Staying Alive (Both Sides Now)

This is an article I wrote way back when for a professional writing contest for MTIndia, Amit's wonderful community for medical transcriptionists in India which unfortunately has been made more use of by business owners than by transcriptionists.

In 1995, while the Internet was still for the quirky elite and cellphones were seen only in movies, and as fans mourned Jerry Garcia's death and Windows 3.1 was upgraded, small groups of people in cities like Bangalore, Delhi and Kolkata were busily laying down the foundations of the medical transcription industry in India. The next few years saw a boom of unimaginable proportions, with absolutely everybody deciding to jump on to the bandwagon. In the city where I live, there was an MT company or a training institute on every proverbial corner. Of course, this did no great good to the industry, firms shut shop with the same enthusiasm that they started out with, training institutes made hay while turning out ill-equipped MTs that nobody wanted, consultants with fancy offices ran Venezuela and even got beaten up on the streets where they no longer live, US MTs hired to proofread the Indian transcripts didn't have too many kind things to say and the BBS's still resound of that, but it did do one good thing. The novelty and the challenge of the work and the business attracted some of the finest minds. These people came to satisfy their curiosity and make some bucks, but stayed to prove a point.


A faustian pendulum a birthday gift to help us keep the rabid prices down
Overjoyed oily housewives, oily party cadres, possessed the dispossessed
Damn the goddamn damn the goddamn damn the goddamn damn
Who is mother bribing this year? Is the mother joking?

A wring of prophets spin the rape of minds the dark depths of hearts
Orphaned marshlands orphaned again of faith and skin and party colors
Damn the goddamn damn the goddamn damn the goddamn damn
What is madam wearing, yaar? What madam says is final.

The people a buffalo august smog a broad and indistinct line
Sunlit large orange swathes the beach the chastened boulevard
Damn the goddamn damn the goddamn damn the goddamn damn
What is the mother driving this year? What is the mother smoking?

A New Blog For My Writing on Music

I just started a separate blog for my thoughts on music. I have named it The Operative Note. I hope to be able to post regularly and build up a body of work that will interest you. While my listening is dominated by jazz and rock, I am fond of all forms of music, and firmly believe that music maketh the man. Do visit and let me know what you think.

A Travel Guide to Darjeeling

Darjeeling, the Queen of the Hills

The best time to enjoy the Darjeeling hills is November-December. The weather is clear, and the views of the Kanchendzonga range are fabulous. Darjeeling can be reached by road after a three hour drive from Siliguri. There are regular taxis where you can book the entire car or book a seat for 100 rupees. The nearest railhead is New Jalpaiguri, a 12 hour train ride from Calcutta. Bagdogra is the nearest airport, with regular flights from Calcutta. For those who have time on their hands, the toy train is an excellent option since it allows you to savor the views at a much slower pace. However, for the weekend tourist, I would advises doing a toy train ride from Darjeeling to any of the three or four stations after it and then catching a ride back in the local taxis for as less as 10-20 rupees.

The drive to Darjeeling is a beautiful one. I am told that on a clear day, one can see the mountain range from Siliguri, but in my frequent visits, such a clear day has not befallen me. One leaves Siliguri, the last trading post in the plains, and passes through the foothills tea gardens and the forests of the terai, feeling the growing nip in the air, till you suddenly realize that you are looking down the hillside. The sal and semul give way to fig, cedar, birch and pine. If you have booked your own car, you can stop as you wish. After the monsoons, the several waterfalls on highway 55 make for a breathtaking experience. At a moderate altitude of 4860 feet, you come to Kurseong, the place of the white orchids. Kurseong offers the first view of the mountain range in the north behind the Ghoom ridge.
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