uprising, named so because it started on the 8th of August, 1988. Burma, right now, is witnessing the largest mass protests in twenty years, that is, since the 8888 uprising. 3000 people were killed in 1988.
There were, till a couple of days back, monks marching on the streets of Burma. In Mandalay, BBC showed images of people on their knees, bowing as the monks passed by. The processions comprised of people from everywhere, but at the head, marched the maroon-robed monks.
There is a purpose to this. My rambling, that is. I hope you are aware that the junta has transferred Aung San Syu Ki from her house to prison. I hope you also know that monks and civilians are being arrested, access to the internet has been restricted, and that the police has been assaulting perfectly peaceful demonstrations. Oh yes, and that the Minister for Petroleum in India, Mr. Murli Deora, went to Burma for talks with the Junta on sharing of petroleum resources, a month into the protests. If you're not aware of this, then I'd suggest, watch the news. BBC maybe, because the Indian News Channels are obsessed with Cricket, Sania Mirza's legs (or hair, or t-shirts, I don't know) and Chak de.
I would love to be part of a loud, bloody, violent revolution. In my widescreen imagination, the sheer cinematic excitement of this revolution is awesome. I would love to be part of secret meetings, and surreptitious attacks on military convoys. Who knows, I might even give my life for this- hopelessness is a different high. But India, in my lifetime, doesnt seem to be headed in that direction. We are much too comfortable, much too divided for such a revolution. And the government always doles out its tokens of democracy to keep us satiated.
So, my interest in Burma is, on a level, simply a manifestation of a latent desire to see something truly magnificent happen. Not like Nepal, where the aristrocacy sheepishly gives. Something big and cinematic. Ultimately heartwarming. Yes, I like Steven Spielberg.
But on another level, I want this to be quiet. A silent revolution. Silent only in terms of physical violence, mind you- the protests have to be deafening. Because, ultimately, Martin Luther King wins over Martial Art (excuse the horrible, HORRIBLE figure of speech). And I'm not just saying that. Burma is, was, could have been one of the richest nations in Asia. The junta saw to it that it did not happen. Burma is a tragedy, and we are witnessing what could potentially be a climax. Or an anti-climax.
I am sure that many of you share my absurd fantasies. Come on now, I KNOW you do- that's why these films get made and these books get written. But we also know that there is very little chance of us ever being part of that. Our lives will be, in all probability, unmarked with any chance or potential for greatness. Or operatic excitement. Or revolution. But there is one thing you can do, a little thing, maybe, but one that will put you down as one of the people who changed the history of a country. That thing isn't much of a high, but for all of us out there who are high on notions of revolution, it's something. Speak. In the name of the Guevara, the Marx, and the Syu Ki, Speak. In protest against an Orwellian future (as much as that may give us the opportunity to finally have that revolution), SPEAK. To me, to them, to everyone else. Let the media know that we give a damn about Burma, we give a damn about democracy. We may not, but let them feel that, anyway. On the way, a couple of truly inspired people may join us. And if on the way, Burma is rescued, good for them. We get our revolution, they get their democracy.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

This isn't random.

Now I wonder how a 10 minute break stretches into a one hour long hiatus. I was working on defences to torts, when I decided to take a break. Check my mail, scraps, the like. That was an hour back. And I've been up ever since. Dang.
My first semester at law college is coming to an end. Endsems start in nine days. I started looking through my legal method material for the first time a couple of days back. The first few articles were all about research, taking notes and preparation. The irony of it was sickening.
I got through to my college quiz team. Okay, so I am 14th on a list of 14th. And the third round hasn't happened yet, so I don't know what my final rank will be. But I'm in. I barely scraped through, but contrary to expectations (my own), I'm in. And though I am bound to make a colossal ass of myself in the third round, maybe I can give myself a tentative pat on the back.
I have burnt the index finger on my right hand in a daredevil attempt to fish toast out of the oven without wearing gloves.
I've discovered one of the best love stories ever. It's called "On Seeing the 100% Perfect Girl One Beautiful April Morning", and is by Haruki Murakami.
I like my roomie. She's ditzy, but nice, and lets me be.
And I have decided not to be shy anymore. Down with social retardation.
This too will pass. Yay!