Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Bigotry of Burqa

This is not a post of irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular group, race, or religion. In fact this is an earnest attempt to air some point of view as candidly and as succinctly as possible. This is a reply to a Blog commentator by the name Aziz who commented on a Blog post of Retired Justice Markandeya Katju  titled, “Do away with  Burqa” (http://justicekatju.blogspot.in/2014/06/do-away-with-burqa.html . Mr. Aziz was quite upset with my opinion endorsing the Justice’s view and more so to some of my observations and chose to be the jihadi against my views.
I have edited the exchanges (my comments) between me and this mysterious Mr. Aziz and have added more thought to it.

Comment-Anilkumar Kurup
“If a religion that is didactic and stifling with its bigotry decrees, yes Sari, Salwar etc. too may become dresses that will be banned by the clerics. And anyone questioning it will be stoned. Wouldn’t this be the case? Sati was evil and so is any form of practise thrust upon women/people and Burqa is one such. Are Muslim women given the choice? They are controlled, blinkered and choke collared and if they dare resist the Damocles sword of religion is used. Isn't this the real life story?                              
 And famously a clichéd phrase is used by the controlling forces and unfortunately even some women swear by it,'burqa is the expression of Muslim identity" .Identity- my foot.”

Reply -Aziz - June 2014 12:28
First of all there is no difference between burqa,sari and salwar in terms of freedom.                       Second, when you are talking about choice ask the same question to your self, are your women given the choice to follow western fashion? So please don't talk about choices, the only difference in choice is the limit, your limit is sari and salwar and our limit is burqa. And if you are taking about those tiny percentage in big cities and movie industry, Its because being educated they are not following Hinduism any more, after your scriptures have been proven wrong for 1000 times by modern science. But this is not the same with muslims because nor their scripture is incompatible with modern science neither their beliefs became weak.

Anilkumar Kurup12 June 2014 08:49
Firstly I comment not as a Hindu, though I have been born to parents who are Hindus. Mr. Aziz has commented like a typical ordained, indoctrinated Muslim. i.e.” all else and all things other than what Islam say and follow are wrong. All those who are not Muslims are khafirs. And that only Muslims bleed.” It’s a pity Mr. Aziz.
This reminds me of a fascinating anecdote. A Muslim preacher (Mullah) vociferously kept proclaiming that there are all things that pertain to Man and Universe in his holy book. And that every invention has been mentioned in it before it was invented or even thought of as a possibility. An enterprising boy stood up and asked either after becoming unable to tolerate his lopsided claims, "Mullah in your holy book is there something mentioned about Paracetamol and how it can be produced"?
Mr. Aziz until you guys learn to tolerate, respect and accept argumentation and inclusion , all that Islam can produce for posterity is nothing but suicide bombers and violence. You cannot for any reason claim that Burqa is not vile. It is t an archaic form of forced dress code not meant to cover skin but the soul and spirit of women.

Aziz12 June 2014 09:58
"You cannot for any reason claim that Burqa is not vile." Its so pathetic that when you have nothing valid to say in support of your argument, you start commanding it. And always alleged terrorism on muslims as a last resort, because thats the only way to escape for you....So pathetic.

Anilkumar Kurup12 June 2014 17:20
Ok friend, my apologise, I rephrase. "Burqa is evil and stiffing of the spirit". It is now a statement and you can refute it with reasons that are not masochist.
The unfortunate fact is, it is in societies where Muslims live that violence is unabated. Though we have problems in all societies Muslims think for them as a class apart. And the Wahhabi form of Islam wants the world for them and them alone.
It is a pity, Mr. Aziz. Why cannot you respect other religions? Why do you want to dominate other societies? There is considerable freedom for all faith in India but even a Muslim cannot breathe without fear in the barbaric country of Saudi Arabia where ironically every word is spoken sworn after your Prophet and God. There Wahhabi Islam is a threat to world order and inclusiveness. They export it through the power of petro-dollars.
The issue here is not just a burka or if a woman wears it of her volition or is forced to. But even educated Muslims such as presumably you, are living with blinkers and shows no mindset to be inclusive and tolerant.
And Mr. Aziz, if you are there please care to answer my two replies point by point. That is what discussion is about isn't it?

Aziz13 June 2014 15:09
“Well, First of all I don't know what you are calling violence, if you mean by wars in syria, egypt and other few countries, then it is because of transitional period as respected justice Katju said, it has happened to all the countries including America, Europe and US. And it has nothing to do with being muslim country.As far as the wahabiat is concern I don't know much about them but they are very few in numbers and almost negligible in India. It is just a perception that muslims cannot respect other religions. can you make clear where are you seeing muslim not respecting other religions. In fact you have problem with burqa,beef and 100 many more things of muslims which is no where violating any right of you. Have you seen any muslim protesting against your sati,cast system or rape and fraudulent acts of some Babas. These misconception are literally created by western media and millions of anti-muslim books written over the last century for their own gain and later on followed by the Indian media as always.Muslims, specially Indian muslims always respected the other religions but unfortunately they have not been treated equally and thats the problem. As far as the wahabiat is concern I don't know much about them but they are very few in numbers and almost negligible in India.”

Anilkumar Kurup15 June 2014 18:19
My friend you have got it wrong. The problems or the gory violent life that persists in the Arab world, in the Middle East is nothing related to transition. Transition can happen only in societies that have institutions that are democratic. The violent saga in the Arab world in the name of “Allah” and his Prophet has been on since the advent of Islam. It is rather ironical that the same God and his messenger could not put to order the perpetual warring Shiites and Sunnis. One can understand the tribal societies in a certain age in history that were perpetually killing and plundering but the same to happen in this era is quite an achievement of Islam or whatever people in the Muslim world makes out of it. Don’t you see? Why do Sunnis kill Shiites? Care to enlighten me? Give me a logical explanation. I say that it is because of intolerance of Sunnis and in equal measure the Shiites. These two folks will for another millennia and more kill and maim one another to determine who can be the legitimate successor to Mohammed. And still not find and answer. Reason – intolerance and disregard for another’s view point- the bane of Islam as we can see. However you can find consolation in the fact that the right wing Hindutva groups are now rivalling extreme Islamists to be the custodians of intolerance and bigotry
“As far as the wahabiat is concern I don't know much about them but they are very few in numbers and almost negligible in India.( Quote Mr.Aziz)”                                                               The above statement I’m afraid tells your ignorance. Wahhabism is the brand of Sunni Islam that Saudi Arabia is exporting. And the terror angle in India is funded by this Wahhabi money. What we see in the ideology of Al Qaeda and other terror wings like LET or Jaishe Mohamed and even in the ISISI , now in Iraq is another extreme form of Sunni Wahhabism. They want to create a Caliphate stretching from the Mediterranean to South Asia. Fantastic philosophy of inclusiveness and tolerance! Isn’t it?

“It is just a perception that muslims cannot respect other religions. can you make clear where are you seeing muslim not respecting other religions. .( Quote Mr.Aziz)”
My friend, are you feigning ignorance. Surely you cannot be naïve as you seem to confess through your statement here. Let us discuss examples from history and recent times. Tell me why was the Bahamian Buddha the 6 th century year monolith sculpture, the monumental statue of standing Buddha carved into the side of a cliff in the Bamwam valley in Afghanistan bombarded by the Taliban the neolith faithful’s of Islam? If that was not uncivilsed and abhorrent intolerance then certainly it was also a blatant form of intolerance propagated by Islam. Those criminal, the terrorist, and the thugs- the Taliban tore down the statue with heavy artillery in the name of Allah. Strange if the God of Islam demands disrespect and irreverence of other faith. Do you really believe that there is an Islamic God the only true God, that there is a Christian God a false one at that, and that there is a Hindu vile God and a Jewish God again a false one? Do you insist that people believe in this fairy tale and kill their own? Why is the Muslim foray into India splashed and soiled by blood and aided by sword? Why were the Hindu temples of ancient India deracinated, desecrated and Hindus put to sword? Why were there forced conversions? Look at the biographies of Mohammed of Ghori and Ghazanni for instance. What else were those excursions of terror if it was not intolerance? Rajiv Gandhi buckled and leaked through his trouser like a fool and amended the law under Muslim pressure to circumvent the court ruling favouring a destitute Muslim woman ‘Sha Bano’ who was denied maintenance by her husband sighting the ‘glorious’(sic) but God given Muslim personal law. What was that my friend if that was not intolerance and refusal to heed to civilised norms? My friend do you know which was the first Mosque in India? Do you have any idea? Can you guess? The ‘Cheraman Masjid’ is in Kodungalloor, near Kochin in Kerala is said to be the very first mosque in India, built in 629 AD by Malik lbn Dinar. The land was gifted by the local Hindu ruler.

“In fact you have problem with burqa,beef and 100 many more things of muslims which is no where violating any right of you. Have you seen any muslim protesting against your sati,cast system or rape and fraudulent acts of some Babas. ( Quote Mr.Aziz)”
You got it wrong here using me in the first person. (‘…your Sati, your beef etc.”)Yes I was born to Hindu parents and that precisely helped me to respect and tolerate different faith. My friend do you really believe that there is a Muslim God, a Hindu God, Christian God, a Jewish God etc.? My friend I’m not a Hindu as you may believe, and perhaps I will agree if you say I’m a Hindu with no religious fervor and madness like some Hindus and many Muslims and Christians too. I do not believe or see any reason to claim that there is a Hindu God and he alone is great. I see only reasons to rubbish people who say so and Muslims too who claim that only Islam is true. If Muslims did not protest against Sati it shows how barbaric they thought. My friend, Sati was one evil aspect of Hinduism and thankfully done away. Casteism, child marriage, ban of widow marriage etc. are other forms of evil in Hinduism. Like stifling woman in Burqa, like stoning women, like your triple Talq helping men, like polygamy and subjugating women thereafter are vices in Islam. If you do not protest and raise voice against all these evils and  be it in any faith you are a bad Muslim and above all a worst kind of human being, an abominable one. That goes with me and everyone. Understand that. Even though I’m not religious I go to temples, Churches and have been to Mosques too. I find no God cursing me for that. Can you do that with free mind without your mullahs and fellow Muslims kicking you in your arse? My friend it is not Muslims alone who bleed. The colour of blood for you and me is red.

“These misconception are literally created by western media and millions of anti-muslim books written over the last century for their own gain and later on followed by the Indian media as always.(Quote Mr.Aziz)”
Why do you allow for misconception? Have you listened to this Islamic preacher Zakhir Naik? The invective he throws at Hinduism, Christianity and other religions? He proclaims that as I mentioned in my earlier reply to you that Koran has everything truthful. Not only implying but asserting vocally that all other Texts, texts of other faith is rubbish. The silence of the educated among Muslims in the face of the bigotry of Clerics and their perverted ideology is what helps the West talk nonsense of your faith. Come-on my friend Muslims has been allowed to migrate to France, to UK, to Spain and many Western countries. They are free to practice Islam there. They have equal citizenship rights. And you say that there is misconception in the West. This is ungratefulness and nonsense my friend. You will have more freedom and respect in the West if you go there than in the custodian country of Islam Saudi Arabia.

“Muslims, specially Indian muslims always respected the other religions but unfortunately they have not been treated equally and thats the problem.( quote Mr.Aziz)”
Wrong absolutely wrong and your contention is egregious. In fact Muslims in India are a pampered lot, by the Congress rule and their vote bank politics. I do not know what the BJP would do, if they will correct the lopsidedness or go to the opposite extreme. If Muslims in India have not developed they are themselves to be blamed. Their stifling laws, practices and clerics who hold fatwas like in medieval Arabia to silence progressive voices among Muslims are the reason for your backwardness. Why do Muslims in northern district of Kerala want the criminal law to be amended to free Muslim men to marry minor girls? My friend you go to Pakistan, go to Middle East you will then see what it means by freedom of expression and fundamental rights you have  here being an Indian. As for a country carved on theocratic mumbo jumbo look at Pakistan. You will then fall prostrate and thank your God for creating you as an Indian and being able to live in a free country like India. If the Jews were driven out of every land they went to, there must certainly be something unsavoury about their attitude as the guest in a foreign land. But remember they the Jews could find sanctuary, identity, peace and quiet in India and nowhere in the world where they safe-look back into history. Mr. Aziz if you cannot be happy still, I implore you- look within. For the Kingdom of heaven may be within you.
A few years ago the well-known writer, and novelist Kamal Das ( Madhavikutty), turned  Kamal  Suraya after her impetuous conversion to Islam was disillusioned with herself and her capriciousness  and expressed desire to be as she was before the conversion. She was threatened (in her own words as said in her memoir) by Muslim groups of dire consequence to her life if she chose to discard her Islamic conversion. Is this is the mark of Islamic tolerance that many Muslims swear is vouched in their scriptures?

These observations are not to vilify your faith, but to seek civilized responses and answers to my questions. Why, Mr. Aziz, do we not see even feeble voices of protest by learned Muslims against Islamic militancy, terror, injustices and atrocities perpetuated in the name of Islam?

Friday, June 13, 2014

In the Rain

The rains have  not just the romanticism about, they  can lend you a salubrious effect whether you walk in the rains or sit indoors and watch through the mullioned window the silver drops falling from the skies like arrows of avidity. I’m enjoying the monsoon, reveling in it, tactile about it after very many years. When was the last I was in the land “Where the rain is born”, in the monsoon?

Where is the dullness of spirit the occasional ennui that besotted?  The friendships that were faux serenading thus far in malarkey, wasting many a happy hour?  All washed away in the monsoon down pour like the calloused rubble and dust.

Last night it rained, waking me up like with the accompaniments of a Kathakali libretto and I pulled aside the sashes of the window and lay in bed melting in the cascading waters from the heavens. The glow of the lone light outside lend an aura of abstractness to the moment. It was sublime and longed that sleep doesn’t power over me.

Ironically power cuts come about in the land of rains, now even in the monsoon. But then this is a land of ironies, of contradictions, of eternal disagreements, of many gods and of men who fiercely are querulous and unilateral, of the ones despairing to make believe there is a halo about them. This is a land of opinions galore, of many News Papers and news makers, of bandhs and hartals protesting a cur crossing the street or a mongrel’s bark, of literates and lovers of Nature, of activists and patrons. Like squelch after the monsoon that usually stays for about ninety days life is akin to squelch in this diversity, incongruity and contradictions.

A few days back, she called from Mumbai to tell what she wanted to do about her future. The longing, exuberance and tenacity of youth, like Jonathan Livingston the Seagull learning about life and flight, and a about self-perfection! That is the import, she will know.

“Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding. Find out what you already know and you will see the way to fly.” Indeed, yes to fly, fly higher than any seagull and to be the architect of your own fate.

The power of monsoon rains!

Friday, June 6, 2014

"Hello Friend , Good Day"

We Indians, especially the Mallu lot have a predilection to snoop, stray and often intrude into another’s privacy; privacy of personal life, family, habits, professional activity and even his mundane routine. Some do it wantonly and some with manicured innocence. Though, I must admit that there have been in my experience a few civilsed exceptions to this.

It is in our temperament and tinctured social etiquette to ask a friend or an acquaintance who we meet  on the street, not how he or she is this morning or exclaim a pleasant day, but where he or she is going to. This I’m afraid may sound innocuous and even unpretentious but to me intrusive and an avoidable one at that.
Even if we ignore such enquiries as trivia and forgettable, there are the elements, the wiggles that hold us on the way, even way lay us, ambush us and literally cross examine us. I loathe such kind.

Long ago in my teens, I guess I was in the first or second year in college- it was the period when exploratory journeys were made with the taboo and banned practices say like smoking. Though I have never been a regular smoker, I have also been provoked by the charm of cigarettes. So most of the smoking adventures where in the College Hostel, canteen or in alleys. Cinemas where insecure as one could not tell who among the public would snitch back to the folks at home. One day after college I bought a cigarette at the pan shop next to the bust stop, lit it and luxuriously pulled in a lungful of tobacco smoke when I noticed the middle-aged man who lived in my neighbourhood walking towards where I was and I sneaked behind the pan shop. But I was actually provoked when I learnt that this impertinent fellow saw me light the cigarette and even before I noticed him and was headed towards where I was. He headed straight to me throwing perverted glances at my hand which hid the cigarette in the palm rather instinctively. In reality my reaction was borne out of a little respect for a person who was quite older to me and known to me as well. He came to me and asked facetiously as if it was the sole question that he was seeking an answer for the whole of his life thus far.” Why are you standing here?”  It was specious. I decided to confront him at his game.   I gathered the strength and impassively looked at him, my annoyance got the better of me that I put the cigarette to my lips and pulled in a lungful and threw it out sideways. I do not remember well what he did after. He vanished and since that day he would cross the street whenever he has seen me approaching his way. Audacity of teen and rebellious though, I could not understand even from then why some people choose to be intrusive and ask things that are impertinent and are best left to the privacy of another.  I would have honoured him had he ignored my standing there, walked past me unconcerned and then gone to my home and told folks that I had taken to smoking.

Besides the pleasure of seeing the discomfort of another, what ails many and make them ferret with their stinking noses is some have no subject matter or topic to discuss that they display impertinence.
At a recent social gathering where there were quite a few strangers’, I was introduced to some and I preferred to confine to exchange of pleasantries and handshakes. Some enquired where I lived and such innocuous questions. One fellow went further and in his sonorous voice asked me what I did for living and I told him I was retired from active work. He persisted. “That is alright, but what were you doing?”             

 “I was in business.” I said, smelling his inquisitiveness.                                                                        
 “That is strange I have not seen or known people retire from business.” He said rather pompously. I felt that like a question to which he demanded an answer.  I could see some other people milling around.                 
 “Well, now, you saw me! I guess that will make your evening.” I stated and moved on. Here the fellow was simply being inquisitive but I did not appreciate it much.

I have a distant relative who is an expat and he has been cooling his heels presumably assisted by the resources he may have saved during his working days.  That must be one of the reasons why he directs his unspent energy, time and mind on matters that are not his. He collects tit bits from sources sauté it and diffuses around. That, I’m certain invigorates him and makes him appear sanguine. Once, at a wedding reception he with artistic pureness asked a person who was estranged from his wife why he did not bring along his spouse. The miserable person was constantly avoiding such social functions since the estrangement as he was uncomfortable when people made such enquiries and few of us had persuaded him to attend. He did not stop at that and continued ferreting. Where she was? Why she could not get leave from her office? Why she is living and working in another city? Why he would not bring the children? And how sad he felt that he could not see all of them at that function! It was chagrin. The outrageous part was the fellow was aware that something was amiss in the miserable person’s family.

Isn't it bare decency that people confine to pleasantries invoking the sunny day or the cool evening or even the warm day after the torrential rains than ask awkward questions to a stranger or someone who is not a close friend? Could we tell if the other is not awkward towards our, perhaps even innocent ask or something we presume is a mundane matter that is generally discussed? Shouldn't we pause to watch what topic the other is comfortable to discuss with us? Shouldn't we accept an iota of privacy as a person’s birth right and inalienable?
“Privacy is not something that I'm merely entitled to, it's an absolute prerequisite.”  Someone said that.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

"Kerala Cafe"

The night was warm but it was about the humidity that we spoke about. The sky was cloudy and that shut out the stars. But more than the absence of a starry sky, the cloudy night was a matter of discomfort. The terraced balcony of the house was half shaded by a canopy roof, underneath which it was warmer than out in the open terrace.

What the nine of us who gathered up there did not acknowledge was that it was not an inconsiderate weather that was enhancing the humidifying feel, but the warmth of whiskey and Vodka that we were liberally ingesting. The spouses were down inside the house congregated presumably around the dining table fanned by the cool breeze of the ceiling fan.  The twenty-fifth wedding day anniversary dinner of a friend was what that brought us together at his house.

“Hey, by the way how about your father? Is he better now?  I asked B.
“Well how can it be better? It is getting worse.” B said.
Well, I remember when we last met you mentioned that he was not too bad and was back home from the hospital.”
“Yes, yes he is home. But then he has forgotten how to get out of his cot. You can see what would happen if we try to get up from bed only using our legs and that when an eighty five year old man does, it would be inviting agony for him and trouble for others.” I felt I noticed a glimpse of a tiny streak of irritation in B’s face and in the words. B continued. “I’m really worried for him if he has forgotten what a fall is .A fall, a broken bone can be very difficult in his age and in the mental state that he is.”
I nodded in agreement.

B said. “I fear he is fast losing all mental faculties. And besides that he is reasonably fine for a person of his age. That in fact is compounding the problem for him and for others.”
“In a way he is fortunate B. There are people to take care of him, I mean his children. Didn’t we hear the story on TV the other day when five children forsake their old mother- casting her away at a temple town? Then when the district administration and police traced them, they refused to accept the mother back. They were even not deterred by the threat from the District Collector to slap criminal charges against them.” BJ who was a professor said.

“Yes, that was raw negligence and ungratefulness. Wasn't it?” said I. “Remember TC.” I said referring to our host. “He had to bear with his mother for five long years. She was bedridden and was struck by dementia. Lucky for her he and his wife took good care of her. It was not the money alone that matters in such cases. It is the goodness of heart, whether children or stranger.”

“I have no hope for these words and deeds such as of gratefulness and gracious. They are luxurious nouns and adjectives meant for eulogies and sycophancy. They are all defunct in today’s world. And I have decided that I will have nothing to do with my son when I’m old and if I live long. I will sign my savings to a hospice or an old age care and be comfortable. One has to be stupid to tag on to their children hoping they will take care of us when we are old. One has to be practical and feel no anguish about. They, the young too have a life to live. Don’t they? And if the old outlive and become encumbrance, do we still blame the young and their attitude?” P said aboveboard. He in fact had signed and legalised a document consigning his cadaver to the medical school and also donated his organs that could be harvested.

B was completely in agreement with P. He said.  “We cannot be judgmental. To slur those people who left their old mother will be unfair. They were being as P said practical. Perhaps they ran out of options. Didn’t you see the movie “Kerala Café” where a scene shows this man who had to cast away his mother who was afflicted by Alzheimer’s? The agony and raw torment he faced was well copied. What could he do? Abject poverty and no way he could feed or take care of the old woman; a cantankerous wife but to blame her was unfair. She was beyond her tether of her patience and forbearance; little children to take care and above all he were the only person to bring home bread.”

Now it was P who said. “Now listen, Man as a species was meant to live and procreate. Nothing more and nothing less. Nature have never intended Man to live beyond say forty or fifty years life span. It is the so called progress, inventions, discoveries, science etc. that has given man longevity, well beyond what was sustainable from Natures’ point of view. Come on yar our productive procreative life begins to ebb after forty. The prime is over in the forties. And what else are we here for. All this sociological commitments, the notion that “Man”, with a big Capital “M” is more  advanced, developed intellectually than beast, we cannot compare us to beasts etc. are bunkum.  They are off shoot of our conceited inflated self, our false feeling, and our silly belief in our prominence.”

We were going through a very interesting discussion.

“But why then do we have faculties of cognition, contemplation, and reasoning? Aren’t we differently evolved than beasts, though we are not in any way superior? Certainly each species is superior in its own ways learning to survive. Isn't it so?” I wanted to say but by then the call from downstairs for dinner was relayed to us  and we had to leave the matter and move down.

Monday, May 12, 2014

A Conversation

“It is the easiest of all acts to display being offended and you must understand that, see through that act. One doesn’t always  have to be coached at a school of acting to display expressions to cover ones underbelly.  Ha, don’t you see that being offended is our national pastime and sport? ” I said, the last sentence in lighter vein.

Though we have been discussing the topic for a while, the protagonist was not agreeing with me completely and seemed to be in déjà vu. “It may be true; perhaps you have been right in your judgment. Perhaps! But his conduct and the utter demeaning way he speaks, he rubbishes make one feel having done something gravely offensive.  In fact he makes you feel guilty of having wronged him.”

“Now look.” I said. “That is exactly the point I want to make. Alas! He has seen through you like he may have seen through some others, who may have had the same failings as you- who may have had timorously swallowed his acts of prudishness and preferred to see his idiosyncrasies as harmless and passable. You must ignore his malarkey, his acts. His sophistry, his imperious self-obsessed self-righteousness did not allow him understand you and acknowledge your honest feelings about him.  He may have had his way with people who were timid and passive; he loves their company because he can brusquely lord over them and revel. He may have noticed that strategy worked well for him and he has continued to practice it as an art and craft that gives him pleasure. He thus acquired the audacity to expect, to demand the same unquestioned pliantness form all. Hence his arrogance, his tantrums of being offended. That is only a decoy to sustain him.” 

“I guess so.” She replied.

“And doesn't he get wretchedly personal when he has this grandiose feeling of annoyance of being offended?  When he has nothing else to elevate his ego and his imperious righteousness to levels where others cannot rubbish it?” I said.

She said.“Of course he does. I have heard him often and seen him too; he has now directed his ire towards
me like he has done to others in the past. He has the bloated egoistic feeling of having been offended. Yes, he does. Sometimes when he displays his dictatorial annoyance, he makes people feel that he is “Napoleon” the rather fierce-looking big boar, the character in Orwell’s Animal Farm; not much of a speaker, but with a fearful reputation for getting his own way. He brooks no critique and dissent. Once at a friendly gathering, he threw up tantrums that were sour and behoved people who have not been through proper education and it was gauche. It was his reaction that was offensive and peeved me and others to much extent. All because a gentleman was expressive with his opinion that he resented.His opinionated statement about the gentleman whose only fault was that he spoke his mind and conviction, even to this day is derisory. Yet we brushed  it off as a tiny dark streak on the moon. ”

“Precisely the point. Brushing it aside may have been the mistake. But we do that because each one of us has characteristics and idiosyncrasies’ that are both good and not bad. Long at last, you seem to have finally after these many years understood the emptiness in the person. Such folks are selfish, unsure of themselves, they fear their weaknesses.  They aspire but are non achievers because they revolt within than be honest to themselves. They cannot be gregarious. They are double-entendre. If you trusted him it was your error of judgment. Your limitation! They think they can get even with others if they indulge in personal diatribe. Thus they expect to plow you down. You know? Ignore him, such lot. Move on. There is much brightness elsewhere in this world than to be tethered into a dark alley that can only be lit by an artificial source.” I said.

We spoke about other matters in general, a bit of politics and what could be in store with the general election results on May 16. Orwellian possibility! We agreed upon that without ado.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The Helmsman

A few weeks ago an unpretentious, diminutive man in his early seventies, a French and born to Jewish parents passed away in his adopted city, New Delhi, India. I understand that the obituary was in the Times of India and the Hindustan Times. A memorial was held in New Delhi and a requiem performed by the Opera that he co-founded, which is co- managed by his daughter.

“The Neemrana Music Foundation is a registered, national nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organisation in the field of classical music and they believe in the mandate to build bridges of understanding between different cultures. We have been pioneers in introducing the genre of Opera in India. We started with the production of the Indo-French Opera "The Fakir of Benares" in 2002 (Delhi) and 2003 (Mumbai).” (Quote)

Now the idea behind this post is not culture integrating art, Opera or for that matter the innovative hospitality Industry branded the Neemrana Heritage Hotels & Resorts or the highly reliable and professional fashion apparel sourcing business he founded since landing in Indian shores as a French diplomat and deciding to settle down in Mumbai in the 1970s.

Having had the privilege to briefly speak and chit chat with him on a few occasions, having had the opportunity to associate with a segment of his business empire and having been privy to many good words spoken about him, what struck me the most was the faith he reposed in people he picked to work with him and entrust his business empire. That uncanny knack of finding and trusting the right person has paid rich dividends and even after his passing the enterprises he developed, are I believe, in genuine and worthy hands. What probably prompted him to trust must be his unselfish attitude and the willingness to share the dividends of labour. He certainly gave a sense, a feeling of ownership to his top lieutenants and they may have probably percolated the notion down the pyramid.

Why do I mention this story? It is because I have been trying to compare human relationships and how they can prosper into equitable and strong ways and how avarice, grift and selfishness coupled with mediocrity, substandard education and fostering can threaten to pulverise and deracinate relationships, family and businesses.

Once, I asked a gentleman what was the secret story of the success behind their fairly big business which was well into through the second generation. He said. “It was the ability of the helmsman to carry every one along .He would not mind much if one oarsman is a tad slow, his effort will be substituted by the rest and that, seldom is an effort.” Certainly he did not refer to acquiescing inefficiency , remember it was a figure of speech. 

A stark contrast to these two let me call them allegories and the metaphor of the helmsman is a study in human greed, selfishness and absence of values- a concoction that is caustic and erodes the foundation itself. Sand Castles how so ever high are nevertheless buildings of sand build on sand.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Right to Read

It is always a pleasure and often a sense of having done the right and in no uncertain terms of having asserted your right when you jump a fence that in the first place no one had any business or right to put up.
I today received by courier from AMAZON the Wendy Doniger’s book, “The Hindus an Alternative History”. It cost me Rs 1250 and took two weeks to reach me from its international publisher (not the pliable Penguin India).

This book as many know was found offensive by Dinanath Batra and his group of self-acclaimed Hindus and custodians of Hindu culture ( yes caste, untouchability, dowry, bride burning, marital rape,honour killing , khap panchayats and gang rape of women too are part of the culture they laud about). This group of drumbeaters and bigots filed a civil and criminal suit against the publication and sale of the book in India and simultaneously arm twisted the pliable and  pusillanimous  Penguin India to withdraw the book and pulp it. Interestingly this very same Dinanath Batra took on the Educational Board and has actively opposed and subsequently stopped the introduction of sex education in Indian schools, saying it was against Hindu culture and religion.

Shobha Narayan writes in her post titled “The real reason Wendy Danger’s book on Hindus was banned in India: It’s not boring enough.” She goes on to say, “Doniger is clever and playful; she shines the light into the dark crevasses of a religion that was formulated at a time when feminism as a concept didn’t exist. Doniger knows her Sanskrit and her Vedas, but she looks Hindu rituals and traditions from the point of view of women and minorities. …… .”             
  “……..is blasphemy, as far as he is concerned, never mind that Doniger knows her Sanskrit and Upanishads better than he does; never mind that she understands the glories of ancient India in a way that he cannot begin to fathom; never mind that she knows that the Manu Smriti that he often quotes uses animals to define humans.”
Now in these days when I finally begun to read to hearts content, now that I have a few good books that are tempting me on my table in their own forcible way to be read first, I guess Wendy Doniger has come and the rest will have to wait a while until I read through her tome.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                    

The author herself had this to say on the pulping of her book in India. “And I am deeply troubled by what it foretells for free speech in India in the present, and steadily worsening, political climate,”                                                                            

 As for me it is not the question of free speech or literary freedom. It is not the widely misused word blasphemy or offending sentiments and hurting religious feelings. It is the question of my fundamental right, my birth right to read what I want. The courts in India have ruled before proscribing books but they have not banned reading them. These impostors and custodians of Hindutva or of Semitic religions, faiths, culture race or region cannot and shall not usurp my right to read and accept or reject what I want.

How about you?