21 December 2005
"WANTED a lady (age 35-40) to teach & train a Bengali housewife, in cosmopolitan social interactions. To helpher enhance herself confidence and interactive abilities.
Apply with non-returnable passport-size photograph & salary expected to no: Box xxx"
This is my first post from Microsoft Word's Blogger tab. br/>
03 December 2005
25 November 2005
Someone recently told me that she doesnt want to have kids because she doesnt want the responsibility of bringing them up. I felt a cold shiver. Forget the shit about individial choice. I feel scared to be around people who dont want responsibility. The world wouldnt have existed if there were more like her. This is not to extoll the virtues of mohterhood, etc. It's just the statement: I dont want responsibility. There's something very cold-blooded about it.
15 November 2005
"Tip hari ini: Semarakkan email yang Anda kirim dengan variasi huruf, warna, dan gambar.
Surat Yahoo! - Merasa dilupakan?
Jika Anda belum menggunakannya, gunakan wizard cepat untuk mengirim email ke semua kontak Anda – beritahu mereka alamat email Yahoo! Anda yang baru. Klik di sini."
I have no idea what that means, and why Yahoo! put it there. Strange.
Am coming back. Slowly.
28 September 2005
18 September 2005
Believe me, I have missed blogging so much. It's as if I had lost my mobile phone. Somehow, my earlier job at an MNC seemed to give me more time than my present newspaper job. And I'd always thought it would be the other way round.
I completed three months in Calcutta a couple of days ago. The sights, sounds (too many, uf) and smells of the city are growing familiar. I no longer get up in the morning and expect to not sweat. I can now sit shoulder to shoulder, knee to knee, whatever to whatever, in the middle of two people in a little auto and hum along with the latest Bollywood hit playing, no, drilling into my brain, on FM radio.
But Calcutta, unlike most people outside think, has got more to it than sweat and the closeness of humanity. Yes, the heat can scare the shit out of you if you happen to drop in anytime between March to June. It made me really homesick the first few weeks. But, as humans do, I got used to it.
There are some things which you can do only in this city in India: like take a tram ride. I took my first tram from Bidhan Sarani to College Street, something that Linc used to do during his three years at college. I think trams are the best source of outdoor advertising, because they move so slowly, and are so huge that no one could possibly miss the ad. When I went back home after visiting Calcutta for the first time about three years ago, one of the images I carried back with me were the blue trams (with Bend it like Beckham promo) and the black trams (I thnk it was Men in Black).
Speaking of images, the chief minister wants to ban hand-pulled rickshaws. But what alternatives do the rickshaw pullers have? As someone said, people dont take to rickshaw-pulling out of pleasure. I had refused to get on one during my first visit here. Linc told me, "Alright, as you wish. But you wont be helping the guy (the rickshaw-puller) a bit." Lesson learnt.
Yeah, then there are the slick malls mushrooming like crazy. That's supposed to be a sign of Calcutta catching up with the other metros, I guess. Sigh. You just cant escape 'development' and 'modernisation,' you see.
But Sundays, like today, are an absolute delight. There is almost no traffic on the roads, at least till evening. The Bengali babu doesn't like to miss his siesta afer a bhaat-maangsho curry lunch. Its the best time to get out and explore the quiet by-lanes. A little rain, like the one today, makes it just right.
I know I have hardly scraped the surface of this city. There are still so many things to see, places to go to, people to meet, mishtis to eat, dreams to fulfill, and things to learn here. Here's to a long love affair!!
12 August 2005
Sihikahi turns one today! Happy Birthday to Sihikahi!! Long Live Sihikahi!! I just hope I can be more regular at least in the coming year.
When I began blogging, I knew hardly anyone on the blogosphere. And then people messaged me, mailed me solely on the basis of what I wrote on the blog. Today, thanks to Blogger, I have some solid friends: Shyam, Uber, Swaroop, Praveen. And got to know interesting people: Asya, Uma, Hemangini, Secrets. And then the friends whom I got to know in the physical world. Their blogs actually gave me an insight into them: Finny, Mish, Leviathan, Spliff, Robin .
But I know I could have done so much more with my blog, if I really had the time. So many times there are bloggable things in my head, but I hardly get to put it there.
Since day one of blogging, my interest and conviction in blogging has only grown. I have tried other forms of online interactivity – chatrooms ;), e-groups, Orkut, -- but none as appealing as blogging.
Revisiting some posts from the year gone by:
Why I blog. (This was my first post.)
Author couldnt figure out title for this post. (Still havent figured out)
Business of life (A love poem, rare piece from me)
My teachers (One post not enough)
Microsoft Powerpoint and the decline of civilization (actually the bane of civilization)
Love or boredom? (Answer maadi)
Non-geeks of the world live long (Since then, have become a lil geek myself)
Almonds of the poor (Sudu's best, according to me)
At home ... (Hubby's best)
How it feels to be hungry
Passion defined (Ah, Manoj!!!)
On the edge (many arguments around this one)
Maybe. Just maybe
Do you have a secret? (A beautiful discovery)
14 July 2005
Today's Deccan Herald has a story on her here: http://www.deccanherald.com/deccanherald/jul142005/metrothurs1648422005713.asp
I thought for a long time about my own experiences. How my mom and now my mom-in-law ask me to wear a dupatta on some 'bad' steets, and I tell them that the dress does not matter. It has to be a woman, that's all. I remembered my experiences in crowded buses, the dodging on busy roads, especially the footpath on Brigade Road.
I usually keep staring at the lech until he looks away. In buses, I push them back with all my might, and give them a warning look. Till now, they have taken the hint, and stepped back. But they are there all the time, everywhere. No wonder, we get used to it. Thanks, Jasmeen, for reminding me that eve teasing is not OK.
11 July 2005
04 July 2005
29 June 2005
Frank Warren runs the site. He invites people to send him their secrets on a post card. I am touched by the site. Excruciatingly beautiful. I went through the site with voyeur-like hunger, wanting to know people’s erotic, guilty, or plain dirty secrets. It made me think if I had a secret of my own to share. I don’t think there is, or I have forgotten (!). Remembered the times when I knelt down to pray, to talk to someone who was not from this world, and how the tears came one by one at first, and then in gushes. Sometimes there were reasons for feeling low. Sometimes, it was just existence.
But when I talked about it, somehow I overcame it. Talking about what pained me seemed to make me bigger than the problem and helped me look beyond it. Not everyone wants to talk, though, nor can every secret/pain be shared. And anyways, no one seems to be interested. Secrets can be a blessing then. This site is for those who cant fathom this world, who feel constrained to kill themselves for want of a loving person who will listen, too.
Thanks Spliff, for linking to this rare site.
22 June 2005
Total number of books I own: Have lost count. But surely more than 100 spread over three cities.
The last book bought: 'The Kandy-Colored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby' by Tom Wolfe.
The last book I read: Soul Mountain by Gao Xingjian
Books I am currently reading: Pather Dabi by Saratchandra Chattopadhyay; Oxford Guide to Plain English by Martin Cutts.
Books that mean a lot to me: Disgrace by J M Coetzee, Mookajjiya Kanasugalu by Shivram Karanth, No Logo by Naomi Klein, Jungle by Upton Sinclair.
And I am tagging Uber, Finny, Mishi, Shyam, and Sudu. Dya hear me?
21 June 2005
Before the coming of the Aryans, Greek islands were inhabited by non-Aryan matriarchal/matrilineal tribes. That matriarchy was deeply ingrained among them is evidenced by the clashes portrayed in Greek drama between the Erinys and Apollo; in Greek mythology, between Zeus and Hera, his non-Aryan consort, etc.
09 June 2005
Lately, I have been subjected to a downpour of PowerPoint presentations, any my brain has declared total hartal. It simply refuses to acknowledge any information that is presented through PowerPoint. It automatically switches off when the presentation begins. Why, why in the name of God was PowerPoint invented, when a simple whiteboard and marker would do? Why, oh why?!!
Please, all those who have anything to say about PowerPoint, please say it. It might just soothe your soul. Who knows, we might just form a PowerPoint-battered club. Of course, management geeks can and will defend it. Lazy bums, and unimaginative brains!!
For the last month, I have been living in Bombay, and it has been pretty decent. Moolah doesn’t really matter. You can have fun anyways. Because, if nothing else, you can look at the sea, see the sun off into the bay, stretch your comp-strained eyes over the horizon, and suddenly you are not thinking any more. Sunsets do that to me. They have an amazing way of dissolving your thoughts.
I can watch the sea day after day and never be tired. Without the sea, Bombay is any other city. And the local trains, of course!
'Public pissing', 'women pissing', 'Debonair', 'why women cheat', are the hot search terms that are bringing people to my blog. ROTFL
20 May 2005
2. How many trees’ names do you know?
3. And have you seen that there are so many greens, and so many leaf shapes?
4. Whose duty is it to carry the condoms at all times, the man or the woman’s?
5. Bring 20 human beings randomly together, and you have the most entertaining movie script ready. And, as a friend said, either it can be an out-and-out comedy, or a murder mystery.
6. Yes, it’s good to be back on blogger. I am now fully married and all. No tips to those who run away from the knot. Any earlier advice regretted and taken back ;)
7. What do I want in life? To do something that I have studied for, and dreamed of? Or pursue an idiotic ‘career’ for the sake of the moolah? Prioritise sex, money, love and you’ll probably give Buddha a run for his gyan.
My thoughts are random.
31 March 2005
The rich, the famous, and the nothing in particular all hurry back because they are getting old. After all, who doesn't love the home of their ancestors? They don't intend to stay, so they walk around looking relaxed, talking and laughing loudly, and effusing fondness and affection for the place. When friends meet they don't just give a nod or a handshake in the meaningless ritual of city people, but rather they shout the person's name or thump him on the back. Hugging is also common, but not for women. By the cement trough where the buses are washed, two young women hold hands as they chat. The women here have lovely voices and you can't help taking a second look.
28 March 2005
It’s been a long time. So many strands run through the head. Survival of the fittest, and then you see them here.
Have you ever thought that it can be so easy to lose yourself in the daily routine? I mean, you weren’t born for this mad rush between home and office, were you? Larger question: what were you born for? Still larger question: were you at all born for anything? Now I can think of a hundred corny lines, but let's just leave them alone for now.
Unless you stop for a moment and take stock, you wont even know that with each contraceptive pill you have taken for years, and will continue to take for some time, coz you just don’t have the space for your baby, with each ‘I will do it someday,’ kind of sighs, with each deadline reached in office, with each little happy thing postponed for later, you have lost the joy forever.
The dreams that you set out with as a teenager seem like some other person’s to you now. But in the corner of your heart you still own them. Gives nice stuff to think about and smile when you have the time to. Everything’s just beginning. Maybe you will still see your baby someday.
27 February 2005
She writes with amazing clarity and little reserve, seems to have been gifted with the tricks of the trade. She wants to be a journalist one day, and then a writer. She can no longer step out of the house, and she realises that she is being wronged; that a life in hiding, however better than death, is still a life full of merciless compromises.
Yet, she manages to find her little happinesses, and stops complaining, at least once in a while:
She dares to dream, and what dreams!
By age 15, she is aware that the world and its cruelties make no sense, has the insight of a 60-year-old, and yet is intensely sensitive to the beauties of life - however fleeting a glance she has of them:
She died in misery and hopelessness in a concentration camp in Germany, without ever blooming to her full. A soul ever in quest of love, understanding, freedom; a kid ever wanting to get back to school, ever wanting to enjoy the beauties of nature: full of hope, aspirations, fear, courage, and wonder. Her life stands as testimony to man's destructive instinct; to man's hatred based on vague notions of difference, of 'we' versus 'they'; to what depths man can fall, and to what heights woman can reach.
She is Anne Frank.
15 February 2005
The moment you realise how complete the self is, you stop looking. But there was a need to look. Else, how would you realise that there is a self in here that is different from what you see outside. The other actually shapes your quest for the self. And you thought all along that you had this totally mapped quantity called the self.
I cant explain the above sentences. Neither can I explain the moment of peace that I am feeling now. But it's just the beginning. Didnt create this post to sound mysterious or all-knowing: it's just me, the here and now ... and realizations of rebirth. (That should be crystal clear, yeah.)
12 February 2005
Through the first half, I was still wary. It was decent and quite predictable till then. The plot was straight, the narrative not bad, and Rani's performance was promising. But I didn't really expect anything much in the second half.
Later, I left the movie thinking, 'What's up with Bollywood? First Swades, then this ... have I missed out on some undercurrents? How, in the name of God, did the creator of Devdaas make such a surprisingly bold and hatke movie?' (But I have to give it to him that he made Khaamoshi, too.) Black and Swades are precisely the 'type' of movies, which our masters of masala have been saying the audiences will reject. (I know, Swades had some masala ingredients and there were some flaws in the movie, but when was the last time you saw a starving Indian farmer family on the big screen? Today, it takes courage to even raise some issues publicly.)
Some of the scenes had left me shaking my head. At one point, I thought Bhansali had lost his audience, and I am sure Bhansali was aware of the risk he was taking with that scene. (Won't spoil the fun for you. See it for yourself.) They initially booed, but the same scene turned out to have won the audience for Bhansali. Everyone was still in the hall with tension, not knowing how to react, waiting for what was to come next.
A few weeks ago, I underwent the torture of watching Kisna in the same hall. After the first 40 minutes or so, the audience knew they had been had, and booed and jeered, and hooted to let their steam off. We had to sit through the movie, stuck as our car was in the parking lot. But know what? Even a movie like Kisna has its uses: go tell your boss or any other jackass to go watch Kisna in PVR gold class ;)
So, my point is that in Black, some facts very indigestible to the average Indian movie-going audience (pardon the sweeping terms here) were thrust in its face. And they didn't boo. The parking lot was still full when the movie ended.
All you film makers out there: if you want to make a bad movie, please go ahead and make it. But do not dare to justify the shit by saying that this is what the audience likes. And this is for the arty farty ones: there are only two kinds of movies - good and bad. You can't be spared just because you are a non-commercial filmmaker.
So many times, the audience has hardly a choice. Of course, they can be merciless in their rejections sometimes. But they don't deserve to be made scapegoats. It is the entertainer's job to entertain, and take up the challenge to win the audience. We are waiting...
05 February 2005
Parivartan does just this: help people of Sundernagari resettlement colony in East Delhi and other slums get their rights from various government agencies using the Delhi Right to Information Act. For the last two years, Parivartan has been seeking daily sales registers of the ration shop owners in different parts of Delhi.
Shouldn't be a struggle right? After all, they are just seeking public records. But it was. And is still going on. There have been at least five near-fatal attacks on its members. Indeed, information is power. The government officials are loathe to part with information, because that would strip them of their power. As a reaction to the latest attack on a Parivartan member, the people of Sundernagari colony decided to not take their rations (wheat, rice, sugar) for the month of February 2005. But they will check the records in March to see if the rations foregone were returned to the government or not. The monthly rations mean a lot to these people. Yet, they are ready to forego them for the sake of their right to information, or their right to live with dignity.
Parivartan is one of the few NGOs I have met up close and admire. The others are Mazdoor Kisaan Shakti Sangathan led by Magsaysay awardee Aruna Roy, and Janaagraha. Their work reminds me of P Sainath's statement that the government has to be involved in change. If you bypass the government, the change will be very limited. Especially so today in the age of gigantic all-encompassing corporates. But more about this in another post.
The NGOs listed above believe in working with the government through mechanisms provided by the government. Sometimes, of course, they have convinced the government into creating a mechanism (Eg: Jan Sunwai was adopted by the Rajasthan government after MKSS popularised it.)
When I was still doing my BA, I remember wondering why information was so important, and how could it solve problems such as poverty. As a journalism student, I quickly realised the need for information. With no press card in hand, I got to wait like any other citizen. I also understood how people empowered with information can and will build a better society.
On a different level, this is also why I think the information glut is happening in the wrong places. In the villages of India where there is such a hunger for information, the miracles that IT can create are many. But this calls for more open source and user-friendly technology.
The above paragraph might seem unconnected to what I began talking about, but look closely, it's not.
- If you live in Bangalore you might like to bookmark this blog: Let's stop hatching eggs. It's little bits of information from here and there to find a place to go to, or about a movie fest, etc.
- On suicide bombers: Terry Eagleton's Literary Theory impressed me a lot because that was my first serious philosophical reading, (apart form Nietzsche) and I seemed to understand quite everything! Recently I read his article where he talks about the difference between martyrs and suicide bombers. Take a look.
- Probable Googles: Oh, this is hilarious. You never know, some of it might just come true. The world is full of Google nowadays. The page might take some time to load though.
24 January 2005
- Either you hate Calcutta or you love it. Nothing grey about it. I fall into the second category, though I have lived there for a very short time. So, am I not happy to read this!
- One good blog from last week: The waiter is one of the very few sensible writer-bloggers around. It's interesting to see people through his eyes. Especially, when he is blessed with such descriptive skills.
- A friend said: Angulimaal is the same person as Valmiki. He was transformed by Buddha. Who agrees and who doesnt? Let those comments pour in.
- The politics of power has always interested me, be it the authority of state/society/parents over individual, or any other forms of power play. The powerful derive their power from the suppressed. There is a flow of power from the object of power to the powerful. Sometimes voluntarily, sometimes not. When this relationship is not of mutual consent, there will come a tipping point when the statement is rewritten. The powerful are wary of this tipping point. Both can see it coming. It's inevitable. It has to happen. But why did the tipping point come when it came? If power did not flow voluntarily, why did it flow at all? This is in the context of colonisation.
23 January 2005
"The day began quite early for me since we had to take my aunt to the cancer hospital. She had been operated upon for ovarian cancer and chemotherapy was to be done.
Later I set out with my mom-in-law for the faith healing event. Though I am thoroughly skeptic about faith healing, I try to go to such events just for the heck of it. Since there was so much controversy about this guy, I was desperate to check out. But my and mom-in-law is a firm believer.
Police had diverted the traffic to Hosur ring road and we were wondering how to head back to Jakkur (the venue). We found two guys on a bike who suggested that we head back as there was trouble ahead. We then asked them how we were supposed to reach the venue. Their statement was amazing, "Neevu namma deshada anna thinthira illva, solpa deshada bagge abhimana itkolli." (You live off this land. So cultivate some sense of respect for the country.) This made me furious. I said, "We do eat deshada anna, you guys seem to eat some shit," and sped off on my bike. They followed us and started abusing us. Since I didn't stop, they went further ahead, joined an angry mob and waited for me to make a turn towards Jakkur. Thankfully, I could see them from afar and didn't turn towards them. We finally reached the venue, after much searching.
We went inside the welcome arch and the stage was built nearly a km from there. The sight was truly awe-inspiring. There were 72 giant screens with thousands of halogen lights flooding the place. Police were doing metal detector frisking of every visitor. Why there were 22 ambulances in a faith healing event was my typical skeptic thought while entering the place!
After an hour of singing by the 2000-strong choir, Benny Hinn came on stage. In typical evangelist style, he started praising the crowd, India, the Chief Minister, the choir, God and everything around him. There were another hour of singing and praising halleluiah. His preaching was sad with just a recital of verses from the bible and an explanation on it. No real life instances or his personal experiences!
But the shocking thing was him talking about God TV and how it is affecting the lives of people all over the world. I knew some commercials were bound to be there and here they came. Finally, it's all about money honey! To top it all, he said he is not taking any offerings from the event today (Jan 21). But what about tomorrow and day after?
The climax was the healing process. I was wondering how different he is from other Christian healers in India. He created a frenzy of praise for the lord and halleluiah. My mom-in-law was fully immersed into it while I was busy looking around. He called all people in need of specific blessing to the stage. The way the foreign compere was introducing the patients and their pain, it was clear that the show was orchestrated.
The first one was a girl who couldn't walk since her childhood; she was jumping around with joy. Benny Hinn touched her and she fell down as if she got a shock. She was carried off and next came a ovarian cancer patient. Similarly about a dozen people were brought on stage and cured. Just when you thought all this is a farce, he called out for a James who was feeling a lot of pain. Suddenly out of the crowd, there emerged a James from Mysore who had tremendous headache. In one stroke, Hinn swept his hand across and everyone on stage fell down at that instant!
While my mom-in-law was totally taken in by this cathartic moment, I was wondering if my aunt could be cured of her cancer in one stroke. They say it is not the healer, but the faith in the patient that matters. My aunt was a retired nun, who spent a pious life praying and meditating. She doesn't ask god that why she is a victim. She says her god wants her as soon as possible. If Benny Hinn can cure her in a stroke, then would he be preventing her from going to heaven…?"
17 January 2005
Most people have been there, at one time or the other. Also, everyone's thought that no one has had it as bad as them. Some come back, some don’t. But how does it feel to be there? What does it take to end it all? Just how many dreams have to be crushed, how many humiliations, how many people to not have by when you need them the most …
In my bluest of blue times, I have never actually thought of killing myself. I was born to live. Almost all of us are. What is the psyche, then, that goads some of us on to death? Maybe it's cruel of me, but I cant bring myself to sympathise with the suicidal. Suicide means absolute acceptance of hopelessness. If you can be so strong about being negative, why not be strongly positive, instead? Not that I am a raving 'positive thinking' kind of person. No amount of positive thinking will wish away your pain. If you feel rejuvenated by some feel-good book or talk, rest assured, it's just momentary. It's just a trick your mind is playing on you, so you get a breather, so you 'forget,' and get on with life. Yes, your brain does try to 'forget' things for you, which is good. But never force yourself to forget – else you will remember each excruciating detail.
Coming back to suicide: look around you, hasn’t there always been at least one person who's braving the storm and still smiling? Also, had anyone promised you that life is going to be a cakewalk? It's fine to be complaining about life, but is it that cheap to toss it away? People struggle, so they can live. And here I am with my broken heart, and think about nothing except my miseries. And cry that the world is going by without giving a damn about me. Honey, have you given the world a chance? You just slammed the door on its face. All of us who think that we got the worst deal, well, wake up. If it's a farmer in a Third World country, then I would probably not deny him the resentment (far too many things are going wrong for him, and setting these right is a global challenge), but not anyone else.
Am I wrong in the way I feel about suicide? Maybe life is simply too scarred for some. Maybe the beyond holds more promises than the present. Maybe. But too many things in my brain say I am right about this. The system could be freaking rotten. But by killing myself, I make it all the more unbearable for the people I leave behind. Kin of such people are doomed to a sense of guilt for life. The question that will haunt them forever is: "Didn’t I listen enough? If only I had done this, probably she would be living today …"
When each cell of a living organism is built to fight the battles of survival, how can some humans defy this basic instinct? And if suicide is a failure of the individual, the society, and Nature even, does making it legally punishable help? If a person does not have the right to end his life, how does the State get that right?
Death defines life. It is the knowledge about the temporal nature of life that makes it so beautiful and desirable. The gods envy us (Remember the line from Troy?), for we have life. And we have death. But the painful part is, it seems we have a choice.
Jeene ke liye socha hi nahin, dard sambhalane honge
Muskuraye to muskurane ki karz utarane honge.
07 January 2005
I haven't blogged for some time now, but I sure have been keeping up. Everyone is either blogging or talking about it. Some blogs in the limelight:
Belle de Jour:
Belle de Jour was, to anyone who missed it at the time, a London prostitute who kept a weblog about her adventures. She became a mini media phenomenon after adopting the Primary Colors route to stardom: remaining anonymous. In spite of all the hype, her blog was beautifully written, and now it is coming out in book form. A film can't be far off. With more than an eye for a publicity stunt Belle gave an interview via Instant Message to Monday's Guardian under the name S_Serizy, the name of the character in the 1967 film whose alias gave this particular call girl her nom de plume.
Work blogs, where bloggers reveal their motives.
More blog news: A blog for everyone