Saturday, December 19, 2009

When Delhi froze on Google

Google showed this weather report on New Delhi on Monday (Dec 14) morning. Screenshot taken at 9:07am on that day. According to this report, it should have been -2 degree celcius here day before. And people are talking about global warming :-)

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Frontpages and advertisements

One senior journalist in Kerala expressed his shock at seeing the front page of 'The Hindu' on December 4 morning. Apparently, the whole page was split down into two in the middle by a huge "hit on the face" Ad by Uninor GSM.

I can understand his shock. I guess this is the first time The Hindu is running such an ad on its front page.

However, what I found more disturbing (difficult to feel 'shocked' with anything that the media does these days) was Sri Lankan government's series of big front page advertisements that the same newspaper carried with its chief editor's name on it (even the photographs were credited to N. Ram) more than an year ago. Below are some of them.

The Hindu front page, 2008 October 17

The Hindu front page, 2008 October 29

Editorial page, same day


The Hindu front page, 2009 July 6

Compared to all this, I find a "hit on the face" commercial quite harmless. It is not even paid news, as it demarcates itself clearly as an advertisement.

Even outside the Sri Lanka episode, I think it is dangerous to ascribe a holier than thou status to The Hindu. They claim that themselves, and we somewhere accept it too. Despite N. Ram's CPM credentials (or owing to it?), I have felt that they have very Tamil Brahmin sensibilities. The Sri Lanka episode could be read as a part of it.

(Btw it is fun to listen to some Iyers and Iyengars swearing by the 'real' English language that The Hindu uses:-))

In Delhi or Bombay, Times of India or Hindustan Times carry full-page ads on their front page quite often. I am no big fan of those newspapers either, but at least they do not come with the pretensions of being 'the serious newspaper'.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Thinking alike in the times of IPR

This post is probably coming too late. At least by six months. This is no opinion, but only an observation that I found very interesting.

Two ad campaigns that looked almost the same. Both titled 'Nature and Science'.

I noticed the Fiama Di Wills ads first. On hoardings in Delhi. It showed some plants growing in chemistry lab glasswares, and said Nature meets Science to give you gentle and effective care. (Fiama Di Wills is a soap/shampoo wing of ITC India. Deepika Padukone was one of their brand ambassadors).

Later I noticed another ad, in which there was a poorly animated robot and a grass-man as bodyguards to a school kid. I was wondering why the glassware gave way to a robot, but then I realized it was a Bournvita ad (Cadbury's).

It was interesting to see these two campaigns co-exist, in times when Intellectual Property has become obscenely imperative.

The Fiama shampoo bottles still carry a 'Nature & Science' logo. I guess the Bournvita bottles would be boasting of it as well.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Beyond Violence and Non-violence

I feel bad I did not know about Balagopal till now. And I feel good that I got to know about this person now.
"K Balagopal (10.6.1952 - 8.10.2009) was a Indian civil rights activist and lawyer who was known for his work on the issue of civil liberties and human rights..", says Wikipedia.

My friend Bobby wrote on a mailing list, remembering Balagopal: "He dealt with victims of violence with uncanny sensitivity, the police and agents of violence with firmness and the media with tact."

Here is an article by Balagopal, Beyond Violence and Non-violence:

"The public arena is witness to dispirited discussion of the ineffectiveness of people’s movements, which are at the most able to slow down things, and nothing more. The discussion often turns around violence and non-violence, not as moral alternatives but as strategic options. Those who are sick of sitting on dharna after dharna to no effect are looking with some envy at violent options, while many who have come out of armed groups find the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) fascinating.

It is good that there is some openness in the matter now, for dogmatic attitudes have done considerable harm.." [You can read the complete article here]

Friday, October 02, 2009

Sorry, Tarantino

Inglourious Basterds was released today in cinema halls in India. Being a big fan of Quentin Tarantino, I went and saw it on the first day, and was hugely disappointed.

It was a good entertainer -- a typical Hollywood one at that -- which glorifies America/Americans. Like Independence Day, or even like James Bond movies. It is also a plain revenge movie. It does not really have anything that makes it special. Not in its content, not in its presentation. I wouldn't mind a 'plain' revenge movie from Tarantino (he has already done a lot of experimentation with presentation in his previous films, so it is ok if he just wants to tell a linerar story). But when the 'heroes' are Americans and also Jews, and when it comes out in 2009, I find it very very American and very very Israel.

The film also glorifies all the cruelties done on any German, and the audience is thrilled at every such act of cruelty on screen. There were people who said this is an intelligent film that makes fun of the war films and what not. I do not find much difference between them and Hitler (character in the film) watching German soldiers' war heroics on screen and saying this is superior filmmaking.

Sorry, Tarantino. You are better remembered for Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. Or even for Death Proof. Or that one episode of Four Rooms.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Irate mobs and Arushi

Raj Kumar died of shock.

It seems "certain influential people of the area forced him to climb a tree on Saturday evening and cut a branch that was entangled in a high voltage wire."

Yet another 'accidental' death of a field laborer. He did not have insurance policies.

An English newspaper reports it : Cops beaten up by irate mob. Most probably the first and last newspaper report on this death. [Thanks to Anu and PSB for sharing this story. I would not have noticed it otherwise.]

Similar was the story of a maid who was apparently butchered by her employer to please the gods last year, in the luxurious Green Park residential area in South Delhi. Maids and servants sat in front of that house in protest. It seems that same person had done this with another maid about an year before that. Police pacified 'irate mob' and cleared the place. Don't know what happened after that.

I see Arushi's [see footnote] photograph on the front page of a newspaper today, once again after a few months.

* * *

[Arushi Talwar : One girl from Noida whose face was on the front pages of newspapers for months together. Needless to say, she was from a well to do family. It was interesting : the first day newspapers carried the news of her death, and said a servant is the main suspect. Next day they figured out that the 'suspect' was also murdered. Police then said her father killed them both. Then it became big news. People came out on streat, demanding justice. TV channels made merry, ran stories one after the other, came with new theories every day. Finally, one day we heard that some 'Nepali' servants did it. Everyone was happy. There was no follow-up news in any newspapers. TV channels turned their camera away from Talwars finally. The only people to raise a meek voice of protest was some Nepali associations. End of story, for all practical purposes. There will be some reference once in a while, some nostalgia. After all, a lot of people -- both storymakers and followers -- lived on this one story for a very long time.]

Friday, July 31, 2009

Bewakufi in double role

That is what we get when Imtiaz Ali decides to play by the rules.

So let us count some of the rules.

Rule number one. When the hero and heroine break-up, both of them will make sure they will hook up with the dumbest woman and most boring man respectively.

Two -- Love happens once in life. (Proof: that dumb woman and the boring guy in rule one).

Three -- Rishi Kapoor has taken his second life as an actor to teach the younger generation the meaning of love. (Don't know how many more times we will have to tolerate him!)

Four -- Bewakufi is what characterizes real love. (The 'kal' hero says, "Mujhe pata hai ye bewakufi hai". The 'aaj' hero takes it too seriously.)

The count could go on.

On the plus side, Deepika has got a good smile and she knows it. She is awesome in happy scenes. Ok -- she is sad in sad scenes, but those scenes are sad anyway.

Saif shows glimpses of brilliance once in a while, both in happy and sad scenes. I particularly loved the scene where his pressure builds up taking to Rishi Kapoor Paji about Meera seeing someone in India.

And the film has got some wonderful posters.

["Imtiaz Ali, one of the most promising filmmakers in the country, is sadly down with blockbusteritis", one reader wrote in the comments section of rediff review page. When there is so much money running on his film, one can not expect a Socha Na Tha. But I expected a more sensible blockbuster, say something like an OSO.]

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Between a Father and a Son

What is that? (Τι είναι αυτό)

Father and son are sitting on a bench. Suddenly a sparrow lands across them..

A greek short film, by Constantin Pilavios (2007).

Thanks to Bobby and Rajeev for pointing me to this film. Apologies to Resmi, who did not know about this film and was planning to make one on similar lines.

[The content may be copyrighted. The video embedded here is from youtube.]

Friday, July 24, 2009

A Simple Solution to Delhi's Parking Woes

"People unnecessarily complain that there's shortage of parking space in Delhi.. Everyone has a tree in front of their house. If they could get rid of it, there's more than enough space for all the cars.."

The driver who said this was serious. I found it funny, but could not laugh in front of him. Later I laughed my heart out, sharing this joke with friends.

But then, it is just a matter of choice. You decide whether you want that third car (or second, or fourth.. quite common in Delhi class families) or that tree in front of your house. Simple.

[image : sudeep]

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Hi-caste lo-caste we no want all..!

High class low class we no want all
Everyone equal and god decide all..

I am reminded of that early 90s (was it Apache Indian?) song when I hear people say "everyone is equal", and all that matters (and should matter) is merit. Treat everyone equally, and that ends all discrimination in the world. Some more romantic ones go on to add that "Love doesn't see caste and religion." I used to think so too, at least for some period in my life. So I feel obliged to write this.

* * *

[Achnowledgments: A first draft of this write-up happened as a comment at one blog post by Ratheesh, and I used a slightly modified version while commenting on another post, by my friend Maymon. I strongly recommend going through Maymon's post and a comment there by Anu in response to it. I am thankful to Amit and Vinita whose comments there inspired me to work on this. Even now it looks incomplete -- you are welcome to take it up from here and add your share. Thanks in advance.]

* * *

Like in many Keralite 'Communist' families, I was also brought up with a belief that caste did not exist in Kerala any more. But as I grew up, I could smell the rot around. I heard even progressive people in my close surroundings (who I respected otherwise) making fun of a `parayan' or `pulayan' who got to a position of power (in the recent past there was a critique of an old Malayalam short story by C V Sreeraman on similar lines.)

I have the advantage and disadvantage of having born into an 'in-between' caste (OBC) and growing up in a fairly backward village/town in Kerala. In my school and college I had many friends from dalit and other backward communities, but when I went to engineering college, the difference was stark. `Quota' people suddenly became outsiders. I felt bad about it, but I could not escape it.

[image courtesy: People and Politics Worldwide India]

During my M.Tech. time I was shocked when a friend's mother (who is also very `progressive') advised me that it is ok to find a girl of your choice, just make sure that she is not a pattika or kazhukkol. (In Malayalam, scheduled castes/scheduled tribes are `pattika jathi/pattika vargam')

Even as I felt shocked at that comment, I realized that the way our society is designed, it is unlikely that I'd go for a pattika. (I had a crush on a fair Iyengar girl at that time). Even my dalit male friends have complained that it is difficult to find a good girl in their community, because they are all dark. Even in Tamil films, the heroine is essentially of the fairer kind even as she sings `Karupputhaan enakku pidicha kalaru` ('black is the colour I like..' as you'd have guessed, the hero is dark).

I still work with such issues internally, even though my beauty concepts have changed quite a lot over years. ('Karinguttayi' was one deregatory reference to colour -- used only to refer to the parayan or pulayan -- that has stayed in my memory from the childhood days.)

It is not just the skin colour -- I, like many others, often ended up judging people ('discriminating' is a bit too harsh, I know) based one one's fluency in English (or language in general), staying `calm' in a debate, even the confidence levels with which one speaks. (These qualities come much easier to those who are born in `upper' castes. That also I realized much late in my life, thanks to the `non-discriminatory' childhood. Not that I have completely stopped my judgements.)

It has not been easy working on the discriminatory elements in oneself, and trying to find out how others work on it. One may not have the energy for that always, but I have tried that whenever I could. People do change over time. Even if I am most comfortable with people from same/similar communities.

It is not that I have something against others. But at times, we can feel the distance. For instance, one person asked after reading Maymon's post: 'Lol! This guy does not want to reveal his identity, then why does he support reservations based on that identity? Thats what I understood after reading this post..' (I am not making this up).

How all can we address this issue in public spaces is sure complicated. A lawyer friend was saying in their law college in Bangalore, they fought and achieved a system where the names (of reserved category students) were not listed separately. It is debatable how much would that help. I feel it is more important to bring about an awareness that reservations are not a favour that we (when I speak as an `upper caste') do to some people, it is something that is essential and beneficial to all of us in many ways.

[Shall I say, to be continued..?]

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Sitting Ducks : A Beemapalli reflection

In a guest post, Bobby Kunhu tries to put down his mixed feelings on his visit to Beemapalli (near Thriruvananthapuram, Kerala) after the police firing that happened on May 17.

It is with the utmost hesitation that I write this. Hesitation because I think I have not understood, nor have many others who have written about the May police firing in Beemapalli. Not that there is any ambiguity in anybody's (who has visited the place) mind about the specific incidents that took place on 17th of May this year. As a part of a small fact finding team trying to tie up its report, I'd rather use this space to raise contextual questions about the police firing that have been haunting me since I heard the first reports of the firing.

At the outset, I need to assert as a human rights lawyer (and independent of the socio-economic realities of Beemapalli) that what happened on May 17th in Beemapalli is one of the worst possible crimes - where lives of 6 people were taken by forces of the state, without following the procedure established by law - in other words extra-judicial murders - and calling it by any other name is as offensive as the incident itself. In my mind, the incident involves the police allegedly firing 50 rounds of bullets at a gathering in a coastal village. The facts are that 43 people were injured and 6 died in the police firing. The fact is that all the people who died and were injured were Muslims. The fact is that there is no credible evidence shown that the crowd fired at was violent or provocative. The fact is that there is no damage reported from the police side. The fact is that the police bypassed the usual procedures that need to be adopted before a firing. Having made that assertion, let me move on to the first set of concerns that have been haunting me.

Silent Media, Silent Opposition

The first of these is the general social and political reactions to Beemapalli firing. In fact one of the factors that led me to take the initiative in organising a fact-finding was the deafening silence that followed the violence in Beemapalli. It looked like that only "Muslim" organisations were interested in taking up the issue. Even the political opposition did not seem like wanting to capitalise this serious lapse in governance. When I tried prying into the possible reason, a newspaper report lauding the media for acting sensibly by maintaining silence and thereby averting a communal issue was literally thrown at my face. (The report was titled, Signs of a Mature Media, Opposition).

But was this violence communal to start with? The victims of the violence did not seem to think so - despite all of them belonging to one single community!!

Interestingly apart from the high profile Lavalin case, the national and Kerala media was filled with stories of racist violence in Australia around this time. Then how did such gruesome violence fail to capture collective social imaginations? The only plausible answer that comes to my mind is the identity of those killed and injured in Beemapally - they were all from fish worker Muslim community - and do not have messiahs touting their cause.

There are other reasons as well for my arrival at this hypothesis. The first being that in the past couple of decades state violence in all its manifestations is being directed against traditionally and structurally marginalised groups. Formal expressions were demonstrated in Muthanga, Chengara and now Beemapalli. Insidious and subtle expressions through changes in reservation structure, discourse on terror used to de-legitimise communitarian political expressions and so on.

Dangerous Activities

Interestingly Beemapalli, being a Muslim ghetto has figured many a time in police narratives on terror. It would take another full essay to analyse this. It is in this context that couple of weeks after the firing, an intelligence report dated before the firing was leaked to the press. This report warns the state police of dangerous and illegal activity in Beemapalli and Malappuram. Much to my amusement, what the newspapers omitted was that this "dangerous" activity is the trade in pirated CD/DVDs that Bheemapally is notorious for. Interestingly, this has been subsequently used to close down this trade and increase police presence in Beemapalli. One of the speculations that was aired as a reason for the extreme violence from the police firing was to gain a foothold into this lucrative terrain.

Claims on Coastal Resources

The next reason is rooted in the socio-economic conditions prevailing in coastal areas generally and Beemapally specifically. The Indian coast has been a simmering pot of discontent for sometime now - aggravated especially after the tsunami. This discontent is rooted in multiple contestations for coastal resources and fish-worker resistance articulated through their right to the coast as a common property resource. I have been witness to a number of concerted efforts to divide the coastal community during the tsunami rehabilitation process. Some of these experiences have been documented as well. These contestations are grounded in the fact of the vulnerability of the coastal communities and Dalit and Muslim communities amongst these are even more vulnerable. Beemapally violence needs to be seen in this context as well. Portrayal of the police violence in Beemapally as communal riots instigated by a Beemapally mob by the police and a section of society including segments of the Catholic church subtly fails to acknowledge that the neighbouring hamlet Cheriyathura is inhabited by Latin Catholics. This reading is inherently dangerous as it pits two similarly placed vulnerable communities against each other.

Two Beemapallis and a Free Run

Further, Magalene, a fish worker leader confirms my suspicion that social indicators in Beemapalli are much worse compared to neighbouring fishing hamlets. She points to the fact that there are two Beemapallys in existence - one glossy Beemapally made of the DVD/CD trade and the other fish-worker hamlet which lacks even basic hygiene and sanitary requirements. She also points to the abysmal female literacy and empowerment in this hamlet in support of her claim. This also perhaps points to a hegemonic social apathy towards people that are forced to live on the fringes - a certain lack of value for their lives. This also could have contributed to the unchallenged free run that the Police is having with their version of the violence and attempts to portray their violence as a communal clash.

My next set of concerns is regarding the impunity with which the Police framed a community as communally volatile and in all probabilities is getting away with it. In his report to the government, DGP Jacob Punnose claims that the police fired 50 rounds and there are 43 injured and 6 dead - indicating that police fired to hit. This also dispels claims that several rounds were fired in the air. Of course there are other unsubstantiated claims in DGP Punnose's report. But what gets my nerve is the shoddy framing that the police has indulged in, without having done any homework whatsoever - is this born out of a confidence that the Police force would get away with murder since the people killed are fishing Muslims? The confidence of the police seems to be bolstered by the collective silences and framing of Bheemapalli as a dangerous area mentioned above. It needs to be remembered that DGP Punnose is spearheading the demand for Police reforms and reducing political control over the police. In the process many vital questions remain unanswered, including questions that would legally place the violence as cold-blooded murder within criminal jurisprudence.

The silence on Beemapalli violence opens many cans of worms - including the deeply hegemonic nature of Kerala's responses to its marginalised, latent communalism within the administration and media and so on and so forth. The responses to Beemapalli has left me perplexed, especially after having visited the place. But, having spend considerable time and energy on conflict situations, my sense is that Kerala might be sitting on a social time bomb, if it continues this lackadaisical attitude towards its marginalised population.

I believe Beemapalli calls for a classical "secular" response and honest peace building exercises that would instill a sense of confidence in Beemapally residents that they are not being persecuted - but that might be a difficult job and would call for extreme commitment.

* * *

Sudeep adds: This diary earlier carried a first response to the firing news, various responses to that, and a couple of news reports. Here.

[Image courtesy: Pop Art Machine]

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Mayawati and her statues

“She is spending Rs 1000 crore on establishing statues of elephants and herself. Can there be something more shameful than this in Indian politics,” he asked.

“Of what use will be the statues in UP. The Rs 1000 crore could have helped wipe out poverty of thousands of people, provide basic amenities and education.." he said, addressing a meeting to thank voters of his constituency Sivaganga.

Behenji is in news again. Prabin, Kufr and RW react to PC in defence of Mayawati, and Anu counters it:

"..this from the leader of a party which has named universities, museums, planetariums, zoos, sanctuaries, sanatoriums, hospitals, art galleries, theatres, dams, power projects, schools, colleges, awards, streets, highways, bridges, poverty alleviation schemes, employment schemes, farmer support schemes, housing schemes, health schemes, loan schemes, airports, railway stations, bus stations, sanitation schemes, social security schemes, industrial townships, parks, elephants and tigers and other faunae, educational scholarships and fellowships, research grants, stadia, gyms, traffic junctions, office buildings etc after members of one family. with public money..", says Kufr. [Read complete post: A cure for that Madness]

* * *

"What is missing in such ‘common sense’ perceptions is that Mayawati along with Kanshi Ram, like all innovators and path breakers, has been an iconoclast of the highest order. Between the two of them, they have created for the first time in Indian history a successful party representing some of the poorest and socially ostracized masses of the country. Like it or not, it is an unprecedented achievement.."

"..It is possible that she may gain a popular following by installation of these statues. It is possible too that this may boomerang. Even in the latter case, it is certain that she shall leave behind powerful symbols that will inspire future social struggles. In either case, it is a political advance for dalit and alternative politics..", goes a reader's words.

* * *

Why I am Proud of the Statues, writes Prabin on Round table at Insight young voices.

* * *

Anu disagrees with all three of them. "..not because I don’t value, the in the face attitude and literally in their lives -life size statues reminding the upper castes that times are a changing, no not at all, I love it. I just happen to want more, much much more from her.." (I disagree).

* * *

Tailpiece: There were expected expressions of shock when I said I'd rather want Mayawati as PM [See: Election time..]. Another friend said while on a visit to Lucknow earlier this year: "she is making statues of herself probably because she knows nobody would do it after her death." I ask, when she knows that -- and you and me also know it -- how can we blame her for making those statues?

[Image courtesy: Insight]

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dialogue with Maymon: When France bans Burqas


In our country we cannot accept that women be prisoners behind a screen, cut off from all social life, deprived of all identity,” Mr Sarkozy said to applause in his historic speech to lawmakers in chateau at Versailles.

French goverment decides to impose ban on Burqa. It was one of the headlines in many online and print media.

"Who doesn't see that our integration model isn't working any more? Instead of producing equality, it produces inequality. Instead of producing cohesion, it creates
" Sarkozy said.

Is France again leading by example? It has produced greatest of thinkers who influenced human race over the years. Philosophers like Voltaire, openly stood against Catholic Church dogma for the freedom of religion. He and Diderot regarded religion intolerant and tried to enlighten the society through their writings as early as seventeenth century.

But this ban of burqa, is sure going to invite debates and controversies. Muslim religious leaders in France and over the world is going to see it as yet another bid to stigmatise their religion.

The progressive section in both muslim and non-muslim community is going to welcome this. Who defines the boundary line between secularism and personal freedom.

A similar law in 2004, banned head scarfs at public schools. It invited criticism from the small Sikh community as well, when Sikh boys disallowed from entering class-rooms with turban. In Holland they tried to ban burqa last year, but stopped amid fears of possible backlashes.

I dont know how comfortable is Burqa compared to other forms of dress. But I feel most of the time women are forced to wear it on the name of religion. Let us not blame it on Islam alone. Recently there was on incident in Chennai where a college student was banned when she refused to wear a saree according to the college dress code. The case is still under high court's consideration. Lets hope our law would respect her choice!

* * *


Dear Maymon,

The last line in your note makes a strong point. I think we should all learn to respect other's choices. And I see the ban on Burqas primarily as a disrespect to that choice.

I know it is not so simple. All women who wear Burqa may not be wearing it on their personal choice. (That is true for many things that many people do, and almost anything that women do, in almost all cultures, in almost all parts of the world). But for those who have chosen to wear a Burqa, this moves comes as a violation of their fundamental individual rights.

I have also wondered how could it be comfortable at all to wear a Burqa. But then I have heard and read women who find it very comfortable and even empowering, for various reasons. The simplest one is that they don't have to worry much about the male gazes and passing comments on their body. They are also looked upon with respect. (In the Indian context, Ambedkar did not like Gandhi's idea of burning foreign dresses -- he said for Dalits, the 'English' dress was empowering. A Brahmin or Vysya could be respected even in minimal dress, but not a dalit).

At the end, I think banning Burqas is as bad as imposing Burqas.. And that a ban is certainly not the way to go..

* * *

[Image above: a photoshopped image that has been doing rounds on email. The original can be found here.]

Friday, June 26, 2009

Beat it, MJ!

It so happened that we were listening to some of his old songs last night. I was still coming to terms with the fact that a younger friend killed herself. The music really had a healing effect. I loved it. I had not heard them for ages.

And today morning when I hear the news, the songs play on once again. Songs that had livened up our Nagpur days. Beat it MJ -- all of us do care for you!

[Image courtesy: Rolling Out]

Sunday, June 21, 2009

If my vagina could sing..

Guest post, by Sandhya.

[Painting by Frida Kahlo]

if my vagina could sing,
it will have the sound of a saxophone.

if my vagina could have a taste,
it will be the taste in the mouth of a child,
who likes to chew her slate pencil.

if my vagina could adorn herself,
it would use fresh and wild paalappookkal,
which blooms into the midnight.

if my vagina would fall in love,
it would do so with sree.

if my vagina wanted to get drunk,
it would take golconda ruby wine,
plus two sips of vodka.

if my vagina wanted to give birth,
it would to neethu, sudha and pooja.

if my vagina wanted to unwind,
it would swim in the waters of souparnika,
which carries the scent of an untouched forest.

if my vagina were a little more romantic,
it would miss those unbearably beautiful, still crookedly sharp,

dainty fingers
of her ultimate lover of the past.

if my vagina wanted to see herself in a portrait,

it would be that of a woman, earth and tree,
and she 'd lie between careless and open thighs,

adorned with red,
aroused by her own scent,
breathing very slowly, relaxed.

and if my vagina could change one thing about herself,
she would happily say goodbye to periods,

which pierces her, which violates her with that adamant flow of blood.

[inspired by gigi's blog.]

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

ente kamala, avarude aami, avalude suraiya

In my younger days I thought she represented women. Later in my life I thought she represented some women. Even later, I felt she represented herself.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Gabhricha Paus and Harishchandrachi Factory : Indian cinema is alive!

Indian films usually make one feel bad at festivals -- it is either intellectual crap served by the 'arty' directors or utter repetitive stuff from bollywood. So it was a pleasant surprise to catch two fresh, well-made, sensible films at one festival. It was Habitat film festival in Delhi, and both the films were in Marathi. (The only other film worth a mention at the festival was Dev D).

We are talking about Satish Manwar's Gabhricha Paus and Paresh Mokashi's Harishchandrachi Factory. Both these directors are from theatre and are new to film industry -- they have not studied at film institutes, and have not even assisted a film before.

I don't want to bore you with my commentary. I enjoyed watching both the films, and was impressed by the element of humour used in these films.

I can only say, go watch it!

* * *

[Visuals from Gabhricha Paus, from the film's website]

Behind the eyewash of UPA win

Everyone is celebrating the UPA victory. What more, this time there is no "left" to pull them back on the liberalism superhighway. No wonder share prices are rocketing again.

Here is some facts that did not make it to any of the major election analyses.

One, how Raj Thakre and MNS managed so many votes. 4% of Maharashtra's votes, and 21% of all votes polled in Mumbai. There were news pieces about how MaNaSe dented Shiv Sena and BJP's fortunes (See this colourful account on rediff), but even now, nobody wants to acknowledge or address the job insecurities of local people and their fear of outsiders. For us sitting in the air conditioned luxury, it is all just "regional jingoism". You bet, this fear is here to stay. (Earlier post: Why Raj Thakre is the winner.)

Two, why the left (read CPM) got washed away in West Bengal and Kerala.

CPM was hoping to make Kerala another West bengal, but people decided to make West bengal another Kerala. Indian Expresses and Business houses were all feeling sad that tata had to quit Singur on Mamta's anti-development politics, but people have given her the thumbs up. It is a clear mandate against the Nandigram/Singur politics of Buddha in Bengal.

It is not much different in Kerala either. Unlike the mainstream news media wants us to believe, these election results are not just about PDP or SNC Lavlin. The dalit community, majority of whom voted for LDF in the past, have deserted them. (It was the "saint" chief minister who called the Chengara strugglers "thieves"). When they voted for UDF candidates to ensure LDF defeat in most seats, the BSP did well in Thiruvananthapuram and Kottayam.

In Andhra Pradesh, people dumped a Hyderabad-centered, software-blinded Chandrababu Naidu for a second time.

Sangh's Kandhamal experiments did not work so well in Orissa -- probably because they did not quite have a Modi there to make use of it.

At national level, Congress vote share went up by 2% in comparison with 2004 elections, and BSP was the only other major party whose share went up (though they could not do well compared to assembly elections happened after 2004 in many states). Delhi results suprised me in particular, where BJP candidates lost by about 2 lakhs each. I believe playing the hardline Hindutva card costed it dear.

It will be good to have some younger ministers, unlike last time. But will this UPA government listen to the people's pulses, or will they take it for granted that everyone has voted in favour of their current policies? Let time decide.

Biggest Police firing ever in Kerala..

..and nobody is talking about it.

My friend called me yesterday and told me about what can be called the biggest ever Police firing that happened in Kerala a few days back. It killed five people, and injured about 40 others. He was surprised that I did not even know about it.

I have Mathrubhumi at home, my father is active in Kerala's political scene, I have journalist friends.. Nobody told me about it.

May be nobody wants to talk about a "communal" incident.

I did some googling and found some details. From interesting sources.

"Islamic Terrorism" website says,

"Muslims, Christians clash in Thiruvananthapuram Kerala, 5 killed, 38 injured".

Sounds cheeky. But only when one gets to the fine print, it does tell so much:

"Securitymen in different uniforms stood guard in front of shops which remained closed for the second day after the police firing to avert communal clashes claimed five lives."

OK - so it is not the Islamic terrorists who killed five people. It was the Police. The article goes on:

"It all began on Saturday when a goon from Cheiryathura, a Christian belt, tried to extort money from merchants at Bheemappally, a Muslim-dominated region. After being manhandled by the locals, the goon, Shibu, rushed to Cheriyathura only to return with a company of his men to retaliate. The gang from Cheriyathura set ablaze a fishing net at Bheemappally.

Though the police intervened on Saturday night itself, they lowered their guard assuming normalcy had returned. On Sunday afternoon, a group of youth from Bheemappally stormed into Cheriyathura, hurling bombs at the people of the rival side. The police opened fire, killing four people on the spot, as the mob moved towards a local church. Another person succumbed to injuries on Monday. Nearly 38 men have been injured in the incident.."

New Kerala site says, "Four people were killed in this Kerala capital Sunday after clashes between groups of two communities forced the police to open fire, an official said."

A Police firing that kills five people is not a joke. Not even in the infamous Muthanga firing could match that. Yet, nobody seems to be interested in taking up this issue, except for some Muslim groups (at the risk of being branded communal).

Congress-led UDF is busy celebrating victory, and CPM is busy finding reasons for their wash-out. Muslim League has decided to speak about it after three days (See news in today's Hindu).

New Indian Express is probably the only major news paper link that reported the incident. (Again, with a funny title: Four killed in communal clashes in Kerala).

Then I saw one e-mail with link to news on NCHRO page (Kerala Police fires at fishing community, four dead) on a mailing list. Nobody responded to that mail on the list.

I wonder where do we go from here.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Election time..

Poster: BJP

Nice posters from The Comic Project.
They have their takes on Congress and Third front also.
(Thanks to Anivar for sharing the link).

Going with the poetry mood, here's another Haiku:

* * *

election time, me thinks
to vote
but who to vote?

* * *

And I find Mayavati a better bet compared to others. At least so that we can have a Dalit and a woman as prime minister. Her commitment to Dalit bahujan politics might appear questionable at times, but it is still a hundred times better than having Abdul Kalam as a "Muslim president".

Friday, April 24, 2009

A haiku and a septolet

* * *

lanka declares war
children die
and mothers.

* * *

looking for
the state
took arms

what followed
was one
bloody nonsense war.

* * *

Monday, February 23, 2009

Happy for Rahman, Happy for Resul (and an Indian film to watch out for)

I'm happy that Rahman and Resul have been recognized at the academy awards.

Like many other Rahman fans, I also believe that he has done better compositions before.. But he did deserve to get into limelight at an international level. It had to happen some day or the other. I hope he will go on making good music.

With Resul it is different -- he is relatively in the initial stages of his career. I hope he will make it really big, and that it inspires more Indians to take technical careers in films seriously.

I am also happy for Sean Penn -- I had loved him in Dead Man Walking and 21 grams.

As far as Indian cinema goes, I am looking forward to Gabhricha Paus by my friend Satish Manwar. It has already bagged an award at Pune International Film Festival, and has got good reviews at Rotterdam festival.

Another review at Passion For Cinema says, "From the synopsis and the trailer, it can be made out that the film is not just “another tragic film on a tragedy” and that elements of black humor have been dosed in. In fact this reminded me of the korean films in which a tragic subject is taken and elements of black humor is sprinkled. I could also see a bit of Pather panchali and The Bicycle thief in it, and I mean it as a compliment."

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Making pink chaddi campaign more effective

I hope Sriram Sene people are not reading this. This is top secret intelligence material.

(By now most of you would have heard of the 'pink chaddi campaign'. If not, do google.)

I was talking with some people involved in this campaign at a secret meeting in Delhi discussing how could we make this campaign more effective. A major concern was that Sriram Sene would dump all the parcels that they get in these days, so the personalised messages would not reach them. (One my friend was saying she'd send a chaddi with her vagina's red signature on it..)

If they decide not to accept any parcels, there has to be some valuable parcel amongst it if they are to suffer from that decision. So we decided that we would send some expensive items also to them as part of this campaign.

* * *

[I do have a problem with this pink chaddi campaign and the kind of excitement associated with it, but seeing the right wing's comments on their blog I have decided to stand by them for now.

I also have an issue with the title 'Consortium of Pub-going, Loose and Forward Women' as well. I will write about the differences in detail in a different post.]

Sunday, January 18, 2009

cc2c rocks!

I loved Chandni Chowk to China.

This film is certainly not for those looking for "meaningful" drama. It takes off from where OSO left, and goes a long way. I mean, all the way to the great wall. With a lot more action (thanks to Gordon Liu and apna Akshay Kumar), and a lot more laughs.

Deeapika, as twins separated at birth, almost steals the show from Akshay. Meow meow especially was awesome.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Me and Sree

(I wrote most part of this note on Jan 1, in a personal e-mail addressed to a few friends. I have edited it a bit, have added the experiences of the days that went by in the new year, and have also tried to address the kind of direct and indirect reactions to that note.)

Myself and Sreejitha have been trying to live together for four years now. It was difficult for us as it is for any two persons. Both us put a lot of efforts to pull it through despite differences, we stretched ourselves to accommodate each other and define a space together for the two of us (and later for the three of us). And now we have reached a point when we feel it is in the best interests of the relationship that we live in separate spaces.

It was my decision more than Sreejitha's, as it had become near impossible for me to live in such a physical space, putting in a lot of energy into that relationship, since I felt I did not have much space in this relationship at this moment.

Yes, one thing we still talked was the household. And I do not want to undermine the importance of managing the household. But I felt I could manage the household better if I did not live with Sreejitha. I could cook more often, I could wash my own clothes.. because I do not have to spend a lot of energy trying to sync myself with another person who is more or less completely living in a different world.

I have spent four years spending so much of my time and energy in this relationship, and let me add that I do not regret that. I think I have gained a lot from this relationship, as did Sree. In fact, I do feel good that we have reached a point where Sreejitha has become more of a person (in her own choice of words). This is a point when I can afford to think of leaving her to herself.

One reaction that Sree got was that "one should invest in the relationship". To that I would ask, is a relationship only about being together? Is it not possible that a relationship fares better when separated physically? That two people can understand each other better, understand where the relationship stays now and understand where can these two people go forward from here?

I know there are many people who do stay together in even more stagnated stages, but it is just that I do not find it worth two lives. I do not consider this parting of ways an end of the relationship, nor do I want to call it a 'break-up'. We did not want our love and respect for each other to make way for intolerance and irritation with each other. We felt this is how the relationship can grow from where we were, and from my experience of the last few days I can tell you that this has indeed been the case. I am happy with that.

At some point we may get back to staying with each other again. Till then, let us both take separate courses in life. (pun intended).

Don't be jealous.