The first thing that came to my mind looking at the operation table where I was to be operated upon, was to pray and hope that I don’t fall off that table during the procedure for it was small and inadequate to take my body size.
Then came those planks attached to the operation table to rest my arms on and it instantly reminded of a certain shades of grey and activities associated with it.
Lo and behold!! As I lay on the table the nurse (male) started tapping/hitting my arms to find an elusive good vein (his term not mine) which was hidden under the layers of fat and shaved patches of my dark skin.
With a gown that I didn’t fit into, arm planks, hitting and needling, if I ever wanted a BDSM it seemed it was coming true on this very operation table.
Then comes the masked up amiable anesthetist who asks me if I have any vices/ addiction. I was wondering की आज इस टेबल पर surgery होगी या मेरे को therapy दी जायेगी. The list of vices and addiction was long and the thing that tops the list is over thinking and manifesting the worst case scenario in my life. बहराल यह सब तो बता न पाया उनको.
As he went about injecting the required doses of anesthesia he asked me my favorite actor and I said it is The Badshah of Bollywood (naa I didn’t get that dramatic) Mr. SRK and then he asked my favorite actor female. In that few milliseconds faces and names came rolled in my front of my eyes and in order not to breach public order/ decency and outraging my modesty (of whatever was left) on the operation table I said Alia Bhatt (Kapoor बोलना ज़रूरी तो नहीं है ना?).
The last thing I remember before I woke up on the other side of the surgery was him asking me to think of Alia Bhatt. I am still wondering whether the anesthetist had asked me to engage in emotional infidelity in order to achieve his professional goals?
Or maybe its the case of what happens on the Operation Theatre stays in the Operation Theatre!!
BTW I am all sorted now other than my cycling and trekking which is to be avoided I am up to anything you got to offer!!
Today marks the 19th and the final day of curfew in Udaipur. We have been living under a full and or a partial curfew ever since the brutal killing of Late Shri Kanhaiyalal ji. This dastardly act has and will forever remain a black spot on the otherwise peaceful and harmonious home town of mine.
Having lived thru the carnage brought about by ‘The Rath Yatra’ of LK Advani and the aftermath of demolition of The Babri Masjid, I can safely vouch that the recent distrust and discord amongst communities has no parallel in Udaipur’s history.
Early 1990’s we were at the cusp of the cable TV explosion. The nascent news channel industry bought the images live in our homes as we watched in horror the tearing away of the communal harmony of India. Even all thru the above Udaipur remained peaceful and if my memory doesn’t fail me there was hardly any untoward incident then and curfew imposed was more precautionary than anything else.
We the people of Mewar have an icon in Maharana Pratap whose trusted aide was Hakim Khan Suri. These were the people who defeated the mighty Mughal forces without making it communal. But does that even hold true anymore?
Last month’s incident and the unravelling of the conspiracy by the NIA have left me heartbroken. Within a span of 30 years we as a community have dipped deeper in the murky waters of communal hatred and blame game. The narrative has become about us and them, about two separate communities at logger heads with each other.
As a proud Hindu who believes in the idea of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ which means “The World Is One Family”, I have always been vocal in my opposition of hatred and venom spewing towards other communities in the name of my religion even at the expense of antagonizing some friends and family members.
I have always raised my voice of the religious persecution of the minorities but I am baffled by the silence of this very class when an innocent man was killed in the name of their religion. Otherwise super active social media timelines of the so called ‘modern liberal face’ went silent on their criticism of the killing. Their silence is doing more disservice to their cause then they can currently fathom.
As the poet and lyricist Javed Akhtar has once said:
गलत बातों को खामोशी से सुनना हामी भर लेना
बहुत हैं फायदे इसमें मगर अच्छा नहीं लगता
Isabel Wilkerson in her brilliant book – CASTE, The lies that Divide Us writes that in the summer of 2016 an unaccustomed heat wave struck the Siberian tundra resulting in the children of the indigenous herdsmen fell sick from a mysterious illness that many people alive had never seen and did not recognize.
Russian authorities declared a state of emergency and began airlifting hundreds of the sickened herding people, the Nenets, to the nearest hospital in Salekhard. Scientists then identified what had afflicted the Siberian settlements. The aberrant heat had chiseled far deeper into the Russian permafrost than was normal and had exposed a toxin that had been encased since 1941, when the world was last at war. It was the pathogen anthrax.
A thawed and tainted carcass rose to the surface that summer, the pathogen awakened, intact and as powerful as it had ever been. The pathogen spores seeped into the grazing land and infected the reindeer and spread to the herders who raised and relied upon them. The anthrax, like the reactivation of the human pathogens of hatred and tribalism in this evolving century, had never died. It lay in wait, sleeping, until extreme circumstances brought it to the surface and back to life.
I just hope and pray to The Almighty that this deep-rooted hatred, bigotry remains confined in the deep permafrost where no fringe, political and religious leaders can reach and that the religious harmony, brotherhood and compassion act as an agent to permanently seal them away for good.
In the practical art of war, the best thing of all is to take the enemy’s country whole and intact; to shatter and destroy it is not so good. So, too, it is better to recapture an army entire than to destroy it, to capture a regiment, a detachment or a company entire than to destroy them.
Sun Tzu – Art of War
In recent times if one had to call out one of the better student and follower of the Chinese Philosopher & Military Strategist – Sun Tzu then I have no doubt it has to be Shri Eknath Shinde.
The suddenness of the move, without an iota of leak in the media is something that still baffles most of us. I mean to only hear about this after more than thirty legislatures reached Surat, is mind boggling. On the one hand it shows their level of disenchantment with the state leadership and on the other hand the play of ‘A Third Party’ in bankrolling such a dissent. Chaperoning the disgruntled / managed legislators from one BJP ruled state to another.
However much the leader of the break-away section of the Shiv Sena espouse the cause of Hindutva for this implosion, I believe it was made possible by the application of the right amount of lubrication to make this friction bearable & possible.
However if one has to look back, this isn’t a one off case. There have been previous examples too where a political party has been broken away from its founding members. Two major such events have been:
Sheikh Abdullah founded this party in the state of Jammu Kashmir. His son Farooq Abdullah succeeded him as the Chief Minister of the state after his death in 1982 and further went on to win the 1983 Assembly Elections with comfortable majority. A majority that was short lived as in 1984 his brother-in-law Ghulam Mohammad Shah split the party to become the Chief Minister. As of today the party very much remains firmly in control of the Abdullah’s and a major political force in the state and the country. While Ghulam Mohammad Shah after his short tenure remains in the margins of Jammu Kashmir politics
Telgu Desham Party:
The Telugu Desham Party was founded by actor turned politician N. T. Rama Rao in 1982 in the erstwhile unified state of Andhra Pradesh. He was thrice elected as the Chief Minister of Andhra Pradesh. The last election he fought was in 1994 wining 269 seats in the 294 seat Assembly. This huge majority and his tenure were cut short by his Son-In-Law Chandra Babu Naidu led revolt in the party. Chandra Babu Naidu replaced NTR to become the CM in 1995 till 2004 and once again from 2014-2019. NTR died in 1986. The reigns of the party firmly remains in the hands of Chandra Babu Naidu
The question is whether the revolt by Shri Eknath Shinde will be a short lived like that one of Ghulam Mohammad Shah or whether he will be able to hold on to his ground like Chandra Babu Naidu.
I have a feeling the answer to this question can only be answered by the third party involved in this whole implosion.
Last week Rajya Sabha elections were held across various states in India. While the whole process of camping, voting and delayed counting was going on, a dear friend remarked, “What a waste of taxpayers’ money!! Why this whole process of complicated counting of votes? Why not just have one House where the law makers are directly elected by We The People of India.”
I went whole hog and tried explaining him the process but I guess I wasn’t still able to convince him. So this one is for you my dear friend and like they say – शुरू से शुर शुरू करते हैं !!
On 3rd January 1949, the Constituent Assembly took up Article 66 of the Draft Constitution (Article 79 of the Final Constitution) for debate & deliberate to constitute a Parliament for India that was to comprise of The President and two houses – Council of States (Rajya Sabha/Upper House) and the House of People (Lok Sabha/Lower House).
Constituent Assembly member from Odisha Shri Lokanath Mishra moved an amendment to remove the term ‘Council of States’ from the Draft Article – he did not want an upper house. Since the Draft Constitution did not provide for such upper house, he saw no need for an upper house at all – “it was a waste of public money and time.” (Just the kind of point my friend put forth)
MA Ayyangar – A Constituent Assembly member from now Tamil Nadu and who later went on to become the Speaker of The Lok Sabha defended the need of The Rajya Sabha. He argued that parliament needed an upper house for the following reasons:
First, that politics must be a space for a range of people to take part; the upper house would be space ‘where the genius of the people may have full play’.
Second, the upper house would act as a check on any hasty legislation that lower house may pass.
Third, the upper house, unlike the lower house, would be permanently elected.
And the motion was accepted and lo and behold we have had the Upper House ever since.
It’s the way our Constitution provides adequate Checks and Balances. The no. of seats that each state is allocated is according to its population. Its members are always there to deliberate, discuss and approve/disapprove various important matters, case in point being to validate the Emergency under Article 352 for a limited period when the Lok Sabha remains dissolved.
A brute majority in Lok Sabha of one party does not end up becoming tyrannical and thus its actions are to be checked by the Upper House whose members are elected by the state legislature and have different considerations to look into.
Now let us look at the tables below. This data shows the number of seats and the share in the respective houses of the various political parties. For better understanding I have just taken the top 6.
While the top 4 parties remain the same in both the houses the next two are different. Even in terms of percentage points how different it is. While BJP on its own have around 55.7% Lok Sabha seats in the Rajya Sabha is way lower at 38.8%.
Ironically none of the other 4 parties besides the Congress are the allies of the BJP at least officially.
In the 8 years of the NDA rule we have seen various controversial and questionable laws that it wanted to pass had to be put on hold due to its inability to garner nos. in the Upper House. Bills related to Land Acquisition and the Lok Pal / Lok Ayukta which sailed thru the Lok Sabha were suitably amended by the Rajya Sabha.
Thus our constituent members had the foresight to envisage such a situation which necessitated the creation of Upper House.
One of the Sanskrit Shloka from The Mahabharat has been inscribed in the Parliament building:
” न सा सभा यत्र न सन्ति वृध्दा:, वृध्दा न ते ये न वदन्ति धर्मम्।
धर्म स नो यत्र न सत्यमस्ति , सत्यं न तत् यत् छलमभ्युपैति॥ “
Which means –
That’s not an Assembly where there are no wise persons,
Those are not wise, who do not speak with righteousness,
That’s no righteousness where there is no truth,
That’s not the truth which leads one to deceit.
So let the people of our country be benefitted from the counsel and wisdom of the members of both the houses.
“Those who choose differently must suffer the consequences. They must take the pain their decisions bring.”
Sachin Kundalkar, Cobalt Blue
The above quote is from the brilliant book that I had read years back – Cobalt Blue written by Sachin Kundalkar. It was originally written in Marathi which was then translated in English by Jerry Pinto.
The reason I am taking about this book because it was recently adapted for a movie by Netflix starring Prateik Babbar, Dr. Neelay Mehendale, Anjali Sivaraman, Neil Bhoopalam and Geetanjali Kulkarni amongst others.
The story is about a pair of brother-sister both whom fall in love with one man: their unnamed paying guest – A painter, a vagabond but most importantly someone whose loyalty lies only to himself. There is no betrayal but a genuine forged relationship that helps his lovers i.e. the brother and sister understand and face their inner truth and face their demons.
While watching this film I couldn’t help but go back to the character played by Prateik Babbar that of Amit in the 2008 rom-com Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na. Amit is a loner who always has a bone to pick with the boyfriend of his sister. He is an introvert with a quirky lifestyle having a mouse as a pet. Pratiek Babbar had received a special mention by the Filmfare Awards for acting in this film which was incidentally his debut performance too.
In the movie Cobalt Blue the unnamed paying guest is the sure-footed confident man with no family who moves from town to town on projects/visits. Prateik Babbar brilliantly essays both these roles seamlessly.
I strongly believe that if the character Amit from Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na had a story of its own then Cobalt Blue is perfect extension to that and helps us getting behind his motives and behavior.
I believe this is how the story of Amit goes …..
The reason he is a loner with a quirky lifestyle can be attributed to the fact he is still coming to terms with his sexuality. Over the next few years over numerous sexual interactions and failed relationships he finally comes to terms that he is someone who is attracted to both the genders and is a bisexual man. Having loved and lost he has a difficulty forging permanent relationships and always has an escape plan ready to move on, for fear of getting attached.
This very lifestyle takes him away from his immediate family, moving from one city to another monetizing his painting skills and doing customized job works. Hell bent on hiding his history and family behind a façade of fake narrative so as not to have a permanency and attachment to one place or person.
In Jaane Tu… Ya Jaane Na he wants nothing but the best for his sister and in Cobalt Blue he ensures that his lovers Tanay & Anuja are able to burn the bridges and move on to greater things in life. He helps them understand themselves thru him.
The story of Amit is something that is waiting to be remade as a series or a film. Amit is flawed character that is waiting to be heard and seen.
I am the last of the generation and of a certain social milieu and thankfully so, that has seen that the domestic/house helps weren’t just people who were hired to assist the householders but rather there was a strict Master-Servant equation and set of principled do’s-don’ts that had to be adhered to.
Slowly and steadily these barriers are being broken down one at a time but I guess maybe living in a small town with a certain upbringing I didn’t see it actually being there.
I remember having a help to assist in with my kids with whom I generally made a statement about she being there when they grow-up.
“ज़िन्दगी भर भैया, यह काम थोड़ी करुँगी !!” prompt came her reply.
I was taken aback, for I thought was a done deal wasn’t one. She- who was from a neighbouring village, she – who had studied up till 12th standard – had her aspirations, dreams to fulfil.
She isn’t a one off case, if you look closely this is what new India looks like. Just a few decades back it wasn’t uncommon for two generations working together as domestic helps for a family. These families ruled over their fiefdoms by providing for these helps in return of loyalty and subservience which is a rarity now.
I believe it is a profession bought about not out of choice but of necessity (not if you are employed by the likes of people living in Antilia). Choice bought mostly due to lack of education and security.
This very choice have fed their families, educated the children and tendered the ill. A choice that helped them climbed up the social ladder one step at a time. A house helps son became a government teacher and another ones works as a manager in a private firm whose office is just next to mine.
Not only are they claiming their economic spaces but art too has started representing in a new light far removed from the Ramu Kaka variety. In the Amitabh Bachhan and Deepika Padukone starrer Piku we get to see how differently two generations interact with their domestic help Bhudan.
In Rohena Gera’s Sir we see a love story between Tillotama Shome, the actress essaying Ratna – a house help and her employer. Not the ones that fantasies and fetishes have been built on but a love story in true sense of the word.
Time we move on and realised they aren’t part of the sub-plot anymore but an integral part of our everyday being at least in India.
Over the past two years the world has seen so much death and miniscule are those whose family has remained untouched by this pandemic. We all have lost a relative, a friend or even an acquaintance.
Alas life moves on for some and for some it comes to a complete halt with loss of one’s bearings but in either case what remains are the memories.
The moot question is how do we grieve?
George Bernard Shaw in The Doctor’s Dilemma: A Tragedy had said,
“Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.”
So when we laugh or smile, do we ever stop grieving or has it just been pushed aside for the time being?
Is grief quantifiable?
Is shedding tears a true barometer of one’s grief?
A cousin of mine visited a salon immediately after her father’s passing away, for her hair needed some touch-ups in order to look ‘decent’ for the condolence meeting. Did she stop mourning because of this or her grief any less?
Is grief directly proportional to emotional and financial needs?
How long do we grieve or what should be the mourning period?
Are those 13 days enough for one to stop mourning?
Do the dead keep living in our memories forever?
If yes then how long before it just remains a faded memory?
While we mourn the dead, do we forgive them too?
Personally for me each time I look back at some dead people, their evil deeds eclipses whatever good memories I may have had of them.
Nothing explains these questions better than the below mentioned three movies that deals with the topic of losing a family member and how each one reacts to it:
This is a film about a young widow who is indifferent to the death of her husband and unable to grieve on her loss. On the other hand are her in-laws who can’t get over the loss of their son and sole bread winner.
RAMPRASAD KI TEHRVI
This one is about siblings arriving at their ancestral homes on the death of their father. Each one trying to ascertain their financial gains, supremacy and it’s the grieving mother who is left alone to decide her future and legacy.
This one is a Marathi film about a family who undertake a road trip to bury the ashes of the family patriarch and the custodian of their family land. How each is on this trip for their own gains mostly financial while the wife of the patriarch gets no time to mourn as she soon realizes the patriarch has a mistress tucked away somewhere.
Each of these movies showcases death and mourning thru a typical Indian point of view wherein entire immediate and extended family huddle together to comfort the mourning family. But it’s also the time skeletons tumbles out of the closet, relationships redefined, some new ones forged and some old healed wounds scratched opened.
Dealing with death is never easy but it is always there, staring right across our faces – ALWAYS FOR EACH LIVING SECOND OF OUR LIFE.
How times change and with it the things kids learn in school!!
The other day I was walking with my 12 years old son and he asked me the difference between SEX & GENDER? Luckily for me I knew the basic difference and the gaps were filled by him in broader terms. He knew these terms because as a 7th Grade student Sex & Gender studies are part of their curriculum and he learned about these terms that day itself.
The National Council of Educational Research and Training (NCERT) released a new training manual for teachers recently. The training material describes concepts such as gender identity, gender incongruence, gender dysphoria, gender affirmation, heterosexuality, asexuality, bisexuality, among various others, in detail.
The training material also lists out a number of practical strategies for making schools sensitive and inclusive for transgender and gender non-conforming children.
I am glad the schools are open and willing to teach and talk about topics like sex, gender and stereotyping.
“Sex” refers to the physical differences between people who are male, female, or intersex . A person typically has their sex assigned at birth based on physiological characteristics, including their genitalia and chromosome composition. This assigned sex is called a person’s “natal sex.”
Gender, on the other hand, involves how a person identifies. Unlike natal sex, gender is not made up of binary forms. Instead, gender is a broad spectrum. A person may identify at any point within this spectrum or outside of it entirely.
As a child of the nineties we lived in a world which was so different from today’s reality. The issues remained the same for a teen then and now but they were not taught and discussed this openly.
The children live in an era of information overload and as parents it becomes imperative that they are given the right tools to process this information.
Till not too long away I too was ignorant to these terms and found the terms he/him/his in some Instagram bio pretty amusing. Then I met a Gen Z, with whom I shared my amusement. As a vocal and woke Gen Z, I was given an immediate crash course on the new Gender Identifications.
And his recommendation led me to watch this amazing series called – Sex Education on NETFLIX. The characters face these questions with confusion, aplomb and denial. They use the terms that I was given a crash course of !!
Although the series is set in United Kingdom the feelings, angst and the confusion a young adult feel is the same everywhere. We are yet to reach their level of openness but at least the new curriculum is making that beginning and talking about it.
I am glad to see the change happening and hope our children grow up to become empathetic to the new normal.
It has been a week since the assembly elections were declared in 5 states and today also marks the last day of holding virtual rallies.
In this past week new COVID-19 cases in these election going states have at least doubled:
New cases on 8th Jan 2022
New cases on 8th Jan 2022
In view of the stark rise in the Covid numbers will you continue to ban physical rallies??
If yes, then how will you punish the guilty?
With an abysmal rural net penetration of 37.74% how will the candidates reach the voters?
Wouldn’t this hamper the holding of free and fair election?
Some experts have said that the elections were to be blamed for Pandemic’s second wave last year. In Tamil Nadu state your office was publicly rebuked by a court for not taking action earlier to stop big public rallies there.
“Your institution is singularly responsible for the second wave of Covid-19,” the Madras high court had said.
You have the powers under Section 153 THE REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE ACT, 1951:-
“Extention of time for completion of election.—It shall be competent for the Election Commission for reasons which it considers sufficient, to extend the time for the completion of any election by making necessary amendments in the notification issued by it under section 30 or sub-section (1) of section 39.] to eof can be exercised only after an election schedule has been notified.”
Under Article 324 of our Constitution you can inform the government of inability to hold polls looking at the rising Covid numbers.
Sir, these are extraordinary times – times that no one living has ever seen or imagined in their lifetimes.
As a citizen of this country, I urge and plead you to reconsider your decision to hold these elections atleast for the time being till this third wave ebbs. I would rather see people queuing up to vote for candidates of their choice than standing in the lines to have their loved ones cremated. I would rather see voters selecting their representative than having to select whether to bury their loves on banks of Ganga or to let them float away in her water.