Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Maybe I was born all wrong

Maybe I was just born in the wrong place at the wrong time.

If today I were a gay man in America, I would have had the ability to go to the state that protected my right to marry my partner and have children with him. But I live in India where my aging parents keep looking out for a marriage proposal for me which I have kept turning down much to their disappointment...

If today I were the rich kid of a billionaire dad, I could have devoted my life to philanthropy or pursuing a passion like film making just for the heck of it regardless of its profitability. But here I am a middle class child earning my daily corporate wage and depending on that monthly salary to keep my family going while I watch youtube videos to stave off my appetite for the director's chair.

If today I belonged to the majority religion in my country I could be proud and happy that the new fascist government is paying special attention to our existence and sparing no effort to promote our interests over those of other communities. But here I am a religious minority, doomed to be subject to persecution and harassment on different levels everyday, forced to accept my fate and questioned daily as to my nationalism and my true country of origin.

If today I were a man, I would have to ability to travel anywhere I wanted and walk about at odd hours of night fearing only robbers or thieves. I would be able to speak and have my voice heard. I would be able to demand  and have my demands met. I would have been able to stay childless well into my 50s because I could father a child any time. But here I am a woman, who is susceptible to rape, who has to fight to have her voice heard, who is by default expected to heed to her ticking biological clock and fulfill the need for procreation at a suitable age.

Friday, September 04, 2015

More Masala without Maggi

We Indians love masala in everything. Our curries, our tea, our movies and even in our news stories. I used to think that Indian news media could ill compare with the level of frivolity exhibited by American news media, where the size of Kim Kardashian's butt is reported with greater fervour than say an actual political change that could potentially affect thousands of citizens. After the recent spotlight on the Sheena Bora case, however, I am forced to rethink my stand.

Since when have we decided that some random TV group's ex-CEO's wife's conviction in the case of her daughter's murder should take precedence over more pressing issues of today? Like the fact that onions are currently selling at the same overpriced price of petrol? Or the fact that we've given right wing fundamentalists in the country such a free hand that they are now killing writers who have merely expressed their distaste for religion and who attempt to rationalise our country's obsession with it instead? For the past week or more, prime airtime has been given to telling us what Indrani Mukerjea is wearing and what her kids are ordering for lunch rather than giving that air time to the ongoing crisis in Gujarat, exposing it as a police state where the State Government resorted to blocking mobile internet for a week in order to 'prevent' the protests from escalating.

Perhaps it's just as well that our government's current focus should be on upcoming Teacher's Day plans and ensuring they don't clash with the Hindu festival of Janmashtami, whereas they prevented no such conflicts when planning events that coincided with the holidays of religious minorities. It's simply in keeping with every other misguided focus given to issues since the time Modi occupied this country's prime ministerial seat. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015


"Just like a bloody man" Saritha said in disgust as she glanced over at her husband. "Lazy, good for nothing imbecile." she continued as he slowly made his way over to her, head bowed low.

"Dinner's ready, ji. Shall I serve you?" he whimpered softly. He never knew what mood she was in so being as quiet and invisible as possible usually served him well enough.

"Well is dinner going to serve itself then?! Get me some, I'm starving." shrieked Saritha. Her husband scampered off to get her her meal.

"All day I work to feed this family, what do you do all day at home, I don't understand.  Lousy cook, lousy at housekeeping. At least you could keep yourself in shape like Leela's husband does." she licked her lips at the thought of Leela's young husband. Completely brainless but what a hot piece of ass. Leela had done well to go in for the rugged villager types instead of the usual middle class variety.

Saritha's husband sat quietly near her as she ate her dinner, trying not to let his tears show. He tried so hard to be a good spouse. Women were always so hard on men. If only society were less unfair...

In Search of a Demi God

In India, we're always in search of a hero. And when we find one, we don't just stop at hailing them as such; we need to turn them into a god.

From Gandhi to Teresa to Tendulkar, to the recently deceased APJ Abdul Kalam, our heroes only make sense to us if they are flawless. We will readily make up / believe stories of their innocent childhoods, the hardships they faced to get to where they are today, their benevolence in all aspects of their lives, their perfection and we will even attribute all sorts of inspirational quotes to them that were heretoforth attributed to that best quotemaster of them all 'Anonymous'.

We don't like to think of these heroes of ours as mere human beings. They can do no wrong. If they do wrong, we are blind to it. If they are actual underachievers who made it big through sheer effort of being dicks, we will mask all that with stories of their great valour. We like to point out how foreign countries too think of our Greats as great. When APJ Abdul Kalam, the 'people's president' (ex president of India), the guy who used his presidential tenure to run to every school in the country and be the presiding chief guest at every college convocation and give long funny speeches that we'd listen to if only to make fun of his accent and funny hair, when this scientist (whom no one can quite remember a specific invention of) recently passed away, there were rumours on Whatsapp of how even the White House flew its flag at half mast to mourn his passing. Which was false of course; the half mast was in honour of the US soldiers shot at Tennessee.

Should a foreign dignitary or celebrity fail to acknowledge the greatness of our god, we will unleash the full fury of our troll armies at them. Like Maria Sharapova recently faced for professing not to know who Sachin Tendulkar, that great god of cricket in India, the man who does not take one for the team if there isn't a century in there for himself, who that Sachin Tendulkar was.

And once these greats pass away, we will pay homage by immediately renaming a street after them. And god forbid anyone try to stop us. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Android System WebView (Also known as 'WTF, Google?!')

(This is a write up about an app available on the Google Play Store. No this isn't a tech blog. No, I'm not practising to write for a tech blog. Yes, I am a bit of a geek. And Android fangirl. You're welcome.)

What do you do when your OS provider rolls out an update to an app you had no recollection of ever even downloading to your phone in the first place? You give it rave reviews on the app store, of course and give everyone a testimonial of how it changed your life.

So Google recently rolled out an update to an Android app called 'Android System WebView'. According to the Play store, the app is meant to allow for in-app web browsing. Not everyone likes the fact that an app that they don't understand the function of is allowed to auto update on their phone. Kind of like the ANT radio services app bloatware that existed a couple of years ago that everyone subsequently decided was so much easier to just disable on their phones. It would be nice if Google could've propagated an article or two about the service before forcing an update on us. But in lieu of that, just grab some popcorn and enjoy some of the reviews on the app store.

Here are some choice reviews from Android users on how Android System WebView (what a mouthful) changed their phones... and lives:

Thanks to this app, this guy doesn't need Viagra any more. 

This guy admits he has no idea what the app does, but it's a helluv an app anyway.

This guy got a unicorn. But he hates unicorns. Damn.

If you had to update just one app for the rest of your life, this should be it.

And where would we be without a political reference?

If you've got a couple of months to kill, you might as well just read all the reviews on the Play store: 

Sunday, May 24, 2015

On being an unmarried woman in India

In a week or so, my father is going to visit me to try and convince me to get married as soon as I can. The main reason being that I'm a single 32 year old woman and clearly that is a travesty that cannot continue to exist in this country.

In India, and perhaps elsewhere too, women's relationships statuses are time constrained. They are governed by our biological clocks. We are held to ransom by the depleting numbers of eggs in our ovaries. Not for us the luxury of being able to choose the man who we want to spend our lives with by means of casual dating, perhaps for a year or five before we decide we can't live without each other. No. Indian society rules that you have to make up your mind on settling down with The One before the small hand hits 35 and the big hand reads Old Maid.

It's not as though being single is an easy decision  to make. Or a decision  at all, really. I don't know if I'm going to meet the Right Man either. I don't know if I want to offer a dowry and toss a mangalsutra to every date of mine that goes well within a month or so of a steady relationship. I don't know if I want to choose to live alone forever and avoid the conventional married life.

I just wish I had more time. And the privilege to decide to be undecided about my own life path.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Cut to the quick

Your heart can break a hundred billion times
In a thousand million ways
Into a gazillion little pieces. 
And every time you think
You're strong enough to
Endure another heartbreak
The shards rattling about inside
Beg to differ. 

Love in the time of NH10

They stole out of their homes in the dead of the night. She couldn't bear to steal from her own parents, so she only took with her the money she'd been painstakingly saving for the past eight months. And the gold chain Papa had bought her when she was seven. And the gold earrings Ma had given her when she was thirteen. She took all the clothes she had; they weren't much in any case. And one tiny photograph they had clicked at the village mela some ten years ago. Something to remember them by. He met her by the far gate. As they had agreed. It was dark out here and the watchmen wouldn't be awake this late at night, and even if they were hardly came out this way.

They had to walk nearly ten kilometres before they felt safe. Running half the way. They came to the highway where they hitched a ride with a truck driver.

By the time the sun flashed its first pink rays into the sky, they had reached a dhaba, where everyone got out of the truck. They grabbed their first meal outside their home. The whole journey they hadn't even spoken to each other. The enormity of what they were doing had not escaped them. If found, they could be beaten to death. Burnt alive. Killed. By their own families. By the people who had given them life.

Over the cup of chai she cradled in her nervous hands, she gazed into her lover's eyes. And ashes were all she could see.

Source: BBC News India couple lynched in 'honour killing' in Bihar

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Accepting Adulthood

There comes a time in the existence of every sentient being, or at least the ones who have to pay taxes, when they have to question the meaning of their lives. Questions like where am I going with this, how do I attain true happiness, do I need to buy new underwear, come to the fore. While for most people struggling with their day to day affairs these questions move to the backseat of their vehicle of contemplation, for the rest of us these questions loom large, especially when we've come to a point in our lives in which it appears imperative that we find these answers before we can so much a take another breath.

I admittedly don't talk much. I don't share a lot of myself with people I interact with. The bulk of my thoughts and feelings are vomitted on the pages of this blog. I know I've succeeded in becoming a person with values that I admire: a non conformist, liberated from the binds of a formalized religion or societal institution like marriage. I have constantly chose to support free thought and freedom of expression. I volunteer at places that do the kind of work I cannot do myself on a large scale. I respect my friends and try to physically be there for them any way I can. I wish of course I were different. More brash, more bold, more intuitive, more... Significant. But everyone has to deal with their own failings, somehow. To see every day the sort of behaviour you subscribe to, to inwardly cringe at your weakness of personality and to be able to do nothing about it has got to be the largest of the burdens we must bear as a race.

But to the questions. I keep asking myself if I have yet found that passion in life that keeps me going, that is my life mission, that will give some vague meaning to my otherwise frivolous existence. But every time the answer is a resounding no. I have not written a book. Or travelled to a high peak. Or started an NGO. Or even spent time with my mother when she had a terrible cold. I've failed, pretty much, in all the standard adult tests so far. In fact, as I mentioned to someone recently, we should be mandatorily made to clear certain tests before being declared adults. Not the types that certify us as being old enough to drive a geared vehicle. But the types that test our ability to treat our surroundings with responsibility and care. Until which time we should just be wards of the state and not allowed to mess about with adult affairs.

Passing my own rigorous test of adulthood is the challenge that lays before me now. Can I muster the strength to take decisions that may not bring me immediate satisfaction but will bring a hugely positive to the world, nudging and prodding it in the right direction. I really want that to be my life purpose. Not of course speaking in terms of blowing myself up to prove some fascist point. But to make sure that the struggles of the underprivileged, no matter what strata of society they are from, no matter what species they belong to, are minimised to some extent in the long run. And perhaps along the way satisfy certain personal goals that I still somehow don't seem to have clarified in my own mind.  The least of which should certainly not be enforcing and celebrating my own self respect.

Wish me luck, will you?