Monday, April 25, 2011

Of false swamis and falser doctrines

How ironic that a man who proclaimed to be divine died on very day that humanity celebrates the resurrection of the Son of man.

Sai Baba, shrewd businessman, conman par excellence and among the most controversial godman in India, is finally dead.
As the rat race for his $9.10 billion empire heats up, I have the nasty feeling that we've not heard the last of these fake swamis.

Controversial for the corny sleight of hand tricks and 'miracles' that he has performed, I am surprised that millions fell for his tricks.
For a generation that is craving to fill its God sized hole in their hearts, such god(wo)man will continue to be wolves in sheep clothing.

Outraged at how he described himself as a reincarnation of Jesus, I'm surprised at how he got his date of death wrong! Struggling to live, reluctant to leave and absolutely zero plans of succession. Wow! He really didn't think that he would make such an inglorious exit, dying as he did. All the other false swamis and swaminis must rethink their reincarnation announcements. However, I wouldn't be too surprised if another takes his place, proclaiming to be his reincarnation!

And I was foolish enough to believe the scandals and the false doctrines of the Sex Guru would've have wizened up humanity.
It is our complacence that makes scamsters like Swami Nityananda and like scum thrive like fungus on a five day old bread.

You don't need a supercomputer to figure out why we are the only nation where you can rake in the millions just by learning some magic, quoting the scripture and give charity. Poverty that appears to envelope entire generations, and where awareness of your right to information is scarce, scamster swami's and swamini's hold a iron grip over entire populations.

Amma, next in line and most alike Sai Baba, with her vast empire of business and charity and false prophets sully the name of a nation that cradled civilization.
We must awake to rid our country of the scourge of the opportunist who prey upon the weak and the superstitious.
Maybe we need to show them the episodes of 'Magic's biggest secrets revealed' and then they'll stop following these billionaire scamsters.


Part 2
A five part series dissecting the last moments of Jesus and its relevance on our lives

We've all been in the presence of great men and women. I've personally spoken with men who are extremely charismatic. So charismatic that they can sell any idea to you just by their power of persuasion. But how many of them have been able to change your life for the best? And how many of them can you term life changing?
There were tons of publicity material, banners and posters announcing the visit of a certain member of the royalty to our city. There was lots of fanfare and excitement that the royal chose to visit our city. But they come, they spoke, they charmed the crowds and then as quick as they came, they left. Nothing changed. Life just went on.

But Christ in His final moments of passion, continued to win the souls of sinners. I've often wondered if Malcus who experienced the miracle of healing at the Gethsemane would've become a stronger testimony to Jesus than most of us have been. Would he have gone with the realization that He was the Messiah? Simon of Cyrene, visiting Jerusalem, after his short journey with Christ went back a changed person. He later becomes a disciple when he returns to Cyrene, Libya.

Many mortals profess to be the 'Change' that we yearn for. We've seeked for the change and satisfaction that this world promises. Fleeting promise of peace. But we still have a gaping hole inside us that gnaws at our conscience. Something is just not right.

We need God. He needs us too.
As friends, partners and children, all that He asks is our devotion and undying love. Surely, we can give Him that.

I realize that I've mentioned this before and probably will testify this for ever.
I remember the intense feeling of peace and tranquility that I felt when I first invited God into my soul.
It was a fateful day. An awful week. Nothing gave me more peace than knowing that no matter how wicked, how evil, how polluted and how sin-laden I was, God forgave me. You may not like to admit all the sinful thoughts or deeds that you've done, but He knows you more than you would be willing to reveal. He knows exactly who you had sex with, exactly which girl you were lusting after, exactly how many times you've masturbated and about all the times you've watched porn. He knows you've cheated at exam, with your girl friend and lied to your parents. And the good news is you have a chance of being transformed. You can be changed. All you need to do is believe and trust in Jesus.

Unlike when a celebrity, a royalty or a godman who visits your town and leaves you unchanged, a moment with Christ is all it takes to transform. To change.

Given a chance where the Queen of England would want to visit your home, wouldn't you spruce up your home and yourself to make it fit for royalty?
Come, here is your chance. Jesus is waiting. The King of kings wants to visit your soul today, this moment. Are you ready?

Part 1 here

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Daughters for Sale

Indian Weddings are big, boisterous and shit expensive.
I've seen a lot of weddings in my lifetime. Most of them have been extravagant affairs mainly to flex the money muscle and to announce to the world (or to their relatives and friends) that they've arrived.

The copious amounts of money that is spent on mantaps and jewelry would make King Solomon blush.
All this of course does not include the obscene amounts of dowry that is given.

Ofcourse, any one could justify why we'd still want dowry, an integral part of our weddings, but when I read about mysterious 'kitchen cylinder blasts' that kills or scars a new bride, or when a new bride is burned, is when I wonder why we won't raise our voices against the system.
Perhaps we are just not ready to fight a system that risks making our daughters ineligible for marriage.

Where did the tradition of a little 'seed money' go so wrong?
Dowry, money that was supposed to help our young husbands start their lives has become a vicious circle of greed, death and guilt.

Young people that I've spoken to, have agreed that dowry is a tradition that they will not indulge in. But many of them yield to the 'wisdom' of their elders who espouse dowry and are brainwashed to believe that a suitably sized dowry will give the girl and her family respect in the eyes of the boy's family and his relatives.

Vast amounts of money or assets are passed hands. For many in suburban India, societal expectation on what would constitute a suitable sized dowry would differ.
But for the girl's parents and family, this could mean money that was saved for many many years. Money that was kept aside for a home. Money that was kept aside for the aging parents.
But for the boy and his family, this is easy money. Money that he hardly worked for. Money that he would be secretly drooling for. Publicly he would be against dowry, privately a staunch supporter for dowry.

Having proven its mettle, Media must play a more strategic role in promoting anti dowry. Simple awareness about the consequences of accepting or even offering dowry should be taught at schools.
However, having said that, legislation is a double edged sword. Unscrupulous women and their families have used anti dowry laws to their advantage. In a society where marriages are planned and verbally binding decisions made in the drawing rooms of elders, unwitting men fall for the trap of women and their families who want to teach the men a bitter lesson in matrimony.

Personally, I know a dear friend who was fighting a bitter divorce that ought to have been over nearly 12 years ago. Just a written complaint from the ex and her family and the poor chap was suffering for over a decade until last year at the age of 35, he died.

Greed begets greed and dowry is something you wouldn't want to touch with a barge pole.

Are we breeding our daughters with a dread that we will have to pay, some day, a million bucks?
Are we raising our sons with the hidden delight and relief that some day, all our 'investments' will be repaid when he gets married and get a Big Fat Dowry?
Maybe it is because we have more men than women. Or maybe we need to stop female infanticide.

Fight the right to marry your soul-mate, sans the money. Of course marriages are never a piece of cake and you'll always end up stretching to make ends meet. But you'll atleast set an example when you refuse to accept or pay a dowry. Be a Man.

The question is: Are we ready to fight for the right to wed without dowry?

The Statistics are chilling.
Go Figure.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

for my sins.. He got the Kiss

Part 1 
A five part series dissecting the last moments of Jesus and its relevance on our lives

Today, as the planet mourns the passion and death of Jesus, do we really understand what He went through?
Watching the Mel Gibson movie 'Passion of the Christ', I am moved and painfully reminded about the kind of trauma and death that He went through.

Christians around the world declare their undying love and confess that Jesus died for them. Their sins.
But do we really know what those sins were?
Are we really confessing our undying allegiance to Him or are we just as cocky as Peter was, until he denies Jesus three times before the cock crows?
Are we pagans who pay lip service?

Dissecting His passion, Jesus knew that he was sent for the sole purpose of dying for the sins of all humanity. His destiny to be the sacrificial lamp was defined right at the dawn of the humanity, when man fell into sin.
Born of the virgin Mary, He became Flesh of our flesh, Heart of our hearts.
A King born to the lowest strata of the Jewish society, His childhood and life on earth shows him how he was the model son to his earthly parents. Parents who nurtured Him. Never arrogant that He was God, He loved His mom and adored his earthly father just as much as He did His heavenly Father. How many of us can boast of being as humble as He was, fully God and fully human.

The movie revolves around the final hours of Christ Jesus.
It shows us the trauma that He went through, completely aware that He has to be persecuted, tried and crucified, He is pained. He wishes that this does not happen to Him, but obedient even to death, He wants His Father's will to happen. Betrayed by a kiss, to die a death that He wanted to save all of us from.
How many of us would let down his/her own life so that someone else would be saved? How many would do this willingly? Not many, I presume.

There are a dozen plots in this beautifully made movie, devoid of any of the corny dialogues and drama that most contemporary blockbusters are known by, this movie gets beneath the skin of its viewer every time they watch it. Some are moved to watch it again and again, and some are too wimped up to see the gory details of how He suffered for our sins.

Starting with his final moments of earthly freedom at the garden of Gethsemane, He sheds tears of blood traumatized by the enormity of his task ahead. Satan, the quintessential smooth talker tries to talk Him out of His purpose, but Jesus rises to quell all temptation and any thought of backing down. Looking through the six odd minutes at the garden, we see how staunch His resolve is. It looks just too easy to our eyes that have seen a million corny movies where the protagonist is shown to have the resolve to defeat all of earth.
But are we really strong enough to squish smooth talking satan in our lives?

Every Sunday, Christians confess, profess and sing their allegiance to Christ. They partake in the Holy Communion and after the service, they gather to gossip about what they did the past 6 days. Not that I discourage socializing but is gossiping, fellowship? On the way back, they curse at the next motorist who cuts them off. Throughout the service their minds wander, making a mental note of what they will need to do after mass and/or looking at that fashionably dressed 'uncle/aunty'. All in a vain attempt to please God by being physically present, we think that our mere presence will please Him.

Pastors encourage this by not correcting the wayward congregation, for fear that they may withdraw their membership and thereby a steady source of income. Theft is common in some churches. So much so that a church that I go to, reminds their members to carry their bags, valuables and other mentionables with them to the altar, lest they be stolen when you return 4 minutes later.

We falter when our egos are bruised. I've lost way too many friends who've stopped talking to me since their egos have been bruised.
We fall for the false pretension that our wealth will see us through the dry spells of our life.
Coveting for your neighbor's car, spouse, children, wealth, peace and every possible thing that you can think of. We are suckers to our neighbor's lives.
We are even jealous of those who work hard to earn every penny. We want all the good things in their life without any of the bad things.
We want our bosses to recognize us for every bit of good work we do, but not punish us if we goof up.
We are indignant at the co worker who works hard to get ahead and stay ahead. But we won't go the extra mile to work smartly ourselves.
We expect our co workers to stand in awe of us every time we are at work, but make a goof up and you don't want to be made an example.
We want our children to be the best in everything they do. Because you were not. We even want our children to be like the neighbor's children.
We want our parents to be an ATM, spewing out money with no expectation of accountability.

I could go on.. but the point here is, are we really ready to be obedient to His will and patient to His purpose?
Are you?

Monday, April 18, 2011

Of lesser gods..

He is like any of us.

Like you and I, he has a family, who cares for him, loves him and looks up to him. Respects him for the job that he does.
He faces the same struggles that you and I face in today's economy. Yet, I've never seen him upset or heard him complain. Lives far away from his family who yearns to see him once every 6 months.

Raju works hard for his meager salary of Rs 3000 (about $67). Meets all his food and shelter expenses and is still able to send Rs 2000 ($45) back home to his family. Enough to meet all the expenses and more.

But he is not any of us. He is one among the army of housekeeping personnel who silently yet unfailingly strive to make your life at work so much more comfortable.

Cleaning, mopping, dusting, serving they make sure your workstation is clean and spotless even before you wake up. Working insane hours of the night, I've seen them tirelessly toil almost like robots coming out of the woodwork to clean and pick up trash and exit the floor just as silently as they come.

Yet we snarl at them if they forget to clean the stinky toilets or have forgotten to pick that piece of trash that we left.

As a nation, most of us are highly impatient towards people that are perceived disadvantaged. Perhaps, because we've lived charmed lives.
While some of the more privileged among us aspire to buy the latest car or that opulent apartment, many like Raju are happy if they are able to meet all their expenses this month and have a few hundred rupees for next month's mela.

While many of us have a lot of 'job security' (or the misplaced feeling of one) and the certain assurance that we'll get our pay like clockwork, folks like Raju have a silent yet looming threat of unemployment hanging over their heads. Maybe they'll get their pay. Maybe they'll not.

Most of us would have never had (and probably will never have) to struggle for our food. But for the millions of people like Raju, they are just one paycheck away from starvation.

As a person, who did struggle for a square meal myself, I've never forgotten my roots or my milestones. Recalling those days, I'd ration a single banana to last me for 2 days, taking a bite and then carefully wrapping the skin around so that it remains fresh until dinner, I've used community toilets and worse.

I've come a long way since, but I still remember those days like it was last week.
When I see a person struggling, I see myself in them. I talk to them, as I would've wanted someone to talk to me when I was struggling. I encourage them and show them how I've grown. Amidst challenges.

I've seen people who've started out at the lowest rank, climb up the ladder only to make the lives of those below him/her much harder. The story of the Indian Crabs come to my mind.
If talking down to waiters is considered rude, how can we condone our general attitude of disregard to those to make sure our toilets are clean, tables spic and span and dustbins cleared?

Butchering a more popular adage, the lives of our housekeeping army make me believe 'With much money, comes much misery'.
They don't need your money or your leftover food. They don't need your sympathy.

But, its time we said 'Thank you, Sir/Madam' to the next housekeeping staff you meet. Let them know that you appreciate the work they do, that they are not invisible any more.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Born naked. Living Horny

Making her Parents mighty proud!
Two Weeks ago, a nondescript model googled herself (like many other self obsessed nincompoops do) only to find that she is not what she thought she was- Famous.

That's when in a bolt of creative (or absolutely mundane) thought inspired her to announce to India and the world about her plans to strip for the Indian Cricket team if they win the World Cup.

Well, Poonam Pandey, Bravo! Well done. How inspiring! How original! How so Indian!

Well, the Indian team may have had women who would've been a guzillion times hotter, smarter strip and do other favors for them (in private) a thousand times already.

So they could have clearly not fallen for this. But a billion other men in India and some thousands around the world would have salivated at the tantalizing thought! They may have already made plans to watch it in YouTube and Torrents!

However, as fate would have it India did win the World Cup. Not for the country but for Sachin. But nonetheless, we won. Fair and square.

'Where the hell is Poonam Pandey?' The day after, FB was ablaze. All those elaborate plans to watch the smuggled clips of a naked lady gone down the drain. If there ever was a dampener to all the excitement, her no show was it.

You got your 15 minutes or more, of fame. But few pivotal questions, Ms Pandey.

How did you imagine our Cricket team needed a certain B grade Calender girl like you to strip to perform?
If Cricket was your passion, why didn't you strip in the last World Cups?
And finally, any reason why you chose Cricket and not Tennis? Where incidentally, Leander and Mahesh did win their Doubles and is placed World number 1. Well, they played for India and not for themselves or each other.

In a country where Cricket and Bollywood unite people in a way where religion and a million plus gods couldn't, you, Ms Pandey said the right thing. Or like the locals would say; "Ekdum first class choice"

But little did you know we would win and you'd have to make lame ass excuses to why you wouldn't want to strip. Smart move.

Well, it is easy to bet against a team when the team has been performing badly for decades. She never knew India would win, after all they hadn't won in decades. PP didn't expect India to win either.

We won! And in the first few hours after we won, none of us thought of you. None of us even remembered you. It was our victory and our moment in glory. We partied, we danced and we savored our win.
While you went into hiding and wished you could've turned back time.
But you've earned a nation's contempt and a million dollars worth of PR for free.

2 weeks on, you are still giving us reasons why you said you'll strip and (indirectly) how it is your birth right. So you were born nude. So you've made the men (with the exception of a few) of an entire nation drool and the women cringe in pity at your PR stunt. But you'll forever go down in history as the first (probably not the last) bimbo who promised to strip and never showed up.

Nudity is not vulgarity, says Ms PeePee.
Thats only if you're shedding it for your husband/boyfriend or in your case, a Producer/Director.

Bring It On.

Monday, April 11, 2011

We love Satan!

I simply couldn't control my rage when I read about how a teen got raped 4 times in just two hours. Adjectives like Barbaric and Satanic come first to my mind.

While many of us live a charmed life and most of us are keyboard activists par excellence, what defies my logic is how we stop short of definitive results. Of course the four culprits have been arrested but its only a matter of time before all of them are roaming the streets again.

Our society has depraved so much that it no longer matters if you are influential or not. Infact the less influential you are, the better (Ala Shiney Ahuja, who was judged guilty by the media way before the court did).

Castrate them!
That's the popular verdict, but I don't think it'll do a jack shit to our proud rape statistics or any of the future victims.
We need to make an example out of our rapists. We need to teach them a damn good lesson right now.

While couch activists (myself included) may label Delhi as the Rape capital of the country, personally I think Delhites are racing to earn a host of other epitaphs. Corruption and a society that appears to have been anesthetized by crime, Delhi is as unsafe for women as Beijing is to a Asthmatic patient.

Where did we go so wrong?

National Capitals are supposed to be the model of social living. Atleast that's what you're taught in school.
But the truth is bitter and many that I spoke to about the rising number of rapes were fatigued with all the 'bad news' that is in the papers nowadays.
But I bet the victims and their families won't be thinking the same. For the victim, this means her entire life is changed. Her family? Lesser chances of getting her married off now.

Will we ever see hope?
Well, as long as we have B grade models like Poonam Pandhey offering to strip to motivate and people who actually promote her by interviewing her and giving her the 15 minutes of fame, I think our chances are slim.
As long as we have people who salivate on rape scenes in movies, our women will be raped.
As long as we have movies where the men (read Heroes) chase women until they fall in love, I think we will have an increasing number of women who will suffer the burden of rape.

On second thought, I think we need to change our religion to 'Satan worship'. We are after all doing all that God has forbid us to even think of. We rape, pilfer, plunder and destroy our own kind and then offer elaborate darshans. Even dogs don't rape their kind!

I believe by changing our secular status to 'Satan Worshipers' we can finally shed the mask of being secular and be of a civilized society. We can finally find peace in the fact that we are following our 'religion' in its truest essence. Satan is mighty pleased.

Mission Accomplished!
Next on his agenda: World War 3

Saturday, April 09, 2011

I see her

A few days ago, while waiting at a traffic stop. Waiting in front of me, I noticed a couple of men in a van getting excited, and pull out a high resolution camcorder. (I could figure it was the kind of camcorders, professional camera men operate) They rolled down their windows just a wee bit, just enough to let their camcorders unobstructed view.
I was curious. As always.
I wanted to know why excited the men so much as to start recording. Looking in the general direction of where they were pointing the camera, I noticed a group of 12, maybe 15 women.
Tourists. Caucasians. Clothes barely covering their pale bodies.

These men were neither media nor recording with the full knowledge of the women. They were clearly breaking the law.
I had to intervene. I started my bike, squeezed through a tiny passage to stop in the line of sight, blocking the view of the camera. The guys in the van started yelling out to me, ordering me to move.
I wouldn't budge an inch, not until the lights turned green and then the women were gone.

What bothered me is not that we had tourists dressed in scantily clad clothes but that we still think we can violate privacy and freedom with impunity.
Voyeurism, reveals the dark crusted underbelly of humans. I've seen men in malls overlooking ledges and escalators recording PYTs in itsy bitsy attire on their camera phones.

All of which will be uploaded with scandalous titles like 'bangalore bitch reveals all' and such..
What surprises me is the gradual surge of such scandalous video since the past couple of years. What started as a trickle is a veritable flood now.

Kalyug, the Hindi movie struck a chord in so many people. As victims, perpetrators or silent spectators, we are all guilty of feeding this monster.
Demand after all fuels supply.

Our closeted minds need a rude awakening. Do we need to wait for another scandalous MMS video to be leaked from one of our schools/colleges/universities?
From kindergarden jokes and Little Johnny jibes, we grow into amateur film makers who upload videos of their girlfriends and significant others giving them a BJ.
I just wish all the men who did this would eventually get a taste of their own medicine.
Or would they try to peddle their own mothers, sisters and wives?

I've owned a camera phone back in the days when it was a novelty (the Philips phone that had a detachable camera) and through the years have owned several phones that had cameras. But I've never had the temptation of recording another girl.

Maybe, I am too old fashioned for reality tv, but the insatiable fetish to observe other women is a little perverse.
Perhaps we need a society where women are not closet topics/objects of desire but treated with the maturity it deserves. We better start now lest we be known as a civilization that ate its own tail.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

Traffic Nonsense

Traffic Sense. This is a misnomer in India.
Ofcourse there are towns and cities in India where there is some semblance of order, but it is mostly chaos all over.

I often wonder why we even bother painting lanes on most of the roads since nearly no one knows why they are there. But if I may add, the single most annoying and sometimes terrifying aspect of driving in India is the Horn.

It appears that most drivers use the horn as an extension of themselves. As an appendage that can emphasize their urgency and annoyance. Almost like a spokesperson of indignation. 'You are wasting my time.'

At the traffic lights, it is difficult to imagine how Indians are ever used to waiting or getting late. One Westerner that I met at a traffic stop, was appalled at the amount of noise that we make on the roads. "Its like Indians are not used to getting late!"
'Contrary to what you think, Mr Caucasian. We always come late.' I said to myself

We don't need a Earth Day in India. We need a No Horn day one day every week. That would make a lot more sense.

Not that I hate all of the honkers. Many are plain arrogant and impatient, while some of them are just plain stupid.
I have started classifying the 'types' we meet on road.

The 'Devout Christians'
We have a bumper sticker that says 'Honk if you love Jesus'. And Boy! there are a lot of devout Christians who follow us. Honk! Honk!

The 'I'm Late For My Mom's First Delivery' Folks
We love the ones who weave through traffic with such dexterity and technique, its hard to imagine why we don't have a winning team at the F1. They race. They honk. They weave through traffic and scowl at you for slowing them down for that crucial 1/10th of a second. Only to stop at the traffic lights.

The 'Get out of my way' Folks
And then we have those glorious drivers who drive with a mission. Mission to Kill anyone who is unfortunate to be slow or just plain unfortunate. Its almost like one of those Atari video games that I used to play growing up, where we need to help a rabbit cross a busy street without getting it killed. I almost never made it! 

The 'Grammy Winners'
And then there are the musical ones. No, they dont have the musical horns but its just the way they honk. 
Pee Pe Peee Pee Pe Peee Pe Pee Pe Peee Pee Pe. 
I love this kind the most. Not just because they are musical but also because they are so plain cute and stupid at the same time. And if you observe them, you'll notice that they have the blond look. No expression. No IQ. (Apologies to all the intelligent blonds out there) (No Pun intended)

Two things that money can't buy. Common Sense and World Peace. Its a tragic truth that good traffic sense evades most Indian drivers. 
We've conquered space and technology, but we're unable to stick to a lane.
We're the only civilization that has never invaded another nation but we simply refuse to drive defensively. 
We've fought for our freedom and set an example in history but we still treat other drivers with contempt and disrespect.

What is it about Indians that make us lousy road users?
Horn OK Please

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