Koushick Suriyanarayan makes your software

The standard Android camera doesn’t allow the user to switch between the front and back cameras of the phone while filming. This was precisely the functionality my daughter wanted for her Youtube Channel, so I looked at the App-store for alternative cameras and found some popular, heavily sponsored programs that didn’t quite deliver. After uninstalling those, I decided to try out an app that had been downloaded only a few thousand times, created by a guy from Bangalore with the beautiful name Koushick Souriyanarayanan.

The app is called Flipcam, available for free on the app store – no advertisements. It worked perfectly. This is actually the first time that I consider donating for a free app.

When I studied computer science in the Netherlands at the end of the last Millennium, professors told me that we would become “designers” and the executors who would follow our orders and “type in the code” would live in places like India. The condescension was hard to miss. I am glad to see the reputation of Indian IT people shift: they are judged based on merit rather than how much money (or rather: how little money) they can charge for their work.

Wages have been steadily increasing in India, but there is still a huge global disparity. For example, a Bachelor of Science in Information Technology earns on average ₹612.50 ($ 8.00) per hour. While the software industry in India is large and the biggest, TCS (Tata IT consulting systems) with its 448.000 is the largest IT consulting firm in the world. Yet, on their website they proudly announce “The Home Office will Remain: TCS featured in Germany’s FAZ newspaper”. The world is still skewed. Software is still “developed in California, produced in India”. Brands and “intellectual assets” are still predominantly in the hands of Western corporations. That domination is artificial and can’t hold much longer. India’s huge reservers of brainpower and entrepreneurship won’t allow it.

This is for the Kaushik Souriyanarayanans of this world. You make our software. The world can do without the fiscal inefficiency of channelling our money through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in order to solve India’s problems.

Koushick Suriyanarayan makes your software was originally published on Meandering home

Reading: Breaded Fish by A.K. Ramanujan

The Indian poet A. K. Ramanujan (1929-1993) wrote in English and Kannada, a rich language of South India. He considered himself to be the hyphen in “Indo-American” and was a respected teacher and a wonderful poet. As you can see here, in my imagination this poem has a specific Indian ring to it:

Breaded Fish

Specially for me, she had some breaded
fish; even thrust a blunt-headed
smelt into my mouth;
and looked hurt when I could
neither sit nor eat, as a hood
of memory like a coil on a heath
opened in my eyes: a dark half-naked
length of woman, dead
on the beach in a yard of cloth,
dry, rolled by the ebb, breaded
by the grained indifference of sand. I headed
for the shore, my heart beating in my mouth.

A smelt is a small cold-water silvery fish; migrate between salt and fresh water (do you think that is significant?) When I hear fish ‘n chips I think of Britain, the former empire that colonized Ramanujan’s India. Who was making the breaded fish for him, I wonder? It could be a fishmonger, it could be Ramanujan’s mother.

And which memory distracts him from eating? The dead woman (length of woman is poetically interesting) on the beach, looking like a breaded mermaid. What is gained by the crude analogy between the breaded fish and the dead woman? Was she molested and left on the beach (I am aware of India’s rape problems)? And when the I in the poem remembers, why hasn’t he notified the police? Why was the I at the fish restaurant? Or perhaps the memory is years old and brought up by the appearance of breaded fish, just like a face and a song brought up the memory of terrible events in Netflix‘ recent series Sinner.

What do you think Ramanujan is trying to say: Is the lyrical I the perpetrator, or a witness?

Reading: Breaded Fish by A.K. Ramanujan was originally published on Meandering home

Reading: Kanheri Cave by Dom Moraes

Dom Moraes (b. 1938-2004) was an Indian poet, widely regarded as foundational figure in Indian English literature. He was Catholic and struggled with alcoholism. I read Kanheri cave, I think it gives a good impression of the man’s writing:

Kanheri cave
Over these blunted, these tormented hills,
Hawks hail and wheel, toboggan down the sky.
It seems this green ambiguous landscape tilts
And teeters the perspective of the eye.
Only two centuries after Christ, this cliff
Was colonised by a mild antique race
Who left us, like a faded photograph,
Their memories that dry up in this place.

They left no ghosts. The rock alone endures.
The drains and cisterns work, but wrecked the stairs;
Blocks are fallen: sunlight cracks those floors,
And fidgets in a courtyard where a pair
Of giant Buddhas smile and wait their crash.
Then temples, audience-halls, a lonely tomb.
I touch its side. The stone’s worn smooth as flesh.
A stranger dangles peaceful in that womb.

Worm he will be, if born: blink in the sun.
I’ll crawl into his dark; perhaps he’ll climb
Beyond the trippers to the final stone
Plat of the hillock, there to grow in Time.
Dry pubic ferns prickle the bitter sand.
Hawks in a hot concentric ecstasy
Of flight and shriek Will wake his Vision. And
When the clouds lift, he’ll glimpse the miles-off sea.

“Deeply nestled among the tranquil surroundings of the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, Borivali in Mumbai, are more than 100 Buddhist caves popularly known as the Kanheri Caves. Kanheri comes from the Sanskrit krishnagiri, meaning black mountain. Buddhists settled there in the 3th century AD, but I couldn’t find anything about the antique race. The imagery of the hawk and the teetered perspective.

Inside the caves, the poet takes stock of the rocks that still endure but are riddled with decay. The stone’s worn ‘smooth as flesh’, womb-like.

And the stranger is born and some complex transformations take place. He will be a worm, blinking in the sun, taking the place of the poet, who instead climbs to the final stone beyond the trippers (tourists, not consumers of psychedelics)?  In Time the cave system would be reduced to a hillock, overgrown with those pubic ferns. Then the hawks return and somehow seem to remember something: they are shrieking in ecstasy. The clouds lift, the sea becomes visible again. The antique race has left no ghosts, but there lies a Vision buried in these caves, a vision that can be woken.

Reading: Kanheri Cave by Dom Moraes was originally published on Meandering home