Panting

All of existence is a chase for a mood.  Not one mood, or state of being, being in nirvana gets awfully boring, awfully quick.  I run after various moods, at the drop of a hat.  This is unconscious, which is perhaps why I call them swings, but I create some of them as well. There are desires, and I try to realize those desires, give birth to their satisfaction, which is inevitably another state.  Language is woefully inadequate at expressing these states.  The very word we use for them, emotions, is saddled with limits.  Since it does not suggest inherent plurality, we know there is no stable state, and moods are ephemeral.  What creates the mood, an ambiance, an environment, or the recreation of memory, a remembering.  Or a remembering of a remembering. Can I yearn without knowing what it is I yearn for?  What I seek must be known to me, through experience, having lived it in the past, having others create a living of it for me, as music, as writing does, and having it thrust upon me by a belief structure shared by fellow humans.

The lives I desire are an unending caress you neck to thigh,
Your breath in your skin next to mine in mine,
Your memory in my mind,
brought to the fore,
by the accident
of something
yours

Crack

Somewhere between the past
and the present
is the now.
The now is with us, are you now?

To be in the now is either to be stark raving mad or to walk with your  god on the hot sand of a deserted beach.

I have a god, and her beauty has graced my nows, and my pasts, but never my futures.

VSNL hikes internet access rates in India

I started recieving reports from friends and relatives in India a few days ago about an announcement that the only Indian ISP VSNL (Videsh Sanchar Nagam) was about to hike up its rates for Internet access, across the board. VSNL is a government owned monopoly, there’s no hope that the Indian telecommunications market will see competition anytime soon (VSNL’s express monopoly over international telephonic communication was extended for another 10 years in 1996). VSNL general price structure is interesting. Like a number of other developing countries, international telecommunications is heavily over-priced ($3 dollars a minute to the US for instance, when rates in the other direction average $0.70) and telecommunication services to rural areas are heavily subsidized. They’ve been reasonably successful at extending telephone services to large sections of the country.

VSNL has also sought to interpret its monopoly in terms of Internet services. There is no other ISP in India providing accounts to users (there is the rather elite academic network, ernet, but it extends to a relatively small number of Universities, primarily the largest engineering schools in India) though there are some BBSs some of which are on Fido-Net (you can guess how much they pay calling the nearest Fido-Net hub, in Singapore, VSNL has flat rates for international calls).

Basically, the only option for users is VSNL. VSNL rate structure was as follows:

Shell access	Rs.5,000/$150 per year
SLIP/PPP	Rs.15,000/$450 per year
Student-Shell   Rs.500/$15 per year

doesn’t sound bad right? Except when you hear that this is restricted to 500 hours of usage per year (it used to be 250, but they raised it to 500 a few months ago). That’s a lot, various ISPs in the US offer shell access for $7 a month with a one hour per day restriction. And SLIP/PPP is generally $20 a month for unlimited access. By any accounts, VSNL is overpriced.

This of course isn’t all a user pays. Local calls are generally metered, usually at about Rs. 20 an hour ($0.60). Now it sounds really expensive right? Considering the average per capita income in India was just about $300 in 1991, it is. Granted, the network is a plaything for the relatively well-off, in India moe than otehr parts of the world. But it’s still something that should be easily accessible. The real problem, of course, is that there is no competition. It would be relatively easy to set up an ISP in a city like Bombay and provide shell unlimited shell access for about $8 a month. SLIP/PPP would be about $20 (though employment costs are much cheaper, machines and network access tends to be expensive). That, however, doesn’t seem like it’s going to happen anytime soon.

Meanwhile, VSNL decides it wants to raise its rates and put in place hourly access chargesd like so:

Excerpted from:

<URL:http://www.indiaserver.com/thehindu/1997/02/14/THB07.html>

+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

  VSNL Announces Steep Hike In Internet Access Tariff

   A sharp increase in the cost of Internet access in India is on the
   cards from April 1. Videsh Sanchar Nigam Ltd (VSNL), the sole provider
   in the public sector, has announced new tariff structures. Internet
   users of VSNL`s Gateway Internet Access Service found E-Mail waiting
   for them on Wednesday, when they accessed their local node, which
   provides details of the new pricing structure. Hardest hit would be
   the student surfers for whom VSNL was hitherto providing 500 hours of
   Net Time in a year, in the ``text only'' on Shell Account mode for
   just Rs. 500. This ``one buck an hour'' service was touted as the
   lowest in the world. Students will now be charged a refundable,
   non-interest bearing deposit of Rs. 500; an annual ``account
   maintenance charge'' of Rs. 500 and Rs. 5 for every hour of online
   time. For 500 hours of usage, as in the past, the total investment
   expected from students will therefore amount to Rs. 3,000 -- an
   effective sixfold increase in the first year. For the general public,
   who were charged Rs. 5,000 for 500 hours or one year of ``text only''
   Shell Account Internet service, the new rates from April are:
   refundable deposit Rs. 2,000; with annual maintenance charge of Rs.
   3,000 and an hourly rate of Rs. 15. New subscribers will therefore
   have to pay Rs. 10,500 for 500 hours of net time -- more than double
   the present tariff.
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

I wish I could say there’s something people here can do about it, but I can’t. At most one can hope to send some encouraging mail to the “Internet Users Club of India” which met this friday to discuss this issue, their address is <iuci@mail.mafatlal.co.in>. One could also send a message expressing concern to <helpdesk@giasbm01.vsnl.net.in>but it’s liable to be ignored. The IUCI is probably the only place any effort consistent effort to resist VSNL might come from. So that’s probably the best place. There are no local newsgroups at VSNL, so there’s no forum for the users to get together and talk about their concerns, there isn’t a discussion list either (though I could possibly set one up). You could join the signature campaign at ApnaNet but no one knows what effect that will have.

References

VSNL home page            <URL:http://www.vsnl.net.in/>
The Indian Techonomist    <URL:http://www.dxm.org/techonomist/>
Internet Users Club India <URL:http://www.mafatlal.co.in/guests/IUCI/>
ApnaNet                   <URL:http://www.apnanet.com/>

Ant hill

The ants will march on your skinless skull in time.
I think the baby worm will make a mudslide of your nose.
Your flesh may layer the earth around you, sinking with the wet soil.
There are no ashes, only mud.
You will not lie in the serenity of dust,
the nothing you are will pollute the world.
I know.

Crystal castle

Winter in the Northern hemisphere has a clarity denied to the other seasons.  Sometimes the blue sky looks as if it had been painted by a brush that left behind no shadow of its strokes.  As if the creator were absent from her creation, the sky would be itself, whole and perfectly blended.  There is something to be said for proportion, but what affects me is the crest of a building framed against the blue sky.

To say that I search for clarity is to go too far, clarity requires annihilation, the death of its subject.  Complete understanding must be death as well.  Who wishes for either of these?  I live among the shadows and the dreamers, like you do and all is indistinct.  There are moments of clarity, I recollect (re-member, re-call) a day in Philadelphia.  One day so crisp I feel it would shatter if I placed the entire weight of ME on it.  The impure, it is quite clear, is also the strong.

Perspiration cools

The breathless days have drawn to a close and the Gods have deigned to dispatch a breeze to my window.  The wind traps me in an ever moving envelope of air.  I must not move, the wind shall pout its face away from me.  I must let my body close itself and my mind will dance out of it and in the exhalation-breath that is mine andd the Gods’ it will strain the Earth, rising and falling as it draws an uneven circle in space, leaving imprints on the universe.  There is no window on the opposite side of the room and I realize I cannot blow out, the sky come in to meet my eyes; the air blows towards me for its appointment with my skin.  I cannot leave to meet the world, for it rushes headlong towards me.

To lie on my window in a breezy summer afternoon is to enter the sweet hell  of memory

That split-second

There are moments, magical moments that pervade our very being.  These are times fit for a person to die within, yet we are unaware of their existence till after they have passed.  Years later we realize the wholeness of a particular instance, how it exudes an universal order reaching out into the future, into the now, to calm us, still our hearts till we approach the silence of death.  We recognize the instant when it arrests our senses, most often we recognize it by its smell which may be displeasing and alluring at the same time.  The various moments of re-memberance come upon us again and again to pass us by in an eternity. I have known many such moments and the pasts they conjure in me.