Here Comes the Quiet One

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abohemiansrhapsody:

On George Harrison’s birthday, to a genius gone too soon.

Originally posted on abohemiansrhapsody:

Let me tell you how it will be.

George ‘the Quiet One’ Harrison is one of those people in the world that means more to me than any real person I’ve ever known, even myself. He’s like family to me, even though I never knew the man personally.

But when I listen to him play and sing and speak, it really feels like I do. I’ve ‘known’ George since I was a little baby, so 21 years and counting now.  Back then, of course, I had no idea which Beatle was which on the record, so I just enjoyed listening to them rather indifferently.

George songs always sounded ‘different’, though. They had a very otherworldly feel to them, while still being about the human condition (and sometimes very, very scary indeed).

One of the first Beatles songs I ever heard, one that was on the 1967-1970 album (the first Beatles…

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The Next Da(y)vid. Happy Birthday, Mr. Bowie.

The Next Day

Last year (2013 is ‘last year’ now), this genius released his latest album.

Musician. Singer, songwriter, guitarist, saxophonist, a brilliant, brilliant actor, sex object, teen-and-adult idol and Goblin King extraordinaire, David Bowie, is 67 today. Fifty years since the man has been making music and it only gets better.

Although most non-Bowie listeners will know him by ‘Ground Control to Major Tom‘ (which is actually Space Oddity, thank you very much!) his debut album was the eponymous David Bowie, released in 1967. For those who have heard a lot of Bowie’s later stuff – Space Oddity, Ziggy Stardust, Life on Mars (the usual suspects), David Bowie will sound rather unfamiliar. Less surrealist and folksy than the more mature Bowie-image that has come to be legend, a number of songs on the album are very 60s and represent London [London Boy, Maid of Bond Street (one of my personal favourites on the album)]. Love You Till Tuesday is wonderfully candyflossy, youthful, and in all honesty, downright adorable. A simple melody from a lover to the one he loves, about how smitten he is. The simplicity of the melody and the lyrics make you fall in love with them.

While David Bowie might seem unlike Ziggy, Aladdin Sane, the Thin White Duke, or even the David Bowie of today, it was not as detached as it seems. A special Bowie skill, one that one sees in very few musicians today, is the ability to  paint extremely vivid, almost tangible pictures with palpable emotions,  telling entire stories in song (or in Bowie’s case, extend characters through them, even).

This is evident in Come and Buy my Toyswhich has simple lyrics, some beautiful folksy fingerpicking in the background. Seemingly innocuous, innocent lyrics paint deeper, darker, sadder pictures than those that are apparent. Maid of Bond Street paints a picture of glitzy London, of an actress on the train from Paddington to Oxford Circus (while on that journey myself, I hummed the tune and grinned to myself. The man looking at me must have assumed I was a lunatic. Oh well), but in a few lines shows the emptiness of her life, of life itself.

Macabre images that one would see in later Bowie work (certain songs on Hunky Dory, a fair number on Aladdin Sane) began cropping up early on – a prime example is Please Mr. Gravedigger, just pure vocals and sound effects – the rain in the background. While nothing like it melodically, the lyrics are reminiscent of a beautiful song by a certain Paul McCartney, released only a year prior.

We Are Hungry Men steps into extremely dark realms, all the while beneath a melodic exterior that seems quick, rhythmic, and perhaps incongruous  with its lyrics that allude to cannibalism and explicitly refer to infanticide and slaughter.  He talks of a messiah, a persona that will crop up in his later music as well, along with the idea and nature of being detached from humanity, an observer from up above – whether an alien or an astronaut, an otherwoldly being, or just a starman.

The world, humanity, otherworldly beings talking about humanity: this album had pretty much everything you could ask for. Some amazing work on Five Years and Rock n’ Roll Suicide, which are by far the most acoustic tracks on the album.
Bowie had always been very androgynous (and the subject of various rumours that seemed to indicate that he rolled with some Stones), and his Ziggy persona served to magnify this. He was a pioneer of androgyny in the public eye, even – and Lady Stardust, on the album, illustrates exactly that.
A year later, 1973, came Aladdin Sane, Bowie’s next persona and album. The boy/man with the lightning scar, about 20 years before J.K Rowling and Harry Potter.The piano on the title track is exquisite – the entire album, though it encompasses several different genres, has an absolutely beautiful flow. Something to whet every genre-related appetite. John, I’m Only Dancing and Panic in Detroit are quicker rock, as is Bowie’s cover of the stones’ Let’s Spend the Night Together. Cracked Actor is hard rock, drug-fuelled, sex-crazed and the epitome of what the older generation considered ‘rock n’ roll’, perhaps. In sort of what may be a descending-order arrangement of the album, you have those faster, more traditionally ‘rock’ tracks, then Cracked Actor, followed by The Prettiest Star (the most romantic waltz in my head, coupled with Bowie’s breathy, romantic rock voice).
Drive-In Saturday is sex. Sex in a song. Genuinely. Please, go listen to it because no other description will do it justice.
Lady Grinning Soul is rather James Bond ballad-esque. If it were to be compared to one specific one, possibly Shirley Bassey’s rendition of Goldfinger, in the vibe that it gives off. The piano work on Lady Grinning Soul (and the title track of this album) is pristine. [both of those Mick Ronson.]
Aladdin Sane: who’ll love him? That is the only question I ask.
Post Aladdin Sane came Diamond Dogs, Young Americans, and then Station to Station, which brought out Bowie’s newest persona: the Thin White Duke (throwing darts in lovers’ eyes).
Dressed as a harlequin straight out of Pagliacci, he would appear on Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps), which would yield the bouncing (yet rather dark), space-like, surreal Ashes to Ashes, which carried on the persona of Major Tom that had been created with Space Oddity; he was now strung out in heavens high, hitting an all time low. (Major Tom, that is.)
The era post this was largely experimental. Ashes to Ashes- and really ,a lot of Scary Monsters, had been heading a more electronic route, which he pursued, solo and with his band, Tin Machine, from whom he eventually separated.
Bowie then went on hiatus for a while. A long, long while, until it was announced, a year ago to the day, that he would be releasing new material (and the mice in their million hordes cried out in joy).
The Next Day is another one of those albums that you simply cannot pick a favourite track off. Genius, all around. It is a thing of beauty, of awe and wonder, that for 50 years (and counting),  David Bowie has managed to keep the essence of what keeps him going bottled up, untouched, and puts out beautiful, original music each time. Prodigious intelligence doesn’t hurt, either.
The title track and The Stars (Are Out Tonight) are two of the most iconic videos off the album- the former featuring Gary Oldman and Marion Cotillard alongside Bowie, and the latter his friend and another androgynous powerhouse of talent, Ms. Tilda Swinton.
My personal favourite is Love Is Lost, featuring a whole lot of David Bowie puppets. Very surrealist, and I would definitely recommend it. Honestly, just go buy the album. It’s wonderful.
I’d like to go into detail about how brilliant an actor the man is, but no words would do him justice and I have perhaps written too much anyway. All I will say is this: Go watch The Prestige if you have not already seen it. David Bowie aside, it is an incredible film (as it should be, it is a Nolan production). The cast is absolutely stellar and still, somehow, none outperforms the other. You will also never see a more convincing Tesla on screen.
Another recommendation is The Man who Fell to Earth. Now a cult classic, it was panned when it first came out. Something about the storyline fits its lead perfectly. If you like science fiction, this film is definitely for you.
Last but not the least, a film I love, one that 80s and 90s children have grown up with, and one one of my best friends and I have bonded over, something you can watch with your children, even: Labyrinth.
I’d like to ask what Jareth the Goblin King says: “What kind of magic spell do you use?”
Not only has the man been brilliant all this while, he’s married to an absolutely inspirational woman as well (she also just happens to be one of the most beautiful, successful women in the world)- the supermodel, philanthropist, activist and all-round driven career woman, Iman.
Happy Birthday, David Bowie. Here’s to 67 years of absolute brilliance. Thank you for making my life more livable, better, more special even.
To feeling like I could beat them, just for one day.
Play on, Ziggy.
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Nothing’s Gonna Change My World

abohemiansrhapsody:

8th December, 1980, we lost this beautiful man. A commemorative I wrote a while ago – have a read.

Originally posted on abohemiansrhapsody:

9th October,1940. A genius was born, in Liverpool.

I wasn’t even sure how I should begin this post- how in the world do you write something to a person who died before you were born, but one who’s been part of your life ever since you were a little child?

And by a ‘part’ of my life, I mean most of it. I still remember coming home to empty rooms after school as a little girl, both my parents at work, and I’d do the one thing I’d been asked to avoid – tinker around with the music system. I’d seen my mother press a button, and three CDs would come spinning out, which I found infinitely fascinating.

My first memory was of this boxed set of discs with four cute men in pajamas staring down a balcony, and I decided to investigate.

I wondered why the CDs had apples…

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Tips for Chetan Bhagat… (Just for fun.)

The crème de la crème of Indian authors, the cat’s meow, the cream of the crop, the bee’s knees, that literary genius, that proselytising Twitter guru, that magician with his words, Chetan Bhagat, has recently made a wonderful video for Shaadi.com (possibly the world’s most well known matrimonial website [ugh]), where he lists tips for the site’s founder, who recently got married himself.

For a little bit of a background, watch this

The guru of gurus, the unrecognised (but clearly deserving) head of MENSA, is now dishing out tips for a successful marriage.

Chetan Bhagat’s #ShittyTipNumber 1

“Just Say What She Wants to Hear”

In this tip, he talks about how choices, with women, are not really choices. you just have to guess which ones they like. WOW, Chetan Bhagat. I speak for all women when I say you are really, truly the most amazingly perceptive man in the entire universe. How did you know all women were not really human, just completely irrational, two-faced vagina-toting humanoids incapable of normal thought processes like men are? Poor ol’ us.  ‘North Indian, South Indian’, we’re all the same.  He talks about choices between A and B as being like computer programs, which  solve problems ‘based on applying criteria’. What are those, Mr. Bhagat? Programming? Criteria??? You’ve lost us poor stupid women already!

It’s not about finding A or B, Chetan. It’s about finding, to quote a certain Red Forman, my foot in your ass.

P.S – You know what *I* really want to hear? That Chetan Bhagat has given up writing and/or a public existence for good. I will wait for that day and I will celebrate it.

Chetan Bhagat’s #ShittyTipNumber2

Remember Anniversaries, She Will Forget Your Sins”

Here he talks about remembering anniversaries, something I am not a fan of. You celebrate if you feel the need to celebrate, and don’t if you don’t. If the day means something to you then let it.  I fail completely to understand why ‘forgetting’ a day makes you a bad spouse/partner, and if that is one of your criteria in deciding whether you should be nice to your partner or not, you are a horrible partner yourself.

He instructs all men to ‘remember their in-laws’ birthdays. But he doesn’t stop there, taking it a step further instead.  He asks that most wondrous of all beings, men, to ‘be the first one to call your mother-in-law’ on her birthday, and then ask your spouse/partner why they haven’t wished their parent yet. Of course, these birthday wishes are not birthday wishes, but leverage that you can use when you’re ‘in the doghouse’, so to speak.

If you happen to be friendly with your spouse’s parent/s, then you wish them because you know them and you want to fucking wish them happy birthday. Not as ‘OMG I WISHED HIM HAPPY BIRTHDAY NOW I’M OFF THE HOOK’. Dear Chetan Bhagat, as much as your writing and behaviour make it seem like it, you are not five years old.

P.S – As far as being ‘woken up at midnight by Chetan Bhagat’ goes, I’d probably just tell myself I’m having an incredibly horrible nightmare and go back to sleep.

Chetan Bhagat’s #ShittyTipNumber3

“Do not give an opinion, merely endorse”

According to Mr. Bhagat, if one of us ‘lil ol’ ladies asks a man for an opinion on an item of clothing, we’re not asking for an opinion at all. We are obviously too weak to handle honesty and truthful viewpoints, so all we want and need is positive reinforcement from men (of course we do, how in heaven’s name would we live without it?).

It is absolutely telling that the whole ‘Do I look Fat’ scenario is limited to women. That, dear Chetan (or do you prefer Chetanji?) is a product of our stupid, patriarchal society where men can look whatever they look like and be successful in a field that focuses exclusively on appearance (the movies, for example) but women, in day-to-day-life, need to be suspended in a bubble of self-doubt, in a constant state of worry as to whether they look fat or not. Health matters whether you are male or female – how you look should not matter at all, but unfortunately for the world, and consequently to women themselves, a bulge here, a fold there, is absolutely unsightly and should be banished immediately, by whatever means possible. Women are meant to be pretty little fairies with no opinion, no cranial ability, and no life beyond men and serving them, aren’t they, Mr. Bhagat? And their lives invalidated without said ‘endorsement’ from men? Poor us. Also, we look at other women who are prettier than us and begin to hate them immediately. How did YOU know, Chetan Bhagat, that women cannot look at other human beings the way men do, rationally, and consider their abilities and strengths as independent aspects of their personalities? I’m so glad you’re around to teach me the ways of my kind.

P.S – Chetan Bhagat likes to make jokes about women’s insecurities with their appearances. I’d make a joke about Chetan Bhagat’s appearance but that video speaks for itself.

Chetan Bhagat’s #ShittyTipNumber4

“Warning – she follows you on Twitter”

This takes off from Shitty Tip Number 3, which is all about female insecurities. While body image issues are, unfortunately, a reality, Chetan Bhagat brings us his own version of female insecurities, which have to do with men calling other women attractive. According to him, the moment a man compliments a woman, it is grounds for the wife to ‘put her husband in the doghouse’. In Chetan-land (or Bhagat-world, if you prefer), not only are women completely devoid of self-confidence or self-belief, but men are not supposed to have opinions either, unless they want to regret them all their lives.

For SHAME. How dare any being have an opinion on another human being right? And of course, said opinion necessarily means you like that human better, no? Like a little child’s mother complimenting another child, which necessarily means she loves that child more than her own.

P.S – Gentle reminder, Mr. Bhagat. YOU ARE NOT FIVE YEARS OLD.

P.P.S – Sexism works both ways, and you’ve just illustrated that extremely succinctly. Thank you.

Chetan Bhagat’s #ShittyTipNumber5

“Show your support. Like all her Facebook updates”

He says this is a ‘tip for a modern marriage’. ‘You must like all the pictures, silly rants, stupid things’ your spouse posts on Facebook.

I’m all for social media. I’m doing a degree in media. I do NOT, like most other people, believe it has a damn thing to with somebody’s feelings towards me.  If your love, or the security of that love, is predicated on a ‘like’ or a retweet,  you’re in an incredibly shitty, insecure relationship. I do think every one of the last few points is predicated on Chetan Bhagat’s assumption that women are insecure, and that is the most important aspect of their existence. Women are insecure beings that cannot survive without male validation – it is THIS male validation, of course, that validates not only their looks and figures but their very existence. Yes. That’s all the vagina-ovary bearers of the world need, Mr. Bhagat, to ‘keep us happy’, because we need to be ‘kept’ happy. Facebook likes. This man has all the answers, people!!

P.S – When you say the rants are ‘never stupid, always profound’, you’re obviously not talking about yourself, you fucking moron.

P.P.S – your ideas are anything but ‘modern’.

Chetan Bhagat’s #ShittyTipNumber6

“You might be the boss in the office.. She is the boss at home!!”

So according to Satan…oops, Chetan, the days of performance reviews are over. You are now not the reviewer, but the reviewed. This review will not be an annual one like the rugged menfolk are used to, but a daily one, nay, an hourly one, nay, a minute-to-minute review, based on the clothes you wear, how you sit and stand, your appearance, things that the rest of us would find trivial but Saint Bhagat tells us are the criteria for judgement.

Who ever thought a marriage/relationship was a partnership between two equals, right? It’s supposed to be about one dominating the other, browbeating them into submission and having them follow their every word. It’s not like it’s supposed to be a symbiotic thing, with both people contributing to conversations, discussions, finances, the relationship itself. It isn’t supposed to be an environment where two people feel comfortable enough to air their opinions and are able to discuss their problems and lay them bare as they are. It is about submission, complete submission. Men and women are not MADE to be equal, right, Mr. Bhagat? Relationships and marriages only ever work when one partner dominates.

I think we should all just listen to Chetan Bhagat when he says ‘Seriously, you’re not supposed to be listening to this. Bye bye, take care.’ If you truly DO care about yourself and your sanity, do not watch that video.

My condolences to Chetan Bhagat’s readers and fans (male, female or otherwise) for being utterly brainless, and commiserations to his wife for being married to a sexist, male chauvinist pig, paperback-writing hack with no visible redeeming qualities whatsoever.

Keep A Friend Serene

abohemiansrhapsody:

My latest short story. A labour of love and darkness.

Originally posted on anuthebeatlegirl:

I still remember the day I met her. My hair was in tangles all about my face, just like hers was. We were both soaked to the bone from the pouring rain, and looking for refuge from the downpour, anything to guard us from the ominous clouds overhead.

She drew me in – I had been following her from two streets away, captivated by her bright, beautiful smile, a smile full of love, that drew me in when I looked at her and she crinkled her nose at me.

“Hi!” she beamed.

“Hi,” I smiled back, following her. “Where are you headed to?”

“I have nowhere to go, either”, she told me. “Come, come with me. We can be best friends.”

Happily, I walked behind her, following her to wherever she was headed, which, as it turns out, was the next road.

We heard a loud clap of thunder and…

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The Dutt-y Face of Indian Politics

munnabhai edited 2

Certainly, people the world over are obsessed with the world of the rich and the famous, with its glitz and glamour. It seems incredibly alluring, and that is understandable to some extent  – it is but human to covet what you cannot have, or what seems out of reach. But sometimes, it takes on ridiculous proportions, like it has in India, where Bollywood is the be-all and end-all of everything.  And it’s not just about the celebrities themselves. It’s about Madhuri Dixit’s secretary, Salman Khan’s bodyguard, Yash Chopra’s makeup artist, somebody’s housekeeper, somebody else’s toilet cleaner, you get the picture. The sordid tales of the daily life of a domestic helper to the stars is tabloid fodder, too. And it only gets worse.

Apart from celebrities feeding our public consciousness all the livelong day, they also make public nuisances of themselves.  They then join forces with this wonderful species I call Indicus Politicianus (and the words ‘anus’ and ‘politician’ go together perfectly) to form some sort of awful, corrupt, money-leeching, authority-flouting, make-your-own-rules because there-ARE-no-RULES superentity, kind of like the evil version of Captain Planet that liked to dump sewage and pollute the world.

Counterintuitively, this sort of behaviour will get you treated like royalty, waited on on hand and foot, and you will be the Jack Dawson of the Indian Streets.

Criminal convictions? What on earth are those? If you are a member of parliament or the Legislative Assembly, you don’t have to follow the letter of the law, you are judge, jury and executioner. Whatever remaining ‘work’ needs to be done ‘legally’ will manage to slant itself to support you.

Take these two, for instance:

“…………Kshitij Thakur, an MLA from the Bahujan Vikas Party..”  “…Ram Kadam of the Maharashtra Navnirman Sena” assaulted a policeman last week. Why? The man pulled their car over because they were speeding. How dare he, no?

A line I have heard uttered frequently is ‘pata hai main kaun hoon?’ . Alternatively, ‘pata hai mera baap kaun hai?’  – Do you know who I am? Do you know who my father is?

The functioning rule here is if you or your father are rich and/or famous, connected to Bollywood, politics, cricket and or the murky filth surrounding them, you can do whatever you damn well please. Sadly, it is one that is all too true. Calling them bedfellows would be an understatement, because they might as well have been having a long, full-blown orgy. (Maybe they were right when they said pigs have the longest orgasms.)

Back to the story of the policeman. Said politicians were driving down the Bandra-Worli Sea Link in Mumbai, above the speed limit. A policeman does his duty and pulls them over. He gets beaten up, fifteen people to one, for his trouble.

After a hue and cry is raised, an investigation ensued. The investigation helped bring the guilty party to book!

Except it didn’t.

“Home Minister RR Patil said early inquiries suggest Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Suryavanshi used inappropriate language against..” the two MLAs mentioned earlier. What ‘inappropriate language’ may be is anybody’s guess, of course. Obviously, any form of ‘inappropriate language’ condones physical violence, where a person is outnumbered by fourteen to one.

State legislators rallied behind the lovely set of bullies, and called for ACTION against the COP. While the two assaulters were arrested, they were immediately released on bail.

In what seems a truly completely logical conclusion to all of this, the policeman in question, Assistant Police Inspector Sachin Suryawanshi, was  suspended from duty until further notice, while the assaulters were made to pay Rs. 15,000 apiece (pocket change in the world of politics) and were ‘not required to be present for court proceedings.’

Wonderful.

But that case is absolutely minuscule compared to what is currently gripping the nation: the trials and tribulations of Sanjay Dutt.

First, a little background for the uninitiated – it was twenty years (and two weeks) ago today.

Black Friday – Friday, 12th March, 1993.

Location: Mumbai, Maharashtra, India.

13 coordinated bomb explosions ripped through Mumbai all day, killing upwards of 250 people and injuring 700. (Those are only the official figures, the actual number of fatalities must certainly have been even higher.) You can read more about the blasts here.

NDTV have an interactive timeline of the blasts here.

Now in the midst of the hullaballoo, Mr. Dutt here was found to be in possession of firearms. Illegally so. And we’re not just talking a pistol, which could have been for self-defense, or perhaps a revolver, or some such thing (while I do not at all condone keeping illegal firearms, or really, any firearms at all,  it is perhaps a little less ludicrous for someone to have a small Beretta in their personal possession than it is an AK-56.)

That batch of firearms was found to be from the same consignment as those used in the attacks. In April, 1993, Dutt was convicted under TADA, the Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act and sentenced to ‘six years’ rigorous imprisonment’, of which he served a massive, massive 25%. He was out of prison in 18 months.

Extensive campaigning by his father,  eminent actor and later politician (see how often those two things come up together?), Sunil Dutt, who by all accounts was a gem of a person with an exemplary record, led, in 2006, to Dutt Jnr being let off under TADA, but being charged under the Arms act alone.  Only coincidentally, of course, his father was a Member of Parliament at the time.

A few short one-month stints in prison later, he was out and intending to contest elections.  However, this was not to be – the Supreme Court refused to suspend his 2007 conviction under the Arms Act.

Cut to the present day. 26th March, 2013. Sanjay Dutt’s sentence was upheld.  He has 4 weeks to surrender (which I’m quite sure is 4 weeks longer than any other accused does).

Incidentally, a woman named Zaibunissa Qazi, who did exactly the same thing Dutt did – that is, store firearms for suspicious parties, was convicted under TADA. That sentence, unlike Dutt’s, was not rescinded, withdrawn or appealed, which is truly the way it should be!  Considering everybody else who stored arms was convicted under TADA, why was Sanjay Dutt let off with only a conviction under the arms act?

In spite of handcuffs transforming themselves into a slap on the wrist, our lovely film fraternity, Bollywood, has ‘come out in support of Sanju’. He is ‘not a criminal, was in the wrong place at the wrong time’. ‘This will shatter him’. ‘Poor man’.

Yeah, poor criminal, committing a crime. My heart bleeds for the fact that he was caught. Truly.

“Director Kunal Kohli too batted for Sanjay Dutt, saying, “The ’93 blast case should not be made about Sanjay Dutt. The Real planners are sitting safely in Pakistan” – Does that mean, Mr. Kohli, that those who have aided and abetted said ‘real planners’ must not be subject to the course of the law?

Others have discussed him being a ‘broken man’ and not knowing if he ‘will ever be able to recover from this’. Recover from committing a crime?! Are we being absolutely serious here? And if we are going to go the emotional appeal route, can not the mother, father, brother, sister, wife, girlfriend, husband, boyfriend, what have you, simply shed a few tears on a television screen and be done with it?

Dutt’s latest support has come in the form of a certain Justice Markandey Katju, who has outlined these incredibly  astute reasons as to why he believes Dutt should be granted a pardon. Among them : Dutt’s difficulty at securing a bank loan (much like a majority of our population, who, unlike Dutt, were not born with a silver spoon in their mouths), his ‘difficulty with regard to foreign travel for film shoots’ (??!) and the ‘length of the trial’.

The length of the trial has to do with the fact that our legal system is just that slow, something you would think that Justice Katju, of all people, would be well aware of. Evidently not.

He also says Dutt has ‘two small children’.   Surely a lot of victims of the blasts, which, let’s face it, was a crime Dutt was involved in, directly or indirectly, had children themselves? What about the children who grew up without their fathers and mothers?

Katju also mentions that Dutt’s parents, famous actors Sunil Dutt and Nargis, were exemplary citizens who did much for India and Indians.  What on earth do their good deeds have to do with their son’s criminal activity, and should said good deeds preclude punishment for Dutt, and why? I now have a burning curiosity as to what Jack the Ripper’s parents did. Maybe he deserved a pardon, too?

Others describe Dutt as a ‘victim of circumstance’, a man who lost his mother,  his wife, and then, a decade ago, his father. While losing a loved one, nay, several loved ones, must certainly be incredibly painful, he was a) an adult, and b) it is absolutely not something that can be used to explain away voluntary criminal activity.

Another famous man lost his mum, a woman he was very close to, at the tender age of 14. But instead of turning into a wreck, the man became a superstar on his own merit at the tender age of 16. He then lost his best friend and songwriting partner, and later the love of his life. He still remains a genius, and a grounded, conscientious, contributing member of civilised society, who has not once been involved in anything remotely criminal.  A man who wrote about love, war, peace, loneliness, life, everything under the sun. A man who wrote songs like this for the woman he loved.

So why the public outcry, the pity, the sadness, the appeal for somebody who was born privileged and chose to fritter away their opportunities and good fortune on drugs and crime? Because he played a character who interacted with, incidentally, a true politician, one who actually cared about the country, back in the days when we had those – Gandhi?

While I agree one is innocent until proven guilty, in a country where, if you are or know the right people,  you cannot even be proven guilty in the first place, what water does that even hold?

Why should he have two famous politicians now travelling the country, going from pillar to post, campaigning for ‘mercy’ for him, and on what grounds does he deserve any mercy whatsoever? Sympathy for the Devil?

Politics and Bollywood are strange bedfellows indeed, but in the end, while it may be their orgy, it’s the country that’s getting fucked.

Lage Raho indeed.

One Down: First Woman.

cw3

If only it were just a crossword clue anymore.

‘Eve-teasing’. An all-too-popular pastime in this wonderful country we call home. It isn’t even English, really, but an Indianism, ifyou will, much like ‘prepone’, ‘reply back’, ‘do the needful’ and our Indian version of ‘propose’, which doesn’t mean what it means everywhere else.

It is commonly defined as men ogling at women on the street, whistling, singing songs, basically boorish men behaving like they own a woman they see. Or at least that is how it starts off, with men at street corners singing the cheapest Bollywood songs they can think of, with the most crass lyrics imaginable (and my goodness me, our lyric writers give them so much to choose from it’s like listening to an even less melodious version of the radio).  There are catcalls, whistles, remarks like ‘item’ and ‘wah’, and then there’s outright groping.

I have been fortunate enough not to ever have been groped or had anyone attempt to do so, but for your average Indian woman, tapori ‘seeti’ and catcalls have become a way of life, something that’s in the background, like annoying white noise you cannot get rid of.

As we all are FULLY aware, rape has nothing to do with sex, or titillation, or whether my clothes are too tight or too short or too something-or-the-other.  It’s to do with a moron (or an entirely stupid, backwards society) SO steeped in patriarchy that he is convinced he absolutely must show his masculinity, or as they like to say here, ‘mardaangi’. What better way to show you are a MAN than by subjugating a woman, no? Of course! What better way to subjugate a woman than to violate her?

Of course, with this comes the wonderful label of a woman’s ‘modesty’. My sexuality. My ‘modesty’. Her modesty was violated. The farmer committed suicide because his daughter’s modesty was outraged. Modesty in India is a wonderful umbrella term that covers virginity (only for a woman, though, let it be remembered), female sexuality, anything that could possibly even indicate that the woman has her own independent thought processes, makes, nay, even wants to make her own decisions – and god forbid they are sex-related – or just wants to be considered a human being like any other, and the way to show what I shall subsequently call ‘penis-power’, you grab this ‘modesty’.

Recently, an acquaintance of mine I met through mutual friends when I studied abroad, and a Facebook friend, did this, and it was amazing.

He was crossing the street in Bangalore with two female friends, when two uncouth hooligans on a bike began to ‘eve-tease’ them. Akshay Kingar, instead of bowing his head and walking on like most of us (myself included) do, he took a photograph of them and posted it to the internet.  Our two lovely idiots may not have been aware of the power of social media when they so wonderfully flipped Akshay the bird. They’re likely more than aware now.

In addition to garnering immense Internet traffic, the post was brought to the attention of the Bengaluru Police. Members of Parliament, news channels, publicists and even average Joes working in the field of the media latched onto the story and brought it to the attention of the entire country.
Those two upstanding pillars of modern society have, I hear, since been arrested by the Bengaluru police.

Unfortunately, there are many like them that roam the streets unfettered, feckless pieces of filth that live with no fear of the law (which, of course, inspires no fear in anybody because it might as well not exist), and only two days ago, in spite of ALL the lip-service the public received post Nirbhaya, THIS was a headline: “Woman gang-raped on bus in Indore”.

Clearly a LOT has changed since Nirbhaya, then.

Lip service, lip service, and more lip service. Changing the law may be one thing, but changing people’s mindsets is another.
A wonderful guy left this nugget of wisdom on the photo Akshay shared on Facebook [and I've left his name in because he deserves to be shamed publicly in every way possible].

Venu Krish Reddy first over girls must wre the proper dress’s den y the hell da guys ll teas them, so guys plz think of t also k..,”

That comment was ‘liked’ by 3 different people, one of them, sadly, a woman.

In our country, it doesn’t really take much for something to escalate into violence. It could start off as vile jeering and creepy leers, but with no legal regulation, anybody can pick up a bottleful of acid at a corner store for a nominal amount, and, should his lecherous advances be spurned, use this to prove his might. (I am penis, hear me roar?)

Everybody now, Delhi police included, seems to be telling women how to ‘take precautions’ so that they are not attacked. That in itself is ridiculous, in that the police is obligated to make people abide by the law, the same law that should punish them if they do NOT. Unfortunately, that is not the way it works here.

No, instead of that, let’s tell women what ‘modesty’ is. Modesty is not showing your shoulders/arms/legs/cleavage/neck/ANY skin whatsoever, because otherwise you’re just asking to be raped. How DARE you show skin? And if you do, how do you expect the man to control his sexual urges?? Poor diddums!

Then, we shall make ‘historical’ reference points to outline what exactly we define as modesty. Draupadi, Sita, Parvati, Sati, whatever mythological woman was the most subservient is automatically the most modest.

Indian men (and again, I do not mean educated Indian men – I mean the ones who lean on their bicycles/motorcycles by the side of the street, wearing their ‘Dabang’ glasses, thinking they have all the swagger in the world) seem to consider ogling a birthright, something that they just do. Then you have this man proving it’s not just your average cheapo who does it. And he’s wonderfully shameless about it, too.

Tie this in with our leftover white supremacist ideals and our obsession with whiteness in general, which have seeped so far into the cracks of our broken society that they have become part of its very foundation (and are proved, time and time again, by the staggering sales of fairness creams and bleach, or even the sheer volume of advertisements you see about them on the television), and you get an increasing spate of crimes against foreign tourists, who from what I gather are looked upon as ‘itummm’. While I was writing the article, this happened and it is terrifying. I think I might have done much the same.

Victim-blaming is a lovely, lovely pastime of (in increasing order of the gravity of how stupid this is) the people, the law and the upholders of the law.  First you have idiots like Mr. Venu on Facebook, blaming the girls and asking them to ‘look at what dress ur wearin’, an idiot I saw on the Times of India comment board implying Nirbhaya deserved to be raped because ‘what did she expect travelling so late wid boyfrnd’, the Swiss tourists who were told by Madhya Pradesh police ‘not to be wandering around so late’, and the Suryanelli rape case, where her tormentors, among them Rajya Sabha MP P.J Kurien, said she was ‘of age’ and the sex was consensual. In addition, THIS:

The Court order described the alleged rapes as a “willing journey of a misguided girl”, and claimed that the male accused were “guilty only of the immorality of going to a woman, who they thought was a prostitute.

Of course, this is entirely logical, because if she’s a prostitute, it’s totally okay to rape her, right? It’s not like she is providing business that SHE should conduct at her OWN discretion, right? (However, considering the level to which trafficking goes on in this country, this is an article I would like to save for later.)

The JUDGE in that case, a man named Mr. R. Basant had  said “The girl is not normal, she is deviant. All these are there in the judgment”.

First off – even if she was a prostitute (which I sincerely doubt), that gives nobody the right to rape.

Second, considering legalese is supposed to be extremely accurate, with no room for any ambiguity whatsoever, I wonder if there is any way for Judge Basant to explain the word ‘deviant’. Perhaps he means what the collective Indian male I mentioned earlier believes. ‘Immodest’.

There can be all sorts of banter about laws being changed, anti-rape law this, anti-rape law that, anti-rape anything. But at the end of the day, it all boils down to this. We have to, as a society, bring up men that do not think of themselves as a superior being or species, but just a homo sapien that happens to have a penis. It is a fleshy, vascular appendage. Not a Golden Excalibur between your legs that you draw out to proclaim your kingship.

We need to stop calling the cheap morons by the street Roadside Romeos, although I quite approve of the name if it involves them ingesting poison of some sort.

Dear 19-year-old guy at my gym, this means that when you ask my friend “Why do you cook your own dinner, aren’t you married? Doesn’t your wife cook for you?”, or “You change your daughter’s diapers??”,  you are part of the problem. The very, very big problem. The law may precipitate the problem, but the problem is your mindset, and that of a billion others, not all of them men.  The problem is that these people need to be taught something that most of the civilised world has been aware of for a long, long, long time.

Gender equality.

abohemiansrhapsody:

A Valentine’s Day read for lovers of hate, or haters of love.

Originally posted on abohemiansrhapsody:

My title’s short and simple. Possibly because I attempted to think of pithy puns I could use for one, and failed, miserably, so I decided to use a Bowie song title instead.

I, as countless others before me, shall attempt to decode the abundant asinine accoutrements that come with every 14th February.

Here’s a short history of Valentine’s Day.  In spite of widely-spread popular myth, or what the myriad wearers of rose-tinted glasses would like to believe, there was no random man who decided to help lovers all over the world and was martyred in the process.

The only historical speculation about St. Valentine the martyr was that he might have been a Roman priest martyred during the reign of Claudius II, beheaded for helping Christians in general. No romantic notion there, just the ancient version of a fatwa, perhaps.  Obsessively religious nuts shall be part of society…

View original 1,738 more words

New Delhi, Rape Central

New Delhi, Rape by Anu

It’s something I’ve said before, and it’s something I will say again. New Delhi needs to be rechristened Rape Delhi or something to that effect. In Uganda, rape is a war crime. In New Delhi, I wonder if it is even a crime anymore.  If you’re Indian/living in India, sipping your morning coffee and reading the paper, and you see ‘Rape in New Delhi’, more than likely you will be angry but not particularly surprised.  Saying somebody was raped in New Delhi is like saying it snowed in the Arctic.  It’s something that never goes away.  It isn’t just the rape capital of India, it might as well be the rape capital of the world.

India is still, sadly, largely patriarchal.  We’re at the end of 2012 and still attempting to break stereotypes that belonged in the Middle Ages, that everywhere else in the world disappeared at the turn of, I don’t know, the 19th century. And we’re not even doing a very good job.  Browse any online newspaper and the comment boards will be chock-full of misogynistic rubbish that somehow blame the victim, for reasons made up by the commenters, reasons that make rational sense to them and them alone. Reasons like, the rapist ‘lost control’, the girl was ‘skimpily dressed’, or a lot of other comments that somehow imply the victim had it coming. The kind of comments that make you want to throw these morons against a wall and beat the living daylights out of them. (And I’m not even a violent person.)

For those of you who are as yet unfamiliar with what happened – a 23- year old girl caught a Dwarka-Delhi bus with a friend after watching a film. The people on that bus beat her up, gangraped her in the bus driver’s cabin, nearly pulverised her, then her friend for attempting to protect her, and then threw the girl out of the moving bus.  In spite of the fact that the bus passed FIVE police checkpoints, nobody stopped it or even bothered to look.

It’s something that sends chills down your spine wherever in the world you are, chills and utter shame when it happens in your own backyard.

I’ve written time and time and time again about my absolute lack of faith in the Indian judicial system in general, and that continues. But New Delhi/NCR policemen are a whole new level of foul, disgusting, bottom-feeding dirt that do not even deserve to live, let alone have any power.

If a girl is raped, their first thought is not, oddly, “How do we catch these men and what do we do to them?” It is “What was the time when the girl was raped?” If it was nighttime, that is their rationale for justifying said rape, because ‘what is a woman doing out so late at night?’.    “What was she wearing?” Because if she was skimpily dressed, of course she’s to blame, she might as well be holding a sign that says ‘do me now, I want you inside me,  violate me completely’.  Or that it ‘was consensual, but these guys just get violent halfway through so the girls call it rape’.  Because that’s completely logical, obviously.

For other reasons our cops and politicians think rapes happen, click here.

It’s not just them though, lots of people somehow seem to think if a woman dresses as she wishes, drinks, parties, or basically has any will of her own, she is a ‘loose’ ‘slut’, and I don’t know what either of those two terms mean. Basically, according to them, said woman is trying to be a man, which is unacceptable, women to them are supposed to be beings that are there to stay around till you feel like marrying one, then mop your floors and make you food and tea, show off to your wife, and put your penis in as and when you feel like, following which, if and only if you deign to choose, she will carry your seed, which is hopefully a male. (This is exactly how the brain of your average misogynistic MCP Indian man functions.)  Women are not meant to be just regular human beings with different genitalia from men, they are not supposed to have their own desires, wants and needs, unless aforementioned needs include ‘staying a virgin for marriage’, ‘looking for a boy’, and, oh, ‘marriage’. And whatever they think marriage entails, which they think, for the most part, is access to sex as and when you want it.

Why am I talking about these people? Because it is precisely this sort of mindset that gives rise to hordes of utter idiots who do not respect women, or even other human beings, which is another thing New Delhi is notorious for (like this guy, who shot a toll booth attendant because he didn’t want to pay).

The moment you believe men are the only acceptable species of human, the species that should hold power, and women are not homo sapiens, but just some sort of instrument that is there , you have morons like these. This sort of backward ideal of the woman being unequal, a sad little being that depends on a man for everything, including to give her life meaning, (which of course it has none of otherwise),  is not something I see changing any time soon, simply because there are both women and men out there who believe in it and are watching it propagated through pathetic TV shows that are on Indian television all the livelong day. [An aside: One of said TV shows includes, to my knowledge, a woman whose husband cheated on her, left her for another woman whom he later married, and she still keeps a photograph of him on the mantelpiece and gazes at it lovingly. (Saw all that in a promo.)]

That, to me, is one of the root causes of stuff like this. The simple fact that we’re not moving forward from patriarchy, misogyny, from the idea that the man (and not man, but the homo sapien with a penis and testicles) is an ultimate being and all else is his kingdom to do with as he pleases. Instead of TV shows (which are a prime way of reaching out to the bulk of our population across every socio-economic level, because watching TV is something everybody does) that are about women being married off, looking for a husband, looking for marriage, and only that sort of thing, maybe there could be shows about women looking for careers, looking to make their own choices, doing something with their lives.  Sadly, as I type this, I see a promo for a new show about a girl looking to have a “Karan Johar-style ‘sasural’” to marry into. It cuts to a shot of the girl serving a boyand his family tea, and the boy then saying “Oh, nothing beats mum’s tea”.  Incidentally, the girl in said promo looks to be about 15, 16 years old at the time of her pining for a ‘fancy sasural’.

I have made no secret of my absolute hatred towards arranged marriage, which is a term that makes me go into Hulk Smash mode. Really. It brings up bile and vomit and possibly stomach acid, because the ideas behind it are disgusting and outdated. I have also written about my feelings regarding arranged marriage at length before. That ad highlights a few of these reasons. The whole idea of marrying not a person, but a family. The idea that you need marriage to be a ‘complete person’, whatever the hell that is. The idea that you have to serve someone tea (if you want tea, you better get it yourself), the idea that a girl must serve tea to a groom-to-be, and the idiot groom, whose mother’s apron strings might as well be his damn umbilical cord, has to comment.

Nearly EVERY socio-economic stratum and sector in Indian society has access to television. And not just television – satellite television.  How do I know this? Drive past a chawl (for non-Indian readers, that’s an Indian ghetto), slum, makeshift set of homes, even a construction labourer’s tinfoil-and-asbestos home and you will find a satellite dish hoisted atop it.

Clearly, we have data that will prove how much of our population has access to TV. More people nationwide have access to (and by access, I also imply an understanding of) television, more so than newspapers because a large chunk of our population is also completely illiterate.

Can we not then use a tool we know is at our disposal to disseminate messages that we also know will be useful and will make an impact? Instead of using primetime cable network time to broadcast archaic TV shows that are little more than period Victorian dramas masquerading in 20 layers of makeup and Indian clothing, we could use it to get people OUT of a mental rut instead of digging them deeper into it.

But we can’t seem to.

The second big issue is the fact that there is absolutely no fear of retribution among these people. They know that with money and connections, or either one of those two, they will get off scot-free, untouched, and free to roam the streets like the pathetic sewer-rat vermin they are and commit as many crimes as they please. Nobody will touch them, if they know the right minister, cop, have a rich uncle, aunt, mum or dad, or are rolling in money themselves.
Actually, scratch that. No matter what socio-economic background you come from, rape is part of a completely messed up, life-sized game of Monopoly that seems to come with a ‘get out of Jail free’ card.  Which is exactly what they do, if they even find themselves in prison to begin with.

Our legal system is absolutely pathetic. It takes at least four years to even BEGIN to deliver a verdict, and any verdict made in that time or less is looked upon as something wondrous, and ‘wow’. More than half the cases out there have probably been lying in files since they were registered, the only things that have seen them being silverfish, for whom it is their next meal.

Rape or divorce, who cares? It is all ALWAYS made out to be the woman’s fault. Here you can read about a Bangalore judge who asked a woman looking to divorce her husband on the grounds of domestic violence to ‘adjust’, because her husband puts food on the table. Why are abject morons like this given any power whatsoever?

People actually have lists and pointers for steps they think women should and should not take so they can ‘avoid being raped or eve-teased’. Don’t stay out at night, don’t dress in ‘skimpy clothes’, inhabit crowded areas.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Rape is not about sex. It is not about so called ‘horny feelings’ or these men’s ‘lack of access to sex’. It is not about cellphones, chowmein, interaction, or the age of marriage. It is about disgusting, feckless criminal assholes who think they can have their way, and in New Delhi, end up doing so.

I also abhor the nomenclature of rape by the news media. Why must rape be described as ‘VIOLATING MODESTY’? Is a girl’s virginity her so-called modesty? I am well aware we live in a disgusting, completely backward society that in Twenty-blooming-twelve (and now thirteen)  that seems to prize a girl’s virginity, look to it as an indicator of her virtue, grace, her purity, her brilliance, and of course that all-important criterion, her success as a wife and human being, which of course are not mutually exclusive. India is one of the few countries where you still hear of rape victims being married off to their rapists. Why? Because the rapist ‘deflowered’ them, and since he has already taken her, er, ‘modesty’, he might as well KEEP it.

UGH.

But must so called modern media, media looking to erase this sort of retrograde ideal, promote it, on whatever level? Rape is not a ‘theft’ of anything. It is not a violation of a woman’s modesty. It is, however, a violation of her as a human being, which is the same as it would be if it were a man. It is a violation of her right to exist peacefully. It is a violation of justice to allow scum like this to roam the earth unfettered, swaggering around without any fear of punishment.

Violence has never been something I have condoned, but every time I read about a rape case in New Delhi (which is to say, every day), I keep thinking taking some sort of harsh, yes, violent action against these lowlifes, these sorry excuses for human beings might be effective,  at least at instilling some sort of fear within them, something that seems insofar to be nonexistent. Considering that these same men seem to think rape proves their ‘masculinity’, I suggest doing away with their genitals, which would have the added benefit of ensuring trash like that never reproduces, ever.  We won’t also have commenters like this guy I saw on the Times of India online comment board, pity I can’t find a permalink anymore:

” zahoor ahmed (bambayi) 1 min ago
why so much hype on this gang rape?the girl was roaming around in late night with a boy…what else one can expect? “

We don’t need to be leaving women tips about how to take care of themselves, we need to be weeding out crappy human beings from functioning society (if you can even call it that, really).

And to all those morons, everywhere, talking about people’s ‘mothers’ and ‘sisters’ and ‘how would the rapists like it if it were their mother or sister’, or ‘rape the rapists’ mothers and sisters’, WHY all the “mother-sister” talk? Are you not supposed to respect a woman otherwise? I suppose it’s telling that the two most insulting words in hindi have to do with screwing somebody’s mother or sister. Because if they aren’t, you’re free to do what you’d like, right?

We need to change the way we think (and by we, I mean a nation). We can all sit and wonder from what rat-infested corner of hell  people like those rapists are born. And you know where? Right here.They’re all born right here. Right under our noses.

Ji Mantri Ji

MotherIndiabyAnu

Sadly, this is not about that wondrous Hindi version of Yes Minister, the one that starred Farooque Sheikh in the role originated by Paul Eddington.  No, it is about our lovely MLAs and the lovely male chauvinist statements they make. They’ve made so many, and such brilliant ones this past month, that I thought there should be a commemmorative.

Reading in the news that there was a rape somewhere in India is one of those things that makes you angry, makes your blood boil, but not really something that particularly surprises you very much. Our, er, ‘mango people in a banana republic’  are certainly angered by it, but that does nothing to change the fact that

a) at least a few hundred rapes happen every day all over the country,

and

b) The law is doing absolutely nothing about it.

All you hear about most rape cases is that the ‘perpetrator was taken into custody, and an FIR filed.’  Nobody knows what ensues, but evidently, the law fails to run its course – if it did, at least some rapists would be discouraged. That is,of course, the whole idea of punishment  – to be a deterrent. It has clearly failed, because corruption means that a certain, agreed-upon amount can get you off scot free.

Haryana might as well be the rape capital of the world.  Log on to ANY Indian news website, and you will see at least 10 cases of rape, attempted rape, molestation, some sort of sexual crime or the other, every single day. Which is kind of ironic, seeing as we claim, as a’culture’, to think that sex is ‘gross’, ‘disgusting’, everything that is wrong with the world, and imbibed from that nebulous but iconic Godzilla-like monster Indians like to call ‘Western Culture‘, which is related to all things sex, which we shouldn’t talk about. Tauba tauba.

Haryana is extra special in that regard, as are its MLAs for whom misogyny seems to be a standing requirement, as does having as low an IQ as possible. This is evident every time they open those ugly, shit-spewing orifices of theirs. First, watch culprit number one, Haryana Pradesh Congress committee member Dharamvir Goyat:

Translation: ” I have no hesitation in saying about this matter that 90% of  girls go willingly, but end up meeting ‘criminal-minded people’ who are just victims of lust.  The girl does not know that further there are five, seven, ten… 90 per cent of girls go with complete consent and end up meeting criminals. This is what I would like to state clearly.”

Like all backward, woman-hating men and their statements, this guy and his eloquent banter made me absolutely blind with rage.  How is it WILLING when these hulking lumps of shit drag screaming women to dark alleys and whatnot and violate them in unspeakable ways, sometimes multiple men at a time?  When they’re mentally scarred for life and some of them even suicidal?

As for the rapists being ‘victims of lust’ – yes, poor victims. Poor victims, standing over the terrified form of a random person five or more of them have dragged in from the street, laughing and cackling away like a horrible 90s Bollywood film. Poor victims, like that piece of scum, Amar Jyoti Kalita, one of the main accused in the Guwahati Rape Case this past July, who tugged at her shirt, pulled her hair, and grinned and gurned for a camera he KNEW was recording every scene of a girl being raped in the heart of the town. Yes, poor fucking victim.

Proof that the law is utterly useless in these matters? From news coverage of the case: “The police reached the spot after half an hour and took the girl to her parents. The Assam Police has identified twelve men from the video footage, but they have only managed to arrest four so far in three days.”. It has since been three and a half months, and no news since.  [Proof that the law is useless overall? The fact that it has been a little under FIVE years since the Arushi and Hemraj murder case, and NOBODY appears to have an inkling of what actually happened.]

Let’s cut to another Haryana scenario (if I were doing this in order of stupidity, this would certainly be first).

Khap panchayat leaders blaming women for rape is pathetic and disgusting, but not really a new thing.  Awful as that is, it isn’t the stupidest thing one of them has ever said, but THIS may be:

                      “Poverty and intoxication are the main reasons for rape as well as young people sitting together the wrong way. But also eating chowmein causes a hormonal imbalance which is a big reason for rapes.”

That little nugget was brought to you courtesy Khap leader and clearly, scientist and rape expert extraordinaire, Jitender Chhataar.  I, personally, have no idea how to react to that other than to want tear my own hair out in ire.  I expect the thela-walas who sell ‘Chinese’ food want to punch him, too.

I would also very much like to know what ‘sitting the wrong way’ is. Cross-legged, one leg over the other, my ankles touching, or just like your average khap panchayat guy, legs open and crotch and balls aired to the world?

One would assume basic education should be a necessity for any leader, whatever level they may be on. Obviously education, intelligence and common sense all seem to have eluded Mr. Chataar ( and, evidently, every MLA in Haryana).

Here we have a rape-related statement from another Khap leader:

“”When asked why rapes are occuring at this scale in Haryana, Sube Singh said that movies and television are to be blamed for rapes. “I believe this is happening because our youth are being badly influenced by cinema and television. I think that girls should be married at the age of 16, so that they have their husbands for their sexual needs, and they don’t need to go elsewhere. This way rapes will not occur.”

According to Mr. Singh (and, I’m sorry to say, several, several other people also), rape is sexual, it’s all about the sex, the penetration, the act of intercourse, the lack of which, to them, is the root cause of rape. Also a cause of rape? Short skirts, no? It isn’t the perverted, sick criminal who is to blame, but the girl whose ‘dress is above her knees’ (seen on the TOI comment board), the ‘slut’. She is to blame for giving the rapist ‘come fuck  me’ vibes, apparently.

Here’s some news – it’s not. It’s about the power, the sick, perverted ‘happiness’ the rapist feels at finally having had his/her way, the ability to have controlled something, the exhilaration like some awful, awful drug. It’s about having violated someone and subsequently having gotten away with it, in the full knowledge that here, you can do it again, and nobody will care a damn.

Speaking of MLAs, one would expect them to have marginally more intelligence or education than your average Khap leader, and a less backward way of thinking, having grown up in more civilised, socio-economically privileged society..but no, out they come to prove that statement ridiculously wrong, in the form of Om Prakash Chautala, the former Chief Minister of Haryana (?!?!),  not for one but THREE terms. Really.

Now Mr. Chautala here compared the Khap ruling to the (clearly wonderful, not violent at all) Mughal era, and said “….During that period, people used to get their daughters married at a very early age fearing somebody will abduct them. A similar situation prevails in the state. Teenage girls are being gangraped and the government is doing nothing. I have seen young girls getting married due to this fear. In such a situation, if Khaps have suggested lowering the marriage age of girls, I think it is correct.”

Let’s process that for a moment.  Again, I cannot reiterate often enough how much I truly hate the concept of arranged marriage, which really has no place in a civilised world, but might as well be the norm here.  I have heard of several cultures within India that think of women as ‘paraya dhan’ , which translates roughly to ‘somebody else’s wealth’ – and this in 2012. The idea is that the woman, who was insofar the responsibility of one man, daddy dearest (or daddyji if you prefer) has now been, er, bequeathed, to her husband who now has to ‘take care of’ her.  Because women aren’t educated, don’t work, and something with boobs taking care of itself? Holy hell! How could that happen?  What is the solution to all of this? Marriage, DUH.

So, to the khap and Mr. Chautala, marriage = rape security because by their logic, one man ‘owns’ her and will protect her from those poor darling ‘victims of lust’.

Yet another Khap leader echoed Chautala’s sentiments, saying rape was a ‘result of boys and girls attaining puberty and their sexual needs not being fulfilled’.  That speaks volumes, and not just about Khap Man here.  A LOT of people in our country think ‘pre-marital sex’ is something awful, a penis-or-vagina shaped Tyrannosaurus Rex that threatens to engulf all of our ‘values’ and ‘culture’. And god forbid boys and girls got into relationships – that would mean the apocalypse is nigh.

Oddly enough, the one country that makes the biggest song and dance and issue about sex in general is the country with the second highest population in the world. It’s not like those children are giving birth to themselves. We have paintings and sculptures and (yes, this has been done to death) the Kama Sutra, the world’s foremost, most ancient sex manual.

But while it’s been 65 years since we gained independence, we seem to have been stuck with Victorian ideals while the rest of the world has moved far ahead.

Case in point: this guy, who thinks women should not have cellular phones because they will ‘get distracted’, and one of our most esteemed politicians, the CM of West Bengal, according to whom rapes are on the rise because “men and women are interacting more freely….. …. It’s like an open market with open options.”

I’m going to leave that one open to the world to take apart, because I have no idea what to say.

India is slowly becoming a Talibanesque society with regard to women, but with crazier leaders,  leaders who seem to be in competition with one another and the Taliban themselves for the title of ‘most regressive ideals ever’, leaders who neither deserve nor have any idea how to use the power they have.

If these leaders have their way, we will be there sooner than we think; and we’re already there in some ways, because you can be arrested for having an opinion and wanting to show it, even if it IS in a cartoon or three. Or you can be thrown in the slammer because somebody up there doesn’t like you, or what you did.

There are lots of horribly retrograde ideals held exclusively by these mindless mantris, ones most Indians protest, but there are also others, fundamentally ingrained into our society somehow, that need to be worked upon, one at a time, as does our legal system, which needs to be effective – is the whole idea of punishment not that criminals, current and potential, are deterred from committing crimes? If there is no fear of retribution or punishment (which is currently the case), they may as well have their own free rein.

In the meantime, these idiots need to be held accountable for what they say and do – being a politician should no longer equate to being above the law.

Having seen a fair number of Indians protesting against this backwardness, I sincerely hope we’ve got somewhere to start from, so we can live in a country where it is the rapists who feel guilty and are punished- not their victims. Not one that thinks women are a different, highly inferior species of being, not a human with equal rights.
Changing those ideals in what has been a largely patriarchal society will take a lot of time and effort, but we’ve got to start somewhere, and the start is always, always with education, whether at home, at school, or as a nation.
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