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.