Feb 26, 2010

Battle of the Sexes

Women are historically referred to as the 'Fairer Sex' and Men, the 'Weaker Sex'. 
This could be true in more ways than one.
Almost all battles in history have been fought over property or a woman.

A recent study indicated between 50% and 70% of the women polled from among the southern Indian states of Andra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka thought that 'Wife-beating' is acceptable.

Growing up, in a matriarchy society, I have had my Mom, Sister and other Women of the family, fawn and nurture me immensely. Thankfully so too.
Today, I cringe at how women could accept violence as a way of life.
Did the numbers lie? Was it an anomaly? Were the right parameters used?

Men rave about equality and woman's empowerment, but the moment, Men have a Lady managing them, they plot to malign them.
Many urban Men think it is fashionable to be called a Feminist. Maybe it is, it has a nice ring to it.

Someone once quipped 'Behind every successful Man, there is a successful Woman'.
It is true.
My Dad and my Mom were one of a kind. They were from different spectrums of the same society, met, loved each other so infinitely to marry inspite of all odds and remain married, despite all the pitfalls. My Dad and Mom were an excellent example of how interdependent married couples should be. Sure they were not the richest or the smartest. But they loved eachother and never stopped loving eachother till his last breath. I remember how my Dad was so concerned about his Wife even to his last excruciating breath, that he switched off the lights so that she could catch a nap after spending weeks of sleepless nights.
When she woke up, she saw that he had already passed away, but he had a peaceful smile on his face.
Ofcourse, they had the bitterest fights but love conquers all. It surely did. She stood behind him, always the anchor that kept him grounded. Humble even to be described 'down to earth'.

In me, most of the women I've dated can be termed as the 'Who's Who of Social Crap'. Yet, the reason why I loved them was because I wanted love, the kind of love that my Mom had for my Dad, True Love. Although I could not articulate my need for this love as well as I can now, I was searching for true love. I never got it. Not from any of the half a dozen that I dated.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails. (Corinthians 13: 4-8)
It took almost a decade for me to realise that it is our Mom and she alone who can give us the love that we crave for.
Yet, we fight. The moment we even smell women's empowerment, we take up arms against them. Maybe, we need to have stronger women who can talk the talk and walk the walk. We need women who can show that they are not second rate citizens. Maybe, we need women who will not use sexual harrasment, dowry, divorce and rape as a tool to get back at Men who are actually good hearted. Maybe, we need Women who know their rights and will enforce them, while still be equable. Maybe we need Women who will stand up for their families and will kick some serious butt when needed.
I know a girl who once explained why Women, who follow Islam strictly are restricted from dancing in the public, showing any skin or even hair.

"If I come and dance in front of men, then what if the men would start desiring me?"

This comment shocked me. But this is surprisingly right too. Men oogle. That is no secret. Men leer and drool at any Women. As kids, we are innocence personified. But as we grow older, we develop emotions that build a wall of mistrust and mutual hatred, loathing, fear and anxiety.

A Lady does not have it easy, mind you. Women are constantly being preyed upon. With so many leery and lustful eyes latched on to you, it would not be surprised if I start getting suspicious and insecure.

Helen of Troy lent her name to posterity by having the face that launched a million ships. But with the majority of the Women in the 21st Century, survival is a constant battle against a million lustful eyes.

When will men realise that we need them as much as they need us. When will men realise that respect starts from the way they look at women, and not when a Bill is tabled? Our Women need us. They need our trust and we need their love and caring compassion. They need our security and respect as much as we need their intelligence and kindness.

Is it not time we made the first move to living a civilized mature society?

And in the battle of the Sexes, true victory is when we gain the unconditional trust and love of our women. The question here is, are Men strong enough to do this?

Feb 22, 2010

Emotional Atyachar: The flip side

I didn't catch the movie (Dev D) and was too turned off by the song but when I first heard about Emotional Atyachar, a show on UTV Bindaas, piqued my interest.
This show bears a lot of resemblance with 'Cheaters', a show that used to come on 'Reality TV'.
'Emotional Atyachar' (which means Emotional Trauma, in Hindi) though a very new show, has managed to grab much attention. EA is right up there with 'X Files' on my list of must watch TV shows.

Voyeurism is such a carnal passion. Sensationalized, packaged with a good name and catchy tune you've got a Super hit series.
The concept though similar to 'Cheaters' in the US, is specially adapted for the Indian audiences. It involves one of the person in a active relationship wanting the EA team do a 'Loyalty test' on their significant other. The 'Suspect' is baited with an attractive model/actor ('Undercover Agent') who will test the loyalty of the suspect by feigning physical intimacy.In almost all the shows, the suspect falls for the bait and is finally confronted by the 'Lead'. All hell normally breaks loose. Though the level of violence is not as much as in 'Cheaters', the consequence is pretty much the same.

Sin has the charms of a seductress. This is as true now as it was a billion years ago as it will be in a million years from now. I have been cheated upon a couple of times, but what really lingers are the thoughts "Why is this happening to me?" and 'What went wrong?"
You figure out the answers to these and you've cracked an age old code for a joyful relationship.

Infidelity in relationships are so common yet, you never think this could happen to you. It is like one of those diseases (like AIDS) where you feel it would happen only to people of a certain demography or lifestyle. You could not be more wrong than a chimpanzee in an Alaskan ice berg. All it takes is one wrong step, one misplaced act, one thoughtless word and one ruthless lie. And if this happens in a marriage, then you are heading towards a divorce unless you overhaul your lives in a massive way. 

My Dad, as I was growing up, used to ask me to cut the grass when we were visiting our home in India so that I could go out and play with my friends. How I used to curse all the grass and weeds and wish I could just vacuum them up like the dust on the carpet. How I used to envy the other kids who didn't have to do all this to earn some play time. Now, I was clever (or I thought I was). I used to just cut the tall blades of the grass just till its roots. This was quicker. 'Man, I am a genius!!'
But come next morning, the damn grass has grown up again. 'Darn! What are they eating?'
Dad's play time condition stood. Unwavering, I went about 'pruning' it again. Day 3, same thing. I decided enough is enough and admitted defeat to my Dad. With all the loving and patient hug that only a Dad can give, he told me that every time I cut the grass, I am leaving the roots in there. 'As long as the roots are in there, you are not getting rid of the problem. Take the roots away, and you won't have a problem.' Why didn't he just say this before?, I thought. I haven't had a problem with the grass since.

Sin is very similar. In a fit of realization, we often cut the visible part of the sinful habit or behavior but leave the roots in us. Over time, we let it grow, eventually realizing that we are back in square one. Whatever be our sin of choice, over time we give up and resign to the thought that we are no good for God and that we might as well, enjoy the sin. Wrong again. God does love us. And He is giving us a chance to admit defeat to Him and ask him for guidance. I can hear Him tell me exactly what my Dad told me, 'Pull the sin by its roots and you will not have a problem again'.

I had my sin and I am sure all of you have yours. I had mine for over a decade and a half. I tried every possible method known to man to overcome it, but it was pointless. In a world which teaches you, 'If you can't fight it, join it', I joined forces with my sin and reveled in it. Contrary to the joy that I thought I would enjoy, I was raked by relentless thoughts of guilt, anger, frustration and utter hopelessness.
My latest relationship was an eye opener. I realized that I had to uproot my sins. A pilgrimage to the Divine Retreat Centre, Challakudy helped me exorcise my demons. 

As any addict would testify, you cannot change what you do not accept. The relief and the joy that I have to know that I am free from addictions is incredible. 
Every morning is a joy. Every hour away from the addiction is another hour spent in His Grace.

Unfortunately, I had to wade through a lot of emotional atyachar myself to get through to the other end. I lost several years of my life trying to grapple with the addiction and the many relationships that failed. All is not lost. The old age adage 'Better late than never..' ironically stands tested here. 

Been there, done that, worn the T Shirt.

Feb 19, 2010

Buzz Off, Google




With a freshly brewed cuppa Coffee, I plunge into my morning ritual of checking my gmail.Logging in, I am welcomed by the gentle persuasion to join Buzz. Being trigger happy, I clicked on 'Yes..'. It took me exactly 5 seconds to realise that I stepped on cyber shit.

Now, I respect Google and think Google is the place I eventually want to be working with, but they goofed up on this one.
How can they let other people view my lists?
Thankfully, a wiser me chose not in enable Buzz in another email address that I use.

Knowing how swift Google acts on situations like this, I am sure by the time you read this, Buzz is already in the good books of its Users. But the larger question here is, Privacy.

I don't use a smartphone or a PDA because I made a conscious decision to not be addicted to the internet. I try and keep confidential data off physical hard drives since I travel a lot.
But that is not the same for my email.
I have tons of data, most of which are very confidential. I keep scanned copies of my documents so that I have a online copy if the actual document is stolen or destroyed. Bank Statements, Passwords, Account Recovery documents and my Writing. I do my bit to keep my passwords hacker proof, but what if the thief already has a copy of the key?
Come to think of it, I am more dependent on my email than I am on my wallet. 
The thought is apocalyptic.

Buzz unintentionally showed me what would happen if the onus of confidentiality falls in the hands of the wrong programmers.
I don't think i have had as much resistance towards any new technology (that Google has produced) as I have against Buzz.

I hate to see people sharing 'sweet nothings' with the world at large. "Oh I am peeing now..." and "Gosh, whats going to happen to my pimple?"
I hate to see people gloat and gush about the most mundane things in life. "Oh I ran a marathon... and I am feeling awesome". Goodbye Haiti.

The Google Buzz is as sweet or annoying as the buzzing sound of the bee. I rather swat it and worry about extinction later.

Feb 15, 2010

Top Gun


No, its not about the movie, but about how most defence spendings is wasteful. Millions are spent on acquiring and upgrading weapons of mass destruction, a vast majority of all this is going up in smoke, quite literally.
Someone once quipped: 'Why does the Air Force need expensive new bombers? Have the people we've been bombing over the years been complaining?'
I agree.


Growing up, I lived amongst people from different cultures. I have lived with people from Pakistan and other parts of Asia. My parents were very good friends with a family from Pakistan and Srilanka. I have very fond memories of them. I remember their house used to always be spic and span and the family was a picture of magnanimity. Of all the other Indian friends that I've had, and the many times that we have visited them, I remember this family the fondest. While on one such visit, someone started talking about the political situation between India and Pakistan. I don't remember all the notions put forward, but I remember the father of the family point out a very poignant statement: "Underneath the skin and beneath the color, we are all the same.. we have the same aspirations, same dreams, same fears and same past. We don't want to hate Indians and we are sure you don't want to either. But decades of political upmanship and brinkmanship is profitable to the politicians who run our governments. They are able to put us both fighting each other with their rhetoric. All the enmity allows our leaders to let the other kill us"
This statement has stayed with me, through all the years that I have been in India.
I never knew or heard so much rhetoric about the ongoing strife when I was in the Gulf. But once in India, things were a lot different.
You constantly yet subtly live in fear and loathing.
Micheal Moore sums up the current situation in his movie, Fahrenheit 911. Our leaders, who we elect to lead us into greener and calmer pastures deceive us the first moment they taste power. They tuck the olive branch of peace far from thought and view and engage in very clever rhetoric that is designed to keep us on the edge. All through the day. We are kept in a state of perpetual psychological arousal; fearing the worst, loathing the unknown.
I pride myself on the excellent sense of morality that my parents imbibed in me, whether by accident or on purpose. This makes it a lot more easier for me to not jump to a conclusion and brand a person or a country evil.
All this war talk, is indeed profitable. It profits people who propagate it. Defence spending is at an all time high, I hear. Well, it might as well be. What with China throwing its hatchet into the fight. Three is company, after all. Thankfully, Srilanka and Bangladesh has too much in its plate to even bother.
Newer missiles, Great. Now we can hit even Beijing. Faster and more advanced warplanes, that's splendid. Now, we can show who's boss over our skies faster. Bigger ships, Amazing. Now, we can rule our waters with a iron fist. More poverty. Gosh, I just wish we could not mention this.


And yes, our leaders get to skim over the real issue pretty nicely. After all, how will that help us? How can I get my kickbacks if I spend more money on quality and free education? How can I make sure that I hoard up obscene amounts of money for the next 3 generations if I provide fair and equal employment opportunities to all?
How can I 'farm' my people if they know their constitutional rights like the back of their palms?  
One of my all time favorite Bollywood movie is 'Beta'. I love the movie so much that I have watched it from the opening title to the end credits atleast a couple of dozen times. I love the movie for a lot of reasons and the top reason is the way the protagonist's step mom stifles the freedom and opportunities of the protagonist, by not educating him. While at the same time her own son, studies (and grows up to be a swindler nonetheless). I admire the director for the poignant way he makes us understand education is not what will determine your inner being, but what will let you make a world of decisions in a way that is right. The lack of education didn't ruin the protagonist's character, rather he comes across as a innocent, extremely gentle yet respected and loving. Education allows a person to be informed. Which is exactly what our leaders in many decades of governments don't want us to be. They don't want us to know how to handle crisis intelligently while still being effective. They don't want us to know how much of what is spent is going into their personal fortunes. But all is not lost yet, we have tiny specks of hope, surprisingly, within our own country. Kerala, inspite of all the 'mallu' jokes around, I am proud, being a Keralite myself, to see how Kerala has grown over the years, both economically and otherwise. The stimulus of this growth was when the government decided to launch a localized 'Each one, Teach one' program, which took the State's literacy program to the stratosphere. The momentum has not slowed down and as a result of this, nearly every keralite are very active socially and politically. Nearly everyone spends an hour or 2 scanning the newspapers, gulping down huge chunks of information (besides the obituaries) Nearly every home has a Telephone, TV and a computer connected to the web. Progress took several years but the fruits are there for all to see, nearly all families have atleast one graduate/post graduate and almost 1 in 3 households have a family member who has or is working abroad. True, we have a typical sense of pride, but what is more truer is that you can take a keralite out of Kerala but you cannot take the Kerala out of the keralite. Every political decision taken in the State is debated several times, flipped over and dissected for flaws, and quite frankly, we don't care if the politicians make some money out of all the progress, as long as we get to enjoy the progress. The key word here, being 'Progress'.
Social progress is what we need. Free and quality Education, Health-care, and a fair chance of employment. Is that too much to ask for? I don't think so. We have done it. There are so many nations around the world who has done it. But there is a cost. We must not let our leaders lead us astray. We must grow a backbone and learn to stand up against leaders who promote hatred and so much agony not to mention money.
Give our children education that would enable them to make intelligent, informed decisions. Give our sick, the quality health-care that would enable them to relieve their suffering and pain. Give us the equal footing that we need so that we can earn well enough to educate our child and tend for our sick. Give our society all this and we will take care of progress. This is a cycle. But the spanner in the works, is when our leaders decide to be the Stepmother and choose not to let us grow within.
The movie had a good ending. But real life is vastly different.
I don't see the light at the end of the tunnel. I just hope my candle of hope lasts my journey.

Feb 10, 2010

Bucket List (a.k.a '100 Things to do before I die' List)

Thanks for coming here.

This post has been moved to http://100t2d.blogspot.com/

Cheers!!

Feb 9, 2010

B for BT.. B for Brinjal.. B for Back Off !!

Just what is all the fuss with BT and Brinjal all about?
I don't even eat brinjal (not unless I start adding brinjal into my chicken curries!!)
I mean, this is all that is wrong with us. 
Sometime ago, I have heard this story about 'Kerala Crabs' and how we wouldn't need a lid to cover it. It so happens that the crabs won't be able to climb over the cage, since every time a crab tries to scale the cage, another crab tries to pull it down. Argh!!

With every advance of technology, we (particularly of the Subcontinent) appear to be taking a step backwards. I have known people fighting and then clawing their ways into Bio Technology engineering courses. Assuming that all of them are graduating and would be pursuing a career in BT (unless ofcourse earning a degree was a sureshot way of getting married wealthy), what are they going to research and develop if all that we are going to do is ban all their work.
Its BT Brinjal today, tomorrow would be the BT Rice and BT 'other food'. Are we missing the big picture here?
If BT is such a dangerous technology, why even venture into such research? 
Don't we have to stop, step aside and understand why people are so agitated?
If BT is filled with the risk of mutant genes, is there no way to ensure that the mutant genes are repressed and made dormant or ineffective? 
If BT can offset the financial and climatic woes of our farmers, and when our society still depends on good monsoon for a great year, why are we so against the idea of improving ourselves?
I don't know the hidden agendas that all the protesters have but we as a society are much more hypocritical and selfish than most other societies in today's world. We allow dumping and let our cities get polluted and don't do anything about it, but are quick to join the herd (mentality) when the fight seems glamorous.

So frustrating to see so many reams of precious news reams being wasted on such a open and shut situation.

Can the real experts please stand up?


Take a Hike...

Close to a decade ago, when I started working,  I have worked right through the night and the day (and mind you, I did enjoy doing that) but several illnesses  and a failed relationship later, I realised that life is not all about meeting targets and achieving workplace success. 
Thankfully, I have migrated to a stage of life where I have decided I need to strike a balance between work and home and slow down, occasionally stopping to smell the flowers and gawk at the Awesomeness of God.
Some simply don't take the clue.

I've always wanted to bond with my family better and my Mom was really the expressive kind of person. She dislikes public (or private) displays of affection, and for some reason that really held me back. I thought she had a barrier against me. But the truth is, she was and still is an incredible person. I miss her. I love her intensely. I intend to make up for the all the lost time, by traveling to see her more often this year.

Though I haven't traveled much, I love traveling alone and I intend to trek and cycle Northern India sometime in the middle of this year. Hopefully and God willing, I should have fun doing all this! 

Want to wrap up this year with another Tour of Nilgiris (and maybe a visit to the Andamans)
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