Thursday, December 30, 2010

Ad makers, please give us a break and use some grey matter, for a change!


The latest advertisement for Chakra Gold tea shows a muslim couple looking for a rented apartment in Chennai. The landlady looks at the girl with suspicion, turns her face away in disgust, and thinks the girl doesn’t even have a bindi on her forehead and so they must be…her facial expressions confirm the rest—the aversion that the brahminical castes have for the marginalized. She decides to move away only to be nudged by her husband to ‘behave’ and perform her wifely duty, which is making tea for the guests! And, of course, one sip of chakra gold ‘opens’ her mind and she accepts the muslim couple as her tenants. Watch the ad here.
What is the underlying message here? Has Chakra gold suddenly woken up to the marginalization that minorities face in this country? So, does sipping Chakra gold change one’s communal mindset in just a moment? Or, what type of reaction does Chakra gold expect from the viewers other than picking up the tea? Wouldn’t the viewers feel their misguided anger and disgust for the minorities validated? So, in an ostentatious manner, is Chakra gold promoting anti-muslim feelings? I think so. The ad is most repulsive for this very reason. And, what was even more revolting was the man correcting the woman about her behavior, which is actually very far from the truth. In fact, having been a house hunter for ages, I know for a fact that it’s men who ask for your ‘affiliations’ (read caste/religion, besides of course your marital status if you appear to be a modern woman) before they would rent out the house.



So, why do people make such terrible ads? Is this what happens when the corporates have a free hand in the market? Isn’t there a body that monitors this kind of blatant propagation of surreptitious communalism? I can only imagine what kind of market research would have happened behind the making of such an ad. The same type that must have happened behind the making of movies like A Wednesday and Peepli Live. Just pick up a so-called burning issue and capitalize on it in the most idiotic and silly manner. The day isn't far when there will be ads for say swords and AK 47s that will use montage from the Gujarat riots and Kashmir!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Laws of Loss


Language of loss
Has no words
No alphabet
For words dissolve
Beyond the horizon
The way the sun
Went down one fine morning
Never to rise again

Language of loss
Has no grammar
No syntax
For rules break up
Beyond the line of punishment
The way the tears
Welled, frothed around the lips
Never to fall again

Language of loss
Has no music
No rhythm
For notes tune off
Beyond the curtains of tolerance
The way the beats
Fell, slowed near the heart
Never to beat again

Friday, December 3, 2010

Riddles


Wriggling between drops and waves
Come sacred verses
Sanctified in blood and death
With lies and love hidden, camouflaged

Crisscrossing lines of fate and destiny
Come bloody words
Shrouded in veils and wreaths
With thorns and myrrh wrapped, perfumed

Preening through pride and moss
Roll stony silences
Encased in poems and smoke
With polish and finesse swathed, draped


Thursday, November 25, 2010

A Small Note


Dear readers

I haven’t been writing for quite a while; primarily due to paucity of time and space (both mind and physical). :)
I will return soon enough. In the meantime, if possible, do leave your thoughts/opinions/ideas for possible write ups.

Thanks
Happy heart

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Why should there be peace in Ayodhya?

It seems like there’s enough written on this much flogged issue of the Babri Masjid–Ram Janmabhoomi dispute. But, I wonder if the common person actually understands or even bothers with the case, except when the so-called peace of the country is altered by communal riots, which are regular enough to be marked on the calendar. This so-called peace of the country was brutally violated when bloody-thirsty, fascist Hindu mobs pulled down the majestic Babri masjid on 6 Dec 1992. It still is etched in my mind clearly; it was the first religious brutality that I saw (on TV) as a teenager. The memories of that day still send a shiver down my spine. For those who can ‘afford’ to be ignorant of this, here’s a short recap of the events that led up to 6 Dec 1992.

In 1527, the Mughal ruler Babur constructed a mosque in Ayodhya. It was one of the several mosques built by the Mughal rulers who also gave us many more such beautiful monuments and buildings. I am no expert on the architectural or the historical significance of the mosque, but I understand the importance of the structure by its sheer age (500 years!). This living piece of history was the site of innumerable of controversies, thanks to heresy and rumors of it being the birthplace of a mythical hero. And, of course since the mythical hero happened to be the hero of the dominant classes of this great democracy (where supposedly the rights of the minorities and their places of worship are protected), the mosque was brutally demolished on 6 Dec 1992; a good 500 years after it was built. The mobs weren’t satisfied with just the demolition; they bayed for blood and butchered several thousands of Muslims across the country.

Now, after almost a decade and a half, when it’s time for justice, people want peace; there are hundreds of columns written every day urging for an out-of-court settlement or even a verdict that will not hurt the sentiments of either community! How flippant, irresponsible, and convenient are these calls for peace? In the name of peace, what the fascists want is injustice. Nothing can be more pusillanimous than delivering a verdict that doesn’t ‘hurt’ either community.

What the Hindu mobs did before, after, and on 6 Dec 1992 are unpardonable crimes against humanity, democracy, and the notion of state. They have to be brought to the book at any cost and not let off to contest and win elections and create a fascist state. If a verdict that will bring the hooligans to the book will result in riots, what are anticipatory arrests for? Or, what are the armed forces for, if they can’t crush these hooligans. Well, it’s another story that they are busy killing teenagers in Kashmir and the Northeast.

Just some parting words for those who want to talk about the ‘original’ temple at the ‘disputed’ site. Firstly, there’s no conclusive archaeological evidence to prove that claim and secondly, if this argument must be accepted, the ‘originality’ of all brahminical temples across the country will have to be revisited. And, possibly, open the debate of brahminization of subaltern and tribal worship structures, which are as ancient as humanity itself!

If 'peace' is finally 'manufactured'(of course at the cost of justice), it would only be akin to marrying off a rape victim to the rapist in name of a peaceful future/justice, which incidentally is not exactly unheard of in this biggest democracy of the world!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Peepli Live: Nero’s Feast


Yesterday, I watched the latest hindi flick, Peepli Live. The basic premise of the movie is on the ‘oh-so-serious issue,’ Farmers’ suicide! The story is set in a small village called Peepli, where a farmer on the brink of losing his small piece land thinks of taking away his life. How his family, the government, and the media react to this forms the rest of this story. Most of the reaction is comical, plain stupid, and irresponsible. The government officials fight over the ‘right’ scheme to fit this case under, the politicians look for political mileage, the family grieves and even throws its hands in despair, and the media just wring the issue completely to up their TRP ratings. And, all of this is captured in various ways; for example, the politicians make it out into a caste-based, election issue, the local government official spurs into action and brings a hand pump, the media frenzy outside the poor farmer’s house creates a carnival-like situation, etc. And, finally, the inevitable happens, and everything simply quietens down. It’s basically back to business, with no money or livelihood in sight for the farmer's family, except that the area now is filled with trash, thanks to media-generated carnival.

As I walked out of the movie hall, several questions kept whizzing past. Now, why is a movie made? Or, why do people go to movies? And, what is actually funny? Apparently, the movie is written and directed by some Anusha Rizvi, who’s a debuntante director. I wonder if the director even for a moment paid any attention to what this farmer’s suicides are all about! Clearly, in some ways, the director did know what she was talking about. The first few shots dealt rather well about the grim reality of farmers in this country. But, one was just not prepared to see the goriness of the director’s imagination/gall to poke fun at this! It’s a different thing when you capture the ethos of the village life and see an occasional laughter even amidst grinding poverty, but what Peepli Live did to the village/the issue was much beyond any limits of human insensitivity!

For example, would you laugh at someone’s death? Would you laugh at someone who runs to defecate, because you have taken over his land and even his subsistence? Isn’t it bad enough that such luxuries of multiplex viewing, 100% foreign direct investment of MNCs, branded jeans, footwear, and jewellery, etc are possible because the villages in India have been rid of their wealth and the villagers have been kicked out of their homes and livelihood to come and serve the city-dwellers as construction workers and house servants? Should even their sorrow and distress be made into things that can be laughed at? Can’t we leave alone at least their sorrow to themselves? In the name of bringing the issue into the imagination of this great Indian middle class, should you (Aamir Khan) dilute and distort the issue to some sort of a comical performance? Only this came to mind as I heard all these people sitting in a multiplex in Chennai and laughing their hearts out as the poor farmer and his family tried to negotiate the loss of their sole piece of land and actually discuss a suicide:
Nero, the ‘great’ king once decided to treat his guests in his garden in the evening. But, there was a problem with the lighting. After some thought, the issue was settled. And the party happened with much fun fare and laughter and much light from the burning slaves, who were burned so that the laughter and party could continue. (Source: Globalizing Inequality by P. Sainath)

In this lecture, P. Sainath wonders, “What sort of sensibility did it require to pop another fig into your mouth as one more human being went up in flames nearby to serve as 'a nightly illumination?” I have just this one thing to tell him, the sensibility that had all the women, men, and children (yesterday at the movie theater in Chennai) cracking up as a human being and his family was completely stripped of their agency/dignity to decide, think, or even to live. 


Yesterday, as I walked out of the movie hall, it was with Nero’s guests I walked out. It was quite a weird and a holocausty feeling to be amidst them and to have seen a film made by one of them; the Nero’s guests!

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Helpless Guilt

Sequined underneath over
Flowery wreaths and beads
Of sweat and tears
Rivers of congealed blood
Freeze frame
Lost moments of tranquillity
Of hurt pride
Of bottomless pits
Of anger
and soulless, wordless
tamed, grieving
impotent love


Strong, dark palms balled
As if fists in fury
Safe keeping away memories
Of chipped nails and fresh coffee
Mornings between smoke
And broken bridges
As drops of pain
Ball around and within
Breaking the rib cage of
Silent, loud broken promises

Saturday, April 24, 2010

My First and Last Chicklit Novel



Almost Single by Advaita Kala is supposed to have pioneered the genre of chicklit writing in India. And, well, that will be my first and last of any chicklit novel in my life!

Last week, out of utter boredom, I picked this book and finished it in about say 5 hours straight. Of course, truth must be said, it’s quite a light and quick read. The language is rather simple and easy, and that’s really something to blog home about. But, as for the content, it’s completely a different story.

The book is basically about single women, pushing 30, who are in search of the love of their lives. The good thing about it is the way the author has captured the insecurities of women, especially in the context of marriage and relationships. It has also captured the uncompromising attitude of these women, who are completely independent and wouldn’t settle for anything less than what they think is perfect. The other good thing about the book is that, the author occasionally says something quite profound. Like for example, when your parents stop matchmaking and turn philosophical, it’s time to worry! And, all of it is said with lot of satire and wit, which makes it enjoyable in parts.

Now, what was it about the book that’s rather irksome? Having lived a single life in a big city myself, I found the book rather flippant. Especially, because it’s posited as a book that has found fans among the new and emerging breed of the independent Indian woman! Well, it could be among a small (rather minuscule) percentage of women, who come from quite well off backgrounds into the big city for various reasons other than work such as higher studies or to go abroad. The maximum of women who come into the big cities are from poorer backgrounds and who live in small houses or even hostels so that they could send money home. I have known of women who would in all make just 8000 a month and send home almost 5 to 6 and pay something like 1.5k for rent. And, in the novel all the women are all the time hanging out in baristas, 5 star hotels, and swanky pubs! At one hand, they are the most liberated women who earn a lot of money, live on their own, and chart their own life story, but on the other hand, they wouldn’t bat an eyelid before trooping all saree-clad to a mataji who will ward off an evil eye, consult their astrologers, or observe the karva chauth like demented morons. This is where my angst or rather irritation lies. It’s the ease with which people (so-called liberated) take to age-old customs and traditions that are nothing but the products of a casteistic society! Here’s where the problem with bracketing all Indian women (emerging new breed!) under one umbrella begins. For example, women from lower caste backgrounds or dark-skinned women can never ever identify with the ‘Indian’ woman in this novel! And such women form the majority of Indian women, and who does the woman in the novel represent? She is after all the prefect blend of modernity and tradition necessitated by globalization and modern hindutva. And, that’s why this will be my first and last chicklit novel.

Ps: Just thought I need to elaborate a bit on last part. With globalization, capitalism is here to stay, which requires the labor of men and women, without any gender differentiation. Which means, women need to adapt to the changing world: travel alone, live alone, etc. Modern version of hindutva would mean, just do whatever you want to do with your life, just ensure that you don’t forget our sanskriti and that means, don’t fall in love with someone out of caste or class, observe the traditions (even if they are demeaning to women and lower castes on principle), visit astrologers (even if it goes completely against all science), wear sindoor, etc. I know some of you might argue that it's silly of me to be saying this, especially after the Mangalore pub attack. But, then, how about the anti-reservation protests? I am sure there will be a lot of common supporters for these two issues, and that's where the modern hindutva raises it's venomous head!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Amaltas


Brightly bright shining atop
In the dawn, between
Wakefulness and sleep
Deep inside they meander
Little droplets of color
Of joy, of hope, of love

Spiritedly springing in the air
On the yellow canopy
Covering the darkness
Of anger and misery
Tiny packets of laughter
Of memories, of whispers, of smiles

Ps: This was written for the bright amaltas tree that stands right opposite my bedroom window. Amaltas was one thing I thought I would miss in Chennai, but, well...life is mysteriously beautiful in some ways. The tree is now in full bloom...:)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Unity in Diversity…Chak de India!

India has always been identified as a land of diversity; well, it’s a different story altogether if there’s strife, bitterness, or joy in that diversity. But, the starkness of this diversity is hitting at us today like never before. It’s not even a week since a 76 jawans died in the forests of Dandakaryna, where the ancient inhabitants of this land have been ignored, exploited, and today, mass murdered under the garb of development! It’s interesting that these inhabitants weren’t even consulted before they were declared as Indians; only because the land they are lived in for over 5000 years was newly annexed by this neo-colonial, dying-to-become-some-f***-superpower. It’s of course old news that the government has been ignoring these regions for several years, but suddenly today, it has woken up to the fact that its adivasis or the ‘poor’ and ‘undeveloped’ (read uncivilized, which actually means unurbanised) must be brought into the mainstream! And, what is mainstream? The brahmical fascist class society? Where honor killings are the order of the days? Or, any political struggle extends only till sending pink chadis or filling up the pubs, which apparently is protest against patriarchy?

Now, for the other part of diversity: it’s the IPL season! Time to open up your purse strings, twitter the latest scores, lech at the white-skinned, half-clothed cheer leaders, and enjoy a great game of cricket! In fact, the government helps you in enjoying this great concoction of dope and pure joy; it doles out subsidies in just about everything. More than subsidies, all the political parties (which don’t see eye in many others) are together in this mass hysteria. Well, not only this, even in the former issue (in ‘developing’ the adivasis), they are together. Just look at this subsidy: about 10-12 crore waiving of the entertainment tax in Maharashtra alone! And, as Sainath says in his article in the Hindu today, such subsidies in a state whose debt will cross 200,000 crore this year!

I mean, does the government even think it a wee bit necessary to consult the public (whose money it seems to spend/rob in style) before committing to such barbaric acts? As if it’s not enough that the rich and super rich get entertained for free, they get even subsidies on food! In a country that’s battling hunger and which is also sitting ugly at the 65th (out of 88) position on the global hunger index, which is way below all our neighbours (Nepal: 57, Sri Lanka 40, and Pakistan: 61). Now, it’s not population because China clocked in at a whopping 7! We are with none other than Ethiopia, which is a poor country uniformly, unlike our country that has several multibillionaires vying to make it to Forbes magazine or even permanent residents there!

So, this is the land of diversity. And, every day, it amazes me to see or even hear colleagues/friends twitter or sms each other about IPL scores and in the same breath complain of the power cuts and the ambush of the ‘our’ jawans by some terrorists, who should be mercilessly squashed! Just to remind all of us certain bare facts: as for power cuts, we could definitely save up on lot of power if the IPL matches were played in daylight (well, that would mean all the beautiful people sweat a bit and that may not photograph well!), and the jawans who died were anyway the poorest of the poor in this country, so why should any of us even bother? The government could simply send many many more such poor fellows to ‘guard’ nation! And, as for the adivasis, the government isn’t exactly bothered about their development or education; it’s eyeing the resources that have been their home for ages! And, since they don’t have machine guns, they can be easily wiped out and their lands opened up to the plunder of the monsters that are running this great Indian tamasha called the Indian state in collaboration with the imperialist powers of the world! And, we, the common people can take in all of this, yes, all. The Armed Forces (Special Powers) Act in the northeast (where women will rampantly raped and common people will be murdered in broad daylight, about 40% of the Indian army to be stationed in Kashmir where again rapes are rampant and young boys are frequently gunned down or go missing, the state machinery will actually participate in <mass butchering minorities, think of eliminating the poorest of this country to the coffers of the rich and the super rich , and hoot and whistle and enjoy IPL matches! Well, if we could accommodate all of this and much more in just one country, we indeed have unity in diversity! Chak de, India!

Friday, April 9, 2010

Reminder on Mail

Today, I received a mail about a lecture on Cooking under the Raj, followed by a dinner. And, this was the menu.
M E N U

Soup
Mulligatawny Soup
Anglo Indian Pumpkin Soup

Non-Vegetarian
Captains Country Chicken
Anglo Indian Mutton Cutlets
Pork Vindaloo
Fish Cakes
Egg Curry

Vegetarian
Ladies-fingers Fugath
Country Captain of Vegetables
Brinjal Bharta
Spiced Fried Potatoes
Dal Khichuri
Rice & Roti
Chutneys/Pickles / Garnishes

Desserts
Bread and Butter Pudding
Banana Fritters
Ice Cream
(Rs. 450/- + 10% S.C. + 12.5% V.A.T.)


Apparently, after independence (shall we just say after a change in the management) in 1947, when the exploiting colonizers left this land under Brahminical fascists, feudal lords, and exploiters, besides the legacy of a more organized and a wide spread way of exploitation, the British had also left something else; something that deserves a lecture and even a dinner after 60 odds years. Yea, something called as the anglo-indian cuisine had evolved and the management that took over after them still preferred the ways of the British. What’s revealing about this is the fact that, nothing much has actually changed. What did the poor worker, dalit or farmer who fought to get the British out actually gain? Nothing! Nothing at all! This management has all along been doing just what the British did; these dinners and lectures are just repugnant and puss-filled reminders of the amount of struggle the poor workers, dalits, or farmers have to wage against the capitalists, the brahminical fascists, and the super powers of the world for realizing a world that’s truly humane and ‘fit’ for ‘humanity’!

Friday, April 2, 2010

A few drops of tears, a few moments of silence, and a coffee…

Have you even experienced a feeling of pointlessness descending upon you out of where? Suddenly, the blue of the sky is no more beautiful; it just becomes another color. Even the chocolate in the hot chocolate is delightful just as long as it takes for you to swallow it! And, in no time, the bitterness in your mouth returns (literally and figuratively)! And, anyone, especially, the close ones say something wee bit irritating, and you fly off the handle? Well, am not even going to try and diagnose the whys of this because I know fully well what the final diagnosis will be. And, no prizes for guessing: yes, it is the arrogance of affordability. (Read Dr. Rudhran’s post on ennui, which I think is quite closely related to what I am discussing here.)

So, as the title suggests, this post is basically how one deals with this, with complete knowledge of the why. In fact, there are some constructive things you can do during these times. One of course is to avoid any human contact, especially because it could be harmful for the ones who dare come in contact with you. You could even try your hand at poetry. Well, now, some of you are sneering at this outrageous proposal. But, trust me, it works. I have realized it from personal experience as well from the experiences of people around me. And, the sooner you acknowledge the why, the quicker will you get out of this ‘feeling’ of the blues. Of course, nothing heals like a stiff one of the rocks, but resist, especially all you guys out there, who exploit the male privilege society hands out to you on a platter! :) Anyway, to cut a long story short, I’ll tell you the surest way to be out of this: ensure that you have at least one or two close friends, a space for you to be alone with just your thoughts, and a mug full of hot coffee. It’s ok even if you don’t have friends. The latter two are important.

So, the next time you find yourself in one such situation, go to your space with a mug full of coffee, let the tears fall, and then think. Just think, let the thoughts jostle around, and never forget the why. In all probability, you should be out in about an hour or two. And, all it took for you see the beauty in the blue of the sky were nothing but a few drops of tears, a few moments of silence, and a coffee. Well, it needn’t necessarily be this simple, but we could try to make life simpler, shouldn’t we?

Friday, March 19, 2010

My Fixation with Old Tamil Songs – 2

A few days ago, I received a small note on this old Tamil movie called aval appadithan (That's How She Is). It’s the story of a single woman, who, thanks to her life situations, chooses a different path. Well, by today’s standards, it’s not a very different one, but in the 1980s it must have hit a nerve and caused something of a storm!

I am yet to see the movie though, but from what I read about it in the wikipedia, I am totally impressed, and, well, floored too. The woman goes from one botched up relationship to another, becomes a man-hater, talks of women’s liberation, falls in love, loses the lover, baits a woman hater, teaches him a lesson, and looks at life in the face all over again. I plan to watch this movie very soon and perhaps write about it.

But today’s post is about a song in this movie, which talks of relationships, feelings, life, happiness and its pursuit, and a hope for better tomorrow. The song talks of how life is just a beautiful tapestry of relationships and how relationships are stories that never end. And, how feelings are short stories. How in the end of one story there might be the beginning of another one. Such hope…:)

Here are the lyrics (rather my poor translation of the original); if I am right, the song is sung by the guy in their good times together. It sure brought tears to my eyes…hope you guys also enjoy this lovely piece of hope served to us by great lyricists and composers (who are not made anymore!) of yesteryears.

Relationships are eternal stories; feelings are short stories
One story might end anytime;
A new one might start in the end
It’s just happiness from then on

The burden in your heart
Am here to take it away and bear your burden
The tears in the corners of your eyes
I know not why
Am here to change them
The misery may be gone
The mist may lift
I may join the white clouds in the new beauty

Relationships are eternal stories; feelings are short stories
One story might end anytime;
A new one might start in the end
It’s just joy from then on

Life is a song, the pitch grows higher
Each day in joy
All that you saw was misery
Now, it’s only happiness in the future
The comforting tune is just beginning
A new gush in the river
Empties itself into the ocean
Our relationship was just enjoined today
With the birth of happiness

Relationships are eternal stories; feelings are short stories
One story might end anytime;
A new one might start in the end
It’s just joy from then on

Here's the song, set to tune by the inmitable, musical genius, Illayaraja.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Of Stillness Beyond Words

Green forest trails open out
As far as the eye travels
In words unformed and untold
Deep into the woods
Draw me the eastern wind
Mixed with the salt of the ocean
With tears of unfounded emotion

Deep deep breaths draw in
As much as the heart can hold
Sketches that await the canvass
Paints that await the drawing
As the eyes see beneath the lashes
Closed shut, fearing the sight
Of love mixed in the blood of the lover

Snaking and sweeping through sheaves of grass
Tearing and slithering the skin
Through the venom of vipers
In search of a moment of stillness
Mingled in mirage is the promise
Of hope of a tomorrow
Of stillness beyond vacuous words

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Of Godmen and Media

A couple of days ago, around prime time, the majority of TV sets in Tamil Nadu were all tuned to one particular channel. The channel had just won hands down the race to the top in no time. If you are wondering what they got right; simple logic, guys! The unbeatable formula: sex + religion + voyeurism! And all this couched in the delectable concoction called social responsibility and scientific enquiry! My foot!

Basically, a very famous godman was caught with his pants down and the entire episode was aired to the general public on prime time! And, in no time, his ashram has been ravaged, people have taken to the streets, and what not. It almost seems like the people in TN have woken up from a deep slumber and now are crying for justice and burning with the flame of propriety! A desire to correct the wrong. A desire to uphold the moral ‘Tamil values.’ A desire to bring to book all erring godmen! And leading this fight for reinstating of justice and morality is the TV channel that makes its living out of airing serials that uphold women oppression, caste structure, and, in general, help in tying the middle class to dreams of house loans and car loans at the cost of the sweat and blood of the working class.

Firstly, let’s deal with the godmen. Is this a new phenomenon or the idea of a guru per household always existed? Anyway, after the age of 20, the very idea of listening to another human being only sounds repugnant, leave alone listening to an enlightened guy! And, you have 40, 50, 60 year olds queuing up to some so-called enlightened souls! What’s with this enlightenment business anyway? Let me narrate here a small incident.

Once, I had visited a friend’s place for lunch. After a sumptuous lunch, I rested (read slept heavily) and woke up around 5ish, craving for my cup of tea. And, trying to be a well-brought-up-homely girl, I offered to even make tea for the entire household, but only to be quietened down with saccharin smiles. So, I waited thinking they were playing the good hosts, but nobody even moved for another 5 minutes (which is like really looong when my tea pangs start!). This time nobody could stop me; I started walking towards the kitchen, when they finally let the cat out of the bag: their guru’s advised them against ‘consumption’ of anything during twilight! My jaws just dropped, and of course, there was no looking back; I swore never to be around that house during twilight! Jokes aside, more than religion, the godmen seem have tightened their noose around unsuspecting and stupid people (which seems to be the majority).

So, back to this enlightenment business. I mean from where on earth do these fellows get the time to sit somewhere and mediate and attain the so-called bliss? The hippies of the 60s tell us that there are far easier ways of attaining ‘bliss.’ And, even if one did attain this bliss, what do you do? Everyone becomes blissful, smoke ganga, and dance? Who’s gonna plough the field? Who’s gonna sow the seeds? Who’s gonna harvest the grain? People, get real…you wanna see real people, real humanity, real pain, and everything that is even remotely real, simply shed off your ‘comforts’ and take a walk in the sun. Just that will teach you the pain that the vast number of mass humanity goes through each day! And my friends, enlightenment is not yet here! It’s yet to come, and believe me, it can happen only when all of us are together (as one humanity) in it. And, in our march towards that enlightenment, the first thing to be shot down should be religion; of the kind that makes you accept things the way they are and makes you blind to the existence of an enormous mass of humanity that is relentlessly struggling or is made to struggle for the rest. How on earth can there be bliss, if at all, in such a state of chaos? And, the godmen add their bit!

Secondly, the media. The less said the better? With this episode, this particular ‘progressive’ channel prides itself for exposing the ‘atrocities’ committed in the name of religion! But, the same channel shies away from exposing the brahminical practices that rule the roost in most of the temples in TN and has no compunctions about airing devotional serials! So, it all boils down to just a quick buck, eh? And bucks flow only when you encourage voyeurism! This entire episode just shows how we as a society have failed utterly! How even ‘protests’ can happen only when you voyeuristically see two people having sex! Our low-lying values just dropped further below any humanly detectable standards!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

In the days…

In the days of human slaughter
That quenched the monstrous
Hunger of the few
With the sweat, blood, and soul
Of the many
Innocents and children and humans

In the days of dog-eat-dog kingdom
Blessed by the nirvana kings
And the Vishnu worshippers
From lands around and far
To surround and annihilate
Traces of humanity

In the days of darkness
In the guiding light of liberal
Collateral damage and relief and camps
Come the fight of wild dogs
Clamoring and salivating at the bleeding wounds
Of the prey, preyed in collectivist vision

In the days of the future
Come to me a vision, clear and loud
Of humans rising beyond barbed wires
The hunger of the many for justice
Annihilating the few wild dogs in their sleep
With the dawn of a new world!

Ps: This poem was written in response to the 'outrage' in Sri Lanka which is so 'humanistically' covered by The Hindu, the paper that stood mute, and perhaps even endorsed' the inhuman war waged on the Sri Lankan Tamils! The first para talks about the civil war that was waged for almost 26 years, bemoaning the loss of an entire generation; it's childhood, security, etc.. The second para talks of the last part of the war, where the 'powers' (religious and political) joined hands in killing off the last few people standing..The third para talks of today, how the 'spoils or credit' of this bloody war is being 'split' by the powers..the final para talks of hope for a better future; however cliched it may sound, it doesn't sound hollow to me, though. )

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

A helping hand from the past…

This is yet again a reminiscence! It’s about someone from the past…someone who was part of the past…someone who’s physically dead…but, someone who’s legacy has outlived him and has the power to spur even a corpse into action, especially if you understand what I mean when I say to be dead and walking and living the life of a corpse…

It was a cold, winter afternoon couple of years ago…I was sitting with a friend in her house in Delhi with black tea in hand and wrapped in blankets. Perhaps, I was in the crossroads yet again (perhaps a new job or an important decision-making hour), but I could hardly think or even feel, except for the warm tea and my own silence, which was deafening. After some talking, my friend just looked at me and told me to turn around and see a label that she had stuck on her wooden almirah. What I saw there broke a dam within; it was the poetry of Paash, a Punjabi naxalite poet who died standing up for his beliefs, who lived for his beliefs and his convictions! Yes, his words reached out to someone in the present and gave her life to dream again to struggle and never to give up…the poem was:


The Most Dangerous

Most treacherous is not the robbery
of hard earned wages
Most horrible is not the torture by the police.
Most dangerous is not the graft for the treason and greed.
To be caught while asleep is surely bad
surely bad is to be buried in silence
But it is not most dangerous.
To remain dumb and silent in the face of trickery
Even when just, is definitely bad
Surely bad is reading in the light of a firefly
But it is not most dangerous
Most dangerous is
To be filled with dead peace
Not to feel agony and bear it all,
Leaving home for work
And from work return home
Most dangerous is the death of our dreams.
Most dangerous is that watch
Which run on your wrist
But stand still for your eyes.
Most dangerous is that eye
Which sees all but remains frostlike,
The eye that forgets to kiss the world with love,
The eye lost in the blinding mist of the material world.
That sinks the simple meaning of visible things
And is lost in the meaning return of useless games.
Most dangerous is the moon
Which rises in the numb yard
After each murder,
but does not pierce your eyes like hot chilies.
Most dangerous is the song
which climbs the mourning wail
In order to reach your ears
And repeats the cough of an evil man
At the door of the frightened people.
Most dangerous is the night
Falling in the sky of living souls,
Extinguishing them all
In which only owls shriek and jackals growl,
And eternal darkness covers all the windows.
Most heinous is the direction
In which the sun of the soul light
Pierces the east of your body.
Most treacherous is not the
robbery of hard earned wages.
Most horrible is not the torture of police
Most dangerous is not graft taken for greed and treason.

Translation by Dr.Satnam Singh Sandhu of Punjabi University, Patiala

Ps: You can see some more of Paash's poems here.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Saroja—A Treat Through and Through!

Starring: Shiva, Vaibhav Reddy, Premji Amaren, S. P. B. Charan, Vega Tamotia, Prakash Raj, Jayaram, Kajal Aggarwal, Sampath Raj, Nikita Thukral and Nagendra

Story: Venkat Prabhu
Directed
: Venkat Prabhu


I am writing this immediately after watching the Tamil movie Saroja, which was playing on Kalaignar TV as part of their New Year special programs. To say I thoroughly enjoyed the movie would be an understatement! Though I don’t know exactly what they got it right in the movie, it was a wholesome treat!


The movie is about four friends, Ajay, Ganesh, Jagapathi babu, and Rambabu. The two babus are telugu-speaking and are brothers too. What started as just another interesting comedy turned out to be actually a thriller! So, a bit on the plot: these four guys decide to drive to Hyderabad to watch a cricket match, but lose their way and find themselves in extremely weird and life-threatening circumstances. How all of four them make their way out in one piece and also become heroes in their own ways make the rest of the movie.


None of the guys in the movie is ‘hero’ material. They all look and behave like next-door guys! It was easy to believe the movie, and no wonder the viewer is pulled into the magic of cinema in no time. They were no unnecessary fights, pointless dialogues, unnecessary shots that state the obvious, and many such nuances that made this movie truly excellent.

What personally appealed to me was the simplicity of it all, yet the complexity involved in making the whole thing seem so simple! It showed talent, and also how enjoyable the entire exercise (of making the movie) had been to the entire crew! And, building in of the comedy element! Amazing man! Truly, out of this world. I really didn’t know such talent existed here; in fact, in one of the shots, I was referring to how it almost feels like watching some really good foreign cinema; only that the actors spoke Tamil!


Next, the most riveting part of the movie was its pace. Not even for a moment did I lose interest. Every shot was so neatly knit with the next one and the dialogues were so succinct and perfectly delivered.


Now, to the most favorite part: characterization. Let’s take for example the character of the main villain, Sampath. He looks all jazzed up with a big moustache and also carries a gun as he ‘prowls’ around. But, at the same time, there’s a side of him that’s vulnerable and human. It definitely takes a director par excellence (at least in my myopic view!) to bring out such contradictions in a very real manner. After all, in reality, each of one us is a bunch of contradictions! And, I think that’s what made the movie so real life. Another thing about the movie being close to real life was the realization that there are no heroes in real life! It’s basically life and its circumstances, one’s convictions and one’s instinct to not give up without a fight (when pushed to a corner) make heroes out of ordinary people. Yes, ordinary people like Ajay, Ganesh, Rambabu, Jagapathi babu, and, most importantly, Saroja.


Watch Saroja if you want a gripping thriller in which you will roll with laughter through and through, yet remain at the edge of your seat!

Destination Sikkim - Till we meet again

On the third day, we went to the Sikkim Himalayan Zoo. It was day of little rain and much mist. The walk into the zoo was surreal because o...