Why all plastic is not bad

The last few days in Bombay have been incredibly, astoundingly hot. Yes, there are other cities hotter than that in India. But one only talks about what one knows and experiences. So, the last few days in Bombay have been excruciatingly hot. And any form of exercise (which I generally cannot get myself up to anyway) has been nearly impossible.

But last night, sitting at home bored out of my wits, I decided to step out for a walk. And behold! The winds went crazy, the skies opened up and there I was. In the middle of Bombay’s first rains this year. And as always, it felt beautiful. I’d use fancier words, but beautiful is the only word that really describes what I felt.

I didn’t have any water-damageable goods on me. So I didn’t have to take cover under anything and deprive myself of the pleasure. But that’s not going to matter when the monsoon really comes down hard. I’ve had a habit of just putting all damageable stuff into a strong plastic bag and walking out in the rain, never worrying about what i might lose.

I can’t help it.

Peace.
Kabir.

P.S. A beautiful song by The Beatles called, of course, Rain.

 

Categories: general rambling | Tags: , , , , | Leave a comment

Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Or does it? (Also, like the title, the post itself promises to be quite long.)

newtons-cradle-1Newton, while proposing this law of motion, may not have considered the socio-political realities of the world. But the law did. And it decided to apply itself to the world at large. Which, perhaps, is the reason (almost) every nation in the world today wants to spend more monies on defence strategy rather than their own downtrodden. And why there are more terrorist groups forming around the world as the second hand moves on.

And what’s surprising is the tremendous disconnect between people’s beliefs and their actions. There’s a habit of simply pointing fingers and blaming. And very often, playing victim. I’m not saying that ‘terrorists‘ are right. No, sir. I’m only asking that we look at why they are terrorists in the first place. Of course, some would quote Michael Caine from The Dark Knight and say, “Some people just want to watch the world burn.” But he was only talking about a demented man, not regular school children who one day pick up a gun and shoot a bunch of their classmates down. Or even youth who decide to bang an airplane head-on into a tall commercial building.

Or the infamous Maoist situation in India. Just this week, around 200 Maoists set off a landmine and shot freely at a political convoy, killing 17 people. And wounding about 25. This isn’t a first-of-a-kind attack. Many times before, the so called Left Wingers have targeted politicians and even members of the CRPF. Much condemnation has gone around in political circles. And much more, the ‘need to wipe them out’. The government has already attempted to fill these need by constantly escalating military activity in the affected parts of the country.

But is that really the wisest way to go about things? Has using brute force ever solved a dispute? Especially, seen as, the Maoists are and have been victims of a failed societal system themselves? People who have been trying hard to protect their own rights before Adam was born. Sure, the government has tried things with the Forest Rights Act (FRA), Panchayat (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act (PESA), Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. But have any of these been implemented the way they were meant to be? Has the government, in all earnest, tried to truly empower these people? And if it has, has it looked at where the failures lie? Jairam Ramesh, Minister for Rural Development, doesn’t seem to care.

Because the fact of the matter is this. These are people who have been put down for decades. They have been pressured into picking their guns and grenades up. They have been left no choice but to come down to ugly violence. They don’t have the option to go on a hunger strike, because they’re already hungry. It’s already a genocidal situation in so many villages. And if you’re going to take up more guns and shoot people down, the whole thing only spirals right out of control and possibly leads to a civil war situation. If it hasn’t already.

The Centre needs to stop talking about this whole more military business. They need to concentrate on how they’re going to solve the problem, not its symptoms.

Peace. (I wish.)
Kabir.

 

 

Categories: India, news, politics | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

You know what a bannequin is?

It’s a mannequin that’s banned. Yes. You can unburrow your eyebrows now. Because that’s exactly what it is. And I do believe the first of the species will soon be seen in Bombay. Why? Read on.

A large number of people in the government (it’s always people in the government) recently put their heads together and concluded that lingerie-clad mannequins arouse lust in men. And these feelings then lead to sexual crimes against women. So, instead of attempting to educate, sensitize, or otherwise change gender perceptions in society, they have decided to cleanse and purify window displays.

As the article says, the proposed law gives civic officials the power to simply walk into department stores and ask shopkeepers to take off a lust inducing mannequin. I’m almost certain there will be certain fines involved, perhaps even small jail terms for those who choose not to abide.

What’s interesting to me is that the law was proposed by a woman. A BJP Corporator called Ritu Tawde. The fact that she firmly believes in mannequins being powerful and provocative sources of sexual crimes against women is saddening. It’s like saying a child abuse survivor proposes to ban candy because the act of eating / licking it creates excitement in the mind of a perpetrator.

When will we ever try and point a finger in the right direction? When will we admit that we have a real problem at our hands? And when will we really do something concrete about it?

As of now, we stick with mannequins and food being prime culprits in all sexual crimes.

If this excites you, you've got another thing coming.

If this excites you, you’ve got another thing coming.

Peace.
Kabir

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On the discovery of discipline

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After a long bunch of dreary posts, I thought I might share a little something cheerful.

I’ve started writing again. I mean writing for myself, rather than just for loaded clients and agencies that pay me to write junk for them. And what a number of self discoveries I’ve had since!

Not least important of them is willpower. I’ve never known myself to be a particularly disciplined man. I let myself be run by my distractions and tangents. And that’s not entirely a bad thing in itself. But to see myself willing to cut off from everything else in the world and just write. I’ve never known I had such a thing in me.

I’ve been working on my novel for a few weeks now, but the last couple of days have been such a ride. And that’s due mainly because I’ve decided to not let anything else take over. The desire to finish this one is bigger than anything else right now. And I’m secretly proud of it, too.

All I need now is luck from all the places it can come from. Wish it to me good folks, that I might finish this piece and soon get it published!

Peace.
Kabir.

Categories: books, observations, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Menstruate at your own risk. Period.

I try very hard not to pun when I’m writing. It’s just such an easy trap to fall into, most of us can barely avoid it. And for that reason, I’m sorry about the title of this post. And now, to the post.

I’ve been doing a little gender-related research lately, and so, stumbling across some of the most profoundly dumb (and insane) beliefs the modern Indian society seems to hold. Almost always against women. One such article that gave me pause was about an Indian actress Jayamala being booked for hurting religious sentiments. And she did this by entering a temple while on her periods.

I don’t believe I want to talk about a ton of politicians actually hurting religious sentiments. But a woman doing that by walking into a temple? How does one not talk about that? And how does one not feel an urgent sense to claw at faces?

And the more I research the subject, the stronger my urge to claw at faces. How is it that we boast a massive GDP every year (which we don’t really have) while not bothering about our own women? How is it that while on the one hand, we bow down and pray to goddesses with multiple hands, and on the other, beat them with our fists at home? How is it that we touch our mothers’ feet and rape other people’s daughters? What is this bigotry towards woman? And where does it come from?

And most importantly, how do we get rid of it?

Just last night, I was telling someone about a most stunning (and lesser known) John Lennon song called Woman is the nigger of the world. And it would appear that I’ve found just the right place to tell a lot more people about it.

Peace.
Kabir

P.S.: This is an article from nearly three years back. But that doesn’t say much about how far we’ve come since. Because we haven’t.

Categories: cops, India, observations, religion, strange people | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

How phat are you?

This here article makes it pretty darned clear that Mike Jeffries, CEO of Abercrombie and Fitch is a man obsessed with beauty. It’s a fairly lengthy piece of writing, so you can have yourselves a tiny little excerpt from it:

“His biggest obsession, though, is realizing his singular vision of idealized all-American youth. He wants desperately to look like his target customer (the casually flawless college kid), and in that pursuit he has aggressively transformed himself from a classically handsome man into a cartoonish physical specimen: dyed hair, perfectly white teeth, golden tan, bulging biceps, wrinkle-free face, and big, Angelina Jolie lips.”

Jeffries is also a man who grinds his axe repeatedly about this ‘need’ of beauty. He goes to great lengths talking about beautiful people and employing only painfully attractive people in his large headquarters. Some reports say he has a picture of a well-toned masculine abdomen framed above the fireplace in his house.

Some of us might find all of this a touch superficial. Some others might think of it as a brand-man-living-thebrand-life. But then again, a man has a right to his opinions (as does a woman, by the way.) The problems only start when one man’s opinions begin sermonising the rest of the world. His statements, for instance about fat people.

In his words, ““In every school there are the cool and popular kids, and then there are the not-so-cool kids,” he told the site. “Candidly, we go after the cool kids. We go after the attractive all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don’t belong [in our clothes], and they can’t belong. Are we exclusionary? Absolutely.”

I suspect the legal eagles got to work and asked him to issue a statement of apology (7 years after the original comment), and seeing his company’s dipping fortunes, Jeffries obliged. But this half baked apology only managed to bring in more hatred for the man and his brand. And it also dug up those old graves he thought he’d sealed up nice and straight.

People are now talking about the thongs for middle-school girls, which had “Eye Candy” and “Wink Wink” printed on their fronts. To which Jeffries simply reacts: “People said we were cynical, that we were sexualizing little girls. But you know what? I still think those are cute underwear for little girls. And I think anybody who gets on a bandwagon about thongs for little girls is crazy. Just crazy! There’s so much craziness about sex in this country. It’s nuts! I can see getting upset about letting your girl hang out with a bunch of old pervs, but why would you let your girl hang out with a bunch of old pervs?”

People are also talking abotu a t-shirt design that had heavy racial undertones. These people our friend simply calls ‘humorless Asians’.

And then there are people who are writing letters to Mike. These he doesn’t really respond to.

And finally, there’s this one person who seems to be taking his whole messaging through advertising thingamajig and giving it right back to him.

A note: I don’t very often put up so much information in a single blog post. It tends to erase my line of thought entirely. And I suspect that’s just the case here. So I’ll stop. But here’s a picture of the man who doesn’t like fat and ugly. Sorry for doing this to you.

Mike Jeffries

Peace.
Kabir

EDIT: I also found this piece that talks about how another brand H&M showcases their swimwear range using a ‘plus sized’ model. I don’t know if it’s just me, but I get a feeling this is another sort of patronizing attempt. In a good guy sort of way. When will women (and men, to be sure) learn to accept their bodies the way they are, instead of having brands and advertising dictate to them how they must feel?

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Happy Birthday to me.

So,

It was my birthday yesterday. And as the old cliche goes, I am now officially a year older and none the wiser. Of course, there are people who might want to be nice and say that can’t be true. So, to prove those good hearted folks wrong, here’s a picture of a birthday gift I gave to myself. A helpful background note: This would be the sixth of such gifts to myself. And I’m not even a half decent player.

Peace.
Kabir.

P.S. This is what I’m currently trying to learn. :)200097_1_granada_acoustic_guitar_dreadnought_12_string_prld18_12st_natural

Categories: general rambling, music, writing | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

On my return from the darkness, and other news

Hello, world!

I’ve been away far too long for most of you to remember me. But for those of you who do, I got busy with something irrelevant: my life. It involved a move from Bangalore to Bombay. And I believe I’ll be eternally thankful for that. For among other smaller reasons, you can actually live in Bombay without regretting the day of your birth. And that’s exactly what I mean to do. Bangalore did barely anything to help my personal growth. As a matter of fact, it did everything possible to stunt and hamper. But I’m happy to be back in Bombay, and I’m happy to be posting here again.

In other news, a Member of the Indian Parliament (MP) recently walked out of the Lok Sabha while the ‘national song’ was still playing. And as always, this has caused tempers to fling themselves, and blood to boil. Some might consider the reactions valid. Some may go ahead and violently support them.

But what is it aside from a displaced sense of patriotism that irks them so? If you asked me, I’d say pretty much nothing. Aside from, perhaps, a sense of control over all things individual. Why else would one person decide for another when they should behave in a particular fashion and when not? Here again, many would argue that it’s a government that’s deciding things, not an individual. And that only makes things worse. Why then, do we call it a democracy? Isn’t it closer to a group of dictators?

On the one hand, people shout themselves hoarse for their freedom of expression, and on the other, they say you must respect a song by standing at attention whenever it plays. How does this schizophrenic system really work? I don’t suppose there’s really a way to find out.

Do you?

Peace,
K

Categories: India, news, politics, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Blame it on the victim. Again.

 

 

copcase

Last week, something happened in Bangalore that happens perhaps every other night. A lady driver travelling home from work in her car. Why, you ask, is that reason enough for a blog post? Read on, is what I say to that. It so happened that a man rammed into her car from behind while she was waiting at a red light. There’s still nothing entirely disturbing about this. What happened next is the man started accusing her. He blamed her for the accident. He got abusive. And that’s where this tale of corruption – moral and physical – begins.

One would imagine that a traffic cop present around the scene would have been reason enough to put the erring man in place, comfort the woman and handle the entire situation. But if you’ve lived in India long enough – and I have – you’d know that something of the sort barely happens. I’d go so far as to say that it never happens, but there’s always that one honest cop who will skew the figures.

The woman asked the cop to help her and register a formal complaint against the biker. Of course, this meant that the cop could no longer just pocket a 100-rupee note from the rider and move on with life. (That is what most traffic cops, at least in Bangalore are wont to do.) Was I present at the scene to report so accurately? No. Am I sure that I am indeed reporting accurately? Yes. Because I happen to know the woman personally. She’s a woman who I have had to occasion to work with many times. A woman of strong opinions – as all people should be. A straightforward woman.

And I assume that it is this straightforwardness that became the cause of agony for her. Though, of course, that is a biased man’s point of view. A point of view that instantly begins to at least subside the responsibility of the other men present at the scene. So, I’ll take that back. What caused her agony was a bunch of insecure, stupid men. Men who gathered around her in a circle and heckled her, grabbed at her and abused her verbally. One of them flashed himself.

Oh, and the cop was a man as well. And not very different from the others. He shrugged her, pushed her around, and even punched and slapped her. All this while she was asking him for help. And what did the cop do to the rider? Ignored him and let him sneak away in the commotion. While the other men continued their antics.

The next day, a high official went on air telling the world that the cop was not at fault. And that the onus is on the woman to prove the cop guilty. A classic case of blaming the victim again. A classic case of officials trying to cover up after their erring subordinates. A classic case of a mob victimising the woman and calling it her fault.

There is a petition doing the rounds that I have signed and sent to every person I know. I thought this might be a good place to share it with the others. People who may not even be in my country but feel the need for a protest, a change. People who are better than the cop and the mob. Please sign this petition and pass it around for all to sign. I will be eternally grateful to you.

http://www.avaaz.org/en/petition/Legal_action_against_the_traffic_constable_and_bystanders_who_abused_and_assaulted_Swar_Thounaojam_in_Bangalore/

No peace in this one.
Kabir

 

Categories: cops, India, strange people | Tags: , , , , , | 1 Comment

A flag disgraced. By a tainted corpse.

When I first wrote this post on the 16th of November, I wasn’t entirely sure just where this whole farce of Bal Thackeray‘s death and the instant shut-down of Bombay was heading. It turns out, the city was ‘largely peaceful’, as our beloved media reports, ignoring full well the idea of a forced – or at least shit-scared – shut down of the megapolis.

The one thing, of course, which the Shiv Sena could not shut down was the Internet. You just can’t do that kind of a thing, no matter how strong your emotions run. But what you can do – what they did do – is constantly monitor social media posts people put up while sitting at home. And one such post was written by a 21 year old girl called Shaheen Dhada. She was arrested and booked under Sections 295A (outraging religous feelings of any class) of the Indian Penal Cod and the infamous Section 66A (sending offensive messages through communication service, etc.) of the Indian IT Act.

All for a message that said: “With all due respect, every day, thousands of people die, but still the world moves on,” And some more lines of general lament after. This is what she was arrested and put in a 14-day judicial custody for. But it doesn’t stop here. Her friend  Renu Srinivasan was also asked to give her company behind the bars because she had hit the ‘like’ button on this post.

To begin with, it’s fairly easy to see that neither Dhada nor Srinivasan had written or liked something that actually violated either of the laws. Why then, were they arrested? Why were they forced to withdraw their messages? And why were they not allowed to be released on bail instantly?

Because we live in a country with a lot of fascists. Blunt as it may sound, it’s the truth. Because if it weren’t the truth, there would be no reason for Bal Thackeray to live a free man after the hundreds of hate speeches he delivered in the city. There would be no reason for the government not to put him right behind the bars where he and all his followers belong. And there would be no reason for some of our most known faces on News channels to write blasphemously sycophantic memorial obituaries for this man.

And there would be absolutely, indisputably, no reason at all for people to wrap Bal Thackeray’s corpse in the tricolor and give him a 21-rifle salute.

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