Monday, October 25, 2010

Scourging through news items is what we media analysts do for a living. And in the process of looking through scores of links online, a seasoned news hound would definitely smell out news of his/her interest, simultaneously making a fairly accurate measure of the region/nation's media preferences.

Being one such mortal addicted to news and information in all shapes sizes and bytes, I am guilty as charged to the above crime. My ingression doesn't end with this though, for a daily exposure to publishing giants from the three worlds we are divided into, forces my yet un-dumbed-down mind to draw parallels,and worry over the consequences.

A cursory look at the media in the U.S. and India, would lead one to conclude that either could switch nationalities and the world still be the beautiful chaotic mess it is today. But look not too far under the gloss glam and front page gimmickry,and one would find the difference. The difference of assuredness at being a superpower, and the contrasting ignorance bordering on arrogance that our Indian media specializes in.

Why, i always wondered, that a nation like Ghana, be bothered with body scanners in New Jersey, or why Nepal's national daily splash Obama's Af-Pak policy on its front pages, with a thorough analysis inside. Of what interest would tumult in Latin American states be, for PlusNews of an already ailing Pakistan? And, more importantly, why Indian dailies have increasingly relegated international coverage to a single page flooded by classifieds adds, unless of course its our troublesome neighbours or their dragon friend? Africa, Middle East, Latin America, East Asia, the ASEAN,SAARC, regions that have traditionally been and will always be of India's strategic interest, scarcely find a mention in our public discourse. Compare this to how Britain and Washington hog the limelight, and it is clear something is wrong with our media's worldview.

Day in and day out, we are fed a concocted mixture of planted news, views and "analysis" with the preordained conclusion of us having "arrived" globally. In this maddening avalanche of self-glorification, we have lost a sense of purpose, a sense of direction as a society. In a never ending drumming of jingoistic cacophony, the media seems to have forgotten that a superpower can only stand tall on the support of an informed citizenry. In this blinding haze of proclaiming our importance, we seem to have falsified the truth that to grow in stature, we need a constant dialogue with the rest of the world.

We need a media that can bring the world to our door steps daily, that can break up world issues shedding light on how these would affect us, for we can not dream of a greater role in the legion of nations, unless we know how their world revolves.

News has always meant to be a looking glass for us to peep into the world. What we chose to look at reflects upon our standing as a people. It defines our intent, and our worldview. If being on the top is what we intend to do, shrinking our worldview is definitely not gonna help our intent!

Monday, August 02, 2010

Its eleven thirty in the night, and I am hungry and stimulated. Motivated, is more like it. For i just wrapped up watching Julie and Julia. Based on two true stories, the film can easily be anyone’s life story. It sure had glimpses of my own life in it.

No, I am not a girl about to enter her thirties, stuck in a mediocre life and lost. Lost, I am, aren’t we all? Each one of us is looking for something, some place, but is stuck with or at a totally different place in life. We all are looking for that hand, that one little thing to pull us out of this endless whirlpool that seems to be sucking us in, day in and day out.

So there it is, there is a Julie in all of us.

Do I have a Julia in me though? That, i aint so sure of it yet. Though I’d love to. Who wouldn’t? Being Julia is all about finding that one thing in life that gives me real joy, real happiness. That one thing, which, when I do, leaves behind a warmth in my heart and a smile on my lips. That one thing, which in the ideal world, I would be doing every single moment I am awake.

Do I have it in me to find that thing? And if I do find it, do I have the courage to grab the opportunity and take a shot at it? Will I be strong and brave enough to rough it out for a little time till things transition to the la la land where I am happy forever? Will I have the conviction Julie had to go through with recreating the recipies over one year?

The recipie to my perfect life is in sight. I have just about begun to start collecting the ingredients. All that sI now need is the will to pull through. Just like Julie and Julia had. I have the bread of my life ready, it’s time to spread the butter. The right amount, the right way!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

was standing at the bus stop a few weeks ago, when i came across this girl in a burkha. the black long burkha, was just long enuff for me to see a glimpse of the jeans that she wore under it. as i looked at her feet, she was in stilletos those really hip high heels tat i generally fear whilst roving my eye at a bus stop :P

amazing ! is all i cud think of. for burkha, the much malligned islamic attire, was more a symbol of subjugation, somehting i guessed was worn out of compulsion and not out of choice. and here she was, wearing the burkha with elan over her jeans, and what i assume wud have been a chic top too!

as i gazed further at her, ( helped tat my bus was nowhere to be seen ) i couldnt help marvel at how at oddity she was from the burkha-clad-stereotype woman we always like to parade when we speak of the other half of our religious history. she spoke fluent english, a rather upper crust elite education shone thru the way she carreid her self. she was definitely employed. her bag exemplified her clasy taste . the ruffled folds on her burkha testified to have been on the whole day and not just to avoid recognition by kith and kin on the road. she really was in total control of herself, and her surroundings, aware of guys looking at her, and in a very confident and healthy way, enjoying the attention.

so what was she? liberated indian woman, living on her own terms, covering her self up from head to toe ( well almost) out of choice, asserting her right to be a muslim in this world, and yet be progressive and liberated ?

or was she a sad girl , trying to be "in" with the crowd her age, forced to be under a burkha? hiding her hopes and ambitions under the dark all encompasing cloth that religion draped on her ?

even as i could think of an answer to these queries, zoom came her boyfreind, and vroom went she behind him on a bike, burkha still intact!

what was she? who was she? the liberated woman? or the chained muslim girl running away from herslef?

Thursday, April 01, 2010

I have put on some extra kilos of late, or so I have been told. Not by a concerned girl friend, unable to wrap her slender arms around my ever-increasing girth, but my well meaning friends who intend to keep me in shape till I land that girl ready to ,, u know, wrap herself around me :P

Now, I have wanted to get fat for long. No I am not poking fun at those who are a lil larger than most of us, I really mean it, when I say that after the desire to meet madz, the only ferverent desire of my life was to get fat. I am sick of being thin (no offence meant to all those who fight each day to stay grounded and not fly away with the next breeze), tired of being asked “arre beta khana theek nai milta wahaan?” by all and sundry, bored of being reminded that how healthy I “used” to be and how I have become now, makes me feel I’ve contracted some terminal sickness of sorts!

So, as is obvious, I’ve tried all in my strength to get those extra pounds. Gym, over eating, binging, stuffing, god knows gluttony has been my biggest sin for the past few years of my life! And yet, I never managed to grow even an inch in girth! All that I ate went where god knows! (I secretly believe my gluttony was being punished in this life itself, freeing me from the sin in the other world.) I’d stare longingly at obese people, checking out clothes in the XXXL sizes at malls, longing for that chance, imagining the joy of being able to fit into a t shirt that looks like a mini tent for a three year old’s camping trip! All my attempts, all my prayers went to a royal waste, as I started resigning to the fact that it just aint in my DNA to gain weight! But that was until now!

What has changed now? Nothing much, and yet a lot! I am pretty much the same guy, with the same lifestyle. Each day I park my royal saet for a stretch of 8 hours, doing pretty much nothing, other than shooting the air, eat ( am sure those who see the act, would prefer to call it hog ) the same, “baahar ka khaana” and infact have stopped gyming for quite a while now! And yet, I Am Fat now!

It’s like an unstoppable juggernaut, this weight gaining of mine! And its like the best thing to have happened to me since multiplexes and pani puri. I was happy, overjoyed, as each day I got up a few pounds heavier than the day before. My happiness knew no bounds, until now!

What happened again?? I went shopping for some pants! Now as every guy / gal who has gone through the rigors of gaining all rounded health (pun intended) would know, the weight u gain is inversely proportional to the number of clothes in your wardrobe that fit you. So unable to avoid the ignobility of bulging through my clothes (in reality being unable to squeeze myself into even my night pajamas) I headed to this store. Ecstatic at having finally graduated to the ALL size section of the malls, there was a new verve to my walk (whatever the weight could allow me of course) as I approached the clothes stack. And then I froze!

Now what happened?? I didn’t fit in any of the clothes there!! Nothing in the ALL size fit my slender waist; nothing in the stacks was a tent big enough to cover me! Heartbroken, crestfallen, hiding myself from the stares of the tohers around in the shop, as I walked back home despondent and sad, all I could think of was that I have put on some extra kilos of late, or so I have now seen for myself.

Friday, March 05, 2010

Sometimes you got to live with your mental problems. This is what Bart Simpson was saying. Loud and clear with his trademark smirk on, day in and day out, from a poster I drew for my work bench that I share with another fellow Indian. Until, the colleague of mine vandalised it. Mutilated it, with tasteless plasterwork aided by the most unattractive form of sticker tape available, disfiguring the poster. He left a signed note on it too, lest I credit the bartification of my Bart to Mr. Nobody or the aliens who land each day to pick up some of my other co-workers. But naturally, I was offended by this brute show of power, albeit faceless. I sulked, at my inability to give back in the same coin, and at my helplessness to defend what was mine. It took me a full 24 hours to realise how wrong I was in sulking, and how easy the solution to the whole problem was!
Yes, I was wrong at sulking. I have no right to. For my fellow Indian found my work of art offensive, and chose to mutilate it. In the society I inhabit today, this is how dissent is expressed. This is how differences of opinion are sorted out. This is how issues are thrashed out. What my colleague did was perfectly normal and in the limits of accepted public behaviour. I was a fool not to have realised this, for the signs are all around me.
The sena disagrees with something Shah Rukh says, they express their dissent by vandalising theatres playing his films. It is immaterial that what he said was his personal opinion, and as a tax paying citizen of India (SRK topped the tax payers list for full 6 successive years last decade!) he had every right to think, and speak it out in his own personal capacity.
Mumbai manoos suddenly wakes up to realise his city is no longer his own. He disagrees with the others that it is a shared empire of zillions. And what does he do? Thrash their already shanty abodes, kicking them out in hordes. Completely legitimate constitutional means of dissenting in a modern day democracy. To make things more civil and the protest more humane, the government turns a blind eye. After the entire oppressed majority needs a valve to vent out the pressures the minority is putting them under! That these minorities make the arteries of the mega city that sustains the lives and times of the oppressed majority is but a mere inconsequential detail in the sordid saga. Bombay mght have ben up for grabs, Mumbai isn’t my dear friend.
Muthalik and co. find jeans clad college going educated tequila guzzling girls in Bangalore offending; they have all the rights to bash them in public and teach them a lesson. That the girls were of legal drinking age, caught in a legal licensed bar is something that can be easily thrown out of the window. The moral propriety of the majoritarian India is at stake after all. Just so the minority like me raise a meek voice of protest at this anarchy in Bangalore; we are reminded namma bengaluru doesn’t tolerate deviations.
Hussein paints gods and goddesses in obscene poses. It offends our religious sensibilities. So burn his work, disrupt his exhibitions, torture him out of the country, never to let him in and flash the content smile of a job well done when he laments at having to accept refuge in another country. After all he insulted our gods! It’s another matter that nudity, sex and religion in India went hand in hand since time immemorial. It’s another matter that Husain never forced us to go see his work and get offended. To hell with the ideals of creative liberty and freedom of expression. A swami nityananda found seducing young girls on candid camera? Sure. A M.F. Husain recreating something that always was amidst us? Now that is an assault on Hinduism.
So it was that I had been a real jerk in thinking of hitting back at the very civilized and democratic way of expressing angst at my indiscretion and uncivil expression of a tormented demented psyche my parents gifted me with that my righteous colleague chose. I was an imbecile to have thought we were sharing the place, for it clearly belonged to someone else, I was merely tolerated till I remained in my set limits. What I should have done instead, is to apologise.
Apologise for free thinking. Apologise, for my creativity. Apologise for my right to beautify my work bench just so I could spend a few minutes smiling as I peep around in between a busy workday. I should have apologised. For choosing to express myself knowing full well that I am a minority, and in a free republic like India, it is against the law to do what the majority doesn’t like. Say sorry, for I offended the sensibilities of the majority. Remorse, for I forgot that freedom in India was a privilege and not a right.
Sadly, like the shah rukhs and hussains and Bihari bhaiyyas of my nation, I refuse to apologise. I refuse to say sorry. And I would gladly commit the same crime again and again. I am not sure for how long though.
Shah Rukh saved his film with a luncheon meeting. Husain opted refuge with another country, the Bihari takes heart in the hope that nitish might in another half century turn his own state into a mini Mumbai. All this, while I, type an application to my manager to change my bench, as atonement for the sins I committed, so that my creative indiscretions are no longer an inconvenience to my fellow Indian.
We, the free thinking, free speaking minority, are indeed a lunatic lot. And every time, we just got to live with their mental problems.