strange people

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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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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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

If you are reading this, you are probably a liar. Maybe even a cheat, and a violent sex crime committer.

That is, based on the assumption, that you are a non-vegetarian. If, however, you prefer the good old green leafies, bother no more. This report shows us how kids in school are being taught to turn vegetarians because ‘non-vegetarians easily cheat, lie, turn to violence and commit sex crimes’. It also informs us that the taste in meat comes form ‘waste products’. It adds, also, that ‘getting married without a bad name is every young girl’s dream’.

Frankly, I don’t even know what else to say about this. Except maybe, that I like my meat. Even if it forces me to lie and cheat every once in a while.

Peace.
Kabir

Categories: India, news, strange people | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Takes a city to light a pyre

A very dear friend of mine was to fly down to Bangalore today and spend a week at home with me. His flight was scheduled to touch down in Bangalore at about 11 in the morning. But at about 9, I got a call from him informing me that he won’t be flying in because there are no autos or taxis to take him to the airport, which in turn has cancelled all outgoing flights for the day. Why? Because prominent politico Bal Thackeray is seriously ill and may pass away soon.

image courtesy business line

The question is, of course, why must a city shut down (read be forced to shut down) for his passing – imminent passing? Sure, if there was an assassination plot, but here’s an 87 year old man whose lungs are failing him. Why is that reason enough to force-shut shops and pelt stones? Is that reason enough for the state’s Chief Minister to review the law-and-order situation? Is that enough cause to cancel every cop’s leave?

Yes, I do understand that some people are getting ready for grief of the highest order. People who have for decades worked with Thackeray and may not be able to bear the sorrow of his passing. But if they must turn this sorrow into a violent protest against something, let it be their own cars and scooters instead of state-run buses and trains. No? Apparently not. After all, didn’t Bangalore itself erupt in all ugliness after Dr. Rajkumardied? I suppose in the country we live in, it does take a city to light a pyre.

Now then, I’ll go and eat that dinner for two alone.

Peace.
Kabir

Categories: India, news, politics, strange people | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

Can I have a cappuccino, with a dash of irony, please?

Hello, hello. I’ve noticed that the last few posts on my blog have been, let’s say, a bit sombre. So I thought I might share some irony with you today. And, as they’d say in Hollywood, this post is based on a real life story.

So, I was at a coffee shop last morning, waiting for a hot cuppa before I began reading something mildly interesting. And I happened to notice the wall next to me. And the first thing my eye fell upo was this little piece of engraved pomposity above. A coffee shop that prides itself in the conservation of wildlife and all things natural.

At first, I felt glad. Then, I felt a little sick in the stomach. I would have blamed it on the coffee, only it hadn’t arrived just yet. Then I realised that it was the wall. The whole thing was made of wood.

Now, I don’t quite follow how someone can say they’re proud of themselves for saving natural resources by putting up the message on stuff made by chopping trees.

And the thing is, when I don’t really follow something, I tend to get a little sick in the stomach. Mystery solved. Irony enjoyed.

P.S.: Since this is a public blog, I don’t suppose I should be telling you that the coffee shop was a Cafe Coffee Day in Bangalore. So I won’t tell you that.

Peace.
Kabir

 

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

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

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

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