But, is it nothing to know when you are dying, when you are about to take leave of this world, of its joys and sorrows, when the past of your life is unfurled before you, when eternity opens wide its portals, is it nothing to know at that last awful,supreme moment of your lives, that you have not lived in vain, that you have lived for the benefit of others, that you have lived to help in the cause of your country's regeneration?

-Surendranath Banerjea

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

You changed a lot...

A fanatic is one who can't change his mind and won't change the subject  - Winston Churchill.

'Change' has always been a very controversial aspect in my life. Change in opinions, views, principles, actions.. More often than not, I've been berated by elders about how my views were very different and better until a few years back, how the changes in positions do not seem to bode well for a good character, how the ancestors were 'wise' enough to formulate a fully optimized code in life which doesn't need any more fine tuning. Perhaps, everyone might have gone through a similar phase in their lives,. perhaps not..

When I was growing up, I made the stupidity of acting mature prematurely. Having opinions on serious topics, not being involved in flimsy activities, not considering the typical 'fun' activities as fun! I used to be in the company of my parents, aunts, grannies than being with friends or people my age. I used to feel good when people appreciated that I was 'mature'. And by maturity, I believe what they meant to imply was that I was accepting the status quo as they were and not questioning them with my child-like curiosity or adolescent cranks; due to which I let everyone take many of my positions in many of the issues, seriously, which by the way were bound to evolve later!

During that 'era' I'm speaking about, when I was home, and when my views reflected those of who I respected or admired, I made lot of stupid opinions, like feminist organizations are creating a fuss about most minor incidents to harass men, and that women need not work if husband is earning well so that home is sweet home, and that gay pride is an urban fantasy which was not exactly a natural need, and that abiding by one's religious doctrines makes one a better person because all those religious pioneers were born with an extra brain and an extra thing AND that romance was bad, and married couples were being offensive by holding hands!

I must say, I screwed it big time. I mean, how worse can it be?? I pretended to be mature when I wasn't. It wasn't even maturity! It was like I wanted to be like my grandpa(not that he was any bad, he was gem of a person, but he belonged typically to his generation!)! Due to which I was blind without curiosity. I was dogmatic and self-righteous. I refused to change. I didn't want to explore, or read or understand if what I believed was actually right. But when I was on my feet, technically because I was employed, and because I met a lot of people from different cultures in the office, and because I was in Bangalore, the youth's paradise, and because I started opening my eyes to not just see, but to read and understand, and because I started watching a lot of good movies from across the globe and not just Mohanlal solving some petty murder cases like he's a Sherlock Holmes, I started changing.

I started understanding how gay-rights were crushed in the Victorian era and the struggle evolved. I understood how religion made our brains rest and rust. I understood how a woman has to be self-reliant come-what-may. It was a total change. I started looking at the job aspect for women as serious as for men. I no more wanted to have a woman change her surname because she was married, instead I wanted her to uphold her individuality. I no more believed in religion. I was convinced that for all the vices that India has, religion holds the greatest culpability, the inequality, poverty of one section, oppression of women and glorification of men, importance of a male heir and lack of importance for female kids, concept of dowry and concept of marrying-'off' the girls thereby removing them from your family's roll call.I no more wanted to worship a God who would stratify his subjects.

Well, a lot of these changes were controversial, especially the agnostic part. And I still hear comments from relatives about how I didn't 'stick to my words' and 'flipped'.

The moment you shun your dogma, you start looking at most things through a different prism. 6yrs back, when a friend suggested if Ramayana were to be a fiction written by a genius who crafted amazingly different characters like the monkey who could jump from TN to SriLanka, and the chivalrous gentleman who was committed to his wife, and the villain who was attracted to the beautiful heroine like any bollywood movie, I shuddered at the blaspheme. Years later, when I watched Troy, I wondered. Those Greeks and Trojans also had Gods and religions like us. They had also believed the Gods would help them at war, but undoubtedly the Greeks were defeated. So where were the Greek Gods?? Why did they let their faithful subjects lose? Of course Iliad was a fiction. But why couldn't Ramayana or Mahabharata be? If there can be such amazing creations like Lord of the Rings with such different creatures like Hobbits and Orcs and Dwarfs, and if there can be such intricately beautiful works like Game of Thrones written in just a span of 15-20yrs, why would it be inconceivable that these religious epics were indeed someone's masterpieces?

Well, almost all of my past views changed eventually. It's almost like I'm no more the anachronistic dogmatic girl I once was! But is that really bad??

Khuda Hafiz

Friday, January 10, 2014

I'm back from another writer's block. Looks like I can't stand my writing for more than two months, and I can't stand my not writing for more than ten months! I've exploited and exhausted my right to be called a wannabe-writer long back.. now I'm not even a wannabe anymore.. But beautiful composition is like a magnet. You're attracted to it howsoever hard you resist. And every time I come across one, I wonder what went inside the mind of that writer to shower such beautiful words and connect them with the right chord.. Sometimes I wonder, how people who are so abhorrent in real life get to write such splendid lines.. I have always been so much in love with Naipaul to the extent that my passwords were all naipaul for quite a long time until I read an article on hacking and morphing and revenge-pornography and got scared to death, and changed them.. He had given me such pleasurable experiences with his simple yet beautifully crafted words.. Words that just flow like the giggles of a brunette!
"Last week I had my first snow. It came down in little white fluffs; you felt that a gigantic hand had punched a gigantic cotton wool sack open, letting down flurries of cotton shreds. "
And to think that he was just 17 while writing it, makes the taste even sweeter!! But in real life, he was all that I would hate in a man, abusive, misogynistic, womanizer, bigot, and what not. And yet, how could he write so amazingly! Is that his alter ego?!

PS:LS Elections are nearing, and as always I've started having nightmares and sleepless nights. I love as well as hate my obsession with politics!!

Khuda Hafiz

Monday, March 4, 2013

Devil's Alternative!

2014 is looming large. In a few months, India would be witnessing yet another general election. Not that it's something to look forward to. But nevertheless, it's a moment most Indians might be waiting for. The never ending spirals of scams and shams are sucking every drop of blood from each of us among the cattle class. Not a day passes without a word of reproach on the govt. CWG, 2G, ISRO-Devas, Land scams, Land acquisition and Tribal abuse, Law and Order problems, Intelligence flaws and Terror strikes, Inflation, and the list goes on..

Not that the result of 2014 would turn out any different from 2009, but i just hope to see a different side of the same coin.

Neither UPA nor NDA has announced their prime ministerial candidate although the choices are as obvious as they could be. One is the incumbent prince of a ruling dynasty and the other is an arrogant autocrat from a 'successful' state. Of course i wouldn't support either of them if i had a choice, both of them are disastrous choices for a democratic India, but unfortunately, i don't have one at the moment.

There's no reason i would support Rahul Gandhi. I dont find him educated or capable enough to rule a country. Not every leader needs to be flamboyant. Lal bahadur shastri was not one. Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not one. But the empathy and the willingness to do the right thing at the right moment is what decides how good a leader is. And i do not have any reason to believe that Rahul Gandhi would be the apt choice when the country is stooping into an imbroglio. Not every leader needs to be scholarly too. India being a nation with a literacy rate of just 74.04% (which implies just reading one's name and writing it out), can't necessarily insist on an above average educated and scholarly people's representative.

A democracy is a state of governance where people have the absolute freedom to choose their rulers and are not just presented a half baked bacon! The faith in India is the faith in Democracy. We overthrew princely rule and paved way to democracy so that the key to governance stays in the hands of the cattle class! By choosing all scions of political families, congress is not only sabotaging that noble concept, but also trampling on the only hope of a better future. Rahul gandhi, Jyotiraditya Scindia, Sachin Pilot,..the scions of these political dynasties still give that princely look to UPA II. I do not want to support Rahul Gandhi because this is not a healthy trend. If a Sonia gandhi could overthrow Sitaram Kesari at the break of dawn, and if Pranab mukherjee could be forced to be a presidential clown to pave way to Rahul gandhi, then my kids will witness Priyanka's son/daughter become the Prime minister in another 40yrs. This is not what our ancestors fought for. They fought for a pure and noble form of democracy. Lincoln's democracy where the govt is of the people, for the people and by the people. 

I would have had a second thought on UPA if someone who climbed up the ladder from the rank and file were chosen. Even with a lot of hatred for PC or Kapil Sibal, i would have been happy about the choice. I would have been happy to project the Harvard educated intellectuals as my country's head. But with the current trend, it's clear to even the worst nitwit that it's the nobility and not the caliber which decides the merit.

Modi, on the other hand, provides us an exact opposite choice. A person who established his credibility from the grass root level. A leader who could get things done without being corrupt, one who could avoid the red tapism which our bureaucracy is so infamous for. Someone who could deliver the promises he has made. Someone who has proved himself to be the people's representative for 3 electoral terms. But will he be a better alternative when we want to safeguard democracy? Haven't we committed one mistake already by electing Indira Gandhi? There might be historians and political commentators who laud her as one of the greatest prime ministers of India. But isn't Emergency and operation Blue Star and forced sterilizations enough examples of her arrogance and autocracy and megalomania? Doesn't Modi give us equally negative vibes?

There was a controversy Markantey Katju recently stirred with his anti Modi remarks and his comparison with Hitler and the concentration camps. I didn't approve of Katju's comments not because it didn't deserve any merit, but because there was a political alignment in his statement which is uncalled for from a person of his position and stature. It did resound a gratitude to his employers, as rightly accused by Arun Jaitley and many other BJP member.

Modi may not be a Hitler. 2002 may not be any different from 1984. But, Modi is definitely not Rajiv, but more of his mom.His actions reflect his narcissism and megalomania. By electing Modi, we may not be necessarily inviting another Emergency because we no more have a single party govt or a 2/3 majority for any govt. But he doesn't appear to be someone who would hesitate using govt agencies like RAW to spy on his political opponents and dissidents. He may be a necessary evil at this hour of tension with Pak and China. But he might become indispensable once peace knocks.

Richard Nixon was people's favorite during Vietnam War. Someone who wouldn't hesitate to pay tribute to his soldiers with a bombing in Cambodia. But the methods he used to hold on to power and to destroy every finger raised against him, the ratfucking and wiretapping, turned out to be the darkest chapter in American History and himself became the lone President of United States of America to have filed his resignation.

Our desperation for a leader or a savior shouldn't plummet us into a deeper abyss. But do we have a choice? Either ways, we are doomed.

PS : This image was Open Magazine's cover picture a month back. I felt it grossly unfair to not give due importance to Rajiv's feat in 1984, so doctored the pic a little so that Rajiv becomes an equally powerful opponent for Modi in Congress Camp! Kejriwal - India's gone to the dogs!!

Khuda Hafiz

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Wonder Woman

Feminism and politics is back with a bang in me. It's been 9 months since my wedding and more than a year since my engagement and 3.5yrs since my job. And every single event had an impact of it's own in me. I had almost stopped reading newspapers, stopped watching and ranting about barkha dutta (Yes, i still watch her programmes due to her charisma, and i still feel frustrated about her being opinionated), stopped worrying about the nation.. It was like i had better things to attend to at the moment than worry over things which i had no influence on.

It was when i started losing sleep over the plight of India that i realized that i am now settled in my life, in my new role. Fitting in the role perfectly, playing it dexterously.

2yrs back, that was before my parents started the groom hunt in all these matrimonial sites and in relatives' wedding, my view of employment was that of time pass. I had a view that when marital responsibilities gets on the head, employment steps out of the caravan, which is not the case anymore.The sole person responsible for such a change is this woman who i always considered stupid. An aunt of mine. And i do not know where i picked that opinion about her from. It might probably be because her parents kept flaunting her schooltime grades to us when we were kids. Months before my engagement, over a small talk, she picked up my frivolous attitude on job. The trail of advices that followed changed my complete mindset. About how job is absolutely necessary to be an independent and dignified woman.

Coming to think of it, she was right. A job renders an individuality to a woman. If i wanted to assert my individuality as a Hillary Rodham and not Hillary Clinton, I had to be self reliant. Wedlock shouldn't be a license to lean on the husband completely.

My job has taught me a lot of things. It has taught me how narrow and how broad people can be. It has shown me different ways of sham and hypocrisy in people. It has shown me how people struggle to get a job. It has shown me the ground realities of life. Of loans and EMIs. Of savings and investments. Of stinginess and extravaganza. It has changed my outlook in ways unimaginable. From religious conservatism to gay marriage. And i am forever grateful to my parents for allowing me to be a woman before marrying me off, when most of my friends got married when they were still girls.

There's this guy in my office who has amazed me in a totally unpleasant way with his chauvinism. He had strong views against working mothers. He never looked at job for a woman as a need for assertion but as a demonstration of greed. His point was that we must respect our culture and tradition, the one which urges the woman to stay indoors to raise the kids and bind the family together. Any deviation from it can be tolerated until she has a kid, after which she should own up the responsibility of the kid.Men are allowed to have passion and commitment for their work ... a woman is allowed that feeling for a man, but not her work.

For some reason, he never revealed all that to me, and instead encouraged me to seek an onsite. I am still unsure if that was genuine or if he was measuring me. But his general views made him a strong contender to be an MCP*. He encouraged every one of his married teammates to make their wives resign. His chauvinism drove him even to ask me if my in-laws don't mind me driving a vehicle!

There was this incident that this guy narrated. One of his friends went to meet a girl, arranged by their parents of course.
Guy : Do you want to work or leave the job after wedding?
Girl : I want to work
Guy : Why?
Girl : Why means? I want to work.
Guy : Explain why you would like to continue working. I am earning enough and i am financially well off. Why do you want to work then?
Girl : I would like to save something to buy my parents an apartment. As you see, i don't have siblings, and i am completely responsible in taking care of my parents.
Guy : Ok. So i would work. You would work. To facilitate both of ours employment and bringing up our kids, my parents would work at home. And the sole benefit of all these would be an apartment for your parents. I do not wish to marry you.

All these were happening among educated and civilised youth in south india. It was totally unbelievable. I specify south india because the south has been comparatively welcoming on the issue of a girl child. At least in Kerala i had not often heard of anyone yearning for a baby boy or bargaining over dowry whereas that is all i hear from the North. Even the most educated people, like this lady i know from the capital through a friend, who did her thesis on women empowerment, needs only grandsons ; she herself has only sons. People fail to link this fetish for boy children with the increased rape incidents in the NCR. People fail to link the dowry system with the obsession for boy children.

There's this movie, Mathrubhumi, a nation without women. It assumes more importance than ever when we consider the criminally and sexually charged atmosphere in Haryana and Delhi. A vast majority of people do not women except for sex. In spite of education and exposure and modernity, a lot of them are still not able to grapple with the fact that women are an asset and not a burden any more. A lot of them like my colleague still do not want an independent and assertive woman who would demolish his supremacy. Why don't they realize, that it's the daughters who light up a home! As the saying goes, a son is a son till he takes a wife, but a daughter is a daughter for the rest of your life.

*Male Chauvinistic Pig.

Khuda Hafiz

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Hello World

It's been a really long time since i visited my space. I had given up hopes on jotting down anything at all. I found in my earlier posts, a spur of immaturity. I found them nothing more than a play of words, a showcase of vocab. My words did have the honesty that revealed my ignorance of the world. Somewhere along the bubble burst. I had to answer the knock of reality. I started growing. Got a job. Got out of home and lived on my own. Got married. Tried to fight certain conventions, but fell down exhausted. Gave up to the age old nose poking tradition of the society. I became a wife, a happy one at it. And i was nothing but that. After running for 7 months, i realized that i had forgotten things which were once my passion and obsession. I stopped singing or listening. I stopped reading or writing. I stopped trying new things at the kitchen {other than the 3 meals a day}. I became a pathetic person but a happy one at it. "Here I am, lost in the light of the moon that comes through my window
Bathed in blue, the walls of my memory divide the thorns from the roses
It's you and the roses"

And here i am. Decidedly to resume scribbling/ranting/puking.

#Yet another insignificant inconsequential post. But as always, content. 

Khuda Hafiz