Saturday, January 31, 2009

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Demographic dividend and crime

The unspeakable violence in Mangalore, besides many other things – the emasculation of the Indian male for eg. Were 20 people really much more than the pub waiters, bouncers and denizens could handle? –heralds a disturbing trend.

Most of the attackers were young: some even looked to be below 25. And many of them seemed to be people who would rather be sitting in the pub with a dame by their side, if they only had the money.

The trend is the rise of crime among the youth. Rapes, robberies, and now this. Of course, economically disaffected youth has always been the favorite hunting ground of all right-wing fundamentals. Hence, the point is the disaffection here.

This is the underbelly of the demographic dividend that we talk about. Most of our population is now below 25 and this is only going to increase over the next decade. Economists gush about the potential of India turning to be the factory for the world in the coming years with its unlimited human resource capital, but there is a catch.

If we do not build on this advantage fast enough, what we will end up with is this – a majority of the population with huge pent-up energy, denied of skill and opportunity, on the rampage.

Since, we all know we will never build anything up, I think it’s time we start thinking about getting a party card from some Hindu right-wing party (there are as many of them these days as the gods), own a gun, keep our daughters behind the parda and, if you’re a minority, stick to the ghettos with lots and lots of firearms.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pyaar ki Cush-ti mein

Apparently, the old ham, Ameesha, is doing a Mamta in the talented (an extremely rare phenomenon in Bollywood) Ratnani’s next photo shoot.

Mr. George in Rediff, in a language reminiscent of a half-literate Bengali clerk writing to a British superior at the turn of the twentieth-century, puts his thoughts most succinctly:


It is of course very alluring cushy breastful nippies of Ms. Ameesha that are sultrily pressed under cushy pillows. A thousand onlookers would pounce to provide the cold shivering body skin warmth if they could be near her...It is such shows that really titillate the glandular responses of cine-goers..

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire

Before the media launches on to the Globes with a tag like Slumdogmania; before we link our weird notion of patriotism with an Irishman’s grit and grime take on the “real” India; before we sit outside the Taj Mahal and start praying for an Oscar miracle (as seen on Independence Day) – just hold on. And watch the movie.

Alas. It’s got nothing much for us Indians – since we know the story better. We know that slumdogs do not speak in faint-British accents, we recognize bad acting from good (the middle Salim is so blatantly a rich kid trying too hard to slum-dunk his way through) and we know India.

After reading all the reviews, I sat to watch the movie with the intention of liking it. I didn’t end up hating it in the end; but it left me indifferent. It was like watching a movie where one of the key themes is the indecipherability of Hindi to a foreigner – which it is not fo me.

Having read Q&A last month, the problem is that even the founding script of this movie is weak. The book is built on what we used to call (during skit writing sessions in engineering college) fatte. What if the questions in a quiz show are answered by your life?

Unfortunately, though a short-story might survive on a single fatta, you need moe than a dozen to sustain a novel.

The book, though written in effortless flair, gets quickly tiring after the first two questions – and too predictable. And it’s a book obviously written keeping the white man in mind – sample this dialogue where a satta player explains the game to the young Jamaal – “It is another name for illegal betting. Satta is organized by powerful underworld syndicates in Mumbai with a daily turnover of millions of rupees –“
Sounds more like an edification by a guide to a fat American in shorts and a videocam – doesn’t it?

Coming to the movie, the movie is just a glorified Bollywood love story. As far as the grit goes, the trial-through-shit scene falls flat (a director’s desperate attempt to recapture the glory of his most famous scene) and the realism has been captured better in Mithun flicks. When the young Jamaal breaks into a dance for his Lathika, the thought that went in my mind was that clearly the director had never seen a slum kid dance.

What holds the movie together is Rehman’s juggernaut of a score – shifting moods in a blink. The acting is mostly good – despite the accent, Dev Patel is good (I figure that our own chhora Shahid Kapur might have fancied a chance and shudder at the thought); so are the rest – especially Anil Kapoor (but then where Anil Pappu Kapoor shines as one of the best actors speaks volume about its grittiness – right?) Mahesh Manjrekar is cast as a gangster but thankfully he underplays it – I guess in a Bolly flick he would have hammed and screamed the curtain apart.
Watch the movie, leaving your baggage of reason at the same spot where you leave it when you go for masala flicks. But don’t expect either a Salaam Bombay or a TrainSpotting.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Comment o' the day

Comment from Rediff article on Satyam CFO arrest

"When you manufacture something, you can see and feel the product. While when you do the IT, you produce a computer code which may or may not be useful later on. Therefore, manufacturing is the way India should go. A soap manufacturing company is infinitely more superior to an IT company, whether from the contributions to the nation or from the point of view of employment generation. South India is all IT based, which is like Maya. Today its there, tomorrow it will be gone."

By the same logic of the infinite superiority of the tangible on the intangible, fucking is far more superior to loving.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Ashutosh - Roadies and Big Boss Winner - Audtion in Roadies

A civilized rape
Rapes are as commonplace to the Indian landscape as a man urinating against a wall. As the brother of twelve sisters in a joint family, it was only the sense of humor that my sisters kept whic tempered the psychological damage done by the daily dosage of eve-teasing they got as soon as they stepped out of the gate.

But what shocked me here was that the rapists were not gang-members with a plan to abduct in broad daylight and rape. They were a group of boys coming from a cricket match who happened to stumble on the opportunity.

Just as Goebbels reached for his gun whenever he heard the term “civilization”, I reach for the city pages of the newspaper whenever I hear of “the great Indian civilization” – and inevitably find them full of rapes.

Thee are two contexts I hear the term “Indian civilization” in.
One are the artists or the philosophers who have delved deeply into our rich tradition and are usually temperate in their tone and have a brightness in their eyes when they speak of it. When they speak of Western civilization, they speak of its own richness and the fusions and the blends they have in mind.
The other gentleman who speaks of the great Indian civilization versus the Western decadence has a frothing madness in hs eyes and only one thing in mind – sex.

Just lean back and think what do most Indians have against “America” – not their politics since we understand little of it and personally we like that they end up killing lots of bad, bad Muslims. Not their art – in fact we are slaves to even its worst forms. Not their people – if a foreigner comes peeping into our lives we stand beaming at them, serve them our best dishes, reveal our entire lifestory, have photographs clicked with them and willingly become the stereotype that most of them come bearing in mind.

The problem we do have is that their women get to wear really skimpy clothes and have lots of sex with (supposedly) lots of men.

It’s as simple as that.

It’s simple because patriarchal mentalities are that simple. And they are that simple since they lack the intelligence to be more complex.

Whenever you hear the term “civilization” being screamed, you can rest assured that by the term, the screamer does not mean the condition of “being civilized”, but against giving women the right to choose their partners; and change them.

Patriarchal societies run on the idea of forefathers – forefathers on legitimacy – and legitimacy on the feminine virtue.

A simple term – virtue – and all the great religions have screamed their lungs out against the sin of being a woman; or rather a woman with healthy sexual appetite. Feminine circumcisions, the original sin, the deliberate expurgation of Mary Magdalene, the veil – generations and generations of men have hidden their tyranny and insecurity by donning the cloak of religion – and authority from a being greater than anything.

The rape is not a symptom of our hidden diseases, it’s a characteristic of how we are.

The ten rapists are not hardcore criminals, they are the next generation that has been bred on the diet of our patriarchal crap and sexual frustration. They treat women as game because they have been reared to regard them this way.

This is the reality of the civilization that we regularly burn people up for.

For Honour's sake

From Dawn:

GHAZNI, Jan 6: An Afghan teenager is in serious condition after her mother and brother allegedly sliced open her belly to remove a five-month-old foetus from a rape, officials said on Tuesday.

The girl’s relatives, who are farmers, had apparently decided to remove the unborn child to protect the family honour, a governor told AFP, with rape and pregnancy outside of marriage a disgrace in the conservative society.She had not told her family she was pregnant, said Habiba Sarabi, governor of Bamiyan.

“When the family realised two days ago that she was pregnant, the mother and brother tied up her hands and legs and took her to a stable where they sliced open her belly with a blade and took the foetus away,” she said.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

Does a butterfly see a butterfly?

A small piece of fiction based on the first morning of this new year

The chill in the morning and the fog outside catches me by surprise. I find myself putting on the woollen socks I thought I had done away for this season. I step outside the bedroom bracing my bare arms beneath the half-sweater, and find Rajiv shrivelled up beneath the quilt.

For a while, I wait for the maid to arrive but then remember that it’s her day off. After much dithering, I finally put my hand under the freezing water from the kitchen tap, the shock of it sending my teeth in a chatter, and rinse the kettle. I put on the tea and gingerly walk towards the balcony – a fog, thick like an open palm in front of my eyes, greets me.

Rajiv stirs as I add the milk to the boiling broth. The milk splits and parts like the Red Sea. Shit.

Rajiv sits groggy eyed, the quilt pulled to his chin and a palm rubbing the other arm, waiting for his tea.

‘We’ve run out of fresh milk.’ He dithers, holding the end of the quilt with one hand while rubbing the arm to it with the other hand, and then exchanging hands. He then heaves the blanket off and rises up.

From the rolling mist, the market breaks in faint wispy patches like the ruins of an ancient temple over a river mist; and not the frayed edges of threadbare stores thrown on a craggy ground of open urinals, garbage, mulch and pitiable pie dogs lurking around and flinching every time a man walks nearby. Most of the shops have their shutters down – loud advertisements in bright colours screaming from some of them – but the milk-van stands in the parking lot; a small crowd of bundled shawls and heavy pullovers silently watch a man in a thick green jacket pull out the first tray-load of milk.

We get the milk and then start walking back. Along the service road, a tea-vendor on a cart stands. We have a cup, and a faint patch of the sun breaks through the receding mist. I pay the man his six rupees and he touches the coins to his eyes before putting them in an old tin box.

The sun brightens and I pull off the extra sweatshirt I had donned over the inner-sweater. I tie the sleeves around my waist as we take the round turn towards the apartment complex.

A movement among the flower-bed lining the hedge to the colony gate catches our eyes – a butterfly with cream white wings. I never noticed the flower bed before; small baby flowers of white and dark blue scattered over the dusty dark-green leaves, and the white flutter weaving a pattern around them.

A child passes us on a small cycle. He looks at us with the look of a child seeing two men with unkempt hair and days-old stubbles silently watching a butterfly.

The underside of its wings are a pale green and when it lands on a flower, it bobs slightly as it extends the proboscis and, as it drinks in the nectar, it closes it wings and keels over to one side – its wing like a fresh pale leaf.

We watch it flit from a flower to another and finally, fly away. We remain standing silently for some time before walking away.

We enter the colony gate and move towards the escalator. We step in and it’s then that I finally break the silence. ‘I wonder’, I say gratuitously,’ if a butterfly sees a - butterfly. Or it’s only us.’

Rajiv doesn’t say anything.

The sweeper, in a pair of shorts over an old maroon sweater, and carrying a pail of water and a rag, enters the lift just as it closes its mouth and gives a silent nod in my direction. I nod back and we ascend in silence.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Happy new year

Last night was like every other night for me – came at seven, slept till nine, ate and read till three.
I accidently switched off my mobile and hence I really didn’t get to know when the hour came and went.

2008 was a funk for me. Workwise, after the initial euphoria of 2007 ebbed, I found frustration at the bureaucracy – tho’ t’was better than most years before. Socially, I was alone most of the year: despite having some great friends nearby and a family within an overnight journey, I didn’t mingle as much as I could have. My social etiquettes – answering mails, calls, posts and staying in touch – never the pride of Lucknow, took further beating. I didn’t travel much. I read a quarter of the books I must have read two years ago. I didn’t do any theatre; nor watched much of it. I didn’t watch a lot of movies and so on –

2009 is probably going to be one of the most important years for me – in more ways than one. I hope I can look back next year same time, and say that 2008 was the year that made 2009 possible.
And I hope I can start giving my family and friends more time this year.

Happy New Year.