Sunday, January 28, 2007 2 reflections

You say Tomato. I say Ta-maa-ter.

THERE IS NOTHING WORSE THAN being exposed to two completely different cultures. I am not a third culture offspring whose parents would be from different ethnic roots. My father is from Chikkaballapura and my mother is from Shivamogga. Both etched into the mainland of the Kannada speaking state. That said, as far as culture is concerned my exposure up until the age of 22 was always one – Indian.

Trouble began when I followed the line walking outside India in pursuit of bigger and better lifestyles. When I ascended that Air France flight out of New Delhi that cold August morning in 2000, little had I realized how much would change in the way I viewed the world and vice versa. I had willingly migrated into the Western world without a clue as to how my representation would get mixed up in the process.

My first brush with it occurred with day-to-day use of vocabulary. There were so many new definitions of words and expressions I had used with élan back home. The one that comes to mind immediately is the expression ‘freak out’. My first few months I had trouble understanding why it was people in the West associated this fabulous expression with fear. I never completely digested the fact that someone was actually ‘freaking out’ and hating it at the same time!

Why? Well in Indian English the expression ‘freak out’ means ‘have fun’ or ‘party out with friends’. Imagine my surprise when one of my American colleagues said ‘…and when I realized I didn’t have enough money in my account I totally freaked out, dude!’

I took a moment to absorb that. He freaked out because he was out of money? What kind of a moron was this fellow? How could something so serious sounding be associated with fun?

‘Oh ok...’ I responded innocently (read still high on my desi version) ‘so that you don’t have to pay, right?’

The man looked back at me as if I was insane. ‘What?’ he said making his face as if he had seen something distasteful ‘What the hell are you talking about dude?’

I realized there had been some mistake somewhere so I quickly changed the subject.

It took me almost a month to realize that ‘freak out’ in the West meant ‘be afraid of’ or ‘panic’ or ‘not know what to do in a state of manic uncertainty’.

Phew. So much for 15 years of English education, I thought.

A few more months later one more nugget of the puzzle came my way. One of my co-workers came in one day and announced ‘Yes! I did it! I proposed to her last night! And she said YES!’

We all applauded and congratulated him. When the cheering crowd had scattered I leaned over to ask him ‘So where are you guys going?’

‘What d’ya mean? When?’ he asked me looking a little surprised.

‘Well…on your date.’

‘Huh?’ he continued before patting me on the shoulder and walking away.

Another month and I realized ‘proposing’ in the West meant ‘asking for marriage’ and not ‘asking out on a date’ like my desi version had convinced me all my life. I decided to spend some time picking up these little pieces of wisdom before I opened my mouth from that day forward.

A few years later when I was on vacation in Bangalore I sat in a café with a close friend. We were soon joined by another friend of his. He came over and declared proudly ‘I proposed to her da! It was so full of masti and excitement man! Cool stuff da!’

‘Congrats. When is the wedding?’ I asked him.

He looked back at me puzzled this time ‘Wedding? What da? Kidding or what?’

I continued sipping my coffee with a smile.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007 3 reflections

All roads lead to Cafe Dulce

THE LAZY EVENING TRAFFIC was a definite mood killer. I sat in the back of a taxi listening to Bee Gees croon ‘I started a joke…’ and bring some sense of coherence into my otherwise chaotic day. The inside of the car was air conditioned and gave me no hint of the windy and naturally pleasant atmosphere that enveloped our little space in the universe. I shifted uneasily in my seat and I peered at my watch to realize I was already late. I sighed and looked back up at the world outside – passing by with an unhurried rhythmic pace of its own. So many stories behind all those still, grim, calm, worried and pale faces attached to briskly disappearing bodies. It was like I was stuck in a painting that changed with every heart beat. Each time fishing out a unique tale for me. Each moment brushing up a renewed version of life.

Our vehicle chugged along the little puddle of automobiles and finally took a lengthy pause at a small walk-in café. From where I sat, the tinted vision of the old diner seemed a little askew. There was something about that place that made me sit up and look at it with an added hint of interest. Given that I had nothing else to look at (not counting the dull unexpressive eyes of the cabbie in the rear view mirror) this piece of someone else’s past begged my attention.

The café was called ‘Café Dulce’ which literally means ‘The Sweet Café’. I was unsure if it was called that because they sold mainly sweets or if it was someone’s name. Dulce is a common Latin name hence my liberty with these assumptions. The main entrance to the unassuming edifice of metal and cement was wide and looked as if it did not have a door. Just a square shaped hole in a cement wall. From my view, I could see the inside of the café with some precision. Slow rotating fans hung high on the crumbling paint of the ceiling. Cheap yet brightly lit slim tube lights stood proudly a few foot away from each other. Small yet colorful paintings were hung at regular intervals in between the tube lights. I could not make out what they consisted of, but they did seem joyful and vibrant. A lot of people sat inside at square wooden tables and spoke in absolute cacophony. I could hear their echoes compete with the verses the Bee Gees were trying to wail inside the taxi. One of the men who sat with his back facing me was slamming on the table hard and laughing really loud. People walked in and out of the place constantly indicating that the hour was probably one of its busiest.

The traffic inched a little further and my eye caught a rather interesting sight. About ten men, aged between seventy and eighty, sat at various spots outside the café. A couple of them were busy with what seemed like an intense chess game while a couple more looked over their heads suggesting moves and invoking the players’ grunts intead. A little further away sat another old man on a plastic chair and a child on his lap. He had a comic book in his hands and was reading it aloud to the little girl. She was correcting him at various points as both of them would laugh at each other with the same innocent look in their eyes. The old man’s face would get very expressive at times when he probably was describing an emotional sequence. The girl would raise her head and stare into his fumbling mouth as she recorded everything he was explaining. Adjacent to them sat two more men. Had they not been wearing different clothes I’d have sworn they were twins. The same balding pattern, the identical wrinkled texture of the skin and the similar toothless guffaw as they shared an episode. The one on my right was the one who was laughing harder than his counterpart as he slapped the other on the wrist and urged him to continue. They’d occasionally glance at the slow moving traffic and continue with their chatter.

For a few seconds I imagined them all as young men. My black and white vision showed me hard working and upright individuals who had once met at the same café and had shared the same jokes and laughter. I wondered what it had been like when they were my age. Did they have the same kind of endless anxiety that haunts me? Did they also worry day in and day out about their future that seemed so ambiguous with every look? Questions with answers locked away in those aging hearts with a soul that was still so young and alive.

As the taxi picked up pace in the next few moments and the song came to a slow end, ‘Café Dulce’ had become memory. As if by instinct I turned around to get one last look at that place before roaring automobiles clouded my vision. I sighed again and sat back but no longer bored or exhausted. But a weird sense of relief and joy had overtaken my mind.

All our lives we struggle each passing day to keep ourselves and others happy. Every heartbeat seems like a battle won as our souls continue to survive in a time when nothing seems good enough. The wish to achieve everything in life and to lead a secure future somehow makes us so cynical and closed at times, that we often forget what this all eventually leads up to. We never once think of the only future that matters. We never pause to reflect what we all are really hoping for. We seldom look with intent to the many Café Dulces that might have passed by us. I guess the men there defined the meaning of the café to me by just being there.

I quickly found a prayer escaping my lips…

‘I hope my road too leads to one such café some day where I’d have spent a lifetime yet would laugh with the same honesty in my voice. Amen.’

Sunday, January 14, 2007 2 reflections

The Naked Bride

THE ANTICIPATION HAD REACHED A euphoric peak. Lost in the endless giggles and taunts she was being subjected to by her friends a weird sense of reluctance and fear was starting to envelope her nervous mind. She had known about this moment all her life, but never had she been able to prepare to face it without being so anxious. Maybe that was what made it so much exciting she thought and smiled unconsciously. All those months of interactions and back breaking work had finally culminated to bring down the barrier that stood between her and the new groom. Her wedding night seemed to have a tension built around it that could put any major Bollywood production house to shame.

In a culture that enjoyed the planning and processing a wedding more than anything else, she had found assistance and help in various quarters. Her entire family had gathered all their resources and ensured she got the best one in their history of grand and elaborate weddings. Given her middle class background and a simple lifestyle, her parents had been thrilled when they had heard about this well educated, well rounded and well earning engineer groom for their daughter. Being the only child, she had been brought up with a lot of affection and they hoped that the new man in her life would continue to give her that same attention.

The room for the first wedding night was decorated better than the bride herself. A carefully selected assortment of flowers was strung along the sides of the wooden bed that lay proudly in the middle of the vast room. The fragrance they were exuding was absolutely mesmerizing. Some of the younger kids would run in and out of the open room just to get a whiff of that aroma before being shooed away by elders who stood guard. A couple of shiny stainless steel bowls filled with apples, bananas and grapes were placed near the head stead. The dull and steady dance of think smoke went up to the ceiling from a bunch of incense sticks that were pierced into one of the apples. The stage for a comfortable and hopefully fun filled night was definitely set.

She was brought to the door a little before midnight with a glass of warm milk. A custom, she was told. Dressed in a simple yet elegant off white cotton sari and without the jeweled head dress she sure was looking like a treat to a sore eye. Her head was lowered in a mix of the evident shyness and the not so evident anxiety. Her mother whispered something in her ear and she was let into the room as her friends giggled behind her and closed the room. She turned around and bolted the latch from the inside.
A few heart beats later she turned around to find him sitting on the bed in a relaxing mode with his face decorated with a silly looking grin. He had the look of a man who probably had won a very high stake bet.

‘Come…come...’ he said slowly in a voice that was almost a whisper.

She started walking towards him with her eyes fixed on the floor beyond her and a smile she was trying hard to suppress. He got up as she neared the bed and held out his hand for the milk.

‘He must be thirsty,’ she said to herself. He drank from the long steel glass swallowing loudly and handed back the half empty glass to her.

‘This is for you. We are supposed to share this,’ he said winking back at her.

She sipped the remaining contents of the saffron laced milk slowly without taking her eyes off from the inside of the glass. He continued looking at her with the same grin waiting for her to finish drinking.

After she was done the empty glass was kept aside and the couple sat on the bed. Her mind was filled with images of this exact scene she had seen all her life in movies. She expected him to break into a romantic song anytime soon, but somehow she found that would be a far shot. She also realized she would never be able to sing and dance.

Without a word more, he began necking her immediately. She was a little taken aback at the first physical contact since she had expected them to talk for a little to break the ice. But apparently he was in no mood to discuss anything for the night. He smelt like strong cologne and it made her slightly nauseas but she knew this was not the time for that. She responded with a hug around him as she had seen in the movies. She even threw in a small laugh and a fake moan to add some effect to this strange version of intimacy.

The lone tube light that lit the room gazed on as the young lovers began their journey into the passionate folds of eternal bliss. She could faintly hear the voices from outside as he laid her on the bed and proceeded to remove his silk full arm shirt.

‘They must be getting ready to sleep. They’ve had such a busy month. I wish I could too. I am so tired. But if this is what he wants...’ she said to herself as he began showering her with kisses. She had always pictured this moment but she had no idea how to react to it since it was happening without a proper plan. Within the next few minutes she had revealed her self completely to her new husband. The look on his face resembled that of a child who had discovered an amazing toy by accident. It was as if a long time dream of his had suddenly been attached to reality.

‘I do not want to forget this moment,’ he whispered in her ear as she began her journey of overcoming her natural inhibition for the night.

She closed her eyes to start settling into that cloud of fantasy mixed with passion, but felt his body move away from hers. She initially thought he was going to join her in this state of pure exploration soon but when the seconds passed by silently, she realized that she was all alone on the wedding bed with nothing else but her naked self for company. She slowly opened her eyes to find her new husband standing a few feet away, still dressed in his silk lungi and looking into a cell phone that was pointed in her direction. She was unsure who he was trying to call at such an unearthly hour. She patiently waited for him to finish his business with the phone but he continued walking around the bed slowly with the phone pointed towards her and that silly grin still lingering on his lips.

'What are you doing?' she asked innocently trying to hide how annoying and uncomfortable she was feeling at that moment.

'Oh nothing,' he responded still focused on his phone 'just making some memories darling' he continued.

She did not quite understand what he was saying or doing but by pure instinct she pulled the sheets onto her chest and held it close. He laughed out loud at her reaction as if he had expected her to do so and finally closed the phone and put it away. He then returned to the bed with the look of a man on a mission. His grin had disappeared now and had transformed into a more serious and slightly scary grimace.

The night dragged on as he explored her and she allowed him to do so. Somewhere in her mind there was a girl who was becoming a woman. She was happy at the attention she was getting from her groom. Little did she know that the following day a hundred more men would give her the same attention as they’d watch her looking blankly back at their computer screens from her bed – unsure and naked. Little did she figure out that her new groom would get a lot more appreciative responses by complete strangers who’d thank him for posting another ‘hot’ thread on the MMS section of that website filled with men with an insatiable appetite for the perverse.

Some women are brides forever.


Sunday, January 07, 2007 0 reflections

A full circle called Kamasutra

WHEN I FIRST ARRIVED IN THE AMERICAS the one question everyone always asked me invariably was ‘So do you know the Kamasutra?’ As I fumbled for an appropriate response they’d shoot another classic at me ‘Do you guys like learn this stuff in schools and colleges?’ I never had an affirmative response to those tricky questions. Having been brought up in an India that was still finding a way to define her self through the 80s and 90s, I was always told ‘The Kamasutra’ was a subject everyone knew about, but was never taught or talked about anywhere. As a keen teen I wondered ‘Then how does one find out about it?’

As time flew by, questions regarding this topic started becoming more complex. I would visit centuries old temples and cities that would be decorated with a thousand sexual positions all around them. Sometimes it was like watching a stone-version of an Indian Playboy magazine. Except the models here were not always the healthiest all the time. Some would have their hands chopped off or a vital organ missing. Regardless, there they were. Proud and unashamed of their sexuality, experiencing, experimenting and educating the wide mouthed onlookers below. Their future generation.

As we tried hard to avoid eye contact with these exquisite sculptures, we’d look around and find curious foreigners zooming in and out of their cameras next to this unique and quite ‘unIndian’ goldmine of publicly displayed sexual fantasies.

During our History lessons we’d be taught, that our grand civilization has grown with time. Our tireless teachers would go on for hours explaining in a lot of detail of how the West came to us, invaded us, ruled us and left us hungry and poor. We’d sit there looking at each other and wondering ‘Fair enough. We definitely came a long way with everything but one. Those convoluted mangle of genderless bodies we saw on those temples. How come we don’t see them being practiced anymore? How is it that the movies which showcase that sexually vibrant bygone era no longer produce stories like those?’

And it was true. We’d look around and wonder why our people became so aware of their sexuality with the progress of time. We pondered over the things that might have led to the women in Raja Ravi Varma’s paintings to finally cover up and stop playing with the swan without a top on. We were amazed how strict our dressing policy had become that a woman could no longer walk around skimpily dressed as they did in the days of the kings and kingdoms.

We were sad. We had somehow missed out on some great moments of socializing having been born into such a boring and work-oriented 80s and 90s. Even people who’d kiss on screen would end up in two flowers necking each other during song sequences. How dull, we thought.

But all that was about to change. Little had we realized that the circle of Kamasutra was not yet finished! In came the 90s and post Y2K and Lo! We have a whole new generation that is so eager to drop their inhibitions that a blink is all it takes for the transformation to occur. Movies were finally waking up and showing that two people can actually kiss without a flower in the scene. Scenes were finally depicting men and women, in all possible combinations, enjoying their sexuality like they had done so in the 1500s or 1600s. Ah! The Kamasutric cycle, as it were, seemed to have completed a full circle.

I finally seem to have an answer to those obscure questions the West throws at me. I can now proudly disrobe myself and say ‘Yes. I am from the land of the Kamasutra. Don’t believe me? Just watch the latest movie release. They have come up with a few new extensions to the art.’

Saturday, January 06, 2007 2 reflections

Sachin Tendulkar - nothing is ever good enough

THEY SAY REALITY IS STRANGER than fiction. If ever there was a living example for this, it has to be India. When it comes to idolizing a celebrity, India takes the cake hands down. Where else would one find temples built for movie stars? No other country, in my experience, will ever love someone so hard that it starts to hurt. Letting go, is quite possibly, one of the hardest things for Indians. It happens only in India.

Sachin Tendulkar’s life is no secret. A humble beginning and the man became a legend thanks to his hard work and more importantly his natural affection to the game. A simple middle class boy who entered the International scene and stole it right in front of the cynical eyes of the so called legends. People who believed that playing in pretentious English county cricket was the only way someone could really prove their worth. Oh Sachin showed them alright. They didn’t know what hit them when our man blasted experienced bowlers as if they were playing street cricket with an empty gas cylinder for a wicket.

Yet, after tens of thousands of runs and after millions of applauses and crores of Rupees later, Sachin is right where he began. Even today he has to prove himself to millions of fans around the world. Even today they curse him for not making runs like a legend truly should. Even to this day they say ‘he can do better’ when the man has achieved things that go beyond human comprehension. Even today as he walks up to the batting pitch, I am sure his mind is filled with questions and doubts – not about himself but about his fans and how they’ll react were he to fall short of a century. The love, as it turns out, comes at a high price. A very high price.

And history repeats itself. Time and time again. With every match it has started to become more apparent that Sachin Tendulkar – the mean killing machine – is starting to show his human side. Is the legend slowly disappearing? Does this mean he forgot how to bat? How can he possibly not know how to react to spin and fast bowling? He has done that for ages! Yes. He has and he knows that too. But guess what! He is aging. Just like you are every passing second.

The body, with time, starts to behave and function differently. When Sachin started out, ascended and hit a peak his body was in a different mode. He had more agility and more swiftness. He was more aware and more conscious. Don’t get me wrong…he still is but when it comes to the mind, it wears one down long before the body does. With the increasing amount of pressure around him to perform consistently, the man’s mental structure has started to wear down. With no major support from the rest of the ‘men in blue’, one cannot blame poor Sachin to do all the dirty work again, as he has been doing for 15 years now.

Come on people. Give him a break. A long and much deserved one. No other human in the history of Indian cricket has brought us more fame and recognition at the International level than this master blaster. One always argues about people like Sunil Gavaskar and Kapil Dev. True. I grew up idolizing them as well, but the times and the kind of game they played was way different than what happens today on the field. That said Sachin has done more than we could ever ask for. If we cannot consistently appreciate the benchmark he has set for Indian cricket, then we don’t have the right to criticize him consistently either.

The sad part, however, is despite the accolades and endless string of broken records to his credit, Sachin will never be able to satisfy the insatiable Indian appetite for ‘the best’ since there is no such thing. One succeeds but moves on. Hopefully to better milestones or to a better life, like our dear Tendlya.

Here is wishing him the very best. I, for one, would love to see him age gracefully and as he should without having to put up with meaningless banter of frustration shelled out by people who don’t know any better.


3 reflections


Hello reader,

This is possibly the first time I have not been able to think of a suitable topic for this piece. Needless to say it is one more in my 'Slice of Life' series, but somehow I invested too much emotion in it to summarize it with a few words as a title. Some help and suggestion would be appreciated.

Thank you.


HIS VOICE IS BURIED in the cacophony and chaos that envelopes the crowded street. Everyone in the world seems to be taking a walk on that mile long narrow strip of cobble stones and a thousand songs. He looks around impatiently hoping that his smile will make a passer by pause. Hoping that the wait will translate into a vision that can see what he has created. The immaculate seeming version of his latest idea. The product of various anxious long nights with his sweat, blood and tears in them. He continues to request strangers to have just one look at his work. All he wants them to do is glance at it before walking away. Never to be remembered after that one fleeting moment. He watches as his neighbors do brisk business. Selling their wares and flipping through their collections in greedy guffaws. His silence is all he has to show for the sting of jealousy and anguish that burns in the pit of his stomach.

‘They are not better than me,’ he says to himself ‘yet they seem to get all the good ones every day. Those thieves. They steal ideas and reproduce them. Mine are all mine. Just mine…’

His thoughts are interrupted by another passer by. He notices a stray visitor spending more than one second at his corner. He rushes to her with his enchanting smile all the time greeting and encouraging her to come closer.

‘Come mem sa’ab. Please come’ he says with his arm ending in an open palm pointing towards his dusty little hole in the wall.

‘Original work, mem sa’ab. My own work mem sa’ab. Not duplicate mem sa’ab, Hard work mem sa’ab’ he continues with an honest tone in his young voice that ejects out of his humble smile.

The female visitor stares emotionlessly from behind her sunglasses. He cannot make out what she is thinking without getting a look at her eyes. Her sun burnt face seems to get set for a faint smile when a loud distraction breaks her focus.

‘Half the price mem sa’ab! Original quality! 200% genuine!’ shouts one of his neighbors trying to persuade her away from the young man.

‘Please mem sa’ab,’ the boy continues clinging to hope ‘those are all duplicates mem sa’ab. This is an original piece. I worked on it for a whole week mem sa’ab. I cut my hands doing it mem sa’ab’ he says flourishing a few healing cuts on his palms.

The visitor suddenly frowns and moves away from him in unhidden disgust. His neighbors laugh at his sad attempt at trying to share his story with a stranger. He watches in silence as she hops along to the next hole in the wall, and studies the goods there with equal concentration.

He hides his aching palms from the view of the world and looks back at his latest creation. It seems to smile back at the beads forming in his eyes.

‘Don’t worry,’ it seems to say ‘your day will come. Don’t worry.’

He quickly wipes his hopeful eyes with the sleeves of his long shirt and sniffs a fresh gulp of life into himself.

‘Original quality sa’ab! Genuine work sa’ab! Did not steal sa’ab! Excellent piece sa’ab!’ he continues to yell out at passers by with a smile that hides it all so well.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007 0 reflections

Awareness - The soul of a revolution

WHEN I BEGAN WATCHING THIS MOVIE there were only two things I knew – One, that this was about Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara and two, I knew nothing about him apart from the fact that he was a great T Shirt industry icon.

‘Diarios de motocicleta’ The Motorcycle Diaries (2004) documents the earliest milestones in the life of Che Guevara. I had heard so much about it through reviews and word of mouth that I just had to see what it was all about. I am the kind who will watch a movie without a break in between, if I can afford it, because I think the process of story telling needs a direction and a pace. These two are the essential components of any story regardless of what it is about or how good it seems when heard. I did the same here.

The movie is a two hour journey through South America’s infinite seeming beauty. From the cold snow capped mountains of Chile to the hilly silences of Peru. Having been here for almost a decade myself, I could not help but feel privileged to be connected to the story, in an atomic way. ‘They are heading to where I live,’ I kept telling myself whenever they mentioned Venezuela and Caracas. This being my last year here, I could not help but feel a little nostalgic about the whole experience.

Armed with a few supplies, his chubby chum Alberto Granado and a leaking piece of majestic metal called ‘La Poderosa’ The Powerful – A ’39 Norton 500 motorbike – Che begins his journey of South America. Ironic to its name, La Poderosa doesn’t survive a large chunk of the journey as it coughs, throws up, steers away, smashes into and tosses out of the road on several occasions. A teary adieu later, Alberto and Ernesto begin their remainder of the journey through hitchhiking among other methods. Their travel borders along humor and sensitivity all the way with Alberto chipping in most of the amusement to keep an asthmatic Ernesto cheered up. They see a lot of action right away which includes everything from being almost killed by natural and not-so-natural causes. Along the way they continue to meet people from the lowest level of the society. Workers, farmers, miners, and several sections of the lower middle class to the poor – who have been victims of atrocities levied upon them by money hogging fat cats who rule that place. The division that keeps the underprivileged part of the social fabric from the well-to-do masses starts becoming very clear to the young doctor duo as they head up north making various long lasting associations.

The biggest one comes to Ernesto in the form of a leprosy clinic in San Pablo, Peru where they arrive on 8th of June, 1952 after having traveled about 10223 kilometers. The three weeks they spend there shows them a very different, much disturbing, image of the conditions those lepers live in. Ernesto volunteers to work there for a little time, all the while getting connected to all the patients in that center. A strange transformation begins to happen in young Ernesto. The carefree adventurer in him who began this journey is no longer available, as the more concerned and passionate human in him is waking up. On his birthday, the asthmatic Ernesto risks his life and swims across the river (the one that divides the healthy and the sick) to spend time with the patients there. His first sign of leadership stems from their love - selfless and pure. The movie ends with the duo reaching Caracas, Venezuela. Alberto decides to take up occupation in the city while Ernesto chooses to moves on.

You will find a lot of material that says a zillion things about Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara. Being the kind of person I am, I choose to see what seems human to me. And this snapshot of his life was that revealing experience. The revolutionary is born not by birth or place, but by circumstance. A revolution finds its core in seeing the truth. The naked fact of what ails the human in all of us. What we do with it, which way we take it from there is something that hinges on the individual. Finding and acknowledging that core, I feel, is a much harder thing to do.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007 2 reflections

GRAND NEWS - featured

Some BIG news this time. A grand opening for a grand New Year 2007. Pick up a Deccan Herald dated January 2, 2007 and go to the SPECTRUM section. There go to Page 2 and you will see something very cool. Deccan Herald has published the official article covering our initiative - This is a grand moment for us and we heartfully thank everyone who has helped us make this a proud project. This is definitely a tribute to everyone who used it and helped us make it to the Karnataka janata.

Given below is the article's screenshot. Click on it to read the whole article showcase.


Monday, January 01, 2007 2 reflections

A shameful beginning...

THERE COMES A TIME IN EVERY MAN'S LIFE when the sword of conscience swings so close to his soul’s neck that he just has to act so the shadow of that lethal edge vanishes for a while. This blog entry, in essence, is that attempt for me. Starting 2007 with some soul maintenance is my priority so that I can resume living with myself.

It has taken me over a decade to know what I now consider concrete knowledge. The wisdom I have gained has come to me the hard way. This is correct, that is wrong – these definitions have found roots in my psyche after having been there and seen that. The visuals and sounds that have haunted my mind for many years have matured from being amusing slices of inquisitive entertainment to dark reminders of what I see around me. With time, these images have only become murkier and repulsive. The social fabric we boast of being a deserving part of has never looked more shameful.

India ended the year on a shockingly tragic note. While the merry makers were gyrating till their hips collapsed under the influence of overrated alcohol and overpriced adulation of the cliché, parents in Noida, Uttar Pradesh were mourning the deaths of their children. Innocent buds who had not yet blossomed, gruesomely raped, tortured and murdered by a bunch of miserable delinquents. The rage that boils within me as I write these words has no definition as somehow that sword I mentioned about looks at me with an accusing stare. Despite being a stranger, sitting tens of thousands miles away in the security of an upscale lifestyle and a sheltered civilization, I cannot help but get down on my knees and weep in shame. Despite being part of a crowd that can only read such news and move on with its lives, I feel responsible. In spite of not knowing any of those parents, I share their grief. On this first day of the new season, I cry not for them but with them.

The tears that flow from the eyes of my conscience today are not just for the parents who lost their little flowers. They are also for those little faces of joy that never got a chance to experience true bliss of this redundant existence we call life. But more than anyone else, my soul weeps for those immoral excrements of the stench that the evil of the world relentlessly exhumes. Those worthless pieces of human excuse who do not deserve life, but then they do not deserve death either. Nothing the mortal world can now do will ever make this wretched feeling go away. No amount of compensatory facade the administering bodies will now show can ever make some faces smile again. They are lost forever and nothing can make that be the same. I have to live with this shame. I will have to make it a part of me.

Through this merciless suffering I am now beginning to get used to, I pause and wonder what forces are at play for such horrendous episodes to occur. What was going through that individual’s mind when his own soul prompted him to as much as think of doing such a heinous act? What was the trigger?

I look around me and I find a dozen possible leads. What makes these leads even scarier is the fact they are initiated by fellow country men.

The Internet has become a monster that is out of control. With no one policing what goes on, there are a million places where crime breeds. It starts of as a disturbing concept in the minds of an idle individual with no social life, and slowly it turns to greed. The avarice of wanting to fish in more like minded people into the little pool that now boasts of ‘entertainment’ – India style. Soon the pool starts to spread, like wildfire on a scorching day, cracking and forcing itself into everything fresh and alive. Soon the entire fragment is consumed. All that remains is singed morals and carbon souls. These pools contain everything from obscene pornographic material (audio/visual/both) to suggestive literature that is guaranteed to entice the human mind – the male human mind. They contain the latest hip shaking rituals from all around the country to foreign material that shows explicit nudity and shocking attention to detail. The Internet is one large Biology classroom with the reproductive system being taught in a million versions.

What doesn’t help this process is the endless flow of individuals who participate in these features. The speed at which this material finds place on the Internet is mind boggling. If only finding a decent job or a good career was this easy. At such an alarming rate, little wonder that the already frustrated sex component of the average Indian man is fueled further. With free access to these websites dangerous communities of potential sex offenders seems to be on the rise. Some might never do it. Others might attempt something risky and get away. While the rest, attempt it, commit crime and become responsible to the endless chain of innocent lives lost. Combine this domino effect with politics, television, films, and the circle is complete.

Crime is what crime sees. You cannot convince me that the roots of such heinous crimes do not lie in such media. How many tens of thousands of cases of sexual assault gets hidden? How many endless number of ‘taboo bound’ families hush up questionable events in their social circle? One will never know. Censorship, as it were, is a joke in our country.

All I can really say is, as far as the safety of women and children are concerned, India is headed towards the worst. I am not sure where to go from here and I do not know how to stop it from escalating further. For now I am waving past that sword that accuses me of being a mute spectator by putting my shame in words. I do not know how long I can do that.

May the Almighty find a place in His infinite love for the young ones who apparently He needed more than we did.