Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hasan, Sliema, Marseille, Rishikesh

On The Road, Again from ANTIDOTE by Sauvik
Hasan should be on the tourist map. It is the closest city to Halebid, Belur and Sravanabelagola. Nestled in the hills of the Western Ghats, "the weather here suits my clothes." I love the monsoon, anyway.
I took the Konkan Railway to Mangalore and then the bus to Hasan. The railway urgently needs competition from buses - for which a Coastal Expressway is a must. The seats were hard and horrible. The bus had excellent reclining seats but I couldn't sleep a wink because of the bumpy road. It was a government bus from a government bus station 10 kms from the rail station. The auto-rickshaw from the railway station to the bus station cost more than double the railfare. Guess our government hasn't heard too much about "multi-modal transport." It has been a tragedy that wee the sheeple handed all transport over to The State. Everything needs to be privatized.
The highway from Mangalore to Hasan is terrible. Our Tata bus groaned and moaned all the way, not possessing the power to take on the climb. The road was jam-packed with heavy vehicles and progress was excruciatingly slow. [Antidote: For Liberal Governance Sauvik Chakraverti - Jan 2003]

philosophy trips from Object-Oriented Philosophy by doctorzamalek (Graham Harman)
Nietzsche thinks the value of places varies widely from person to person, but there is no longer any question that I myself need seaside, sea air, and long seaside walks to do my best thinking. (And I was cruelly deprived of these things well into adulthood– having grown up in Iowa, nearly as far from any sea as one can get.)
… I mentioned in January, that stretch of corniche west of the capital, running between Sliema and Paceville, though only a few miles long and heavily developed with quasi-suburban residential property, is about as intellectually stimulating a stretch of pavement as I have ever encountered. I think I had 15-20 good new ideas in 3 or 4 days there the last time. It’s almost hard to manage the flood of thoughts that can be generated by that sort of atmosphere.
The map below doesn’t quite explain what I’m talking about, but at least it sketches the physical geography well enough. If you find Sliema Point on this map, and go westward all the way to where it says Spinola Palace, that’s just about the most charming and captivating walk of several miles that can be imagined. Powerful ocean waves crash beneath you most of the time, but there’s still a comfortable domestic feel to the route: sublimity to your right, and a nice cup of coffee to your left whenever you need one.

Benjamin writes in Unpacking my Library, about the relationship between a collector and the things he or she collects, figuring that relationship as an extreme intimacy. This figuration extends into much of his other writing. His massive Arcades Project is in part an accounting that turns Paris into a collection, numbered, categorized, recorded and kept permanent. The same intimacy between a collector and his things characterizes Benjamin’s relationship to the places he visits and then describes. [...]
Conquest of one kind or another has forever been one human answer to the looming truths of impermanence. Collection, particularly as Benjamin figures collection, is a sort of small-scale conquest. If you collect shoes or books or records, you want to conquer shoes or books or records by having the most of them, by having enough of them (though, of course, there’s never such thing as enough). Benjamin’s pieces recounting Marseille or Spain or Naples have always seemed to me reminiscent of early American explorers’ journals, in which trees and birds and animals and everything else are written down in minute detail. JUNE 24, 2010, 9:14PM 

The Shatabdi: A metaphor for the new middle class India Rama Bijapurkar, leader on market strategy, and consumer related issues ... Economic Times - March 30, 2009
Many of us have trouble picturing exactly who the members of the Great Indian urban middle class are. Though we talk about them all the time, it still is like pornography “know it when I see it but can’t exactly describe it”. When visiting western businessmen talk, with a gleam in their eye, of investing in India because of the growing middle class, one is a bit worried about what images they carry in their heads about this group. The trouble is that our consumer base is so variegated, that even field research, away from meeting rooms, provides every kind of anecdotal evidence, to confirm any kind of mental picture that anyone might have, on any count.
A recent trip from Delhi to Rishikesh on the Shatabdi was a “eureka” moment. The Shatabdi is definitely the perfect metaphor for the middle class. Santosh Desai of Future Brands wrote once that the autoricksha is a metaphor for India. It can weave its way in and out of utter confusion, is ugly, noisy and inconvenient, but it serves the purpose quite well, at an incredible low price.  
The chair car is definitely like an upper middle class drawing room, and though the air conditioning works well, there is a cocktail of many strong smells in the air. Some of them you soon get used to, even welcome, partly because the strong smell of the cleaner assures you that cleaning has actually been done. Having not been on a Shatabdi for many years, one was struck by how “upwardly mobile” it had gradually become. And yet, how it has stayed the same on many counts too. 
Looking at the overhead baggage racks (open racks still), it is clear that a luggage revolution has happened. Smart suitcases (when compared to what we used to see earlier), lots of soft luggage, nylon backpacks - but the same old coolie system, even their uniforms unchanged! The luggage rack definitely made a statement about what progress Consumer India has made and the attitude it now sported, based on what luggage they were ‘wearing’. No uniformity here, no herd mentality, lots of individualism. No boring single brand here, this was the full blown variety of the gray market, importing from around the world! (The same, by the way, can be said for the winter wear of the passengers. No more aunt knitted hand made sweaters. Wind cheaters of all hues, and machine made sweaters and caps. And also of the closed footwear. No cumbersome heavy leather shoes in sight anymore.) [We Are Like That Only: Understanding the Logic of Consumer India Rama Bijapurkar - Jan 2007]

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