21 August 2004

Am going away for a week. There'll be lots of blogging when I'm back.

20 August 2004

Will four do?

Four is the operational word here. SEASONALE®, the newest contraceptive pill on the block, offers women the freedom of choosing to have just four periods a year!? You have to take an ‘active’ pill every day for 84 days followed by 7 days of inactive pills. You will get your period in these seven days.

As simple as that. Well… that’s what the company says, at least. I haven’t found out how it is priced and I don’t think it is available in India yet.

But wait woman, you’ve got more ‘freedom’ than that. If you wish, you may choose not to have a single period. Yes, that’s right. But that pill will take some more time to hit the market.

Ok, so how many of us would opt for such ‘freedom?’ I surely wouldn’t, because (a) there’s no telling what will be the long-term effects and (b) am comfortable with my body as it is and would rather let it be, than meddle with it.

But I must say that I have thought a thousand times or more about a tampon-free napkin-free world. I have often wondered just how did men qualify for such luck of having neither periods nor pregnancies, damn!! Women know how cursed periods can make them feel. The option that this new pill brings is just what we dreamed of but then gave the idea up as impossible.

Yet, as I am keying this, I am shaking my head and asking myself do we really need to control everything? I know how sick periods can make you feel, but there are ways to get over it. And the regular contraceptive pill takes care of pregnancy. So why are we so reluctant to bear even some amount of predictable pain?

My argument is just this: in spite of all my complaints, I believe that the power of reproduction makes woman a much more special being than man. Periods are but incidental to such power. The menstrual cycle is integrated with the woman’s system in many complex ways. Before playing with it, before making it a medium of commerce or a tool for ‘scientific’ experiments, we should at least know what we are in for. And we have no way of knowing that for sure, unless we try it, of course.

So, now tell me what d’ya think?

19 August 2004

missed my blog

Hi folks, been very busy these two days. But here I am all ready to blog. So, coming up, one meaty blog.

16 August 2004

Revisiting Gandhi

I watched the movie Gandhi on the eve of Independence Day. I had watched it as a kid but didn’t remember anything except the scene in which Gandhi is thrown out of the train.

Ben Kingsley is simply amazing. Actually, the entire casting is good. Not many details are missed. Like Gandhi’s changing complexion and weight. The setting is so real. And each character mouths the dialogues so well.

It also set me thinking about Gandhi, the person. The kind of power he had over the Indian masses – wow! It is the stuff of myths. Imagine: he brought the burning city of Calcutta to stop the mad rioting (immediately after Independence) with his well-tested fast unto death. Could he have done that to Gujarat? Really, could he? I don’t know.

Dissenters, activists, NGOs the world over are constantly thinking of novel ways of protest so that their cause is heard and seen. They have several tried and tested methods on which they can fall back on. But Gandhi has to be admired for the sheer innovativeness of his methods of protest. And he had such conviction in them.

Non-violence, for instance. When you disarm and present yourself before the powerful, actually, the power is with you. The opponent is co-opted, outwitted. The Dandi march, too, was very clever. He walked some 200 odd km to the sea, mobilizing people not only along the way, but also across the country.

Gandhi did no PR, no media campaigning as it is known today. Just the goodwill and trust of people. As a child of the 80s, this is something that I have not seen happen. And I don’t know if it will ever happen again.

The mixture of political cunning, moral clarity and integrity, personal charisma, conviction and vision that Gandhi was, is simply incredible.

14 August 2004

To want to die, yet have to live

Dhananjoy Chatterjee raped Hetal Parekh and killed her. He was hanged to death today many years later.

Is justice done?

Personally, I feel death is too easy an escape. He should have lived to regret it. To think how his life would have been if not for the heinous act. To beg for forgiveness and not get it. To see his daughter grow up into a woman (I don’t think he has one), and learn about him. To want to die, yet have to languish in prison.

The hangman said on TV that Dhananjoy showed no regret.

My closest friend once told me that the best punishment for rape would be to convert the man’s sex and make him a woman through some hormone injections or whatever, and let him know how it feels to be a woman. Because rapists generally are extreme versions of the Male Chauvinist Pig and take great pride in their masculinity. So why not unburden them of it? And the change, of course, should be permanent: he will be a woman all his life.

I admire my friend greatly for this idea, all the more so because he is a male.

Really, punishment should induce regret, not self-righteousness.

Also, isn’t death penalty going to make conviction all the more difficult?

13 August 2004

The musical sixth sense

This happens to me sometimes: when I hear a thread of music, somehow I know what follows, and I hum along though I may have never heard it at all.

The first time this happened was during a tea break in a film festival. It was Irish music, fresh like mint. And suddenly I was drumming my fingers on the armrest in perfect harmony. Mind you, the music was quite fast, and went this way and that.

I almost felt the music running in my brain. Ya, I have had some basic training in Carnatic music. But I am really amazed. How does this happen? And I have seen that this happens usually with instrumental classical or folk music. Maybe these genres of music are based on some templates that are hardwired in your musically-oriented genes? So that people from any part of the world can respond to music created elsewhere?

Or as someone said, you cannot be taught anything. You already know. You just discover it. What’s waiting to happen is the discovery, not the learning. Don’t know if I am making myself clear here, but cant explain any better. It’s a kind of musical sixth sense. Yes, that’s the word.

Has anyone felt this before?

When lines drop from the sky

Lines don’t always flow from left to right like this one. Sometimes they just drop from the sky or, more precisely, from the ceiling of an auditorium. Like they did at Nrutarutya’s Prayog, a contemporary dance show staged last Sunday evening in Bangalore.

A bunch of four energetic dancers dangled from ropes to hard rock music in such electric symphony that had the audience touched. “People can have different views. And we need to read between the lines. That’s what I thought when I was choreographing this piece,” said the choreographer.

The show opened with a piece that was a very close imitation of insects’ movements, with dancers dressed in gaudy golden brown costumes. The stage was illuminated here and there with pools of light and the music made you feel like being a part of a dark night in the insect world.

But one item that I found particularly austere and stiff-necked was the Kolaata. Folk dance is usually alive in every sense of the word. You expect fluid movements from dancers quiet at ease with their bodies, and also want to be part of the rhythm. But in this piece, the dancers’ almost zombie-like faces made you wonder if contemporary dance also meant a self-conscious moving away from the traditional ‘bhaava.’ Felt like a desperate attempt to make their piece a distinguishably contemporary one.

12 August 2004

Why I want to blog?

I am a pretty late blogging convert. Increasingly, I find too few spaces for ‘expression’ of any kind, except something that’s crassly commercial. When I come back home from work and see the pathway littered with neon-lit billboards, I feel stuck in the city. But am no romantic and going away from the city doesn’t help.

I am not actually talking only about billboards, if you get what I mean. The billboard phobia is just symptomatic.

What I am talking about is just a lack of space. There’s something that I also observed in myself: the need to talk, to discuss, to observe something beautiful around you, to connect.

But I guess there’s more to why I am here than just catering to a personal need. Will discover it along the way.

And I just hope to God that I am regular.