Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Latest Poems

Two of my latest poems here. Hope you like them. They were written in a dark sombre mood. Gave me a bit of the blues, momentarily, though.

Accident Averted!

It happened this Sunday. The church service got over. Said the usual goodbyes and we were driving with our parish priests, Rev. Roy Varghese, on the highway to CBD Belapur where we live. The priest was at the wheel.

There is a row of vehicles on the other side of the road. An accident on the road, a usual thing. It’s nothing new on the Bombay-Pune highway, which has now become an expressway. A trailer had twisted around; its cabin and front wheels had turned, telescoped, kind of, into its back. The main body of the trailer, what is called the “bed” (FYI, I used to be in-charge of the “plant” in Saudi Arabia and I knew these terms) had on it a hulking container, containing granite slabs.

With the impact, which I could discern had inflicted considerable damage, the container had spilled into the road, and sat in the middle of it blocking traffic. We pass it. In the distance, down an incline, I can see this huge state transport bus coming straight at us from the wrong side of the road, I mean, our side.

The Rev. Varghese is driving straight ahead at the bus that is coming at us around 80 kilometers per hour. We were going steady at around 60 kilometers per hour. I think the priest has seen the bus and would swerve. I point and shout, “See that?”

“What?”

He hasn’t seen the bus. The bus doesn’t slow down, doesn’t even acknowledge the small missile that is coming its way. I can see what the end is like. A colleague had met with an accident recently and this is his story.

“Those fools are coming straight at us.”

The good Rev. Varghese swerves. He is good. Luckily there isn’t another speeding vehicle to our left. The bus passes with a roar and a whoosh. I dither, I can’t breath. So this is how it ends. You are crippled even if it wasn’t your mistake.

Driving in India can be a harrowing experience. That man who drove the State-owned transport bus needs to be shot, trussed up, mounted and displayed in some museum. Any volunteers?

Bombay | Pune | Driving | Accident

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Baap ka raj hai kya? Is it your father’s property?

How do I say this? I have seen these common Indian insults used rather indiscriminately these days. I don’t know; I have been at the receiving end of these epithets at times. There was this incident when I was traveling in a train and a guy pushed me.

“Kaya karatha hai?” What are you doing I asked out of pique more than a little chastened by the unfairness of it. I guess there was enough space for him not to poke me in the ribs.

“Thumara baap ka train hai kya?” Is it your father’s train? He asked.

“Is it your father’s then?” I asked him threateningly. I am usually reticent but I can be aggressive if I want to be. Give it back in kind. Fathers are the epitome of family pride and I didn’t want my father dragged into this, not the least by this ruffian.

“Why did you bring my father into it?”

“Because you did first,” I said. See, there is no logic in these everyday fights and it is better to offend than to lie back and take insults.

The matter soon escalated to a point when fists would generally be used. And there is so much frustration going around in a crowd that no one would mind letting someone have it in the nose if they got the opportunity. Sock, sock, sock, sock, would go hands made of steel and the crowd would then disperse leaving you to nurse your broken bones. Such is life in a big city. Such is the life of a commuter in Bombay’s trains.

How did I defuse the situation? Leave it to me. I am resourceful. The city has taught me a few things.

“Ask this nice gentleman here, how he would feel if this man pushed him? And he didn’t even have the manners to apologize.”

The “gentleman” I asked was neither a “gentleman” nor “nice.” Doesn’t matter. He was the heftiest man around, with a frightening moustache to boot, the sort who could freeze someone with a glare. If he was on my side then I was safe.

It worked. The man was so grateful to be called a “gentleman” that he glared at my oppressor, “Thumara baap ne thumko manners nahi sikhaya kya?” Didn’t your father teach you any manners?

See, after all, in Bombay, any argument starts and ends with “father.”
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Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Some more Bush bashing!

Can't help it but here's more grist for the Bush-mill! Don't post forwards, but, this, umm, seems so tempting. So have a laugh!

George: Condi! Nice to see you. What's happening?
Condi: Sir, I have the report here about the new leader of China .
George: Great. Lay it on me.
Condi: Hu is the new leader of China .
George: That's what I want to know.
Condi: That's what I'm telling you.
George: That's what I'm asking you. Who is the new leader of China ?
Condi: Yes.
George: I mean the fellow's name.
Condi: Hu.
George: The guy in China .
Condi: Hu.
George: The new leader of China .
Condi: Hu.
George: The main man in China !
Condi: Hu is leading China .
George: Now whaddya' asking me for?
Condi: I'm telling you, Hu is leading China .
George: Well, I'm asking you. Who is leading China ?
Condi: That's the man's name.
George: That's who's name?
Condi: Yes.
George: Will you, or will you not, tell me the name of the new leader of China ?
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: Yassir? Yassir Arafat is in China ? I thought he's dead in the Middle East .
Condi: That's correct.
George: Then who is in China ?
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: Yassir is in China ?
Condi: No, sir.
George: Then who is?
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: Yassir?
Condi: No, sir.
George: Look Condi. I need to know the name of the new leader of China ... Get me the Secretary General of the U.N. on the phone.
Condi: Kofi?
George: No, thanks.
Condi: You want Kofi?
George: No.
Condi: You don't want Kofi.
George: No. But now that you mention it, I could use a glass of milk. And then get me the U.N.
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: Not Yassir! The guy at the U.N.
Condi: Kofi?
George: Milk! Will you please make the call?
Condi: And call who?
George: Who is the guy at the U.N ?
Condi: Hu is the guy in China .
George: Will you stay out of China ?!
Condi: Yes, sir.
George: And stay out of the Middle East ! Just get me the guy at the U.N.
Condi: Kofi.
George: All right! With cream and two sugars. Now get on the phone.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

My friend John Baker's advice on getting published!


Here’s a comment from my blog friend and published author John Baker on getting published

I wish you well with your novel. It is not an easy thing to do, first to write it, and then to place it with a publisher, agent.

It's not 'done' I'm afraid to introduce people in the trade. Even with a couple of my best friends I have not been able to get my agent to read their work.

You have to do some background reading, see what the agents you fancy arelooking for, interested in, and then make a direct approach.

Only approach reputable agents. Look in the writers and artists’ yearbook,and you'll be okay.
Never give an agent or a publisher any money. They're supposed to give thestuff to you.

A serial rape, two molestations and a gang rape!

A serial rape and two molestations and a gang rape

Seems this blog is being converted (thought of using the word perverted) into a rape blog. I couldn't post this yesterday, and when I open the papers today there's another rape spashed across the pages.

We need to do some deep meditation before the nation degenerates, yes, degenerates, into a nation of rapists, molesters, lechers, and perverts.

I guess rape is about power. The power to confer sex is in the hands of the female of the species. But power of administration, business and comerce are with men. Men use women as tools to advance their power, administration, business and commerce. In the process women are forced to expose, pose in the nude, talk loftily about a lifestyle they crave, give the "come hither" looks.

Unmoderated, unregulated show of sexuality on screen can pervert men into thinking women are "available" when they are not. That leads to frustration, and rap happens.

Please comment. I would like to know what you think.

First the serial rape

A rich industrialist’s son, who drives a Mercedes, no less seems to be a serial rapist. He picked up a 52-year old woman from Colaba some place, took her to the textile mill he owns and raped her. I see your jaws dropping. Yes, she is 52 years old and he is the scion of one of the richest mill-owners in Bombay, and he raped her in the mill he owns. Whoa, what happening? As the Ripley’s Believe it or not presenter say, “Believe it.”

Seems he is a serial rapist and a sex maniac on the loose. A homosexual then came forward and testified that he had assaulted and raped him also. Then a call center employee came forth with another allegation that the same industrialist’s son had raped her on the Bombay-Pune expressway.

A Riot Over a Molestation on Holi

Ghansoli is a small village near Turbhe where I work. In this village two groups clashed with iron rods, swords, and sickles over a molestation of a girl on Holi. For those who came late, I mean those from foreign climes, Holi is the festival of springs when colored water and powder is thrown on each other in celebration of the coming of spring. It is an Indian custom and a festival of sorts.

Seems a girl was molested when throwing water, or powder on her. It is a common occurrence and many women have complained of men groping them on the pretext of applying colored water and powder. But a riot ensued and three people are dead. The police fired their weapons and many are injured and in hospital.

Masseur-ji in molestation case

Then this one tops this list. A masseur, a member of the Indian team that went to participate in the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, groped and attempted “to fondle” an attendant in the games village in that city.

Tut, tut, not done dear masseur-ji. Those white-skin “memsahibs” are not as forgiving as our local “madam-ji’s” when they are groped. You are used to groping cute young things in buses and in public places in India. Right? But those white-skinned “memsahibs” can slap you, drag you to court, humiliate you if you do the sort of stuff you do in DTC and BEST buses.

So be very careful when you are in a “phoren” country. Okay?

The gang rape

Today, there is news of a gang rape in Mira road. A teenager invited a girl of his age to his flat apparently for a birthday party. The girl innocently turns up and finds only the boy and his friends. She is given fruit juice laced with sleeping pills. She is taken into the bedroom shown porono films and gang raped.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

The Bushes' Whacky visit to India


A friend tells me there was snow in California. California, of all the places on the earth, which is known to have sunshine all year around? And we had hail in Kharghar, New Bombay, close to where I live. Heavy rains lashed Kerala recently. Weather patterns are changing. There is unpredictability about nature, as a man growing old and cantankerous.

George Bush came and went. He gave nuclear fuel to India. At least, on paper. The nitty gritty will have to sorted out later, which isn’t difficult considering the clout a US president has. US presidents don’t visit India for nothing. Behind his visit was the business lobby that, of course, lobbied to sell aircrafts to India, F16s, Boeings, outsourcing, or whatever.

The military industrial lobby in the US is a very strong and potent force. They can coerce the president into doing things you and I can’t imagine. Manmohan Singh is happy that he has been able to wangle nuclear fuel in exchange for inspection of limited nuclear facilities. Oh, hum! The signal is clear. That means Indian can go ahead with its weapons development program. According to the deal with India, India will get access to U.S. civil nuclear technology and open some of its nuclear facilities to inspection. But not all. This is what Representative Edward Markey has to say:

"With one simple move the president has blown a hole in the nuclear rules that the entire world has been playing by and broken his own word to assure that we will not ship nuclear technology to India without the proper safeguards."

I am not against nuclear energy or nuclear weapons. But I suspect Bush must have gone and offered the same package to Pakistan. That would leave our bete noires and us with nuclear warhead over the simmering issue of Kashmir. Who knows if these weapons would not be set off in a confrontation like Kargil? In that case we would have to run for cover.

But did anyone ask Bush why he didn’t push the Kyoto Protocol agenda? The good man Al Gore has been pushing this agenda with India only a few days before Bush’s arrival and he received a cold reception from the minister-vinisters. Somehow, don’t ask me why, I see Bush as the progenitor of doom and the loser Al Gore as the saver of the world. What Gore has to say has grave meaning for the world.

Firstly he said that we have multiplied four times in one generation. It took our parents almost millions of years to become 2 billion, and we became 9 billion in a single generation, that is, umm, let me say from my childhood in 1973 to my middle age and my forties the number of people quadrupled.

Secondly he says technology has marched ahead at a bewildering pace. The house I was born into didn’t have electricity, television, phones, or, refrigerators. Today all these gadgets surround me. I started working in 1980 for a salary of Rs 300, which was a big bonanza then as a movie cost only Rs 2.75, and I watched plenty of them. I bought books for Rs 10 and read them by the hundred. I now draw a hundred times that amount. But I am still in debt and don’t have patience to read a book or watch a movie. That’s the mechanics of the outsourcing industry of which I am part.

I work in office for around 12 hours a day and that too in a sitting position in an air-conditioned room. I know nothing of what goes on outside except when I see news on television and read about them in the newspapers. I am callous and cynical about the harm people are doing to the environment. I am only worried when rains do not stop and the heat is unbearable. And Bush supports outsourcing and say it brings world economic parity. But at the cost of the environment?

After waffling so much let me get back to my concern about the environment. Maybe snow in California and hailstorm in Bombay is a good thing. My friend enjoyed it immensely, she says.

Today if the environment can be personified it is an angry and hurt monster bleeding all over it’s frail body, waiting to come down on earth with great fury and retributive vengeance. So it can strike anytime because we have played with its tender constitution. The earth’s outer shell is a delicate frame, which has been punctured by the pollutants we are emitting into it.

Al Gore suggested we stop this and we stop hurting this monster and make it our friend. Our friend Bush wants this monster to be further aggravated for the gains of a few rich businessmen. Who wins? George Bush did, didn’t he? It was just a petty quibble over vote counting wasn’t it?

Monday, March 13, 2006

A few rambling thoughts!

Dear Blog,

Few rambling thoughts for today. Yes, I am writing this in a letter format, hope you like it. A birthday came and went. Thank you around 12 people who wished me the best on my birthday. Acknowledged everyone of them. And a dear friend posted a birthday tribute on a discussion board. Am touched. Had to go there and acknowledge all of them.

For those who have been clamoring to know what I did on my bidday. Had dinner out with wifey and son at the nearby restaurant called “Shankar Palace.” I was there when the restaurant opened and the owner is a friend, sorry, acquaintance. Those days CBD Belapur was a quiet little place, and I had to walk a mile to get a rickshaw. I had to change twice to get to Colaba where I worked then. Now there are hundreds of rickshaws puttering around, there is an explosion of cars and bikes. Had a quiet evening.

Ronnie rides a Hero Honda CBZ. A nice black one. He has grown and is in first year engineering. Is getting old such a horrible thing? I feel so useless. No, not useless, powerless. Back to my concerns about the environment. Read what Al Gore has to say about the environment trap that we are in. People we need to be responsible with the environment. But, why do we act as if we are a company in liquidation as Al Gore implies in this article?

It’s nineteen years since I came to live in Artist Village. A lot of things have changed since then. Most of the houses have been pulled down to construct bungalows. A neighbor, who recently reconstructed his house walks with his nose in the air. I used to hike in the mountains around Artist Village. I no longer have the time to even go to the nearby dam. So busy these days.

Also the prospect of having a novel published is daunting, no, haunting me now. Wonder why I started writing it in the first place around fourteen years ago. People think I got greedy after Arundhati Roy became such a celebrity after “God of Small Things.” I have been accused of all such things. Never mind. I started writing my novel in 1992 much before she started writing hers. And I am still struggling.

Guess, I will stop here for now. Have a nice day!

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Comments on my blog post on "Street Harassment"

No, John, No chappals from me. I agree with your tongue-in-cheek analysis of street harassment. To survive, you need to be tough, blasé, and tell yourself, men are dogs. No, not you. And actually, not quite a few men I know. But like one negotiates potholes, shit, stray dogs, beggars, BEST buses, rickshaws, etc, etc on our big, bad roads, the same with eve teasers.
Batul Mukhtiar

Well, you do have a point, John, but let me tell you my perspective...

Women are harassed on the streets even if dresses are not so revealing, and despite sindoor. They have always been.

Sometimes ignoring works. But yes, knowing self defence is a good idea. I have used the good old safety pin quite often. And I hope the men who have been at the receiving end of my "weapon" have not dared to repeat their acts.

I remember once Bhopal police ran a unique anti-harassment drive near my all-girls' college. The head of any man found guilty was shaved!

I am raising my son to respect women. Hope his children will respect women even more. And gradually, change should happen.
Smita Rajan

Batul: "To survive, you need to be tough, blase, and tell yourself, men are dogs. "

Please do not take this extreme view. They are only misguided. As Smita says we have to work towards a change in attitude.

Smita: "Women are harassed on the streets even if dresses are not so revealing, and despite sindoor. They have always been."

I had forgotten one vital point. Kamayani has stated on her Ryze page that "portrayal of women in the media is one of the major causes of violence towards women," something to that effect. In the same vein I would say "portrayal of women in films and serials is one of the major reasons for eve teasing and street harassment."

In films women are shown to playfully enjoy being called "Chamak Challo," so men assume in real life too they love being called that. Wrong assumption. In films they are following the dream merchants' tricks to get more people to watch the movie and in real life it hurts to be called "Chamak Challo."

so the portrayal of women in the media also has to change with the change of attitude we are aiming towards.

Confession time: Even I used to have a "teaser's mentality" (no not an outright teaser, as I was shy of girls, but I still do "look" [the "that woman is stunningly beautiful" sort of look, and i have been amply rewarded by a smile for my efforts] if that amounts to harassment, please enlighten) at one time and I changed when I had enough wonderful women friends. If I can change then all men can, I am sure.
John

No, John. I don't really believe men are dogs. I meant it in the same tone as was your article. For that moment of time, when one is being teased, like a bit of a whiplash, actually, one just reacts. That's it. I don't believe in generalizations. Nor do I enjoy being a "Chammak Challo". But I do like being looked at appreciatevely as I am sure, do men
Batul

My reaction to a post on Anita's blog.

We, as a society aren't ready enough for our women to wear g-strings, as yet. If they do, it's at their own risk.

I hint at a feminine revolution, but the harbingers have to go by the status quo before changing attitudes and perception.

As I also said elsewhere, the provocation happens in a song video, but the rape happens in a lonely spot to an innocent girl who least expects it, by a man who hasn't learnt to be nonchalant (as it happened to a girl in a police chowky in Bombay).
John

Whatever made you think you'd have chappals thrown at you?

Naa...

I enjoyed every bit of this post. And I'm taking the advice about the martial art. :)
Ulrica

nice post. and no , am not aiming any of my footwear at you. Though I must say, just being a female is enough to get cat calls. I grew up being called ugly by my family so was really aghast when I still got lewd passes made at me. And, no I havent worn a mini in my life :P
Bilbo

What gave you the idea that salwar-kameez's and sari's can shield you from being groped?!! That's just a fantasy! And you don't think married women with sindoor and mangalsutra's get molested everyday?! Ask around. You'll be surprised. It's not about g-strings and revealing clothes. It rarely is.
Chryselle

John I dunno what to say! I personally don't like telling people what to do. I'd rather advise men to keep off. If its ain't your business then its ain't your business. Just keep off!

Why advise women as to how should they dress? Anyways, an engaging piece. :-)
Dan Hussein

"Dress in salwar-kameezes and saris and please do not show skin." even i thought that worked... but trust me it doesnt.
D

All of you are agreed that saris and salwar-kameezes aren't a deterrent to eve teasing. May be, I was wrong. But women friends who suggested this said this works. At least, the sindoor in hair parting bit as the man is aware that there is a man in her life and he doesn't stand a chance.

Dan, dost, I had to write something as I had already enlisted as a blogger. So why not offer a piece of advice? After all, it is my blog I am writing and my personal space.
John

"At least, the sindoor in hair parting bit as the man is aware that there is a man in her life and he doesn't stand a chance."

But John! The point here is that the eve-teaser does not care if the woman has a man in her life or not! All he needs to do is to grope and grope he will despite any marital status.
Smita Rajan

Friday, March 10, 2006

Gates Foundation is tracking my Blog!


I am flattered! Gates foundation is tracking my blog. Don't know who is a great fan of mine at Bill Gate's baby! Would you please come forward?

Or is "Citizen's Journalism" having it's audience with the harbinger of change in the digital world (smirk! smirk!?

Monday, March 06, 2006

Street Harassment!

I write this at the risk of alienating, nay, losing all my women friends, of which I have a very few dear, dear ones.

Women consider me one of their own. No, I am not a tranvestite, or any of that tribe that women consider harmless enough to make friends. A colleague was bitching about men in general, turned to me and said, “No, not you, John.” I just quivered with gratitude and wanted to kiss her or something. But I didn’t.

But this must be said, and I guess, this has never been said by a man before. So am I assured of the TRPs, page views, and the links to this post, right? Ah, well, then let me go ahead and shake up women’s perception of men a bit.

Umm, oh, huh...

The subject is “Street Harassment” and I am supposed to write some gyan (wisdom, silly) about it.

Women, there is a revolution on, if you haven’t already noticed. These revolutionaries are everywhere, in offices, in trains, buses, wearing revealing clothes, displaying their attitudes and demolishing male bastions. Imagine all those cave women and kitchen-bound women down centuries breaking out into Latino dances today and you can sense a revolutionary casting away of centuries-old shackles. You will find a new generation waving the flag of liberation the way they walk, talk, and work.

In my school, girls excelled in all subjects, leaving us poor sods gritting our teeth and more than a little chastened. In college women were always on top. In literary fora, their voices are rational, learned and strident. In journalism they virtually overshadow the men with their deft handling of issues and words. In the Knowledge Process Outsourcing and Business Process Outsourcing units that I have worked they are the invisible movers and shakers. They seek and command attention. These are the revolutionaries.

With the revolution has come an insouciance, a feeling that they can do things better where men have managed to mess things up with their excesses. In this new confidence, a man feels inferior, threatened. Women are aggressively pursuing their dreams and leaving their boyfriends and husbands behind. A colleague screams into her cellphone, “It’s over, finished,” and disconnects. The husband calls back immediately and apologizes. Wimp!

Now how are men taking this revolution? Can’t say they are taking it in their strides. They have resorted to drinks, narcotics, endless cribs about women, dirty talk, etc. Any “men only” talk is peppered with the most lurid accounts of women. When men are bitter they bitch worse than women. And their bitching is malevolent, and can turn into violent acts, like rape for instance. Tradition, you know.

Too many rapes happening in this country? That’s why. The reason: Women have outwitted men, and men can’t take it gracefully.

NOW MY SUGGESTIONS TO WOMEN IN THE VANGUARD OF THIS REVOLUTION:

If you are the harbinger of this revolution, if you have attitude, if you are blasé about a whistle, or, catcall, go ahead and do your thing. You should also know karate, be able to sock a man on the jaw. Dress in low-waist jeans, wear that see-through thingy. Well, go ahead, I won’t dare stop you. A colleague does that and men stay away.

When a man whispered, “Hi Sweetie” in her face, she assumed her sweet-girl disposition and said, “Hold on, let me keep this bag aside. And we can whisper sweet nothings.”

The macho dude salivatingly thought this was his big day and that she was giving “line,” “Yes of course,” he said.

She rubbed her hands to sharpen the sting and let him have it on both cheeks.

The macho-ness vanished. He fled for his life. The crowd wouldn’t have spared him.

Atta girl, if you can pull off such stunts.

The crowd would be willing participants if you raise a hand and your voice. I saw it happen. A man molested a woman and ran in the VT subway. She screamed “thief, thief” and a crowd gathered and beat him up, despite his protestations. Do something similar.

But if you are the sensitive, touch-me-not, thinks-too-much kind, a word of advice. Do not dress in any of the thingies mentioned above. Because if you do men are going to whistle, cat call, say “Chamak challo.” Confession: Men are many, many times more sexually excitable than women. Even a rotund shape can be suggestive of oodles of passion. And passion can lead crimes of passion. So, beware.

Dress in salwar-kameezes and saris and please do not show skin. Indian traditional dresses are so designed as to keep feminine-ness and men’s roving eyes in check and at the same time lend grace and beauty. Wear sindoor in your hair. A former colleague said no one bothered her after she started using this strategy, i.e., wearing sindoor in her hair.

If you still feel you should show your feminine-ness then wear clothes that suit the occasion. That is, don’t wear the mini on a train journey, there will be all kinds of snide remarks and catalls. Imagine all those testosterones that would be released in a busy railway platform like Kurla when a girl in a mini walks past. And all they can manage is a tame wolf whistle, or a kiss sound or a “hey, chamiya.” So much for men’s macho-ness. Wear a mini only if you are in a car and the car would leave you at a party and pick you up after it. Or, better still, take the mini along and change at the party venue.

Agreed? Clear? Now let me have those chappals please! I am already ducking!