Monthly Archives: October 2012

Judge informs Army that they are an Army. Not a Khap Panchayat.

Indian Army Band

I read this most amusing piece of news today. The Indian Army wants to know just why one of their men wants to marry a woman from Sri Lanka. They want to know under what circumstances the two met. And why. They want to not relieve the man of his duties because they’re terribly understaffed.

And a High Court judge wants them to know that they’re just an army. Not a khap panchayat.

Most amusing, isn’t it?

Peace.
Kabir

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Categories: India, news, observations, strange people | Tags: , , , | 1 Comment

Plane down. Plane up.

original image courtesy businesstoday.intoday.in

The image above is, in two words, the current situation of Kingfisher Airlines in India. They haven’t been able to do much about their down-going business. And they haven’t been able to pay their employees for the longest time. What does this mean to the frequent (or infrequent) flyer? Not much. Simply because they have a hoard of other options waiting to fly them in pressurised containers to their destinations. But what does it mean to the employees of Kingfisher Airlines? A hell of a lot.

People have had to shift their children to cheaper schools. People have had to vacate houses because of non-payment of rent. People have had to burn themselves down due to insolvency. People have had to go through hell. All because they thought this might be a good place to work. Because they thought they were going to get a slice of the good times. Little did they know what was coming.

And one can still understand this plight if it were solely professional. But what happens to these people when they see Vijay Mallya, the owner of the company flying high in his personal jet? What goes through their minds when they see that the man’s personal jet staff are paid (liberally) on time every month, month after month? What happens when they see the company’s heir apparent having a jolly good time shooting with bikini clad calendar girls on the warm, sandy beaches of England? It’s hard to tell, frankly.

But what’s easy to tell is that the Mallyas are not trying hard enough to give a horse’s soft green shit about their employees. One can  speculate the sale of a private jet to pay employees off. One can even consider cutting down on pleasure trips abroad to save money which can be paid to employee. And one can certainly think of sharing a few kind words with employees rather than tweeting about the fun volleyball game at the beach. One can certainly take some out of the millions one has instead of worrying about having lost the billionaire tag.

But, of course, that would be too much to ask. There’s a life to live, after all. There are good times to be had.

No?

Peace.
Kabir

Categories: India, news, observations, strange people | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments

Gone in 60 seconds. Or maybe a little more…

This may not be the best image for this post. But then again, we don’t always use images that go along with wat we’re writing, do we? To continue! Last night, a most disconcerting thing happened to me on Bangalore‘s Inner Ring Road. I was on my way back home from work in an auto – which, I recollect, did not display the auto driver’s card as the law requires. On this road comes a dark stretch devoid of street lamps or other buildings. And on days when there isn’t much traffic on the road, it gets lonelier still. Last night was one of those nights.

And as it would happen, the auto driver asked me if it was alright for him to relieve himself. Clearly, not being his master, I said he was free to. Only, it turned out it was me he wanted to relieve. Of my wallet, my watch and my laptop bag. Because in a matter of just 10 seconds or so, he was back with three other men – complete with knives and a short, thick wooden stick.

Truth be spoken, it was a bit scary to be shoved in the face with a knife. So I didn’t offer much of a fight and let one of them grab at my wristwatch. Then I was asked to hand over my wallet. Which also, I did, because there must have been all of 30 rupees in it at the time. That and an old debit card which is so bent out of shape that only I know how to use it.

Finally, they decided they wanted my bag as well. A little foolish something inside me told them that I’d given them enough and I wasn’t going to let them take my bag. The next instant, I saw the stick coming in the direction of my temple. I was able to block if off with my hand – which my sore elbow is still complaining about. Somehow, I managed to swing the bag at them and I believe the laptop inside got two of them on the head. I reckon they were a bit startled and backed off just a step. I found this moment just enough to kick one of them below the belt and make a run for it.

Fortunately, a passing car let me in and dropped me to another auto, the driver of which decided not to mug me.

The point I’m trying to make is, this is a part of the city – a major part of the city – that doesn’t have so much as five working street lamps on the way. And because there are no buildings of any sort around this road, it gets darker still at night. Plus, having patrol vans at only two ends of the road (not every night either) doesn’t exactly help matters.

This is a citizen’s request: Can we please have working street lamps throughout this stretch? And for heaven’s sake, can we have two or three police cars patrolling the empty stretch every night? Or do a thousand of us have to go hold a rally which no one will really care about?

Peace.
Kabir

Categories: cops, news, observations, strange people | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 9 Comments

Two print ads against child sexual abuse

If you read my earlier post about child sexual abuse, you’d know that I’ve been working with an NGO for this cause – or against it, whichever way one looks at it. So yesterday, I was asked to try out a hard hitting print advertising campaign. Something that would drive home a message. I’ve worked something out. And I think I could do with words of advice from everybody.

Would you like to tell me how to better these ads?

Peace.
Kabir

P.S.: I can’t name the organisation now because of certain legalities. And for the same reason, I’d request you to not circulate these ads just yet. Many thanks.

 

 

Categories: observations, writing | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Recipe for rape: Add chow mein to taste.

original image courtesy evanwarfel.blogspot.com

There is a man called Jitender Chatter in India. He is part of the Gram Panchayat (governing body) of about 25 villages in Haryana. He believes that one of the leading causes of rape in India is the consumption of chow mein – among other fast foods. He believes – and propagates – that because we consume such foods these days, our ‘sex hormones’ run wild. And believe you me, I’m nearly paraphrasing him. He has also suggests that the legal marriagable age of girls be brought down to 16. His reasoning is similar; similarly vague. To his credit, he makes one sane suggestion: about training rural Indian women in self defense. Though, he fails to flesh out the plan and offer any hard solutions about who is going to train them, etcetera.

But, of course, he’s not the only one providing logic for rape. Mamata Banerjee, Chief Minister of the state of West Bengal, insists that cases of rape are on the rise because men and women interact too freely in an open society which is akin to an open market.  She also reckons that the media not ‘glorify’ rape by talking about it much. One imagines that her suggestion is to swipe this issue under the proverbial carpet. If the CM of a state can issue such statements ‘freely’, I don’t quite follow where my country is headed. Perhaps we should step back a hundred years when holding hands in public was considered obscene?

And then there are the regulars who insist that if only women would ‘know their limits’ and dress appropriately, they would not be raped. This coming from people who are probably not aware that rapes happen in ‘hip’ urban areas as much as in villages where women dress anything but conservatively.

We talk about laws. But what about their implementation? We talk about punishments. But what about the lives of the victims? We talk about freedom of speech. But what about the freedom to live?

Categories: observations, politics, strange people | Tags: , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Gary Larson – The Far Side!

Hello and good evening / morning / afternoon / late night to everyone who’s reading this right now. About an hour ago, I had a meeting with a software company who wanted their website completely overhauled – new design, new content, new everything. (New and improved, if you will.) So I got home and got a drink. That’s generally what I do before I start thinking of what to write. And that’s when the brief, let’s say, is absorbed. So, while Mr. Jack hung around the coffee table, I remembered that they wanted the website to have a very comic strip kind of feel. I still don’t know why they want it that way, but they do. So I did the next thing I do when my system absorbs something from the brief. I poured myself another small one, and sipped gently.

It was this gentle sip that reminded me of my favourite cartoonist in the whole wide world. Mr. Gary Larson. I remember a time when I was much younger when I’d spend most of the time in my then day-job lapping his cartoons up. He was so irreverent. He cartooned everything from religion to politics to people to superheroes. He spared nobody. And I’m glad he did.

This was a wonderful evening – with Mr. jack and Mr. Larson. I thank you both dearly.

Peace.
Kabir

 

Categories: books, politics, religion, strange people, writing | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Sometimes, all it takes to clear your head is a full tank.

It would be nice to think that I wrote such a cool headline for this post. But, I did not. I found this line lying around on an old near-dysfunctional website, when I was looking for some inspiration for this post. Thank you, anonymous for your line. And now, I shall proceed to write what I intended to.

It’s been a fairly rough week. With a bunch of unplanned meetings, almost no reading time, barely any coffee and one too many cigarettes. And just last night, I received word that a friend’s father is in a very bad way after a cardiac arrest. With all of this (and a bit more that I intend not to speak about) I was left with only one option. My good friend, Jim. Jim’s about 40 years old, makes a stunning noise every time he wakes up and guzzles like a fish, nay, a shark. Jim is my faithful ol’ Royal Enfield. And I am a little corny for naming him. 

To continue, since I’ve been having such a joyful week, I decided it was time for Jim and I to have a chat. So I kickstarted him, and off we went for a ride. He’s beginning to get a bit rusty, I must say. He threatened to die on me at least thrice during the ride – which was only about 50 kilometers. But he endured. And I’m glad he did.

It was again one of those freeing experiences. Nothing to worry about but the moron ahead of me who signalled left and steered right twice. No answers to answer. No herd to follow. No compartments to be fit in. No religions to bow to. No philosophies to agree with. No politics to disdain. No bosses to nod to. No judgements to worry about. Just to road, Jim and me.

Mr. Anonymous was right, indeed. Sometimes, all it takes to clear your head is a full tank.

Peace.
Kabir

Categories: general rambling, riding | Tags: , , , , , | 9 Comments

We love our children. A tad too much.

original image courtesy indiatoday.in

For the past three weeks, I’ve been working with an NGO that strives to eradicate child sexual abuse from India. Truth be told, they haven’t had much success so far. Primarily because of the sheer size of the country. And secondly, because in India, we prefer not to talk about sensitive issues; no matter if they destroy the country every waking minute. But, in all fairness, at least this organisation is trying.

This morning was my orientation ceremony in the organisation. And frankly it did more to disorient and disillusion me than anything has in the recent past. The facts were disturbing, to say the least. They slapped me in the face and asked me to wake up and do something. And while I don’t mean to ruin your day with this post, I must post some of those facts here so we at least know the magnitude of the problem. And perhaps the extent to which this country is ignoring it.

69% – that’s 2 out of every 3 – of all Indian children have been victims of abuse – sexual, physical or emotional.

To put that fact into perspective, India has a child population of 375 million. Which means we have an abused child population of 25,87,50,000.

89% of all abuse is delivered by a family member or a friend of the family.

Boys, at 72%, are more abused than girls, at 65%.

And here’s what’s even more alarming: Aside from the figures mentioned above, over 70% of all child abuse cases are never spoken about.

But put these facts away for a minute and you’re left with such myths as are hard to understand, much less believe. Here, children are believed to bring the abuse upon themselves by the way they dress and behave. Children also find it difficult to say no to elders while being abused, because our culture teaches them to obey their elders. Only men seem to be perpetrators of this crime. And so many others that I don’t have the gall to mention.

What we’re trying to do as an NGO is educate people about this issue. Give them the information that is essential to bust their myths. Give them a platform of trust where they can talk about and report these issues and occurrences. Since I’ve only recently joined this team, and am not yet jaded with slow results, I’ve been thinking of a lot of ways in which to take this message across to people all over the country. Through street plays, through talk shows on television, through tie-ups with strong columnists, through various advertising media, etcetera.

I was wondering if anyone has any more ideas on how to spread word about the existence of this massive problem, if not yet completely wiping it off the face of the country – and hopefully – the world. I would be most obliged if you could send in your ideas through comments or by email to kahat.kabir.suno@gmail.com

Peace.
Kabir

Categories: observations, strange people | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Happy birthday, John.

I know, I know. I’ve probably been doing one post too many on John Lennon and The Beatles, but it’s the man’s birthday today, you know. So I had to, nay, really wanted to write this one.

Here was a man who came out of nowhere and formed a band that changed the way the world heard its music. A man who believed in his ideals and ideas. A man who was not afraid to stick his neck out for what he believed in. A man who was at once open as a book and closed as a locked trunk. A man who chose the handshake over the fist. A man who loved peace more than war. A man who was at once vulnerable and witty, loud and introverted, calm and cantankerous. A man who died too early. A man I believe in.

Happy birthday, John.

Peace.
Kabir

Categories: books, music, politics, religion, strange people, writing | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rain

Awoke this morning to the sound of rain outside my window. Although, it wasn’t the gentle pitter-patter that is so common in movie scenes. It was the kind of rain most people would hide away from. Loud and lashing hard. Complete with thunder and lightning. And, as always happens in my part of the world, soon after the rain started, there was a faint ‘thump’ somewhere in the distance and the lights went off. It was, however, gratifying to be reminded of the simplicity of cooking one’s own coffee rather than an electric machine boiling it for you. On that note, I shall go away and drench myself in the madness while dogs and other people on the streets look at me in amusement.

P.S.: I make instant friends with people who like the rain. Anyone?

P.P.S.: Here’s a lesser-known, under appreciated Beatles song that I really like. Of course, it’s about rain. And life.

Peace.
Kabir

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

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