Monday, December 31, 2012

An appeal to everyone, but especially men

I have every kind of privileged imaginable. A wonderful upbringing, a great liberal education, a good home, comfort and enough money to meet whatever needs I may have. Along with this, I'm male. I belong to a social strata and caste that has not faced discrimination post independence. I've had excellent role models in my parents and close friends around me.

I am also not alone. The ranks of those who can claim to have all of the above are swelling. I do not wish to be alone, either. I wish this wonderful state of affairs to be possible for everyone. Unfortunately, what is quite clear is that if you're a woman in India, this dream of privilege and non-discrimination and  remains largely out-of-bounds, regardless of your education, your upbringing, your social strata, or your income. That's half our population. Rather, it would be half if a fair amount of women hadn't been killed at, or before, birth. 

Speaking out, protesting, being heard is important, but life goes on. Aside from dedicated organisations that will continue their wonderful work (some of whom I hope to support both with time as well as money), the majority of us who are comfortable, settled, beneficiaries of privilege face none of these issues. We will go back to thinking about our lives and forget the outrage that has been generated easily. Again, this is not an admonishment, but a simple fact of life. What then for those of us who do not have to face the reality of gender violence and discrimination on a daily basis? What can we do to keep up the good fight once the news vans and students unions and street protests and twitter celebs shift their focus elsewhere?

Protests come of many kinds. Too often I find like-minded people, people who would never discriminate, or abuse or harass, forgive and forget that which happens around them as someone else's problem. I'm asking all of you to make it your problem. 

All of you have a friend, an uncle or aunt or sundry relative, perhaps even a parent all too willing to pass a loose comment about women. Or justify rape as a woman's responsibility. Or call for curfews to "protect" women. Or ridicule gay people. Or decide that patriarchal religious ceremonies are acceptable because tradition is more important than the individual. Or question or joke about how a woman got a position of responsibility at work.  Too often we let these things go. We justify this away to ourselves. They're from another generation. They can't change. Just let them think what they want. Lets not make an issue out of it. Lets not upset our elders. Lets not disrupt a family gathering. Maybe we want to spare some relative's feelings. Maybe we want to be socially appropriate. Maybe we want not to piss off our boss at work. Maybe the professor won't write the best letter of recommendation if I don't offer him platitudes. Its okay. I can always bitch about it on Twitter or Facebook later, into that echo chamber of people just like me. 

These are terrible excuses. 

Stop. Speak out. A bruised ego lasts a few days at most. A culture where its acceptable to trample the rights of half the population simply because they were born with the wrong chromosome is permanent, unless we change it from the ground up. The ground up needs work every single day. The ground up is your wedding, your nephew or niece's birthday, its Bhai Dooj and Eid, its watching TV together and seeing some ridiculous soap opera where no women work. How can they, after all? Their entire time is spent worrying about what their relatives will think of every tiny move and mistake they make. 

Don't just tune it out. Explain to whoever is around you, whatever their age is, whatever their education and background is, why what they're saying, watching, agreeing with is a stupid idea. Why what they've said is wrong. Explain why its not okay to question what time women were out at night, and why they should be responsible and come back on time like good girls. Explain why its not okay to question how they are dressed, and whether that's appropriate for the kind of people they're meeting. You don't have to be abrasive. If you're not me, you'll probably be able to do it with charm and class. Even if you are like me, getting something across the wrong is better than not getting it across at all.

 If you can't, it doesn't matter. Saying something badly is better than keeping shut about it. Else you're as guilty as the politicians and Bollywood and Sundry Punjabi Pop Singers you want to skewer today. Maybe your arguments will change someone's mind. Maybe the shame of being corrected will at least make them think twice. Maybe they won't change at all. But maybe they will. I've seen plenty of sexist, misogynist teenagers change once their vapid arguments were ripped apart (quite often at a college debate). 

We know the power of memes. We know the power of words. Lets start using them, please? All the time. Everywhere. No one in society can take Sati seriously any longer. No one can dare be a slavery apologist. Yet it's entirely acceptable to be anti-woman. Its tradition. Its culture. Its not rocking the boat.

Rock the fucking boat. 

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Life Lessons

Love Without Hope
- Robert Graves

Love without hope, as when the young bird catcher
Swept off his tall hat to the Squire's own daughter,
So let the imprisoned larks escape and fly
Singing about her head as she rode by.

(Thanks, Raeesa)

Monday, June 16, 2008

I turn 21 today. Its scary, in a many momentous things are up ahead in life. But a friend recently got me thinking, about how this is exciting, because so many Awesome things are up not too far away in life. Which makes me happy.

I also had a really awesome birthday party today, with people who I hope will be friends for a long time, and the sweetest of birthday gifts possible. So I'm rather elated and maaroing senti today, so beware all who come in the way. And yes, feel free to add your congratulating 2 cents in the comments section:)

Sunday, March 09, 2008


...It works, Bitches. And how.

And oh, what magnificent beauty.

Thursday, February 28, 2008

This is just so pritty. I wish I was working on this kind of project.

My Message
Cecil Rajendra

And now you ask
what is my message
I say with Nabokov
I am a poet
not a postman
I have no message.

but I want the cadences
of my verse to crack
the carapace of indifference
prise open torpid eyelids
thick-coated with silver.

I want syllables
that will dance, pirouette
in the fantasies of nymphets
I want vowels that float
into the dreams of old men.

I want my consonants
to project kaleidoscopic visions
on the screens of the blind
& on the eardrums of the deaf
I want pentameters that sing
like ten thousand mandolins.

I want such rhythms
as will shake pine
angsana, oak & meranti,
out of their pacific
slumber, uproot them-
selves, hurdle over
buzz-saw & bull-dozer
and rush to crush
with long heavy toes
merchants of defoliants.

I want every punctuation --
full-stop, comma & semi-colon
to turn into a grain of barley,
millet, maize, wheat or rice
in the mouths of our hungry;
I want each & every metaphor
to metamorphose into a rooftop
over the heads of our homeless.

I want the assonances
of my songs to put smiles
on the faces of the sick,
the destitute & the lonely,
pump adrenaline into the veins
of every farmer & worker
the battle-scarred & the weary.

and yes, yes, I want my poems
to leap out from the page
rip off the covers of my books
and march forthrightly to
that sea of somnolent humanity
lay bare the verbs, vowels
syllables, consonants . . . & say
"these are my sores, my wounds:
this is my distended belly:
here I went ragged and hungry:
in that place I bled, was tortured;
and on this electric cross I died.
Brothers, sisters, HERE I AM."


I wish I could write like that.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Books Books Books

In a post reminiscent of one of Aadisht's a while back, I wish to gloat about my purchases of the morning. The vital stats:

Time spent: 2 hours 55 minutes (including travel)
Pocket unburdened by: a glorious Rs 355.
Goodies got:

1. The Deep End of the Ocean (pb)- Jacquelyn Mitchard
2. The Accidental Tourist (pb)- Anne Tyler
3. People Like Us (pb)- Dominick Dunne
4. Frankenstein (pb)- Mary Shelley
5. South by Java Head (pb)-Alistair MacLean :)
6. Goodbye California (pb)- Alistair MacLean :)
7. The Best of O. Henry (pb)
8. Under the Duvet (pb)- Marian Keyes
9. False Gods (hb)- Louis Auchincloss
10. Nightfall (hb)- Isaac Asimov
11. Gump & Co. (hb)-Winston Groom
12. Snow Falling on Cedars (hb)-David Guterson
13. The Full Cupboard of Life (hb)- Alexander McCall Smith
14 The Dirty Girls Social Club (hb)-Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez

State of Mind: Exuberant.

Joy is me. Thank god for Sunday Bazaar.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Things that the New Year has taught me:

1. I have seen both heaven and hell on Earth recently. And hell, for sure, is the 764 bus. Pure torture at the best of times. May all the eve teasing jerks rot in hell, and more importantly, may all those super jerks who think that sitting in the seats reserved for dames is a great idea, get kneed in the groin, multiple times.

2. Cockroaches are everywhere, even in Rajdhani 3 AC compartments. Its sad, but true.

3. Nothing feels quite as much like home like a Fatafat does.

4. Class 10th math was probably the pinnacle of my love for learning.

5. The more the money you have, the more the desire to splurge on things that you otherwise wouldn't dream of. (I realise that the last one is not at all restricted to me, but hey, its what the New Year has taught me, so its all good).