No, I mean, they do not know me…nor do I know them personally, and neither have I come here with their sifarish. But they gave me the “desktop thing” and “i-explorer” and many such softwares, which brought me to this place for good or bad. I surfed the “Net” for places where I can be pedantic 🙂 … was brought here for a research in humanities. Alright! Let’s give up pretending… I do not know a single word of IT or Computer Science or any other technology for that matter and still I am in IIT. Some souls like me are too in this place; in the same or in different subjects. This is the place where every moment you need to justify your own existence. I enjoy the moments when I am asked by techno friends with a certain degree of vanity,“what research are you doing?” And I retort with a practiced nonchalance: “huh! I am researching Von Humboldt and some Einstein”. They gasp in shocked disbelief and I mutter to myself: chakde India. Somehow a diabolical satisfaction. It was Quixotic on my part to be here — I wholly agree (?).
But, then there is a secret devilish pleasure in justification. Hopeless romanticism heh? The place taught me the grammar of ruthless competition. I was first taught with biting sarcasm and scathing criticsm (memories are still green) as to how to write a simple mail. From mails to men, learning is an art — things don’t come to you simply. I am in the process of that learning. Look at my fortune — I am writing blogs! 🙂 Whoa! No, I don’t intend to make you jealous! Neither have I achieved so much that I can boast of greatness.
My purpose here is to narrate the predicament of a poor researcher who ‘re-searches’/’researches’ with honesty in “ARTS” (some call that “humanities”). But… at the end of the day, you are told: “you are not an engineer” or “you cannot be an academician because you do not come from there” — “sorry no vacancy”. The unfortunate part of research in “ARTS” is that we are likely to starve because of our sincerity and choices. Every moment the world that we live in reminds me of the untrodden path ; family says “you have to be in a marriage or a job”; bankers from whom I seek for a loan to make my ends meet tell me how I have let my father down by choosing the untrodden path; some say what am I doing here?; Friends say, “ah! what fun! you are not a techno but in a technical insti — enjoy yaar! kabhi padhti-wadhti bhi hai kya? 😉 ” .
There are supposedly no other openings for arts graduates other than “teaching” and that too is slowly becoming a dream. In colleges, Arts faculties are being closed down because of lesser intake; everyone wants to be an engineer or doctor or a management guru.
And I — I feel shattered but still say arrogantly: papa don’t preach…!!
Hardly students with high score opt for a career in humanities after 10+2. Is there not a necessity for good students in these streams of education? To be frank what are the incentives for humanities’ research In India? Why should one loose the crucial 4-5 years for research in humanities? Apart from few sponsorship what are the means of survival for people who might be very good academically? If there could have been some incentives from Govt/Private partnerships or any Microsoft fellowship/Infosys fellowship/Google fellowships, then perhaps, it would have been a little better.
Such is then the kismet of an “ARTS” researcher. So what do we do? We live in Divine Discontent without an expectation of a great tomorrow. This divine discontent leads us from Gpo (GPO is the mail service of IIT Bombay) to Gmail (the title of this blog is burrowed from conversations with my friend living in the same floor) , from Yahoo Messenger to Gtalk, from Orkut to Facebook — a vagabond existence. We cannot sit with the paan wala or the chai dukaan because of the acquired vanity of the “elite”, so keep shuttling from one mail box to another. When I visit my neighbours, on being asked as to what is going on in their lives, they reply with sarcastic humour “gpo to gmail”. From morning through late night we keep on checking our emails, in empty inboxes. Early morning I wake up, immediately start my computer, checking if there are any mails. I go to the department, check all the mails with pious devotion to see if there are new mails, comeback to my hostel room and open all the mailboxes again… and the cycle continues. Through the day till late at night, checking and rechecking the mailboxes have become a compulsive drive in me and many others like me.
The society hardly takes research in humanities as a serious passion. Then, how does one expect to produce quality work? I suppose India intends to “PRODUCE” (this being a consumer’s world) Narayan Murthys and Ambanis for the future…but probably it has no plans to have another Sarojini Naidu, Amartya Sen or Tagore, either in the near or in the distant future. You can be proud of an Amitav Ghosh or an A. K. Ramanujan when they have produced their major works abroad. You can scramble to claim whether these writers are from “diaspora” or “native” worlds, but you do not have the guts to invest your resources in making another such writer/researcher for this country.