Thursday, March 25, 2010
The Supreme Court of India’s observation on “living together” has disconcerted many moralist and pedagogues of Indian culture, tradition and values.
Fatwa against premarital sex and cohabitation cannot be inflicted or imposed on individuals. And a society that value fundamental right and personal freedom to lead life as suited to ones thoughts and feelings will not hinder. If one does not appreciate cohabitation and premarital sex one is free to do so as the person who sees nothing malevolent in the opposite. The moralist and puritans who raise their brows and are outraged by the Courts observation must remember the quote “morality is best practiced in a nudist society”.
And though the analogy of Krishna and Radha is a romantic myth, the life of Dhrupadhi cohabitating with five men is definitely not the point that was ever raised by actress Kushboo or the Supreme Court to decry the contention against premarital sex and cohabitation
If the values the moralist hold for support is the essence of Indian culture and lore then there are ample instances in the Hindu mythology where Gods and Godesess have repeatedly engaged in sex outside wedlock. We have parthenogenesis in Judaism, Christianity and Hinduism where Gods and warrior men were born outside wedlock. And followers of those religions worship such men as Gods and messengers of Gods .This is not an argument in favour of such acts of promiscuity or liberality. But the right of two adults. Man and woman to cohabit without the sanctity and approval of the institution called wedlock or have physical relationship, is basic fundamental right and no personal predilection prompted by any thoughts , be it culture , heritage or morality should be allowed to infringe.
Purist who cries foul and term the Court’s observations as outlandish has a point
Though. redefining morality may put the mind and thoughts of the young in jeopardy and they may incubate erroneous ideas about cohabitation outside the nuptial fence. It can also be argued that the institution of the family will be at peril. And social upheaval and disorientation in due course of time will be quite bad.
I agree absolutely about the value and life family can provide to the young and the adult alike. And the corner stone and bulwark against bewildered and lost child hood is the comparative protection one gets in the cocoon that is family.
But the question is, if my son or daughter opt to not accept the legal sanctity of marriage and decides to cohabit with their companion, partner or spouse – what should be my reaction? I do not want to discuss the other part of the contention i.e. premarital sex. Because that may be best left to the individual. And I do not have any volition to dictate, instruct , coerce or debate an adult son or daughter to abstain from physical relationships . Ones private life need not be of upheaval to the society.
The lighter side of the subject in discussion is a brief statement of my childhood friend who lives with his family in the USA. He apparently told his daughter and son that he definitely will hold no prejudice and objection to their marrying or living with somebody be it a black, an arab, a hispanic or Chinese, be it a muslim, a jew, or an agnostic as long as the member is of the opposite sex! You can laugh it away as an apt discourse in the American world.
Posted by Anilkumar Kurup at 4:39 PM
Friday, March 19, 2010
Simons Town off Cape Town in South Africa is the base of the South African Navy. The navy has its presence in this tiny sea port with a natural bay, since the early days of the Dutch colonisation of the country. I did see half a dozen naval vessels berthed in the harbour. It is a fishing town as well.
The town is busier than the Wellington Island in Cochin - the naval base in Kerala, India. Simons Town is idyllic and perhaps life style a bit laid back. In any case South Africa has not much contingencies or events to engage its navy. Hence the sea men too are at ease.
Back in 1930's in Simons Town lived Lieutenant Just Nuisance Able Seaman. The name did sound strange to me when I heard of it and unforgettable too. Well, before he was commissioned into the South African Navy, Just Nuisance could be found moving around the town and was very fascinated with the naval folks . He was often found with the naval officers and sea mates loved him. He saw off at the wharf, sailors embarking to battle in the Second World War. He had this strange routine of traveling from Simons Town to Cape Town and back by train. This was unfailingly followed by him every day. If he missed one train he patiently waited for the next. But to the outrage of the Afrikaners he would only travel first class. Remember those were the times of segregation based on colour, and all coloured and natives were bete noire. The whites had no qualms in throwing coloured folks and natives from even moving trains. The incident at Pietermaritzburg train station back in the late 1800’s involving an Indian barrister Mohandas Gandhi and the criticism it evoked later did not deter the Afrikaners from boorishness. But, with Just Nuisance they could not have their way, they were helpless. He insistently traveled back and forth every day, by first class and ticket less. The whites were apparently outraged and annoyed but had to put up with his rebellious behavior which was in a way Gandhian “disobedience”.
The Mayor of Simons Town and the citizens got together at the town hall to brain storm this curious case of Just Nuisance. They concluded that they dispose him by putting a bullet through his brain. This was when the Navy intervened and offered to adopt Just Nuisance. In fact the name “Just Nuisance” was given later during his adoption ceremony. So the day dawned when the bloke was formally adopted by the Navy .He was christened Just Nuisance and since a surname was necessary he was named Just Nuisance Able Seaman. He was commissioned into the navy. So one day in late the 1930's the South African (then Royal British) navy became the first sea faring military to commission the first canine into service. Lieutenant Just Nuisance became the first dog to be commissioned into the navy and he became entitled to a fat salary. The salary was used by the navy to pay for his daily first class train journey to Cape Town. Being Lieutenant, Just Nuisance had access to the officers’ bar at the naval barracks. The odd side of his was he had a weakness for alcohol and spirits. With Just Nuisance having nothing much to do apart from his daily train journeys, he spent rest of the time in the bar. Often he was found tipsy. One day he was involved in an accident with a motor car which developed thrombosis. Also his predilection for excessive alcohol found him later with intestinal and liver ailments. Just Nuisance died six years after his commission.
The Navy gave him a touching farewell service and was laid to rest in a specially built tomb up in the mountains where they have a cemetery for naval officers.
A few years ago when the South African Navy celebrated its Golden jubilee dignitaries from the visiting countries motored up the mountain road to the cemetery and paid respect at the grave of Lieutenant Just Nuisance Able Seaman. They laid wreath made out of proteas on his resting place.
‘Every Dog has its day “!!!
Posted by Anilkumar Kurup at 2:53 PM
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
to, let me say share a room, have food, or even move around. But then business demands and certain situations are not of help. And I have to acquaint with personalities I met just a while ago. More often I ‘m afraid that my avoiding such company might be construed as haughtiness and hubris.
And consciously, I, on this trip to South Africa made my hotel reservations and even a few spare time and spare day tour of the country on my own and by myself. No intrusions and I need not have to keep up with people I may not be fascinated to be with for long and in private.
But again I was mentally prepared to having to accept strange companies on this tour as work and situations would make it unavoidable.
That evening in Durban after the fair time, guys from the part of Tamilnad I now live decided to go out together for dinner and a drive through the city. I faintly pointed out that I may not be able to join them as I had an early morning flight to catch the next day. But the guys went to the extent of even suggesting that I reschedule the travel. I preferred to go along with them rather than rebook my flight. However I reminded them that I will have to be dropped back at my hotel by 10.30 in the night.
We travelled by car through the beautiful city , transfixing on me its glamour by night while the car moved through the , the beautifully sprinkled lights of the city , the harbour below and of the many ships waiting in the ocean yonder to sail in was simply a beautiful reel of film being screened for me exclusively. My co- passengers were involved in animated gesticulating discussion on everything they can think of. And were commenting as experts in every realm of life. I soon was thirsting for a drink and sorely missed the bottle of Teachers Whisky in my hotel room. We were soon moving through the suburbs and then the guys decided that we go to a shopping mall which was quite huge. I sensed that they were in no mood to eat food. And had to tag on behind them like a lonely canine.
Finally after an hour of drudgery and trudging through the Mall they decided to go to a restaurant for dinner. I love food and zealously single out the restaurant that serves the flavour of the place I’m in. But these guys all wanted to flock to a Tamil restaurant and were talking loud about rasam, sambar and ravadosas. Goodness for once how I wished that those cuisine were never invented! No one asked my preference. I just wanted to get over and be back in the hotel. Mercifully the restaurant we went to serve alcohol and I tried to forget a forgetful evening with a few large Jack Daniels. Those guys were adept in talking loud and sounded very unpleasant .They did not generally care for the people around and the public place they were in. There was shall I say expert opinion on Green house gases and the ozone depletion. Soon the dinner was done and I insisted I be dropped back. And so we journeyed back and they were also eager to see me away as they planned a late night in some Casino.
On the way back at some point the discussion touched upon Durban and Mahatma Gandhi alighting on Durban shores more than a century ago. Somebody said that Gandhi went to South Africa to study law. Yet another fellow said that Gandhi was creating problems for the Indians in South Africa. Still another historian commented that Gandhi was parochial and only promoted Guajarati businessmen in South Africa and he was vilifying Tamil migrants. And to top it all one guy said that Gandhi was an arsehole and a scum. By then though my patience reached its nadir the car braked in front of my hotel.
Posted by Anilkumar Kurup at 7:07 PM
Friday, March 5, 2010
When I was little every journey to the farthest place on earth – then to me it was Ambalapuzha, and anticipating the day I would be taken aboard the KSRTC Fast Passenger or Express to Allapuzha was an exhilarating feel. Any journey outside home in Thiruvananthapuram was eagerly looked forward to and anticipated with unbearable impatience. And closer it moved to the day or hour of return back to the kind of boarding life back home in TVM which was detested with melancholy and self pity and the inevitable could not be staved off.
Years later it was absolute elation when chance came to move to New Delhi with a job on hand. And the feeling of “Born Free” stayed put at every opportunity to be away from home in TVM.
Further still many more years later, the first opportunity of almost a month of travel and living in a foreign land outside India was a dream come true. And that too to a land so well painted on film in the movie “Puppet on a Chain”. Schipol ,the windmills and the canals that were amply seen in many shots in that movie beckoned me.
But then I noticed while away many times since that there was often a lonely feel and solitude that was quite dishevelling at times. The similar feeling stayed often to disturb and sometimes disorient the work I travelled for. The feeling that I was far away from home and the country I was born and lived all my life. Though no patriotic fanaticism or fervour may be subscribed to this statement
And I feel the same now, only into my second day of a three week journey to South Africa. True it is a country I have never been before and the myths, legends and stories of life, living and the dead that I perhaps gathered about the continent and the country through my staggered reading of these past years should in all way make me awe and wondering in anticipation the journey and the days I will be here. But that is not so.
The longing to be back home is pestering. Could it be because of the age, being alone here, or the perennial problems that confronts my livelihood back home?
Just can’t tell, But the fact is that age perhaps has mellowed the urge to be alone. But is that a comfortable sign? One has to be alone one day whatever one may want to the contrary.
Posted by Anilkumar Kurup at 7:53 PM
Saturday, January 9, 2010
Today’s morning was disheartening and contrite. Watching that visual footage on NDTV brought deep sense of outrage and infamy. It was mortifying, to tell the least.
The video visual of a police inspector bleeding to death and wailing for help while two state ministers and an entourage watched nonchalantly was enough to permananently and effectively lose faith in the human race to which we belong. There were passers by who were absolutely indifferent. And fellow police men were exhibiting muted and eunuch like posture. There was a police man who was throwing water at the dying sub inspector maintaining a distance as if the victim wase a human bomb or a contagiously ill person.
The district collector who accompanied the ministers was keeping a safe distance and directing some assistance to come their way. Much invaluable time was lost due to the insensitivity of all those human beings. And the unfortunate man was bleeding to death. There were enough motor vehicles in the convoy and not one person wanted to rescue the victim and rush for medical care.
Such are the values of the society of which we all are part of. Such is the insensitivity of our heart. Do we have one? We are soulless because we have mortgaged our souls for personal and only personal gains. What does not touch our dermis does not matter to us.
One should not blame the ministers alone for being onlookers and not directing immediate assistance to the victim. Because they were only elected by the system which is equally culpable as they are, to wiz past in luxury vehicles and be involved in all that negates the core principles on which the constitution was framed. They are part of us. The society they are part of has degraded and is now filled with filth. And when it is so, it is in fact not a wee bit surprising that such indifference and insensitivity becomes a way of life.
Posted by Anilkumar Kurup at 11:53 AM
Monday, January 4, 2010
Back in 19775-77 the Mahatma Gandhi College Thiruvananthapuram (M.G.College) used to disperse for the day at 3.20 pm in the afternoon. We would most often skip the last session and entrench ourselves in the murukkan and juice kada of this fat guy (I can scarce remember his name). I remember him claiming that he donned the role of Swami Vivekananda in the malayalam movie Devi Kanyakumari.This shop was in the Muttada road and it was there right in front, when you take the sharp U bend reaching Paruthipapara junction from MarIvanios.
While we sat at the shop listening to his stories of the tinsel mallu filmdom , this chap used to cycle past us at precisely 3.40. He used to race down from MarIvanios and take the bend. He always knew that more than often he will be howled at. We used to yell “…..one two three, hey pattalam………”. I felt he took that in his stride. Sometimes he used to whiz past in NCC uniform on his bicycle eyes closed and readying for our shout. I remember him often responding to our howling and hooting with timid smile.
Two years on I and he were in the same class in MarIvanios. And we were to spend the next three years into graduation together.
We used to frequent Public Library after college hours. For me a visit to the Library was also an excuse to stay out as long as possible. But he was back home at the stroke of 6.30 and cycle all the way back home to Ambalammukku. He had strict regime going on at home and was not permitted to be out after 7 in the evening. We used to meet in evenings on weekends and holidays and he was pissed off staying with us at our vantage point opposite the Secretariat. He would pull me with him the length of the road from East fort to the Museum junction. And he used to not to walk like somnambulating like some us loved, but march like a fauji( in fact he dreamt being an army officer).
He had only one targeted aim and that was to enter the Indian Military Academy. He did that in style and I remember the afternoon in Thiruvananthapuram central railway station where I was along with another friend to see him off on the Madras mail en route to New Delhi for the selection interview of the SSB. A thoroughly genial fellow with quite a few discerning idiosyncrasies, who smiled timidly at us while we howled and hooted at him when he cycled down the M.G college road. But he has an antonymic side too. He was wait- listed for the travel to Madras and there was this ticket conductor who looked like a classical mallu film villain- tall and hugely built deep set mush and apparently tipsy on alcohol. This guy refused travel for our aspiring fauji. He pleaded with the guy and tried in earnest to convince him to let him travel as like even a stowaway. The conductor got increasingly angry and adamant. He if I remember forced my friend’s baggage out. The train was almost departing. And it was looking increasingly unlikely that he can journey to Madras and connect the train to New Delhi. He missing the interview of his life was likely. He burst out as if he would probably do now if confronted by a grave necessity to do the ultimate to protect his brigade. We were certain that a bad fist cuff was to ensue with the conductor. And the conductor grew absolutely violent and intimidating and swore that he will make sure that the matter will be taken up by the railway police and criminal complaint will be filed for unruly behavior etc. We were afraid that any police involvement will ensure him missing out the journey and may be the SSB interview. Those days the story used to go around that the SSB sleuths had men shadowing the candidates traveling for the selection and such incidence can be viewed as serious character lapse and result in elimination from selection. I do not remember if it was the good samaritan policemen or if it was some strange change of attitude of the conductor that he eventually let him board the train as it started moving out of the platform.
The afternoon was quite difficult for us as well, but was relieved to see him wave at us from the door of the moving train.
Later in life when he was selected into the IMA as gentleman cadet and after his commissioning as second lieutenant our relationship continued, through post and personally on his vacationing. It is his dedicated attitude that he visits his friends without fail when ever he is back on vacation.
If the cantankerous Ticket conductor had refused journey that day in 1980 India would have surely missed out on a truly sincere and dedicated soldier today!
He volunteered and opted for infantry and in the Gorkha regiment. An army officer who is not enamoured by the position and power he has. A person who still continues to be a teetotaler and a strict vegetarian, but religiously serves me when at his house, beautiful whiskies he gets from his army supply; a fantastic officer who was rightly awarded the Presidents seva medal; perhaps also hand picked by the Army on absolute merit to head the Indian contingent in Botswana and assist them put up a defense staff college in Gabbone; an officer who was tormented and disheartened that he could not join the IPK to Sri Lanka when a irritable medical conditon intervened ; a foot soldier who braved the night patrolling and in the terrorist ruled Punjab; a gentleman and an officer who refuses to let his orderly do domestic chores for his wife (in fact he respects his orderly as an individual); a discerning reader and a man who excels in gaining knowledge and meticulous details of every thing;
I cherish the day he took me with him to the house of Field Marshall Sam Manekshaw in Connoor. I could meet a valiant veteran and a truly dedicated officer (both from the same Gorkha regiment) engaging in conversation. And I felt it was father son like! General Manekshaw considered him a close soldier to heart and special.
I felt immensely happy and proud that I could have a friend who unlike me is dedicated, hard working, sticks to core values, a man of good knowledge and above all honest and excellent officer who has become now a Brigadier in his on right.
I tell Ara and Radhu that my luck is having friends who are better persons than I am on the bench scale.
Posted by Anilkumar Kurup at 8:09 PM
I was not labouring to exercise marketing strategy for God of Small things (in fact the novel has ample novelty and candid substance to sell itself). What invoked a sense of bonhomie with GSM were certain events and experiences the characters in the novel go through and how I could identify with similar experiences in my life and from the same times I grew up like Arundati Roy. So goes with the movie “neelathamara”. For those of us in the genre of AR, it is easy to identify and notice the social set up of the times we grew up like the author herself.
As for Ashok’s opinion that Ms Roy derided the Malayalee psyche to win accolades- well I disagree, however I do respect ones right to keep one’s side of the story.
Now since the topic has been thrown into play I prefer to express my opinion on GSM and Arunadathi Roy's writing as well. And beware this is a view of a lay mind.
I fully agree on the points made by Kpj and Balan.
Malaylees have an extraordinary quality of hypocrisy and trivalisation of anything and everything different. Mallus have made hypocrisy a State virtue. Arundati Roy had the guts, daring, and uncanny literal acumen to be candid about such abhorring mallu trait.. If you can remember, D.H.Lawrence’s “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” was written in the 1920’s but could be published in virtuous England only in the later part the last century. And in India as well the book remained off the shelves. I remember buying a smuggled edition in New Delhi in 1982.Why was the novel banned from publication? Because D.H Lawrence was stunning and upfront enough to portray a every intimate relationship between an aristocratic woman and commoner in a non-confirming and explicit language. I recollect reading somewhere that hypocrisy is absent in social groups who practice nudity!!!
Arunadati Roy is not a story teller in the mould of Marquez or Hemmingway. And in GSM she translated her experiences and life in Mallu land with deftness and audacious use of language.
Leaving that apart if one has to see the persona of AR I would suggest to read the book “Shape of the Beast” – an interview N., Ram had with her. I m certain it will be difficult to find a person like her who is incisive, not superficial nor trivial. And her knowledge of the subject she writes or speaks is sans rivals. She has the fearless quality of speaking her mind without succumbing to the double standards and fake mindset of the society in general and mallus in particular.. Her articulating of social writing and speech is not a penance for penning GSM, on the contrary I feel a timid woman such as her can confront the trivilisation and social concept of good, bad, money, power, want, need and greed in this world only with a razor edged pen, language and irrefutable substance.
Remember we mallus adept in wearing snow white “mund” but there ends the virginity of our pallor...
Posted by Anilkumar Kurup at 1:54 PM