Monday, July 13, 2009

Really happy and gay?

Barely a week has passed by since Section 377 has been repealed and the protests and petitions have already started flooding in. Different religious groups are furious at "going against nature's way" and want the Indian Supreme Court to take back its decision.

On the other hand, newspapers have started reporting the first few gay marriages in India. Quite a stir all around.

But wait. Who said anything about marriage? All that the repealing of Sec. 377 means is that intercourse between same sex couples is now not illegal. (Incidentally, do you know all those 'other' indulgences of yours were also illegal? heh heh!). homosexuals all over India celebrated. But, I really believe that this was only a minor victory for them. The war is yet to be won.

India is a state of contradictions. While our ancient history suggests that we were a very tolerant and broadminded nation, our recent past shows quite the opposite. Everything that was once celebrated, is now either taboo or spoken of behind closed doors. Yes, still. Just because you, me and a few urban friends of ours sit together sipping mojitos and discussing anything under the sun with panache, does not mean that we are the majority.

We still remain an extremely conservative society. With moral police raising hell over women wearing sleeveless shirts and hanging out in pubs, do you really think that gays will be smiled at warmly and accepted easily?

Lets get real. Picture a boy/girl from a regular town in India trying to tell his/her parents about his sexual orientation being different from the expected. We are very very far from the stage where the parents will be accepting. If there are accepting parents that's less than a handful. In a country where parents still threaten suicide if their child wants to marry someone of a different caste, I seriously doubt there'd be a day any time soon when they'd accept their child's same sex preference. More likely force the poor son/daughter to get married soon as of course the Indian parent firmly believes that marriage cures all ills.

Crazily enough, several of my colleagues seem to think that "this whole gay thing is just another example of copying the west". I swear, that was a direct quote to which several guys nodded their heads in agreement. A senior VP of not stands out not for his work but because word leaked out that he's gay!! The snide jokes abound.

I feel happy that the government at least now recognizes that it is not illegal and thereby indicates that it is not an "abnormality", but feel sorry that it is still a very long and hard road to acceptance for all our gay friends out there.


Honk honk!

My best friend hails from a country other than ours and has been brought up in a land where everybody follows traffic rules - to the 'T'. Hence it hardly surprises me when he's absolutely baffled with the traffic "condition"(for want of a better word) in India.

Ask the average Indian city bloke about traffic rules and we'll come up with using signals while driving and perhaps sheepishly admit that one shouldn't overtake from the left. And that's what the educated bunch have to say!!

"What about lanes", I'm asked? "Yeah well, what about them?", is my reply. "Fast lane, slow know...." Well, my friend doesn't seem to understand that how can people relate to the concept of fast and slow lanes when there isn't any lane followed to begin with! I mean, on what should be a two lane drive, we have three and in between every gap is squeezed a bike or an auto rickshaw! As for fast and slow, well, typically the slowest auto is on the "fast lane" while the car in a hurry makes his way from the left! Talking of which, the whole Indian principle of driving, my friend, is about "making your own way".

As for zebra crossings, he wonders why he's the only bloke who stops at them when someone's crossing? Well, why indeed? I seriously wonder why the government bothers on painting them all over when not a single driver regards them. People at zebra crossings are as safe as anybody else jay walking.

My friend is even more puzzled. Nothing to be puzzled about. In a country where a driving license can be obtained by paying Rs. 200 to the guy who comes for the test and without even setting foot in the test vehicle (trust me, I was offered this when I'd been for my test), how can you expect anybody to know anything about traffic rules? When I'd been for my driver's license, I never had to learn anything apart from a few road signs and prove that I could drive and reverse the car well.

Even the driving schools teach you only how to drive the car. Not a thing more. Typical approach to teaching - just teach as much as is required to pass the test! But, I won't digress to the topic of teaching - that deserves a separate post!

Well, so now my friend has learnt to drive the Indian way - curse, swear and make your own way. He's stopped grumbling and we all live happily ever after.....!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Good Lord Have Mercy!!

The Karnataka CM, Mr. B S Yediyurappa, has allocated Rs. 130 Crores towards the temples and muths (Hindu religious establishments).

I am not kidding. Neither have I got the amount wrong. Yes, I have cross checked. Now you might wonder why..I sure did. The news explains that this is because he is a firmly religious man, who feels that Karnataka has been going through bad times and he feels that appeasing the Gods is of primary concern.

What??!! "Primary concern"?? Over everything else?? Rs. 130 Crores??!! IS HE CRAZY????
I actually thought this guy was level headed and doing a decent job so far and now I'm not sure anymore.

This money is from our pockets... what gives him the right to decide on allocating such a big amount to temples? Also, what gives you the right Mr. CM to assume the role of our religious saviour? To decide that Karnataka is ruled by all the Hindu Gods that be?? Have you forgotten all the religious tensions in the state that you feel its time to stir that hornet's nest again?? And what about all the other much neglected areas which could use improvement and most ecrtainly don't need divine intervention!!!!??! For example, the roads, the infrastructure, education, health, etc etc etc. None of which require the Gods to be appeased but just need a wise leader at the helm and funds!!!!!!!

FUNDS - which even in this century is given away to temples. sheesh!

But, it also makes me wonder, just how much power over our politicians do these peers and sages hold? Who really rules the state? God knows that several of these sages have been proved to be anything but holy and have been linked with everything from planned bomb blasts to fraud.

I'm sure that no God would be appeased with a fancier temple, a grandiose celebration, richer sages, elaborate rituals...

Perhaps Mr. CM, you could try appeasing your God by serving your people?

Friday, February 20, 2009

The guilt trip

Was reading a travelogue and that got me thinking that people are always writing about interesting trips they make to far flung or remote places, but noone writes about the one trip we all make the most often..... yeah, that's right you got it from the title of this one.

See, we're all accomplished going down that route. Sometimes we do it with a bit of help - usually from those who our closest to us, like a spouse or a parent- urging us to take that road as though its a well deserved vacation. To accomplish that, the oft used phrases are: "I understand you were busy but you should have seen your son's face ..... he was SO sad..." Or... "No, no... don't worry about me... you guys go out and have fun... i'm just an old woman.... i'll be fine alone.... (siiigh...)"
Most effective, isn't it?

Of course, there are times we don't need that extra push. There are enough number of times we feel inexplicably guilty for things we couldn't have prevented anyway.

Why is that so? Is it because deep down inside we know that we didn't do/try enough? Is it because we love blaming ourselves? Well, if a friend was facing a similar situation, 9 times out of 10 we'd tell him that he's got no reason to feel guilty. He really did the best he could/couldn't have helped it/was not his fault.. and usually these aren't platitudes. We mean it.

Then how is it that when it comes to ourself, we can't apply the same clear headed logic?

Wish I could be as level headed when it came to such situations.
What irks me most is that this kind of thinking is the elast productive and simply wastes time and energy, which, anybody who knows me would know how much I abhor.

So, resolution number one for the year (yes, that's right, i haven't gotten down to making any resolutions yet, and it is indeed the end of Feb already), I shall not waste more than 5 minutes* on a guilt trip....

*I'm realistic. Black and white resolutions ultimately fail

Monday, December 1, 2008

What will it take for the powers that be to wake up?

I haven't written here in a while and its a reflection on the sorry state of affairs that the previous post too was at the time of a terrorist attack.

The last time I wondered where we are headed. This time round I'm just plain frustrated. How does a corrupt nation fight anything? Apparently the terrorists came into Mumbai view the sea and guess why they weren't apprehended at any point? Because surprise, surprise, they used a route frequently used for smuggling by our most famous underworld don, Mr. D and God knows how many pockets he's lined to look the other way. So, what were we left with? A route that is not supervised that anyone with the brains of a 5 yr old could misuse.


What can we do besides protesting, I thought. Besides discussing things to death and blaming all and sundry - from our politicians to our border forces?

I thought that we could, each of us learn to be more observant, cautious. More active citizens. But then again......

In Kolkata on the second night of the Mumbai mess, residents of a middle class apartment noticed that a bulky black bag had been lying unclaimed at one corner of a staircase. After several hours, they started getting concerned and finally at night they alerted the local poilce. One solitary cop turned up at 10 pm, grumbling loudly about being "disturbed" at that hour... about how people could make a "fuss over nothing", picked up the bag and sauntered back.

So tell me, fellow citizens, how are we to fight this apathy in our nation where even as one city roils in turmoil another one is asleep???????

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Where are we headed....?

Have you been noticing the news over the last few years? Do you realize how many times the headlines have screamed "xxxxxx (pick a city!) rocked by blasts"... ? What is happening here? Why is it becoming increasingly easier for any faction to terrorize a country? Just how did things spiral out of control? Why is our country being targeted? India's never meddled with other countries, never posed as a threat to anyone, never dictated.... then why is there so much of hatred flowing freely through some sections across the country?

How are the minds of these indigenous terrorists brain washed? What are they told over time that they start believing and then start hating? What could be told to them to completely distort rational thinking? I really wonder what is the kind of talk that would make a man bomb his own city...where he's grown up and roamed and shopped and had good times? One sec, just to clarify, the most recent suspect indeed comes from a background where he has had the benefits of a good education, a stable, well paying job and a normal family. Then, back to my question: just what has been told to him over and over again to completely turn his mind and make him a terrorist?

What is it that these terrorists want to accomplish? Is it their form of entertainment? I say that with utmost disgust. For I am unable to understand the objective here. It isn't like destabilising the current government ensures a change which would suit them, it isn't that they've demanded something specific like a separate land, benefits, anything. Then what is the point?

If this is some twisted form of retribution, again... what is it that we have done? What is this payback all about?

People today don't feel very safe anymore. People can only think "where next?"

Such a shame that we not only are unable to stop any of them till date, we still don't have a clue as to why and who. Its a shame to hear that citizens of your own country are causing terror. Its a shame that we have a coalition government as every decision has to go through not only the oppositions' protests but also through a huge mess within their own parties... Its a shame that citizens nowhere to point their fingers have started distrusting their neighbour...

How did we get here and how do we get out of here??

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The color of truth

A lot of people I know firmly believe that their life is "simple" because for them things are either black or white............... deluded aren't they?

I mean have you never told a friend "hey come on.. that's such a simple thing don't worry..." when inside you've wondered how the heck did he get himself in such a jam? Never lied to a dear aunt who's invited you to dinner and asks at the end..."How was the chicken?"?? Never stood up for your sister when someone said something about her but you glossed it over? Been rude but strongly feel that on the whole you are a very amiable person? Forgiven a friend a couple of times? Been a parent who doesn't love his/her child even in the worst of times?

Well.... get it?? We all live our lives in grey. Its some misguided notion that makes a whole lot of people believe that they are more straightforward/honest/direct/ and of course "simple" (the most vague word in use today) if they claim that they only live by black and white.

Is grey complex? Nah...i don't think so. Grey is what keeps us human.... grey defines us and our feelings.....its basically a zone which permits an entire range of human actions..... without harsh judgement.

I'm sure one can stand and say... "I would never be a hypocrite.." they do mean it. But when you're looking for another job and in the meantime waiting to see what your appraisal yields..... ummm.... what was it you were saying again?

Does that mean we're all bad? Siiiiigh.... nope. Just means that stop judging all the time. Stop trying to continually judge actions, thoughts and sentiments. We're just human.... trying to do what's right....trying to find our way.... losing it once in a while.......

Live and let live.