Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Extortion to Axetortion

You know, I often think of Facebook as a friendly neighbourhood. But that’s for another post, and I promise to link it here (I have finally figured out how to do it).

Today however, my aimless amble around my community turned into a hit and run when I was tagged in a picture for a gig this week at a club in the city.

The gig is called 'Axe-tortion' and indeed, it is promising to be night of face melting guitaring with four very prominent guitarists in the country! The montage of pictures of these four rocker men, were taken from various sources and put together in a line. Below the picture line-up was a list of their names. One of them is a friend of mine so I was able to immediately put the name to the face. That left me three more names and faces to match. However, something was amiss with the first two pictures and their names. The second name said Milind Deora. Milind Deora.. Deora, Milind.. And then my eyeballs began to grow unnaturally large as I took a closer look at the first guitarist. Was that a club dude waist coat, or I'll be damned, a neta suit? Or is that Mukesh Ambani? No fool, that's ridiculous!

Quick, give me Google!

So I googled his name. I had to be wrong, I'm sure I'm wrong, of course I'm wrong, I WILL BE WRONG!

I wasn't wrong.

Hello young India, guess what, your Member of Parliament from South Mumbai plays Jimi Hendrix.

My reaction to this news was violent to say the least.

So I YouTubed his name, and a long result of 'Milind Deora addresses parliament, Milind Deora on RTI' turned up… but then you hit the 'underound culture' that this side-parted MP also endorses. And you see his name in the same video title as 'Stevie Ray Vaughn', 'Freddie King' and so on.

You've heard of teenage girls turning starry eyed when they see their heroes haven't you?
Well it was like that for me (except that he's not my hero), only that my eyes were glazed and I suddenly received an image of a large tri-colour with a sex-drugs-and-rock-and-roll button badge occupying the central position. Oh sorry, in these days of sedition, it is distasteful to talk of such things.

Anyway, this is not some pseudo guitaring that he does, or some sympathy gigs he is given along with some paid audiences. He's actually playing- no sheet music, no hangs. He's playing real riffs, not faff like the odd chords that I play. And he's playing hard stuff, by blues legends.

He is not much of a performer, and maintains a largely impassive face. But this in itself sent me into fits. If I played footsie with him under the table, would I find him tapping to some song? If I stole his iPod, would I find BB King? Does he sing in the shower?


So to greet his screaming fans, his one hand does the open-palm sign of the Congress at a political rally and his other does a sign of the horns at a gig? And then he brings both those palms together in a namaste?

If I swore, I'd swear now. And spit.

I have a feeling I am the only one who finds these things funny. Why am I flipping about this? Politicians can't play music?

No no, politicians can. Like when Bill Clinton played the sax, see now that was cool.

But our politicians are usually more beast than human. Just like our film and sports stars are more god than human. If Milind Deora was proficient in Hindustani music, I wouldn’t be this aghast. If he played chess, made a damn good chicken curry on Sunday or pursued taxidermy, it would still be passable. But this is music that is said to be from the devil, it's foren music! There is nothing remotely politically correct about Jimi Hendrix. This, is like a ball of wool falling out of Manmohan Singh's briefcase causing him to admit that he knits all the sweaters for his grandchildren. It is as random and ridiculous as that.

As a young person who loves her music like any other young person, and is trying to be a good citizen like any… never mind that, I'm being honest- I am not so sure any more.

Like my mum always told me that clubs were not safe, and my daddy told me to never trust a man with a drink. But Ma, Pa, Milind Deora plays on a stage with a large Tuborg sign behind him!
"Ma, Pa, I want to serve my country. Politics?"
"Ma, Pa, I want to be a musician!"
"Ma, Pa, but Milind.."
"Ma, Pa, I want to be a political musician.. " *pleased at the sound of that*
"Dear Child… " "I never did like Dylan."

So you can be a nine to fiver and a nine to twelver also? Hahaha just who says!

This is more than just a gig, at least for Bangalore, and I see this as quite significant. Bangalore currently frowns upon alcohol and music at the same place [Don't look at me like that, yes it's true, you go figure and we are not discussing this here].
"This is the police. We're breaking up this party."
"Good evening gentlemen, my name is Milind Deora."

When men of steel and women of iron become flesh and blood, when they are close enough to touch the hems of their robes, what do you do? Throw your panties on stage of course.

Everyone was hopeful last elections, when we realised there were so many young people- Sachin, Rahul, Varun, Priyanka, Omar and Milind. Sounds like my best friends at college. And now one of them sits in the general spectator stands at the CWG and the other, well, I wont start all over again.

Hey Milind, I presume I can be on first name basis with you, and that neta suit makes you look fat.

Friday, 8 October 2010

Global Work Party on 10/10/10

A brilliant thing is happening in the world this Sunday- 6127 parties are going to be held, all day long in 187 countries.

Spectators to the climate movement- or for that matter, even political movements, or any movement for change- have long asked why if we all want the same thing, can’t we come together and make it happen.

That’s just what the ‘Global Work Party’ is doing on 10/10/10. This worldwide campaign organised by has brought together thousands of NGOs and independents with the plan to combine their green activism with political participation. 6127 parties have registered to engage in carbon cutting gestures. Not only is this a ‘party-party’ in the sense, a celebration of what we can do together, but these are also ‘work parties’, quite like a ‘search party’ and in this, it ceases to be an oxymoron. Their slogan this year, is ‘Get to Work’ and they are all posing this question to their respective governments- if we can get to work, what is stopping you?

With 2010 being the hottest year on record, and floods in Pakistan, Gujarat and Jammu and Kashmir, what are some of the possible theme-parties people have come up with?

Well, they’re planting trees in Tanzania and Kampala, having a bike-ride from Jordan to Israel, organizing a giant bike fix-up day to get every bicycle in the city back on the road in Auckland and installing solar stoves for a massive carbon neutral picnic in Bolivia. Maldivian President Mohamed Nasheed already got on top of the job, and installed solar panels himself, at the Muliaa'ge, the President’s residence. Obama is sending out the message from his roof top as well. He is bringing a revival of something that Carter initiated and Reagan abandoned- he is having solar panels installed at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the First Family’s residence.

India likes to party as much as any of these other countries, and the Indian Youth Climate Network in Delhi, Bangalore, Goa and Hyderabad, is organizing carbon cutting events as well. Delhi is having a photography competition and exhibition, Bangalore is planting trees, Goa is bird watching and Hyderabad is saving some lakes.

In the run up to COP 16, and with Kyoto expiring in 2012, with India being recently crowned as third largest emitter.. and with a leadership head start being made by Obama and Nasheed, let’s be typical, and throw a party, what say?

Thursday, 30 September 2010

Just Before the Verdict

Do take today’s verdict seriously. Do not take the verdict personally. Its only against the perpetrators, not against your kind.

I heard someone recently remark, ‘God save Ayodhya.’ I believe he was saying this with secular intentions, and since the Masjid does not exist, he was merely talking about the piece of land, meaning ‘God also save Babri,’ or rather, ‘God save that piece of land that can make savages out of men.'

The question that begs to be asked is, which god save who from whom for what? Hindu god save Hindus from Muslims or vice versa? For all we know, the Christian god probably is the one to save all from all and we have been barking up the wrong tree.

In this setting of anxiety and hostility who is safe? A friend at breakfast today said “I’m wearing my rosary outside today.” Futile attempt at safeguarding one’s life. We are all victims when communal disharmony breaks out. The intention of the fanatic is to avenge and instill fear. One good Catholic dead means nothing to one angry fanatic. We are all enemies when communal disharmony breaks out.

We are all victims, if not directly. Is not our collective modern history being taken casualty when it records that curfew is imposed today because of something that happened in the 16th century? Is not our international repute taking a beating when we are attempting to host the CWG and yet are expecting mass murder? Are not our national values being hung when we are not democratic, not secular and not peaceful?

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Ladies Seat

There's a reservation of seats in BMTC buses, at least in the non AC types, which presume that men still have not received the education necessary for them to give up their seats and women still haven’t acquired the strength to be equal. The reservation is for women, and it has the prestigious location of being in the very front of the bus, starting from behind the driver and ending just short of the middle door.

This reservation is usually indicated by the presence of the word 'Ladies' (correctly spelt) in English and Kannada, or by the motif of a regular savithri, emblazoned on the steel above the seats, for those who for no fault of theirs did not have the privilege of learning to read.

The funny thing is, the number of seats reserved for women is far lesser than the non reserved seats, that are by right of way, occupied by the gentler folk in our society, the men. Funnier still, is that men are always sitting in these ladies-seats, even in the presence of standing women, who are usually clutching on for dear life to their various appendages, including hand bags, hair dos, groceries and children. Greedy little gents I say, which probably explains why they are often called 'pigs', accompanied by the expected presence of 'chauvinist'. The funniest thing for me, is that in our patriarchal society, men never consider women equal until it comes to bus-seats.

Strength and Equality Advocates send out the clarion call, for women to occupy the un-reserved seats. But this cannot happen. Even in the presence of their being an equal number of men and women in a certain bus at a given time, it means that if men have reached the un-reserved seat before a woman, they just sit there. Women are allowed to stand in the man’s very line of sight. If a man leaves at a certain stop, his place is replaced by another standing man. And women do not foray in to the un-reserved compartment such that they can slip into the seat of the departing man. They do so only in the designated front, because which woman wants to be rocking back and forth pressed up against men in a non AC bus?

If this is how our social system in BMTC buses is to work, then it would probably make sense for more seats to be reserved for women, because men can occupy them anyway, in the absence of women. Or there needs to be a section called “For Ladies and Gents”, because as much as we may pooh-pooh the idea of an unwritten rule, there certainly exists one if you don’t want your bottom pinched. While the male gaze still considers a man as another human being who paid for a ticket and wants a seat, a woman is looked at as just a woman and cannot occupy the un-reserved seats. So is the idea of a reservation of seats a regressive one in the progress of women in society? To the educated middle class gaze, it is. But to the practical Indian woman, who is still ogled at and treated badly, she pleas for protection and concession.

In today’s society of disparity, the one who is weak is asked for an un-reasonable amount of personal strength from the one who is strong, and in this demand, some will perish while others will compromise and definitely nobody will be equal.

Usually by the last stop, most people who were standing would have found seats. But if there is anybody who is still standing, it will be a woman. Even though she is in the front of the bus, plain for all to see, such that ignorance is not bliss for all the forward facing and backward thinking men, she receives no seat.

This phenomenon is seen in other areas of life as well. Little boys can accompany their mothers to the ladies's toilet until he can make susu on his own. Little girls cannot be caught dead in the gents' toilet. This could work brilliantly, if it was like the check-out counter at super markets, where those who have 3 or fewer items to bill can stand in the regular line but not vice versa.

Strength and Equality Advocates would like to tell you women today, to suck it up.

I am glad I know how to compromise today. I'm actually selfishly glad when I enter a bus and see men sitting in the seats reserved for women. Because I'm strong all right- "Ladies seat," I say with a no-nonsense scowl, to those pigs. And settle down with my breakfast and newspaper.

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Who Says-Smoking

Pop culture has elevated smoking to a status of romance. A cigarette holder placed between slender fingers, while the woman’s rouged mouth is blowing out smoke rings, shrouds her in smoke and mystery. Photographs that show Churchill heavily puffing on a cigar, coupled with his deep set scowl, lend him a power and a damn-care attitude that lets us know that while smoking may kill him, he certainly will die on his own terms. Guevara has been similarly photographed, smoking a cigar from home, while lost in deep thought. Why, even Cruella DeVille was dressed with a cigarette and did it not add to the terror in her character?

However moral codes, health diktats and just plain culture, have rubbished the activity as a hazard and a premise for unproductivity.

So what does it take to be a rebel? How is a rebel any different from a freedom fighter, a social worker or a terrorist? Don’t they all want change, and to do things differently. It is unfortunate that the connotation associated with the term rebel has come to be negative, and a ‘deviant’ is not viewed as individualistic or creative but as an anti-social nuisance.

There is a nation wide smoking ban in India, which was put in place in October 2008. There is also a ban on smoking being portrayed in movies and photographs, unless they were from a period before the ban was introduced. But tobacco is still grown in India, and more frequent than the much needed dustbins in this country, are little tin shops that sell cigarettes, Pan Parag and tea, to the 250 million tobacco users in the country. India is the third largest market for cigarettes in the world, and whether the ban is directed towards people already addicted to smoking cigarettes, or to protect second hand smokers, is anybody’s guess.

Of all the addictions that are considered devilish, I’m taking tobacco smoking on today, and debating it for myself, irrespective of the fact that I’ve already made up my mind about it.

I’m a non smoker but I have several smoker friends. Heck, nearly everybody I know smokes. I never lend them money to buy smokes but I do accompany them sometimes, on their sutta-breaks. This has allowed me to closely observe the social implications of smoking.

From my inferences, smoking gives smokers a social advantage. “Want a smoke?,” “What’s your brand?” and “Have you tried this brand?” are often used conversation starters.

I know students who smoke with their professors outside college and have seen teenagers smoking with adults in the balcony at parties. I once even asked a smoker friend to oblige a beggar, who wanted some of his cigarettes in Delhi (I’ll explain this in another post, another time).

Thus, the old and young, wise and foolish are suddenly equal when it comes to them being smokers. Their life’s Venn diagrams overlap, with no one side judging the others’ values and choices. “How long have you been smoking?,” “How many do you smoke in a day?,” “Have you tried quitting?” and “How come you didn’t succeed?” means that they have all had some common trials, successes and failures and a considerable amount of experience and insight to share, irrespective of their age and maturity. In the sense, this immediately inducts every smoker into a fraternity, and everybody wants to belong.

Contrary to a non-smokers usual dismissal of a smoker as someone who is weak willed, I contest that on the grounds of the active and conscious nature of the addiction. Unlike an alcoholic or a druggie, a smoker hasn’t given himself over to smoking. Smokers smoke on the go, and capably manage their lives with one hand working while the other wields a cigarette. It means that a smoker doesn’t languish in a dark bar, neither does he shack in abandoned houses injecting things into his blood. One wouldn’t see a smoker lying face down on the road, passed out under influence.

Instead every smoke and smoke break is planned for. Several of my smoker friends ration out their money carefully and budget for cigarettes. Thus a smoker doesn’t sit rooted and smoke all day, all at once, but does so at intervals. This gives credence to their self will, because a smoker always carries a pack of cigarettes in his pocket and can feel it every time he reaches for his keys or wallet, but doesn’t always give in.

And thus, a smoker does in fact have cravings and suffers withdrawals if he isn’t able to smoke but this ensures that he is always aware of his addiction. This in turn means that he controls his own addiction to a large extent.

Life is slightly slower for a smoker. Or at least it is well interspersed with pauses and breathing time- something all our lives could use- even if it means they breathe their own toxic exhalations. Sutta breaks give smokers time to reflect on their ongoing day, calm down, and re-strategize for the rest of it. The demand of their addiction, ensures their sanity and subsequent clarity, simply because they took a time out.

And as long as this remains uncontested, who says?

Who Says

Who says you can’t wear short skirts, can’t pierce the same side of your nose twice, can’t be a nine to fiver and be a loud mouthed biker at night at the same time. Who says you can’t go to church and sport a personal tattoo way down under. Who says you got to finish two degrees and then work. WHO SAYS THESE THINGS. And why not me?

The multiplicity of angles, and the multitude of options- whether it is at your neighbourhood restaurant that serves tandoor, Chinese and Udupi, or this drama of a life- has resulted in the lack of reason for us to take any particular side. This leaves things vacant and cluttered.

But only one thing is right and can be. Though there may be degrees of rightness, the one standing will have to be the one farthest away from the wrong, or even the center. Every other option is a compromise.

Every other option has to be debated out, because we can’t afford to make mistakes anymore. And even though some things are universally accepted to be right or wrong, for the benefit of those who err in their ways and seek to justify it, those who know the right should be able to hold up their end.

I plan on featuring posts titled ‘Who Says’ in which I may argue situations, even if I believe much the contrary of what I write. It will be done purely as an exercise, to annoy myself.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

First and Goodest

Written: 7th December, 2009

“India is among the countries with the lowest standards of English in the world according to a recent British Council Survey. Knowledge of English is a prerequisite and an imperative necessity for our progress!” he pompously declared.

Faithful Indians, see. They’re always on the lookout of things that can build our country up. And then they will hold these things sacred and ensure that they remain crystalline.

“I’m not surprised. With people like Shobha De speaking in that terrible mix of English and Hindi, and yet they are acclaimed as some of the best Indian writers at present, is it any wonder that we have that low a ranking on the survey?” he bemoaned.

Indians must be first in everything. Or best. Whichever has the more positive connotation. At least that’s what faithful Indians think. First on the list of countries with the lowest HDI. First on the list of most-polluting-nations. First on the list of countries with the most pedestrian accidents, highest incidents of influenza.

English is our redeemer though, at least this Indian thinks.

“And what is worse, is how we have taken the beautiful language (of progress!), and made the most disgusting literal translations of it. Like this ‘What is your good name?’ business! It’s a translation of the Hindi enquiry ‘aapka shubh naam kya hai’. I think that it is insulting to be asked that question. Does it mean that people have ‘bad names’? Or that within closed circles, they are perhaps known by names that are derogatory?”

Is this a generally respectful world view, emphasizing on reverence for foreign culture? Or an insecurity that comes with being coloured? Is he one of those ‘being-Indian-is-a-dead weight’ people or one of those individuals of heightened awareness, who is the face of Brand Globalization?

What seems to be escaping the notice of this Faithful Indian is that adding the descriptive to the noun and the embellishment to the question, is merely the Indian way of being respectful. Since when has respect been a cultural prerogative?

Besides, English is not our language. We understand perfectly what ‘Meggi nodells,’ ‘Mek Roni,’ ‘Strowbary Milkshake,’ ‘feshion,’ ‘Medicel shop’ and ‘Sound Ok Horn’ is, don’t we? And we’re not doing so bad on the progress front either.

Who are we kidding?

“So is it all right to say ‘Good Morning?' What about 'Happy Birthday?'” I asked him.

Of course. Its polite and mannered. It’s the right way to go about things. It’s an ice breaker, and a positive note to start a relationship on. It is acceptable and expected.

“Are you implying then, that you may want to wish the other, a ‘bad morning’? Or that it even matters to the morning, noon or night, if you wish it well or not?!”

And to think, they call Indians superstitious!

Thursday, 4 March 2010

Hot, Flat and Crowded

Hello Blue Blog:)
I think Ill be back next week :P
After the 9th I think.
Papa was a rolling stone.