Thursday, October 16, 2008

Secular India

I read an article written by Shashi Tharoor titled 'The triumph of Hindu resurgence would mark the end of India' , with great interest. I am an absolute fan of Shashi Tharoor and his writings. To me, somehow, he epitomises that rare breed called a Global Citizen. He truly understands global perspectives, by virtue no doubt, of his various postings with the UN, without trying too hard to either blend into the American society (he lives in New York most of the time) like our poor misguided NRIs or retaining his Indian passport and identity. But I somehow, fail to agree with his article.

As an ordinary citizen, a Hindu (I again don't understand what "practising" means) I fail to see why it is so important for political parties to bash up anything remotely Hindu. And why everybody, who is anybody worth his PR salt, should stand on a podium and shout and abuse Hindu and Hinduism. When I turn on the TV, I see an angry and self righteous Barkha Dutt trying to shout down a so called Hindu supporter (read BJP, VHP or Bajrang Dal) into agreeing that if he so much as raises a voice against the so called Secularist then he ought to be hanged. You find half baked young journalists screaming that the so called "Secular thread of Democracy" is being pulled apart by these so called Hindu zealots.

A muslim, may in India, which is supposed to be a democracy with the constitution being the rule of the land, apply the Shariat law whenever and wherever he choses to. He can use the name of religon to turn issues and events around to his convienence. And of course throw in the ocassional jihadi here and a SIMI fundamentalist there and you have a nice hotchpotch of religious fundamentalism. Ah ha! But we are not supposed to be targetting a particular religion or see....he has a right to safeguard his religion and kill in the name of it. No questions asked. After all he is in just a minority of say 140 million and multiplying by the second. And if all fails, just proclaim that you have been marginalised and that not enough efforts have been made to bring you into the mainstream. That should shut those Hindus up for good! ha!

We have the Christians at their missionary best, and I use this term loosely here, quitely going about India and converting hoardes of people in the guise of "missionary" work. Of course, let us not lose perspective that they indeed are doing termendous work. But it worries me that they also want to use the same good work as a guise to convert people to their religion. Why not just do the good work and leave it at that? Isn't the whole purpose of do-gooding lost if one attaches a motive to it? But let a Hindu point that out, and wham! Out come the screaming hoardes of "Secular" zealots.

When the bearded painter whathizname paints Hindu goddesses in the nude, and Hindus protest about the depiction of their gods and goddesses, our "Secularists" shout from the rooftops for freedom of expression. Would the same bearded whathizname dare to paint a portrait of his prophet? Why can he not exercise his freedom of expression? You can be positive that would never happen. After all, freedom of expression and secularism is only for the poor long suffering ignoramus of a Hindu.

Now pan to the most watched election in the world. The American presidential elections. When I listen to the presidential debates, I feel they are really talking about core issues that affect millions of ordinary citizens. Never mind if the Americans themselves feel the whole thing is a sham. I don't hear them talking about religious fundamentalism or pseudo-secularism. What a contrast from our land, where nothing else except religion exists. One can actually win elections by solely playing the "Secular" (also known as Hindu bashing) tag. One need not focus on anything of any importance what so ever. Just talk about religion, and whoa! there you are! At the helm of affairs.

When I switch on my news channel, I find "breaking news" about the health of Amitabh Bachchan, whose sole claim to greatness is romancing a few sleazy heroines and fighting a few cheesy goons on screen. If the channels need to break the monotony, they will bring in a debate, with our sour faced Barkha Dutt about Secularism and fundamentalism. La Dutt, will call people to her cosy studio, have a few obscure polls (how come I am never asked to poll?) give her own loud opinions and never let the panelists complete a sentence (always cutting people short by saying we are running out time). Throw in a few obscure Bengali communists (unknown even in Bengal), some poor bootlicker from the Congress (poor souls) and we have a winner! Democracy and Secularism is safe! la Dutt has saved modern India!

And we poor Hindus, already second class citizens in our own land, will labour on, regardless of rising prices, pollution, regular bomb blasts, floods, droughts, job losses and every other problem known to mankind. We will allow our "Secular" forces to try and subjugate us, convert us and take liberties with us.

And when we dare, when we actually dare to stand up and give back as good as we get, we will find articles like the one written by Shashi Tharoor. Talking about the end of India as we know it if there is a resurgence of Hinduism.


Wednesday, May 21, 2008


Well darlings,
I am back to blogging after a while. Each day has had its share of ups and downs and the customary dose of boredom. Of course the best thing is watching my son grow up. I can see different shades to his personality now and the emergence of that most important thing to mankind called an "Ego".
At 2 years and 2 months, Manish now expresses most of the human emotions that we adults have.
He has now learnt that he can charm almost everyone with a lop-sided smile and usually uses it with devastating effect to get himself out of a mischief. He also displays a sense of posessiveness for his mother's belongings and affections and an enviable hero-worship of his father, often clinging to him and following him around like a small faithful puppy.

He is an extremely sensitive child, quick to catch a frown or a smile and shows a lot of resemblence to my sister. She is the sensitive and emotional type.
He has my short temper and it doesn't take much to light that particular fuse.
He resembles his dad in caring, patience and understanding and has the methodical and perfectionist attitude of his paternal grandfather - a trait Manish also shares with my sister and as I watch him grow, I wonder at what kind of human being he will turn out to be.

Will he be the impatient-Gen X-always in a hurry type of guy? or will he be the stop- and- smell the flowers kind of guy? How will he cope with hardship and heart-break? Failure and success?

There are times when I feel inordinately proud of him and there are times when I feel truly scar ed for him. There are times when I want to strangle him and when I want to simply smother him with hugs and kisses and just hold him close forever - shielding him for everything this big bad world can throw at him. There are times when I want to show him the beauty that surrounds us - the flowers in the park, the rain, a butterfly, a bird or just 2 small puppies playing blissfully by the roadside.

Thats when I realise, its not just Manish, learning from the world around him. Its his parents too.
After all - isnt a Child the Father of Man?

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

We, the people......

S M Krishna has been cleared by her royal highness Sonia Gandhi, to return to Karnataka politics.

Gasp! Do you mean to say that Krishna will now sacrifice himself for the greater good of us poor Kannadigas(Kannadigas?In Karnataka? where? how many?) and get back the Chief Minister's chair? Will he come back again to ruin Bangalore some more? Or will Double-cross Deve Gowda (as he is now affectionately called) ruin the apple cart? He is after all the Mannina maga!! Will Desperate Yeddy get the CM gaddi? eh?

I have often wondered who these so called "people" are, that the politicians claim to serve. "The people have spoken!" thunders Narendra Modi in Gujarat. 'The people will speak', whines poor Yedurappa in Karnataka. 'The people, who we, have so loyally served' will vote us back to power claims S M Krishna.

Who are these people? Is it you? is it me? or is it our neighbour Geethamma?

My barometer for political conciousness is our very own Gowri. The help at my mother's house. She has been with us for the past 18-19 years and is a veteran in battling life and its varied problems. Personal, social, name it, she has fought it. She only knows that, come elections, she will get a couple of blankets and maybe this time a colour TV set. She doesnt even know who will give her these gifts. But some one surely will, is the only sure thing in this game.

Pity, she does not know the name of a single politician..........yet, it is she and her ilk, who decides our collective fates.

When Benazir Bhutto triumphantly lost her life to an assasin's bullets (or was it a bomb?...oh doesn't matter to Mushy baby ....shouldn't matter to us) in neighbouring Pakistan, everybody suddenly rose to make her sound like a martyr. 'There will always be a Bhutto in Pakistan,' she had thundered from her safe haven in Dubai & later England. Why? Who asked for it? Did you?.......uh uh....not me......the poor people of Pakistan, oops sorry the PPP has been left orphaned..........but don't worry, that worthy heir, Bilawal will come back and save you poor souls, if that is, you Poor Pakis, can stop him from scampering back to Oxford with his gun toting, millions of pounds costing security men.........!!!!

Who needs a Bhutto or a Gandhi? Why make insatiable greed sound like great sacrifice? What exactly have they saved Pakistan or India from? Nothing seems to have changed. Their egos, personal coffers and media attention probably got bigger I suppose. Other than that, I see no improvement.

If at all, India has shown any progress in the recent past, it is probably inspite of the great Gandhis. Not because of the Gandhis. The poor Paki's can't even claim this small miniscule development.

Sigh! Politics! So simple, yet so complex.

Coming back to our very own Gowdas, Vokkaligas and Lingayats and their personal fiefdoms. Who will spearhead the utter ruin of Bangalore? Who will bleed the coffers dry? Who will ensure more mindless sanctions of software companies and industrial townships in the only city worthy of mention in Karnataka...good ol' Bangalore? Not to mention flyovers, grade seperators, helicopter bays.........????

Questions! Questions! Questions!

Why am I looking forward to the elections? Or for that matter, a new CM or government?

Firstly, a great deal of entertainment for free.... as our politicians fight over party seats, cabinet berths, power sharing etc etc etc. Juicy fights, betrayals, back stabbing.........these guys can put Hollywood and their striking writers shame!!! bah! (Not to mention Ekta Kapoor and her ghastly serials)I can also save money by not going to the movies. Why pay for entertainment when I can watch a news channel at home? for half the cost? eh?

Knowledge of all great numerologists, vaastu experts and astrologers - as each politician worth his salt, consults these godmen about name changes, dates for swearing in and such other important matters. These godmen can lead you to nirvana. What more can one ask for in this life? Spiritual upliftment and ultimately NIRVANA!!!

I love travelling and as these netas head out to all the temples and dargahs, chruches (they are secular netas after all arent they?) to conduct poojas, vratas, homas etc etc for their heroic victories in these election battles, I get to know of places that I have never heard of!!

My husband is in the automobile components manufacturing business. The netas will immediately order the latest cars for their convoys and escorts. Hundreds of cars - cost no bar(after all taxpayers money right?). More cars sold. More need for automobile components. My hubby's business grows.....ah! the good life! My son's future is secure!

Damn it! She was right! Begum Bhutto was right! We need the Ghandhis, Bhuttos and the Kennedys. And the Gowdas!

We, the people......don't know a good thing when we see it !!! Tsk!...tsk!

Saturday, January 19, 2008

All things foreign!

It is accepted that we Indians lack civic sense, have absolutely no road manners, atrocious and belligerent driving skills or the lack of it, pollution, over crowding, chaos, nothing working.......ok....ok.......yes! yes! ....we all know our pitfalls and faults. And at the bottom of this pile lies our stadiums and sports facilities. What facilities? Do we have a stadium anywhere in India worth mentioning? You may well ask!

"Things are so well organised" says the aunty who has gone on innumerable "foreign jaunts". "So civilised" says the cousin from those hallowed foreign shores.

After every cricket match, one hears of the lack of public toilets, infrastructure, poor management of the crowds and everything else that can be criticised.

So now, let me enlighten you about how a sporting event is conducted in those hallowed "foreign lands".

We had the privilege of attending a Formula 1 grand prix race in Monza, Italy. Now Formula 1 is the richest sport in the world earning billions of dollars from sponserships, television rights, merchandise and not to mention cash paying spectators.

We were all excited and logged onto the Formula 1 website to book our race tickets. Goody goody goody! All straightforward so far, we chose the seats we wanted, had a mild heart attack at the cost of each ticket - (converted into Indian rupees it practically felt like daylight robbery). We had been warned that the Italians were thugs of the first water, after all they were the originators of the Mafia weren't they? So we craftily asked my brother in law in Germany to make the payment in Euros and that we would repay him in rupees here in India. Who knows what tricks the Italians may get upto with our Indian credit card! The tickets would be delivered by courier to him in Germany.

2 months down the line and we still hadn't heard about a thing. We assumed that they would do their own thing and didn't pursue the matter much. Sure enough, the tickets were sent to Germany at the end of the third month. But how long did it take? 3 long months! But ssshhh........they have a method. Foreign after all! remember?

So now, we started our preparations in earnest for our travel. Got our airline and hotels booked and visas were obtained. We again refered to the Monza race website and tried to get details on how to reach the autodrome from downtown Milan, where we were based. They had various options of transport - trains, buses and of course cars.

We assumed that things would work like clock work, after all we were going to a "foreign event", weren't we?

Imagine our plight in Monza. Nobody spoke English for starters - fair enough - we have travelled enough in Europe to understand that they are very fanatical about language and will speak their native tongue no matter where and how.

No information anywhere about those blasted trains that should get you to the autodrome . We luckily stumbled across some Finnish fans (Supporting Raikonnen who is from Finland) racing towards a train in Milan Centrale. We ran with them and hopped on to that train. It could have gone to Paris for all we knew.

Once we reached the autodrome, nobody told us there was a 5 kms (yes! 5 kms from the train station) to reach our stands!!!! No information was given anywhere about that! You can imagine the plight of 2 overweight, out of shape individuals faced with the prospect of a 5km trek in the hot Italian sun!!! good lord!

None of the stewards knew where our stand was or how far it was. Again no one spoke English. They just stood around stylishly (the famous Italian style my friends) and talked on their cell phones. We panted and wheezed our way to the stands after almost an hour and a half of trekking.

Those seats were just concrete steps on which we all just plonked ourselves on. The toilets were miles away. But we did get to see the race and enjoy it.

Now we had to start the 5 km trek back all over again to get to the train station (we learnt that there were no buses to this event - which means the info on the official website was a lie!!!).

Toilets were now all completely dirty. Almost the whole crowd was now drunk. Rubbish cans overflowing with beer cans and food packets. Drunk people using trees to answer the call of nature.

Yes my friends! peeing on the road! And after an endless walk, we were all crammed into trains for our journey back to Milan ala Mumbai ishtyle!

Who said such things happened only in India! And what made it all so funny? We paid 310 Euros per ticket!!!!!

Now when somebody mentions all those ills in a stadium - I can only smirk and think of Monza!

Friday, January 18, 2008

Britney Spears!!!

I decided to enter the world of blogging just to see what the hoopla is all about! Pretty neat I must say. Find a name, enter a couple of passwords here and there and voila! you are a legitimate blogger!

My friend wanted to know why I chose a screen name that says "manish's mom".

Now that I am a stay at home mom, with all my time taken up by a pesky 22 month old angel, how else would I be able to describe myself? before all those feminists go ballistic about my identity crisis, lemme explain......I had a low powered, (read low paid) computer crunching job at IBM. I deputed ill-mannered, uncouth and greedy software engineers all over the world on projects that saved IBM millions of dollars by deputing these thugs as software engineers. I chucked this delightful job to have my baby and then stayed at home to ensure that this "bundle of joy" was cared for and pampered by a "stay at home mommy".

The bundle of joy needed to be fed once in 2 hours for the first 6 months of its life, cajoled and rocked to sleep, diapers needed to be changed almost hourly, not to mention all those burps, spittings, change of clothes & bathing to be started all over again each day. This left the new mommy with almost no time on her hands and left her cooped up in a room for days on end with only a small bundle of human flesh for company.

So now, 22 months hence with all those months of experience in Manish rearing behind me, I felt that "manish's mom" best described me..................hehehe.................right! thats behind us now....the naming I mean.........

During those divine periods of time when Manish slept, I felt the need for some mindless entertainment and decided to scroll through the gossip rag "People Magazine" website for my daily quota of Hollywood gossip. We are bombarded by "Bollywood" gossip by every self respecting Indian Channel and news channels - with some flashing "Ash-Abhi Holidaying in Jaipur" as BREAKING NEWS!!!! So I dutifully added the People magazine website to my favourites list and religiously cocked an eye at it everyday

Britney Spears is their favourite daughter. Every single thing she does, all those mind numbing nature calls at public washrooms, those late night shopping sprees and the innumerable run ins with the "paparazzi" are well documented, archived and mulled upon with great enthusiasm.

Should one ever experience the sudden urge to know what Britney Spears is doing at this moment, simply log onto People magazine.

How does a 25 year old woman with 2 young adorable children, loads and loads of money, fame, good looks and charm lose it all to become a public joke and circus? What is it that drives this poor publicity seeking whacko to stoop to such levels? Is it that stressful being rich, being waited upon hand and foot, not to mention having all those lunches and dinners in fancy restaurants and shopping almost nonstop everyday? gasp! surely ye jest!

If all this can cause a meltdown in poor li'l Britney, how should all those women in Africa, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Palestine behave? Their homes are bombed, children and families killed, they are beaten and ill treated by their husbands, trudge miles and miles to fetch drinking water, collect firewood to cook their meals and have never heard of economic independence. Yet, you will find millions of these women carrying on their lives with dignity, grace and enormous courage. They don't go around behaving like Britney.........having meltdowns and being carted off to the looney bin in an ambulance.

Surely their lives are harder to bear than this failed pop star and her so called problems!