Monday, October 18, 2010

Madras during Y2k - Nostalgia

The decade comes to a close this year and that made me retrospect on what has been in the last 10 years. From a personal point of view, I have grown a lot. No really, I have grown from just entering teenage to almost nearing the 'Hill' (25). For those who know me, may not agree at my intellectual growth but no one can deny me my physical :). Anyway, coming back, this decade has seen some of the fastest growth in the conscience of Indian society and the economy (GDP and all those feel good things). I would like to take you back in time when the year 2000 had started and draw a comparison of what was and what is not. Some of them would by my personal experiences as a kid growing up in Mylapore, Chennai. So...The 2000s were times when

1. My dad used to fill petrol in his bike for 100 Rs and he used to get 3.6 odd litres. You do the number comparison with the prices today

2. Cafe coffee day wasn't the obvious place to go for treats. Kaizhandi bhavan probably was

3. Pepsi was introduced in can and was 18 Rs per can. Was mighty pricey. Who cared about cans when the good ol' annachi kada bottle was there

4. Balcony ticket in Sathyam cost Rs 40. And Sathyam itself was just another cinema hall. Ranked among woodlands and devi

5. Talking about cinema halls, pilot theatre in Royapettah showcased adult movie those days. Hot spot, literally

6. Scooty was the 'in' thing. Guys and girls alike. Imagine guys driving a scooty now.

7. Houses in mylapore could be bought for Rs 20 lakhs.

8. School fees was Rs 500 a month and that was the higher end

9. Anna Univ was only CEG, MIT and ACTECH. All others were under madras university

10. Azharuddin was captain

11. Amitabh was bankrupt and was making movies like Suryavamsham and Mrityudata

12. Madhavan was every girl's dream. Surya and Vikram looked bad. And Vijay...

13. Pizzas could be made only at pizza hut or dominos. Noone else knew how they were made

14. Pencil boxes used to be b'day gifts

15. Distributing eclairs for Birthday at school was the norm. Anything less and you don't have the 'coolness factor'. Anything more and you were uber rich.

16. Saravana store was primarily a 'pathra kada'

17. Ladies used to buy jewellery in chit funds

18. Opel astra, ford escort were the luxury cars. Maruti 800 was still the first step to prosperity. Maruti Zen was the second

19. Mobile phones existed. But at 8 Rs per minute. RPG Pagers were the 'in' thing. Everyone made sure people looked at their hips.

20. 20GB hard disks were advanced category. 600 Mhz processor was the fastest thing. It wasn't hard to find 1 GB hard disk computers. Windows Millenium - 'nuf said

21. Road rash and Doom were absolutely mandatory if you had a computer

22. - Coolness coefficient increases

23. Velacheri was really an Eri.

24. Music videos and albums were the next best thing after movies. Remember 'Deewana' by Sonu Nigam that had girls fainting? Daler Mehndi with his 'repeat each line 4 times' songs.

25. Remember those big digital diaries? They certainly bought out my awes. Best gift items among professionals

26. 8 bit games were absolute craze. Remember super mario, karateka, spartan, legend of the kage? And those funny looking 8 in 1, 199 in 1 cassettes? Most of us didn't know a thing about Nintendo or Sega.

27. Boomer beat Big bubble to capture the bubble market. Yeah...Remember those tattoos with 1 Rs bubble gum? I knew friends who 'updated' them every day. They were the motivation behind Saif Ali khan's 'Kareena' tattoo i guess

The list is not all inclusive and will be updated as I remember more.


Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Movies and Indian ethos

Imagine life without the movie Industry in India. Imagine we were a boring lot of people not too much interested in showbiz and fanfare. Who would you idolize? Yeah right Sardar Vallabhai Patel. Because Shahrukh khan would have been a potbellied manager in some government office. Imagine what would have every newly married guy sang to his wife during their first night? Yes, "Kabhi kabhi mere dil me khayal aata hai..." wouldn't have existed. No "Suhag raat hai, ghoonghat utha raha hoon mai...". What would every college kid who is about to graduate take sing his feelings to happiness? No "Papa kehte hai bada naam karega...". Or who would have inspired a whole generation to take up smoking had there not be any "Mai zindagi ka saath nibhata chala gaya...". The middle class of the 90s was the most ambitious generation post Independence India. They saw TV and they dreamt like any other Indian. But this time they worked to achieve it. Thats an altogether different story. But imagine if it had not been for movies like DDLJ, Pardes, K3G, Lamhe and songs like "Tu mere saamne..." from Darr, what would have inspired that generation to watch the beautiful looking foreign lands in awe and admiration and to dream to go there. I seriously believe, had it not been for the movies, I wouldn't have had that extra urge to come to the US. Thanks to those romantic duets worth crores of money with useless extras shaking their legs to help two idiots confess and pronounce their love for each other in some really exotic and naturally gifted locations abroad. Without them half of the present NRIs wouldn't even know how foreign lands are. Yeah they might have seen hollywood movies, but the presence of Shahrukh khan driving his car along the Brooklyn bridge and singing can be related much better.

Imagine had it not been for songs like "Mere khwabon me jo aaye..." from DDLJ, young nubile girls would never feel positive for an otherwise dreadful occasion like a marriage. And of course, without movies, I feel the big fat Indian weddings wouldn't have existed. Nothing to dance to. No "kaali teri choti hai paranda tera laalni...", "Mehndi laga ke rakhna...", "Sona sona.. dil mera sona..." etc etc., Can't imagine what would have inspired people when they are low had it not been for "Ruk jaana nahi..tu kahin haar ke.." and "Lakshya ko..har haal me paana hai.." . What can better describe the emotions of new started love interest than "Pehla nasha...". Its rather hard to understand and experience Indian ethos without Bollywood movies. Its a parallel culture that defines Modern India. The spirit of Indian celebratory culture coming out in the form of a 17 mm film. Ancient habit of deep thinking ingrained in our minds coming in the form of parallel cinemas that defy conservative ideas. It is indeed a religion along with Cricket.

PS: I have mentioned only Hindi movie songs here because of the wider range of people that it can cover.

Market is like Nature

Being politically aware definitely has its perks. One is politically vigilant and is quick to provide insights on news that "ordinary" people ignore as just another news. Unless its a tax increase, or an interest waiver or worse, a terror attack, people usually pass ignorant, generic, narrow minded comments on political happenings. A politically aware person sees a different view. Bailing out GM or AIG. Whats your view on it? If I get responses on it, I will flaunt my political awareness :). And political awareness has its disadvantages as well. Your blog may get blocked at work. Cool ain't it? You join the ranks of Al Qaeda, LTTE, LeT, and even porn sites!. Talking about being IN the league. Coming to the point, after being in the US for almost two years, I have come to realize my political stance with respect to American politics. I am a Republican :). Republicans or conservatives are people who believe in the founding principles of this country. Which is free market, entrepreneurship, limited Government and individual efforts. To me that is very liberal. Democrats on the other hand, termed as Liberals (Ironical) are ones who believe in... forget it. They believe in everything. They are leftists, centrists, what not. Even gays. Because? knock knock! They are liberals! They can be anything.

My political stance is inspired by the founding principles of America on its market. When a company fails, or when the market collectively fails, it is because of a bad business model. And its up to the market which should rise and sustain on its own to support its very existence. Very much like nature. If a chameleon that is black in skin color in a rain forest, 9 out of 10 times its going to fall prey. What does it do? Its species adapts itself to its surroundings and eventually a new kind of chameleon species is formed that can now change color. Camouflage to protect itself. A free market is like nature. It changes, adapts and reinvents itself. Tomorrow if Bank of America fails. Sure a few people lose jobs. Next door Daniel who is super talented loses his job. Its not his fault that Bank of America had a bad business model in lending sub prime mortgages. BUT! The market has a demand. That regardless of BofA's existence is big enough. This demand will pave way for a better, faster growing organization booming in confidence that can absorb talented people like Daniel. In fact such an event will redefine business models around to be forced to be better and more efficient. Surely if A and B have an ice cream shop and if B has more cleaner, friendlier shop than A, A cannot afford to be lackluster. A will reinvent itself.

In a socialist economy, the opposite happens. The govt bails out failed, sick enterprises. Air India is a sick enterprise forever on loss. Its shoddy, inefficient model is the reason for the rise of better, more efficient and swankier airline companies in India. If Air India is no more subsidized, sure Air India will fail. People will lose jobs. But the better of the airline companies will absorb market talent paving way for a better, faster market. And by the way, if Air India is subsidized keeping the lazy babus still in their jobs, sure it looks good in terms of providing job security. But whose money is it? OURS. We keep these lazy babus in their jobs only to provide us with shoddy service. Same holds for the thousands of sick steel units, power units around the country.

Therefore free market economy is the way to nurture more talent. Limited govt meaning lesser taxes. If you invest 25% of the taxes that you pay on a sound scheme, you will be a rich (hell yeah, rich) by the time you retire. And this is at a conservative number of 10% per annum. This is my 0.02$ worth opinion on market. And just to complete, market is linked to politics. And to reemphasize my point of self adapting and self bettering systems, I would allow you to figure out how politics and markets are linked.

Being alone in an apartment

Walking into a lonely apartment is funny. Especially for someone who habitually goes into his house singing. And then...noone comments. "dai super paatu da..." or "soora mokka machan..." or "enna machan love aa?".... And when I make tea, its only me, ruffling of trees I think (only to realize its the window blinds moving because of the vent). So its just me and the humming AC. Watching comedy shows makes it even worse. Because when I roll on the floor and laugh, noone comes next to me and asks whats thats more funnier than my presence. And when the other rooms carry the sound of my laughter, it becomes that much more awkward and I stop laughing. Every single sound now matters. It was as if I was given the ears of a dog. Every other sound makes me jump. Sometimes in fear (although fear has subsided because I have pretty much realized that the only person worth scaring me is my own presence - A reflection, an echo, a poorly balanced bottle, unclosed tap, rice cooker, sometimes in amusement that in this chaotic cosmos where matter is constantly generating life, is in motion, driving this big ass engine called life, there is this small system within the universe that is dead quiet. Where the dust particle silently floats in the golden sunbeam and settles down in perfect harmony and a perhaps quintessential equilibrium. The opposite also happens. There is no alarm in the house. There is no phone in the house. I guess this is how prisoners feel. Noone around. No sounds. No contact with the outside world. But I am better off. I can go wherever I want. But I meet only one person. And thats me. If physical outing makes me any different/better than a prisoner, then so be it. I guess thats a consolation enough.

But one consolation I do know. That in a few months someone is going to occupy this house. And share and add to the "noise".

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Facebook [feys book]

1. I dun even know you but you are my 'Facebook Friend'

2. Q:What have you been doing of late?A:Oh you should see my status messages

3. Status Message:I had constipation this mrg

4. We haven't seen each other for a long time. But we 'poke' each other everyday

5. There are people who 'like it' when I vent my frustration, am sarcastic, fool around or criticize others

6. I need random quizzes to know who I am

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Like...Well, I mean...Basically

I often get annoyed when people talk to me. I know I sound pretty arrogant here. Had my mum seen this she would have already been half way through a lecture. But guys, my problem is not with people. My problem is, i mean, its with Speech Fillers like the ones I just used here. Often people use multiple 'i mean' more than useful words in the sentence itself. Of all the speech fillers that are so annoying, I find 'i mean' the most annoying. It has multiple uses. Its used as a starter to a sentence. Sometimes as a conjunction. At times in place of a comma. And sometimes when there is nothing to say! This is what I hear at work. For example I have heard people on call, the person on the other side asks a question and its answered, "I mean...that's exactly what I have done". One colleague of mine has a notorious habit of using 'i mean' to start every damn sentence!

And the next most popular speech filler is 'like'. This is mostly used as a conjunction. Especially when something serious is being explained, this is more often used. For example, "Indian politics is in danger now, like its being run by a stable government, but.. like its not run by good leaders". This is something I have noticed in both Indians and Americans. Americans also excessively use this word. The next speech filler is the 'well'. This is used more as a starter. I have seen it more in writing than in speech. Speech filler for writing? LOL! But believe me, it happens. Sometimes its used to create a sense of importance to an otherwise mundane statement. For example, A asks B, "Have you been there before?" and B replies, "Well...I haven't been there, but I would like to go". And this speech filler is pretty contagious. I have often observed that the person who starts this, creates so much of a sense of a serious talk using 'well' that the other person also starts responding with a 'well'. Well... :D

Now I have noticed some words that are sole proprietary of the Indians. 'Basically'. :) Now this word, it splits me into laughter. For example, "Basically I am an Engineer". Ha ha is forced to ask, what are you otherwise? This speech filler is self explanatory guys. Especially fellow Indians would understand it :). Next is 'Actually'. I remember one classmate of mine in college who started every sentence with an 'actually'. As if offering an explanation. One popular instance I remember is when she was asked how a motor worked. She said, "Actually, when the lines of flux are cut...". I couldn't hold it. Especially because she was known for the usage of the word. And here in this context, it was like offering an excuse for why the motor worked.

Other speech fillers I have seen are the 'you know' and 'cos like'. 'You know' is more of a conjunction. Its used when you think the other person is just gazing without response at your talking. A sense of 'the other person is stupid' comes in and people start using 'you know' as if to wake them up to make them realize that they really know! The 'cos like' is something I have seen among Americans. 'cos' is a short form of 'because'. Because in itself is a conjunction, meaning 'cos' is also a conjunction (talk about the perils of colloquial usage of words). And as I have stated earlier that 'like' is also predominantly used as a conjunction, the use of 'cos like' makes it double conjunctions back to back.

I hope you liked this post cos like a lot of observation has been done here. Well...basically its about observing keenly what people talk. I mean, its an interesting pass time if you feel bored :D


Monday, August 10, 2009

Religion, Kisses aur Makaan

Emran (or is it Imran?) Hashmi has once again got into controversy. Not because this time he refused to kiss his co star (that would have made many of his fans furious), but this time for not being able to his reasoning right. So here is how it happens. Emraan Hashmi, who has about 3 posh houses in Mumbai goes to Nibbana Housing Society in Pali Hill to buy a house. Now he claims he was refused a house because he is a Muslim. At first thought, it felt so stupid that I couldn't believe they actually put that on front page in a national newspaper! The guy doesn't have any facts, figures or proof to advocate his claims of being discriminated. He just comes on camera and says that he was highly hurt for being discriminated for being a muslim. He was supported with full fervor by Mahesh Bhatt (no prizes for guessing it). It seems, now its no more a question of a house, Mr. Hashmi is going to talk for all Muslims in India and fight against 'discrimination'. All said and done, it seems obvious that Mr. Hashmi has not been subjected to the Indian ishtyle of house buying/renting. This is a country where sometimes even Brahmins are not given a house for being too orthodox, and for many other controversial reasons. One can be rejected if he is a meat eater, a gay, single, a female, young, old, unemployed, students, gujarati, bengali etc and etc and all the many dimensions that us Indians have. So the point is that if a landlord has to reject you, he WILL reject regardless. Its his damn will.

The Nibbana society people now claim that the relatives (mother or someone) barged into the society meeting and demanded a house rudely. Thats reason enough to be rejected. Whats Emraan crying foul for now? Now even if he gets the house now, will he be even respected for his 'skills'? Oh, I forgot he has now stated thats it more than the house now. Its coming from a person who has never spoken for muslim issues in public forums anytime before. Did any of you hear any comments from him when the Sachar committee report was passed? Has he condemned profiling of muslims as terrorists? Has he objected to the wrong concept of Jehad thats being practiced by misguided young men? Its only when he is jobless (read uncle bhatt is not giving him any job) that he creates a sensational issue so as to tell the industry, 'Guys I am here! Please watch my kissing scenes and give me a role'

Talking about muslims being discriminated in India, has Mr. Hashmi ever wondered that had it not been for the secular fabric of our country he wouldn't be boldly kissing around in his movies and earning that dough that he wants to throw for buying a house. For once, Salman Khan spoke sense and stated the same. Is he forgetting that the first people to fight for minority rights are Hindus first? Throughout history all the social reformers wanting change have been non-muslims. My point is, Indian society has been more than welcoming to people of all walks throughout history. Caste issues are still a problem that we are facing and we seem to be taking a lot of time to get out of our pervert minds. But to raise critical issues, you need critical examples and not one 'mujhe ghar nahi mila' waala rona dhona. As I earlier stated, one can be rejected from staying in a house for a billion reasons. Why Shahrukh khan, Aamir khan, Salman khan and his sister and many other muslim actors live in the same locality of Pali Hill.

So, please Mr. Hashmi, you are doing more harm than benefit. For one, you may probably never get a house near Pali Hill. All the high society, scrupulous and haughty people of bandra might not like your 'middle class' ranting and complaining. Even if you do get, your movies might never be watched again. You may even start demanding only muslim actresses for kissing. And that would mean fatwa against you by your own Mullahs. All the religious-discrimation-ke-liye-ladna might turn against you. Instead, please concentrate on your kissing. Thats probably the only thing you would do well. Others have a better job, like instilling communal harmony. Lets 'kiss and forget' Mr. Hashmi :)


Friday, July 31, 2009

Friendship Day - A mockery of Friendship

Friendship Day - A mockery of Friendship

The first Sunday of every august is celebrated as International Friendship day. And all people queue up buy gifts etc for their friends. Nothing can be more silly than an occasion than this. Cards and quotes are in galore about how beautiful friendship and how it means to everyone's life and blah blah. This whole custom of having a 'day' is just a gimmick to make the public go and shop thereby improving sales for the day. Improves morale, everywhere there is more purchase of booze, mobile phones, hotels are booked, cinema tickets are booked. All in the name of friendship. LOL! I find it very amusing because if friends have to meet and celebrate, they will do it anyway. This is like a call to prayer that a Mosque does. You don't have to remind your friends that you have to get together because its friendship day. Friends remain as friends regardless of a day. I am pretty sure Karna and Dhuryodhan didn't need a friendship day to celebrate their friendship. Just as how I am against the idea of a Valentine's day, I find the idea of a Friendship day really mundane and silly. Friendship bands! Boy they are one of the silliest ways of expressing something! It becomes into a vicious race to get the most number of bands suggesting the most number of friends a person has. Friendship is to last the test of time. Its is not valued by how and what gifts or cards one gives. It ain't necessary at all!

The only people who benefit the most are the shopkeepers, malls, cinema hall owners etc. I don't go around giving my friends a card and tell them that he/she means a lot to me. Friendship ain't depended on that. In fact, its only when you burden your friend's emotions by giving him gifts etc that you start expecting too much from him. You tend to develop a sub conscious feeling that you have to hold this friendship dear and any arguments ll damage and all that paranoia that one can develop. It becomes a sort of material commitment. If you have to gift your friend something, you can do it anytime of the day. If I have to gift my wife something I will do it on any day, especially when she has had a bad week or a month. Thats when the purpose of a relation is truly realized. That he/she is there when you need them the most. And not because they bought you something on a 'Friendship Day'. Costly gifts, forced plans of outings, disappointment if the day doesn't go the way you expect a day of such 'magnitude and importance' to go. And then forced words of endearment because! Because its the day! I can only laugh at pitiable extents to which people force themselves to. Instead how about this, your friend plans a meeting with you when you least expect, you get a ticket to a movie when you were just passing by the cinema hall, and your friend buys you something that you always wanted without he/she ever knowing about your desires. Thats when truest form of affection grows. Those little insignificant moments that have camaraderie filled in it.

We don't keep a day for the sun for it rising in the east. It just is! Similarly you don't need a day where you have to realize 'oh! I have friends, and I love them'. If you need a day to realize that, then I am sorry, to me, thats not what friendship is. I can quote all hunky dory quotes on friendship that 'friendship is limitless, friendship is beyond apprehension' etc and etc. Fair enough, if it is what it is, then why have a day? Its encouraging mass media who help consumerism. Thats how I see it is. One day of surge in purchase and chaos.

PS: This article reflect my personal opinions on Friendship day. I appreciate those who like it and love those who second my opinion :P


Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Insulted and battered face of India, the woman

There seems to be something really wrong with the men of India. I am just not in a mood to start this post with flamboyant words. Anyone who has been following the news of late (regularly) can see that there is an incident of a rape every single day! Men with heights of perversion rape 3yr olds! How much more ridiculous can these guys get? Every single day we see a rape case. And invariably they always involve kids! I am not able to fathom if this some kind of new sexual preference. And its not as if there is this phenomena because these men have a bad lifestyle, deprived of women or something (deprivation also doesn't justify raping kids). To be very frank, there are enough brothels for these men to satisfy their desires. How much culture bugle they might play, it is seen that all men are inherently expressive about their sexual desires. Whether it is legally or illegally, men want to indulge in sexual acts with different women. Sex scandals are the most common scandals (at least no public money is lost there). Ok now I was talking about rapes here. Hardliners like the Ram Sena, Deoband, Evangelists who are always quick to attack women as the cause for the degeneration of the cultural ethos of India don't seem to have any voice in this issue? Why aren't there any fatwas issued, why aren't the perpetrators of such crime pulled by their hairs and dragged out on to the streets? (read Ram Sena) and why aren't the same evangelists who belabor about their opposition to contraceptives citing that sexual acts should only be for reproduction, coming out against such men?

Truth remains that religious organizations and dogmatic institutes for order mean no good to the society and only come out when popular voice is required. Thats another story altogether. Statistics say that in India, on an average, one woman is raped every 25 mins. Do your own calculations for the year. The rise in rape crimes has increased by 678% since 1971! 678%?! Thats more than the percentage increase in the number of women itself. And that still doesn't include marital rapes. How many women in India would be right now silently bearing the wrath of their perverted husbands. I do not want to list out the cases themselves because of the utter shame that I would have to feel inside for describing the crimes that are committed. What is certainly not fathomable to me is how many kids are getting raped. 5 yr olds, 6 yr olds, children who have hardly began to recognize the faces of their relatives properly. Why they wouldn't even understood what was being done to them when they were getting raped. Gang rape of these small children and then most of the times they get beaten to death! And we keep singing glories about our rockets, our culture, tradition etc and etc. A rape case gets published in the website of a news channel for a day and the next day its not visible in its main page. Not that we want it to stay there for perpetuity. But then, why aren't there national debates on such issues? The media created a hysteria behind the decriminalizing of section 377 of the IPC. The mass media hysteria brought up many a debates and gay parades throughout the towns and cities of India. Fair enough, gays and other sexual minorities deserve their due. India has grown and is more mature they said when 377 was decriminalized. I say, India will be truly mature and worthy of all the nice adjectives that are attributed to it only when its women are respected and given their due.

Whether we have a woman President or a woman PM or a woman Military General, it doesn't matter to the small girl who is repeatedly abused sexually in her home and in constant probability range of getting raped each time she wanders off to play. So much for a civilization thats probably the only living one that still has a concept of a Goddess. The concept of Shakti, the most powerful force in the Universe, gives tremendous amount of respect and adulation to the feminine being. We have to be more than just proud of such intellectual advancements that our ancestors had. The worst part remains when the rape victims are not accepted back into their family or that they don't get married at all. I call it indiscriminate, deliberately negligent and ruthless assault on the mental stature of a woman. Its like punishing an innocent person for a lifetime and then hanging him for wanting to lead a normal life when he gets released at the end of his term. I shudder to imagine what would be going in the minds of a rapist. How does he have a heart to ruin a woman's life and worse of all, a child's life. After the Austrian incest case surfaced last year, there seems to be a spurge in the cases of fathers raping their daughters. So much for taking inspiration from the west. One girl was repeatedly sexually exploited by her father for 7 years, this time with the complete knowledge of her mother because a tantric advised them to do so in order to get rid of financial problems. I know, the reader is bound to get stunned. The girl bore it all and when it dawned that her sister was also to be subjected to the same punishment, she managed to report it back to the police. In patna, a woman was sexually harassed in public while being paraded and then stripped of her clothes in full view of the police and the onlookers. Not a single voice of protest! Great Indian Tamasha indeed! None of them would probably face criminal action serious enough for their heinous crime. In news today, it disappears the next day only to be replaced by another 'story'. Highly gut wrenching, and sickening, each story has a girl who is left without a face for all her life. Above all this torture, society doesn't respect her anymore (for no crime of hers!). How much more hypocritic can we get.

Solutions. I truly feel having exclusive fast track courts for rape victims. Something the National Commission for Women in India should take up as a mission instead of demanding one third reservation in parliament. One third or two third, in the mass plethora of pervert men out there, women are always vulnerable. These fast track courts should deal with all cases of abuse against women because our regular courts have pending cases that will take probably couple of more generations to clear. However, care should also be taken to ensure that no false cases are registered as acts of revenge by women. Because women are after all, humans and not angels. Investigative approach to all cases but in a faster pace would ensure the criminals are booked and the victims are given justice. Secondly, I feel since the masses of India are easily swayed by talks of culture, religious morality etc, they should be used wisely used to bring some sense into the minds of perverts. A kind of mass campaign should be undertaken to ensure the men truly feel ashamed before they even think of committing such crimes.

This is a land where stories of Goddesses braving evil men and vanquishing them are known to every kid. The same civilization where God is portrayed in half male and half female form. The male and female attributes are in all bodies. As the Rigveda says, 'He, who is described as male, is as much the female and the penetrating eye does not fail to see it' meaning the male is only so much male as much he is female and vice versa the female is only as much female as much she is male. In a land where this magnitude of equality is attributed to women, why does our society fail to live up to its reputation and for sustaining this reputation, why is a woman's life ruined everyday and her voice of protest suppressed?


Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Ideologies and Belief systems

One of the things that I learnt after I came to America has been how ideologies, religion and subscriptions to various other philosophies that humans so much love to identify with, have been the reason for almost all of the world's problem today. Personally, I have always been fascinated by different ideologies and philosophical opinions of famous men who always stood by their opinion. Man, has always been subjected to evolution ever since he started walking on two legs. Though, till about 10,000 years ago the evolution has been primarily physical as in development of backbone, change in the physical appearance of the skull based on the location of habitat of humans, the last 3000 years in human history, has been the most dramatic as far as evolution of the human thought process is concerned. Philosophies of Ancient civilizations have dictated how humans thought, behaved and viewed their daily behaviour and also their relation with others. Philosophers like Plato, Socrates, Confucius, Vyasa, Chanakya, and countless other people of great virtue have taught and motivated others of their school of thought and virtually laid down the rules on how humans of a particular society lived their everyday life. The power of the influence of ancient ideas and philosophies is so great and so deep ingrained in the human mind that they continue to mould human behaviour even today.

If the evolution of the human thought has been unstoppable so has been the evolution of the respective ideas themselves. Religion is also an idea, a philosophy about how humans might be controlled by a superior power, a stronger being to which all humans must abide to. Religious doctrines and textbooks laid down the principles of how humans should respect superior personality (commonly known as God), how God is to be perceived as (and in some cases, how He (She?) should also NOT be perceived as) and the stand that the human soul has in this 3 dimensional world that supposedly has been created by God for the good of all creatures on earth. Religion also defined morals, values and virtues and in turn set limits to human behaviour. The definition of what was good or bad was no more a case of how an Individual benefited, rather how it would not harm the settlement itself. This was a marked improvement from a case when early humans were involved in a bitter struggle for existence and morals and values were individualistic. From 1000 different kinds of morals for the 1000 human of a settlement, it was 1 defined code of behaviour encompassing morals, righteousness and virtue. Therefore, the idea of a superior personality who not only controlled how the world lived each day, how every creature was born and how it died, and how the future of human existence depended so much on Him,was now dictating even the slightest developments in daily life and thought.

It is interesting to know that just like how Human physical evolution was different in different location of settlement , so was the idea of religion. Although the interaction of various cultures meant that ideas and opinions had several borrowed sections, the main motive of every religious doctrine was significantly different. From how it was laid out to humanity, to who had the right to present it to all humans was also greatly different. For example, the idea of peace and tolerance seem to have its first occurrence in religions of Indian origin (Vedicreligion , Buddhism), the idea was taken into the idea of Christianity, Islam and their various other sects. However, the idea of an eternal heaven and hell remained only with the Abrahamanic religions. Rebirth seemed to be part of the religions of the pre christian eras. The Vedic people, Egyptians, Native Americans for sure believed in rebirth and also worshipped nature. All of a sudden that idea was uncivilized and false and in many places the idea had to give in to Abrahamanic doctrines. My viewpoint here is not who borrowed from who, but rather how this became a part of human thinking. That a particular idea was not right and had to be replaced was the foundation of what is happening today among every human that inhabits this planet.

I am more concerned about how Idea replaces the very existence of a human. Today, man has come to a point where the idea has more value than the human itself. It is now believed that idea is eternal but man is not. This startling deviation from the selfish, self centered life that cavemen had is something so conspicuous. I find it hard to digest we become so obsessed with our principles, our ideologies and our beliefs that we fail to recognize the most fundamental thing about human existence. That all humans are born the same and work towards the same thing. That of achieving happiness in their lives. Regardless of the means, the objective of every human is the same. He wants satisfaction in what he does, happiness in what he gets. Of course, the means by themselves should not harm the prospects of another individual. I would not want to dwell on that part for now. What ideologies, belief systems do is give a set of instructions telling an Individual to lead his life and seek happiness. It turns nasty when ideologies fail to recognize what the Individual perceives as happiness. A cliched yet perfect example is that of an ambitious guy in a Communist country. The communist ideology denies any individual rights to hold property, hold demonstrations against the state, make free speeches and expressions. To be concise, the individual is stripped of any right to a happy lifestyle that he desires for. He is caged in a cage that tells him what to do and defines his lifestyle. That is a perfect example of how ideologies grow to the extent where an Individual loses his value.

What I observe is that one section of society always tries to force its ideologies and principles on other sections. Its a constant battle for owning the right to rights. For example, religious fanatics in SIMI, Ram Sena, Pentecostal Mission and many more constantly trying to prove other beliefs and ideologies wrong. At times resorting to violent means to prove their point. What starts as a morally and spiritually uplifting cause (Religion) ends up taking up people's life. The Korean peninsula was divided into the North and South after the defeat of Japan post World War II. The south was taken over by the US and the North was administered by the USSR (in both cases by puppet governments). Within a span of 3 years, the peninsula broke into a war of ideologies that has forever changed the way of life for the Korean people. Differences in ideologies ensured that what were proud, ethnically different, culturally rich people, were now fighting each other not because of differences in race, politics but ideology. Entire villages were massacred in the south for being suspected of nurturing communist ideals. And thats only because of suspicion. Imagine if any case was confirmed. The partition of India in 1947 is another story of an ideological divide. Religion is one of the biggest ideological reasons why the world is in shambles today. 'My God is better than your God', 'Follow my God, or else you will forever burn in Hell fire' and many such violent and preposterous statements are made to force people to change their beliefs. The point is, regardless of a belief system, we all want the same things. The preachers fail to realize that no matter what a man believes in, he still has to work to earn his bread, raise a family, have social interaction, satisfy his needs, get old, achieve his dreams etc and etc. Who has seen what is after death? Does it even matter what one believed in after he dies? The guy is dead! He is one with the elements and the ones who are alive mind their own business. All the Nautanki about ideologies and belief systems is worthless belaboring of stuff that destroys the few years that a person has to enjoy.

For the first 15 years of our lives, we are fully dependent on our parents who try to instill in us the best of behaviors, care and affection (not that it ever stops from their side) and providing us the platform to face the world. From the age of 15 to 20, we are the most confused in our lives. Social pressures, peer pressure about career, love life burden the first time mature brain bit too much. Then to come out of that, we are faced with the career building years of 20 to 30 within which we work hard to get a strong professional base, get married, fall in love (this time for sure), plan further for the future, party hard, go places that we always envisioned as kids, word towards achieving realistic ambition etc. 30 to 40 is devoted for the family with lesser holidays, more bad hare days, more bad evenings, insurance policy registration, kids going to all kinds of classes (dance, karate, classical music) apart from carrying a ton of books to school, lesser haircuts, tighter trousers and I can go on and on. 40 onwards is another struggle. The kid goes to college and takes to all kinds of 'cool' things thanks to its peers, kids now write competitive exams, bank loans are to be taken for the astronomical rates for college education, and if a recession happens then one in his 40s is in his worst position in the company. Highly vulnerable, he has everything to lose. Post 50 there is nothing much to say. So, the bottom line is that we have only about 10-12 years wherein we have the ability and the means to have lots of fun. And in that, if ideologies, principles and dogmas make us hate or refuse people then thats a sad state for humans.

Its very interesting that these man made ideas, man made rules, restrictions kill the very lifestyle of its creators. A baptist doesn't like a catholic, a Shia detests a Sunni, caste Hindus hate the dalits and so on and so forth. We fail to realize that life has much more to offer than petty ideals set by people who claim to work for social well being. US fought many a failed wars against communist countries so as to negate the attempts to spread communism. How much more can humans as a race stoop to? A point where we fail to see each other as humans but as walking ideologies. Even if a person subscribes to an idea, he/she has no right to refute the claims to others. One can believe in stones as long as they don't throw them at others. Man's progress is best determined by how much easier he makes his life, both mentally and in his surroundings. Strong ideological subscription leads to complicated thought, complicated actions. The reason these things intrigued me a lot after I came to America was because here I came across people of various ideas, belief system and behavioral attributes. The most conspicuous thing was that people were quick and unflinching in their attempts to express their subscriptions. Land of the free and Home of the brave indeed! The influence and the craving to attach oneself with a particular idea.

I would conclude by saying that ideologies will come and go. The permanent truth remains that man is here in this earth to survive and make the most of the one life that he has got. Taking anything seriously and in the process struggling to disclaim others is a futile and useless attempt. At the end of the day, no one really cares. Ideologies will not provide one with food, shelter and clothing. Ideologies will not make our dreams possible. Man's own willpower, own courage and hard work can take him to where he wants.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Judiciary and Law in India is in safe hands

            The Judiciary of our country is in great hands. I mean it. See the video and you ll see the talent students exhibit. They can pudgel their fellow college mates with amazing skills. And not to take the credit away from those taking the beating. They can get their hands reduced to boneless mass of fibre and yet survive! Wow! Hats off to the youth of our country! And look at how they respond to caste discrimination. They ll not tolerate even the slightest of insult of their leaders. Not even the faux pas of not including a National Leader's name on a plamphet. Commitment. This proves that the students of our country are pro-active. And not to forget they are all Law college students! They know how to find loopholes in law. Oh its so heartening! And yes, they can handle dangerous weapons like sickles, iron rods, wooden sticks (that should not be called a weapon considering the ones getting beaten can survive sickles and iron rods). Boy! Hail the youth of India! 

              Sigh... This is the sorry state of affairs in this country. In Chennai's Dr.Ambedkar Law College, students clashed among themselves over an issue of National importance. And why not? Dr.Ambedkar's name was neglected from the name of the college in a pamphlet. Hell! How can they keep quiet? Before the PMK, DMK and the left parties could blame the Brahmins for the faux pas, the students made sure they held the dignity of the student community flying sky high. In fact so high, it blew away. The Central Govt Institutions of India (JNU,Aligarh Muslim University, DU) are places where Indians have a first hand experience of how this nation runs. From Democracy (like beating up anyone against popular ideology), conducting rallies, making inflammatory statements against a section of society or indulging in slander, campaigns for elections, corruptions, not to forget chamchas breaking public property when their Student leader is offended or criticized. After all, children learn only from the elders. And these students end up as our leaders. Now noone dare ask why our dear Politicians are like this (remember the mic fight in UP assembly a decade ago? or the one that broke up in the Parliament? and also the constant walkout that the opposition conducts)

            As you can see in the video, the police watching the The Great Indian Tamasha (somebody should file a copyright suit against NDTV for hosting a show by the same name.There is hardly any tamasha there). I ask anyone to debate with me if they doubt the commitment and lawfulness of our Police. They did not interven when the students were busy protecting their caste identity. Because they simply did not have orders! The Gita says that duty comes before everything. The police respect that and abide by it. How can they ignore orders and barge into a situation where there is a fight for life and death? I mean how can they allow the stooges of PMK,Dalit Panthers to stop fighting for their caste? That is against the Human rights of the Dalit Cause! Talk about being oppressed for centuries, Dalits have to be given a free hand. And what best way than giving the representatives of the dalit cause this freedom? Schools, primary education for the dalits can wait. This is more important. Oh... I cant be more proud of my country. Our leaders have made sure noone takes the law in their hands and they do not spare even the police when they try to! 

        The final word is, a few bruises here and there, a few stitches and...ah not to forget one dead. Naa... Big deal. The cause for caste identity and protection of caste won. And Indian politics is saved. Socialist thought indeed.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Pappu in'Pappu'lar culture

I have fallen in bad times. Instead of churning out intellectual, useful articles I am now made to write an article on, of all things, Pappu! What can be worse to my intellectual abilities than a write on Pappu! Anyway so let me start filling some space here. I have been a model of humiliation, insults and ridicule thanks to a 'pet name' kept by my folks. Since my childhood they have called me 'Pappu'. Everytime I come from school, my mum would beam her 32 and say, 'Pappu! how was your day my dear! Blah blah blah'. I have saved some more ridicule by transalating her words from Hindi to English. Anyway now it so happened that I find that Pappu is now a Happening word! Out of the blue, I am now envied because people call me pappu (I believe now out of affection). Imagine this, I am walking on the road and my friend calls me, "Hey pappu!' and I turn around to see how many giggles it has generated. Whoa! People in fact think its cool. Nice:) nice nice.

I am now trying to trace the origins of this change in attitude towards Pappu. Search for Pappu in google and you will see all dirty jokes starting like this, 'Pappu ne ek ladki se kaha...'. And its a dirty joke! I have not shown the full text of the joke here because then you guys will visit my blog only to see the joke!. Now Pappu means someone who is stupid, dumb basically a loser. Now I seriously do not understand why my parents had to call me dumb and with affection at that. Anyone you don't like call him 'Pappu'. If you are angry at your boss and want to quench your self prestige by calling him dumb (which is a mild word in English compared to the indignitives we Indians are used to), call him Pappu. Pappu is a common name parents name their kid in Gujarat and in Up, Bihar. Now I was born in UP and raised in Bihar. Guess my parents saw Bihari parents affectionately calling their children Pappu and it might have appealed to my folks. For heaven's sake Mom and Dad, why didn't you research on the name? It would have saved me the effort to write this post.

Anyway, Now there was a song sung by Amitabh in a Cadbury Dairy Milk ad where he sings, 'Pappu pass ho gaya!' followed by chanting of the same by a chorus. Grrr...I was in high school when the ad was released and I was fuming! I was too young to file lawsuit for slander. Then came Pappu Yadav, a Member of Parliament in Bihar who was charged of killing a fellow politician. You should see him boldly caressing (is that the right word? Sorry I am inherently short of the right words as you can see) his moustache with his 'followers' and showing no signs of remorse for the crime he did. Great! Now Pappu is associated with crime also! Thankfully my high school being in Chennai, people did not follow much of politics, especially in Bihar and so I was spared of further ridicule.

In college, thankfully it was a good experience and I feel that is when my good times with Pappu started. My best friend used to call me Pappu. Sandy being popular in college, the name stuck on with many and many felt it was actually cool. Boy! for once! I was proud of my name :) yeah! And then this song 'Pappu cant dance saala...' from the movie 'Jaane tu..Ya jaane na' came and then I was banging my head, literally this time. It damned my name, my prestige and every God damn egoistic word one think of. 'Pappu cant dance saala' was hitting me where it hurt. Fact of the matter is I really cant dance. My body structure is not made for dance and subtle movements. God am a disgrace to fine body movements that Indians are usually good at. This song made me wonder if it was made for me knowing my fluctuating emotions with the name Pappu.

But then there is God I believe and he heard my prayers. This song was a super hit and everyone was chanting it. Yohooo! Pappu was now happening! Now people called me pappu more often than not much to my happiness. Joining Grad school in US was also good because people knew me as Pappu (I had once used the name 'Vivek a.k.a Pappu' in my Orkut profile). So landing here, everyone knew me more as Pappu than vivek. Boy! And so, Pappu sahi me pass ho gaya :) And Pappu CAN dance saala, cos I shook my legs in a party and yes, I can actually dance. Things are good! :) Thank you Mom, Thank you Dad. LOL!

PS : Right ok there ends my stupid post. Thanks you folks!