Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The World in Goa

Goa is the land of beaches, is situated in the lap of nature and is steeped in history that is inclusive of both Indian and Portuguese culture. Well that is an understatement actually because over the years, as Goa has increasingly developed as a tourism hotspot, she has amalgamated cultures from all over the world and accepted them as her own. In the heart of Goa, I can truly see the world!

People from everywhere come to Goa to enjoy her sandy seashores, soak up her sunshine and devour her savoury sausages. Travellers from the UK, France, Germany, USA and Russia are a common sight here, mingling with the locals and even speaking a little bit of Konkani to get into the Goan spirit. A lot of shops in the bustling markets of Mapusa and Panjim have signboards inscribed with English, Konkani and Russian as well. It goes to show how well the state has learned to cope with the influx of foreign tourism of which they seem to have an endless flow throughout the year.

Calangute beach, Goa, India

‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ is a slogan that is close to the Indian heart. As hosts, we attempt to be most gracious and welcoming, for that is what we have been taught through the ages. And I saw the best example of this Indian hospitality in Goa. We travelled in city buses everywhere since we wanted to get to really ‘see’ Goa. The conductors in those buses, when they realized that we were tourists, kept asking us to take seats that weren't occupied. They kept asking us please be seated. It was… new and a very refreshing attitude. I now know another reason why tourism is at such a high in Goa, its people.

Since we went there for Christmas, we were invited to a house for Christmas lunch and I didn't feel detached from my family here in Gujarat at all. It was as if our hosts were our own, so freely did they mingle with us, talking about everything from cuisine and culture to national and international politics over single malt scotch. They served us a mix of Portuguese and traditional Goan cuisine that I had not tasted in a very long time. Christmas really feels how it should in Goa. Fabulous!

There is no dividing line between western and eastern civilizations in Goa. National borders blur when everyone is just trying to have a good time and relax. Religion, race and colour refuse to be barricades in this wonderful place and perhaps that is why Goa feels like the last bastion of world unity in India. Identities are not important, nor are languages. People speak with smiles here and that is what enamours anyone who ventures into this land.

There is a saying in Goa that people very rarely go hungry at night but are never denied a drink. This does not mean that liquor is very important here, it only goes to show the generosity of the people here. If someone is standing outside a bar, it is not possible that nobody will buy that person a drink. It does not in any way imply that the people are drunkards; it is to say that these people enjoy the good things in life and help others enjoy it too.

This is my toast to Goa, the place where the World is One entity and lives and breathes as One soul.

Viva Goa!

Monday, 8 December 2014

Legitimate Targets

Two days back, the wife of a terrorist leader was captured by the Lebanese armed forces. This came three days after the wife and child of another terrorist leader were captured by the same army. Whether this says something about their intelligence source or is pure dumb luck is another matter; what came after these arrests is what is really amusing.

The latest arrest was of the wife of a regional al-Qaeda commander who is apparently very upset about this particular development unlike al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant (ISIS), another terrorist group, who didn’t even blink at the arrest of one of his wives and a child.

The al-Qaeda guy however, lost his cool and declared every woman, child and man in Lebanon legitimate targets for his terrorist operation. He demanded his spouse be released or the holding forces be ready to face his mighty wrath that would befall anyone within the blast radius of his ‘holy’ bombs.

Commander, with all due disgust, allow me to explain how you’re just stating something that is so passé that even the guy sending your message to the army is chuckling at your naivety.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

Did you really not blow up innocent people before this? Have you never sent suicide bombers to blow up a busy marketplace or a place of religious worship before? Do you not already have the blood of innocents on your hands and on your soul? Have you not blackened your heart with the funeral fires of thousands of people who died because of your fight for ‘God’?

How can you say that these innocents are legitimate targets now? Was massacring them illegitimate before? Then why did you do it? Do you deny it? No? Why am I not surprised?

How do you expect God to be proud of you when you try to forward your vested interests in His name? You do not want people to fear God, you want them to fear you. You want to give reason to your madness and so you keep telling yourself, your mindless followers and the world that what you’re fighting for is a ‘holy war’ and not to make yourself king of the mountain.

You are no better than the ‘legitimate’ dictators, both, ruling and deposed. In fact, at some level they are better than you because they make no pretence of the fact that they want power. You cower behind your imaginary excuses and the lie atop the bodies of the slain with a ‘legitimate’ reason.

You talk of legitimacy? You have no right. Your wife is probably safer in the army’s hands than are the possibly hundreds or thousands of women that your brainwashed ‘holy warriors’ have raped and murdered to satisfy their ‘holy’ selves. You cannot speak of legitimacy. The very word is dishonoured by being present upon your tongue.

The only thing legitimate by human standards is for you and others like you to hang for your crimes against mankind.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Dangerous Dummies Dubbing our Films

I’m sure a lot of people around the world watch original movies dubbed in their own language. I’m sure you must have done so too. Come on, you can’t deny having watched at least one beautiful English movie torn to shreds in Hindi just for the fun of it. You were just bored on a Sunday and had nothing to do. You had a good movie but only the dubbed version which you are too good to watch because you are a true connoisseur of cinema. But what the hell might as well get a laugh or two out of it.

So you saw it.

You sat through the entire film and were laughing the whole time because you’d seen the one in English. But you’re also disgusted because you’ve degraded yourself by watching a ‘dubbed’ version, have you not? Aah! That short smile of guilt and regret tells me you’ve gone and done it… Tch tch tch… poor you.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

But. If you haven’t or you regularly watch English films dubbed in Hindi because of reasons like the Americans don’t speak British English or speak it too fast or speak Americanese because they think that’s English… it’s ok. I can understand.

In that case, be aware that what you’re hearing being spoken in the film isn’t actually what the dialogues are. You might as well be watching a Hindi film with American actors.

To put it straight – What you’re watching isn’t exactly the literal translation of what is being spoken by the characters in the film.

If you didn’t know that then it is my unfortunate duty to inform you that thou hast been made what we in India call a ‘Bakra’. In other words, ‘a damn fool’.

Oh you already knew that? Damn. Then you read all the above for nothing. However, if you can still bear with me for a moment, I’ll explain myself.

You see, Hindi is as of now the third most spoken language in the world, Mandarin Chinese and English being at first and second places respectively. So when a widely popular film is dubbed into Hindi and is seen by the Hindi speaking audience of the world, can you imagine how many people only hear the bullshit that the dubbing artists spew out? I’m not saying that all movies are dubbed badly but in my experience, most of them are and when this happens, a lot of people less smart than you actually believe that load of nonsense.

Films, I believe, are the mirror of society, not wholly representative, but a foggy mirror nonetheless. People actually do connect with movies and believe what is shown therein to be a reflection of the civilization they come from. So when and if you watch a movie that has been dubbed in Hindi, let it be Japanese, Chinese, Korean, Arabic, French, Spanish, Austrian, German, Australian, British or American, there may be discrepancies in the translation and since you may or may not know all these languages, you may not realize the differences between the original and dubbed dialogues.

This is dangerous.

It is not always apparent but we do understand different cultures only by watching the films made there unless you are a globe-trotting multi-millionaire intellectual who understands culture only by going to different countries and observing them closely. So our thinking is affected largely by what we see in films. This effect is unimaginable if viewed from a global perspective of the number of films dubbed wrongly and viewed by the Hindi populace of the world. Try to think about that. I’ll wait.

Ok, now what one generation thinks about another culture is bound to affect the next generation because that is how one gains preliminary knowledge about the world. So the effect of dumb dubbing is not restricted to space alone, it also has an effect over time.

Whoa! Right? I thought so too.

So you see how dummies dubbing our films can be dangerous? If not, then please do watch the film ‘Men in Black II’ in English and in Hindi. My team and I found 74 discrepancies in dialogues ranging from geographical to cultural to racial to language based errors.

But damn is it hilarious!

Friday, 28 November 2014

Blackmail on the Ropes

As part of my media studies, I had to go out into the city with my crew and shoot a documentary on any subject whatsoever. Like any good student of the Indian education system, I like clichés, so I decided to shoot a day in the life those who walk on ropes for a living; a subject so worn out that nobody else even considered doing it. But one must admit, it makes for great cinematography any day and is a bit less boring than having a number of interviews that our subjects require.

So we found a family of performers who specialized in this field and made arrangements to shoot them (with cameras) and document their day for an amount of money that was downright obscene even after an hour of haggling and trying to make them understand that we were students and not professional movie-makers. They had got so used to people coming and filming them that they had actually fixed rates to have themselves star in documentaries. Talk about being professional! Thank God they had not yet made an association for this kind of thing or we would have been ripped off big time just for ten marks worth of credits.

Anyway, so we came about to a sum that everyone reluctantly agreed upon. They still thought it was less and we still thought it was too much. Nevertheless, we decided when to shoot and were glad that the negotiations were done.

Photo Credit: Google Images.

Now, the bread-earner in the family was a 9 year old girl whose father did nothing while his family went out to work. The family collected the earnings of the child for the four months that they were in the city and spent the other eight months on these savings in the state from where they migrated.
Skipping ahead to the shoot and its end, we came about to the point where they packed up after their performance and waited for us to pay up. And unlike the times where we usually looked at each other’s faces to see who had money, we all came up with the cash in a flash and went to pay them.
Surprise, surprise! They refused to take the money! Like flat out refused to touch it. On asking about their reluctance to take it, they said that the agreement was for four times the amount we were giving them. What?!! Yeah, that was our reaction.

We reminded them of our agreement but they still stuck to their argument that we had not agreed to the apparently paltry amount we were handing them. We were worried now. We tried to reason with them but then they began bemoaning their poverty and how we were kicking the poor in their stomachs.

Aah! We now realized that they had resorted to emotional blackmail but they didn't realize that we too were hardened negotiators! We tried reasoning despite the fact that we were now angry at their blatant lies but they refused to budge. In the end when they still refused to take the money we were offering we just walked away with the money feeling a little bad but still…


Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Battle for all Mankind

Months have passed since this blog saw a post on its virtual wall and still readers are hoping to see something worthwhile here. I am honoured. With this post, I’m hoping to be back on the Blogosphere with the same zeal that I entered into it with.

The world is going through a rough phase, a very rough one. Humanity as a whole today has the curse of battling two adversaries, both capable enough to wipe them out or corrupt them to a degree beyond which it would be virtually impossible to go back to life as it knows it. Both are also incapable of shaking the human spirit and will if world chooses to come together and fight the pincer attack that Mother Nature and human nature have encircled us with.

The two-pronged attack brought about by the pride of man and his greed is a test of human commitment and co-operation at the highest level. This test can either force us to withdraw into ourselves even more or come together to fight an enemy of the entire race.

The Ebola virus. Credit: Google Images.

On one hand is the dreaded virus that has affected more than 10,000 people and threatens to overrun the human race if not contained and decimated. On the other hand is the radical religious group that threaten to plunge the world into the third World War in order to establish its caliphate in the Middle-East. Between the both of them, they are capable enough to make sure that we are either decimated or at the very least, set back by decades in terms of advancement. And, if one were to use the other in propagating its means to achieve its ends, it’s going to be even more dangerous because if the virus has killed so many people in its natural form, it is unimaginable to think what havoc its weaponized form could cause.

And at this time, when international co-operation is in the best interests of the world, India, or rather its government has decided not to be part of any coalition battling these killers. Neither has it sent forces to battle the terrorist threat, nor has it sent medical personnel to battle the Ebola virus.

Proposed Islamic State Caliphate. Credit: Google Images.

The Islamic State’s influence has already reached India and it is just a matter of time before Ebola does and nobody who is Indian needs to be reminded of the fact that we are not in a position to contain an epidemic of such proportions, and we will not be in such a position for a very long time. Help begets help. If not out of compassion, the Indian government needs to send help to fight on both these fronts to make sure that they never reach our doorstep.

We are non-aligned in war, but need we be non-aligned in every international coalition? Can we not recognize the need to take active prevention measures before an action by the enemy forces a reaction that may be too late to prevent the loss of life that is inevitable in a nation such as ours?

For long we have remained the Switzerland of Asia but perhaps it is now time to recognize that if we want to be recognized as the South-Asian powerhouse we claim to be, we need to step up and do something to prove it. This is not a battle for the USA or Africa; this is the battle for mankind.

Monday, 18 August 2014

Parliamentary Humour

It seems that our Members of Parliament and especially one from the acting community can’t handle radio humour. They really can’t tolerate the filthy jokes and mimicry of radio jockeys that they so blatantly broadcast to the people of the country. They want the respect they think they deserve just by sitting within the annals of power, in the capital of the country.

It was actually hilarious to see the honourable member beg the government to do something about the abominable jokes cracked by media persons about her honourable colleagues and her honourable self of the honourable house. Oh, and as usual, other honourable members who hadn't received any honourable mention for some time jumped onto the honourable bandwagon and gave their honourable comments to the dishonourable media who are always poking fun at them. How honourable indeed!

It is very curious, this case of the member of the house feeling bad about all the jokes and tomfoolery that is produced at the cost of the house because she this begs the question of whether she is ever present in the house to see the antics of the chosen ones and if she is present, if she remains awake long enough to see the kind of things the people watching the Lok Sabha channel have to put up with.

I wonder how RJs and other ‘media people’ are supposed to describe what happens in the house except for mimicking the members. The people obviously can’t see the RJs over the radio so they can’t watch them enjoying a porn clip on their phone or wave bundles of money or throw microphones or climb on the speaker’s desk, so they have to content themselves by listening to them poke fun at the honourable MPs through sound. Oh, oh I forgot, they can’t even see the RJs pepper spraying the shit out of each other with ‘Rang barse, bheege chunarwaali, rang barse’ playing on the mixer.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

The media has the right to portray whatever it likes as long as it is not defamation. If the media cannot show the people what need to be shown or what the people want to see and hear, then the very existence of the media is for naught. The media recently also came under fire in Uganda for showing the President of the country among other members of Parliament sleeping mid-session.

What the honourable members need to do is improve their own behaviour rather than slam radio jockeys and other media persons for showing what they are really up to.

Tuesday, 12 August 2014

The Perspective of a New Journalist

To be a journalist has been this dream of mine ever since I can remember. There certainly were days when I thought flying in a fighter jet would be better, but it always came down to the feeling of having the need to show people the truth. At the end of the day, it was always the thought of the nonsense being fed to the public that got my temperature to boiling point.

Journalists taking sides, whole media houses promoting big companies/religious leaders/ political parties, anchors who didn't let their panelists speak (OK you know who that is), shameless partiality in reporting news, making up news and avoiding real issues that affected people in lieu of issues that could make newspapers sell like hot cakes, channels increase their TRPs and websites increase their traffic are things that make the world laugh at the ethics of Indian media and the gullibility of its populace.

Indian journalism seems very bleak if one knows where to look. If one does manage to somehow get to the reality, it is almost hopeless and this not my opinion but of those few good people who have to hold their conscience down and do what they are told by their corporate bosses.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

It might seem that I’m trying to propagate conspiracy theories about the media being controlled by a few rich people and those in power but my case is substantiated by the recent fact that the CEO of Door Darshan is demanding that the government declare complete autonomy for the government controlled channel.

It might be confusing for some that I've joined a field which I have no qualms about criticizing but a system can only be changed from within. It’s high time the media realizes that the people are not stupid, that they can see through their sensationalism, their mockery of national issues and manipulation of people’s emotions. The fact that the media is actually supposed to show society a mirror of itself seems to be lost under the weight of commercialization and the greed of those who would seek nothing more than to perch themselves in the front row of so-called democracy.

However, there is hope for change. There still are independent media houses, new entrepreneurs and upright journalists who cannot bear to see the state of things as they are. These people need to be supported but without any vested interests otherwise it will all be for naught.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Unholy Deeds in the Holy Land and Beyond

Today, even as you are reading this, hundreds of people are dying, thousands are already dead millions are homeless refugees and the countless dead weep for those still alive in this rotten civilization. It almost seems like a prophecy, what Jesus said to the weeping women of Jerusalem on the way to the cross, “Weep not for me but for your children…”

Perhaps he was referring to these later generations who would fight each other millennia later, not against an invader but amongst themselves. As it has been, so it shall be again and again and again till the end of time. Man will continue to be ambitious, greedy, selfish and hungry for more power than he can possibly control, just because he can and not because he needs to.

Time and again has history seen that when a people are bound too tight, they will attempt to free themselves of their chains in order to claim the one thing that is theirs by divine right – Freedom. Speaking from the viewpoint of faith, even God it is said has given Man free will to do with life as He pleases. Then why do men bind men in the chains of slavery when some higher power thought not to do so? But mankind has always yearned to bind their brethren and the afflicted have always sought liberation.

It’s just not about Gaza, it’s about… everywhere! Ukraine, Central African Republic, Iraq, Thailand and everywhere else that there is strife among people of the same family. There may be different reasons and they may be right or wrong but the part that is beyond comprehension is the need to pick up arms at all.

Central African Republic




Some invaders call themselves liberators and some righteous but what is ultimately right? It is not what contemporaries believe and it is not what can be seen from afar or within; history always belongs to the victors and though there may be parallel histories, the one believed always belongs to those who manage to survive what holocaust either one managed to conjure up to make life miserable for the common people upon whose shoulders they balance their ‘Gun of Liberation’, ‘Tank of Freedom’ or ‘Missile of justice’.

It is just incredibly sad to think of all those people homeless, wounded and seeking refuge from foreign governments who would deign to reach out to them, their own government incapable of providing for its own people.

I believe that humans want revolution but it is often without evolution which becomes the greatest hindrance for anything new to take root, but that is something for another time perhaps…

Images courtesy of: Google Images.

Sunday, 20 July 2014

The ‘Mardaani’ Problem

A Socratic Question that’s cropped into my mind is:

‘Does a Woman need to be referred to by a Manly adjective like ‘Mardaani’ in order to describe her as being strong or assertive?’

This question has been revolving around my head for a couple of days now since I read a couple of pieces where writers had used this adjective to refer to a specific “breed” of women if I may refer to them as such; women of a strong and assertive nature, who stood up for their rights and fought back against patriarchal society such as it is.

The battle raging inside is whether it is right to refer to women as being strong and (insert synonyms) by using adjectives generally used for men; the word in question here being ‘Mardaani’. How does calling a woman as such have effects on both sides of the scale is the question I’m grappling with.

I totally get the point of calling women ‘Mardaani’ in the metaphorical sense of the word as ‘being like a man’; Man here being the gender generalized as being assertive, brave and strong. This idea is mildly acceptable because it compliments women, as writers I've read have been meaning to do I presume. But the downside of this positive aspect is that it generalizes men as being all those things and that is frankly insulting. Not all men are the same and complimenting women at the same time as insulting men is not the way to do it, methinks.

Coming to the literal part of it, I wonder why a woman needs to be called a ‘Mardaani’ in the first place. I believe that a woman need not be referred to in this particular manner and so do a lot of women I've had the chance to put this question to. It is actually demeaning to women to do so. Feminists who attempt to portray women in a manner which is equal to men are actually doing the opposite by admitting that all these qualities are only in men and that women need to borrow this adjective in order to be complimented or praised.

By taking the basic premise of men having qualities that only some women do, these people are putting men on  pedestal themselves; something I’m sure they don’t want to do if they want to see women on an equal footing and not a rung under the other gender. Even I as a man find it disturbing that people and especially writers are doing this because it is the sacred duty of writers to make their readers think.  When using the word ‘Mardaani’, they put in the metaphorical sense and assume that it is done but what of making their readers aware that it is unnecessary to do this and thereby make them think of how they wish to see women; as dependent on the other gender so as to borrow characteristics or as having those characteristics by and of themselves?

And even though I have an opinion on it, I’m still looking for answers. A little help perhaps? The comment box is just below.

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Wrong Colour of Skin

We Indians have this habit of calling everyone except ourselves racist. We feel that everybody is after the colour of our skin even though we have the best colour in the universe, Brown.

We think no end of our colour being the one that everyone wants and in fact is the colour God wanted everyone to be but mixed up some of the batches. We believe that it is a universal fact that our colour is coveted the world over except by our own because you don’t value what you already have.

We know for a fact that the white people tan themselves no end to get that brownish complexion and that black people keep rubbing themselves senseless with all kinds of products to get the same result. What we wonder is why our own women and some men try to get fairer when they already have the colour that the rest of the world is envious of.

We absolutely cannot bear to think of the fact that there may be a number of reasons why we cannot get a job overseas or get beaten up overseas or get deported from overseas or get thrown into jail overseas or be prosecuted overseas except for one reason and one reason only, our chocolate-caramel-coffee colour that is the envy of the planet.

When we hear about reports of Indians getting harassed overseas, whether for right reasons or wrong, we tend to assume and assert the fact that it was because of the colour of their skin. Oh yes, and it’s not that we care for other people who have the same colour; the Pakistanis and Bangladeshis be damned, they probably deserved it. It is only the Indians who are viciously attacked for their colour by these colour-discriminating foreign devils.

Cultures more advanced than ours – yes, I said it. Suck it up; as an Indian you know how archaic, bloodthirsty and unreasonable your culture is. So anyway, we refuse to believe that modern cultures have accepted people of all colours, nationalities, faiths and other preferences without any bias. Rednecks are bound to crop up every now and then but has anyone ever heard of more incidences of foreigners misbehaving with us than foreigners who are raped in our country? Nope.

We have the awesome audacity of calling others racist but we ourselves cannot believe that we are much more so in that context. We deign to call people and excuse my crude language here, goraas (whites), kaalia (black), pelee chamdi (yellow skinned) and the like while blaming others to be mean to our poor Indian brethren. How are we then different to those who call us terrorists and towelheads?

We as a nation need to assess our own behaviour and correct it before we teach the next generation to do the same. We as a nation of hypocrites will always be looked down upon and with good reason until we improve upon our behaviour, both, to our own people and those of other nations.

Image Courtesy:

 Note: This post is not written to offend people of any nationality or colour, rather it has been written to remind my people that we will be treated as we treat others. Do unto others as you will have them do unto you. I will not apologize for all that I’ve written because I know it to be true and instead of getting angry, if you look within, you will realize that too. To those who would call me a traitor, I say you are a lost cause and you are the reason why we are not respected anywhere, not even by our own people.

Friday, 11 July 2014

Something in the Aer of Westeros

Note: This is a work of fiction and dedicated to perhaps the best television series on court politics produced in the last decade.

In the immortal lyrics of Eminem, “I smell something in the air that’s making me HIGH!” These are the words that came into my mind as soon as I entered there; the place where the raw fragrance of the Gods dwelled. It was almost like I had transcended the mortal world and been transported to a higher level of being. I imagine that is how it must feel to be on Mount Olympus or Mount Kailash or Mount Sinai whichever way you lean.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

It was summer in Upper Westeros, the season that isn't quite apparent there. The city of Winterfell doesn’t have summer at all but that year something was different. The sun shone with such brilliance as it hadn’t in a very, very long time. It was only in legends that I had heard of the sun melting the eternal snow that covered our land. But that year was not only memorable for its summer but also remembered for the bloodshed it caused because of the sun.

It was the year that Danerys Targaryean, Mother of Dragons had reclaimed the Iron Throne of Westeros, the seat of her forefathers; as the rightful Queen of her people. The Lannisters of Casterly Rock had finally been crushed and every last remaining person who bore the arms of the Lion had been put to the sword. It was a glorious day indeed when the Queen ascended her throne with her three fearsome dragons that she had herself hatched in the fire of the husband’s funeral pyre.

Now, allow me to introduce myself. I am Jon Snow, the bastard of Lord Ned Stark of Winterfell. I am now the Hand of my half-brother Bran Stark, the King in the North. I’m writing this record not to capture the history of what happened in the days to come after the Queen took her throne, there are official records for that sort of thing. I am writing this down so that future generations may bear in mind that although ‘Winter is Coming’, it is not as bad as when Summer rears its head upon us.

It was indeed destined that Summer should come on the day that the banner of the Dragon unfurled over the Iron Throne. What happened next was not the peace and calm we all thought would follow the return of the Queen. A sudden summer ensured that the Northern Wall, erected by my ancestor to keep out the Wildlings and White Walkers started to melt and grow weak around the castles that had stood watch upon it for six millennia.

A beautiful, mysterious and rare summer had been born that would ultimately come to be known as the Red Summer by those who managed to survive it with the onslaught of those beyond the wall who saw the perfect time to attack Westeros and seized the opportunity. When the snow melted off the earth below us, it also melted off the only barrier which protected the civilized world from the barbarians and with that came the crippling blow in the form of the massive savage attack which tore apart the kingdom.

I was outside the capital reassessing our strength against our foes who would attack any day now and then I chanced upon a fragrance that was unlike I had ever had the chance to smell before. It was tantalizing, just touching my nostrils and withdrawing. It was pulling me it seemed towards a hill and like the hand of a seductress; it grasped me and led me to the top of the world. I felt weak at the knees and it was as if my legs had turned to stone from the overdose of the scent that permeated my being. I closed my eyes and lied down in the long grass to savour that which was already holding me captive without chains.

I have since named that plant the lemongrass. It has a strong flavour of lemon but also a tangy under-taste that belies attempts to compare it to lemon. Upon study, I discovered that the plant had no flower or fruit but only leaves from which it emanated this powerful fragrance that held me in my world of bliss in a time when it was a scarce commodity and especially for a soldier like myself.

It is said that I was awakened by the Queensguard who had been stationed to patrol the castle grounds. They had noticed my armour gleaming in the morning sun and had come to investigate. They realized that although I was lying like one who had passed on to the other world, I still had a pulse and had carried me into the castle. When I awoke, they said that I had been missing for three days. I had been so lost in the fragrance that I hadn’t even noticed that I had lain next to the rotten and smelly bodies of three Wildling scouts who had died lost in the world of the lemongrass.

If I had not been carried out of that field, I would have met the same fate as those poor creatures but fortunately the Queensguard had encountered the plant before and had decided to get it planted all around the castle walls except the main gate so that trespassers would meet the same fate as those scouts.

It was by sheer luck that the guards had seen my armour in the long grass and had come to investigate. They had been able to carry me to safety without endangering themselves to the enamouring fragrance of the lemongrass only because they had covered their faces with pieces of cloth. They had already experienced the power of the lemongrass over the senses and although they longed for it, they respected it enough not to evoke their power of smell, lest they get lost within its fragrance and forget their duty to their Queen.

In the war that did start eventually when the wall fell, many of our men and women fell to the blades of those wild ones from beyond the wall, but many more of the enemy died unawares by giving in to their senses in the fields of lemongrass and dropping their weapons in ecstasy as the feeling of pure joy overtook them.

Queen Danerys finally led us to victory but at great cost and she had no other option but to grant Bran Stark Independence in the North as recompense for his valuable contribution in holding out on the northern front as long as was necessary for her to organize all her other vassals into the sizable army that won her the war. King Bran lost Winterfell to the marauding armies but won back the pride and honour of our family by being crowned King of the North.

And that is why I’m glad that Winter is Coming…

This post has been written for the Godrej ‘Inspire a Fragrance’ contest.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

The Love of Real Books

There is a thing about books which makes me want to go back to those days when we didn't have a computer, only Doordarshan on TV and lots of books. When I was in school which wasn't exactly a long time ago in actual years but really ancient history in technology years, the only thing we used to do with a computer was either type in MS-Dos commands or play that car game that was a glitch in the Windows ’98. The rest of the time… we used to read – Real Books!

You know those things with either soft or hard bound covers, stitched down the middle at the back or stuck together with gum that hold real pages made out of paper and imprinted with ink? Those are called Books.

There develops a kind of emotional attachment to books that only a long-time reader can understand. Over time, it becomes difficult to spend free time without a book in the hand. It becomes impossible to take a coffee or loo break without continuing and finishing the chapter you began during breakfast. If the book is very good, it often becomes hard to even switch off the bedside lamp even though you know that you’re going to wake up so late that someone or the other is going to shout at you for it. You put on the lights in the middle of the night because you can’t sleep without reading those last two hundred pages which are seducing you from the table top. You cannot imagine a Sunday without a good book and coffee. Your vacation luggage consists of more books than the number of clothes you've packed. You take breaks from studying during exams by reading your novel and then forget all about the exams. You ultimately read so many books that there comes a time when you can hardly distinguish between what’s real and what’s not; it becomes Inception!

Some of us have this special place in our heart for real books. Now what with technology and all, it’s just easier to order e-books and they’re cheaper too it seems, but some of us just can’t manage to get the feel of a book while reading it on a steel-covered machine. We are that breed of readers who prefer pure-blooded books and I’m not against the Mudbloods or anything but reading in the harsh light without the warm glow of the lamp, holding hard steel instead of soft paper and feeling the scratches on metal instead of dog-eared pages don’t exactly appeal to us.

Well, I’m one of those who are orthodox in the ways of reading and I’m sure there are many others who prefer it this way.

Here are a few lines that just flew out at the end of the post:

The Way I like It

Ruffling pages, smelling sweet
From the age old dust of yore.
The musty scent of history
And weight of decades past;
Arouse In me a gentle lad
Who loves to lose it all,
To a few pages of print
Than to a machine of iron wrought.

How do you like your books; Real or Virtual? Do share your thoughts.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

I Am Possessed

It has been free couple of weeks for me with nothing to do except sitting around all day, sleep, eat, watch a movie or two, surf the net and sleep some more because college is out. They have given us something they call vacation and something I call a waste of my time. Instead of doing something worthwhile like maybe a project or analysis of something in the field, they have opted to give us some time off to relax. Well that wasn't exactly their intention, but that is what I’m doing and it’s driving me insane.

The vicious circle of Food-Television-Food-Internet-Food-Sleep is like a never ending black hole that is pulling me infinitely into itself. It is like the drunken stupor that doesn't see the bottom of the bottle, it is the quicksand that is pulling my very being into its abyss, it is that storm in which my senses have stopped working, it is that maelstrom from which I see no hope and it is that pit of hell from where there seems to be no salvation.

To have no set objective for the next day is indeed a dangerous place to be in and I know it because it does feel like everything is pointless and that I might as well watch another movie than try doing something worthwhile like writing this blog post.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

I am like one possessed. IT feels like a parasite growing inside me, constricting my lungs and making a little place for itself; little by little. IT thinks I do not notice and till yesterday, IT might have been right, but now I know that IT is in me and I know ITS name; it is SLOTH. This being has permeated my insides in such a way that it feels like there is no escape. Even though I know that I will eventually do something, the here and now frightens me.

At this very moment, IT knows that I’m doing something and that is giving IT pain. IT cannot bear to see me working and I feel like just putting my laptop aside and slipping away into blessed oblivion until sundown. IT wants me to just lie down and close my eyes which are strained by the harsh light in my laptop and I feel the urge to heed IT but then I steel my resolve and continue in the hope that those who read of my plight do not let themselves fall wherein I've fallen and beware that every moment they do nothing is a moment where IT is waiting for you to fall into ITS outstretched tentacles. Waiting like the silent predator it is, for you to give yourself up willingly and consume your will to do anything at all.

Beware! For IT is always watching from the darkest corner of your soul, the part of you that wants to stop living the dog’s life and just relax. It is there, just waiting for you to take one wrong step and then IT will pounce, like a tiger upon a gazelle; and it will be only with immense determination that you will be able to escape its grasp.

Run little gazelle, run…

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Indian Morality v/s Sex Education

Note: This post is not fit for those below the age of 18 since it contains explicit material which they should not be exposed to because they are Indians and Indian children should not be corrupted by the western culture that youngsters like me have fallen into. They should not be dirtied in the mire of sex; Boys till the age of 28 when they are ready to be married off to a girl aged between 18-21 without knowing how to react to their natural urges or menstruation or safe sex or family planning.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

Having given the above warning I now feel morally right to write about this taboo subject without any of those moral policemen coming up and beating me up to a pulp or parading me naked in the street or hanging me up in a tree or something. Well, you never know…

So it seems like some people who care entirely too much about the morality of Indian people are against sex education being introduced to children in school because they believe that it will have an adverse effect on the gentle and yet untouched minds of the younger generation. Mind you, a generation which thinks nothing of committing rape before the age of eighteen in a running bus, in the capital of the country. These people feel that sex education will tilt their children’s minds in the direction of that horrible and degrading act-which-must-not-be-named. Well, I don’t suppose they know how much porn their innocent children have stored in their hard drives and how much experimentation goes on, more often than not with disastrous consequences. Forgive them Lord, for they are the innocent ones, not their children!

It is curious indeed how hard it is for people to understand the importance of sex education. My generation did not have sex education and neither did any generation before me, except that which some smart parents imparted to their children. Now if we didn't have sex education and still we turned out to be alright, why do we need it now?

We turned out alright, did we? Then how does this generation and those before manage to rape women, spread sexual diseases, get frightened by menstruation, treat women in periods like untouchables, have a football team full of children, discriminate against homosexuals, repress their urges, hurt their partners during intercourse, randomly define unnatural sex, abhor transgender people, confuse their sexual orientation and don’t have a bloody clue about sex change procedures?

There must be a reason right? Yes, it is called lack of information on sex and gender and the role they play in forming society.

India has evolved from an apparently hedonistic society as one can make out from old temples and manuscripts into an ultra-conservationist and Puritanical society like England was in the time of the Lord Protector Oliver Cromwell. The difference is that the change in England came with the change in power while in India it happened over time with the influence of religion and imposed self-righteous morality.

In the course of this transition in India, it has become taboo to talk about sex and its affiliates to even one’s parents because everyone becomes very uncomfortable around these subjects. This problem especially seems to exist between father and son because a mother and daughter do talk about such things since they need to learn about their bodies, or so I've heard. Television channels are changed at the show of some skin and radio stations are changed as soon as a song with apparently explicit lyrics is played. If such is the situation, it is nigh impossible for children to learn what they need to except from those ‘non-existent’ sex education classes.

Modern educationists and leaders need to open their eyes to the need of the day and recognize the value of sex education to children who are today getting exposed to the same at a very young age owing to various factors I don’t need to expound upon. Nobody is innocent in this age of information (unless they live in China or North Korea). It is extremely necessary that children learn about their bodies, their urges and the problems that accompany the wrong use of the wrong things at the wrong age.

It will be a good day indeed when sex education is introduced throughout India.

Friday, 27 June 2014

India, a Sporting Disaster

India is a cricketing nation they say. We have had amongst the best teams in the world these past few years, especially since Dhoni took over as captain. We won a number tours, some at home and others abroad. We even won more than one world cup and maintained our standing in world rankings for some time before we had a bad spell recently. All is good and well for the Indian cricket team at the moment.

So what about other sports?

Our national team didn't qualify for the Football World Cup in Brazil.

Our players are still not getting paid for playing hockey for the nation.

Our athletes in shooting do not have enough money or facilities to practice.

Our archers borrow equipment from other countries during tournaments.

Our nation is represented by the Olympic flag since we are banned from participation.

And, we have no notable athletes in cycling, high jump, long jump, pole vault, swimming, discus throw, javelin throw and track events. Only tennis and chess are the two other games where we make what little impact we do in the international sports arena.

So why is it that we have no standing whatsoever in any other game but cricket, I wonder. Taking into consideration what I've seen happen all these years, I can only come to the conclusion that cricket is the drug that is being injected into the public to keep them occupied. That cricket is being used just like the Roman games at the Coliseum. It was a well known fact even then that an entertained populace is a satisfied and lazy populace which will keep one on the throne as long as they are entertained.

Cricket in India is not controlled by the government but by an independent body known as the Board for Control of Cricket in India. This is not a government body and does not come under anyone’s purview but the justice system of India. There is no regulation or audit by anyone and therefore the so-called ‘Indian’ cricket team actually does not even represent the nation. They play for a private organization which hires politicians and bureaucrats to enhance its political leverage.

On the other hand, almost every other outdoor game is controlled by the Government of India through the Sports Ministry. But still they are doing nothing at all to give these games and their prospective players a chance to flourish not only at the state and national, but also the international stage. Building a cricket ground in a city that already has one is alright, but building a hockey or football pitch where there are none is probably a waste of money.

Being the second largest population on the planet, we can be sure to find enough players for every sport there is and win half of them at the very least. Instead, we don’t even qualify or participate in over half of such events and get banned from the one true world championship, the Olympics. The problem is that we have the players, we have the passion, we have everything except equipment, infrastructure and funding to let our players practice and develop to the standards of the world.

To this I can only say, “Well played India, well played.”

Saturday, 21 June 2014

On Mistrusting your Children…

Dear Mistrustful Parent,

I am forced to write this letter on behalf of your children today because I have seen enough of their suffering and it is time that you notice it too, before it is too late.

Now, after you read this letter, you may wonder why your children didn’t tell you all this. Well, just know that’s because they are scared you’ll become even worse than before or feel that it won’t make single iota of difference to you which is a much more frightening prospect if you ask me.

So, coming to you again. This is what your behaviour normally looks like:

·         You bind your children to yourself.
·         You confine them to the prison you so naively call your home.
·         You check on them like a detective for hire (or you hire one if you have enough money)
·         You go to meet their teachers even when you’re not called.
·         You create a ruckus in their office if they are not there.
·         You wait up at night till they are back home with a shoe, broom or belt in your hand.
·         You call them fifteen times for every hour they are not home.
·         You investigate all their friends like the police do to suspected criminals.
·         You follow them to see where they go.
·         You constantly accuse them of lying to make sure they never do so.
·         God forbid they are seen with members of the opposite sex; you go bat shit insane demanding answers.

And then you tell them that they don’t have a life…

I can understand your need to keep your children safe from this big bad world and give them a better life by protecting them from everything that’s out there. Well, what do your children know? They are so innocent that they will probably go around with the wrong kind of company and get mixed in matters that they shouldn’t get involved in but what about the values that you have imparted to them? What about the strength that you have given them? What about the character that you have built in them? Doesn't that count for anything?

Do you not trust your own upbringing to take care of your children? Do you feel that you were an inadequate parent? Do you feel that your lack of attention towards your children will reflect in their behaviour later on? Is that way you mistrust them so much; because you mistrust yourself?

You may or may not know this, but your children probably feel suffocation, frustration, despair, anger, hopelessness and loneliness because of what you are doing. Your children are like coiled springs ready to unwind the moment there is a tiny ray of hope that they can escape you. In case that they cannot, they try to escape by means of the knife, rope or bottle.

Is this what you want for your children, a life of misery and childhood memories only filled with trauma and unmitigated hatred for you?

I hope not and it is with that hope and a teardrop that I end this letter to you dear Parent.

Yours in hope,

The Concerned Friend.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Boys will make Mistakes…

Oh really, will they?

At least this is what our ministers and leaders of political parties have to say to the sexual harassment and rapes that are taking place in their state and the country. Boys will be boys huh?

Well, boys may be boys and men may be men but one thing is for certain, the mindsets of our leaders themselves are ridiculously slanted and not only in matters of gender but also in human rights, equality in society and in matters of morals which they preach like they just received the ten commandments atop mount Sinai.

Because it is for their own good.
Image Courtesy: Google Images.

However, coming back to the point; it is as amusing as watching a dark comedy to see the mistakes that these beloved boys whom politicians defend so matter-of-factually make. They tease women till they run away, stare at their body parts until the sun hurts their eyes, whistle at them till they need water for their parched throats, pass lewd comments till they run out of their pathetic repertoire, follow them on their vehicles till the arrow reaches red, touch them till they have accurately measured everything and rape them like they’re those blow-up dolls they use at home.

But come on, these aren’t major crimes right? They’re just mistakes that boys make after they are seduced by the women who WANT these boys to do all the above mentioned things to them. It is so totally the fault of women that the boys in fact are unassuming victims in such cases.

Seriously, what would happen if the girl that such an innocent boy raped turned out to be HIV+ or happen to carry any other sexually transmitted disease? Won’t it just destroy the life of this young boy who got carried away in the seductive walk of that girl carrying a pile of books to college?

Phew! It is so dangerous nowadays for such innocent boys on the streets. These wily women will do absolutely anything to catch their attention. They usually do things like keep walking, not pay attention, drive away, walk a bit faster and try to get away. These are the things that actually get these innocent boys turned on even more and then they get trapped and mistakenly, in their innocence, rape and kill those girls in their innocent lust.

And then it’s still hunky dory till they manage to stay away from the law, but when they get caught it is more torture for them. The whole of society condemns them for their mistaken misdeeds and the only ones who support them are their beloved uncles with seats in the state cabinet, union cabinet or in a boardroom. These are the only people who truly understand the condition of these misunderstood boys. They appeal to the rest of this cruel society to forgive these small mistakes and move on.

There is however a remedy for these innocent boys. These boys should be castrated in their own interest so that they can no longer be seduced by basically any woman in society. How about that?

Thursday, 5 June 2014

The Chosen One (Guest Post)

On the 17th of January 2014, my one and only invitation to write a guest post for another blog materialized when my post, ‘The Power of Division in Religion’ was published on Namrota Mazumdar’s blog, Coffee Beans. Ever since then I've been pestering her to write a guest post for mine, not because I had to compensate for her asking me, but because it was only then that I had understood the concept of having a guest on the blog.

Namrota is one of the best bloggers I've read in this one year of blogging. She is one who puts all her energies into creating a post that is not only engaging but also which conveys all she wants to say in a limited number of words. I can safely say that she has never disappointed her readers, especially me; such a wordsmith of high calibre is she. I am privileged to have her on my blog and what with a post that has implications such that might horrify the best of you.

The Chosen One! Lucky Orphan…
By Namrota Mazumdar

Life duels within a little body that has not seen the world for say more than a couple of years is thrown in the dark and cold well of categories. Categories with tags like lineage, legitimacy, religion…etc. The reason behind such spiteful action is that the child has nobody in the world to call his or her own. The child is an orphan. And the couple who is there to choose a baby to make their own…to call their own have their preferences listed already.

They don’t have children, Mother Nature was harsh on them and for some medical reason they can’t conceive a baby. So, they are at an orphanage to pick a baby. Now when it’s in their hands to select their child, they put forward their tiny list.

No medical problems
Must belong to their religion (caste doesn't matter, they aren't sectarians; blessed souls)
Legitimate birth (How can a couple from a good educated family bring home a child born out of rape or out of wedlock?)

Not much they are asking, are they? God bless them!

Not everyone is so much privileged to have their choice materialize. Like the husband once mentioned to one of his kin, who thought otherwise about their list, we go to buy apples we pick the lovely red juicy ones. Handsome thought I must say, putting babies and apples side by side, the best fruit known to humanity…remember the saying, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. How many of us get to choose our children, eh? Lucky couple! And what perfection personified parents the chosen one would be honored with. The child would grow up with their values and principle and carry forward the purity of humanity the foster parents preach and practice. Lucky child!

So, maybe it’s not cold and dark well nor the action is spiteful, is it? I take back my words and gracefully bow down to the couple and their likes. 

Monday, 2 June 2014

Buying out the Fourth Estate

Today, a lot of media has come under the power of industrialists. It’s not just a lot, but a major portion I believe. Large corporations are buying off small newspapers, television channels, websites or head hunting their best employees to work for their media subsidiaries.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

It seems all the varied media houses, all the options in the media that we had are being collected under a few big banners who mean to take control of what is viewed by the populace, not only in India but round the world. It is of course in the interests of these oil barons, telecommunication tycoons and entertainment giants to buy out or control a majority shareholding in news outlets.

It is not hard even for a layman to understand what kind of manipulation of the news can take place once the channel or channels are in direct control of their new boss; Positive publicity, doses of advertising, hiding unfavourable news and sensationalizing the news to increase viewership and thereby, revenue.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

Assuming that those who start news outlets in the form of newspapers, television channels and news websites do so with a view of upholding the true spirit of journalism, we can see what happens after they are bought out by these selfish and to an extent, parasitic corporations who then manage to pocket truckloads of cash by just giving the public the show they want, and not anything substantial.

Journalism, ever since it got pulled into the race for giants trying to control the media, has become a difficult job. Trying to publish a substantial news story becomes as much of a job as getting the story especially if the story is about something that concerns the other subsidiary company held by the parent company which also happens to be a major shareholder of your media house. It can also be difficult in case the story is about that minister or officer or public figure whose campaign is funded by the corporation that owns your media house. Well, if it positive news, it will probably run the whole day but if it is even slightly negative, it goes against the policies of the newspaper or channel. Clear out the story or clear out your desk.

Image Courtesy: Google Images.

Another disastrous downside of these mergers and buyouts in the media is that large corporate now own many channels and publications under a single roof. If one of them does not bring in as much revenue as the rest, it will either be shut down or downsized to cut losses. It is because of this very same reason that sensationalism has become a big part of the media today. Ridiculous things are hyped, people are made to shout at each other, anchors try to grab the limelight and in the middle of all of this, the substantial news is loss in the echoes of those trying to get it out over the cacophony of all the garbage that occupies our screens.

With the latest buyout of those who claim to be ‘18 till they die’, here’s hoping that this media house doesn't change its colour from Red to Saffron.

Here is a video that will help you understand what is happening to the Indian media, albeit from a foreign perspective: Indian Media has never had it so Bad