I used to be a rebel against any sort of authority a couple of years ago, but I guess I’ve changed since then. I guess it’s just another form of passivity, nothing more.
Or maybe it’s that since I’ve turned eighteen, I’ve become more mature and yada yada yada [mom'd guffaw at that] and understand the reason behind the rules [stop that, ma!], or maybe it’s just that I hate neo-pseudo-rebel movies like Rang De Basanti where people are shown breaking rules for a supposedly worthy cause.
Or I’m peeved with Shobhaa De’s and Antara Dev Sen’s irritating pieces on the Jaimala episode. For the uninitiated, there’s this retired [and here, I mean re-ally-tired] starlet who confessed lately to the Sabarimala Temple authorities that she’s the woman who entered the Sanctum Sanctorum of the temple twenty years ago. And she did so because there was some ritual performed in which the God himself listed out the things he was displeased with, one of which was that a woman had entered the shrine [it happens to be off-limits for women] twenty years ago.
There has been an outpouring of support for this woman from women activists who say she did nothing wrong, women need God more than men, to hell with these antiquated rules and such things that they reserve to say when one of those high-profile women seem to be in the line of fire.
I agree there’s heck lot of discrimination against women. And also that there are people who take the ‘women-are-not-pure’ piece of crap thing too far, like a godman who once cursed a little girl who happened to touch his feet. But hell, the temple has some rules. The basis behind which most people are not well-versed with. These protestors are so very ignorant that they oppose something they don’t know much about, without even bothering to understand it.
This incident reminded me of another at the Bangalore Club a few years back. This Club is, I guess, slightly exclusivist or something like that, and has a huge Raj hangover. It has a formals-only dress code, I suppose, for one Bangalore University professor or some intellectual big-shot in Bangalore happened to be denied entry when he tried to attend some event there in a dhoti.
This guy went to the media and made a big hoo-haa out of it. And how! ”This attire is fine enough for me to give a lecture at <wow-sounding phoren university name>, but is inappropriate for the Bangalore club!”
That really had people reeling. The media lapped it all up: the topic for People Power segment in the Sunday paper was ‘Do we still need to stick with Raj rules’ [or something to that effect, I don't recall it too well].
What people forgot is that the rules have been framed with specific objectives [in the case of Bangalore Club, was it 'Locals keep out'?]in mind. Which most people stay ignorant of. There may be a thousand and one situations where the rule might not be appropriate, but they are insufficient for the million more situations which can get out of hand if not for these rules.
‘Rules are meant to be broken’ sounds great on TV and in the movies and from Roark, but doesn’t hold well for a society that’s striving to achieve high standards of discipline and tolerance. If the rules seem to have gotten obsolete, it’s time to give them a rethink. Arbitrary breaking of rules may be done to cause an effect to sensationalize that the rule might have become obsolete, but isn’t the right way to go at all. There are better ways to go about changing the rules, and there needs to be a good system to do THAT, if there isn’t already.
‘Coz breaking the rules shouldn’t become the rule.
Talking of rules, just another week until I get back to that curfew’d hostel where girls are prohibited from wandering around after 9 PM. No, I wouldn’t dream of breaking that one, it’s for my own protection – At exactly 8:59:59 PM everyday, the campus turns unsafe for girls – So unsafe that the Watch-n-Ward officer, the entire security force of the college, S’kal Police, the Deans, the Professors, Assistant Professors, Lecturers, Wardens and entire student population are powerless enough to be unable to defend us against the Force of Evil that emerges just to harm us four hundred or so girls.
I watched Krrish [or is it Kriish or Krishsh or Kkrishh?]. And learnt more than I did from Asimov and Douglas Adams. Some samples:
- The computer is never wrong. In other words, ‘To err is human’. Corollary for a computer that predicts the future is: Never ever think you have the power to change your future.
- A leading software company need not stick to software. Like in this flick, they want to ‘design a computer that predicts the future’. Guess they were so keyed on efficiency that they decide to build everything starting from the microprocessors. And I guess that was absolutely necessary: even in this high efficiency mode, the system occupies a whole ballroom – the walls of the room are made of microprocessors and circuits that are amazingly easy to wreck. I suppose it’d take a lot more effort to rip apart a laptop compared to the futurepredictor- it looks like UNIVAC and ENIAC met The Matrix.
- The villain [Naseeruddin Shah] wouldn’t have been the villain if he had followed his childhood dream of being a newscaster [he keeps having these flashes where he gives us regular updates about his plans in the form of news broadcasts]. He articulates better than Rajdeep Sardesai on one of his better days, and doesn’t get all worked up even when he’s talking about himself.
- When a man runs faster than a horse, he ages ten years by the time he reaches home, and his hair attains the texture and cut of the horse’s mane.
- You can keep your anonymity by going off to a remote place which has one telephone.
- Ex-Miss Worlds’ who suppose the population of India stands at 2 billion, and that Mother Teresa lived for years after her death can’t pout for nuts.
- People in Singapore are very work-oriented: they don’t disrupt their ordered traffic even if everyone’s favorite superhero is running berserk jumping on cars and off buildings.
- Archna Puran Singh can carry off non-speaking roles [like the one in Jhankaar Beats] with better elan than her role in this film as a pseudo-accented media head.
- When Indians go abroad, they speak in Hindi, even to Chinks.
- A desi rehash of Super-Spider-Tarzan-SoftwareEngineerMan is all it takes to inspire tweens to take up infotech as a career option. I’m not kidding. Half the little boys in the theatre were thinking of how to ‘make a computer’ that predicts the future, one that can see the past, one that makes time travel possible, one that does their homework, one that runs the country, and other things like that. Aww, wish Bill Gates or Stallman or Linus Torvalds was more popular that they’d think of writing software that can run on any system.
PS: watched Superman yesterday. The only excited person in the cinema hall was a highly neurotic kid next to me who kept bursting into giggles whenever Lex Luthor’s bald head came into view.
Of late, I’ve been hearing just too much about communalism, Hindu-Muslim clashes and all that sort of thing, which brings to my mind an incident from school.
It must have been the last day of the second Pre-Board exams in class 10, or some other joyous occasion which called for an atmosphere of revelry. We were filling out autograph books, reminiscing about incidents that happened in class 1, playing truth-or-dare and things like that which brought Myna ma’am at the door, threatening us to shut up or she’d see to it that she’d “royally screw each one of us personally in the lab exams”.
While that was an unsuccessful attempt at maintaining the peace, a more successful one came in the form of Nalini Ma’am who came in to announce that she’d be distributing the Pre-Board papers shortly.
That did it. Half the class lapsed into prayer. Next to me was Huda Shirani, tense and nervous and praying as hard as she could. God alone knew why, she was good at the darn subject.
Mrs. Nalini Gopalan entered with an armload of papers, and a purposeful look on her face. The more cocky of us were expecting a good show, her faux pas weren’t to be missed. However, they weren’t nice when you were at the receiving end, coz you would be embarassed in front of the whole class for your deeds, which would then start sounding real hilarious.
“Huda, stand up,ma”
And I thought nothing could aggravate her tension.
“Taha, tell me, Is India A Secular Country?”
“Yes ma’am, it is.”
“Because everyone is free to practise their own religions, ma’am.”
“Sit down. Mohammed, Is India A Secular Country? Why, or Why not?”
“Yes ma’am, because there are people of all possible religions living in harmony in India, ma’am.”
“Ok. Fazeela, in your opinion, is India a secular country?”
“Yes, ma’am, it is, because there is no specified official State religion.”
“Now, Huda, when all these people say that India is a secular country, why do you say it is not, ma?”
I guess this seems puzzling without the context. Which happens to be that there was a question in the Social Science Pre-Board paper for three marks, which was “Is India a secular country? Justify your answer.”
“NO, ma. ” [to the rest of the class] “Just see what she has written..” [reads out from her answer paper] “No, India is not a secular country. The country is plagued with communal riots with people of one religion not allowing the followers of another to follow their religious customs and beliefs. Hindus and Muslims fight each other, and disturb the peace of the land….”
“Why, ma, don’t you feel safe living in this country? Don’t your classmates of other religions treat you well? Aren’t you free to follow your religious beliefs and customs? What happened that you wrote this? [shakes the paper in her face].
The rest of us were in a state of surprise, for we hadn’t even thought of being creative with a Social Science paper. And we all said we were a secular country, coz that was what was said in the Preamble to the Constitution which we were made to write as an assignment for a teacher who didn’t know what to allot five marks of continuous evaluation for. The whole class was stifling giggles [My condition was especially bad, being right next to the spotlight] other than a bunch at the back who had no clue what was going on, for they were doing problems from some Question Bank.
But what almost made me guffaw was this:
“Please ma’am, I’m really sorry ma’am, I won’t repeat this anywhere ma’am. I’m really sorry I said something like this, ma’am…..”
“No, ma… How can I forgive you? How can you say sorry to me… WHY say sorry to ME, ma?”
“BE SORRY TO THE WHOLE NATION!”
Edit: Nalini ma’am, if you ever get to read this, I’m letting you know I have nothing but the highest regard for you. I very well understand why you did what you did, and don’t hold it against you or anything. I know you are not one of those who came in the way of creative answers as long as they made a valid point. The only thing that beats me is why you chose to give this question in an exam…..
The youthful rays of the sun pass through the square glass paned windows of the mighty room and cast the shadow of the outline on the floor and on the glassware lying on the tables beside them. Keys are inserted into the locks and they click open. Hinges creak as the wooden panels attached to them are pushed. You can hear feet clatter and occasional exchanges of his and hellos. Chairs are pulled as neatly washed, starched and ironed lab coats sit down. Heads are bent down and all eyes are on crystal clear water and other multicolored liquids. There is an occasional sound of the centrifuge spinning at dizzying speeds or someone opening the oven. You can hear the drip-drop of extra pure water from the double distillation unit. Few people rush in and out of the room and mutter instructions to arbit lab coats. At times you can even smell the mixed smell of spirulina blue-green algae and freshly cut pineapples.
Suddenly there arrives a little girl dressed in her school uniform with a brightly colored sweater on. Pappa asks his students to take care of her for a few hours. All eyes get distracted. They start noticing her pigtails. Someone tries to fill her empty water bottle with distilled water as she sings “twinkle twinkle”. They all start thinking beyond test-tubes and water-baths and Bunsen-burners. They teach her how when socks rolled down look like blue colored vada. Some even recollect the art of using colored pencils and caricature each other with markers. Another pushes aside his work aside and brings a few chocolates from somewhere. But the little moppet refuses it to reserve her tummy for pappa’s chocolates.
Someone realizes its time for her to go. They all play “ Is that pappa’s car going over there?” Finally the little kid leaves but they still think of her.
Guess it’ll take some more spirulina and a good night’s sleep for the lab coats to get over the girl’s charms.
Yes, this is another post triggered off by the Mumbai Train Blasts.
I wake up to Page 1 stories of Mumbai’s resilience. DH admires the spirit of the never-say-die city and ToI says Bombay has lost its spunk that it showed so well in the 1993 blasts. Great going, I felt, but something was missing…
An email forward which I guess most people would have read by now told me what it was. This forward is a letter to the terrorists telling them they can’t quell the spirit of the people or divide them yada yada yada. So far, so good. But hey, how come there is no one asking for some action? Have we become so accustomed to hearing about loss of lives that we are immune to it? I agree we shouldn’t disrupt normal life as far as possible, but that can be followed only when you are confident that your life is not in danger, when you know for sure that the government is going all out to protect you. How come no one is pressing for the terrorists to be booked? How come no one has yet talked about how it could have been prevented? Or about whether it could have been prevented? Or what we can do to prevent further such attacks? [And here, I am not taking into account ToI's page 2 today which tells us what to do when there's a terrorist attack in Bangalore]
Why this attitude of showing the other cheek? In other words, what’s the point of this forward? To tell the terrorist no matter what he does, he cannot cause mindless panic? But for how long? Well, the answer to that is easy: As long as human life is considered cheap in India. As long as the life in question doesn’t belong to a minority community which is a huge vote-bank.
I remember the news coverage of the 7/7 attacks. There wasn’t footage of gruesome, mutilated bodies like on CNN-IBN yesterday. They allowed their dead some dignity.
And the other main story in Toi-LeT paper is of the Sabarimala Temple Controversy. Reams and reams have been written pitying the lady’s plight, and on how unfair it is to bar women from entering a temple after this fading starlet confessed her sin of entering the temple. About how Lord Aiyappa is an MCP, a hypocrite. About how women need their God as they are so oppressed otherwise in society. I decline to say anything on the last two sentences, but I’ll say this: The temple has some rules. And you deserve punishment if you broke those rules. Whether the rules are baseless or not is another matter.
I’m ranting again about how our country is plagued with problems. And I know there’ll be atleast one person who tells me to ‘do something’ to solve the country’s problems, and to ‘be the change’. And I very well know where that person’s patriotism comes from. Heck, why do people bother to kill politicians? When one dies, there are another five equally bad ones to take their place. You can’t remove evil ideas just by removing their practitioners.
What we need is a revolution. Of a different kind. The slow kind. Which helps people change the way they think, their approach to life. For which the media need to stop being the ME-dia. For they are the voice of the people, who show what the public like and dislike. [Aside: going by ToI, you get a feeling that the Indian public are becoming increasingly asinine] I don’t know how to go about doing this, other than by being [or trying to be] a model citizen and inciting others to do the same.
Worse, there’s no alternative reality we can delude ourselves with, anymore [which makes us lose ourselves in make-believe creations of the media masquerading as the real thing- a fair example is RDB, and human interest crap on news channels is another]. We have a land of plenty right with us, and we now KNOW that we are the masters of our fates, we KNOW now that violent uprisings are of no use . Sure, we keep wishing our situation was better, and the possible ways by which that would have been achieved, like maybe communism, but we really KNOW now that you can’t keep a people shackled for long. We all know that the only way to change things is by tiny things, by collective will, by making our own informed decisions, for all the heroes we looked up to in these sixty years of independence had feet of clay.
<>We shouldn’t blindfold ourselves and pretend nothing’s wrong with the world that can change our way of doing things. We need to believe in a new kind of affirmative action, the results of which we might not immediately see, but moves us to an entirely different way of thinking, which, by chance, might just turn out to be better than the current situation.
Yeah, I want to change things out here. Mainly coz I’m alternating between demented with happiness and demented with shock at having read my palm from a trusty book on the subject and discovering that I’m going to be assassinated.
I’m very organized when it comes to dressing. On college days, I wear the clothes from the front of my cupboard. When I have to go out, I rummage in my sister’s cupboard [she's getting to be as big as me]. On weekends, it’s normally the first thing that catches my eye.
Recently, mum and sis were of the opinion that I should stop dressing like a Grunge wannabe. So there we were, getting me and sis some glad rags.
As organized as I am where dressing is concerned, I am very picky-choosy when it comes to buying clothes. Clothes mean comfort. And comfort means roomy clothes for someone who spent fifteen years of her life in clothes a size too big, with her mum hoping she grows into them [I never did].
Me and sis walked the length and breadth of the store looking at all the clothes as if we were windowshopping [which we are, most of the time we are by ourselves]. Dad was beginning to get impatient, so we decided to get started on the dirty work.
We decided to start easy. With tops. They fell into two categories: too short and too long. They were also distinguishable into jing-jang and faded-rag colors. I don’t know for the heck of me why designers think women like floral patterns, or multicolored circles on filmy fabric. And for the minority who are assumed to be all masculine and Bips-in Corporate-like, the designers have allotted watered-down shades of ugly grays, blues and some faded version of beige.
Sis picked the best few out of the mire, and left me with the rest. The nightmare had just begun.
Why are females supposed to wear clingy sweaty material that need regular care and ironing? Why sequins and flimsy buttons and labels that say ‘hand wash only’? And why, for God’s sake, WHY do i have to be in between two consecutive sizes, which means I’d have to wear clothes that are either too tight for comfort or loose enough to fit both me and my sis?
I finally lowered my standards and was stuck on which to choose – the blue one or the black one? Everyone was starting to get impatient, and I made a flash decision: to take them both. [Aside: I'm reminded of this episode of Little Lulu where she gets to be the Maytor for the day, and there are two groups of administrators fighting about whether they should plant begonias or tulips on sidewalks, when she walks in and says "Why don't you plant them both?" leading to loads of hype about how a little girl resolved and issue which the whole city couldn't.]
The next part of the nightmare. Pants. Obscene color scheme again. Pink denim? *puke*. If I ever saw anyone wearing those, I’d take to nicknaming them ’Pink Pant-her’. To be safe, I looked at the denim collection. Yeah, there were the usual blues and blacks, but I prefer destroying my jeans on my own. No, I wouldn’t do any fancy work with a razor blade and vials of acid, but would manage my own geeky style with ball-pen ink, conc. HNO3 from accidents in the chem lab, phenolphthaelin to indicate if I’m using too much soap to wash my clothes [okay, I'm kidding here, the concentration of soap would give a temporary jatang pink color, which I could do without, and here, I'm not implying that I'm a feminist, or any other pink-hater], and also the handy clothes-brush that’s responsible for the clean, faded look.
And yes, since I use a clothes-brush like Jack the Ripper [I really need to. I am very finicky about having my clothes clean], I can do without little-little seashells stitched on my clothes, and I would prefer not to have fancy buttons in places where they serve no purpose.
Why isn’t there a collection of Chinos just for women? And why don’t women’s clothing have wrinkle-free labels? And the worst of them all, WHY aren’t womens’ formals supposed to have spacious pockets [and if they do, they're always on one of those acid-green-with-flowers-all-over ones]? The last one is a nightmare for me, a real bad nightmare, coz I am one of those who live out of their pockets.
Well, anyway, I did manage to find clothes to my expectations, but I’ve become aware of a conspiracy to keep men and women discrete. Yeah, there’s the metrosexual look, and then there’s the contrasexual look, but as far as I’m concerned, they are just media tags for yet another fad. Girls are still seen to be the ‘sugar-n-spice-n-ev’rything-nice’ types, who always wear bright colours with patterns that look right out of the Garden of Eden. Girls are also supposed to dress more for style than comfort, and are supposed to take better care of their clothes and everything else in that perspective.
No, I am not one of those bra-burning feminists or anything, and I don’t say I am facing a dearth of good clothes [if you want, you can call me plain choosy], but I would prefer it if the market weren’t divided into Men’s Clothing and Womens’ Clothing. Yeah, there are things like pink-for-gals-and-blue-for-boys, and there are those who think they are doing something different [just like we hear "this is going to be a different film"] by dressing men in pink, but I hope clothes evolve into functional utilitarian objects and don’t just remain something you make a fashion statement by.
ps: I hate Bipasha’s oh-look-im-a-working-woman-im-wearing-tailored-formals-and-high-pony look.