February 19, 2010

Upper echelons

Morning news today had two dismal items that brought back old memories.

The first is about the spread of a disease nurtured by assorted Senas in Bombay: thrashing the "outsiders". Ten such assaulted by Telengana activists -- among other things, not quite the recipe to build support for Telengana. But where does this end, anyway? Do we keep drawing our boundaries closer and closer to home, keep snarling at anyone outside them as "outsiders"?

OK, so I look forward to the time when we'll assault our neighbours from across the landing for being so bold as to actually be our neighbours. Thank you, Senas and Telengana activists and whoever else across the country believes in this stuff.

But the reason this brought back memories is that I once worked at that BHEL facility, doing "Practice School" as part of my college curriculum. Six months of fascinating microprocessor programming among some sharp people indeed. (Where are you now, Mr Suryanarayana?)

The second item is about the small plane that was flown into a building housing IRS offices in Austin. The man responsible, Joseph Stack, seems to have been one more of that peculiar breed: people so disgruntled at what they perceive as injustice and mistreatment from the world at large that they set out to kill complete innocents.

But the reason this item brought back memories is that I once worked in a company housed in that same building. When it was first set up in the early 1980s, MCC was housed in this very Echelon building and a couple of neighbouring ones, one of which was called Kaleido (see the reference here).

MCC's Software Technology Program hired me in early 1986, and I spent two years in a very nice office on the top floor of Kaleido, staring at the Austin landscape through enormous plate glass windows, and working in any time off from the staring. No but seriously, I'm pretty proud of something four of us built there, PlaneText, in some senses a precursor of the Web itself. (See reference GDLT86 here).

But PlaneText aside, one of my clearest memories from my time in that office is sitting in my chair and watching small birds fly into the plate glass and fall to the ground outside, stunned. Yesterday there may have been someone in similar office in next-door Echelon, watching a small plane fly into that plate glass. Something inside me shivers at the thought.


Anonymous said...

Sometimes Dilip, I fear the concept of India only survives by not getting too strongly into conflict with any of its multiple overlapping sub-identities.

When and where pushed by a hard-edged sub-identity, India appears to flow jelly like, around it encompassing it. We give it a local domain of pre-eminence and keep it happy.

Unfortunately, basic law and order is negotiable too and a time-honored bargaining chip is to drop all cases against 'agitators' in situations like these (if ever pursued to begin with).

At the other end of this scale perhaps would be Laldenga who was effectively fighting for independent Mizoram and eventually was accommodated as CM of Mizoram?

Do you think the tens or maybe hundreds of casualties in that insider-outsider war got justice, or were collateral damage written off in a grand agreement.

Unlike INI guys and unlike you, I am a bit confused. All I can say is:

Stay safe; get out of the way and stay out of the way of any nut pushing any kind of ideology by violence. You will not be avenged, you are unlikely to get justice. India will not even notice in single digits... it will deal over you if there were multitudes of you.


Dilip D'Souza said...

Jai, just wondering if you meant to leave this comment on some other post? It doesn't seem to fit this one. Not that it isn't welcome, of course.

Anonymous said...

Right Dilip and sorry for a little more OT:

Its just part of a developing gloom from the last series of posts, the driver was the Telangana violence.

After getting into a mini depression I went to CFP for some uplift ( its generally very positive; Ive gotten over some repulsion from an Anhadin report there that suggested among other things that jews could be involved in the 26/11 attack etc. )

An article with you speaking is on front page (faultlines in Mumbai) But CFP doesnt allow access anymore ? its login protected with no way seen to apply for a login.

Thats just great, all the hate speech one wants is out on the web for free, pushed even, to your inbox. And CFP is locked :-(

Just checking with others here if I'm missing something. Is this a temp thing, anybody know?

Thanks for the time and any response,

Anonymous said...

Okay -- so you were housed, decades ago, in a building nearby to the one attacked. Very significant.

I too am almost constantly having these type of situations. Would you believe it -- the VERY SPOT where I had just finished crossing the road, a BUS went through moments later!!

Dilip D'Souza said...

Right you are. That's why I also have memories of Non name dropping.

Jai_C said...

Just to complete the OT thread with Dilip's permission:


Many links are not clickable but many are, including some that were not working last time I checked. Some lead to supershort 1 or 2 para items, synopses of longer articles that certainly seem to be restricted-access.

(for just one example the section: secularism and identity, "short on secularism" and "imagining citizenship" are synopses, "kashi ka kabir" is a full link).

OK Dilip I will stop this here.