Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Let Live

It's really annoying how often people tend to think they are more capable to make the choices for another human being. Almost every day one comes across one more self-righteous fool trying to dictate how someone else needs to live his/her life. I never quite understand why as long as someone's decision is not having a bearing on your life (and the butterfly effect argument is too dumb to count) why you would want to interfere in that person's life.

These days there's this case in the news about a mentally-challenged orphan pregnant rape victim in Punjab being stopped from having her child. Thankfully the Supreme Court let her go ahead with her decision. It's her body, her child. One really doesn't know what the child would want, and till it's born I think the mother is the only person, at least in this case, who can decide for it. Why the hell do apparently well-meaning people want her child to be aborted! There's so little that lady has to live for. Why the hell can't you let her be happy if she feels she can take care of the child!

Monsieur Sarkozy decided to ban the hijab in France. Because it is a secular country. I don't know what the definition of secular is. I have always believed that it is not banning the expression of any religious belief, but instead ensuring that people from all communities are allowed full freedom to wear, worship, speak, celebrate in any manner they want to as long as they are not harming anyone else. Barring a Muslim woman from wearing a headscarf or a Sikh man from keeping a turban, irrespective of whether that person wants to do it or not, is not secularism. It's autocracy.

It's no different from a Muslim emperor in medieval times allowing people from all religions to stay in his kingdom as long as they paid a tax for being allowed to stay there. It's no different from Muslims in a certain Well-known State in Western India living under the constant threat of another riot.

Nicolas Sarkozy might believe that he has done a great deed by liberating Muslim women. I might be wrong, but I do believe that the hijab holds a more important position for at least some Muslim women living in France than just something forced onto them by their fathers or brothers.

Which brings me to the Section 377 decriminalisation case. There have been all sorts of people from all sorts of backgrounds saying all sorts of things about how homosexuality is against our culture, is unnatural, is criminal, is a portent of the end of mankind and so much more.

The funniest bit that I saw on TV was in an NDTV debate hosted by Vikram Chandra where a high-school kid said with a lot of conviction that sex is only meant for having kids. Damn, that kid is up for so much revelation some time soon.

Or maybe not.

But, on a more serious note, I was just peeved with the time that was being spent on the issue. I know it's one of those things that need to be discussed in the open and not brushed under the proverbial carpet, but while doing that it's really annoying seeing people like Baba Ramdev saying things they obviously have no clue at all about. Why do these people feel it's so important to dictate what I do in my bedroom. Or, for that matter, even what their son/daughter does in his/her bedroom.

I doubt most such people would even have a clue about it actually.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Reading Hamza in Mumbai

It's really difficult fitting a whole lot of things to do in the few hours I get free after work and before I go to sleep. Reading Dastan-e-Amir Hamza, playing with my new iPod Touch, playing with my slightly old Wii, watching all the stuff I copied from a friend recently, watching all the stuff I have been copying from other people over the last few years (I still have movies left from the 1st trip I made back to Delhi after joining IIMC), watching TV, watching YouTube videos (I came across these bunch of awesome videos made by the 2007 Civil Engg batch at IT-BHU, actually made by essentially one chap, but starring many of his batchmates), and a lot of other stuff.

Surprisingly, watching TV wins. At least on weeknights.

I am really enjoying Rakhi Ka Swayamvar. As Amit Varma said, WTF-ness abounds. I actually do respect Rakhi Sawant for having achieved whatever she has despite all the apparent handicaps, but that still can't keep me from cringing almost every other minute with what people do there. Of course, you'd know by now that I love cringe-worthy stuff.

I was also enjoying Entertainment Ke Liye Kuchh Bhi Karega before it got over a few days back.

There are two things I saw on TV in the last 2-3 days, which made me marvel at how far we have come from the DD days, for better or for worse. One, they actually showed Chetan Hansraj (who, incidentally, I realized, had played the young Balram in one of the biggest DD hits - Mahabharat) take a shower in Iss Jungle Se Mujhe Bachao. Don't think any of the other Big Brother/Survivor clones had gone into that territory yet. And the other thing was the absolute voyeurism of Sach Ka Saamna. If the first episode's questions are anything to go by, I am hooked. Who wouldn't want to see a seemingly ordinary lady admit in front of her family that she had once wanted to kill her husband! Or computer-ji, or whoever Sid Basu has got in this time, telling the same lady that when she said that she wouldn't sleep with another man even if her husband never got to know of it, she was actually lying according to the polygraph. Late night TV gems are made of these and more.

Have been going to sleep these last few days reading stories from the English translation of
Dastan-e-Amir Hamza. When I was in school, I used to be desperate to lay my hands on any book of fiction and had digested every book worth reading in my school library (it wasn't all that big anyway) and one of the books I had chanced upon was Stories from the 1001 Arabian Nights. Quite evidently no teacher in the school had ever read it (and probably no other student as well, as it ran into over a 1000 pages), or it wouldn't have been available in a school library. I was all of 14 years then, and the descriptions of all kinds of sexual deviance and tasteful paeans to private body parts (both male and female) provided a wonderful introduction to Central Asian literature. The book I am reading currently hasn't reached those standards yet, but I am still in the first 100 pages only. Hopefully, things will get more rewarding.

I hope even more that they do because Hamza was Prophet Muhammad's uncle, and I just love the Prophet. You can't not love the chap.

Friday, July 10, 2009


So I am alive. Very much so.

I hadn't expected that I'll say this, at least so soon, but I like Mumbai more than Bangalore. As I had written in one of my last posts - Bangalore is a dying city. While Mumbai is the most alive, throbbing city I have ever lived in.

Also, my opinion is bound to be biased a great deal by my work environment, since I spend a good time of my waking life at my office. I am the only one in my firm who has worked in both the Bangalore and the Mumbai offices, and I can certify that the Mumbai office is better. My boss here is a lot more mature, unlike my previous one, who had never been able to grow up from this feeling of self-importance he gained while working in a mediocre investment bank, and had a terrible inferiority complex and needed this constant puffing up to prove to himself that he was worth something. Contrary to what the generally accepted belief in the firm is, the Mumbai office gets thrice as much work done as at the Bangalore office, and manages to remain a lot more convenient (and more 'cool') place to work at.

Love being in Mumbai, despite the humidity, despite the crowds. A few friends had told me when they got to know of my transfer that I would love the place, but I never believed it. I do now. There's so much freedom, so much potential. This city just lives so much more. The fact that I can take a train to the beach at 10 at night and get back to my home well in time for office next day. The fact that I can order food from a restaurant at 1 am. And then breakfast again at 7 am. The fact that I can easily find an auto-rickshaw at 4 am in the morning (and I have tried doing that). Mumbai never sleeps.

The vada-pav. The pav-bhaji. The fish. The bhel. Yeah, well, a city for me is defined largely by its food. Delhi still scores higher because of that.

And of course I enjoy being able to converse in Hindi for a change, instead of battling speaking in any non-Kannada language with the awful Bangalore auto-wallahs.

I also had this misconception about the people of Mumbai. I would have to make another post sometime soon about the people of Mumbai, but I have fairly enjoyed it here. Maybe partly because this is being in Bihar all over again.

The distances hurt a bit. I stay in Goregaon, in a flat I am really proud of, and Colaba and Nariman Point seem like parts of a different planet altogether. But I'll get there one of these days. My office is in Santacruz, so I can afford to stay in the suburbs. I look forward to eating Bheja Fry at one of those fantastic restaurants in Town and sitting for hours at one of those Marine Drive benches reading a novel.

Before I forget, what made me want to write here today after such a long while was the music from Kaminey. I just listened to the whole soundtrack a short while back, and I am in love with Vishal Bhardwaj right now. I might buy an iPod Touch because of this.

Aaja aaja dil nichodein!

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