Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Travailing on Public Transport #2

I took a bus this evening, to get from the heart of the city to my home. I was thankful I got a seat- earlier today there were two men sitting in what seemed to be the ladies seat. I saw this woman get in and look at the men, and then look at the space above the windows where a sticker saying "Ladies seat" is usually put or painted, but there was none. And so she looked at the men again and resigned to standing. I had already done the same exercise before she got in. I even tried to see if there was a faded "Ladies seat" sign that I could perhaps trace with my finger and show the men, and tell them, "Please Sir, but I must sit."

As the bus began to fill up and people began to jostle me, my mind went to the last time I was doing the same trip- from the heart of the city to my home- and I wondered what I would do if the same thing happened again. Make a scene? I guess if it happened to me I would. If it happened to the person sitting close to me, like last time? Then I guess I probably won't. I mean.. its her issue. If she doesn’t want to make a scene, then I shouldn't do it for her.

A few weeks back I was sitting in the last seat on the left side of the bus, that is reserved for women. Its just before the middle door of the bus.

A whole bunch of men were foot-boarding. Their feet were on the door marked above, and a lot of their hands were grasping the window ledge of my seat. A Muslim lady was sitting next to me, by the window and I had the aisle seat. She wore a red jacket, complete with head scarf and full sleeves. One of the men who was foot boarding, had his face nearly in ours. I think he was a little drunk. He was talking loudly, shouting, obviously very excited at the prospect of breaking his skull. He addressed us and said, "Should I leave my hands?! Should I?" I looked at him and considered speaking to him, and then I did. "Aap gir saktha hai," I said. What an idiot, what a blooming idiot. Why would I say such a thing to him? Does he not know that? Doesn't everyone know that? Why would I give the impression that I really care?! Like "care" about him. But for that moment, I thought I had transgressed some class divide and broken some stereotype about grinning roadside-romeos and I sat happy. "Stupid idiots," said the lady sitting next to me. She was right- he began to ask me the same question over and over, "Should I leave my hands?" Then I ignored him.

A few stops down the road, he hopped off. He pinched her and disappeared. "Eyyy," she exclaimed and then said "Stupid idiot fool!" She shut the window. #WinningIdea.

She got off soon enough and another guy who was foot boarding slid the window open from the outside and then wedged his fingers in to open it further. I shut it definitively. For a moment I worried I had jammed his fingers.

Muslim Lady 2 then took the seat that Muslim Lady 1 had vacated. This lady was fully covered, no reds and lipsticks even, unlike #1. She wore a black burka and a full headscarf. I thought she looked familiar but she didn't seem to think the same about me. She opened the window. I wondered if I should tell her to close it.

But then I'd have to explain the whole story and I may not be able to. Besides, you and I both know that shutting windows is not really a "Winning Idea." So I let it be.

When she motioned for me to move so she could leave, I realised why she looked familiar. There is a lady I cross nearly every morning when I am rushing to catch the bus. She is a sweeper in my building and I think once someone told me she also cooks and I had considered trying her out. Our lines were crossed closer than she knew.

And then I was flooded with questions- Shouldn't I have told her to close the window? She is a sweeper in my building- I kind of know her… As if it changes anything.


So this evening, as I wondered what I would do if a repeat incident occurs, I suddenly stopped my thoughts and told myself, "Stop being silly, can’t think like this all the time."

Then I began to eat my packet of chips and concentrate on other more important things- This flavour used to be called "Caribbean sweet something" and now its called "West Indies sweet something." Why did they change the name? To identify with the cricket fans or what?

Someone was playing Kolaveri Di on his mobile phone (It was coming from the depths of the sweaty masses of men). I wondered what it would be like if I began to sing Kolaveri Di.. "Wouldn't everyone smile? What if everyone began to sing it.. Like a flash mob! What a Pepsi/ Coke-ad moment! "What a transgression of cultural divides." This Kolaveri Di is really such an social equaliser… Hmm.. Should I blog about this song?"

And then it happened. I noticed some rapid movement in the seat across from me.

It was the last seat on the left side of the bus, that is reserved for women.

A girl in a blue sweater was sitting in the aisle seat, where I had been sitting a few weeks back. She was speaking to the girl next to her and had her arm around her. I couldn't see the other girl's face but her head was bent down. Blue Sweater told the Conductor, "You should have closed the door. Why do you leave the door open?" I tried to figure out what was going on and then I tapped her on the shoulder. "Some guy touched her. He was holding on to the window," she said. "Is she crying?" I actioned. "Yea," she mouthed. "Same thing happened to me few weeks back," I told her.

"That's why I was telling Conductor he should keep the door shut," she told me.


Earlier this evening, I was at a book store. My friend stepped out for a minute and came back in to report, "This auto guy asked me if I want a chick." Apparently the pimp asked my friend first if he wanted an auto and then if he wanted "Ladies, Drinks or Disco."
How is the stereotype Men? How is it?

How does it work for you Men? You pinch a woman's shoulder or lean into her and that gives you a kick huh? "Kissed the girls and made them cry" huh George? Foot boarding and feeling up women, is all the same thrill for you?

Would you climax if we did this?


Sometimes when I'm stuck in traffic, auto guys who are ahead of me will turn back and stare. Ok, let me contextualise this. If a man looks, its ok, its nothing bad. So if we were both stuck in traffic but going in opposite directions, and our eyes met, even lingered, its ok. But when we are both facing the ass of some truck in front of his, but he inconveniences his neck to look at me, and stare, that is not ok. So I feel like I should stare back, I can do this. But I can't and he wins. Sometimes I feel like I should probably give them the finger. But he is probably the kind of guy who won't know what it means. Or if he did, he would say, "Come on baby, how is the location?"


Tomorrow when you meet me, you may feel like you need to talk about this and maybe other stories of your own. But don't because I will be like, "Whatever." I mean, a man's got to do what a man's got to do.

When Blue Sweater left, she turned back and said, "Take care." So I did. I clenched my fists… and put my knees together. Then I drew my bag closer to me and adjusted my dupatta.

I have walked home on that road a thousand times. I love it in the day time- These trees are majestic. But in the night, these same familiar and awe inspiring trees, appear wizened and dangerous. I don't plug in my ear phones to play music because it doesn't seem like a good idea. Not today.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Tradable Commodities

Yesterday a man gave a lecture and said, "I have a new idea. I will be excited for you to join. Its in the field of education. Education industry and the health industry, will never take a hit from the recession. Now is the time."
Commodity 1- Social Services

Commodity 2- Ego Massages

Today I found a website that sells street-stuff like bags and scarves, but marked up about eight times. I could be wrong, but I daresay it is for the artists who make them, claimed by the website to be "tribal artists" but in all likelihood for the middlemen, cashing in on e-commerce.
Commodity 3- Gullible Artisans

A month and a day ago, I found a website that was selling exotic animals. It was very fishy but it was apparently also very possible.
Commodity 4- Anything

Monday, 28 November 2011

Bag of Problems

I have been taking a cloth bag for my grocery shopping, for so long now...

There is this supposedly green option...

... that I have no more plastic bags to throw my garbage in!

This one is not an option- garbage has to be tied securely in plastic

Now the next time I go shopping, I will have to pick up plastic bags in a hurry. I will bag fewer things in single packets, just so I can stock up on packets at home.

I never wanted to admit this.

But the way we live, city folk just cannot solve the climate crisis.

"I am not a Plastic Bag"- denial much?

Friday, 14 October 2011

Link Ups- The Process of Mental Tagging

What do Kushal’s girl friend and Mayur’s girl friend have in common? They are remembered for their one time boyfriend, and they can’t stop it. They can’t create an alternate identity. Whenever they are remembered, it will be by their association with something else, and usually only one of it. Its not so bad if you are an athlete or a dancer, because then of course you should be remembered primarily for your art if that is what you set out to do. Unless your Tiger Woods.... But the case is much the same with one-hit-wonders or journalists who get stuck in a particular beat- they can't shake it off.

We are currently in a public process of linking up and hand cuffing and indeed it is getting a little violent. This is a mass project of ‘tagging’ people. Arvind Kejriwal’s Wiki page could have been tagged under ‘RTI,’ but due to his association with the Lokpal, he will now always be tagged under ‘anna’ as well if not more often and only.

Prashant Bhushan got beaten up yesterday. It was to do with his remarks on Kashmir.

The men who beat him up, are members of Hindu extremist groups and are now targeting Bhushan’s colleague as well- Anna Hazare. The two were spotted together on several occasions, earlier this year.

But Hazare gained recent prominence due to his views on corruption... not Kasmir..

The guys who beat up Bhushan dont really care about that detail. For them, by the tagging system, Bhushan=Hazare, and now Bhushan/Hazare said something about Kashmir, so if A=B and B=C then A=C!

So they want Hazare to make clear his colleague's remarks on Kashmir and comments going around are hoping for Hazare to give some indication of his own view on the issue as well.

This is a dangerous line for Hazare to walk. Soon, all kinds of people are going to ask him all kinds of questions and their support for the anti-corruption movement will take a back seat to their communal agendas- Just like the Egyptian blogger Mikael Nabil Sanad, on a hunger strike (coincidence!) for being censored. Support for him has broken down after he made public his views on Israel. Hazare should have anticipated that his opinion is going to be sought on everything now that he has propped himself as the moral guardian of the nation. Since he cares for India so much, the hope is that he will always have an opinion, or better still, can pull a ‘fast-one.’

To add, Hazare recently released a video asking people not to vote for the UPA. This, along with his previous comments on Modi and link ups with the BJP, Ramdev and Agnivesh, got him tagged with the ‘Hindu right’ and he was alleged to be a tool by the ‘Opposition’ against the Congress.

News reports however say that the Hazare’s supporters who were beaten up, were shouting anti-BJP AND anti-Congress slogans yesterday.

Then this beat-up happened... True that no one beat up Hazare, but associations are going to be made by the press and the public, and Hazare is soon going to be untagged from ‘BJP’ because BHUSHAN was beaten up.

So now suddenly, Hazare’s political stance is back at being apolitical and/or neutral, and we can once again re-tag him under ‘civil society’ by his own creation of the politician-civil society binary.

In one of the more unlikely link ups, Bhushan’s remarks on Kashmir, have provided fodder for small talk between Arundhati Roy and himself, should they ever meet! She said similar things about Kashmir, only then there was this big furore about sedition.. Bhushan hasnt met that response. I dont know, but I’m guessing its the Anna aura/ tag that helped.

Except that this link up is quite fragile- they both differ terribly in their views on Hazare. Some tags are just bigger than others. This couple wont last and this link up wont go very far.

Thursday, 6 October 2011

Apples and Oranges

I’m waiting for the article that decries Jobs as a working class hero.. a middleclass megastar who did nothing for most people but cause excessive drooling.

Yea… waiting for that one.

Well here it is.

I woke up to #SteveJobsLegacy and was stunned- there’s just been too many deaths this year of prominent people with whom I have some connection- Maathai, Tiger, and now "the death of Jobs".. as if we weren't already hearing that one on a daily basis.

Why is Jobs a working class hero?

Its because he gave the middle class an ambition. Apart from being a techie, he was also a keen businessman, and this multifaceted role he played seems to give everyone an aspiration- if you can't invent, then market. If you can’t market, then own the company. And if neither of these high heeled things are possible, then at least own an iPod. Owning an iPod is a huge middleclass ambition, the kind that many people work hard and save up for. This is an ambition worth its weight in part. But whether the Apple itself is really worth its weight in comparison to other open source ideas, is another discussion and quite debatable. The rationalization is that people with money are allowed to aspire to waste it, #LaTomatina style.

So how many people will flock to Gates' death and how many to Jobs'?

Well, as many as there are dollars in their bank accounts. Ironically, their funerals will be captured and shared on the very legacies that these men have left us, and they will live forever.

Jobs' funeral is a simple one to attend. Owners of Apple products can easily drive down/ fly down/ stream it online. Gates' funeral is more tricky- there will be those in corners of Africa and Asia who don't have the money for an air ticket, but who do have a life now, a real living breathing one, not a virtual one, thanks to 'Bill and Melinda'. These survivors, as well as thousands of NGOs and individuals who have received grants from the B&M Foundation, will want to attend it in person, and not just over Facebook- because Gates actually gave. Healthcare, education, poverty alleviation, research and disaster relief, have been some of the things that the Foundation has worked on. In contrast, when Jobs resumed control over Apple in 1997, he cut off all of their philanthropic ventures. He dabbled with a foundation that was to work on food sustainability, something vague like that, but shut it down after a year.

Will we mourn the death of Gates as much as Jobs?

Probably not. I blame Microsoft's marketing- MS has made itself so commonplace that no one regards it with awe anymore. It is easy to download, patch and use. Not that we have too many alternative operating systems going around to choose from- its MS for the non geek, most of us, or Apple if you can afford it, or open source if you have a good geek friend to guide you. But in the case of Apple, we actually do have a number of alternatives. They are not the only ones with mp3s- remember, the iPod is still an mp3, it only provides you with a snazzy interface. And I hear the most wonderful things about the Android from Android users. So instead, note how Apple's work ethics are monopolistic. Most of their products are stubbornly incompatible with other technologies, and this is in an effort to ensure that they remain exclusive, unique… and soon, alone. Which will mean cutting off access to millions. This may be acceptable in today's business practise, but should not be acceptable by consumers, for whom choice should be king. Choicelessness is not a working class dream. So before you eulogize how this man's ideas 'changed the world,' consider HOW he changed it.

What Jobs did right, was innovation in design, or rather innovation by design. White was a hard colour to sell, but they did it and it made them stand out, even in the dark. The slow ebbing glow of the bitten apple on the screen of the Macbook has grown to be as comforting as fairy lights in December. Jobs is more charming than Gates. He's younger, and he created a technology that just looks and feels so good, its almost Megan Fox. Besides, having a life threatening illness makes the wiring in humanity's heart melt (I remember how people waited with bated breath when Jade Goody was going to have her very public death).

Yet Apple's strength lies in their cunning success at creating needs in us and making themselves the sole satisfier. Why, even the musicians who are bitter about not making all the money they could have, because of illegal downloading, because mp3s made it so easy to carry around a 1000 songs… also love their iPods! I won’t be surprised if Gates agrees to let iPhone and Macbook into MS Word’s spell check (‘iPod’ is already in, so I see as I write this).

People are spinning philosophies around Jobs that don't really exist. The only one that can truly be credited to him is the old cliché, "Work hard and achieve success" and "Rags to riches is possible."

What is happening instead, is that people have actually had the audacity (and here I get really upset) to compare the death of Jobs with the death of Lennon. The lady I am referring to said that she felt emptiness and a sensation of loss similar to when Lennon died. Another lady said she lost a "magic sparkle," and "Someone (who) filed me with so much awesomeness! <3" "He helped us realise that less is truly more," says yet another Tweeter. You mean in terms of the minimalistic design? Or you mean the money you spent on the product? "He brought together heart of tech, people, community in ways we didn't know we needed, but couldn't live without," says another person. Dear friend, the internet is bringing people together, Apple is no prerequisite for this, and you can just as well "Come Together" with another brand. Others are charting their lives around their Apples. "I can remember stages of my life based on the different Macs and Apple products I've had since my first Apple. That's #stevejobslegacy" says one. Another mom, serial posting on Jobs said, "I can remember my kids excitement w/each hand me down iPod, iPhone they got as we spoiled ourselves w/new one!" Hurrah for you… lucky you.. Teach your kids to want expensive things, and teach them that only expensive things are good things. And finally, one lady said, "I live for my iPhone and Mac Book…".. At which point I have to end.

When Jobs' supporters talk about changing the world, I believe they are referring to "How touch is better than push" as one person said online, claiming this to be the #SteveJobsLegacy. It’s a very different type of "change" that I usually associate with "the world". The Jobs-change and the Gates-change, are as different as apples from oranges, and I'm inclined to the latter. How did you guess. Here's hoping you remember to shed an extra tear next time.

PS- Just a little note on Lennon, if you didn’t notice I am going to direct you to it- Read the embedded links on ‘Working Class Hero’ and ‘Come Together’, all right?

Saturday, 3 September 2011


So I had plans for this little bit of virtual estate, but then some other plans happened and now you shall never see my plans!
So, Sooner, meet Later, and together you make Never.


So I had plans for this little bit of virtual estate, but then some other plans happened and now you shall never see my plans!
So, Sooner, meet Later, and together you make Never.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

India: pissing.and.pottering

While they were being kettled in the UK, tea was boiling over in the US. London is burning. Greece and Spain were kicking. Chile is currently screaming. The middle east rocked the world.

And we threw a tantrum.

The most radical of protests and national movements we saw in recent times was that of an already old man, deciding to make his anyway imminent death, worth some while in history. He decided to fast unto death. And he had the country up in storm- Over morality and ethics. As for corruption, “we need stricter laws!” of course.

This is not to say that I wished we had looted and committed arson. But this is to juxtapose our protest with that of the world’s and show you how feeble we really are. Being feeble is not the same as being ‘pacifist.’ It really is just plain old jane old passive. It’s a Gandhian hangover perhaps. But what excuse do we give for our misguided sheep mentality?

The fact is Anna Hazare SAID he would give up his life, but he didn’t. He ate. And that’s not a fast UNTO death. That’s a fast unto publicity or a fast unto fame.

Anna’s highly original and innovative Plan B, is Jail Bharo.

We are not ready for Jail Bharo.

When I met a young man at an India Against Corruption rally, he said, “I am fasting.” I asked, “Since when?” “Morning I didn’t have breakfast…lunch also, I have not yet had it..” he replied. “For how long will you fast?” was my last question. To which he said, “Till I start feeling very hungry…”

We won’t fill jails. The ones who will, will be party workers. The rest of us just want to get to work on time. The ones who understand what it means to honour your word and lay down your life for what you believe in, are not in this country. They live in others. At the risk of being beaten, arrested or even killed, the do what they have to do for their country.

Sunday, 12 June 2011

Travailing on Public Transport #1

“If you want the seat why don't you kids ask for it?” he snarled and continued sitting.

I was snubbed, and that too in front of a friend. “No Uncle, I didn’t mean that I wanted you to get up for me... I was just telling my friend here that...”

“Don't make loud comments and hope that I vacate the seat for you.”


I walk on to the platform nonchalantly. Check my phone for messages. Check my diary for things I have to finish today. Balance my pen behind my ear lobe, as I dig in my canvas bag for my music player. Some guy is looking. That’s ok, harmless. Lots of people on the platform, its still day light.

Metro screams in. A queue falls into place, with the guy at the head of the line shifting slightly from left to right, trying to approximate where the carriage will open. The line behind him sways on his leading.

Enter. Scan the carriage. Vacant seat? Someone I can squeeze with? Nopes. Standing again, standing every day. “Please mind the gap”, the familiar voice advises me. “Passengers are requested not to sit on the seats reserved for ladies,” she carries on moralizing. I look to see if anyone’s expression changed, did anyone feel uncomfortable about sitting on the ‘seats reserved for ladies’ when she made the announcement in English and he made the announcement in Hindi? Seems not.

I find a plastic loop to hang on to. Reach into my bag and take out my newspaper. Open it carefully, mindful of the people around me. Balance my pen in my ear lobe again. Corruption. Suicide bomb. Scam. Lady Gaga. Cricket.

My hair is coming loose from its pony tail. Need to re-tie it. Will wait till I’m out, it will swish in someone’s face otherwise.

Is that his belly? Or is that his bag rubbing against my butt? It better be his bag. Is he doing it on purpose? Should I turn around and give him my stern look? Or should I try my I-will-embarrass-you look? Should I stare him into feeling uncomfortable? Then again, they don't seem to feel uncomfortable. Don't want to create a scene and attract attention…

Why can’t he turn the other way? Why can’t he face his back to me. No that’s not good either.. I wish he would stand to his side. That way we won’t rub against each other controversially.

Where’s my phone?! In the front pocket of my jeans, good. Is my wallet visible in my bag? Should not bring these open bags.. should carry my back pack so that I can zip it up safely. But a back pack doesn't look good with a kurta.. Better buy myself a jhola with a zip, this one is very easy to steal from. I pull my bag closer to my front.

Another guy looking. What? Is my button open? I try and peer at my kurta without making it obvious. Forgot my dupatta at home. Well, at least I’m not wearing a t-shirt today. Ok can you stop looking now? I pull my bag closer again. Maybe I should turn the other direction. Is he still looking? Don't want to meet his eye. Why can’t everyone just read a newspaper on the metro?


So hot, want to take off my jacket. But I can’t- Wearing a sleeveless t shirt today. Brought the jacket so that I can cover up on the road and while travelling, will take it off when I reach work.

Don't want to travel in men’s compartment today. General compartment not men’s compartment. We just automatically consider the general compartment to be the men’s. I will travel in ladies’ compartment.


Rummaging in my bag on the platform. Should I go to ladies’ compartment? Its further down the platform, I don't want to walk to it. I’m wearing a long kurta today, Ill be safe. I think I will travel general.

Blind man enters the carriage. Guy gives up his seat for the blind man. He did it spontaneously, nice of him, bless him. Blind man takes out a large book. “Shlokas, today I am going to recite some Shlokas for you.”

Guy in front of me has very large toes. Can’t help notice these things- in metros, elevators, anywhere where you are in close physical contact with other human beings, you must let your eyes wander anywhere but to their eyes. Never, make, eye, contact.

Guy looks for his metro card in his wallet. Another card is peeping out. Says IIT Delhi. Decent. What if he talks to me? What if I talk to him? He must be a decent guy.

Suddenly, “We are working with the concept of Braille, on laptops.. for blind people.. with this NGO.” What?! Who? Me? IIT Guy is talking to me? Uh. Oh that’s cool I said. Moment(s). Mm. You’re. You’re working with JAWS also probably… (?) “Oh yeah, JAWS also.” “Final year project” I asked. “No, working independently.”

“Next station is, Barakhamba Road. Doors will open on the…”

Should I say bye to him?

“.. right. Please mind the gap.”

Doors open on the right. I left. Didn’t say bye to IIT Guy. I minded the gap.

Did he get out with me? No. Good. How come he decided to start a conversation with me? Smart guy.. I should have said bye. Decent fellow..


Delhi metro versus BMTC buses in Bangalore?

Delhi metro!

Delhi metro versus Delhi autos?

Delhi metro!

Kyunki, Delhi metro is AC and clean, and cheaper. Arm pits will be in your nose but at least they are not sweaty. No pollution or traffic jam. Don't have to fist, fight or swear. Don't have to ask bus conductor to give you your ticket and full change back. Don't have to text a friend the registration number of the auto in case of emergency. Don't have to force auto guy to go by meter and then worry if he is taking you on a longer route.


Dad told me to buy a large and heavy thala and keep it in my bag at all times. So if anyone tries to act funny with me, I can swing my bag in his face or anywhere else. Dad also told me to carry chilli powder. So if anyone tries to act funny with me, I can put it in his eyes. Dad told me to not leave my hair open and always wear a dupatta. “Don't attract attention, be simple.”

A friend gave me pepper spray for my birthday.

I don't carry it with me, because I think that by the time I find the pepper spray in my jhola, I would have been raped thrice. Also, if I carry it, I will always be fidgeting with it, because it will just make me all the more nervous. I will always be worried about a shadow behind me, a footstep behind me, and I will get paranoid trying to keep my thumb on the trigger all the time!


Another day, another metro. Doors open. Enter. Scan. First I scan the seats. Then I scan the stickers above the seats, to find which one is reserved. When I find it, I look at all the faces on that row and see if anyone of them looks like the kind that will give me the seat. All men. None respond. It’s like reading the rows and columns of a complicated table of figures, trying to find your value.

Even in the special "Women Only" compartment, women are often mobbed and harassed by men.

Some of them are elderly. But they’re men all the same. Do I deserve the seat more or do they? It’s a matter of weakness is it not? I may be a weak young woman, but he is old.. thus weak, and though a man, he is weaker than a weak young woman. So he gets the seat. That’s how it works.

Someone gets up. Me and another guy try and slide into the space from different ends. I get the seat but so does he. So actually I only got the edge of the seat. Now there are nine people in a row for seven.

“Please vacate seats for old, physically challenged and ladies,” said announcer aunty.

But why THAT order of infirmities? First old, then physically challenged, and after that ladies. Poor kids, forgot to add them in the string of ‘those who are of weak capacity’.

Do I want to be grouped with them?

“Please offer your seat to someone in need,” says the green sticker in the metro.

This is really the clincher of the issue. While it provides the answer, it does not provide the solution. Because how do you find who is in need or rather, who is in need more?

I’m a healthy young woman and I can stand for the thirty minute journey. But there are some days I’m carrying lots of stuff, or like last week when I was running a temperature. I considered asking a man for his seat but realized he was not sitting on the ladies’ row. So I went to the other side of the carriage and asked someone who was. But did I have to? Did I have to justify my claim to the seat that day? Did I have to go to the areas designated for my womanliness to be treated well?


According to the latest report from the National Crime Records Bureau, out of the 3,43,749 crimes against women that were reported, Delhi alone accounted for 13.2 per cent.

Dharini was slapped across the chest, in the Delhi metro ladies’ compartment, earlier this year. She says we need to Mend the Gap.

Sonali from Bangalore was roughed up by cops in Bangalore for going home late. She says we have a Right to Choose.

Blank Noise wants women to be Action Heroes.

Slut Walk wants the public to know that no one can be raped, not even a slut.

Hollaback in Chandigarh is asking for women to share their stories of gender discrimination, and Must Bol says to do it zor se.

Jaagori is asking for women to awaken.

I would like the freedom to be safe.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

This Closet isn't Big Enough for Us All.

Some of our leading ladies, on what it means to be a female politician in India.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Hairy Should be the Head that Wears the Crown

The Royal Family in waiting will have all lost their hair before they inherit the Crown…

... even while ‘The Kate’ is in demand at several hair saloons around the world.

She may be the only member of the household with hair to let down at Royal balls!
While the men will need lots of aloe vera...… to deal with skin abrasions- heavy crown on bare scalp :D
(Read about scalp abrasions here: “Avoid wearing anything tight on your head.”)

Though the best hair, undoubtedly goes to Princess Di, sigh.

From here in India…

… congratulations Kate and William!

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Bleeding.. Turquoise?

Since when did Pakistan become our biggest adversary? And no I haven’t been living under a rock =/.

Like how about either of the teams opens a couple of beers and says, “In peace bro, enough of this nonsense, you can have the match if you want to.”

I know I know, this is not practical. And the game should go on, no need for this idealistic blabber. I agree with you. I’m just saying, for argument.

Its quite terrifying for me to think of the millions who have called in sick today or are not studying for exams, to sit at home and hope that Pakistan loses. I was asked to pray that India wins. Why do we Indians wait with bated breath for Pakistan to LOSE?

Exhibit A: “India has taken peace talks with Pakistan a bit too far by gifting them a place in the finals of the World Cup.” This is what a friend of mine had to say. This is racist, as far as I'm concerned, and hardly nationalistic.

I have never feared for my life, more than after this post =/

Saturday, 19 March 2011

Rubble Rousing

Pieces of the Berlin Wall are still sold and cherished, in glass frames, in memory of what happened in 1989. The breaking of the wall was not just a procedure for geographical unification, but was also of extremely symbolic and sentimental value. It brought families together, and told people that peace is possible and the war is over. At least at the time.

The Sentimental State
Why does the State involve itself in the building of national monuments, erecting sculptures, flying flags and using official emblems on currency notes? These are practices that have a strong notional value. They give people a sense of patriotism and belongingness. Which is why in the time of protest, dissidents burn flag, effigies of leaders and tear up the constitution.
The Kingdom of Bahrain has had the Pearl Roundabout, razed to the ground. The graceful monument, was comprised of six dhow sails, that represented the six countries of the GCC, and atop of it was perched a large round pearl, symbolizing Bahrain’s history of pearling traditions, and to some people, their time of prosperity before being colonized. What it has come to signify more than this in recent times, is freedom and democracy for the thousands in Bahrain who are protesting the rule of the King. The Pearl Roundabout, or Pearl Square as the western media was calling it, was the focal point for all the protests in the country. It now no longer exists.
The picture below shows what it looks like now.
And this is not much different from this picture below =/.

Timing is everything
Word out on the streets is that the Roundabout was a traffic nightmare, and plans to break it down were not new. Word in the grapevine is that the Government didn’t want the Pearl to stand as a tall reminder of the protests that have questioned its sovereignty and rocked its boat. Whoever is the public relations person of the Government needs to be sacked for coming up with such a feeble cover. And whoever advises the King on strategic affairs should take a swim for his life, for suggesting this as the way to deal with protests/ traffic/ general nuisance.
Timing is everything. Understandably, protests cause traffic jams, and there is a logistical need to ease out bottle necks. Understandably, at this time emotions are running high and people had been camping out in the shade and shelter of the Pearl, forming a reverent attachment to the monument.
Shooting yourself in the foot
Protests in Bahrain are (were? Read on.) different from the ones in its neighbours, because there has been a large peace movement going on simultaneously as well. #UniteBH is a viral on Twitter and Youtube that has become a buzz word, flash card, poster and more for the ones who don’t want to protest or at least don’t want to protest in this way. People are heading into the studio, and cutting tracks for peace. Peace marches are also being held.
What the King had on his side, was the large expatriate community’s support. According to 2007 statistics, there are 527,433 Bahrainis, and 511,864 foreigners in Bahrain out of which, 1 lakh of them are Keralites. Expatriates had no complaints against the King, because their standard of living on the island is more than they can dream of, back home (I was to blog on this in another post, but found it too hard (or too controversial) to finish).
The Pearl Roundabout was important to them as well. They have made hundreds of projects in school, pasting its picture on the blank side of their notebooks. They have sent photos with the Pearl posing in the background, to their relatives.
No one expected this show of might and autocracy from the Government. Now the locals are angrier, and the expatriates are disillusioned. People are going to be lovingly picking up bits of stone and mud, and flinging it back at security forces- the Streisand Effect. While the Government may not have lost control of the situation yet- they have their tanks and their bombs and their bombs and their guns to their advantage- they have certainly lost the solidarity of several thousands who were on their side. #UniteBH will happen, but its matrix will change drastically with the death of the Pearl.

So now there is no square, circle or roundabout. Where did you revolution happen again?

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

N-Tech, No Way

I always thought nuclear technology, for energy or warfare, was a bad idea. As far as Im concerned, there is no such thing as nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
One, because in our world-conspiracy, nuclear technology (for peaceful purposes. For ‘peaceful’ purposes), is denied to nations (think Iran), because of questionable trustworthiness- This coming from high and mighty, not to mention guilty, US of A.
Two, because of N-tech’s scope for misuse.
And three, because of N-tech’s potential to be hazardous, despite safety measures. All it needs is a tsunami to blow the reactor off the charts.
Japan is reliving pains of historical proportions. Only that this time, it is due to their civilian nuclear energy plants not being able to withstand the recent Sendai earthquake and tsunami.
In these days of energy insufficiency, radical environmentalists go all out in favour of nuclear power. They see it as a suitable compromise, between human supply and human demand, and their own concerns for environmental protection. Nuclear power is said to be a clean source of energy, even considering the dangers of radiation, and the dirty energy that is used to build and run the plants in the first place.
Given all my environmental concerns and activities, I cant agree to this settlement. Charge me with being a radical humanitarian over an environmentalist, but I think it wise to pre-empt problems- nuclear explosions and radiation can lead to irreversible environmental and human damage. Choosing N-tech is going from the frying pan into the fire, from a situation of an energy deficit to a situation of an energy danger.
What swings me away from N-tech is that the dangers are not worth it, given that we are not yet at a Hobsons’s Choice. We have coal. That’s right, I just said we have coal. And I would prioritize coal over living with a millstone around my neck. However I only speak in favour of coal, because policy makers, researchers and developers, haven’t yet found a way to make renewable and clean energy attractive on a large scale. What I truly mean, is that we have the ability to make clean energy more credible. Giving N-tech the kind of importance that environmentalists have given it, is as bad as giving coal the kind of importance that industries have. We are not better than them for having come up with this as a solution to the problem of energy, when it only poses other problems, if not bigger ones.
A note to you if you are concerned about the environment- Do not forget that you are concerned about the environment because at the very bottom of it all, you are concerned about humans. Apart from the fact that there is a public saturation with environmental needs, is the fact that environmentalists turn people off. Environment for environment’s sake is the idealist outlook, and a harder argument for you to sell if you want to gather momentum to the movement. And we are running out of time, that we can all agree on.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

Saturday, 12 February 2011


I should forgive myself for not believing in the Jasmine Revolution. I didn’t believe because no one expects a smooth functioning of democracy's organs in the Middle East, and because of the strategic importance Mubarak had to the US, and the Israeli-Palestine issue. In the past, if a leader had to go, in the Middle East and Latin America, the US played in the back to ensure that their puppets went on stage. How often do we see an event come to completion, that wasn't in the interest of the States.

The '68 Revolution in France didn’t mean that deGaulle wasn’t reelected, because he was. In spite of how often we cite the protests today, in some respects they failed, because they were unheeded except by the future. There is a tendency for protests to go down this way.

But Egypt has overthrown its President of 30 years, and we have a new legendary square on the world map.

*walks like an Egyptian!*