Sunday, April 29, 2012


Following up from the last post, here are some of the newspaper headlines I've collected in the last month or so. These may help in understanding some of the deeply entrenched problems in the country, culture, society and times that we are living in right now.

1. President in land row over Pune plot size (This seems to have been resolved for the time being by her giving up on the humongous plot which was supposed to have been reserved for war widows and on which she decided to build her post retirement bunglow.)

2. State loses out on crores in rent on prime plots: CAG (There is no resolution out yet. Story in a nutshell seems to be: In a bid to get more votes, Government brought about Rent Regulation Act so many years ago due to which many people practically lost their properties to their tenants because they could neither evict the tenants nor increase their rents. One of the other similar Acts has resulted in commercial complexes in prime areas owned by the State Government paying as little as Rs. 10-80 as rents. Of course, if the Government employees' pockets wouldn't have been sufficiently filled over the years, such Acts would have been revoked aeons ago.)

3. 2 cops suspended for sexually harassing a woman-sub-inspector. (No comments here.)

4. Many drunk drivers caught but few punished, reveal stats. (In the last month alone, I have read of at least 10 different drunk and drive incidents causing in death of several people. Out of them, not even one of the drunk drivers is still in police custody today. And one of them (a Punjab minister's son) even abused the police and used his contacts to get off. So, 10 extreme cases of drunk driving in just one month reported in the media. Imagine how many potential accidents and deaths are driving around on the streets.)

5. Thane cops issue gun license to gangster. (Apparently because he was a recognised criminal in Mumbai division police stations but this information was not know to the Thane division police.)

6. 23 held guilty in Gujrat's Ode carnage case of 2002. (This one is outrageous because Gujrat riots occurred 10 years ago and the justice is being delivered only now. Also, out of the 29 accused, 3 had died in the last 10 years without having to undergo any punishment for their actions.)

7. Bangalore baby beaten, bitten because father wanted a son. (No comments again. Such headlines have become too common in the last few years to feel comfortable living in such deeply misogynist society.)

Yes, I know this is a biased post. Yes, I know many happy, optimistic, we-have-made-so-much-technological-progress-we-are-so-awesome type news also come out in the newspapers and I chose to focus on these local news. But really, somebody launching a missile to Mars does not make as much difference to me as a potential drunk driver crossing my path or a misogynist police force does.

Bottom line is that this country is soon heading for enormous catastrophes and I can see some very difficult times for common, ordinary, non-political-related people ahead of us.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Mera Bharat Mahan

On the first page of The Great Indian Novel by Shashi Tharoor, he says: India is not a developing country. It is a developed country in an advanced state of decay.

And every passing day, when I read the newspapers and when I find out new things about ancient Indian customs and philosophies via the Sanskrit classes/ books/ discussions with various people, I am more and more convinced of the truth of that statement. India is in such a pathetic condition today that sometimes, just sometimes, I feel super ashamed that I'm an Indian. And it takes a lot for anybody to say such a thing about their own country.

We are a country with such a glorious past. But for how long can we continue living in the past? Look at the condition of our country today, the psyche of the people, the political and economic condition. All you'll see is decay. One of the articles  that is doing the rounds of the internet these days shows what a substandard and absolutely filthy mentality the Delhi police has. (I'm sure you'll must have read it by now but if you haven't, here it is.) These are the people who are the first point of contact for victims of any kind, rape or otherwise. And this is the city that is supposed to represent our nation.

I started the list with that article because it is exploding the social networking sites these days. But there are thousands of such small and big examples which point towards innumerable problems faced by common Indians today. Every single day, we read articles about rapes, murders and thefts in our cities. In fact, it is so common that we read about it and we forget. It has totally desensitized us. A few months ago, one of my friends' grandmother, an 86-year old woman, was sitting in the park after her daily walk. A young man came and started chatting with her. After a while, he tried to snatch her purse and run away. What he failed to realise was that the purse was wrapped around her wrist and held on to tightly. The poor woman fell down from the bench and broke one of her bones. Of course, by this time, there was a bit of a commotion around there and the man ran away on his bike. But, in an attempt to earn a few hundred rupees, which he lost anyway, he cost the old woman a couple of lakh rupees for her hospital, fracture, tests, medicine etc bills. Plus, the added anxiety to the family members. What is more pathetic is that not everybody is able to afford such sudden and unforeseen costs. And this was a totally avoidable problem.

So, this moral corruption, which begins at such a small level has, today, pervaded every nook and cranny of our society. And it is this same moral corruption at little points that eventually become 2G, CWG, Cash for Vote and so many other scams. It is despicable how the common man is being taken for a ride by anyone and everyone around here. Corruption has rotten our Government to the core.

If all this wasn't enough, we have Anna Hazare and the Maoists, who think they can blackmail the government at the drop of the hat. The Government might not be right but this kind of blackmail is not the right way to deal with it either. Tomorrow, anyone who manages to gather a lot of media attention can ask the Government to make bikinis compulsory school uniform, donkey the national animal and demand that they kill Rahul Gandhi, can't they? Of course, these will be much more practical demands than the Jan Lokpal Bill but that is a totally different issue.

Another point I'd noted down in relation to Jan Lokpal Bill is about the people who supported it. I had once noted in the newspaper how a big group of Rickshaw wallahs were demonstrating at Azad Maidan alongside Anna Hazare, against corruption. But these were the same Rickshaw wallahs who rigged their meters and fooled the hapless customers into paying more than what they owe.

Which obviously leads us back to where we started. Corruption is not only limited to politics and corporate companies. It is everywhere around us. These rickshaw wallahs, you, me, all of us are guilty of small things. Everytime we pay the police to get our passports passed quickly, everytime we throw garbage on our roads, everytime we pay off the traffic policeman into letting us go, we contribute to the corruption problem faced by our country. We are ready to pay Rs. 150 per person to go watch a film on the weekend but if the Government levies some extra tax on some necessity, we crib. We don't want to pay the taxes, we want to throw garbage on the roads and we also want to crib about how the Government can't even keep our roads cleaned. Err, who is right and who is wrong? (I know that the scenario is quite the opposite. The Government not only collects taxes, it also doesn't clean up. I'm just talking about the mentality.)

What I'm trying to point out here is that it's a circle. Neither the Government nor the people can be completely blamed for the corruption problem. But what gets my goat is that I don't see any practical solution for it all. *This is where the anger begins.*

Wednesday, April 4, 2012


Carol Ann Duffy is quickly turning out to be my latest favourite poet. I've been researching her poems for my students and while doing so, I came across almost all of her "World's Wife" poems, which are absolutely hilarious! In this particular collection of her's, she has presented the points of view of the wives of famous male personalities. (barring Elvis Presley, whose sister's point of view has been presented.)

And as a woman, sometimes, these stories just click so well and I can relate to them so perfectly. Today, when 3 women who are very close to me have narrated similar stories to me, just like the one in this poem, I feel the need to put it up.. Not only is this something that men often do and women often suffer, it is also a sentiment perfectly captured and subverted to achieve the right effect.

Pygmalion's Bride

Cold, I was, like snow, like ivory.
I thought He will not touch me,
But he did 
He kissed my stone-cool lips.
I lay still
As though I’d died.
He stayed.
He thumbed my marble eyes.
He spoke – 
Blunt endearments, what he’d do and how.
His words were terrible.
My ears were sculpture
Stone-deaf, shells.
I heard the sea.
I drowned him out.
I heard him shout.
He brought me presents, polished pebbles, 
little bells.
I didn’t blink,
Was dumb.
He brought me pearls and necklaces and rings.
He called them girly things.
He ran his clammy hands along my limbs.
I didn’t shrink,
Played statue, shtum.
He let his fingers sink into my flesh, 
He squeezed, he pressed.
I would not bruise.
He looked for marks, 
For purple hearts,
For inky stars, for smudgy clues.
His nails were claws.
I showed no scratch, no scrape, no scar.
He propped me up on pillows,
Jawed all night.
My heart was ice, was glass.
His voice was gravel, hoarse.
He talked white black. 
So I changed tack,
Grew warm, like candle wax,
Kissed back,
Was soft, was pliable, 
Began to moan,
Got hot, got wild,
Arched, coiled, writhed,
Begged for his child,
And at the climax
Screamed my head off – 
All an act
And haven’t seen him since.
Simple as that. 

For those who don't know who Pygmalion is, here is the wikipedia link for the story. I don't particularly want to dwell on the details of my friends' stories here. But suffice to say that three hearts were broken because of the hot-cold-hot-cold attitude that confused men often adopt. I wish men would understand that it's not okay to encourage a woman and then let her down by putting all the blame on her; that it's not okay to stop communicating out of the blue and then place the blame on the girl of actually saying the word "break up" out loud; that it's not okay to get into a relationship simply because you're lonely and then get out of it when you need space.

All relationships have to be worked at and they require efforts. If you don't want to put in the efforts but want the results, then it's never going to work out. And this advice goes out to everybody, irrespective of their gender.